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Newsline - October 21, 2002


U.S., RUSSIA DISCUSS NONPROLIFERATION AND NORTH KOREA...
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton arrived in Moscow on 21 October for talks with his Russian counterpart Georgii Mamedov on North Korea's nuclear-weapons program, Iraq, and bilateral strategic-security issues, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Bolton will also will meet with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo to discuss the implementation of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty signed this summer and preparations for the upcoming meeting of U.S. President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin at the Asian-Pacific Economic Conference in Los Cabos, Mexico, on 24 October. VY

...AS KREMLIN DENIES HELPING PYONGYANG'S WEAPONS PROGRAM
Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said on 17 October that Russia is waiting for more details about North Korea's nuclear-weapons program, RIA-Novosti and other Russian news agencies reported. Yakovenko added that Russia categorically denies helping North Korea in any way. He said that Moscow ended all contacts with Pyongyang in this sphere when North Korea renounced the Nuclear Weapons Nonproliferation Treaty in 1993. VY

INTERIOR MINISTER PLEDGES TO CLEAN UP MAGADAN...
Addressing a gathering of law enforcement chiefs on 19 October, President Putin called the murder of Magadan Oblast Governor Valentin Tsvetkov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 2002) a "crime against the state," polit.ru reported. Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov told journalists that his agency will hunt down both those in Moscow who pulled the trigger and those who ordered the killing, RIA-Novosti reported on 21 October. He said that he will use this opportunity to "decriminalize" Magadan Oblast and drive out the local mafia. VY

...INVESTIGATORS LOOK FOR CONNECTION WITH GOLD-DEALER MURDER CASE...
Police are investigating possible links between Tsvetkov's murder and that of Kemal Musoyan in Moscow just 12 hours later, Russian news agencies reported. Musoyan was reputedly a major player on Russia's illegal gold market and allegedly a "thief in law" known by the name of "Camel." He was gunned down on 18 October by killers who escaped the scene. According to media reports, Musoyan controlled illegal gold produced in the Far North, including Magadan Oblast. Experts estimate that up to 30 percent of Russia's gold production ends up being sold illegally. VY

...AS OLIGARCHS PREPARE TO BATTLE FOR CONTROL OF MAGADAN RESOURCES
Tsvetkov's murder, like the death of former Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksander Lebed in a helicopter crash in 28 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April 2002), will stimulate a battle among oligarchic groups for control over the territory's valuable resources, strana.ru commented on 21 October. Magadan Oblast's economy is based on gold and silver mining, fisheries, and alcohol-production revenues. According to the website, Tsvetkov tried to control all these areas, often placing himself at odds with local criminal groups. Experts estimate the oblast controls deposits of about 2,000 tons of gold and 80,000 tons of silver. Moreover, the oblast's Okhotsk Sea shelf has estimated oil reserves of about 1.2 billion tons, making the region comparable to Sakhalin. Therefore, strana.ru predicted that Russia's financial-industrial groups will take the upcoming gubernatorial election in the oblast very seriously. New elections must be held within six months, but an exact date has not yet been set. VY

GOLD PRODUCTION UP
Russian companies produced 132.9 tons of gold in the first nine months of 2002, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 October, citing government statistics. Production was up 14.3 percent over the same period last year. The greatest increase was seen in Krasnoyarsk Krai (28.6 percent) and Khabarovsk Oblast (17.4 percent). Output in Magadan Oblast was up 12.5 percent to 26.05 tons. RC

MURDER OF GOVERNOR PROMPTS CALL FOR RETURN TO DEATH PENALTY...
The People's Party, which is led by Gennadii Raikov, head of the People's Deputy faction in the Duma, has called for the immediate introduction of trials by jury in each region so that the death penalty can be reinstated, regions.ru reported on 18 October. According to the party's press release, Tsvetkov's murder should spur the formation of a jury-trial system. According to the press release, only fear of punishment will stop the current crime wave in Russia, and murderers should answer for their crimes with their own lives. JAC

...AS CAMPAIGN CONSULTANTS PRIMED TO WORK ON ELECTION OF REPLACEMENT
Meanwhile, in an interview with "Novyi region" on 18 October, Ilya Gorfinkel, a member of the Urals Guild of Political Consultants, said that Urals-based consultants have already packed their bags and are ready to fly to Magadan to prepare for the upcoming gubernatorial election to select Tsvetkov's successor, regions.ru reported. He added that most probably the same political consultants from Yekaterinburg who tried to elect Aleksandr Uss in Krasnoyarsk Krai last month will be hired. JAC

ANALYST SEES ELECTIONS AS 'SELF-DESTRUCTION' MECHANISM
Andrei Fedorov, director of St. Petersburg's Center for Political Technologies and Consulting, told a conference on 21 October that "the mechanism of Russian elections is a mechanism for the self-destruction of the Russian elite," RosBalt reported. "During campaigns, we have taken to armed conflicts, to the tactic of destroying one's opponents," Fedorov said. "This election mechanism is resulting in the degradation of citizens' faith in state power and in those people who form the political elite." Last month, President Putin told a group of European election officials in Moscow that Russian elections "completely conform to international standards" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2002). RC

KALMYKIA PRESIDENT WINS, BUT CAN'T AVOID SECOND ROUND
There will be a second round of voting in the presidential election in the Republic of Kalmykia, RTR and other Russian news agencies reported on 21 October. In the first round on 20 October, incumbent President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov received 47.6 percent of the vote, just short of the 50 percent needed for a first-round win. Baatyr Shondzhiev, deputy chairman of High Technology Bank, came in second with 13.55 percent, and Nikoil-Kalmykia General Director Nikolai Ochirov was third with 12.74 percent. Slightly less than 69 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. Earlier reports in gazeta.ru on 21 October placed Ilyumzhinov's showing at 49.04 percent and predicted that there would be no second round. The Central Election Commission has taken charge of the count, and commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov is in Elista overseeing the procedure, ntvru.com reported. RC

ONE KILLED IN MOSCOW CAR-BOMB BLAST
Seventeen-year-old Sergei Grishin, who was injured on 19 October when a powerful car bomb exploded outside a Moscow McDonald's restaurant, died on 20 October, dpa and Russian news agencies reported. Six other people remain hospitalized with injuries sustained in the blast. The 5 kilogram bomb that was made out of an artillery shell exploded just after 1 p.m. local time next to the crowded restaurant. Igor Pimenov of the Emergency Situations Ministry told journalists that the bomb had been packed with metal fragments in an apparent effort to maximize casualties. According to NTV, police are looking for two men "with Slavic surnames who were born in Grozny." Police sources cited by the network said the motive for the incident is likely commercial rivalry between ethnically based criminal groups. Lenta.ru quoted an unidentified police source as saying that "threats had been issued [to McDonald's] many times demanding large sums of money." RC

RUSSIA COULD SEND 50 MILLION TONS OF OIL TO U.S. IN 2003
Speaking to journalists in Washington on 19 October, former Prime Minister and head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yevgenii Primakov said Russia is ready to supply 50 million tons (300 million barrels) of oil to the United States in 2003, RIA-Novosti reported. Primakov argued that the supplies could reduce U.S. dependence on OPEC-produced oil, but that in order to import that oil, the United States must help Russia create the necessary export infrastructure, including developing its deep-water ports. VY

INITIAL CENSUS RESULTS RELEASED
The State Statistics Committee has publicized preliminary results of the recent national census indicating that the country's population is 143.3 million people, ntvru.com and other Russian news agencies reported on 21 October. That figure "is close to statistical estimates in use," said Irina Zbarskaya, head of the committee's demographic-statistics department. Complete census results are expected to be published in 12 volumes by the end of 2003. Meanwhile, lenta.ru reported on 21 October that census takers in Moscow have complained of pressure from bureaucrats to submit falsified questionnaires. Several unidentified Moscow census takers wrote to the website that they were given completed questionnaires "filled out in the same handwriting" that contained fictitious information or information about citizens who were registered elsewhere or who had died in recent years. The workers claimed they were told that if they did not process the forms, they would not receive their wages. The website also reported that it has received reports from "several census stations" that workers were ordered in advance to submit a specified number of questionnaires. RC

PUBLIC GIVES PASSING GRADES TO MEDIA MINISTRY
Forty-seven percent of Russians are pleased with the work of the Mass Media Ministry, while only 21 percent are dissatisfied, RosBalt reported on 20 October, citing a survey by the Public Opinion Foundation. According to the poll, 21 percent are satisfied with "the quantity and quality of information they receive," and 17 percent credit the ministry for the "abundance of books, newspapers and magazines" in the country. Five percent praise the ministry because media information "has become more interesting" and 3 percent credit the ministry for improving the work of the postal system. Among those who think the ministry needs improvement, 15 percent are dismayed by the glorification of violence and by low grammatical standards in the media. Two percent complained about too much advertising in the media, and 1 percent blamed the ministry because the media have "sold out." RC

DUMA GIVES NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET ANOTHER NOD
The State Duma approved the 2003 federal budget in its second reading on 18 October, Russian news agencies reported. The vote was 280 in favor, with 112 against and no abstentions, Interfax-AFI reported. Between the first and second readings, expenditures were redistributed among a few items. Spending on international activities was reduced by 5.03 billion rubles ($158 million) to 44.3 billion rubles, while cumulative spending on industry, agriculture, fishing, transportation, law enforcement, and culture was increased correspondingly. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin noted that the Duma approved of all the government's priorities, adding that the second reading "demonstrated a new, more civilized budget-consideration format." He noted that the budget process has therefore become "more boring" for journalists but more interesting for international rating agencies. The draft budget proposes expenditures of 2.346 trillion rubles and revenues of 2.418 trillion rubles. Oil prices are projected to average $21.5 per barrel. JAC

YABLOKO WILL WORK WITH SPS, BUT NOT WITH CHUBAIS
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii is prepared to work with the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) to support a single liberal candidate in the 2004 presidential elections, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 21 October. However, he argued on the eve of the All-Russia Democratic Conference in Moscow that the presence of Unified Energy Systems chief Anatolii Chubais and former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar in the SPS leadership does not facilitate the search for common ground among liberals or the creation of an alternative to the "party of power." In this context, Yavlinskii rhetorically asked SPS what they are prepared to sacrifice for the sake of a coalition. According to the daily, Yavlinskii called on all liberal factions to cooperate in developing a common platform on the basis of which they will all contest the upcoming Duma elections. RC

TATARSTAN PRESIDENT PUZZLED BY NEIGHBOR'S PLANS
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev has expressed his bewilderment regarding plans to introduce a parliamentary republic in Bashkortostan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 2002), RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 October. "[Bashkortostan President] Murtaza Gubaidullovich [Rakhimov]'s proposals on changing the structure of the government in the republic raise more questions for me than answers," Shaimiev said. He assessed Rakhimov's arguments as "contradictory." JAC

FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES PLANS TO IMPOSE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON GEORGIA
Speaking on 18 October at a press conference at Interfax's Moscow office, Foreign Minister Ivanov said Moscow will not impose economic sanctions against Georgia because sanctions are not a tool of Russian diplomacy, ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov pointed out that such sanctions would affect primarily the population at large, who "are not responsible for some of the actions of their leaders," Interfax reported. He added that there are no "insurmountable" obstacles to improving Russian-Georgian relations, naming as the sole factor that has undermined such good relations in recent years the presence of "international terrorists" on Georgian territory. LF

DIPLOMAT CLAIMS OSSETIANS ALARMED AT PANKISI CRACKDOWN
In a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry's website on 19 October, spokesman Yakovenko cast doubt on official Georgian claims that the ongoing anticrime and antiterrorism operation has resulted in all illegal armed groups leaving the Pankisi Gorge, Russian agencies reported. Yakovenko said that Ossetians living in the gorge continue to complain they are in danger from Chechen gunmen and that the Georgian authorities have taken no measures to protect their civil and property rights. LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION QUERIES YELTSIN STATEMENT ON PRESIDENTIAL POLL
Supporters of Armenian ex-President Levon Ter-Petrossian have questioned former Russian President Boris Yeltsin's statement after his talks in Yerevan with Ter-Petrossian last week that Ter-Petrossian will not contest the Armenian presidential election scheduled for February 2003, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 18 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 2002). Former Armenian government official Vahagn Khachatrian said he doubts Ter-Petrossian made any such statement to Yeltsin, and that even if he did, it was "ethically inappropriate" for Yeltsin to repeat it to journalists. "Yeltsin left Ter-Petrossian in an awkward situation," Khachatrian concluded. Ter-Petrossian's former National Security Minister David Shahnazarian told journalists that he remains confident that Ter-Petrossian will run in the February ballot. LF

ANOTHER ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY SIGNALS INTENTION TO FIELD OWN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
Delegates to an 18 October conference of one of the Yerevan branches of the People's Party of Armenia (HZhK) unanimously endorsed HZhK Chairman Stepan Demirchian's candidacy for the February 2003 presidential ballot, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The HZhK is one of the 16 opposition parties that have agreed in principle to field a joint presidential candidate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 2002). The National Unity Party has similarly indicated that it will nominate its chairman, Artashes Geghamian (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 2002). LF

ARMENIAN PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTIES AT ODDS
In a 19 October interview with RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau, Galust Sahakian, who heads the parliamentary faction of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), rejected recent criticism of the HHK by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (HHD) and Orinats Yerkir. HHD leader Vahan Hovannisian has accused the HHK of planning to predetermine the outcome of the 20 October local elections; Sahakian responded that the HHD is merely jealous of the HHK's growing influence. LF

ARMENIA HOSTS MEETING OF CIS BORDER-GUARD COMMANDERS
Commanders, or their deputies, of 10 of the 12 CIS states' respective border-protection services met in Yerevan on 17-18 October to discuss problems posed by international terrorism, illegal migration, and drug trafficking, Noyan Tapan reported. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan did not send representatives. LF

AZERBAIJAN MARKS INDEPENDENCE DAY
On 18 October Azerbaijan marked the 11th anniversary of its parliament's 1991 declaration of independence from the USSR. In a 17 October address, President Heidar Aliev enumerated the country's economic successes over that time period, according to "Bakinskii rabochii," as cited by Groong. Aliev also noted for the first time Mamed Emin Rasulzade's role in the founding of the independent Azerbaijan National Republic in 1918, Turan reported on 18 October. Aliev also issued a decree on 18 October pardoning 82 prisoners, 39 of whom were sentenced on charges of acts directed against the Azerbaijani state. The beneficiaries did not include former Defense Minister Rahim Gaziev or former Interior Minister Iskander Hamidov, both of whom the Council of Europe regards as political prisoners. LF

AZERBAIJAN TO INCREASE DEFENSE SPENDING
The state budget for 2003 envisages a 12 percent increase in defense spending, Finance Minister Avaz Alakbarov told ANS TV on 18 October, according to Groong. A total of 680 billion manats ($139 million) has been allocated for that purpose. LF

GEORGIAN BORDER-GUARD COMMANDER GIVES DETAILS OF AGREEMENT WITH RUSSIA
Lieutenant General Valeri Chkheidze explained to journalists in Tbilisi on 19 October the precise provisions of the agreement he and his Russian counterpart Colonel General Konstantin Totskii signed in Yerevan two days earlier, Russian and Georgian news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 2002). Chkheidze said that Russian and Georgian border guards will not conduct any joint patrols, nor will they patrol each other's territory, but will coordinate between themselves which sectors of the border to patrol. After such patrols, senior officers will meet to exchange information. A hotline is also to be set up to connect Russian and Georgian border posts. Chkheidze said that a plan for cooperation in 2003 will be drafted by the end of the year. Speaking in Tbilisi on 18 October, Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze hailed the 17 October agreement as the first real step toward cooperation between the two sides, Caucasus Press reported. LF

FORMER KYRGYZ PRESIDENTS TO BE GRANTED IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION?
Among the constitutional amendments recently proposed by the Constitutional Council is one to Article 53 that would grant former presidents of Kyrgyzstan immunity from prosecution and from any responsibility for actions taken or statements made in that capacity, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 18 October. The assent of the parliament would be required in order to initiate criminal or other legal proceedings against a former president. LF

CHINA PROVIDES MORE AID FOR KYRGYZ MILITARY
China has given the Kyrgyz armed forces additional materials and equipment to the value of 8 million yuans ($97,000), RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau and akipress.org reported on 17 and 18 October. The consignment includes building materials and equipment, office furniture, and canteen equipment. LF

FSB DIRECTOR VISITS TAJIKISTAN
Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev met in Dushanbe on 18 October with Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov to discuss regional security and the situation in Afghanistan, Russian news agencies reported. According to Patrushev, the three-hour discussion focused on the threats posed by international terrorism as well as on drug trafficking, which is one of the primary sources of funding for terrorism. Patrushev said Afghanistan still poses a security threat to Central Asia. He lauded the Afghan government's decision to cooperate with Russia to contain the threats posed by illegal drugs and terrorism, ITAR-TASS reported. Patrushev also said both Russia and Tajikistan will help Afghanistan establish new law enforcement agencies. LF

TURKMENISTAN, AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN INITIAL PIPELINE AGREEMENT
Following talks in Ashgabat on 17-18 October, senior government officials from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan initialed a framework agreement on further measures in preparation for building a gas-export pipeline from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan, Russian news agencies and turkmenistan.ru reported. The presidents of the three countries signed a memorandum of intent earlier this year to conduct a feasibility study for that project (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2002), and are to sign the framework agreement in Ashgabat on 26 or 27 October. The Asian Development Bank, which has indicated that it might provide some financing for the estimated $2 billion project, will select a company in December to conduct the feasibility study on the basis of earlier studies by the U.S. company Unocal and the Turkmen government. LF

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS UZBEKISTAN
Continuing his tour of Central Asia, Kofi Annan arrived in Tashkent on 18 October for a three-day visit, ITAR-TASS and uza.uz reported. Annan met with President Islam Karimov, parliament speaker Erkin Khalilov, and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov. Annan's talks with Karimov focused primarily on the situation in Afghanistan, the struggle against international terrorism and drug trafficking, and regional ecological problems including the dwindling Aral Sea. Karimov expressed regret that as yet the reform of the United Nations has had no positive impact on Uzbekistan or on Central Asia as a whole. LF

PACE ASKS BELARUSIAN LEGISLATURE ABOUT DISAPPEARANCES
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's (PACE) special commission on disappearances in Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 2002) has asked Belarus's National Assembly to provide information on political disappearances in the country, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 18 October. "The probability that we will find any of those who have disappeared is not high. However, there is a great probability that we will get to know what is being done to find them," commission head Sergei Kovalev told RFE/RL. Meanwhile, Barys Bikinin, the head of the Chamber of Representatives' Committee for National Security, confirmed that the chamber will question law enforcement chiefs on 24 October on the high-profile disappearances in Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2002), Belapan reported on 18 October. JM

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION RALLIES TO DEMAND PRESIDENT'S OUSTER
Several thousand people gathered on Independence Square in Kyiv on 19 October for a rally organized by the opposition as part of the ongoing "Rise Up, Ukraine!" antipresidential protest campaign, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Opposition leaders appealed to demonstrators to sign a resolution urging President Leonid Kuchma to resign on 21 October. Demonstrators subsequently moved to the presidential administration headquarters on Bankova Street, where they lit candles and set up a plaque reading, "On this street a memorial will be erected to honor victims of the Kuchma regime." The rally coincided with the 10th anniversary of Kuchma's coming to power. In October 1992, the Ukrainian parliament appointed Kuchma as prime minister. Kuchma left the post of prime minister in 1993, and in 1994 he was elected president of Ukraine. JM

UKRAINIAN MINERS STOP STRIKE
Ukrainian coal miners suspended a general strike on 18 October after the Verkhovna Rada approved the first reading of a 2003 budget draft that pledges more financial support for the sector, Ukrainian news agencies reported. Last week, miners at approximately 130 of Ukraine's 170 coal mines refused to ship coal to consumers or halted their work completely to protest what they said was insufficient funding for the coal-mining sector in the budget draft proposed by the government. JM

UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES RELEASE RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN
Russian businessman Konstantin Grigorishin was released from detention on 20 October, a week after he was arrested on charges of illegal possession of weapons and drugs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2002), Ukrainian news agencies reported. Grigorishin told journalists the same day that presidential administration chief Viktor Medvedchuk had previously threatened to put him in jail, reportedly because of Grigorishin's refusal to finance Medvedchuk's Social Democratic Party-united's parliamentary-election campaign. Grigorishin heads the Energy Standard Group, a Russian-Ukrainian company. Later on 20 October, Grigorishin was reportedly hospitalized after suffering from symptoms of a heart attack. JM

U.S., BRITISH EXPERTS ASSESS KOLCHUGA ALLEGATIONS
U.S. and British experts have completed a fact-gathering mission in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 2002) but need at least a week to establish whether Ukraine sold a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq in contravention of UN sanctions, Reuters reported on 21 October, quoting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. "[The experts] are in the process of reviewing a very large volume of data and information which they collected. They need to assess it, they need to determine if there are any gaps, they need to determine if any additional information is necessary, and they will then at that point reach conclusions," Pascual told journalists. JM

ESTONIA'S LOCAL ELECTIONS BOLSTER CENTER-REFORM COALITION...
The State Election Committee announced that 52.4 percent of eligible voters participated in local elections throughout the country on 20 October, ETA reported the following day. Turnout was thus higher than for communal elections in 1999 (49.8 percent) or 1996 (52.1 percent). In the capital, Tallinn, the Center Party garnered 38.5 percent of the vote and 32 of the 63 seats on the City Council and is thus likely to continue its center-right coalition with the Reform Party, which took 11 seats. The centrist Res Publica party, formed in late 2001 and which advocates more conciliatory policies toward non-Estonians, won 17 seats, while the Estonian United People's Party took three seats on the Tallinn City Council. The right-wing Pro Patria Union gained 6.8 percent of the vote but will not be granted seats under the system for distributing local mandates, while the Moderates and People's Union each fell short of the 5 percent threshold for representation with 4.9 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. In Tartu, which is Estonia's second largest city, the Reform Party gained 23 seats; Pro Patria, nine; Res Publica, eight; Center Party, six; and the Moderates, three. SG

...BUT NEWCOMER GETS NOSE IN THE TENT, TOO
Across the country, Res Publica performed better than many predicted, winning 385 seats in 100 of the 117 councils for which the party competed. Representatives of Pro Patria declared that there were few winners but many losers in a contest between similarly thinking parties, according to ETA. Pro Patria Chairman Mart Laar called on right-leaning parties like the Reform Party, Res Publica, Pro Patria, and the Moderates to work together to deny the left-leaning Center Party from gaining greater power. SG

U.S. SENATOR PRAISES LITHUANIA'S PROGRESS
The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Shelby (Republican, Alabama), met with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis on 19 October in Vilnius, BNS reported. The aim of the visit was to learn more about Lithuania's achievements, its preparation for NATO membership, and the economic situation. Noting that he visited Lithuania before its independence was reestablished in 1991, he praised its progress. Shelby said he was not involved in preparations for the visit to Lithuania by President George W. Bush, slated for after the NATO summit in Prague on 21-22 November, but was sure that "it will be a great day." Such a visit has not been officially confirmed, but Estonian and Latvian Presidents Arnold Ruutel and Vaira Vike-Freiberga are also reportedly to travel to Vilnius to meet with Bush. SG

LATVIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC WORKERS PARTY LEADERSHIP REMAINS IN PLACE
The council of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party (LSDSP) did not step down at a 19 October meeting, LETA reported, despite signs of pressure on the leadership following a disappointing showing in the 5 October parliamentary elections. Party Chairman Juris Bojars and two senior party members last week announced that they submitted their resignations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 2002). Bojars explained that the party's charter has no clause permitting the council to resign, according to LETA. He also said he must head the organization of the party's upcoming congress, since as chairman he alone has the right to sign documents on behalf of the party, although party funds can be used only with the approval of the council. The council decided to hold the party's 34th congress in Riga's Kipsala Center on 23 November and to elect delegates for every three members of the party, rather than the current five. Three other Latvian parties -- Latvia's Way, the People's Party, and For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK -- will also hold their congresses in November. SG

POLISH PREMIER, PRESIDENT PRAISE CABINET'S FIRST YEAR...
Premier Leszek Miller said on 19 October that during its first year in office his cabinet has traveled "a difficult road, but one that has opened opportunities for a better future," PAP reported. President Aleksander Kwasniewski said the government has exhibited "three strong pluses" in its performance. According to the president, Miller's cabinet saved the public finances from collapse and demonstrated "determination" in its EU membership negotiations. The third plus, Kwasniewski added, is the fact that "the government and political decision-making centers are [one and the same]." Kwasniewski was apparently hinting at the way the preceding Solidarity-led cabinet of Jerzy Buzek operated, when most of its crucial decisions were widely believed to be dictated by Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski. JM

...WHILE EMPLOYERS ARE MORE CAUTIOUS IN ASSESSMENT
Four business federations -- the Business Center Club, the Polish Business Roundtable, the Polish Confederation of Private Employers, and the Confederation of Polish Employers -- "are in agreement that current policies put a question mark on the implementation of government promises of economic recovery," PAP reported on 18 October. The federations objected to many of the cabinet's moves over the past year, including the freezing of income-tax brackets, failure to reduce the corporate-income tax by 3 percent as planned, the increase in budgetary spending for administration and subsidies to companies, slow privatization, and the tax-amnesty bill. On the positive side, the federations noted such achievements as the lower budget deficit, amendments to the Labor Code, and the introduction of a legislative package to boost entrepreneurship. JM

POLAND SATISFIED WITH IRISH REFERENDUM ON EU
President Kwasniewski said on 20 October that he is satisfied with the results of Ireland's 19 October Irish referendum on the Treaty of Nice, in which 63 percent of voters said "yes" to the treaty and in effect to EU enlargement in 2004, Polish media reported. "This is the evidence of the European Union's deep internal democracy," PAP quoted Kwasniewski as saying. "The Irish example shows that each country, even a less populous one, has its own say and that this say can be loud and clear. This should pacify many of my compatriots who are afraid that Poland's entry into the EU could mean that the 40 million [strong] country will not be heard in it," Kwasniewski added. Celebrating the referendum's outcome, Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller on 20 October treated himself to a Guinness and, with the assistance of journalists gathered in a students' club, sang a song about Ireland. JM

CZECH POLITICIANS WELCOME IRISH EU VOTE
Officials in the Czech Republic who back European Union integration breathed a sigh of relief as they welcomed the results of Ireland's 19 October referendum approving the Treaty of Nice, Czech media reported on 20 October. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, whose new government has placed its greatest emphasis on EU accession, sent a congratulatory telegram to his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern, CTK reported the same day. Spidla also praised Irish citizens for what he called their broad-mindedness. "I must say, I'm very pleased by the referendum's result," Spidla said. The referendum paved the way for 10 new countries to enter the EU in 2004. "We are pleased that the schedule of our EU accession is not threatened and that it will go on according to the given rules," Ladislav Spacek, spokesman for President Vaclav Havel, said in remarks reported by CTK. BW

CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS 9/11 HIJACKER DID NOT MEET IRAQI AGENT
Czech President Havel has told U.S. officials that there is no evidence to substantiate reports that suspected 11 September hijacker Mohammad Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2002), "The New York Times" reported on 21 October, citing unidentified Czech officials. According "The New York Times," Havel discreetly called Washington to tell White House officials that reports of the alleged April 2001 meeting could not be substantiated. In October 2001, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross publicly insisted that Atta met with Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samil al-Ani, an Iraqi intelligence official who was later expelled from the Czech Republic. Gross's statement appeared to suggest a direct connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al-Qaeda. BW

CZECH CABINET APPROVES DEFICIT DRAFT BUDGET
The Czech government approved a revised 2003 draft federal budget on 21 October, Dow Jones reported the same day. The lower house will begin debating the budget, which aims to lower the deficit by delaying debt payments and cutting spending, on 7 November. The draft budget projects revenues of 684 billion crowns ($21.9 billion) and expenditures of 795 billion crowns. That represents a deficit of 111 billion crowns, down from 157 billion crowns in an earlier draft. BW

SLOVAK MINISTER VOWS TOUGH CRIME-FIGHTING MEASURES...
Slovakia's new interior minister, Vladimir Palko, pledged that his police will get tough on crime, CTK reported on 18 October. Palko, who assumed his post on 16 October, said he plans to introduce fast-track investigations, eliminate duplication in criminal proceedings, and tighten cooperation between investigators and uniformed police. The interior minister also said he will push for a sentencing policy of "three strikes and you're out," prescribing mandatory life imprisonment for a third serious conviction. Such a measure was rejected by deputies in the mid-1990s in the neighboring Czech Republic. BW

...BUT SAYS POLICE MUST TREAT CITIZENS WITH RESPECT
At the same time, Palko on 18 October said police must treat law-abiding citizens with more respect, TASR reported. Palko said all police stations should have a front desk, a "decent" face should greet visitors and provide information, and police chiefs should hold public meetings at least once a month. Palko, who assumed his post on 16 October, also said he plans to introduce property declarations for police officers and their families as part of an effort to combat corruption. The interior minister also said he plans to introduce measures to crack down on police officers caught driving drunk. BW

EDUCATION MINISTER SAYS UNIVERSITIES TO START CHARGING TUITION
Slovakia's new education minister, Martin Fronc, said all university students will most likely be required to pay tuition starting in the 2003/2004 academic year, TASR reported on 20 October. The cost to students, Fronc said, is likely to be 6,000-12,000 crowns ($140-$280) a year. That figure represents 10-20 percent of the costs of a school year for one student. The Education Ministry is also considering depositing 30 percent of the fees collected in a scholarship fund for poor families, he said. BW

HUNGARY'S GOVERNING PARTIES DOMINATE LOCAL ELECTIONS
Candidates for the coalition Socialist Party (MSZP) and Free Democrats (SZDSZ) garnered 45 percent of all votes in local elections on 20 October, Hungarian media reported, citing preliminary results. Sixteen of Hungary's 22 major cities will be led by MSZP-SZDSZ mayors as a result. The opposition FIDESZ and Democratic Forum meanwhile received a more modest 33 percent of votes to county assemblies. Candidates for the governing coalition also won mayoral posts in right-wing strongholds such as Miskolc, Szeged, and Szombathely, unseating conservative incumbent mayors there. According to preliminary reports, voter turnout was 46 percent, the highest for local elections in the country's postcommunist history. Lajos Ficzere, chairman of the National Election Commission, said late on 20 October that no incidents occurred that might threaten to invalidate the balloting. MSZ

BUDAPEST MAYOR RE-ELECTED TO FOURTH TERM
Free Democrat Gabor Demszky on 20 October was elected Budapest mayor for a fourth time, receiving 47 percent of votes and extending a tenure that began in 1990, Hungarian media reported. Demszky was followed by independent candidate Pal Schmitt with 37 percent and Socialist candidate Erzsebet Nemeth with 13 percent. The three other candidates, including Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) Chairman Istvan Csurka, each won less than 4 percent of the vote. The Socialist Party won 25 seats in the 66-member Budapest Council, ahead of FIDESZ with 21 seats, and followed by the Free Democrats with 16 seats and MIEP with four seats. Demszky told a jubilant crowd that he "will always strive for agreement, and represent the interests of all the people of Budapest," Hungarian television reported. The opposition-backed Schmitt told Hungarian television on 20 October that he is proud that his program was supported by every third voter in Budapest. MSZ

HUNGARIAN POLITICIANS REACT TO ELECTION RESULTS
Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy said the fact that his MSZP won the local elections shows that the new Socialist-led government "won the trust of the people in keeping the promises it made before the April general elections," "Nepszabadsag" reported on 21 October. MSZP Chairman Laszlo Kovacs attributed the unusually high turnout in the 20 October local elections to the "fierce domestic political struggle," saying left-wing voters wanted "confirmation of the April general elections" while the right wing sought revenge. FIDESZ parliamentary group leader Janos Ader congratulated the MSZP for winning the elections, saying, "The trend continued whereby those that won the parliamentary elections also won local elections," the daily reported. MSZ

ORBAN ELECTED TO EUROPEAN PEOPLE'S PARTY LEADERSHIP
Former Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was elected one of 10 deputy chairmen of the European People's Party, an umbrella organization for national conservative parties, at its 18 October congress in Estoril, Portugal, Hungarian dailies reported the next day. Orban is the first politician representing an EU candidate country to have been elected to the leadership of the organization, which forms the largest group in the European Parliament. MSZ

DJUKANOVIC PLEDGES 'FOUR YEARS OF STABILITY' AFTER WINNING MONTENEGRIN VOTE...
More than 77 percent of the 455,000 registered voters turned out in Montenegro on 20 October to cast their ballots for members of the 75-seat parliament, as well as for local governments in Podgorica and Tivat, international and local media reported. In the parliamentary election, President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Coalition For a European Montenegro -- Milo Djukanovic won 39 seats for an outright majority. Djukanovic told AP that his coalition will invite an unspecified number of ethnic Albanian deputies to join the new cabinet "so our government will reflect the multiethnic and multicultural diversity of Montenegro." An alliance of ethnic Albanian parties took two seats. The pro-Belgrade Coalition for Change led by Predrag Bulatovic won 30 seats. The big losers were the Liberal Alliance (LS), who have four seats. The BBC's Serbian Service commented that the pro-independence voters who make up the core of that party's supporters "punished" it for cooperating with pro-Belgrade parties in recent months. Djukanovic clearly benefited from Liberal Alliance defections. PM

...AND REAFFIRMS HIS 'EUROPEAN' COURSE
Djukanovic's supporters celebrated according to Montenegrin custom by firing guns into the air throughout the night, international and local media reported from Podgorica on 21 October. The president told reporters that his victory is the result of "a serious political struggle over the last few years, which we have fought in order to keep peace in Montenegro and to emancipate Montenegro from backwardness.... This victory will enable Montenegro to continue dynamic political and economic reforms toward European integration.... [Our] priorities will focus on overcoming our very difficult economic and social problems and implementing the Belgrade agreement," which set up a very loose union of Montenegro and Serbia, RFE/RL reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 March, and 9 and 10 April 2002). Elsewhere, a spokesman for the pro-Belgrade coalition suggested that Djukanovic's supporters had, in essence, bribed some of its voters not to vote. And a spokesman for the Liberal Alliance predicted that Djukanovic will continue what the Liberal Alliance regards as bankrupt policies. PM

SERBIAN SUPREME COURT REJECTS KOSTUNICA'S COMPLAINT
The Serbian Supreme Court on 21 October turned down a demand by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) that the recent second round of the Serbian presidential election be declared valid, (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 16 October 2002), Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. The Election Commission previously nullified the vote because fewer than 50 percent of registered voters in Serbia proper, Vojvodina, and the Serbian-dominated areas of Kosova turned out to cast their ballots (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 18 October 2002). PM

DEL PONTE SEEKS EXTRADITION OF FORMER GENERAL FROM SERBIA -- AGAIN
Carla Del Ponte, who is the chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, visited Tirana on 19 October on the first stop of a trip that will also take her to Belgrade, Prishtina, Sarajevo, and Zagreb, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. In Tirana, she called on the authorities to cooperate with the tribunal, according to Foreign Minister Ilir Meta. In Belgrade on 21 October, she is expected to demand the extradition of former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, who is one of the most wanted indicted war criminals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2002). But Yugoslav Justice Minister Savo Markovic told the daily "Politika" that "both the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian Interior Ministry have stated that they have no information confirming that Ratko Mladic is hiding in our country," AP reported on 20 October. In the Serbian capital, Del Ponte is scheduled to meet with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, and General Branko Krga, who heads the General Staff. PM

FINAL TALLY CONFIRMS NATIONALIST WIN IN BOSNIA
On 19 October, the Bosnian election commission announced the final tallies from the 5 October general elections, international and local media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2002). The clear winners were the three largest nationalist parties: the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), and the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). The new joint Presidency will consist of Sulejman Tihic (SDA), Mirko Sarovic (SDS), and Dragan Covic (HDZ). In the joint 42-seat parliament, the SDA won 10 seats, while the SDS and HDZ each took five seats. Eleven parties shared the remaining seats, including six for the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH), four for the Social Democrats (SDP), and three for the Independent Social Democrats (SNS). In the 98-seat federal parliament, the SDA won 32 seats, followed by the HDZ with 16 seats and the SBiH and SDP with 15 each. Fourteen other parties share the remaining seats. The three largest parties have filed complaints against allocating seats to small parties that barely surpassed the 3 percent threshold for representation. PM

A BIG COALITION IN THE REPUBLIKA SRPSKA?
In the 83-seat Bosnian Serb parliament, the SDS will have 26 deputies, followed by the SNS with 19 legislators, international and local media reported on 19 October. The remaining seats are divided up among 13 other parties. Two days later, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service quoted Republika Srpska President-elect Dragan Cavic (SDS) as saying in Banja Luka that the Bosnian Serbs need a broad-based coalition. He added that some unnamed representatives of the international community are trying to put together a coalition that will exclude the SDS. PM

MACEDONIAN SHOOTOUTS LEAVE TWO DEAD, SEVERAL WOUNDED
Two people died and at least three were wounded in two separate shootouts in Tetovo on 18 and 19 October, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. A 21-year-old ethnic Albanian passenger died and a second passenger was injured when police opened fire on a car that refused to stop for a routine check on 18 October. According to police sources, two shots were fired at the patrol from inside the car. But Reuters quoted an unnamed OSCE official as saying that the passengers were "kids...[who] panicked [and] went on [while] police fired on their car." An unnamed Western diplomat added: "What is worrying about this incident is that it was a completely Macedonian patrol." Under the August 2001 peace agreement, police patrols in sensitive areas are supposed to be ethnically mixed. In the second incident, an 18-year-old ethnic Macedonian student died and two other youths were badly injured as they played basketball. They were hit by automatic gunfire from a passing car. It is not clear if the two incidents are related. NATO and the OSCE are investigating. UB/PM

MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT TAKING SHAPE
In addition to four ministries and a deputy prime minister's post, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) will have two seats on the National Security Council, dpa reported from Skopje on 18 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 2002). The two posts will most likely go to Deputy Prime Minister Musa Xhaferi and Agron Buxhaku, who heads the BDI's parliamentary faction. The other members of the council are the president, the speaker of the parliament, the prime minister, and the interior and defense ministers, all of whom are ethnic Macedonians. The names of the individual cabinet members will be announced shortly. It is expected that former Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva and former Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski, both Social Democrats, will return to their old jobs. PM

COMMERCIAL BANK OF ROMANIA PRIVATIZATION REKINDLED
The Romanian government announced on 21 October that the process of privatizing the Commercial Bank of Romania (BCR), the country's largest, has been reinitiated, Mediafax reported. Privatization Minister Ovidiu Musetescu said on 18 October that a majority stake of the bank will be sold "to the right buyer." The government set 31 July 2003 as the deadline for the bank's sell-off, an extension of the original February 2003 deadline agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund, but Musetescu did not exclude the possibility that finding a buyer could take longer. The initial BCR sale attracted bids only from France's Eulia Corporation and an alliance of Austria's Creditanstalt and Hungary's PostaBank. The government turned both of those bids down on legal grounds. ZsM

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ADVISER ARRESTED ON CORRUPTION CHARGES
On 19 October, the National Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office arrested Fanel Pavalache, an adviser to the government's Secretary-General's Office, on charges of abuse of office, Mediafax reported. Pavalache is accused of asking for bribes totaling $4 million for him to influence judges in the briber's favor in a lawsuit, according to media reports. Pavalache was arrested after he allegedly received the first $20,000 of the bribe. A statement released by the Secretary-General's Office on 20 October said Pavalache was working for the office only on a probationary basis and that the charges against him have "nothing to do with his work duties." ZsM

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES PLANS TO AMEND MEDIA LAW
Speaking to journalists in his hometown of Pernik on 19 October, President Georgi Parvanov criticized the ruling parties' plans to amend the existing media law, BTA reported. Parvanov said the proposed changes are a "waste of time," although he admitted he did not know the exact text of the amendments. "I doubt whether this new law may offer fine solutions to the real problems facing the media, such as financing, and providing more guarantees for freedom of speech," Parvanov said. The draft bill reportedly intends to reduce presidential influence on the state Council on Electronic Media, which oversees both private and state-run radio and television. Parvanov added that he is concerned at the growing disagreements between the presidency, the parliament, and the government on key political issues. UB

BULGARIA COMPLETES DESTRUCTION OF MISSILE WARHEADS
The last of Bulgaria's stockpile of SS-23, Scud, and Frog missiles was destroyed at the Zmeyovo military training area on 19 October, bnn news agency reported. Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov said the warheads were destroyed 11 days ahead of the deadline agreed with the United States. An unspecified number of missile engines remain to be scrapped. The missile-destruction process stirred public protest against possible environmental damage and was delayed by disagreements between the Defense Ministry and the Environment Ministry (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 2002). UB

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS AFGHANISTAN
Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi arrived in Kabul for a one-day visit on 19 October, BTA reported. Pasi traveled aboard a transport plane carrying 30 tons of humanitarian aid provided by the Bulgarian Civil Protection Directorate and the Bulgarian Red Cross. Pasi met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, acting Foreign Minister Rahim Sherzoi, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander Hilmi Akin Zorlu, Kabul Multinational Brigade Commander Brigadier General Manfred Schlenker, and with members of Bulgaria's ISAF contingent. "Bulgaria's commitment to Afghanistan has been very serious since the very beginning. Now, ahead of the [21-22 November NATO summit] meeting in Prague, I would like to reaffirm this commitment," Pasi said prior to leaving Sofia. UB

There is no End Note today.


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