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Newsline - November 1, 2002


BASAEV CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR MOSCOW HOSTAGE TAKING
Field commander Shamil Basaev, whom Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov named to head his government's Military Committee in late June, has claimed responsibility for last week's hostage taking at a Moscow theater by Chechen militants, Caucasus Press reported on 1 November, quoting Kavkaz-Tsentr. Basaev admitted the assault did not achieve its objective of ending the war and the "genocide of the Chechen people," but added that "next time we will send people who will not take hostages or make any demands. These people will simply destroy [our] enemies." LF

MOSCOW CONTINUES TO PRESS FOR EXTRADITIONS
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 1 November that he hopes the information submitted to Denmark on Chechen Vice Premier Akhmed Zakaev constitutes sufficient grounds for his extradition to Russia, RIA-Novosti reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko stated Russia "is outraged" that Georgia continues to delay the promised extradition of eight alleged Chechen fighters detained in that country in early August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 6 August 2002), polit.ru reported on 1 November. VY

DUMA BANS RETURNING BODIES OF KILLED 'TERRORISTS'...
The Duma on 1 November passed in all three readings an amendment to the law on terrorism that authorizes the government to refuse to return the bodies of those killed during antiterrorism operations to their families, lenta.ru and other Russian news agencies. The amendment also allows the government to refuse to divulge to relatives where those killed have been buried. Corresponding amendments to the law on interment and burial were also adopted. If passed by the Federation Council and endorsed by the president, the amendments will apply to the Chechen fighters killed during last month's hostage crisis in Moscow. VY

...AND TIGHTENS CONTROL OVER MEDIA REPORTING ON ANTITERRORISM OPERATIONS...
State Duma deputies on 1 November passed in their third and final reading amendments to the laws on the mass media and on combating terrorism, Russian news agencies reported. If adopted into law, the amendments will make it illegal to publicize any information about technical methods and tactics used during antiterrorism operations, newsru.com reported. They also ban the publication, broadcast, or posting on the Internet of any "propaganda or justification" of extremism. They forbid the publication of personal information about security-forces personnel or anyone assisting them in conducting antiterrorism operations. Finally, the amendments would outlaw the publication of information about building weapons or explosive devices. The amendments needed 226 votes to pass and received 231, with 106 deputies voting against. They were supported by the Unity faction, Fatherland-All Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), People's Deputy, Russian Regions, and the Communist Party. Deputies from the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) and Yabloko either opposed the amendments or abstained from voting. RC

...AS SOME THINK THE MEASURES ARE TOO HARSH
Liberal Russia co-Chairman Sergei Yushenkov said on 1 November that the amendments will hinder "responsible journalists" and give a "green light" to those who are just "re-broadcasters for the authorities," newsru.com reported. Likewise, Deputy Boris Reznik (Russian Regions), who is deputy chairman of the Duma's Information Policy Committee, said the amendments are "bad for society" and urged deputies to return them to the stage of first reading. Deputy Media Minister Mikhail Seslavinskii told gazeta.ru before the Duma vote that he does not consider the amendments necessary and that his ministry is ready to defend the media from calls for stricter control. RC

MEDIA MINISTER EXPLAINS HOSTAGE TAKERS' 'MEDIA PLAN' AND MINISTRY'S ACTIONS DURING CRISIS
In a long interview with "Izvestiya" on 31 October, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin assessed the role of the mass media during the recent Moscow hostage drama as "positive." Lesin also alleged that the hostage takers "had a worked-out media plan" and had studied the Russian media in advance. "They actively manipulated the situation. They really did watch television [during the crisis] and not just one channel, but several," Lesin said. "They selected channels, correspondents, newsmakers according to a previously determined plan." Lesin also said: "I began to control the work of the mass media within 15 minutes after the beginning of the tragedy. I instantly contacted all the television networks and we began to discuss what to do." He said that he held continuous consultations with the heads of national media outlets throughout the 56 hours of the standoff. Deputy Media Minister Seslavinskii, in his interview with gazeta.ru, also said that during the crisis, the ministry used "personal interaction between the heads of the ministry and media managers." RC

RUSSIA BOOSTS SECURITY AT NUCLEAR PLANTS
Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev told journalists in Moscow on 30 October that his agency is focusing on strengthening "the security of nuclear objects against terrorist fanatics" in the wake of the 23-26 October hostage drama, pravda.ru reported. The ministry has created a permanent crisis-management center headed by Deputy Minister Anatolii Kotelnikov. Rumyantsev said that security personnel and Interior Ministry troops protecting nuclear-power plants are on full alert. Former Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Romashin, who was in charge of security at the ministry, said statements by some Chechen fighters threatening to attack Russian nuclear-power plants are "paranoiac," "Trud" reported on 1 November. "They are exaggerating their capabilities and are mistaken if they think Russian nuclear-power plants are guarded as poorly as the theaters," Romashin said. "I would like to warn them that no one will treat them considerately on our territory. They will be destroyed." VY

ANTI-CHECHEN VIOLENCE REGISTERED
A store belonging to a Chechen family in the Moscow Oblast town of Orekhovo-Zuevo was firebombed on 30 October, "Izvestiya" and newsru.com reported on 31 October. No one was injured in the incident. According to municipal Prosecutor Yakov Shishigin, an unknown person threw a Molotov cocktail through a window of the shoe and clothing store during the night. Firefighters found the words "Chechens, we will kill you" written twice on nearby walls. An arson investigation has been opened. RC

INFLUENTIAL ANALYST HINTS MOSCOW MIGHT JOIN ANTI-HUSSEIN COALITION
In an interview with RosBalt on 29 October, Kremlin political adviser and head of the Foundation for Effective Politics Gleb Pavlovskii said that President Vladimir Putin's recent statement declaring an offensive against the organizers and financial supporters of international terrorism might include Saddam Hussein's Iraq. "Iraq is conducting a hypocritical policy. It admitted that it is developing nuclear weapons only when it was caught red-handed. And it supports terrorists who are killing people in the Middle East by paying money to their families. In so doing, [Iraq] supports this horrible business, the business of blood" while at the same time representing itself as a "friend" of Russia, Pavlovskii said. Pavlovskii stopped short of saying that Moscow might participate in military intervention in Iraq. Asked if Putin's statement means that Russia would join an anti-Hussein coalition, Pavlovskii said he only knows of "an antiterrorism coalition" and that he hopes Baghdad will unambiguously distance itself from all forms of terrorism. VY

LUKOIL HAS HIGH HOPES FOR IRAQ
LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov told a news conference in Moscow on 31 October that he expects Russia's government to protect the interests of Russian companies in the Middle East no matter how the situation concerning Iraq evolves, polit.ru reported. He added that when UN sanctions against Iraq are lifted, LUKoil plans to export about 180 million barrels of oil from the country over the first three years. He said the company plans to invest $65 billion to $70 billion in the project. VY

DUMA AIDE GUNNED DOWN IN MOSCOW
An aide to Duma Deputy and the former head of Russia's secret service Nikolai Kovalev (Fatherland-All Russia) was shot dead outside his Moscow apartment building on 31 October, RIA-Novosti and gazeta.ru reported on 1 November. Sergei Kharlamov was shot once in the head from a pistol apparently equipped with a silencer, and police consider it a contract killing. According to Kovalev, Kharlamov was a decorated intelligence officer during the Afghanistan war who later served in the Transdniester and from 1996-98 was a deputy to then-Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed. Recently, Kharlamov had worked for the National Anticorruption Committee, a public organization made up of law enforcement and security veterans that investigates corruption allegations. Kovalev told RIA-Novosti that Kharlamov had been involved in a number of investigations, including "matters relating to the fish mafia" of the Far East, violations in the use and leasing of downtown Moscow properties, and drug trafficking out of Chechnya. RC

NEW LAW ON FOREIGNERS TAKES EFFECT
A new law defining the legal status of foreign citizens in Russia, according to which all nonresidents must carry immigration cards, came into force on 1 November, Russian news agencies reported. According to the law, foreigners intending to stay in Russia for more than three months must purchase the $100 cards. The law bans temporary- and permanent-residence status for drug addicts, people who are HIV positive, people with serious criminal records in their home countries, people who were previously expelled from Russia, or those testing positive for dangerous infectious diseases. VY

RIGHTISTS WILL NOT BACK PUTIN IN 2004
SPS will not support President Putin in the 2004 presidential election, RosBalt reported on 31 October, quoting Deputy Duma Speaker and SPS co-Chairwoman Irina Khakamada. "The rightist forces must put forward their own candidate for president in 2004," Khakamada said. "The authorities must conduct an independent dialogue not just with the left, but with the right as well." Khakamada said that negotiations with Yabloko on supporting a joint candidate will continue following next year's legislative elections. SPS endorsed Putin in 2000. RC

MINISTRY CALLS FOR LIFTING VEIL OF SECRECY
Natural Resources Minister Vitalii Artyukhov has asked the government to declassify information about nickel and cobalt production, "Vedomosti" reported on 31 October. The move primarily concerns leading producer Norilsk Nickel, which is owned by Vladimir Potanin's Interros group. Artyukhov argued that declassifying the information would make the sector more attractive to foreign investors and increase Norilsk Nickel's capitalization. VY

PRIEST JOINS DRAFT BOARD IN OREL
A regional draft board in Orel has received permission from the Defense Ministry to include in its composition a Russian Orthodox priest who will evaluate draftees' petitions to be considered conscientious objectors, "Izvestiya" reported on 31 October. According to an unidentified source on the board, the priest's role will be "to expose scoundrels who try to hide behind faith in order to escape army service." A local church spokesman noted that most of the conscripts who claim to be conscientious objectors claim to belong to non-Orthodox sects. Therefore, the church chose a priest with "experience and practice in comparative religion." "Many young people try to avoid service without really adhering to any idea. In these cases, Father Mikhail tries to convince them to do their duty," the spokesman said. "Since a [priest] appeared on the commission, there hasn't been a single case when a conscript refused to serve," said Vladimir Margarid, military commissar for the Soviet Raion of Orel. Vladimir Pershin, deputy oblast military commissar in Tula, told the daily that including an Orthodox priest on draft boards is illegal and violates common sense. He urged the Duma to clarify the law on alternative service, which currently requires conscripts "to prove" their convictions. RC

ADVERTISING MARKET SURPASSES PRE-CRISIS LEVELS
Russia's advertising market will grow by more than 50 percent this year and significantly exceed the spending levels seen before the 1998 economic crisis, "The Moscow Times" reported on 1 November, citing the Russian Association of Advertising Agencies (RARA). Total advertising spending for this year is projected to reach $2.64 billion, compared to $1.73 billion last year and $1.8 billion in 1998. Television advertising is pegged to grow by 83 percent over last year to $880 million, while newspaper advertising will grow by 26 percent to $380 million. RARA President Vladimir Yevstavev predicted the market would reach $4 billion in 2003. RC

INGUSH PRESIDENT READY TO MEDIATE BETWEEN MOSCOW, CHECHENS
Murat Zyazikov favors peace talks under Moscow's aegis with whichever Chechen factions are ready for such talks and is prepared to mediate them, his spokesman Isa Mirzhoev told Interfax in Magas on 31 October. LF

FIVE POLICE OFFICERS DETAINED IN CONNECTION WITH GROZNY BOMBING
Five police officers from Grozny's Zavod Raion have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the 10 October explosion that wrecked the raion's police department and killed more than 20 people, Interfax reported on 31 October, quoting Chechnya's Prosecutor Nikolai Kostyuchenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 15 October 2002). LF

ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES BUDGET FOR 2003
The government approved on 31 October the Finance Ministry's draft budget for 2003, which projects expenditures of 334 billion drams ($580 million) and revenues of 287 billion drams, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Implementation of the budget will be contingent on raising tax revenues by more than 13 percent, which, according to Finance Minister Vartan Khachatrian, will enable the government to reduce the budget deficit to 2.6 percent of GDP. The budget predicts GDP growth of 7.2 percent and an inflation rate not exceeding 3 percent, according to Noyan Tapan. LF

ENTIRE PRINT RUN OF INDEPENDENT ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER PURLOINED
The entire print run of the 31 October issue of the newspaper "Aravot," amounting to some 4,600 copies, was bought up by unknown persons after being delivered from the state-run printing house to the state-run distribution system Haymamul, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. "Aravot" Editor Aram Abrahamian attributed the incident to the publication in that issue of an article accusing close associates of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian of resorting to blackmail and other illegal practices to purchase a popular resort complex. "Aravot" has consistently criticized the present Armenian leadership. LF

CZECH BUSINESSMAN SUES AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT
Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny and would-be U.S. investors in Azerbaijan's oil sector are suing Heidar Aliev, his son Ilham, and former head of the State Property Committee Nasib Nasibov, in London and New York for $100 million, according to Azerbaijani newspapers cited by Turan on 1 November. Kozeny raised that sum with the intention of participating in the anticipated privatization of the Azerbaijani State Oil Company (SOCAR), which the Azerbaijani leadership subsequently ruled should remain state-owned. Kozeny reportedly claimed that Aliev demanded millions of dollars in kickbacks before the final ruling that SOCAR would not be privatized. LF

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION REMAINS DIVIDED OVER PRESIDENT'S IMPEACHMENT
Several prominent Georgian opposition parties have declined to support the Revival Union's campaign to impeach President Eduard Shevardnadze (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 35, 25 October 2002). The Labor Party expressed support for the initiative on 30 October, Caucasus Press reported. But "Alia" on 31 October quoted Socialist Party leader Vakhtang Rcheulishvili as saying he will not do so, as Shevardnadze is the only person who can solve Georgia's current problems. Giorgi Baramidze, one of the leaders of the United Democrats, similarly told Caucasus Press that that party views both Shevardnadze and Revival Union leader Aslan Abashidze as posing an equal threat to political stability in Georgia. On 1 November, Caucasus Press cited "Rezonansi" as reporting that Abashidze is currently in Tbilisi holding meetings with other opposition parties in a bid to drum up support for Shevardnadze's impeachment. LF

GEORGIA CALLS FOR OPEN UN SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF ABKHAZIA
Georgia's permanent representative to the United Nations, Revaz Adamia, has submitted a written request to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for an open discussion within the Security Council on the unresolved Abkhaz conflict, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported on 1 November. Adamia suggested that such a discussion would facilitate a solution to the conflict. LF

PRELIMINARY GEORGIAN CENSUS RESULTS MADE PUBLIC
The population of Georgia -- excluding the unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- was 4.5 million at the time of the January 2002 census, State Statistics Department Chairman Temur Beridze said on 31 October. He estimated the population of those two regions at 5 percent of the total population. At the time of the 1989 Soviet census, the population of the Georgian SSR was 5.5 million. LF

DETAINED KAZAKH JOURNALIST BEGINS HUNGER STRIKE
Sergei Duvanov, who was detained in Almaty on 28 October on charges of rape, has embarked on a hunger strike after being refused permission to accept food parcels from his family, Interfax reported on 31 October, quoting Duvanov's lawyers. Also on 31 October, a presidential administration official confirmed to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that instructions were faxed to the Almaty City Police from the presidential apparatus -- hours before Duvanov was taken into custody -- on how to field questions at a 28 October press conference devoted to Duvanov's detention (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30 October 2002). LF

FORMER KYRGYZ VICE PREMIER'S SUPPORTERS MARCH ON BISHKEK
Ignoring an appeal by First Deputy Prime Minister Kurmanbek Osmonov to abandon their protest, some 300 supporters of former Deputy Prime Minister Usen Sydykov decided on 31 October to march to Bishkek, rather than to the southern city of Osh, to protest an Osh court's 27 October ruling barring Sydykov from participating in a by-election runoff in the village of Kara-Kuldja on 3 November, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service and akipress.org reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 and 31 October 2002). Also on 31 October, the Central Election Commission referred to the local election commission a proposal by its Chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev to postpone the runoff. The Supreme Court will hear an appeal by Sydykov against the Osh court ruling on 1 November. LF

IMF TAKES ISSUE WITH KYRGYZ BUDGET-REVENUE TARGET
During talks in Bishkek on 31 October, International Monetary Fund (IMF) official John Odling-Smee told Kyrgyz parliament officials that he believes the revenue targets set in the 2003 draft budget, which the legislature approved in the first reading (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 2002), are too high, akipress.org reported. That draft raises revenues by 18 percent and expenditures by 17 percent compared with 2002. Odling-Smee advocated broadening the tax base by imposing value-added tax on agricultural produce. Odling-Smee also met on 31 October with President Askar Akaev to discuss cooperation between the IMF and Kyrgyzstan. LF

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ENACTS CONTROVERSIAL LAW ON RELIGIONS
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 31 October signed into law a controversial bill on religions that gives the Russian Orthodox Church a dominant role in Belarus, Belapan reported. The bill has been heavily criticized by minority denominations and human rights advocates as restrictive and discriminatory (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 8 October 2002). The presidential press service said the law "creates no barriers that would prevent Belarusian citizens from determining their attitude toward religion independently and practicing any religion" and forms a "balanced legal basis for combining the freedom of each individual with the interests of society as a whole." The press service added that the law is aimed "at preventing religious expansion into the Republic of Belarus and the development of destructive cults and occultism." JM

MINSK DRAWS UP REPORT ON RECENT ARMS EXPORTS
The Foreign Ministry has presented a report on Belarusian exports of armaments and military equipment in 2001 and the first six months of 2002 to the Committee for International Affairs and National Security of the Council of the Republic (upper house), Belapan reported on 31 October, quoting Alyaksandr Baychorau from the ministry. "The report says that the Republic of Belarus, which has a fairly complex and well-established system of export control that was created with the help of the United States, observes all international sanctions currently in force, including those imposed on Iraq," Baychorau said. "We are trading with Iraq, but only within the framework of the oil-for-food program, and no contract reaches Iraq until approved by the appropriate UN committee," he added. Baychorau said Belarus considers it expedient to sell arms and military hardware to as many customers as possible, adding that this is a standard international business. JM

KYIV BLAMES WASHINGTON FOR NATO SUMMIT SNUB
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko told journalists on 31 October that there is no crisis in Ukraine-NATO relations, adding that rather a "certain collision" has occurred in Kyiv-Washington ties, UNIAN reported. Zlenko was commenting on a NATO proposal to hold a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission during the upcoming NATO summit in Prague at the foreign ministers' level -- not to include heads of state, as Kyiv expected (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2002). According to Zlenko, the spat over the NATO summit resulted from a "shortsighted and incomprehensible [U.S.] policy" with regard to Ukraine. Zlenko expressed his hope that "temporary misunderstandings" in Ukraine-U.S. relations will not substantially change the level or character of Ukraine's cooperation with NATO. Zlenko said Kyiv's final decision on whether to participate in the 21-22 November NATO summit is dependent on many factors, including the content of the bilateral documents that are being prepared for signing in Prague. JM

WILL WASHINGTON IMPOSE MORE SANCTIONS AGAINST UKRAINE OVER KOLCHUGA ALLEGATIONS?
A U.S. official told AP on conditions of anonymity on 31 October that the United States expects to impose additional sanctions against Ukraine in response to its alleged sale of a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq in violation of UN sanctions. The U.S. case against Ukraine is based on a July 2000 tape recording in which President Leonid Kuchma seems to have approved the Kolchuga deal with Iraq (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 April 2002). After official tests confirmed it was Kuchma's voice on the recording, the Bush administration reduced U.S. assistance to Ukraine by $54 million. The official said the recent visit of a team of U.S. and British experts to Ukraine to investigate the Kolchuga allegations proved inconclusive. The source added, however, that the U.S. administration has deemed that the taped phone conversation is proof enough. The official said the U.S. administration has tentatively decided to reduce assistance to Ukraine further. JM

ESTONIAN COURT FINDS FORMER SOVIET AGENT GUILTY OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
A Tallinn city court on 31 October convicted former KGB agent Yurii Karpov of crimes against humanity for rounding up dozens of people deemed enemies of the communist regime in 1949, BNS reported. The court opted for a light fine and an eight-year sentence that was suspended in light of Karpov's advanced age, 81. Karpov was indicted in March on charges of deporting 41 residents of the Harjumaa region to Siberia in March 1949, where at least some of them died under harsh conditions. He was accused of drawing up reports for apprehending the individuals -- including children -- detaining them, and handing them over for deportation. Karpov denied the charges, saying he was not involved in the deportations and his work was simply to identify "illegals" (people with no Soviet identification papers) and spies. Karpov is the fifth former KGB official convicted of involvement in the 1949 deportations, during which an estimated 20,000 people were deported from Estonian territory. He has vowed to appeal the verdict. SG

OUTGOING LATVIAN DEPUTIES BOOST 2002 EXPENDITURES
In its final session on 31 October, the 1998-2002 parliament passed 40 bills, including amendments to the 2002 budget act, LETA reported. The budget amendments -- approved by a vote of 74 to zero, with eight abstentions -- provide an additional 19.7 million lats ($32 million) in spending -- including state guarantees to drug makers Olainfarm (6.8 million lats) and Silvanols (350,000 lats), compensation to cattle breeders for drought damage (5.92 million lats), wage hikes in the medical sector (1.7 million lats), and the implementation of a Welfare Ministry-backed law on transition conditions for social assistance (1.3 million lats). Outgoing Finance Minister Gunars Berzins said that, even with the additional expenditures, the fiscal deficit for 2002 will not exceed 1.8 percent of GDP due to improved tax collection. But Valdis Dombrovskis, the likely nominee for finance minister in the new cabinet, foresees a deficit of 2.87 percent of GDP. SG

MORE LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES JOIN PRO-CHECHEN GROUP
Apparently reacting to recent events in Moscow, eight deputies joined a parliamentary group for interparliamentary relations with the Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya on 31 October, BNS reported. They include Conservatives Arvydas Vidziunas and Rasa Jukneviciene, former Foreign Minister and Christian Democrat Algirdas Saudargas, Social Democrat Kestutis Krisciunas, and deputies from the Social Liberals and Modern Christian Democrats. This increased the number of deputies in the group to 19, as Social Democrat Juozas Raistenskis left the group two days earlier. Several members of the group announced at a press conference that they were handing a letter to the Danish Embassy expressing regret that Denmark "was unable to resist Russia's pressure" when it detained Chechen Vice Premier Zakaev (see items above and "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2002) and calling for his release. SG

LITHUANIA ADOPTS LAW ON PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Parliament on 31 October approved by a vote of 67 to four with 11 abstentions a bill establishing a legal basis for the appointment of a permanent representative to the European Parliament, ELTA reported. It provides for the parliamentary chancellor to appoint a representative for a three-year term on the recommendation of the parliamentary board and the consent of the foreign minister. Deputy Alvydas Medalinskas said parliament still must allocate funds to maintain the representative's office, whose premises the European Parliament has already assigned. Parliament's European Affairs Committee chairman, Vytenis Andriukaitis, who proposed the bill, said the most likely candidate for representative is Ruta Buneviciute, a senior adviser to his committee, BNS reported. SG

VOTE COUNT IN POLAND'S LOCAL ELECTIONS PLODS ALONG
State Election Commission Chairman Ferdynand Rymarz said on 31 October that, despite the failure of the computer system handling the vote count in the 27 October local balloting, the commission managed to determine that turnout was 44.33 percent, Polish Television reported. Rymarz also revealed that of the 2,478 communal (wojt) leaders' posts, half were decided in the first round. Candidates of the Polish Peasant Party were most successful at that level, winning 220 posts. Results of the balloting for provincial and district councils will be known no earlier than 10 November, when a runoff will take place to distribute the remaining city and town mayors' and communal leaders' posts. The previous day, Premier Leszek Miller said he expects the ruling Democratic Left Alliance-Union Labor coalition to win 37 percent of the seats on provincial councils and nearly 30 percent of the district-council seats. JM

POLAND CONFIRMS FOURTH CASE OF MAD-COW DISEASE
Poland's chief veterinarian, Piotr Kolodziej, told PAP on 31 October that veterinary services have discovered the country's fourth case of BSE, or mad-cow disease. The animal, from Lublin Province in eastern Poland, was tested after a veterinarian noticed symptoms of the disease. In the previous three cases, the presence of BSE was discovered during routine testing only after the animals had been slaughtered. JM

CZECHS MUST STILL PASS LAW IF NATO IS TO GUARD AIRSPACE DURING SUMMIT
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said on 31 October that he believes the Czech parliament will unilaterally approve legislation allowing NATO aircraft to guard Czech airspace during the organization's 21-22 November Prague summit, CTK reported. Svoboda was reacting to a report in the Czech daily "Pravo" that said NATO states are reluctant to do so without treaties that would free their pilots of responsibility in case they have to use their weapons. "Pravo" said the Defense Ministry has not prepared such treaties and there is no time left to ratify them. CTK cited Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik as saying on 31 October in Ostrava: "We are unable to protect our airspace by ourselves. This is why we have asked the U.S. for help. I believe the U.S. president will make a decision within several days on providing us with planes for the three risky days." Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said the same day that there is still sufficient time to reach an agreement with the United States on safeguarding Czech airspace during the summit and that negotiations on the issue are continuing, though their outcome cannot be "100 percent certain." With the exception of deputies representing the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), most members of the Chamber of Deputies said they support the unilateral legislation. Opposition Civic Democratic Party representatives criticized the government for not having submitted such a bill earlier. MS

CZECH COMMUNISTS TOUT AGREEMENT WITH RULING PARTY ON MUTUAL SUPPORT IN SENATE RUNOFFS
KSCM Deputy Chairman Vlastimil Balin said on 31 October that the regional branches of his party and of the senior coalition Social Democratic Party (CSSD) have reached agreements to endorse each other's candidates in most Senate runoffs on 1-2 November, CTK reported. Balin said the agreement will apply in all but one constituency, in which a KSCM candidate is competing against a CSSD candidate. Five KSCM candidates and 14 CSSD candidates advanced to the runoffs following the 25-26 ballot for 27 Senate constituencies. That round produced only one winner -- Vladimir Zelezny, the media magnate and director of TV Nova, who secured more than 50 percent of votes in the Znojmo district. Balin called the agreement a "historic moment" and added that he understands why the CSSD national leadership does not want to speak about it publicly, since this could lead to a split with its central-government coalition partners, the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party (KDU-CSL) and the Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU). He also said the outcome of the elections will strengthen the left wing in the upper house. MS

CZECH NATIONAL BANK AGAIN CUTS INTEREST RATES
For the sixth time in less than a year, the Czech National Bank on 31 October cut interest rates to historic lows, dpa reported. The bank announced a quarter-point cut in the discount rate, bringing it to 1.75 percent; a similar cut in the two-week repo rate, which is now 2.75 percent; and a drop in the Lombard rate, now at 3.75 percent. The reductions were widely expected in light of the strong Czech currency, favorable inflation rates, and a possible slowdown in the domestic economy -- as well as in the economy of the Czech Republic's main trade partner, Germany. MS

CZECH DAILY ALLEGES SLOVAK GOVERNMENT IMPLEMENTS ANTI-ROMA POLICIES
The daily "Hospodarske noviny" on 31 October wrote that a decision by the Slovak government one day earlier to limit family allowances to 10,500 crowns ($249) is presented as an austerity measure but in fact is one aimed at reducing growing birthrates within the Romany minority, CTK reported. The daily wrote that the government is in fact implementing the policies of Smer (Direction) leader Robert Fico, who alleged that Roma find it profitable to have large families because of the allowances and that if this practice is not cut, the Romany population in Slovakia will eventually number 1 million people. While Fico has been accused of racism, the cabinet headed by Mikulas Dzurinda has adopted measures that discourage large Romany families even as it claims to support the Romany minority, the paper wrote. MS

'FOREIGN AFFAIRS' PIECE SUGGESTS ORBAN CABINET WAS AN EMBARRASSMENT TO NATO
In an article in the November-December issue of "Foreign Affairs" magazine, the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Celeste Wallander says Hungary "won" the title of most disappointing NATO member state during the tenure of former Prime Minister Viktor Orban, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 31 October. The author says the perception stems from broken promises to the alliance made before joining in 1999 and accuses Orban's cabinet of anti-Semitism, making non-territorial demands on neighboring states, and failing to play a sufficient role in stabilizing the Balkans. Wallander writes that Hungary would have been expelled from NATO if such a mechanism existed. Hungarian Defense Ministry spokesman Peter Matyuc countered in "Nepszabadsag": "We have never made a secret of the fact that our Western allies have leveled major criticisms at the ministry for the high-sounding but irresponsible promises made by the previous [Orban] government. Our credibility has been seriously jeopardized." MSZ

BIG CHANGES AHEAD FOR HUNGARIAN TELEVISION NETWORK
The government wants to inject 5.1 billion forints ($20.4 million) into the Hungarian state television network MTV and allocate 1.5 billion forints to the state-run satellite channel Duna TV, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 31 October. In addition, the 2003 budget sets aside 20.8 billion forints for the three state-run stations (MTV-1, MTV-2, and Duna TV) in order to offset the abolition of viewer-subscription fees. MTV's management also announced plans to attract viewers with a revamped image and programs, as well as a new logo. The station has also invested in prominent personalities from commercial television networks. MSZ

FORMER HUNGARIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER SWITCHES PARTY ALLEGIANCE
Former Transportation Minister Kalman Katona decided to quit FIDESZ and sit with Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) members of Budapest City Council, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 31 October. Katona, who headed the opposition FIDESZ-MDF-Christian Democrat Budapest list in the 20 October local elections, was reportedly disappointed that FIDESZ elected its deputy chairman, Tamas Deutsch, to lead FIDESZ on the City Council. Deutsch told the daily he was surprised by Katona's decision and expressed hope that Katona will return to the FIDESZ group within days. Katona said he owes a lot to FIDESZ but added that its "swing to the right and its enduring failure to sincerely face up to its consequences" make it clear to him that he has "a place in the Forum, which was able to benefit from its past internal disputes and again authentically represent the policies of the late [Prime Minister] Jozsef Antall." MSZ

YUGOSLAV ARMS-EXPORT SCANDAL GROWS...
A UN expert panel has documented a series of illegal arms transfers from Belgrade-based firms to Liberia in violation of UN sanctions, RFE/RL reported from New York on 31 October. Yugoslav arms dealers allegedly used false documents to mask delivery of about 200 tons of Yugoslav Army stocks to the Liberian government between June and August 2002. Panel member Johan Peleman told RFE/RL that Yugoslav authorities were probably unaware that sanctions were being violated. He stressed, however, that the authorities need to be more aware of current sanctions regulations and develop better oversight mechanisms for their own arms trade. PM

...AS YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT ADMITS VIOLATING SANCTIONS REGARDING IRAQ
The Yugoslav government admitted in a statement on 31 October that "because of imprecise regulations on arms trading, there have been several cases of breaching the UN embargo" with Iraq, AP reported from Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29, 30, and 31 October 2002 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 25 October 2002). The statement added that the violations involved the "overhaul of jet engines for Iraqi military...MiG 21 and MiG 23 [aircraft], and also in providing certain military and technical services." The statement did not provide details about those "services," nor did it address charges made in some media recently that Yugoslav experts might have helped Iraq develop a cruise missile or even biological and chemical weapons. The government statement promised to observe UN sanctions and put an end to illicit trade. The government as a whole -- and not just the Defense Ministry -- will in the future approve all exports and imports of military goods, Reuters reported. A committee has been set up to prepare new legislation on the arms trade, dpa reported. PM

SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER PRAISES POLICE...
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic praised recent steps by police to solve the case of police General Bosko Buha's murder earlier this year, AP reported from Belgrade on 31 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 and 31 October 2002). Djindjic said the conspiracy involved "a combination of mafia and other figures seeking to shape a political system to their liking." He added: "This is only the tip of an iceberg -- the main culprits have yet to be uncovered, those who stood to gain most from the organized crime and its profits.... There is likely an international connection, possibly in Bosnia,... perhaps even in Zagreb." Djindjic said he hopes "the courts will prove this network was behind several high-profile murders." He stressed that the conspirators wanted to "destabilize Serbia and weaken its government enough to leave space for organized crime to flourish again and profit from smuggling of cigarettes and oil and other lucrative illegal businesses." Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic is also at the center of the arms-trade scandal as the head of the board of directors of the Yugoimport arms company. PM

...WHOM HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ACCUSES OF USING TORTURE
The NGO Human Rights Watch said in a statement in New York on 31 October that there is evidence that some of the suspects held by police in conjunction with the Buha case were beaten and tortured. The NGO noted that it has no information about who killed Buha or committed other crimes, but stressed, "Even if the allegations are true, they don't justify torture or ill treatment." Painter Dragan Malesevic Tapi, arrested on 29 October in connection with the Buha murder, died in a police station on the same day under unclear circumstances. Human Rights Watch added in its statement that it fears the use of torture may be on the rise. The statement concluded: "Human Rights Watch called for prompt and effective investigation of allegations of torture and for oversight by the defense and security committee of the Serbian parliament." PM

WILL BRITAIN INSIST ON NATO LINK FOR EU MISSION IN MACEDONIA?
Unnamed NATO officials told Reuters in Brussels on 31 October that the Atlantic alliance is making plans to extend the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Macedonia -- known as Amber Fox -- once the current mandate runs out on 15 December. The officials stressed that NATO does not want a vacuum to arise if the EU is unable to carry out its plans to take over the mission from NATO. The EU's project has been held up for months by bickering between Greece and Turkey over what is known as Berlin Plus, which is a plan to guarantee the EU access to NATO planning, intelligence, and logistics (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 16 October 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 3 May and 9 August 2002). France wants to press ahead with the EU project even without Berlin Plus, the "Financial Times" reported on 30 October. Britain, however, wants the EU to undertake the mission only with the agreement. Paris sees the future of the EU's incipient European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) as distant from or even independent of NATO. London wants the ESDP linked to the Atlantic alliance to improve European military capabilities. PM

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS NEW GOVERNMENT
Members of the 120-seat parliament approved the cabinet of Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski in the early hours of 1 November, Deutsche Welle's Macedonian Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2002 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 1 November 2002). Seventy-two deputies voted in favor, 28 were opposed, and 20 were absent. PM

MACEDONIAN JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION TO PREPARE BLACKLIST OF CORRUPT COLLEAGUES
The Association of Journalists in Macedonia (ZNM) announced on 31 October that its professional-standards board will prepare a blacklist of corrupt journalists, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. The organization made the announcement during a Skopje panel discussion on ethical standards in journalism at a large gathering of Macedonian NGOs. Participants recalled a number of cases in which owners of publishing houses, editors, and journalists were either on the payroll of ministries or political parties or were actively involved with racketeering companies. In order to fight graft among journalists, the ZNM proposed increasing efforts to improve professionalism and introducing a licensing system for journalists. UB

CROATIAN GOVERNMENT PREPARED TO EXTRADITE BOBETKO
In the first such statement by a member of the Croatian government, Interior Minister Sime Lucin said in Zagreb on 31 October that police will arrest former General Janko Bobetko if they receive an arrest warrant from a court, dpa reported. Bobetko has been indicted for war crimes by The Hague tribunal. PM

CROATIA TO BAN FASCIST SYMBOLS?
Justice Minister Ingrid Anticevic-Marinovic said in Zagreb on 31 October that the government will soon introduce a wide-ranging package of new legislation covering topics ranging from terrorism to marijuana possession, local and international media reported. One measure would legalize the possession of marijuana, and another would make "libeling the president" a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. Murder, war crimes, hijackings, and terrorism would be punishable by life imprisonment instead of the present 40 years' incarceration. Another measure would impose sentences of between three months and three years for displaying symbols of the World War II Ustashe regime and other fascist movements. PM

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS TO DEMOLISH 'ILLEGAL' BUSINESSES
The Socialist-led government has decided to demolish 700 of 3,000 restaurants, bars, and cafes on the sea coast because they were built without permits, AP reported from Tirana on 31 October. Only 500 of the 3,000 structures were built with permits, and it is not clear what fate awaits the other "illegal" buildings. The Socialist-led Tirana city administration has demolished dozens of restaurants, cafes, and other small business that sprang up in a central Tirana park over the past decade. The administration regards that measure as an essential part of its urban-planning program, which includes extensive painting of buildings and the reconstruction of streets, parks, and boulevards. Critics charge that the Socialists have destroyed hundreds of jobs and created only large open spaces that could breed crime at night. Some "illegal" cafes outside the Butrint archeological park were also bulldozed recently and left as rubble. Tourism is a big money earner in Albania but is in many ways still in its infancy. It is not clear what the destruction of hotels and restaurants will do to encourage additional tourism. The government says it makes no money from tourism in the unlicensed hotels and restaurants. PM

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES MEASURES ON NATO- AND EU-MEMBERSHIP PROMOTION
At a meeting chaired by President Ion Iliescu on 31 October, the government approved two sets of measures aimed at promoting NATO membership and advancing Romania's bid for EU membership. President Iliescu and Prime Minister Adrian Nastase emphasized that Romania's expected invitation to join NATO at the alliance's 21-22 November Prague summit represents "just a beginning" and that the country's accession must be approved by all current NATO members' parliaments, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The approved plan for promoting EU membership from November 2002-December 2003 includes reforms in the spheres of public administration and the judiciary system, intensifying the struggle against corruption and poverty, child-protection measures, and the restitution of property. The government also approved setting up a Romanian Cultural Institute, which will be tasked with promoting Romanian culture abroad and maintaining ties with Romanian intellectuals who live abroad. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SENDS GOVERNMENT ORDINANCE BACK TO PARLIAMENT FOR REEXAMINATION...
President Iliescu announced during a meeting with journalists on 31 October that he is returning to parliament a government ordinance on amending the Penal Code, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The legislature has approved the ordinance and the president's decision amounts to a practical veto. Iliescu said he is opposed to the fact that the amended Penal Code maintained provisions for prison terms for journalists found guilty of defamation and that such cases should only be subject to fines. The ordinance eliminated prison terms for those found guilty of "insulting authority" but maintained prison terms of two months to two years for those found guilty of defamation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May and 26 June 2002). MS

...SAYS CSAT HAS NO PREROGATIVES OVER CNSAS AFFAIRS
In response to a request made by six National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (CNSAS) dissenters that the Supreme Council for National Defense (CSAT) intervene in a dispute between themselves and the council's leadership, President Iliescu said on 31 October that the CSAT has no prerogatives allowing it to intervene in CNSAS affairs and that such authority rests with the parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 2002). MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT BEGINS DEBATES ON RESTRICTING PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY...
Parliament on 31 October approved the first reading of a constitutional amendment that would drastically reduce its members' immunity from prosecution, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. According to the amendment, members of parliament will enjoy immunity only for "political opinions" expressed in the parliament itself. Opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic Chairman Iurie Rosca harshly criticized the proposed amendment, saying one can "well imagine" what would have happened to members of parliament who participated in protest demonstrations earlier this year if the amendment had been in force at that time. Rosca also criticized a government-submitted amendment that would reduce the independence of judges. He also alleged that the government is attempting to reduce the judicial hierarchy of tribunals to which plaintiffs can appeal a lower court's decision. Finally, parliament also began debating an amendment to the constitution that would legalize dual citizenship. MS

ANOTHER TRAINLOAD OF RUSSIAN AMMUNITION LEAVES TRANSDNIESTER
A train loaded with Russian ammunition left the Transdniester on 31 October, in accordance with the recent agreement reached between the two sides, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The train is transporting some 400 tons of artillery shells from the former 14th Army's arsenal to a special facility in Russia to be destroyed. More than 40,000 tons of ammunition are still stored in Colbasna, near Tiraspol. In line with a decision made by the OSCE at its 1999 summit, the munitions evacuation must be completed by the end of this year. MS

BULGARIAN MINISTER SUBMITS RESIGNATIONS
Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Development Minister Kostadin Paskalev submitted his resignation from both posts on 31 October, Darik Radio reported. Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski, who is on an official visit to Greece, has not yet commented on Paskalev's request. Paskalev, who is a member of the opposition Socialist Party (BSP), joined Saxecoburggotski's cabinet as an expert. He is a former mayor of the southwestern town of Blagoevgrad. UB

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES CONFLICT WITH PRESIDENT
After meeting with President Georgi Parvanov on 1 November to discuss the country's future policy on the Kozloduy nuclear-power plant, Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi denied recent allegations that he has been in conflict with the president, "Sega" reported. Pasi and European Integration Minister Meglena Kuneva reportedly criticized Parvanov for writing a letter to the heads of the EU member states in which he explained Bulgaria's position. Pasi and Kuneva said the letter was "not helpful." Pasi also denied that there is any conflict between the government and parliament. "There is no difference between the government's position and parliament's decision [regarding Kozloduy]," Pasi said (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 2002). UB

EU OFFICIAL URGES BULGARIA, ROMANIA TO TACKLE SOCIAL PROBLEMS
EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou said on 30 October that Bulgaria and Romania must address poverty, unemployment, and human trafficking if the countries are to gain EU membership in 2007, Reuters reported. "Their biggest problem is unemployment.... There is a need for a radical reform to tackle rigidity in the labor market," Diamantopoulou said. While Bulgaria's unemployment rate is nearly 20 percent, the Romanian rate is just 8.8 percent. However, Romania must reduce the number of workers in its agriculture sector to meet EU requirements, according to Diamantopoulou. She said she does not expect a drastic rise in migration from the two Balkan states to the EU after accession. But she called on the Bulgarian and Romanian governments to fight human trafficking. "Behind trafficking is always the problem of poverty. We believe that developing the economy and creating opportunities for all is the best remedy for this appalling problem," Diamantopoulou said. UB

WHO IS PULLING THE STRINGS IN KALMYKIA?


In a second-round ballot on 27 October, incumbent Kalmykia President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was re-elected to a second, seven-year term with 57 percent of the vote. Opposition candidate and High Technology Bank Deputy Chairman Baatyr Shondzhiev garnered 38 percent. Although Kalmykia is a relatively small and economically unimportant subject of the federation with a population of just 300,000, the republican presidential election there attracted considerable attention in the Russian media. Partly, this attention is explained by the bizarre authoritarian regime that Ilyumzhinov has established since winning his first term in an uncontested election in 1993. Perhaps more importantly though, the attention might be attributable to the political interests of Russia's leading political clans -- the so-called "Family" left over from the days of former President Boris Yeltsin and the relative newcomers of the St. Petersburg group.

"Nezavisimaya gazeta," "Moskovskie novosti," the flb.ru website, and other sources have reported on Ilyumzhinov's links with the Family and on Shondzhiev's reported ties to the Petersburg clan. Ilyumzhinov is usually connected to President Vladimir Putin's chief of staff, Aleksandr Voloshin, and to Deputy Chief of Staff Vladislav Surkov.

Ilyumzhinov's ties to the Family have been bolstered by Kalmykia's status as a special economic zone. According to "Kommersant-Daily," the Tyumen Oil Company (TNK), which is majority owned by Mikhail Fridman's Alpha Group, uses Kalmykia as an offshore zone. Fridman -- a Family stalwart -- is often connected with Surkov, who used to work at Alpha Group and who has been accused several times of using his position in the Putin administration to further Fridman's interests. In an article published just before the second round of voting in Kalmykia, "Konservator" predicted an Ilyumzhinov victory because "very influential Moscow financial-industrial groups continue to use the Kalmykia offshore zone."

On the other hand, Shondzhiev is linked to another deputy chief of staff, Viktor Ivanov, who is in charge of the Kremlin's personnel policies. Ivanov is a key member of the so-called "Piterskie chekisty," thus named because many of the St. Petersburg clan -- including Putin himself -- have backgrounds in the secret services. This clan is one of the strongest groups within Putin's inner circle. According to politcom.ru, Ivanov enjoys Putin's complete confidence. In 1998, during Putin's tenor as head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), he appointed Ivanov to head his own security department.

Ilyumzhinov flaunts his ties to the Family. Kalmykia's capital, Elista, is still festooned with photographs of Ilyumzhinov with Yeltsin, while the absence of photographs of Putin is glaring. Commentators have described Ilyumzhinov's behavior in this regard as "provocative and arrogant." Moreover, since Ilyumzhinov came to power, a black market in oil has flourished, which is also a powerful stimulus for the St. Petersburg clan to want to remove him.

Therefore, since at least the beginning of this year, Ivanov and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov -- a Petersburger who is close to the Piterskie chekisty and who, according to kompromat.ru, was a school friend of FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev -- have pursued the policy of using the election as a lever to try to depose Ilyumzhinov. This spring the Interior Ministry created a special group to investigate corruption allegations against Kalmykia Interior Minister Timofei Sasykov, who is a close Ilyumzhinov insider. Analysts argued that Sasykov's removal would be a considerable blow to Ilyumzhinov, since the republican Interior Ministry has many means of falsifying election returns. As "Novaya gazeta" wrote on 24 October, if Sasykov were removed, "edging Ilyumzhinov from the game would be just a technical matter."

At various times during the probe, investigators accused Sasykov of complicity in illegal oil extraction, caviar smuggling, and drug trafficking. Over the course of the summer, four of Sasykov's deputies were dismissed as a result of this investigation, but it was always clear that ultimately Gryzlov had his sights set on Sasykov. "Novaya gazeta" reported that the federal Interior Ministry also accused Sasykov of illegally registering more than 17,000 refugees from Chechnya in the republic in exchange for their pledges to vote for Ilyumzhinov. "Novaya gazeta" and other media also reported that Gryzlov wanted to replace Sasykov with his own adviser, Valerii Ochirov.

Understanding the potential danger inherent in Sasykov's removal during a contested campaign, Ilyumzhinov reportedly turned to Voloshin and Surkov for help. He also attempted to appease the Petersburg clan through a series of gestures. "Novaya gazeta" reported that Ilyumzhinov promised Surkov that Kalmykia would "unanimously" support the pro-Kremlin United Russia party in next year's State Duma elections and would likewise support Putin in 2004. Apparently, these efforts paid off and Sasykov was spared.

Ilyumzhinov's close relationship with presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Viktor Kazantsev also played an important role. Kazantsev did not hide his support for Ilyumzhinov, and his newspaper, "Yuzhnyi federalnyi," wrote glowingly of the Kalmykian president's policies. Although Kazantsev is a member of Putin's inner circle, he is not connected to either the Petersburg clan or the Family. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," his relations with the former group are strained. Therefore, he was something of a wild card in the Kalmykia campaign and might have been able to tip the balance of forces in Ilyumzhinov's favor.

Throughout the current campaign in Chechnya, Ilyumzhinov has cooperated closely with Kazantsev and the commanders of the joint federal forces, providing a relatively secure rear for the front-line troops. With hostilities in Chechnya likely to intensify in the next six months or so, Kazantsev is indubitably interested in keeping Ilyumzhinov in place and most likely helped him withstand the pressure from Ivanov and Gryzlov.

In the end, Ilyumzhinov's position turned out to be stronger than that of his opponent Shondzhiev. His monopoly of the republic's "administrative resources" enabled him to entice and pressure voters and to manipulate the campaign and the voting. His near-total control of the local media was challenged several times in local courts by opposing candidates.

However, the election results -- particularly the fact that Ilyumzhinov was forced into a second-round runoff -- demonstrate that a growing political opposition is emerging in Kalmykia, most of whose members are former officials fired by Ilyumzhinov.

Many observers interpreted Shondzhiev's 39 percent showing as a sort of "protest vote" against Ilyumzhinov's economic policies on the part of an impoverished and exhausted populace. Ivanov and his Petersburg-clan colleagues could take advantage of this combination of bolstered political opposition and growing popular discontent in future efforts to force Ilyumzhinov to compromise or, even, in renewed efforts to remove him. Likely, the clan agreed to Ilyumzhinov's re-election in exchange for some important and still unknown concessions. Analysts will certainly be watching the republic's oil sector, currently strictly controlled by Ilyumzhinov and his allies, very closely.

Alexander Nudelman is a political analyst specializing in Russia and other post-Soviet countries for the Paris-based consulting company Europe Analyse.

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