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Newsline - October 30, 2002


CHECHEN PRESIDENT'S ENVOY DETAINED IN DENMARK...
Chechen Vice Premier Akhmed Zakaev, who is President Aslan Maskhadov's personal envoy, has been arrested in Copenhagen, where he attended the World Chechen Congress on 28-29 October, and remanded in custody for 13 days, Reuters and dpa quoted Danish officials as saying on 30 October. The arrest was reportedly made at the request of the Russian government, which has asked that Zakaev be extradited to Russia, where he might face charges of complicity in last week's hostage taking by Chechen militants at a Moscow theater. Zakaev has repeatedly denied that Maskhadov or members of his government played any role in, or had any prior knowledge of, that assault. Speaking in Grozny, Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov expressed satisfaction at Zakaev's reported detention, adding that Danish authorities should have also arrested all other participants in the congress, lenta.ru reported. LF

...AS RUSSIA PRESSES FOR HIS EXTRADITION
The State Duma will demand Vice Premier Zakaev's speedy extradition, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev told journalists on 30 October, according to strana.ru. Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov said the legal basis for the extradition is sound and accused Zakaev of "armed insurrection, organizing illegal armed formations, and assaults on the lives of state officials." ITAR-TASS on 28 October reported that Moscow had presented Danish authorities with dossiers on 77 Chechens who took part in the World Chechen Congress and whom the Kremlin accuses of involvement in terrorism. VY

PUTIN ORDERS REVISION OF NATIONAL SECURITY CONCEPT
During a 29 October Kremlin meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Chief of the General Staff Anatolii Kvashnin, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, and other security chiefs, President Vladimir Putin ordered a revision of the country's National Security Doctrine in the wake of the 23-26 October hostage crisis in Moscow, "Izvestiya" and other Russian news agencies reported. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Defense Minister Ivanov stressed the increased role of the army in the international aspects of combating terrorism (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 29 October 2002), saying the government believes that threats to Russia's national security -- including those from abroad -- are growing and that Russia is prepared to use military force not only against terrorists, but also against those who sponsor or finance them. Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Federation Council's Defense and Security Committee, told "Izvestiya" that the revised doctrine will require changes to the laws on state secrets, on security, on defense, on state borders, on states of emergency, on combating terrorism, and many others. VY

NATIONAL GUARD TO BE CREATED
Major General Tatyana Moskalnikova, head of the Interior Ministry's Main Legal Directorate, described on 29 October sweeping reforms of her ministry in the context of the reorganization of the country's defense and security complex, gazeta.ru reported. As part of the reform, the Interior Ministry's approximately 20 divisions of internal troops will be transformed over the next few years into a national guard. Moskalnikova also said a federal police force will be created that will be responsible for ensuring public security and fighting crime at the national level. In addition, there will be a federal investigative agency. Other functions currently fulfilled by the federal Interior Ministry will be delegated to municipal police, Moskalnikova said. VY

HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN WARNS AGAINST ANTI-CHECHEN HYSTERIA...
Human Rights Ombudsman Oleg Mironov said on 30 October that he is concerned about the likely increase in anti-Chechen sentiment in the wake of last week's Moscow hostage crisis and the subsequent activity of the military and security forces, Ekho Moskvy reported. "In Russia, there are enough ultra-patriots who are ready to defend the interests of Slavic people by exploding our country and casting it into the abyss of interethnic strife," Mironov said. He added that there are no legal grounds for expelling Chechens from Moscow or other regions and that the heightened security measures must not violate constitutional norms. President Putin was briefed on anti-Chechen incidents by the Interior Ministry and the FSB on 30 October, RIA-Novosti reported. "I have just been acquainted with the alarming information of the Interior Ministry about the increased threats against Chechens.... Under no circumstances can we allow this negative turn of events or give in to the provocations that are being pushed upon us. We do not have the right to permit injustice," Putin said. VY/RC

...AS MOSCOW MAYOR CALLS FOR INCREASED CONTROL OVER NONRESIDENTS
Yurii Luzhkov on 29 October told Ekho Moskvy that he would like to tighten control over the influx of nonresidents to Moscow. Luzhkov said he regrets that the Soviet-era "propiska" system of restricting movement through registration with the police was abolished. "Moscow is an open city and 3 million people arrive here daily. It should have at least minimal ways of defending itself," Luzhkov said. VY

DEATH TOLL OF FORMER HOSTAGES REACHES 119
Andrei Selkovskii, head of the Moscow City Health Department, announced on 30 October that the number of former hostages involved in the 23-26 October hostage drama who have died has reached 119, regions.ru reported. All but two of them died from the effects of the sleeping gas used by Russian special forces in the operation to end the standoff. However, regions.ru reported that according to confidential information collected by the Health Ministry from Moscow hospitals, the actual number of dead is 140. The authorities will delay making the true figures public for as long as possible in order to avoid negative public-relations consequences, regions.ru commented. A number of hostages who were released from the hospital have returned complaining of dizziness and other ailments. VY

BEREZOVSKII, PROKHANOV ACCUSE PUTIN OF INACTION DURING HOSTAGE CRISIS...
Self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovskii and Aleksandr Prokhanov, editor in chief of the nationalist newspaper "Zavtra," released a joint statement in London on 30 October accusing President Putin and his direct representatives of failing to offer any solution to the Moscow hostage drama, lenta.ru reported. The statement was also signed by nationalist Duma Deputy Viktor Alksnis (independent). The authors said that such an audacious attack would have been impossible without the negligence or -- more likely -- the complicity of some officials. The statement blames the deaths of 117 former hostages who died from the effects of the sleeping gas used by the security forces on the lack of coordination between law enforcement officials and health-care professionals. Finally, it says the "vertical of power" that Putin has created has not passed this test, and the hostage crisis demonstrates that the president is not capable of protecting Russian citizens. VY

...AS PUBLIC STANDS BEHIND THE PRESIDENT...
Despite the continuing controversy over the use of sleeping gas by security forces to resolve the hostage standoff, President Putin's popularity rating remains extremely strong, Russian news agencies reported on 30 October. According to a poll of 1,600 respondents conducted by the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) between 25-28 October, 85 percent of Russians support the president's actions during the Moscow hostage crisis. Eighty-two percent said they judge the actions of the security services as "very good" or "good." Just 10 percent judged them as "poor." Likewise, 76 percent gave the mass media high marks during the crisis, while 18 percent said the media performed "poorly." Nine percent of the 1,600 respondents expressed "sympathy and understanding" for the actions of the hostage takers and 1 percent said they "respect" them. RC

...AND BACKS HARSH REACTION
According to the same poll, 54 percent of respondents answered affirmatively when asked if Russia should respond to the hostage incident by taking "decisive measures against Chechen fighters similar to those undertaken [in Afghanistan] by the United States following 11 September 2001." Thirty-six percent answered negatively. Forty-six percent of poll respondents said Russia should continue the war in Chechnya, but 44 percent called for the initiation of peace talks to end the fighting. At the same time, 49 percent agreed that federal forces in Chechnya are acting "not firmly enough," while just 9 percent agreed that they are acting "too firmly." Eighteen percent said the only way to end the conflict in Chechnya is to "wall Russia off from Chechnya and give the republic its independence." RC

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN CALLS FOR MEDIA-ETHICS CODE...
Leading media figures gathered at a 29 October roundtable sponsored by "Rossiiskaya gazeta" to discuss the lessons of the 23-26 October Moscow hostage drama, Russian news agencies reported on 30 October. Presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii told the gathering that it is time to work out "unwritten rules of conduct" for journalists in extraordinary situations, lenta.ru reported. "This must be worked out within the journalistic community, and not by the authorities for journalists," Yastrzhembskii said, according to strana.ru. However, he added that government and security officials should participate in the process of formulating the guidelines. Yastrzhembskii described the live television coverage of the special-forces operation on 26 October to free the hostages as a clear violation of the law on terrorism. "That is not acceptable," he said. RC

...AS MEDIA MINISTRY WILL FORGIVE MEDIA'S HOSTAGE-CRISIS LAPSES
First Deputy Media Minister Mikhail Seslavinskii said on 29 October that his ministry will not punish any media outlets in connection with the 23-26 October Moscow hostage drama, even if violations of the law on mass media are established, lenta.ru and other Russian news agencies reported on 30 October. "Not only the media made mistakes, and searching for the guilty or blaming everything on the media would not be correct," Seslavinskii said. He said that no media outlets had been or would be issued formal ministry warnings as a result of the hostage crisis. RC

FAR EAST GOVERNOR SAYS NO ONE IS SAFE
Kamchatka Governor Mikhail Mashkovtsev has criticized the security services for not preventing the 23 October seizure of a Moscow theater by armed Chechen fighters, regions.ru reported on 30 October. Citing the 18 October assassination of Magadan Governor Valentin Tsvetkov, the 19 October explosion outside a Moscow McDonald's restaurant, and the hostage crisis, Mashkovtsev lamented the "negative events taking place in the country" and said no one in the country can feel secure. RC

RUSSIA OBJECTS TO ANTICIPATED RESTRICTIONS ON SHIPPING OIL VIA TURKISH STRAITS
Union of Russian Ship Owners Director Vyacheslav Zamoryanov told Interfax on 29 October that his organization opposes reported Turkish plans to impose new restrictions on shipping through the Turkish straits. Those restrictions would ban oil tankers more than 200 meters in length from passing through the straits and prohibit the passage of tankers through the straits at night, according to a Caspian Pipeline Consortium press release quoted by the Caspian News Agency on 16 October. Zamoryanov attributed the anticipated restrictions, of which his union has not yet been formally notified, to Turkey's support for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan export pipeline as an alternate route for the export of Caspian oil. LF

REVISED BANKRUPTCY BILL BECOMES LAW
President Putin on 29 October signed into law new legislation on bankruptcy, newsru.com and other Russian news agencies reported. The new law, which was passed by the Duma on 27 September and by the Federation Council on 16 October, spells out the rights and obligations of debtors and creditors throughout the bankruptcy procedure and is designed to put an end to often-violent divisions of property. The law also includes binding arbitration procedures and a financial-recovery mechanism. RC

COMMUNIST NUMBER TWO WON'T RUN ELECTION HQ
Valentin Kuptsov, the longtime number two official in the Communist Party (KPRF) hierarchy, will not be running the party's campaign headquarters during the State Duma elections scheduled for next year, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 29 October. Kuptsov has previously been the de facto manager of the KPRF campaign operations, although party chief Gennadii Zyuganov has officially headed party campaigns. Next year, Zyuganov will remain the ceremonial head of campaign headquarters, but State Duma Deputy Ivan Melnikov will manage electoral operations, the daily reported. Party officials agreed on leadership posts for the campaign at a Central Committee plenum in Moscow on 25 October. Kuptsov is considered to be on the left wing of the KPRF. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," he hurriedly left the building after the plenum rather than standing alongside Zyuganov when the party leaders emerged, as he has following past meetings. LB

COMMUNIST OFFICIAL RULES OUT TIES TO BEREZOVSKII
The KPRF will "under no circumstances" associate itself with the controversial oligarch Boris Berezovskii, according to Aleksandr Kuvaev, head of the KPRF's Moscow municipal committee, who attended the 25 October Central Committee plenum. Berezovskii suggested earlier this month that he might help finance the left opposition in Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7, 8, and 10 October 2002). But the 29 October edition of "Izvestiya" quoted Kuvaev as saying that the prospect of an alliance between Berezovskii and the Communists had been raised "artificially" as "yet another political move by the Kremlin in its game against the KPRF." LB

NOVOSIBIRSK COMMUNISTS CONSIDER NOMINATING GLAZIEV
The Communist Party (KPRF) branch in Novosibirsk Oblast is considering nominating State Duma Deputy Sergei Glaziev (Communist) as a candidate in the gubernatorial election scheduled for late 2003, Ekho Moskvy reported on 29 October, citing Interfax. Glaziev finished an unexpectedly strong third in the recent gubernatorial race in Krasnoyarsk Krai, and his name has been floated as a possible gubernatorial candidate in Ulyanovsk Oblast (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2002). Earlier this month, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 42, labeled Glaziev the "rising star of the left." Relatively new to Communist ranks -- he belonged to several political movements that are now defunct before joining the KPRF party list for the 1999 Duma elections -- he is considered a moderating influence and therefore might be an attractive candidate in regions where the KPRF has lost previous elections. Glaziev chaired the Duma's Economic Policy Committee until the Communist faction lost its committee chairmanships in April. LB

FAR EAST'S WAVE OF VIOLENCE CONTINUES
A lawyer who worked in the administration of the mayor of Vladivostok was hospitalized in critical condition on 30 October following a murder attempt, newsru.com and other Russian news agencies reported. Igor Khrabudskii, 48, was found bound and gagged by firefighters in his burning apartment. He suffered severe burns over 90 percent of his body. Police are investigating possible charges of attempted murder and arson. A Vladivostok businessman was severely injured on 29 October in an apparent murder attempt and a local Union of Rightist Forces leader in Nakhodka was killed the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002). RC

ANOTHER RUSSIAN HELICOPTER SHOT DOWN IN CHECHNYA
Three crewmembers and a Russian communications officer died on 29 October when an Mi-8 helicopter crashed while approaching a landing pad at the Khankala military base near Grozny, Russian news agencies reported. Lieutenant General Stanislav Kavun, who is deputy commander of the Interior Ministry forces deployed in Chechnya, said the helicopter was shot down, presumably by Chechen militants using a shoulder-launched missile. It is the sixth military helicopter to crash this year. Chechen Security Council Secretary Rudnik Dudaev expressed skepticism, saying he finds it difficult to comprehend why so many helicopters are shot down in the vicinity of Khankala, given the concentration of Russian troops there, Interfax reported. LF

ROGOZIN SEEKS TO IMPLICATE GEORGIA IN HOSTAGE TAKING
State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Dmitrii Rogozin (People's Deputy) suggested at a Moscow press conference on 29 October that the eight Chechens currently in detention in Tbilisi, whose extradition the Georgian authorities have delayed pending a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, might have had prior knowledge of the Moscow hostage taking, Interfax reported. Georgian State Security Minister Valeri Khaburzania said on 24 October that the Georgian authorities have no evidence to suggest that the hostage taking was planned by Chechen fighters encamped in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, Caucasus Press reported. Khaburzania said that neither Movsar Baraev nor members of his band ever spent time in Georgia. Also on 29 October, Rogozin criticized Lord Frank Judd, chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe-Russia joint working group on Chechnya, for his alleged "silence" during the hostage taking, Interfax reported. Rogozin accused Judd of "doing everything possible to distance himself" from a solution to the crisis. LF

INJURED ARMENIAN JOURNALIST RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
Mark Grigorian, who was injured in a grenade attack in Yerevan on 22 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 24 October 2002), was discharged from the hospital on 28 October, Noyan Tapan reported the following day. Officials at the Armenian Prosecutor-General's Office told RFE/RL on 29 October that they have questioned numerous witnesses in their investigation into Grigorian's attempted murder but have not yet identified suspects. Grigorian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau he believes the assault was undertaken by persons who "do not want to see people with independent thinking in Armenia." LF

YEREVAN AUTHORITIES BAN MARCH BY ARMENIAN KOMSOMOL
The Yerevan municipal authorities refused permission on 29 October for the Armenian Komsomol to stage a march to mark that organization's 84th anniversary, according to Noyan Tapan and Arminfo, as cited by Groong. The marchers planned to carry banners proclaiming the United States an empire of evil and stronghold of terrorism, affirming their affiliation with Russia and rejection of a possible NATO presence in the Caucasus, and demanding the resignation of Armenian President Robert Kocharian. LF

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL LAUDS AZERBAIJANI PROPOSAL FOR RESOLVING KARABAKH CONFLICT
In an interview with zerkalo.az on 30 October, Russian Audit Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin, who is currently visiting Baku, spoke with approval of what he termed a "third, compromise variant" proposed by Azerbaijan for resolving the Karabakh conflict. He said that proposal is "feasible," but he declined to divulge any details. Stepashin did, however, laud the ongoing dialogue between Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev, and stressed that he sees no possibility whatsoever of a military solution to the conflict. Stepashin also argued that the potential of the CIS in efforts to resolve conflicts on the territory of its member states is not being fully utilized. LF

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT BEGINS VISIT TO AZERBAIJAN
Ion Iliescu met in Baku on 29 October with Azerbaijan's President Aliev to review bilateral relations, Turan reported. Iliescu characterized political ties between the two countries as "excellent," but he added that economic cooperation is unsatisfactory. He reaffirmed Romania's willingness to ship to Western Europe Azerbaijani crude exported via the Baku-Supsa pipeline or Azerbaijani natural gas. Other topics discussed included regional security in the South Caucasus, international terrorism, and the Karabakh conflict. LF

GEORGIAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS OIL-PIPELINE PROJECT
David Woodward, president of British Petroleum-Azerbaijan, met in Tbilisi on 28 October with Georgian Minister of State Avtandail Djorbenadze to discuss legal and logistical aspects of laying the planned Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil-export pipeline for Caspian oil, Caucasus Press reported. Woodward told Djorbenadze that BP has drafted an agreement on the payment of compensation to farmers on whose land the pipeline will run. He added that it is hardly possible at this juncture to change the pipeline route, but assured Djorbenadze that every care will be taken to avoid inflicting ecological damage on the unique Borzhomi Gorge. Woodward also cautioned the Georgian population against anticipating a sudden influx of wealth from the export of oil, and Georgian companies against overestimating their chances of participating in the pipeline project. LF

KAZAKH PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION IMPLICATED IN ARREST OF INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST
Kazakh opposition figures joined forces on 29 October to campaign in defense of independent journalist Sergei Duvanov, who has been arrested on charges of raping a 14-year-old girl (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002), forumkz.org reported. Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan Executive Committee Chairman Amirzhan Qosanov told journalists that a number of independent international experts have volunteered their services on Duvanov's behalf. Forumkz.org also pointed out that at a 29 October press conference convened by the local police, a press release was distributed that had been faxed from the presidential office even before Duvanov had been taken into custody on 28 October with instructions of how to field journalists' questions related to his arrest. A copy of the press release has been made available to "RFE/RL Newsline." On 29 October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) demanded an independent investigation into the charges against Duvanov. In a press release, HRW said, "Duvanov's longstanding history of criticizing government policy...raise[s] suspicions that this has all the makings of a politically motivated case." LF

POLICE DETAIN SUPPORTERS OF JAILED FORMER KYRGYZ VICE PRESIDENT
Police in Bishkek detained up to 10 people who participated in a 29 October march to mark the 54th birthday of former Vice President Feliks Kulov, akipress.org and RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Those arrested included veteran human rights activist Tursunbek Akunov. Kulov is serving two concurrent prison terms on charges of embezzlement and abusing his official position while serving as National Security Minister in 1997-98. LF

FORMER KYRGYZ DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER DISQUALIFIED FROM ELECTION RUNOFF
Some 2,000-4,000 people gathered in two raions of Osh Oblast on 29 October to protest the Osh City Court's 27 October decision to bar former Deputy Prime Minister and Agrarian-Labor Party Chairman Usen Sadykov from participating in a runoff by-election on 3 November, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Sadykov, who polled 46 percent of the vote in the first round of voting on 20 October, was scheduled to face Zamirbek Parmankulov in the runoff. The court ruled that the first round of voting was marred by irregularities. LF

TURKMENISTAN TO SUPPLY ELECTRICITY FOR TAJIKISTAN'S ALUMINUM SECTOR
In response to a request from the Tajik government, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov has issued a decree on the export between October 2002-May 2003 of 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to Tajikistan, turkmenistan.ru reported. The energy is destined for Tajikistan's aluminum sector, which is one of the country's major consumers of electricity and yields the lion's share of its industrial production and exports. LF

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TRAVELS TO KUWAIT
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka visited Kuwait on 28-29 October, where he held talks with the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, and other officials, Belapan reported. "We will be traveling to where we are invited, understood, and accepted," Belarusian Television quoted Lukashenka as saying. According to the presidential press service, Kuwaiti officials stressed that although their country maintains close ties with the West and the United States, it is ready to cooperate with Belarus irrespective of its relations with the United States, Great Britain, or Iraq. Lukashenka's press service also reported that Kuwaiti officials agreed to consider giving a loan to the Belarusian government. Belarusian officials will reportedly go to Kuwait next week to offer stakes in petrochemical enterprises and discuss joint power-engineering projects. JM

OSCE MISSION'S LAST INTERNATIONAL MEMBER LEAVES MINSK
Alina Josan, the last foreign staffer of the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group (AMG) in Minsk, crossed Belarus's border into Poland on the afternoon of 29 October, Belapan reported. Earlier the same day, the OSCE Portuguese chairmanship issued a statement calling Josan's departure a "de facto expulsion" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002). "The fact that the Belarusian authorities have decided to continue expelling OSCE Mission members as the OSCE chairmanship makes new attempts to begin consultations and negotiations does not contribute to the desirable normalization of relations between Belarus and the OSCE. While Belarusian authorities have withdrawn all basic conditions for the AMG to function in a normal and adequate manner in Minsk, the AMG's mandate remains valid and the chairmanship will ensure the continuation of its activities from Vienna," the statement said. "It is absolutely obvious that without the OSCE, Belarus might surround itself with barbed wire," Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party leader Syarhey Haydukevich told Belapan. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MIGHT SKIP NATO SUMMIT TO AVOID KOLCHUGA ROW
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 29 October said he will not attend the NATO summit in Prague next month unless suggestions that his country has breached UN sanctions by selling radar equipment to Iraq are retracted, Reuters reported. "If there remain any doubts, then I don't think it would make sense to hold the Ukraine-NATO summit [during the NATO meeting in Prague]," Kuchma told journalists during his two-day visit to Lithuania (see item below). A team of U.S. and British experts last week completed a fact-finding trip to Ukraine to assess whether Kyiv sold a Kolchuga early-warning system to Iraq but has yet to announce its findings. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS MULL POLITICAL REFORM
Verkhovna Rada speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn on 29 October held a meeting with parliamentary group leaders to discuss how to proceed with the political reform announced earlier this year by President Kuchma (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 27 August and 3 September 2002), UNIAN reported. Lytvyn told journalists the parliament will set up a special commission by 12 November to draft constitutional amendments aimed at making Ukraine a parliamentary-presidential republic. Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court ruled that a draft bill on introducing constitutional amendments drawn up by seven lawmakers (including Petro Symonenko and Oleksandr Moroz) and signed by more than 170 deputies is largely in line with the constitution and may be put on the parliamentary docket. In particular, the draft bill proposes reducing the number of votes required to override a presidential veto from 300 to 250 and granting parliament the right not only to approve but also to dismiss the prime minister. JM

ESTONIA JOINS SIXTH EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK PROGRAM
Education Minister Mailis Rand signed a memorandum in Brussels on 29 October confirming Estonia's accession to the Sixth Framework Program for Research and Technological Development of the European Community, BNS reported. With European Commission President Roman Prodi in attendance, Commissioner Philippe Busquin and the education or science ministers from nine other EU candidate states signed similar memorandums. Rand said the program will distribute more than 17 billion euros in 2003-06 for various science projects. Estonia successfully participated in the fifth framework program, with its scientists involved in more than 100 projects. SG

LATVIAN SURVIVORS OF MOSCOW HOSTAGE CRISIS RETURN HOME
More than 100 people turned up at Riga International Airport to welcome the three Latvian citizens who were among the more than 800 people held captive by Chechen extremists in a Moscow theater the previous week, BNS reported. Margarita Dubina, 54, expressed gratitude to the Russian secret service for saving her life and those of her son, Aleksandrs, 28, and daughter, Kira, 21. She also thanked the Latvian Embassy in Moscow for aiding their release from the hospital and their return home. Her son described the hostage situation as "sheer horror" but said he met people from Bulgaria, Armenia, and Ukraine with whom he will try to remain in contact. SG

LITHUANIA VOWS TO BE UKRAINE'S ADVOCATE FOR EU PLANS
After talks with visiting Ukrainian President Kuchma, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus told a press conference on 29 October: "Today we can tell our dear friends in Ukraine that we are poised to be their best advocate in their bid for EU," ELTA reported. He said Lithuania will follow the example of the assistance that Poland has been giving Vilnius in its efforts to join NATO. The presidents signed a document establishing a joint presidential council to ensure regular top-level political dialogue on bilateral and regional cooperation. Kuchma then attended a business lunch hosted by Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and held talks with parliament Chairman Arturas Paulauskas. The Ukrainian president is scheduled to return home on 30 October after meeting with Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis and participating in the official opening of the Ukrainian Institute, founded by the International Relations and Political Science Institute of Vilnius University, the Taras Shevchenko Foundation, and the European Integration Studies Center. SG

POLISH PRESIDENT URGES 'EFFECTIVE' EU TALKS
Commenting on the 28 October meeting in Copenhagen between representatives of EU members and candidate states, President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Poland's accession talks should be "neither tough nor soft" but "effective," PAP reported on 29 October. "What's the point in being tough if it's to mean we won't join the EU or that our membership is postponed until God knows when?" Kwasniewski added. The Copenhagen meeting reviewed the EU's financial-aid proposals for EU candidate countries approved at last week's EU summit in Brussels. In Copenhagen, Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller called on the 10 EU-candidate countries to hold a summit in Warsaw in order to work out a common negotiating position. JM

MALTESE PRESIDENT IN POLAND
Maltese President Guido de Marco discussed EU integration and economic cooperation with President Kwasniewski in Warsaw on 29 October, PAP reported. Malta is reportedly interested in expanding cooperation with Poland in the tourism and shipbuilding industries. Poland's Economy Ministry said Polish-Maltese trade turnover in 2001 totaled $45.6 million, adding that both countries trade primarily in ships, boats, and ferries. JM

POLISH GOVERNMENT GUARANTEES LOAN TO NEW SZCZECIN SHIPYARD
Economy Minister Jacek Piechota told journalists on 29 October that the government guaranteed 170 million zlotys' ($42.5 million) worth of credit from Bank Handlowy to Stocznia Szczecinska Nowa for the construction of new vessels, PAP reported. The decision is aimed at reviving the Szczecin shipyard, which went bankrupt earlier this year and was taken over by state-owned Stocznia Szczecinska Nowa in July. JM

CZECH PREMIER MEETS BRITISH COUNTERPART IN LONDON
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, on a one-day visit to London on 29 October, met with his British counterpart Tony Blair and discussed EU and NATO enlargement, the Iraq crisis, and the problem of Czech asylum seekers in the United Kingdom, CTK reported. Spidla said that for Prague the most important aspect of the EU enlargement process is ensuring the equality of current and future members, including regarding agricultural subsidies. He distanced himself from the joint British-U.S. effort to have the UN Security Council approve a resolution that would automatically permit an attack on Iraq if Baghdad violates its provisions. Spidla said war is too serious for automatic decisions to be allowed but added that his country insists that UN weapons inspectors be granted a clear and strong mandate to search for weapons anywhere in Iraq. He also said the November NATO summit in Prague will not deal only with expansion but also with current threats to world security. The two premiers agreed that the alliance must build defense capabilities comparable to the economic strength of its members. Blair praised the cooperative Czech position over controls instituted by British authorities at Prague's international airport in an effort to stem the flow of asylum seekers to the United Kingdom. MS

SLOVAKIA TO HOLD EU REFERENDUM IN MID-2003
Deputy Premier Pal Csaky said on 29 October after a meeting with President Rudolf Schuster that Slovakia will hold a referendum on EU accession in June, TASR reported. Csaky said the referendum will cost 120-140 million crowns ($2.8 million-3.2 million) and that an additional 30 million crowns will be spent on the campaign encouraging a "yes" vote. President Schuster said he is ready to support the campaign. MS

SLOVAK POLITICIANS PLAY HOT POTATO WITH ROMANY AFFAIRS
Csaky and Schuster also discussed the planned transfer of responsibilities for handling Romany affairs (of which Csaky was in charge in the previous cabinet) to the Culture Ministry and the intention to set up a special Romany Affairs Office in Kosice, TASR reported. The office will coordinate its activity with the governmental commissioner on Romany affairs and has been allocated 20 million crowns from the state budget. Human rights activists in Slovakia criticized the government's decision to have Romany affairs handled by a single ministry, CTK reported the same day. New Culture Minister Rudolf Chmel said on 29 October that his Alliance for New Citizens (ANO) is preparing a conceptual framework that will outline which Romany issues are to be handled by his ministry and which will be transferred to the Interior Ministry or the Social Affairs Ministry. Chmel also said he believes Csaky should continue to coordinate Romany issues in the cabinet. Culture Ministry State Secretary Jozef Kvardy said his ministry does not have the necessary instruments to solve such Romany problems as unemployment, education, or low living standards. MS

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER OUTLINES PRIORITIES
Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan on 29 October told journalists in Bratislava that the priorities of his ministry in the next four years include ensuring the approval of EU and NATO enlargement by the current member states of those organizations and developing good relations with Slovakia's neighbors, TASR reported. Kukan said Bratislava expects an invitation to join NATO to follow that received recently from the EU, adding that the ministry wants to coordinate the activities of all Slovak institutions and the parliament aimed at ensuring the country's EU and NATO membership is approved by EU parliaments. He also said President Schuster will have an important role to play in this effort. Kukan said he hopes the controversy surrounding the Hungarian Status Law is soon resolved by amending that law and described that legislation as "the only cloud in an otherwise blue sky" of mutual relations. MS

SLOVAK, CZECH PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKERS WANT COORDINATION OF EURO-ATLANTIC ACCESSION EFFORTS
Meeting in Bratislava on 29 October, the speakers of the Slovak parliament and the Czech Chamber of Deputies, Pavol Hrusovsky and Lubomir Zaoralek, said their countries should closely coordinate EU accession efforts, adding that Prague considers Slovakia's successful accession to NATO a matter of Czech interest, CTK reported. Hrusovsky said the idea of holding both countries' referendums on EU accession on the same day should be considered. However, Zaoralek said that would be difficult and the Czech Republic should rather learn from the Slovak experience, where support for EU accession is higher and where the plebiscite should therefore take place first. Zaoralek, who is paying a two-day visit to Slovakia, is to meet on 30 October with President Schuster, Premier Mikulas Dzurinda, and Foreign Minister Kukan. MS

SLOVAK PARTY LIKELY TO BE FINED FOR CAMPAIGN OVERSPENDING
ANO is likely to be fined by the Finance Ministry, according to whose findings the party -- now a member of the governing coalition -- slightly exceeded the campaign limit of 12 million crowns ($283,815) set by a law on party financing, CTK reported on 29 October, citing the ministry's spokesman. Karol Zimmer told the agency that ANO is likely to be fined an amount equal to twice the overspent sum. Political parties in Slovakia spent a total of 85 million crowns on the election campaign that culminated in the September balloting, Zimmer said. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER CALLS EU TRANSITION PERIOD FOR FARM SUBSIDIES 'UNACCEPTABLE'...
Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy on 29 October dismissed as "far too long and unacceptable" the 10-year transition period for farm subsidies being offered by the EU to candidate countries that join in 2004, Hungarian media reported. Medgyessy was responding to criticism leveled in parliament by opposition FIDESZ parliamentary group leader Janos Ader, who said Hungarian farmers will be "second-class citizens in the EU for 10 years" under the terms agreed at an EU summit last week. Ader also said it is a "bad omen" that the EU's regional-development funds for new members will be cut from 25 billion to 23 billion euros. MSZ

...AND EXPECTS TOUGH BATTLE OVER CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES
Medgyessy on 29 October told Hungarian radio that he expects "fierce debates" over constitutional amendments required for EU membership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 October 2002) but believes Hungary's parliamentary parties will eventually reach consensus. Medgyessy said he would like to see the opposition conduct politics on the matter in a predictable fashion. Regarding the date of a referendum on EU accession, Medgyessy said his concept of democracy does not allow him to sign any EU accession treaty without authorization. Therefore, he said, he is convinced the constitution must be amended first; then a referendum can be held on the basis of the accession treaty's text. Only after that could he sign the treaty, he said. MSZ

UZBEK PRESIDENT CONCLUDES HUNGARIAN VISIT
During a two-day visit to Hungary, Uzbek President Islam Karimov on 28 October met Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Madl and discussed ways to boost economic, trade, and cultural ties, Budapest dailies reported. The two presidents released a statement on close cooperation in fighting international terrorism, extremists, drug trafficking, and organized crime. The next day, Karimov met Prime Minister Medgyessy to discuss ways of expanding bilateral relations. Medgyessy proposed the establishment of a Hungarian-Uzbek intergovernmental committee to upgrade relations. MSZ

U.S. AMBASSADOR SAYS YUGOSLAVIA MUST CLEAN UP ARMS TRADE...
William Montgomery, who is U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia, told BBC on 30 October that Yugoslavia is at "the very beginning of a process" to introduce a "good system of regulation" in its arms trade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 25 October 2002). He stressed that it is necessary to find out what weapons deals Yugoslav firms carried out with countries in the Middle East and elsewhere in the developing world in communist times and during the rule of President Slobodan Milosevic. Montgomery added that Yugoslav involvement in arms trading with countries like Iraq is a very serious problem that "we cannot ignore." The ambassador argued that Belgrade "must accept responsibility" for investigating past arms deals and preventing further dubious transactions if it wants integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. In related news, "Jane's Intelligence Digest" reported on 30 October that the Yugoimport firm may have sold knowledge about biological and chemical warfare to Iraq, adding that it will be interesting to see whether the promised Yugoslav government investigation sheds light on the matter. PM

...AND SFOR COMMANDER SAYS THE SAME FOR BOSNIA...
General William Ward, commander of SFOR forces in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 29 October that the international community expects the Republika Srpska's investigation of illegal arms trading to continue and clear up the current scandal, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 and 29 October 2002). He added, "We will be looking at the action's outcome, and I would expect that the process would continue. If we deem the action [taken by Bosnian Serb authorities] not to be appropriate, I am prepared to take actions as required." He did not elaborate. Foot-dragging by Bosnian Serb authorities in dealing with the arms-sale issue has led to an increase in pressure from some in the international community for setting up a joint Defense Ministry at the Bosnian state level. NATO has repeatedly said Bosnia has no chance of joining its Partnership for Peace program until it has a unified ministry (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 August 2002). PM

...WHICH IS TAKING STEPS IN THAT DIRECTION
Bosnian authorities plan to have administrative mechanisms in place by 15 November for complete control over arms dealings, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Sarajevo on 30 October. Elsewhere, the government of the Croat-Muslim federation called for a complete study of arms dealings on its territory. In Banja Luka, the Bosnian Serb government adopted a 20-point program with a 27 November deadline in conjunction with the scandal surrounding the Bijeljina-based Orao aircraft factory. The program was recently drawn up by the Supreme Defense Council of the Republika Srpska. PM

SERBIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST FOUR OVER POLICE MURDER...
Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic announced in Belgrade on 29 October that police have arrested Nikola Maljkovic and three other suspects in connection with the fatal shooting in June of police General Bosko Buha, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 24 June 2002). The suspected ringleader of the group, Zeljko Maksimovic, remains at large. Mihajlovic said the gang is a "terrorist group" that planned to assassinate several important political figures, including Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, his ally Cedomir Jovanovic, and opposition ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, among others. PM

...BUT WHY NOW?
Speaking in Belgrade on 29 October, Mihajlovic did not provide any detailed evidence of alleged plans by the "organized terrorist group...to destabilize the state by killing prominent officials," AP reported. Police are expected to offer some details at a news conference on 30 October. Unnamed "police officials" told the news agency the gang had links to persons close to Milosevic as well as to unspecified paramilitary groups. Observers note that the police have made very few arrests in conjunction with the many high-profile murders in recent years. It is not clear if there is a connection between the latest arrests and the Iraq arms-sales scandal. Mihajlovic is chairman of the board of Yugoimport, which is at the center of that affair. PM

BOSNIA AND YUGOSLAVIA SIGN DUAL-CITIZENSHIP AGREEMENT
Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic and Bosnian Minister for Civil Affairs Svetozar Mihajlovic signed an agreement in Belgrade on 29 October to regulate dual citizenship between their two states, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. They also signed an agreement on travel and road traffic. PM

HAGUE TRIBUNAL OFFICIALS CALL FOR TOUGH MEASURES AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA
Claude Jorda, who heads the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, and chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte told the UN Security Council in New York on 29 October that Yugoslavia is not cooperating with the tribunal and that the council should take stiff measures to ensure compliance, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Jorda added that Croatia's level of cooperation is only marginally better than Yugoslavia's. PM

CROATIAN LEADER WARNS OF ATTEMPT TO OUST GOVERNMENT
Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic said in Zagreb on 29 October that the political discussion over the possible extradition of former General Janko Bobetko to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague has long lost any connection to the general and his case, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Granic stressed that the Bobetko affair has turned into an attempt by enemies of the current center-left government to bring it down. In related news, Ivo Sanader, who heads the opposition Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), called on the government to appeal Bobetko's case over the head of the tribunal by taking the matter to the UN Security Council. PM

SKINHEADS ATTACK BLACK SOCCER PLAYER IN CROATIA
Seventeen-year-old Louis Arcanga Ramos Colon from Honduras told "Jutarnji List" of 30 October that an unspecified number of "skinheads broke a bottle against my head and hit me several times. I'm afraid and I don't want to be here in Zagreb any longer," dpa reported. The young man has been playing with Dinamo Zagreb, which is one of Croatia's leading teams, for seven months. The incident allegedly took place as he was boarding a tram. PM

CROATIAN TAX OFFICE SHUTS ITS OWN CAFETERIA FOR TAX EVASION
The local tax office in a Zagreb suburb has shut down its own canteen for tax evasion, AP reported on 30 October. One tax official said he regrets that he no longer has a place to drink coffee. He added nonetheless, "The main thing is that we are shutting down [not just] companies that we have never heard of, but also ones that are in our own backyard. There cannot be any privileges" for any businesses. PM

MACEDONIAN NGO SAYS POLICE INVOLVED IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING
The Macedonian NGO Center for Interethnic Tolerance and Refugees (CMTB) has accused Macedonian police of involvement in human trafficking, "Dnevnik" reported on 29 October. The Interior Ministry, which is led by hard-line nationalist Ljube Boskovski, has not commented on the charges. CMTB Secretary-General Vlado Dimovski said his organization -- together with other NGOs from Bulgaria, Serbia, and Kosova -- conducted a nine-month survey on trafficking in 2002. The study shows that some 8,200 illegal migrants -- 4,200 men, 2,700 women, and 1,300 children -- passed through the region during that time. The CMTB and other NGOs demand stricter penalties for those involved in human trafficking. The CTMB is also conducting an information campaign among people living in Macedonia's border regions. In related news, government ministers from Albania, Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Yugoslavia met in Brdo pri Kranju in Slovenia on 29 October to discuss regional security standards for the prevention of human trafficking, dpa reported. UB/PM

ROMANIAN LIBERALS WITHDRAW SUPPORT FOR ARCHIVE CHAIRMAN...
The National Liberal Party (PNL) Executive Bureau decided on 29 October to withdraw its support of the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archive (CNSAS) Chairman Gheorghe Onisoru, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Onisoru owes his post to the PNL, which nominated him for CNSAS membership in the previous legislature. Parliament deputy and PNL spokesman Eugen Nicolaescu said that during his time as CNSAS chairman, Onisoru has failed "to understand that the CNSAS is an autonomous institution, not an institution subordinated to the Romanian Intelligence Service." Earlier that day, the Democratic Party appealed to the PNL to demand Onisoru's dismissal. Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Viorel Pana said the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) caused the current paralysis in the CNSAS in an effort to have the current council dismissed and then reappointed by the 2000-elected legislature, in which the PSD is the largest party. PSD Secretary-General Cosmin Gusa said the Senate Judiciary Commission will meet on 30 October with the current CNSAS leadership to discuss the situation created by the split in the council (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 29 October 2002). MS

...WHILE DISSIDENT GROUP CALLS ON DEFENSE COUNCIL TO INTERVENE
The six dissenting CNSAS members on 29 October called on the Supreme Council for National Defense (CSAT) to intervene in the dispute, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. In a press release, the six members said Onisoru has accused them of "seriously endangering the country's security," and this justifies the CSAT's intervention, as the CSAT is the forum that deals with security matters. Onisoru responded that only the parliament is entitled to decide on CNSAS matters. MS

GREEK-CATHOLICS THREATEN TO SUE ROMANIA OVER PROPERTY
A spokesman for the Greek-Catholic (Uniate) Church in Romania said on 29 October that the church is considering suing the Romanian state in the European Court of Human Rights for failing to restitute properties confiscated from the Uniates by the communist regime, Mediafax reported. Those properties were passed on to the Romanian Orthodox Church after the Uniates' forced dissolution in 1948. Spokesman Ioan Patiu said attempts to amiably resolve the issue in negotiations with the Orthodox Church have reached an impasse. Furthermore, he said, the authorities have failed to respond to a memorandum the Uniates sent to state authorities and nongovernmental organizations on 25 September in which they asked the state to intervene in the dispute. MS

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS TO REDEFINE PREROGATIVES OF ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT'S CHAMBERS
Chamber of Deputies speaker Valer Dorneanu announced on 29 October that the ad hoc commission on constitutional amendments has reached an agreement on redefining the prerogatives of Romania's bicameral parliament, Romanian Radio reported. While the two chambers currently have identical prerogatives, the proposed amendments (which must be approved by the parliament) stipulate that the Senate would deal with legislation pertaining to international affairs, while the Chamber of Deputies would legislate on internal affairs. Each chamber's legislation will still require approval by the other, but the process will be shortened as the second chamber would be allowed only to either approve or reject the other chamber's legislation. The two chambers currently can pass legislation in different formulation, after which a "mediation commission" debates any differences and the laws are resubmitted for approval by each chamber. MS

ROMANIAN HACKER SENTENCED FOR ATTEMPTED EXTORTION
A Timisoara court has sentenced a 25-year-old man to three years in prison for hacking into a U.S. company's computers, stealing information about its customers, and then trying to blackmail the firm, AP reported. Nicolae Mircea Harapu was arrested by Romanian authorities in 2000 after hacking into New York-based Zwirl.com's computers and subsequently demanding $5,000 in exchange for keeping confidential private information he obtained about the company's customers, including credit-card numbers. MS

BALKAN STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR SUPPORTS MOLDOVA JOINING FREE-TRADE AGREEMENTS
Balkan Stability Pact Special Coordinator Erhard Busek, currently on a visit to Chisinau, said on 29 October that he will exercise his influence on pact members to approve Moldova joining the Stability Pact's free-trade zone, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Busek said that there would be no conflict of interest between membership in the pact's free-trade zone and free-trade agreements Chisinau has signed with CIS member states. However, if Moldova becomes a member of the EU it would have to renounce its CIS free-trade agreements, he said. "I cannot say, however, that Chisinau will be invited to join the EU anytime soon," he added. Busek also met on 29 October with Foreign Minister Nicolae Dudau and Interior Minister Gheorghe Papuc to discuss the process of EU enlargement and combating corruption and illegal immigration. Busek told Dudau that the Stability Pact supports Moldova's efforts toward EU integration. But he also said Chisinau needs to send "clearer" messages to Brussels as to its integration intentions and to consistently participate in European regional activities. MS

NEW ROUND OF TALKS ON TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT ENDS IN FAMILIAR FASHION
A new round of negotiations held in Tiraspol on the OSCE's draft proposal for ending the Transdniester conflict has ended "without any concrete results," Flux reported on 29 October, quoting OSCE mission spokesman Matti Sidoroff. Sidoroff said the next round of talks will be held on 1 November, also in Tiraspol, and denied that the negotiations are on the verge of breaking down. However, Flux quoted separatist leader Igor Smirnov as saying that "the negotiation process does not exist" because "one cannot negotiate as long as the economic blockade imposed by the Chisinau administration is in force." MS

MOLDOVAN SCIENTIST DETAINED FOR ALLEGEDLY COUNTERFEITING U.S. DOLLARS
Valentin Rimski, a mathematician who worked for the Moldovan National Academy of Sciences, was detained by police on 29 October on charges of counterfeiting U.S. currency, AP and ITAR-TASS reported. Rimski told investigators that he earned $15 for every fake $100 bill he delivered to a gang of traffickers who sent most of the phony currency abroad. Police found about $16,000 in counterfeit bills in Rimski's house. MS

CREDITORS DECIDE TO LIQUIDATE FORMER BULGARIAN STATE AIRLINE
The creditors of the formerly state-owned Balkan Airlines voted on 29 October to liquidate the company, BTA reported. The decision came at a meeting between creditors and trustees of the company at the Sofia City Court. The main creditors -- the State Receivables Collection Agency, the Air Traffic Services Authority, and Sofia Airport -- refused to accept a recovery plan drafted by the trustees. Approximately 98 percent of the 1,269 airline employees will be laid off as a result of the decision, mediapool.bg reported. Flight operations will be suspended step by step. Deputy Transport Minister Milcho Milanov told protesting employees that the government plans to found a new airline that would be entirely owned by the state (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002). UB

DECISION ON BULGARTABAC PRIVATIZATION ANNULLED
The Supreme Administrative Court ruled on 28 October that the Privatization Agency's decision to name the Tobacco Capital Partners consortium the winner of the tender for the state-owned Bulgartabac Holding is invalid, mediapool.bg reported. The court turned down charges filed by the losing bidders who accused the Privatization Agency of favoring Tobacco Capital during the privatization process. However, it ruled that the Privatization Agency breached the Privatization Act by not asking for improved bids after the publication of an audit conducted during the last stage of the bidding process. UB

ROMANIAN PREMIER URGES BULGARIA FOR JOINT EU-ACCESSION EFFORT
Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said in Sofia on 29 October that the Romanian and Bulgarian governments should work jointly to lobby the two countries' EU accession in 2007, bnn news agency reported. Nastase was on a one-day official visit to Bulgaria, where he met with Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski to discuss the matter. After the meeting, Saxecoburggotski expressed his disapproval with Nastase's proposal. "We are negotiating with the EU simultaneously but it would be a mistake to put both countries on equal footing in the details," Saxecoburggotski said. "Each of the countries has [problems and] priorities of its own." UB

There is no End Note today.


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