Accessibility links

Newsline - October 7, 2002


PUTIN, SHEVARDNADZE SOFTEN RUSSIA-GEORGIA DISCREPANCIES
Ahead of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit that began on 7 October in Chisinau, President Vladimir Putin met with his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze on 6 October, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Putin said after the meeting that the two leaders discussed the main problems that exist between their countries as well as cooperation in combating terrorism. Putin told journalists that relations between the two countries have recently fallen to their lowest level in the post-Soviet era, adding that he and Shevardnadze agreed to appoint permanent special envoys for resolving bilateral issues. Putin also announced agreement on intensifying contacts between the countries' secret services and on cooperation between their border-guard services, including jointly patrolling their common border. Putin expressed his satisfaction with the talks and said the "quality of bilateral relations" has improved, RIA-Novosti reported. However, the official press release issued by the Russian presidential press service following the talks stated, "Moscow reserves for itself the right to individual or collective self-defense if Georgia does not put an end to bandit assaults on the neighboring regions of Russian territory." VY

KARAGANOV CHARACTERIZES CIS DECADE AS FIASCO
On the eve of the CIS summit, Sergei Karaganov, the chairman of the influential Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, told strana.ru of 7 October that the CIS has failed as an alliance and that the only role it played was to dampen the shock following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He said the CIS cannot play the role of an integrating mechanism because all CIS states have their own political and economic-development priorities and are in various stages of economic reform. He noted that while integration would presumably envisage economic expansion, the CIS states have over the last decade experienced a shrinking of their economies. At the summit beginning on 7 October, the leaders of 11 of the 13 CIS member states, including President Putin, are expected to focus primarily on cooperation in combating both terrorism and the trafficking of illegal drugs, and in jointly protecting their borders, according to Russian media. The two-day meeting marks the 10th anniversary of the CIS. VY

BEREZOVSKII SAYS COMMUNIST OPPOSITION IS BETTER THAN NONE...
An interview with Boris Berezovskii was published in "Zavtra," No. 40, in which the self-exiled media magnate and oligarch expresses his desire to support the left and the antipresidential opposition, including the Communist Party. Aleksandr Prokhanov, the publisher of the anti-Western and pro-imperial weekly, conducted the interview. Berezovskii touted the role that he played in defeating the Communists in the 1996 presidential elections and his self-described part in selecting Putin as former President Boris Yeltsin's successor in 1999. Berezovskii said he believes he made a mistake as far as Putin is concerned because Putin's victory was "not a victory of an ideology or a variant of [national] development, but a victory of the special services, and a victory of the special services is a tragedy for any nation." Berezovskii said that all opposition is suppressed under Putin, leading him to the conclusion that the Communist Party is not the greatest danger to Russia and that it is better to have Communist opposition in the country than none at all. Berezovskii repeated his long-standing claim that the Federal Security Service (FSB) provoked the second Chechen war in 1999, a hypothesis shared by Prokhanov in his book "Gospodin Geksogen" ("Mr. Gexogen") (see "RFE/RL Security and Terrorism Watch," 12 June 2002). VY

...CAUSING LIBERALS, COMMUNISTS TO REDRAW LINES
Sergei Yushenkov, the leader of the Berezovskii-supported Liberal Russia party, said he and his colleagues have decided to expel Berezovskii from the leadership of their party because any cooperation with the Communist Party is unacceptable to them, NTV and other Russian media reported on 5 October. Meanwhile, "Ekho Moskvy" quoted Berezovskii as saying the same day that he understands Yushenkov's position, as he has had difficulties in registering his party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September 2002), but that he will continue to provide financial support to Liberal Russia despite his differences with the party leadership. Meanwhile, in an interview published on 4 October by the Berezovskii-controlled "Nezavisimaya gazeta," Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov harshly criticized Putin. Zyuganov said Putin has compromised the entire electoral system in Russia and has failed as guarantor of the Russian Constitution. "Putin cannot guarantee anything to anybody, except war in Chechnya, smog over Moscow, a split with Belarus, new threats to Georgia, and unfettered crime," Zyuganov said. VY

RUSSIAN MILITARY NEARS DEAL FOR DEVELOPING AIR-DEFENSE SYSTEM
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 7 October that Russia is close to inking a $4 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates that would help finance the next generation of the Russian air-defense system. According to the daily, the UAE would provide funds to Russian defense contractor Almaz for research and development of a unique antiaircraft system that would be supplied exclusively to the Russian military and the UAE. In order to carry out such a large contract, Russia plans to create a new defense concern called Antei-Almaz, which would be under the supervision of the deputy chief of the presidential staff, Viktor Ivanov, according to the newspaper. VY

PUTIN ASSURES LUKOIL ITS INTERESTS WILL BE PROTECTED IN IRAQ
President Putin has assured the management of LUKoil, which has several billion dollars' worth of contracts with Iraqi oil companies, that even if Saddam Hussein's regime is toppled, the company's interests in Iraq will not be damaged, the "Financial Times" quoted LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov as saying, rusenergy.ru reported. Meanwhile, LUKoil spokesman Mikhail Dolgov confirmed that the Russian government has promised that during its negotiations with the United States over the Iraq issue, it will defend LUKoil's interests as the "top national priority," pravda.ru reported on 7 October. The website also quoted Dolgov as saying the Iraqi government has tried to persuade his company to restart suspended projects before UN sanctions are lifted but that LUKoil "does not want to compromise Russia's status as a member of the UN Security Council." VY

CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION DECLARES WINNER IN KRASNOYARSK RACE...
The Central Election Commission (TsIK) decided unanimously on 4 October to cancel an earlier decision of the Krasnoyarsk Krai election commission to annul the results of the krai's 22 September gubernatorial elections, Russian news agencies reported. However, the TsIK stopped short of disbanding its regional counterpart. TsIK Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov said the central commission is preparing an appeal to dismiss the krai commission that will be sent to a Krasnoyarsk court, according to Interfax. The TsIK also confirmed Aleksandr Khloponin's election as governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai. Khloponin was named acting governor by President Putin on 3 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2002). JAC

...AS PUTIN'S INTERVENTION IS LABELED 'STRATEGIC MISTAKE'
Meanwhile, a number of Moscow-based analysts and policymakers told Yenisei-Inform that they consider President Putin's decision to intervene personally in the conflict a mistake, regions.ru reported on 4 October. Oleg Sysuev, first deputy chairman of the board of directors of Alfa-Bank and former first deputy presidential administration head, said Putin made a "big strategic mistake." According to Sysuev, the Kremlin has tried to explained its actions by saying, "'We didn't interfere [initially], and look how illegally everything happened.'" But, Sysuev continued, Russia is in the process of trying to build a civil society, which entails trusting the electorate, and the Kremlin's intervention and rationale undermine this process. Aleksandr Gerasimov, director of the analytical publication "24," commented that, "Putin intervened to show that he is master of the house. There is no other explanation -- there was no necessity to intervene." Communist Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin concurred, noting that Putin acted in order to "show that he controls everything in Russia." JAC

OPPOSITION CONTINUES TO COMPLAIN ABOUT RACE IN KALMYKIA
One of 11 presidential candidates in the 20 October presidential election in Kalmykia, Nikolai Ochirov, who is the general director of Nikoil-Kalmykia, told reporters in Moscow on 4 October that "unprecedented violations of election law" are taking place in the republic, and he called on central authorities to exert tighter control over the proceedings, RIA-Novosti reported. According to Ochirov, local television and newspapers "show only one face" -- that of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the incumbent president who is seeking re-election, polit.ru reported. According to Ochirov, only three of the 11 candidates are actually opposition candidates to Ilyumzhinov, while the remainder "have conducted open or secret negotiations with the authorities." Meanwhile, in an interview with Radio Mayak the next day, Veshnyakov commented that "everyone understands that there is a lack of democratic tradition in Kalmykia." He added that the commission has had "to cancel decisions of the Kalmykian election commission twice to bring them into line with federal law" and that now the commission's representatives "have to stay there all the time to avoid another silly mistake, causing enmity to be stirred up." JAC

RESHUFFLE IN SENIOR COMMUNIST RANKS ALLEGEDLY IN THE WORKS
"Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 5 October that Communist State Duma Deputy Sergei Glaziev, who recently finished third in Krasnoyarsk Krai gubernatorial elections, might head the Communist Party's list of candidates for the State Duma, while the party's current leader, Gennadii Zyuganov, would be offered the second spot. According to the paper, it is reportedly hoped that Glaziev, who is 41 years old, would attract younger voters. The newspaper also alleged that General Vitalii Pavlov, a former Russian Army aviation commander in Chechnya, along with the current Black Sea Fleet commander, Admiral Vladimir Komoedov, may also be included among the party's top five candidates. According to TV-6, Glaziev, Pavlov, and Komoedov have discounted the paper's report. JAC

SUTYAGIN TO REMAIN IN PRISON
The Moscow City Court ruled on 4 October to extend the imprisonment of Igor Sutyagin, a researcher at the Moscow-based Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada, beyond 8 October, despite a 2 October Supreme Court ruling that his detention is illegal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2002). Sutyagin was arrested in October 1999 on suspicion of treason. According to the website http://www.case52.org, the city court's decision to consider Sutyagin's case so quickly after the Supreme Court's ruling was unexpected; however, the FSB, which leveled the original accusations, was fully prepared for the hearing and argued in court that Sutyagin has "an open visa to Italy" that he could possibly use to flee the country. Sutyatin's lawyers plan to appeal the city court's ruling. JAC

SPS TO MAKE ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT CURBING THIRD TERMS FOR GOVERNORS
In an interview with "Gazeta" on 4 October, Boris Nadezhdin, the first deputy head of the Union of Rightist Forces faction in the Duma, said he has prepared a new bill that would ban third terms for governors. According to Nadezhdin, the bill will be introduced to the Duma soon. A similar bill was passed by the State Duma last year but failed in the Federation Council. Nadezhdin said that "time is on his side" because there are no longer any governors left in the upper legislative chamber who are directly interested in a third term. According to the daily, Nadezhdin is counting on winning support from the Kremlin for his bill, since the last bill also had the backing of the presidential administration. JAC

KIRIENKO DISCUSSES HIS FUTURE
In an interview with TV-6 on 6 October, presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko revealed that he plans to leave politics for a job in Russian industry within "three or four years." Kirienko said he has "no such ambition" as being president and would like in the future to be "a manager of a business." He said he would not be interested in running Unified Energy Systems (EES), adding that "the job would need to be interesting." Kirienko said he considers "what happens at the Gorkii Automobile Works [GAZ] to be exceptionally interesting." Kirienko also commented on how he came to be appointed presidential envoy. He said that in May 2000, he had a conversation with President Putin in which he announced he was planning to run for governor of Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast, and three days later he was offered a job as envoy for the newly created federal districts. JAC

BLAMING THE WEATHERMAN
Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergei Fridinskii has filed criminal charges of negligence against Novorossiisk Mayor Valerii Prokhorenko and Yansen Danilchuk, the head of the weather forecasting service in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Russian news agencies reported on 4 October. Fridinskii told reporters that both officials displayed carelessness and performed their duties in an inappropriate manner during the floods that affected the Southern Federal District last summer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002). According to Interfax, Fridinskii added that more than 20 criminal cases have been prepared and some people have been convicted of theft and marauding during the floods. JAC

MAN'S BEST FRIEND, BUT NOT CENSUS-TAKERS'
ORT reported on 4 October that as Russia gears up for its first nationwide census in more than a decade, some census-takers are refusing to do their jobs because they have been menaced by unleashed dogs. State Statistics Committee Chairman Viktor Sokolin said, "Some people may find this funny, but it's a problem that is afflicting more and more of our census-takers." Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has urged all regional authorities to assist in the census-taking process and to promote public participation. JAC

ARMENIAN OPPOSITIONIST NOMINATED AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
At a congress in Yerevan on 5 October, the National Unity Party nominated its chairman, Artashes Geghamian, as its candidate for the February presidential election, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Accepting that nomination, Geghamian vowed that he will not under any circumstances agree to step down in favor of a rival candidate representing the 16 opposition parties that agreed in principle in late August to field a single candidate in that ballot (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 2002). Leaders of the other 15 parties attended the congress but played down the significance of Geghamian's nomination. LF

ARMENIAN OFFICIALS SEEK TO REASSURE COUNCIL OF EUROPE OVER DEATH PENALTY
During talks in Yerevan on 3 October, Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian assured Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles that Armenia will indeed abolish capital punishment completely and unconditionally by the June 2003 deadline set by the council, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 4 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 2002 and 4 October 2002). Parliamentary deputies -- including deputy speaker Togran Torosian, who also met with Gil-Robles -- object to scrapping a legal loophole that would provide for handing down the death penalty to the five gunmen currently on trial for shooting eight senior officials in the parliamentary chamber in October 1999. LF

SENIOR FRENCH DIPLOMAT VISITS ARMENIA
On the final leg of his tour of the South Caucasus states, Renaud Muselier, who is French Foreign Ministry state secretary, met on 4 October with senior Armenian officials to discuss bilateral relations and France's ongoing participation as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group in efforts to mediate a solution to the Karabakh conflict, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Muselier said he is "very optimistic and confident" about the prospects for reaching a solution to the conflict. He also noted that Armenia has made considerable progress on the path of democratization over the past decade. LF

REFUELING OF ARMENIAN NUCLEAR-POWER PLANT POSTPONED
Gagik Markosian, who is acting director of the Medzamor nuclear-power plant, told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 5 October that the planned shutdown of the plant to prepare for refueling, originally scheduled for 11 October, has been postponed for one week. But he denied that decision is due to problems over wage arrears owed to the plant's personnel, who last year threatened to strike to demand their unpaid salaries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 and 29 June and 3 August 2001). LF

AZERBAIJANIS CALL FOR PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION
Participants at a march in Baku on 5 October called for the resignation of President Heidar Aliev and the annulment of the results of the 24 August referendum on constitutional amendments, Turan and Reuters reported. They condemned Aliev's administration as corrupt and powerless to resolve the Karabakh conflict. Estimates of the number of participants ranged from 4,000-10,000. Although the city authorities granted permission on 4 October to hold the march, students at the state and some private universities in Baku were warned not to attend, according to Turan. No clashes were reported between demonstrators and police who watched the march. LF

GEORGIA EXTRADITES FIVE SUSPECTED CHECHEN MILITANTS TO RUSSIA
On 3 October, Georgia extradited to Russia five of the 13 suspected Chechen gunmen detained in early August after having illegally crossed the frontier from Chechnya into Georgia, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported the following day. The men have been charged with attempting to murder police, membership in illegal armed formations, illegal possession of weapons, and leaving the Russian Federation illegally, Interfax reported on 5 October. Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergei Fridinskii said the same day that he expects the remaining eight Chechens to be extradited shortly. Some 200 Chechen refugees and local Kists from villages in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge staged a demonstration on 5 October to protest the extraditions, Interfax reported. The participants said they fear the men will be executed without trial. LF

CHECHEN QUESTIONED OVER BRITISH BANKING CONSULTANT'S ABDUCTION
Khizri Aldamov, who is the unofficial representative in Georgia of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, was summoned on 4 October to the Georgian Prosecutor-General's Office for questioning regarding the abduction in June in Tbilisi of British banking consultant Peter Shaw, Interfax reported. Also on 4 October, Caucasus Press quoted Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Paata Gomelauri as saying an unspecified number of people whom he did not identify have been arrested in connection with Shaw's kidnapping. LF

ABKHAZ CHARGE TWO WITH THEFT OF CESIUM
The Abkhaz National Security Service has arrested two people on suspicion of stealing radioactive cesium from an Academy of Sciences research facility two months ago, Caucasus Press reported on 4 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 2 July 2002). The two detainees have confessed to the theft. Speaking in Tbilisi on 4 October, Giorgi Gachechiladze, leader of Georgia's Greens, claimed that the level of background radioactivity in Abkhazia exceeds the permitted norm by a factor of 30 to 150, Caucasus Press reported. Gachechiladze also claimed the Abkhaz leadership plans to build an underground vault to store radioactive waste from Russian and Armenian nuclear-power plants. But a Georgian Environment and Natural Resources Ministry official on 5 October cast doubt on Gachechiladze's claims, Caucasus Press reported. He said that two months ago his ministry supplied the unrecognized republic with equipment to monitor radiation levels "and they voiced no concern." LF

DEMONSTRATORS IN KYRGYZSTAN PLEDGE SUPPORT FOR ARRESTED OFFICIALS
Between 350-600 people took part in two demonstrations in Djalalabad Oblast on 4 October to demand that charges against local officials for their alleged role in the shooting of five demonstrators during protests in Aksy on 17-18 March be dropped, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. In a missive addressed to President Askar Akaev and Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev, the protesters warned that they will launch a protest march to Bishkek unless the men are released by 10 October. The trial, scheduled for 30 September, of six men accused in connection with the Aksy deaths, has been postponed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 3 October 2002). LF

FOUR CENTRAL ASIAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN DUSHANBE
The presidents of the Central Asia Cooperation member states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) met in Dushanbe on 5-6 October to discuss removing customs barriers, expanding cooperation in the energy sector, and the rational use of the region's water resources, Russian news agencies reported. They proposed establishing a UN commission to study ways of preventing the death of the Aral Sea and agreed to hold an international forum in September 2003 on the use of water resources. Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov suggested again reviewing the possibility of diverting Russian rivers to Central Asia "if Russia agrees," Interfax reported on 6 October (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September 2002). LF

TURKMEN PRESIDENT UNDERGOES MEDICAL CHECK-UP
Saparmurat Niyazov is in very good health and his cardiovascular system functions normally, according to German cardiac specialist Professor Hans Meissner, who performed bypass surgery on Niyazov five years ago. Meissner has traveled to Ashgabat to conduct follow-up examinations at four- to six-month intervals since then (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January 2002). LF

UZBEK PRESIDENT HOPES FOR EXTENDED U.S. PRESENCE IN CENTRAL ASIA
Arriving in Dushanbe on 5 October to participate in the Central Asian Cooperation summit (see above), President Karimov said that the United States "must remain [in Central Asia] as long as it's needed to guarantee peace and stability...and to secure peace and mutual understanding in Afghanistan," AP reported. LF

BELARUSIAN TOP INVESTIGATOR SUSPENDED
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has temporarily suspended Deputy Interior Minister Leanid Hlukhouski, the head of the ministry's investigation department, from performing his duties, Belapan reported on 7 October. Lukashenka's decision follows the 5 October conference the president held with Security Council Secretary Henadz Nyavyhlas, Prosecutor-General Viktar Sheyman, State Monitoring Committee head Anatol Tozik, and other officials regarding corruption in state bodies. Belarusian Television said the conference confirmed that "some officials, including those in law enforcement bodies" are involved in "lobbying interests of commercial structures." JM

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT APPROVES FIVE-YEAR ANTICORRUPTION PROGRAM
President Lukashenka has issued a decree authorizing a state anticorruption program for 2002-06, Belapan reported on 6 October. The program envisages the regulation of public servants' activities in order to prevent corruption in government agencies; the introduction of administrative penalties for compromising government agencies and practicing lucrative protectionism; the introduction of criminological examinations of draft regulations regarding legal relations in the financial, economic, environmental, educational, healthcare, and social-security spheres; and the development of an efficient system of public control over the government, among other measures. JM

BELARUS, IRAN SIGN 14 COOPERATION DEALS
Belarus and Iran signed 14 agreements during a joint economic-commission meeting in Minsk last week, IRNA reported on 6 October, quoting Iranian Trade Minister Mohammad Shariat-Madari. The two sides agreed on a $20 million line of credit for Belarusian traders conducting business with Iran, a $100 million construction project in Minsk, and the joint production of some 2,500 buses annually in Iran. "There are no differences in the political views of the leaders of our countries. There are no topics that are off-limits for cooperation," AP quoted Belarusian President Lukashenka as saying at a meeting with Shariat-Madari in Minsk on 4 October. JM

BELARUSIAN NGOS HOLD CONGRESS
A congress of the Assembly of Democratic Nongovernmental Organizations in Minsk on 5-6 October elected 26 NGO leaders and activists to the assembly's "working group," Belapan reported. This group will reportedly be expanded with representatives of those NGOs that were unable to take part in the congress. The congress ended with the adoption of a resolution on human rights and civil society in Belarus, and of a statement in defense of the country's independence. Some raised objections to the validity of resolutions adopted during the congress, arguing that 190 delegates attended the forum on its first day and only 64 on the second. The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAZh) called on NGOs at the congress to participate in the collection of signatures for a BAZh petition to annul the Criminal Code's articles that penalize the slandering and insulting of the president and other government officials. JM

UKRAINIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS MULL GAS CONSORTIUM
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and President Putin met in Zaporizhzhya on 6 October to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet-built Dniprohes hydropower station, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Putin said talks on forming an international gas-pipeline consortium in Ukraine are "not advancing easily," but he added that Russia is still interested in taking part in the deal. "If Russia stays out of this project, we will search for other options by building other pipelines; but doing so without taking into account Ukraine's national interests would be absolutely foolish," AP quoted Putin as saying. Kuchma said that an agreement on the consortium will be signed on 7 October, during a CIS summit in Chisinau. Some 300 representatives of the Socialist Party, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and the Communist Party demonstrated against Kuchma in Zaporizhzhya under the slogan "Putin, Don't Give a Hand to Kuchma," UNIAN reported. JM

POLISH PREMIER PROPOSES TALKS IN WARSAW BETWEEN UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION
Polish Premier Leszek Miller proposed in Lviv on 4 October that Ukraine's ruling and opposition circles meet in Warsaw on 15-16 October at an international conference devoted to Ukrainian prospects amid NATO and EU enlargement, Polish and Ukrainian media reported. Miller, who attended an economic forum in Lviv, met with Ukrainian Premier Anatoliy Kinakh as well as with opposition Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz and Our Ukraine activists Viktor Pynzenyk and Borys Tarasyuk. "We will take part in this conference [in Warsaw] and are ready for discussion," UNIAN quoted Kinakh as saying. Our Ukraine reportedly said it is also ready to conduct a dialogue with the authorities outside Ukraine with the mediation of European leaders. JM

UKRAINIAN JOURNALISTS MOVE TO CREATE TRADE UNION TO RESIST CENSORSHIP
More than 100 journalists from various Ukrainian media outlets met in Kyiv on 5 October and formed a working group for creating an independent journalists' trade union to combat official coercion, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. "I know that only the top people have come today because the disaffection in journalists' circles with what's happening is very large. Therefore, I believe that in this hall we can have not just 100 people, but thousands of journalists who want to change things for the better," said television journalist Andriy Shevchenko, who resigned his job in September over what he said was official meddling and censorship. The meeting decided that apart from tackling the censorship issue through talks with the government, the new organization will provide legal and financial help to journalists who lose their jobs as a result of official pressure. The meeting demanded that parliament hold hearings on government censorship and that the prosecutor-general begin criminal investigations into government attempts at censorship. JM

ESTONIA'S RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH MAINTAINS DEMAND FOR LEGAL SUCCESSION
Metropolitan Cornelius, head of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, said on 4 October that his church is not abandoning its demand to be recognized as the legal successor to the Orthodox Church that existed in Estonia before World War II, BNS reported. He expressed satisfaction, however, with the government's official handover that day of 18 churches and congregational buildings to be used for 50 years for a symbolic rent of one kroon per month. The Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, which Estonia has recognized as the legal successor, is subordinate to the Constantinople Patriarchate. It ceded to the government the de facto use of the 18 buildings in exchange for government aid of 35.5 million kroons ($2.2 million) to renovate 28 of its churches. SG

POLITICAL RIGHT EMERGES STRONG FROM LATVIAN ELECTIONS
More than 72 percent of eligible voters, or about 990,000 people, turned out for elections to the Latvian parliament on 5 October and cast their ballots for 20 tickets and 1,019 candidates, LETA reported on the same day. According to preliminary results from LETA on 6 and 7 October, six parties cleared the 5 percent threshold for seats in the 100-member parliament. They include: New Era won 26 seats; For Human Rights in a United Latvia (PCTVL), 24; People's Party, 21; the Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS), 12; Latvia's First Party, 10; and For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, seven seats. All are right-of-center parties except the leftist PCTVL, which also enjoys strong support within the Russian minority. Voters cast 16.07 percent of the ballots for parties that did not gain seats, the news agency reported, including two that were represented in the previous parliament: the right-of-center Latvia's Way (4.88 percent) and the leftist Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party (4.02 percent). New Era Chairman Einars Repse is expected to be asked to form the next government, but it is still unclear who might participate in the ruling coalition. SG

LITHUANIA'S CONSERVATIVES TO SUPPORT ADAMKUS FOR PRESIDENT
A conference of the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) in Vilnius on 5 October decided, with no dissenters and just six abstentions, to support the candidacy of incumbent Valdas Adamkus for president, BNS reported. On 3 October, the Central Election Commission accepted the candidacies of 17 people, but they still must gather the signatures of at least 20,000 eligible voters to gain official registration. The Conservatives as well as the Modern Christian Democrats are helping to gather signatures for Adamkus. The same day, the second Lithuanian Rightists' Union Congress elected former Interior Minister Vidmantas Ziemelis as the party's new chairman but did not officially support any candidate for president. The New Union (Social Liberals) announced that it has already gathered 27,000 signatures for the presidential candidacy of its leader, parliamentary Chairman Arturas Paulauskas. SG

TWO POLISH RIGHTIST GROUPS INAUGURATE JOINT LOCAL-ELECTION CAMPAIGN
On 6 October in Wroclaw, the Civic Platform (PO) and Law and Justice (PiS) launched their joint local-election campaign, PAP reported. "Wroclaw is one of the few cities in Poland -- besides Warsaw and the Tri-City [Gdansk, Gdynia, and Sopot] -- that have never been governed by the left wing since the [democratic] transformation in 1989-90," a PO activist told the agency. The PO-PiS coalition agreed on common lists of candidates to 14 provincial assemblies. In Warsaw, however, PO leader Andrzej Olechowski will challenge PiS leader Lech Kaczynski in the race for the mayor's seat. According to a CBOS poll conducted last month, 58 percent of respondents said they will go to the polls on 27 October, while 17 percent remained undecided. Regarding the election to provincial assemblies, 25 percent of respondents said they will vote for the leftist Democratic Left Alliance-Labor Union coalition, 15 percent for POPiS, and 8 percent for Self-Defense. Nine percent of respondents said they will vote for independent candidates. JM

POLAND OPENS CEMETERY OF WEHRMACHT SOLDIERS
A cemetery containing the remains of some 13,000 German soldiers who died in southwestern Poland during World War II was opened in Nadolice Wielkie, near Wroclaw, on 5 October in an official ceremony attended by relatives of some of those killed, Polish and international news agencies reported. Some 8,500 bodies were identified prior to reinterment. Poland has 10 other burial sites of former Wehrmacht soldiers. JM

MURDERER OF SOLIDARITY PRIEST SENTENCED FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT IN POLAND
The Regional Court in Lodz on 4 October sentenced Grzegorz Piotrowski, the killer of Solidarity Chaplain Jerzy Popieluszko in October 1984, to eight months in prison for defamation, PAP reported. Piotrowski compared Polish courts to a "circus" and judges to "clowns" in a television interview in March 2000, the news agency reported. Piotrowski was released from prison in August 2001 after serving a 15-year sentence for the Popieluszko murder. JM

FORMER CZECH PREMIER RUNS IN CSSD PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES
Former Prime Minister Milos Zeman will run in the primaries being conducted by the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) to select a candidate for next year's presidential election, CTK reported on 4 October, citing CSSD Deputy Chairwoman Marie Souckova. Souckova told the agency that Zeman, former Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures, Ombudsman Otakar Motejl, and sociologist Martin Potucek are the only four candidates who have agreed in writing to run for the post. The primaries will be conducted between 22 October and 25 November and will be open to non-CSSD members as well. In an interview with the daily "Lidove noviny" on 5 October, Senate Chairman Petr Pithart, who is the presidential candidate of the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party (KDU-CSL), said he considers Motejl the most suitable candidate for the post. Also on 5 October, Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU) acting Chairman Ivan Pilip told journalists that he thinks the three governing parties -- the CSSD, the KDU-CSL, and the US-DEU -- should discuss endorsing the same candidate in the presidential election. MS

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS FARING WELL AHEAD OF CZECH SENATE ELECTIONS
CSSD candidates are leading in 11 of the 27 constituencies that will be contested in Senate elections scheduled for the end of October and early November, CTK reported on 5 October, citing a public-opinion poll conducted by the SC&C polling institute. KDU-CSL candidates are ahead in five constituencies, while candidates from the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) are leading in another five constituencies. Candidates from the US-DEU and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) will win in one constituency each, the poll suggested. In the remaining four constituencies, candidates representing nonparliamentary formations are ahead, according to the survey. MS

CZECH PREMIER EXPECTS POSITIVE EU REPORT
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said on 6 October that he expects the European Commission to be mainly positive on the Czech Republic in its annual assessment of progress in preparations for EU accession due to be released on 9 October, CTK reported. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said in Brussels on 4 October after talks with Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller that his country insists on ensuring that Czech farmers will be in a position to benefit from fair competitive terms after accession and that Prague will not agree to accession conditions under which it is initially a net contributor. Svoboda also said the Czech Republic is insisting on more seats in the European Parliament -- 22 rather than 20 -- to match the representation of comparably sized members, CTK reported. A public-opinion poll released by GfK Praha on 4 October showed that support for EU accession has grown by 12 percentage points since April and is now 53 percent, while opposition to membership has dropped from 36 to 25 percent. MS

CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER HINTS AT DEEP RIFT WITH MILITARY BRASS
Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik said in an extensive interview with the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" of 5 October that he is "at rock bottom" and suggested he is battling a serious lack of cooperation from his "subordinates." He said the only advantage he has over elements who believe that "politicians come and go, but soldiers remain and are untouchable" is that he has "nothing to lose." Tvrdik, a 34-year-old Czech military-academy graduate, said the army's leadership structure is too broad and perpetuates a "stereotypical system that does not require people to think." Tvrdik told the daily, "We're super in risky missions abroad, we're managing the floods perfectly, but we are failing in every other activity." AH

SLOVAK CENTER-RIGHT PARTIES AGREE ON COALITION PACT
A beaming Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda on 4 October announced to journalists in Bratislava that "from this moment on, Slovakia has a new government." In talks the same day with leaders of the center-right parties that are to form the next government, he said, "We agreed on everything that was necessary to agree on in order for a new coalition government to emerge," RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. The new cabinet comprises Dzurinda's own Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU), the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), and media magnate Pavol Rusko's Alliance for New Citizens (ANO). Dzurinda also said that KDH Chairman Pavol Hrusovsky is to become the next speaker of parliament. Hrusovsky said he wants to restore public confidence in the legislature through "improved behavior" by its members and better communication among political parties, TASR reported. MS

PRESSURE ON MECIAR GROWING WITHIN HIS OWN PARTY
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) board Chairman Jan Gabriel said on TV Markiza on 6 October that he supports a change at the top of the party and that HZDS Chairman Vladimir Meciar should be replaced by his deputy chairman, Vojtech Tkac, TASR reported. Gabriel said the HZDS is facing isolation both at home and abroad, adding that Tkac is one of the few members of its leadership capable of leading it out of the wilderness. Gabriel also said "everyone" in the party "wants an evaluation of the election results and a new strategy for the future," according to TASR. He said an extraordinary congress should be called for this purpose within three-four months. On 4 October, the HZDS parliamentary group re-elected Tibor Cabaj as its chairman. The Communist Party of Slovakia the same day elected Ivan Hopta as its parliamentary group leader, TASR reported. MS

CZECH, SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTERS FORESEE 'UNLIMITED COOPERATION'
Meeting in Kosice on 5 October, visiting Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik and his Slovak counterpart Jozef Stank said they are confident that Slovakia will be invited to join NATO at that organization's Prague summit in November, CTK reported. Following that invitation, according to Tvrdik, the "possibilities of further development of cooperation between the two armies seem to be almost unlimited." Tvrdik said the two countries could cooperate, among other things, in joint air defense, CTK reported. He also said Slovakia is well-prepared for NATO accession because it has begun reforming its military well ahead of joining the alliance, according to TASR. MS

SLOVAK DAILIES FINED FOR BREAKING PRE-ELECTION MORATORIUM
The Culture Ministry on 5 October imposed a fine of 5,000 crowns ($116) on the daily "Novy cas" and one of 10,000 crowns on the daily "Pravda" for breaking a moratorium on election coverage ahead of the voting, TASR reported, citing TV Markiza. The two dailies can appeal the decision within 15 days. "Pravda" Editor in Chief Petr Sabata said he intends to appeal, as he is convinced that his paper broke no law when it published interviews with SDKU Chairman Dzurinda and Smer (Direction) Chairman Robert Fico during the moratorium. Sabata said the two leaders did not engage in electioneering in those interviews. Complaints against the publication of the interviews were launched by the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) and by the Real Slovak National Party. "Novy cas" published an article on the SDKU election campaign while the moratorium was in force. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER REJECTS FIDESZ TACTIC CONCERNING EU LEGISLATION
Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy said in an interview with "Magyar Hirlap" of 5 October that he is determined to steer Hungary into the European Union and will "not let anyone blackmail or dictate to me and set obstacles in the way of our EU accession." Medgyessy added, "I wish to prove that our feeling of Hungarian identity does not have to be given up; but in fact we can enrich Europe." Former Premier Viktor Orban recently called on Hungary's opposition parties to support legal changes necessary for EU membership only if the Socialist-led cabinet revives some of his economic initiatives -- such as substantial farm subsidies and support for small businesses. MSZ

FIDESZ THREATENS SUIT OVER CRITICISM OF FORMER HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT
FIDESZ parliamentary group leader Janos Ader on 5 October told reporters that probes launched by the current Socialist-Free Democrat government have not discovered any illegal acts carried out by the previous government, Budapest dailies reported on 7 October. Ader vowed that his party will sue Socialist Political State Secretary Laszlo Keller and Free Democrat Chairman Gabor Kuncze over such public allegations. Ader said an investigation has disproved claims that the database of the tax office was altered, allegations related to the opening of the House of Terror museum did not prove true, the State Audit Office has found no irregularities regarding the Youth and Sports Ministry's finances, and there are no signs of financial abuse regarding the construction of highways. MSZ

BUDAPEST MAYOR SUSPECTS SOCIALIST DEAL WITH OPPOSITION CANDIDATE
Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky, a Free Democrat, said there are "increasing signs" that Socialists in Budapest are backing right-wing mayoral candidate Pal Schmitt, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 7 October. Demszky said the situation "has become untenable," and he proposed that the chairmen of the Socialist and Free Democratic parties reach agreement on the matter as soon as possible and thus avoid a threat to their stable parliamentary cooperation. Socialist Party Chairman Laszlo Kovacs said such speculation is totally unfounded. Schmitt's press chief, Antal Kiss, has also denied that Schmitt held consultations with Socialist candidate Erzsebet Nemeth. MSZ

NATIONALISTS HEADED FOR VICTORY IN BOSNIAN ELECTIONS...
About 54 percent of the 2.3 million registered voters cast their ballots in the Bosnian general elections on 5 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2002). It was the first ballot since the end of the 1992-95 conflict to be conducted by Bosnians rather than by the OSCE. Few incidents were reported, and international observers generally described the vote as free and fair. Paddy Ashdown, who is the international community's high representative in Bosnia, compared the development of democracy in Bosnia favorably with that in Northern Ireland. Initial results, however, indicate that the big winners are not the moderate parties favored by the foreigners but the three nationalist parties that led their respective communities before and during the war: the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), and the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). Some observers suggested that voter apathy led to a low overall turnout but that the nationalists were able to mobilize their hard-core supporters. Ashdown said the results show a disenchantment with the outgoing authorities, not a return to the militant nationalism of 1990. PM

...AS RETURNS POUR IN...
Mirko Sarovic (SDS) appears to have won the Serbian seat in the joint Bosnian Presidency, while Dragan Covic (HDZ) has the Croatian seat with 70 percent of the Croatian vote. Dragan Cavic (SDS) appears headed for victory as the new president of Republika Srpska, according to local and international media on 7 October. The SDA's Sulejman Tihic has a slight lead over Haris Silajdzic of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH) for the Muslim seat in the Presidency. It was not clear whether the final returns might give a possible coalition of the SBiH and the governing Social Democrats (SDP) a working majority among Muslim legislators, but the SDA was the single largest Muslim vote-getter. During the campaign, many nationalists faulted the current authorities for failing to solve the deep-rooted problems of poverty and unemployment. But some nationalists will have to moderate their traditional positions on many issues -- including refugee returns -- if Bosnia is to attract the foreign investment necessary to bring some measure of prosperity. PM

...AND INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE REMINDS ALL WHERE THE POWER LIES
Ashdown issued a series of decisions on 7 October, making it clear that the international community intends to see Bosnia become a multiethnic society based on the rule of law, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. One decree ensures that the three constituent peoples -- Muslims, Croats, and Serbs -- will be represented proportionally in cantonal governments in the federation. This measure ends the practice of some cantonal governments being the preserve of one group. A second decree prevents minor officials from escaping justice on the grounds that they enjoy immunity, which from now on will be reserved only for top officials. Ashdown also appointed three directors of the Agency for Information and Protection to a six-year term. Serb Sredoje Novic will be the first to hold the rotating chair for two years, followed by Muslim Emir Bijedic and Croat Dragan Lukac. PM

FORMER REBEL COMMANDER ARRESTED IN MACEDONIA
Police arrested former National Liberation Army (UCK) commander Sadul Duraku in Skopje on 5 October, "Dnevnik" reported. Duraku is a member of the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) led by former rebel leader Ali Ahmeti. The arrest overshadowed coalition talks between the Social Democratic Union (SDSM) and the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI), which received two-thirds of the Albanian vote in the recent elections. After the arrest, Interior Ministry officials and BDI representatives held separate talks with President Boris Trajkovski. According to the Interior Ministry -- which is still controlled by hard-liner Ljube Boskovski -- Duraku is charged with high treason and war crimes. He was arrested on the basis of a warrant issued in December. "The BDI's position is that the activities Duraku is charged with are the responsibility of the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague," BDI Deputy Chairwoman Teuta Arifi said after the talks with Trajkovski. Interior Ministry spokesman Voislav Zafirovski later accused Trajkovski of having asked the police to release Duraku. UB

MESIC SUPPORTS CROATIAN GOVERNMENT'S APPEAL TO THE HAGUE
President Stipe Mesic said the government is fully justified in asking the war crimes tribunal in The Hague to review its indictment of General Janko Bobetko, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported from Zagreb on 6 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 4 October 2002). PM

SERBIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE FORESEES PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS -- IN 2003
Miroljub Labus said in Novi Sad on 5 October that he expects Serbia will elect a new parliament in 2003, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. He added that the only question is whether the vote will take place before or after Serbia receives a new constitution. Alone among 11 candidates in the recent first round of presidential voting, Labus has not taken a stand on early elections until now. All other candidates called for early elections, including and especially Labus's opponent in the second round slated for 13 October, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who is Labus's most important backer, opposes early elections. Djindjic says he fears that frequent elections will deter foreign investors. But many observers believe his real reason for opposing an early vote is that he is likely to lose legislative seats to Kostunica's supporters. PM

SERBIAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE SCHEDULED FOR 9 OCTOBER
Labus and Kostunica will hold their one and only televised debate on 9 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 5 October. All stations will be allowed to broadcast the proceedings despite objections by state-run television that it alone should carry the debate. Kostunica refused calls for a debate by some of his opponents in the first round, saying that he will debate only in the second round (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2002). PM

JOURNALISTS PROTEST POLITICIZATION OF MONTENEGRIN TELEVISION
Andjela Nenadovic, who is an anchorwoman of prime-time television news on state-run Montenegrin television, walked out of the studio in the middle of a newscast on 3 October rather than read a story she considered wrong, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 5 October. Nenadovic, who quit her job on 4 October, is the latest of several journalists to leave state-run television in the past two weeks following the appointment of a nominee of the Liberal Alliance as editor in chief (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 September and 1 October 2002). PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER IN FRANCE
French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told visiting Romanian Premier Adrian Nastase on 4 October that, "France says clearly it wishes our friend Romania to join the EU quickly, within a set time," AP reported. Raffarin said that this should happen "by 2007 at the latest with, by 2004, the conclusion of an accord between the various countries of the EU and Romania." Nastase said Romania is "counting on the aid of France" in its accession preparations. The two premiers also discussed bilateral ties, and Nastase said there is "a new business climate" in his country: "We encourage [companies] to invest." They also signed an accord on cooperation on the protection of underage Romanians who are smuggled into France and should be returned home, where they should be placed in orphanages financed in part by France and nongovernmental organizations. Romanian Television cited Nastase as saying his country's image in France has been adversely affected by child beggars and prostitutes illegally smuggled into that country. Remedies were also discussed by the French and Romanian interior ministers, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ioan Rus. MS

ROMANIA WELCOMES RUMORED EU ACCESSION TIMETABLE
European Integration Minister Hildegard Puwak on 5 October welcomed an expected decision by the European Commission in its forthcoming annual report to set 1 January 2007 as the deadline for Romania's admission to the EU, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Puwak said the decision would be an acknowledgment of the fact that Romanian society at large and the Romanian government in particular respect the obligations assumed upon embarking on the accession process. MS

MADL ENDS ROMANIAN VISIT WITH INAUGURATION OF ACADEMIC YEAR IN TRANSYLVANIA
Hungarian President Ferenc Madl on 4 October attended the inauguration of the 2002-03 academic year at the Targu-Mures Sapientia private university, which is financed by the Hungarian government and where teaching is in the Hungarian language. On 5 October, Madl attended in Oradea an opening ceremony for the new academic year at Partium University, another private school with a Hungarian-language curriculum. Madl also laid a wreath at a monument in Arad in memory of 13 Hungarian generals executed in 1849 by the Austrians. Hungarian parliamentary speaker Katalin Szili and her deputy, Ibolya David, also attended the ceremony in Arad, Hungarian media reported the next day. MS

CIS SUMMIT STARTS IN MOLDOVA...
Leaders of 11 former Soviet republics arrived in Chisinau on 6 October for a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit that started the next day, AP reported. The summit is to deal with joint crime fighting, and AP reported that the leaders are also to seek a common position on Iraq. Strict security measures were enforced in the Moldovan capital ahead of the summit. MS

...AS CHISINAU LAWMAKERS REVOKE RESERVATIONS TO CIS ACCORD
The Moldovan parliament on 4 October withdrew reservations that the country formulated toward stipulations in the CIS founding document upon joining that organization, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The reservations concerned the coordination of foreign policy and of policies on illegal migration. The climb-down was initiated by President Vladimir Voronin, who said the reservations had a negative impact on Moldova's ability to fight terrorism, trafficking, and illegal migration. Voronin said this struggle is better waged within a multilateral regional cooperation framework. Foreign Minister Nicolae Dudau told parliament that the move will promote CIS development and consolidation without affecting Moldova's integration into EU structures. Voronin said on 4 October that "many treat the CIS as a trunk without a handle, which is too heavy to carry but [which] one does not wish to throw away," Infotag reported. He said the organization has existed for 10 years and is not going to break apart. On the contrary, Voronin said, what it needs are new impulses for its further development, adding that this question will be debated at the current CIS summit. MS

RUSSIAN MILITARY CONVOY DEPARTS FROM TRANSDNIESTER
A 24-railcar convoy loaded with military hardware ammunition, mainly 152-millimeter artillery shells and some surface-to surface Uragan missile launchers, departed as scheduled from Tiraspol on 4 October, ITAR-TASS and Infotag reported. This was the first evacuation of Russian equipment since late 2001, when the withdrawal was stopped by separatist authorities. OSCE mission observers, including chief of mission David Schwartz, monitored the loading of the train and its departure. The OSCE is partly funding the removal on condition that it is monitored by its observers. The Russian military command in Tiraspol said it is ready for a train to depart every third day and that if the conditions are ensured by the OSCE and Moldovan and Transdniestrian authorities for the train schedule, this would allow Moscow to meet the OSCE 1999 summit deadline and remove all its equipment by 31 December. MS

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER WRAPS UP VISIT TO TURKEY...
During the last days of his visit to Turkey, Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul on 5 October, BTA reported. The same day, Saxecoburggotski held talks with organizations representing ethnic Turkish emigrants from Bulgaria. Those talks focused on pension regulations for such emigrants. At present, only emigrants who left Bulgaria after 1989 are eligible to receive their pensions from Bulgaria. Some 300,000 Turks who left Bulgaria between 1969-78 are thus denied pensions. The emigrants also demanded visa-free entry into Bulgaria. UB

...AND SPEAKS ABOUT IRAQI QUESTION
Speaking upon his return from Turkey, Saxecoburggotski tried to clarify Bulgaria's position on the Iraqi question on 6 October, BTA reported. "Instead of talking about strikes, we should rather ask ourselves what we will find in Iraq after Saddam," he said. "I believe that Bulgaria should adhere to the decision of the United Nations and internationally accepted practice. From that point on, we should wait and see what happens; but I think it is too early to draw conclusions or take specific steps." In related news, Bulgaria's charge d'affaires in Baghdad, Svilen Bozhanov, said on 6 October that the country's diplomatic mission will be reinforced by a military attache by the end of October, BTA reported. Bozhanov added that one more diplomat will probably join the mission before the end of this year. UB

BULGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER SAYS FOREIGN DEBT DROPPING
Finance Minister Milen Velchev said in an interview with Bulgarian National Radio that the country's foreign debt has been reduced by some $2.02 billion during the past eight or nine months -- leaving it at about $9.5 billion, BTA reported. The recent figure represents 60 percent of gross domestic product. "This draws us closer to the requirements for participation in the European process," Velchev said. UB

ETHNIC TURKISH LEADER IN BULGARIA PROMISES INVESTMENT IN AGRICULTURE
Speaking in the northeastern town of Dobrich on 6 October, Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) Chairman Ahmed Dogan said his ethnic Turkish party harbors hopes of organizing the largest investments in the country's agriculture sector in decades, mediapool.bg reported. Dogan did not provide details of an investment program, but he stressed that the program should enable Bulgarian products to enter Western European markets. Dogan said he believes Bulgaria could achieve success in the areas of environmentally friendly agriculture, food processing, and in the water and energy sectors. UB

There is no End Note today.


XS
SM
MD
LG