Accessibility links

Newsline - November 12, 2002


PUTIN SIGNS 'ACCEPTABLE' ACCORD ON KALININGRAD...
Speaking at a Brussels news conference on 11 November, European Commission President Romano Prodi, EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana, and President Vladimir Putin announced an agreement on access to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Under the accord, Russian citizens traveling by car between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia will be issued special multiple-transit travel documents to cross Lithuanian territory and those traveling by train will receive single-transit travel documents, newsru.com and izvestia.ru reported. Railroad travel documents will be issued when the ticket is purchased, and Lithuania will reserve the right to deny entry to anyone believed to have violated the law or to pose a threat to Lithuanian security. Putin described the agreement as "not ideal, but acceptable" and said talks on the issue will continue. Izvestia.ru commented that Russia has de facto accepted the EU demand that some sort of visa regime be implemented, even if the word "visa" does not appear in the agreement. VY

...RECONCILES WITH DENMARK...
At the same press conference, President Putin said that he and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is also the rotating chairman of the European Union, agreed fully to restore bilateral relations marred by the Danish decision to allow the World Chechen Congress to be held in Copenhagen in October despite Russian protests (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002.), lenta.ru reported. Rasmussen told RIA-Novosti that his government had no right to ban the congress, which was held on private funding and which posed no threat to public safety. Rasmussen added that in view of the reconciliation, planning will resume for a trip by Danish Queen Margrethe II to Moscow in the near future. VY

...AND DISCUSSES COOPERATION WITH NATO
Putin also met in Brussels with NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson and discussed with him the upcoming NATO summit in Prague, at which a number of countries are expected to be invited to join the alliance, Russian news agencies reported on 11 November. "If NATO is reformed and transformed and can respond to Russian national interests, then cooperation [with the alliance] will be expanded and made more comprehensive," Putin said, according to RIA-Novosti. VY

GAZPROM, EU DISCUSS BALTIC PIPELINE
Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller met in Brussels on 11 November with EU General Director for Energy and Transport Francois Lamoureux and discussed a possible natural-gas pipeline from Leningrad Oblast across the Baltic Sea to Germany, rusenergy.ru and other Russian news agencies reported. Initially, the proposed pipeline would carry 18.7 billion cubic meters per year, with an additional 12.3 billion to be added during a second stage. If the project is approved, the initial stage could be completed between 2007-09, Miller said. VY

SWEDEN EXPELS TWO RUSSIANS FOR ESPIONAGE...
The Swedish Foreign Ministry announced on 11 November that it has expelled two Russian Embassy diplomats on suspicion of espionage, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The ministry declined to reveal the names or positions of the diplomats and said they have already left the country. In Moscow, Boris Labusov, a spokesman for the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), also declined to comment on the report. Lenta.ru, however, wrote that two Russians were caught red-handed by Swedish counterintelligence agents receiving secret documents from telecommunications defense contractor LM Ericsson. Three Ericsson employees are reportedly under investigation in connection with the incident. VY

...AND GRU OFFICER SENTENCED FOR SPYING FOR U.S.
Aleksandr Sypachev, a colonel in Russian military intelligence (GRU), was sentenced during a closed hearing of the Moscow District Military Court on 11 November to eight years in prison and stripped of his rank after being convicted of spying for the United States, newsru.com and other Russian news agencies reported. According to court spokesman Yevgenii Kommisarov, the court found that Sypachev had approached the CIA and offered to sell secret documents. He was arrested in Moscow in April when he attempted to hand over secret information about Russian intelligence personnel. According to Kommisarov, the court mitigated Sypachev's sentence because he cooperated with the investigation and because he failed to harm state security. VY

JUSTICE MINISTRY REGISTERS SELEZNEV'S PARTY...
Justice Minister Yurii Chaika on 11 November handed State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev a certificate of registration for his Party of Russia's Rebirth, Russian news agencies reported. According to RIA-Novosti, Seleznev's party is the 43rd organization registered by the Justice Ministry under the law on political parties adopted last year. Communist Party leaders expelled Seleznev in June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2002), and last month Seleznev led his movement out of People's Patriotic Union of Russia, a Communist-led umbrella organization (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 2002). LB

...AND SPORTING RUSSIA
On 7 November, the Justice Ministry registered Sporting Russia as a nongovernmental organization, regions.ru reported. Sporting Russia is headed by Vyacheslav Fetisov, chairman of the State Sports Committee. The organization's first activity is a campaign called "Sports Against Terrorism," which is intended "to unite athletes from hundreds of countries in the fight against terrorism, the plague of the 21st century," according to a statement signed by Fetisov. "We are uniting for the sake of a happy life for future generations on our planet." RC

IS LIBERAL RUSSIA FALLING APART?
The political council of Liberal Russia dissolved the party's St. Petersburg branch on 11 November, TVS and Interfax reported. Party co-Chairman Sergei Yushenkov said the branch was dissolved for opposing party leaders' decisions and in particular for trying to call an extraordinary congress. Liberal Russia activists in many regions, including St. Petersburg, opposed the political council's decision to expel Boris Berezovskii from the party last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 24 October 2002). Disbanding the St. Petersburg branch might quiet the dissenters in the short term, but it casts doubt on Liberal Russia's viability. Doing without Berezovskii's financial support would have been difficult enough; now Liberal Russia must rebuild from scratch its operation in the "democratic" stronghold of St. Petersburg, where ideologically similar parties (Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces) are well established. LB

COMMUNISTS SEEK TO END YELTSIN'S PRIVILEGES
Communist Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin on 11 November introduced a bill that would revise the privileges and immunity granted to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin under the current law on guarantees to the Russian president and his family, RosBalt reported. Under the law, Yeltsin and his family receive about 50-60 million rubles ($1.6 million-$1.9 million) per year in expenses and benefits. "Such a sum equals the entire budget of an average raion settlement and considering the impoverishment of millions of citizens, it is a superfluous and inexcusable waste of state funds," Ilyukhin wrote in a memorandum accompanying his bill. Under Ilyukhin's amendment, the existing law on guarantees to the president would not apply to anyone who served in that office prior to 31 December 1999. In 1991, Ilyukhin, then a state prosecutor, became famous when he unsuccessfully attempted to prosecute then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for "state treason." VY

WORLD BANK SAYS HALF THE ECONOMY STILL IN THE SHADOWS
From 40-50 percent of the Russian economy remains in the shadows and is controlled by illegal capital, newsru.com reported on 11 November, citing a report by the Moscow office of the World Bank. By comparison, in Italy -- a developed Western economy that has a relatively large illegal sector -- 17 percent of the economy is in the shadows. In Russia, the largest concentration of illegal business is found in the services sector, the study reported. Although the large shadow economy means lower tax collections and skewed economic indicators, the World Bank notes that it also creates additional real employment and serves as a reserve for future economic development, as well as a buffer against any future economic crisis. VY

MORE PETERSBURG LIBRARY THEFTS REPORTED
For the second time in less than a week, a rare first-edition copy of Isaac Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" has been reported stolen from a St. Petersburg library (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002), RosBalt reported on 12 November. Officials at the Gorky Library told police they suspect the book was stolen on 6 November, the same day that the same volume disappeared from the Russian National Library. According to RosBalt, a rare copy of "Le Futur" by the Russian avant-garde writer Konstantin Bolshakov was also stolen from the Russian National Library the same day. Furthermore, officials at the library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which is located just a few blocks away from the Gorky Library, reported on 12 November the theft of a copy of English philosopher Robert Owens's "A New View of Society," although it was unclear from the report when that theft occurred. Police have refused to comment on the incidents, but RosBalt cited an unidentified police source as saying that all the thefts might have been the work of a single group of thieves. RC

YANDARBIEV RESIGNS AS CHECHEN PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY
In a 9 November letter to Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov posted on chechenpress.com, former acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev asked to be relieved of his status as Maskhadov's personal envoy to Muslim countries. Yandarbiev explained that he rejects both the recent pro-Western shift in Chechen foreign policy and Maskhadov's willingness to hold peace talks with Russia. He reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful solution of the Chechen conflict, but at the same time declared that "there is no one in Russia with whom one could conduct peace talks in a human language and on the basis of universally accepted norms of human right and dignity." Yandarbiev nonetheless vowed to continue his struggle "on the path of Allah" in any sphere where he could be of use. LF

BUDANOV TRIAL POSTPONED INDEFINITELY
The trial of Russian Army Colonel Yurii Budanov, which was scheduled to resume in Rostov-na-Donu on 19 November, has been postponed indefinitely after the Health Ministry recalled the findings of a second psychiatric examination performed on him, Interfax reported on 11 November. Budanov is charged with the rape and murder of a young Chechen woman in March 2000. He has pleaded temporary insanity. Budanov's lawyer Anatolii Mukhin told Interfax he suspects the "unprecedented" recall of the findings of the examination, which was conducted by experts from Moscow's Serbskii Institute, was politically motivated. LF

FORMER INGUSH PRESIDENT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT OF CHECHNYA?
Ruslan Aushev, who stepped down in January 2002 as president of Ingushetia, on 11 November declared his readiness to run for the post of Chechen president, according to the "Financial Times" on 12 November. Meeting on 10 November with Chechen representatives in Moscow, President Putin called for expediting the holding of a referendum on a new draft Chechen constitution as a precondition for elections next year for a new president (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002). LF

ANOTHER ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY NOMINATES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
A 9 November congress of the Democratic Party of Armenia (HDK) in Yerevan nominated the party's chairman, Aram Sarkisian, as its candidate for the February 2002 presidential election, Noyan Tapan reported on 11 November. The HDK is the third of the 16 opposition parties that agreed in principle last month to field a single candidate in that ballot that has nonetheless nominated its own candidate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October and 4 November 2002). Sarkisian stressed that "we are still ready" to back a joint presidential candidate. Sarkisian placed 10th of 12 candidates in the March 1998 presidential ballot with 0.19 percent of the vote. LF

ARMENIAN ESPIONAGE SUSPECT CLAIMS HE WAS PRESSURED INTO CONFESSING
Testifying on 11 November in his ongoing trial on charges of spying for Turkey, former Armenian Foreign Ministry official Murad Bojolian said he confessed to that charge within hours of his arrest in January because he feared for his life and for the safety of his family, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. In July, Bojolian retracted his initial testimony, denying that he provided sensitive information to the Turkish intelligence service MIT. Bojolian further argued that investigators have failed to prove his alleged links with MIT and that none of the witnesses called by state prosecutors is relevant to his case. LF

ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT AMENDS DRAFT MEDIA LAW
The Armenian Justice Ministry has revised a draft media law that was withdrawn in March after being severely criticized by both local journalists and Council of Europe experts, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 11 November (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 7, 21 February 2002 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 March 2002). The original bill provided for the creation of a government agency charged with "state oversight" of the media that would also issue and revoke the licenses without which media outlets would not be permitted to function. It also required journalists to pay to interview government officials. The new version of the bill does not include this agency or any licensing requirements, but it does uphold a constitutional provision that authorizes the imposition of restrictions on press freedom in the interests of state security. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT LAUDS SON
Heidar Aliev and his son Ilham traveled on 9 November to the town of Sheki for the ceremonial opening of a sports complex and swimming pool, Turan reported. The ceremony was reportedly broadcast live on television and served as a pretext for Aliev to enumerate the virtues of his son, whom many analysts both in Azerbaijan and abroad believe is being groomed to succeed to the presidency. Aliev also admitted that Sheki faces serious economic problems but predicted they will be solved thanks to the implementation of economic reforms and the development of the private sector, Turan reported. LF

GEORGIA'S AZERBAIJANI MINORITY PROTESTS REPEATED VIOLENT ATTACKS...
Representatives of the overwhelmingly Azerbaijani population of Georgia's Gardabani Raion southeast of Tbilisi staged a protest on 11 November outside the local government building to protest recent armed assaults, Caucasus Press and zerkalo.az reported on 12 November. On 11 November, a group of armed masked men, some of them wearing paramilitary uniforms, halted a car carrying three Azerbaijanis and opened fire on them when they tried to resist. Alibaly Askerov, who heads the Georgia-Azerbaijan Friendship Society, said he does not believe that and earlier violent attacks on Azerbaijanis were ethnically motivated. He attributed them to numerous illegal groups engaged in extortion and racketeering. LF

...WHILE GEORGIAN KURDS SAY THEY WERE BETTER OFF IN THE USSR
Speaking in Tbilisi on 8 November, Kerim Ankhos, who represents Georgia's Yezidi minority, complained that Georgia's Kurds have lost the cultural autonomy they enjoyed under the USSR, Caucasus Press reported. He noted that Kurds used to have a theater in Tbilisi and radio broadcasts in their own language, and they were represented in local government. Having been deprived of those opportunities, he said, the Kurdish minority in Georgia has abandoned any hope of preserving its language and customs. Ankhos pointed out that the Kurds are worse off than many other national minorities as they do not have a historic motherland that could defend their rights. LF

UN REPRESENTATIVE VISITS ABKHAZIA...
Jean-Marie Guehenno, who is UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, held talks in Sukhum on 11 November with Abkhaz Vice President Valerii Arshba, Prime Minister Anri Djergenia, parliament speaker Nugzar Ashuba, and Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba, Caucasus Press reported. Djergenia hailed Guehenno's insistence during his talks in Tbilisi the previous day that the Abkhaz conflict must be resolved peacefully and requested the UN to undertake measures to preclude any attempt to do so by force. LF

...MEETS WITH PEACEKEEPERS, DISPLACED PERSONS
Guehenno also met on 11 November in Sukhum with Major General Aleksandr Yevteev, who commands the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone and who briefed him on the situation in the Kodori Gorge, arguing in favor of establishing a permanent observer post there, Caucasus Press reported. Guehenno then traveled to the west Georgian town of Zugdidi, where he met with Georgian displaced persons who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-93 war and with Union of Warriors leader Ruzgen Gogokhia, who formally requested that the UN launch a peace-enforcement operation in Abkhazia, Caucasus Press reported. Guehenno rejected Gogokhia's argument that only such an operation can end the conflict and enable the displaced persons to return to their homes. LF

ADJAR LEADER DISCUSSES ABKHAZ CONFLICT IN MOSCOW
Adjar State Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze, whom Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze named one year ago as his special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, is currently in Moscow holding talks with Russian leaders on his proposal for ending the conflict, Caucasus Press and "Rezonansi" reported on 11 November. Abashidze has already discussed his peace proposal with his Russian counterpart First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin. LF

GEORGIA RULES OUT EXTRADITION OF TWO CHECHENS TO RUSSIA
Two of a group of eight Chechens detained in early August after having entered Georgia illegally from Russia are Georgian citizens and therefore cannot be extradited to Russia, AP and Interfax reported on 11 November, quoting Georgian security officials. Tbilisi is awaiting a ruling from the Council of Europe before deciding whether to hand the six other Chechens over to Moscow. LF

ARRESTED KAZAKH JOURNALIST ABANDONS HUNGER STRIKE
At the recommendation of his supporters and lawyer, Sergei Duvanov ended on 9 November the hunger strike he began 10 days earlier to protest his detention on charges of raping an underage girl, Interfax and AP reported on 11 November. Three close associates of Duvanov who also began a hunger strike as a mark of solidarity have said they will continue their protest. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES BY-ELECTION DISPUTE
The Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of Kyrgyzstan's parliament) held an inconclusive discussion on 11 November of the disputed by-election in Kara-Kuldja, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Former Deputy Prime Minister Usen Sydykov, who polled 46 percent of the vote in the 20 October ballot but was barred by an Osh court from contesting the runoff, has appealed to the Constitutional Court to overturn a Supreme Court ruling upholding the Osh court's decision. LF

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL MEETS WITH IMPRISONED KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Cramer met on 6 November in Bishkek with former Vice President and opposition Ar-Namys Party Chairman Feliks Kulov, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 11 November. Their talks focused on ways to end the ongoing domestic political crisis in Kyrgyzstan; the possibility of Kulov's pre-term release was not discussed. Kulov is serving a 10-year prison term on charges, which he has denied, of embezzlement and abuse of office. LF

RUSSIA TO EXPEL ILLEGAL TAJIK IMMIGRANTS
More than 70 Tajik citizens found to be living illegally in Moscow will be forcibly repatriated on 15 November, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 November. LF

UZBEK PREMIER VISITS TURKMENISTAN
Following last week's session of the Turkmen-Uzbek intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002), Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov paid a one-day working visit to Ashgabat on 11 November for talks with senior Turkmen government officials on the joint use of water resources, uza.uz reported. LF

BELARUS WARNS CZECHS OVER POSSIBLE VISA RIFT
An official from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry has threatened Czech officials with an "extremely tough official reaction" if they deny visas to a Belarusian delegation bound for the 21-22 November NATO summit in the Czech capital, Belapan reported, citing an 11 November appearance on Belarusian Television by Alyaksandr Baycharau. "If the Czech side refuses to issue visas to the Belarusian delegation in violation of international law, then, of course, an extremely tough official reaction will follow and the consequences will be extremely serious," Baycharau reportedly said. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka intends to take part in the NATO summit as head of the Belarusian delegation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002), and Czech media have reported that officials in Prague are undecided. On the same television program, presidential spokeswoman Natalya Pyatkevich noted that visa deliberations insult Belarus and humiliate its people. Pyatkevich added that Belarus, a full-fledged member of NATO's Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, needs no special invitation to attend the summit. The Czech Foreign Ministry is expected to announce its decision on the Belarusian leader's visa application later this week. AM

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TO OSCE ASSAILS BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT FOR DISREGARDING COMMITMENTS
The deputy chief of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE on 9 November called for a resolution to the crisis that has beset the organization's work in Belarus, adding that there is "no need to hear any more pronouncements of goodwill," according to Belapan. "We have all heard positive sounds from Belarus before, even as it expelled members to the OSCE mission there and abused OSCE commitments," Belapan quoted Douglas Davidson as saying at an OSCE Permanent Council meeting in Vienna. "What we need to see now is a resolution of this crisis." In his speech, Davidson referred to the persecution of opposition politicians in Belarus, citing the example of Anatol Lyabedzka (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2002). "The Lukashenka regime's blatant attempt to intimidate the political opposition into not meeting with the international community constitutes only the latest evidence of its disregard for the kind of freedom of contact and movement normally afforded to political representatives in a democratic society," Davidson added. AM

UKRAINE'S SUPREME COURT ELECTS CHAIRMAN
Vasyl Malyarenko was elected by secret ballot on 11 November to chair the Ukrainian Supreme Court, UNIAN reported. Malyarenko on 28 October requested that his name not be put forward as a candidate to the post, saying that "some groups intend to hinder, slander, and blackmail me, including a threat to kill," according to UNIAN. However, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 1 November supported his candidacy and qualified Malyarenko's statement as a "moment of weakness." AM

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT FALLING SHORT ON TAX COLLECTION
According to the Finance Ministry and the State Tax Administration, the Ukrainian government may fail to collect as much as 16 billion hryvnyas ($3 billion) in taxes this year, UNIAN reported on 11 November. Volodymyr Parnyuk from the Finance Ministry told the agency that uncollected taxes currently comprise some 13.2 billion hryvnyas. UNIAN reported that the fuel and energy sector is of particular concern, accounting for nearly 60 percent of tax arrears. In particular, the agency said state-run Naftohaz Ukrayiny and Ukrenerho paid just 5 percent of their value-added and income taxes due in August and September. AM

TWO CANDIDATES EMERGE FOR ESTONIA'S TOP AUDIT POST
After meeting with Deputy Legal Chancellor Mihkel Oviir and Center Party parliamentary deputy Olev Raju, President Arnold Ruutel announced on 11 November that he is recommending both as candidates to head the State Audit Office, ETA reported. The previous holder of the office, Juhan Parts, resigned in August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 2002) and was subsequently elected chairman of the right-wing Res Publica party. Since the post requires state security clearance, the backgrounds of both candidates will be checked -- a process that can take up to three months. Ruutel will then decide which candidate to present to the parliament for confirmation. SG

NORWEGIAN OFFICIAL PLEDGES HELP FOR LATVIA'S NATO INTEGRATION
Norwegian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Kim Traavik told visiting Latvian counterpart Maris Riekstins in Oslo on 11 November that Norway strongly supports Latvian membership in NATO and will continue active cooperation so the country can swiftly adapt to the alliance's structures, BNS reported. Norway has provided political support and practical assistance for the development of Latvia's armed forces, including setting up a divers' training center in Liepaja, an ammunition-neutralization training center in Adazi, and various BALTBAT and BALTNET projects. The secretaries noted that the two countries have developed broad contacts among local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and higher-education institutions that focus on social integration and strengthening Latvia's judicial, economic, and regional development. Riekstins also invited Traavik to visit Latvia in 2003. SG

LITHUANIA'S EU NEGOTIATOR HINTS AT DIFFERENCES OVER AGRICULTURE
Lithuania's chief negotiator with the EU, Petras Austrevicius, said at a meeting of the EU-Lithuania joint parliamentary committee in Brussels on 11 November that he hopes to extract greater direct payments to farmers than those the EU has proposed, according to BNS. Austrevicius also called the EU's proposed agricultural quotas, particularly of dairy products and sugar, too small. He called the completion of membership negotiations difficult but necessary. Austrevicius stressed that the EU admission treaty should have a special protocol with specific figures concerning the size of EU contributions for the closure of the nuclear-power plant at Ignalina. He also said transit between the Kaliningrad Oblast and the rest of Russia should not be an additional financial burden for Lithuania and should not impede Lithuania's early entry into the Schengen zone. SG

POLISH PRESIDENT WARNS OF PUBLIC APATHY
"We must all learn how to be active, how to organize ourselves, how to find trust in others -- in the community and democracy -- and how to awaken our faith in the idea of participation," President Aleksander Kwasniewski said in a speech to mark Polish Independence Day on 11 November, PAP reported. Speaking at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Kwasniewski also made a reference to the local elections that took place in Poland on 27 October and 10 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002). "For the first time, [local elections] gave Poles a direct say in who is to become a village elder, a town or city mayor," Kwasniewski said. "The fact that more than 50 percent of Poles did not take advantage of that opportunity is not good news." AM

POLAND CHECKS CHECHEN CENTERS FOR TERRORIST LINKS
The Polish Foreign Ministry has ordered inspections of all Chechen information and refugee centers in the country following a request from Russian authorities that such centers be shut down, Polish Television reported on 10 November. Russian officials view Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov as a terrorist and have pushed for the closures in the wake of the 23-26 October Moscow hostage tragedy. Poland's Internal Security Agency (ABW) has concluded that Chechen information centers in Poland have nothing to do with terrorism. "The so-called Chechen information centers...in Poland do not further the development of relations between Russia and Poland," a spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Warsaw said on Polish Television on 10 November. "It is clear that the Russian side demands the closure of the centers in Warsaw and in Krakow." There are some 1,700 Chechens legally housed at refugee centers in Poland, while another 1,700 have applied for permanent residence, according to Polish Television. AM

NATO CHIEF SAYS PRAGUE SUMMIT SHOULD BE TIME FOR REJOICING, NOT DEMONSTRATING
NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said on 11 November in Brussels that the forthcoming NATO summit in Prague should be a time for rejoicing rather than demonstrating against the event, CTK reported. Robertson said NATO will welcome new members to its ranks, the Russian Foreign Minister will attend the 21-22 November summit, and representatives of 40 countries "from Vancouver to Vladivostok" are likely to participate. For decades, no one would have dreamed of such a thing, he said, and those who plan to demonstrate against the summit should instead celebrate. Meanwhile, CTK on 11 November quoted a Prague police official as saying some of those who plan to demonstrate against the summit are already in the Czech Republic and thus cannot be prevented from arriving in Prague, but some foreigners have been stopped and denied entry at the Slovak and German borders. Police expect anarchists from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and the United States to try to disrupt the summit alongside anarchists from the Czech Republic. MS

FORMER COMMUNIST OFFICIAL CHARGED IN CZECH REPUBLIC
A former high-ranking communist official, Karel Hoffmann, was charged on 1 November with treason for his alleged role in the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, AP and CTK reported. Prosecutor Dagmar Machova said Hoffmann is accused of having ordered Czechoslovak state radio and television to stop broadcasting during the invasion, thus preventing statements by the country's leaders condemning the invasion from reaching the public. Hoffmann was in charge of communications at the time the pact's troops invaded Czechoslovakia. Machova said Hoffmann, 78, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. In September, two other former communist officials, one-time Communist Party chief Miklos Jakes and former Premier Jozef Lenart, were acquitted of treason charges also stemming from their role in the 1968 invasion. MS

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER PRESENTS EU REFERENDUM PROPOSAL
Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan on 11 November told journalists that the proposed text of a referendum on joining the EU will be presented to the cabinet in the near future, TASR reported. Kukan said the plebiscite will be held on 7 June. Under Kukan's plan, voters would be asked: "Do you agree with Slovakia's becoming a member of the EU?" A simple majority is required for approval. Under Slovak law, a plebiscite can be called by either the parliament or at the request of 350,000 citizens. In order for the referendum to be conducted on 7 June, parliament must grant approval by 7 February at latest. MS

FIRST POSTELECTION POLL PUTS SLOVAK OPPOSITION ON TOP
The first public-opinion poll released in Slovakia since the September elections shows the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and Smer (Direction) leading the field in party preference, with 18.3 percent support each among respondents. The poll, conducted by the MVK polling institute between 29 October and 5 November, indicates the ruling Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) is backed by 14 percent and its coalition allies -- the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), and the Alliance for New Citizens (ANO) -- are backed by 11.7 percent, 9.3 percent, and 9 percent, respectively, TASR reported. MS

VISEGRAD FOUR REJECT EU CONDITIONS FOR EXPANSION
Chief negotiators from the Visegrad Four -- Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia -- on 11 November announced at a joint press briefing in Brussels that they do not accept the financial decisions on EU expansion made at a recent EU summit in Brussels, Hungarian radio reported. The prime ministers of the 10 candidate countries are scheduled to meet on 15 November in Warsaw, where the Visegrad Four countries should draft a declaration on behalf of all 10 EU candidate countries on their positions in ongoing accession talks. Their key proposal is that future members should only partly comply with the payment obligations as long as they have access to just a fraction of EU subsidies, as proposed recently by Brussels. The chief negotiators agreed to insist on receiving full agriculture payments by no later than 2006. MSZ

FIDESZ LEADERSHIP RESTATES EU ACCESSION COMMITMENT, CONDITIONS
Opposition FIDESZ Executive Chairman Janos Ader and Laszlo Kover, chairman of the party's National Council, on 11 November told reporters they have called a party conference for 7 December to give party members an opportunity to state the conditions they deem necessary to proceed with EU accession, Budapest dailies reported. Both politicians stressed that FIDESZ is committed to EU accession. In a reference to the communist-era pasts of Socialist Party members, Kover said FIDESZ supported EU accession when "many representatives of the ruling [Socialist] party spoke in favor of Comecon and the Warsaw Pact." Ader said preconditions for successful EU accession include subsidies for small and medium-sized enterprises, improved competitiveness in the agricultural sector, and elimination of existing disparities among Hungary's regions. He reiterated that a referendum on accession should preferably take place six weeks after the accession treaty has been signed. The expected date for signing is 16 April. MSZ

FORMER HUNGARIAN PREMIER EXPLAINS DECISION TO RENOUNCE U.S. TRIP
Former Prime Minister Viktor Orban on 11 November said he will not travel to Washington, D.C., to collect the Truman-Reagan Freedom Prize that the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation awarded him for promoting democracy and freedom, "Nepszabadsag" reported the next day. Orban said that, if asked, he could not answer questions related to the communist past of either Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy or the country's chief of police without harming improving Hungarian-U.S. relations. According to the daily, U.S. sources were informed that Orban canceled the visit because of a "smear campaign" being conducted against him. MSZ

HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM PARLIAMENT-GROUP LEADER RESIGNS
Istvan Balsai resigned as leader of the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) parliamentary group on 11 November in the wake of political and personal conflicts with party Chairwoman Ibolya David and just ahead of a vote of no confidence scheduled for 12 November. Balsai told a press briefing that he sensed mistrust for several weeks on the part of some MDF deputies. Fifteen of the party's 23 deputies (in a 385-member chamber) signed the no-confidence motion, including David, "Magyar Hirlap" reported. After the April elections, Balsai wanted to conduct opposition politics in an adversarial manner, while David defined the MDF as a moderate right-of-center political force that seeks consensus. Last week, David firmly objected when Balsai echoed a FIDESZ proposal that the EU accession treaty be signed by the president, rather than the prime minister. MSZ

CROATIAN PRESIDENT: WE WILL CARRY OUT OUR OBLIGATIONS TO THE HAGUE
President Stipe Mesic told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" of 12 November that he is convinced Croatian authorities will cooperate fully with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague in the case of General Janko Bobetko (see "RFE/RL South Slavic Report," 7 November 2002). Mesic stressed that the government of Prime Minister Ivica Racan will act "without any [further] discussion" once its appeal to the tribunal has run its course. The president said those politicians who say they will defy the tribunal -- even if their stance means international sanctions against Croatia -- are just trying to "score cheap political points." Mesic said he believes the opposition Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) would cooperate with the tribunal if the HDZ were in power. He argued that the Bobetko case is really about efforts by people who acquired privileges during the 1991-95 war of independence to keep them. PM

DEFEATED SERBIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL NOT TO RUN AGAIN...
Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus said in Belgrade on 11 November that he will not run in the Serbian presidential vote set for 8 December, international and local media reported. He stressed that voters have had enough of political squabbles and that he sees no point in running (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 11 October 2002). Labus added that "these disputes are a threat to the entire country and have cost it its international reputation" it won since the overthrow of former President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Labus finished second to Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica in the 29 September 2002 first round of voting and again in the second round on 13 October. The Election Commission declared the second round invalid because fewer than 50 percent of all registered voters cast their ballots. The vote on 8 December is a new, first-round ballot. Recent legislation enables a candidate to win the second round with at least 50 percent of the votes actually cast regardless of the turnout. Far-right Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, who finished a strong third on 29 September, is the only declared candidate in the 8 December race. Kostunica is widely expected to run. PM

...AND BREAKS WITH HIS PARTY
Labus also told a press conference in Belgrade on 11 November that one reason for his defeat was the "boycott" of the vote by his own Democratic Party, which is led by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Labus announced his resignation from the Democratic Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 2002). PM

WILL THE WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL APPOINT A LAWYER FOR ITS MOST FAMOUS INDICTEE?
Slobodan Milosevic did not appear at his trial for war crimes on 12 November because he is suffering from "exhaustion and high blood pressure," AP reported from The Hague. Presiding judge Richard May ordered a medical report to determine when Milosevic can again stand trial and provide "a prognosis of his future fitness." The trial resumed on 11 November after a 10-day break, which was prompted by concern for Milosevic's allegedly poor health (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2002). Also on 11 November, Milosevic refused the tribunal's offer to appoint a defense lawyer in order to speed up the trial and place less strain on him. Chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said the tribunal should appoint a defense attorney whether Milosevic wants one or not, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. PM

PRIVATE MACEDONIAN-LANGUAGE RADIO STATION LAUNCHED IN ALBANIA
The first private Macedonian-language radio station in Albania began broadcasting on 7 November, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. Radio Prespa is run by the Prespa Association and is based in the eastern Albanian town of Liqenas. The former Macedonian ambassador to Albania and the state-owned Macedonian Radio and Television (MRTV) helped launch the project. The Albanian state-owned Radio Korca has daily half-hour broadcasts in Macedonian. UB

TWO MACEDONIANS GET SUSPENDED SENTENCES FOR BURNING U.S. FLAG
A court gave two unnamed Macedonians suspended jail sentences on 12 November for burning the U.S. flag during a 1999 protest against the NATO-led intervention in Kosova, Reuters reported from Skopje. These were the first convictions for burning the U.S. flag in Macedonia, which receives extensive U.S. political, economic, and military support. PM

BOSNIAN MINISTER PLEDGES TO CONTROL ARMS TRADE
On 11 November in Sarajevo, Foreign Trade Minister Azra Hadziahmetovic promised Paddy Ashdown, the international community's high representative, that Bosnian state institutions will take full control of the arms trade by 15 November, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October and 5 November 2002). PM

UN EXPERTS FIND ONLY THREE 'HOT SPOTS' IN BOSNIA
In response to concerns that depleted uranium from NATO ordnance used in 1995 could pose health risks, a UN Environmental Program (UNEP) team investigated 14 sites in Bosnia over a one-month period, AP reported from Sarajevo on 11 November. UNEP experts found only three "hot spots" with radioactive traces: two in the Sarajevo suburb of Hadzici and one at the Bosnian Serb military facility at Han Pijesak. Pekka Haavisto, who heads the UNEP task force, said: "We are concerned about the situation at the Hadzici tank-repair facility and the Han Pijesak barracks." He added that decontamination should be carried out by experts. In early 2001, Serbian and Russian sources suggested that depleted uranium from NATO weapons poses a serious health hazard in parts of the Balkans. Initial findings did not bear out the charges, which many observers regarded as an effort to discredit the Atlantic alliance's role in the Bosnian and Kosova conflicts (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 and 12 January 2001). PM

BOSNIAN TRAIN LINK RESTORED
On 10 November, train service resumed between Tuzla in the Muslim-Croat federation and Brcko, which is under a special UN administration, for the first time in 10 years, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. Trains will run twice daily between Tuzla and Brcko, and may soon continue on to Vinkovci in Croatia. PM

ROMANIA OFFERS TO HELP U.S. INTELLIGENCE ON IRAQ
Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana told Reuters on 11 November that his country can offer the United States valuable intelligence on Iraq's energy networks. "Romania built more than one-third of the Iraqi economy in the old communist days," Geoana said, explaining that "more than half of the technical infrastructure [in Iraq] -- electrical grid, power generation, refineries -- was built by Romanian engineers." Geoana said that although Romania's military capabilities are limited, it wants to show its adherence to the principles of democracy in practical terms, and its past relations with Iraq place it in a unique position to do so. Regarding the likelihood of Romania receiving an invitation to join NATO at the organization's 21-22 November summit in Prague, Geoana said: "It's like seeing a dream come true. Slowly, optimism is coming back to this country. This is a matter of national pride. This is a matter of identity." MS

ROMANIAN COMMISSION CALLS ON FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE TO ELUCIDATE PRIBOI CASE
The parliamentary commission supervising the activity of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) on 11 November asked the service to provide information on Social Democratic Party (PSD) deputy Ristea Priboi's past, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The request comes in the wake of allegations in the media that Priboi, a former Securitate officer, personally tortured one of the workers arrested after the 15 November 1987 demonstrations in Brasov against the former regime. Priboi, a former adviser to Premier Adrian Nastase, is a member of the commission. He chaired it until April 2001, when he was forced to step down after revelations in the media that he had been in charge of supervising Securitate activities against RFE/RL (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 2001 and 11 November 2002). MS

ROMANIAN RULING PARTY ON TOP AFTER LOCAL ELECTIONS...
Local elections that took place on 10 November in 21 electoral districts produced nine PSD mayors and two mayors belonging to the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. In all other districts a runoff is to be held between the two frontrunners on 17 November. The PSD also scored the best result in the elections for local councilors, garnering 41.6 percent of the combined vote. It was followed by the Democratic Party (14.4 percent), the National Liberal Party (10.9 percent) and the UDMR (9.7 percent). Independent candidates took 7.3 percent of the vote and voter turnout was 49.7 percent. MS

...AND CHANGES POSITION ON AMENDMENT TO PARTIES LAW
Following President Ion Iliescu's criticism, the PSD Permanent Delegation on 11 November backed down from its position regarding an amendment to the Parties Law that has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. On 6 November, Iliescu expressed his opposition to the amendment, which would have changed the number of members needed for political-party registration from the current 10,000 to 50,000. Following Iliescu's statement (as well as earlier criticism from nongovernmental organizations), the PSD decided on 11 November to back an amendment that would change the minimum number of members needed for political-party registration to 25,000. MS

GREATER ROMANIA PARTY DEPUTY OFFICIALLY CHARGED
Greater Romania Party (PRM) parliamentary deputy Danut Saulea was officially charged on 11 November with spreading false information, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Saulea and PRM Chairman Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor (who has also been charged on the same count) alleged in September 2001 that some Hamas terrorists were trained in Romania. MS

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT'S APPROVAL OF ROMTELCOM PRIVATIZATION DRAWS IRE
Former Privatization Agency head Radu Sarbu on 11 November criticized the government's decision to sell the rest of its stake in RomTelcom, saying it would be the worst deal ever made by a Romanian postcommunist government, Romanian Radio reported. He said the deal could cost the state budget $3 billion and called on Premier Nastase to stop it. The government on 7 November approved the agreement, under which the Greek Hellenic Communication Organization (OTE) would gain a majority stake in the national telecommunications operator RomTelcom, Romanian Radio reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002). Communications and Technology Minister Dan Nica said the only alternative to the deal would have been declaring RomTelcom's bankrupt. In related news, Romania's Privatization Authority announced on 8 November that a Greek-Portuguese consortium has acquired a majority stake in Banc Post. MS

MOLDOVA 'WOULD SALUTE' ROMANIAN ACCESSION TO NATO
Moldovan Ambassador to Romania Emil Ciobu told RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service on 11 November that his country "would salute Romania joining NATO" because "Moldova would then have its own messenger in that organization." Ciobu said he believes the yearlong crisis triggered by Chisinau's charges that Romania's policies toward Moldova are "expansionist" will soon be overcome. "Our ties are too close for a declaration [by Moldovan officials] to be capable of overturning the natural links between our countries," Ciobu said. MS

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT BLAMES TRANSDNIESTER FOR HAMPERING WITHDRAWAL
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking in Brussels on the sidelines of the EU-Russia summit on 11 November, said the separatist leadership in Transdniester carries the blame for Moscow's expected failure to meet the obligations it assumed at the November 1999 OSCE summit, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Putin said: "Russia has not only assumed the obligation, but is itself interested in withdrawing its troops from the Transdniester. Unfortunately, the Transdniester leadership is made up of people with whom it is difficult to discuss issues of this kind. They have their own interests, their own concepts of national interests." He added, "I believe that these concepts are wrong. We will continue to discuss these issues with them." MS

'TIS THE SEASON FOR GAZPROM THREATS AGAINST MOLDOVA
As has become an annual tradition as winter approaches, Russian natural-gas giant Gazprom on 11 November urged the Moldovan leadership to take urgent measures to settle the country's debt to Gazprom for this year's natural-gas supplies. According to TASR, the company sent President Vladimir Voronin a message saying Moldova's debt for January-October 2002 has reached $272 million (excluding penalties and a $900 million debt for gas deliveries to the Transdniester). Gazprom said discount gas sales to Moldova have produced a situation of "irresponsible and arbitrary" consumption and that Voronin should take steps to reduce consumption by 25-30 percent as of 1 November and settle a $25 million bonds payment by that date. The company said this is the only way to ensure the continuation of gas supplies during the winter. MS

MOLDOVAN GAGAUZ-YERI GOVERNOR SWORN IN
Gagauz-Yeri Governor Georgi Tabunshik was sworn in on 11 November at a ceremony attended by President Voronin and Premier Vasile Tarlev, Infotag reported. On 8 November, the Chisinau Court of Appeals rejected an appeal launched by a group of voters against the outcome of the 20 October Gagauz-Yeri gubernatorial elections. The group said the electoral outcome was invalid because less than 50 percent of registered voters cast ballots. It also accused Tabunshik of manipulating the elections. The group said it will now appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and if that court confirms the electoral result it will appeal to the International Court of Human Rights. MS

MAN GETS PROBATION FOR FIRING ON MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT'S RESIDENCE
A Chisinau court sentenced Andrei Sergeev to two years' probation on 7 November for firing three shots at President Voronin's apartment, ITAR-TASS reported. Sergeev turned himself in to police after the 2 August incident, stating he did not know that Voronin lived in the building and admitting that he had acted under the influence of alcohol. MS

BULGARIA TAKES ACTION FOLLOWING ALLEGATIONS COMPANY SKIRTED IRAQI ARMS EMBARGO
Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov dismissed the executive director and the board of managers of the state-owned TEREM ordnance company on 11 November, "Standart" reported. According to the newspaper, Svinarov had evidence that TEREM has sold Iraq spare parts for armed troop transporters. The government has pledged to investigate the case. The newspaper commented that the case could negatively affect Bulgaria's image as a prospective NATO member prior to the alliance's 21-22 November Prague summit. UB

BULGARIA FEARS EUROPEAN COUNTRIES MIGHT REINTRODUCE VISA REGIME...
Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi told journalists on 11 November that Bulgaria has taken new steps to curb illegal migration and human trafficking following reports that some European countries are considering reintroducing a visa regime for Bulgarian citizens, mediapool.bg reported. "We ordered measures [to fight illegal migration and human trafficking], and we formed a working group chaired by Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov," Pasi said. The Netherlands, Belgium, and Norway are reportedly considering the move because of the high number of illegal Bulgarian immigrants. According to the news agency, an average of more than 500 people were deported to Bulgaria from EU countries in May, August, and September. Last week, French authorities arrested some 80 illegal immigrants from Bulgaria near Bordeaux. UB

...BUT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER SAYS NO SUCH PLANS IN THE WORKS
In Sofia on 11 November, European Parliament speaker Patrick Cox said the EU has no plans to reintroduce visas for Bulgarians, mediapool.bg reported. In talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Ognyan Gerdzhikov and members of the parliamentary commission on European integration, Cox assessed Bulgaria's position on the future of the Kozloduy nuclear-power plant as well as the question of whether Bulgaria could participate in the European Parliament elections in 2004. The EU member states recently decided that the European Parliament seats that were reserved for Romania and Bulgaria will be divided up among the member states, as neither Romania nor Bulgaria will be EU members by 2004. UB

WHY DID DAGHESTAN REJECT RADICAL ISLAM?
Few observers were surprised a decade ago when Daghestan became the first Russian republic to experience an upsurge of Islamist extremism. Together with neighboring Chechnya, Daghestan is Russia's poorest republic, and with 34 ethno-linguistic groups, it is by far its most diverse. More than 90 percent of Daghestan's 2.1 million people are Muslims, and it has been a regional center for Islamic activity for more than 12 centuries.

Through the 1990s, there was a growing sense of inevitability as residents of Daghestan struggled with the extremist movement that they called "Wahhabism." Yet nearly everyone was surprised at the end of the decade when they overwhelmingly repudiated it.

Wahhabism spread through Daghestan as a response to economic despair, political frustration, and rapid cultural transition. It appealed to impoverished residents of rural villages who found in it clarity and an ideological simplicity that cut through the paternalism and the cumbersome pseudo-traditions of North Caucasian Islam. It resembled other puritanical movements in its rejection of spiritual mediators, such as the sheiks and other professional "servants of Allah."

There were also external factors. Throughout the 1990s, Daghestan citizens -- despite their poverty -- accounted for more than half of those from the Russian Federation who made the pilgrimage to Mecca, where many were exposed to Saudi fundamentalism. As religious youths increasingly were educated in some of the best foreign Islamic universities, their respect for the traditional North Caucasian clergy waned. Other students from Daghestan attended foreign madrasas that taught radical Islam.

In addition, radical teachers increasingly came to the Caucasus. Following an influx of Wahhabi missionaries backed by extensive funding from Persian Gulf organizations, Daghestan's Wahhabis built their own mosques and soon controlled 14 Islamic schools. In the mid-1990s, they distributed religious literature from their own publishing house and operated a satellite uplink in Kizilyurt, by means of which they communicated with one another and with their supporters abroad. As early as 1998, Daghestani authorities were accusing Islamist groups in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of launching a jihad in Daghestan. In a survey conducted in March 1999, just over 3 percent of respondents identified themselves as Wahhabis, although the figure was probably slightly higher since it is likely that some adherents were reluctant to identify themselves as such.

Most Wahhabis lived in relatively small groups scattered through rural villages. Religious schisms often occurred within families, pitting children against parents and one another. Wahhabi fundamentalists challenged traditional Muslims, polarizing village life and provoking a rural arms race. Whenever a few villagers espoused Wahhabism, the entire village began arming itself. From August 1996 to September 1999, there were numerous violent conflicts in Daghestani villages between traditionalist Wahhabis and other Muslims. In the most notorious case, an enclave of three villages in Daghestan's central foothills sustained an armed resistance against Daghestani authorities from February 1998 to September 1999 after residents of the villages combined with Chechen raiders in December 1997 to attack a Russian garrison near the town of Buinaksk.

Wahhabism finally made headlines in connection with the military operations of 1999. On 2 August and again on 5 September, Daghestan was invaded by Chechnya-based insurgents, a portion of whom were Daghestani Wahhabis. It is likely that the latter invasion was intended to relieve the Wahhabi enclave near Buinaksk from federal artillery assault. Daghestani citizens quickly organized militias to resist the insurgents, while their legislators prepared a law prohibiting Wahhabism in Daghestan. The ban was enacted on 16 September 1999, the day the war ended. Yet Wahhabism is a diffuse movement that has proven difficult to regulate, or even specify, by legal device.

The 1999 law designates the traditionalist Spiritual Directorate of the Muslims of Daghestan (DUMD) as the predominant Islamic spiritual organization in Daghestan. In effect, the law transforms the DUMD into a government organ for regulating the religious affairs of Daghestan's Sunni Muslims.

Since the 1999 fighting, Wahhabism has received only marginal support. In a survey of 1,001 respondents conducted by this author throughout Daghestan in March and April of 2000, 9.1 percent agreed that "Wahhabis are Muslims, not extremists," while 77 percent said that "Wahhabis are extremists hiding behind a religious facade."

Remarkably, data indicate that the central determining factor in a respondent's evaluation of Wahhabism is his or her view concerning Daghestan's relation with the federation. Those Daghestanis who want Daghestan to have closer relations with Russia are 2.7 times more likely to see Wahhabis as extremists than are those who long for a more independent Daghestan. By the same token, those Daghestanis who desire to maintain the status quo are 2.6 times more likely to see Wahhabis as extremists than their fellow citizens who favor greater independence. In addition, those less inclined to view Russia as a threat to Daghestan are 1.7 times as likely to see Wahhabis as extremists as those who consider Russia a very serious threat to Daghestan.

In short, anti-Wahhabism, is positively correlated with pro-Russian attitudes. Since support for Wahhabism correlates with negative attitudes toward Russia, and since Daghestani attitudes toward Russia, as measured by the survey, are consistently positive, it is not surprising that attitudes toward Wahhabism are overwhelmingly negative. The survey showed that most Daghestanis strongly identify with Daghestan and with Russia and would place their trust in federal officials in the case of an acute crisis. Moscow subsidizes 80 percent of Daghestan's budget, and most Daghestanis recognize that they cannot make it on their own. In contrast with some of its regional neighbors, Daghestan's multicultural heritage has encouraged attitudes of pragmatism and moderation among its citizens.

Survey results also show that Wahhabism appeals more to men than women, more to rural than urban residents, and more to the young than to the old -- thereby supporting anecdotal observations that Wahhabism holds particular appeal to young men from the villages.

Wahhabism poses no immediate threat to Daghestan's stability, because Wahhabism has been rejected by an overwhelming majority of the population. Moreover, because Wahhabism is correlated with respondents' attitudes toward Russia, its proliferation will be limited as long as Daghestanis generally retain positive attitudes toward the federation, a factor that seemingly can be bolstered by continuing federal support for Daghestan.

However, the 1999 law that elevated the status of the DUMD has resulted in a politicization of Sunni practices that is ironically reminiscent of the political Islam Daghestanis resisted on the battlefield. Once they were granted administrative authority, the Sufi leaders of the DUMD sought to expand their political powers and began to compete with the republic's secular authorities. This competition has been further complicated by the fact that many of the DUMD's current leaders are ethnic Avars from a single Daghestani raion, introducing new opportunities for ethnic and regional division. This is a departure from the previous posture of the DUMD, which was formally neutral in political contests and pragmatically supportive of incumbent officials. Whereas Sunni Islam was previously a major source of stability in Daghestan -- particularly since it united most ethnic groups -- it has lately become a source of competition and potential conflict. Ironically, this was the potential that made Wahhabism dangerous for Daghestan, and that the expanded authority of the DUMD was intended to prevent.

Robert Bruce Ware is an associate professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville who conducts fieldwork in the Caucasus.

SECURITY FORCES KILL STUDENT AT KABUL UNIVERSITY...
One Kabul University student was killed and four were wounded on 11 November when Afghan security forces opened fire on protesting students, Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported from Peshawar on 12 November. The students had gathered to protest conditions at the university dormitories, Radio Free Afghanistan reported. According to AIP, students continued their protest on 12 November, demanding the return of the slain student's body and an investigation into why the students were fired on. Kabul University was a hotbed of student demonstrations in the 1960s, but since then Afghan governments have held the students under strict control. This incident, the circumstances of which are still not clear, could mark the beginning of more trouble at the university. AT

...AS POTENTIAL ASSASSINATION THWARTED AT KABUL MEDICAL INSTITUTE
A student has been arrested at Kabul Medical Institute for intending to kill a professor at the institution, Radio Free Afghanistan reported on 11 November. According to the report, Ahmad Jawayd was in possession of a grenade at the time of his arrest, as well as a letter bearing the seal of the former Taliban regime in which Ahmad Jawayd's previous services are praised. The letter reportedly came from someone named Mulla Abdul Karim Hanafi. Kabul security commander Basir Salangi said on 11 November that the letter is a fake and the incident was personal, RFE/RL reported. AT

AFGHANS CAST DOUBT ON FUTURE CONSTITUTION...
After former Afghan King Muhammad Zahir's inauguration of the Constitutional Committee in Kabul on 3 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002), Afghans have been debating what sort of a constitution their country should have. According to an 8 November report by the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), many Afghans believe that the former Afghan monarch's hope that the new constitution "will be both democratic and Islamic" is not a feasible goal. According to the report, some Afghan analysts have already begun to accuse the Constitutional Committee of favoring "Western ideas over Islamic principles." Representatives of Western countries -- the main financial backers of the new Afghan administration, -- favor a secular constitution for Afghanistan, in the belief that "it would be more democratic," according to the report. Kabul University law Professor Muhammad Afar Kohistani was quoted by the IWPR as saying that "President Hamid Karzai wants to make a government in Afghanistan which will not offend Britain and America." He said that "priority should be given to Islam, otherwise people all over Afghanistan will burn their new constitution," according to the IWPR. AT

...AS CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERTS DEFEND THEIR WORK
Responding to the charges that the new Constitutional Committee favors Western ideas over Islamic ideology, committee member Muhammad Sarwar Danish told the IWPR that the committee "will take account people's views across the nation, and will be taking advice from other experts." Danish added that the Constitutional Loya Jirga "will be given the complete authority and independence to scrutinize the new constitution" and propose amendments. Kabul University Islamic law faculty President Abdul Aziz said that "general Islamic principles" should not be ignored when drafting a new constitution, according to the IWPR report. AT

NATO SAYS IT WILL PROVIDE SUPPORT TO ISAF
NATO has announced its intention to provide technical, and logistical support to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan beginning in the summer of 2003, Radio Free Afghanistan reported on 11 November from Kabul. The ISAF, which is composed of approximately 5,000 troops from 21 countries, has been commanded by Turkey since June, but Germany and the Netherlands will take over joint command of the force by the end of this year. Details of NATO's plans to cooperate with the ISAF will be on the agenda of the alliance's 21-22 November Prague summit, the report added. It is believed that Germany has agreed to lead the multinational force in Afghanistan as part of an effort to mend relations with the United States, which have been strained by Germany's refusal to back U.S. policy vis-a-vis Iraq. AT

IRANIAN STUDENTS CONTINUE TO PROTEST PROFESSOR'S DEATH SENTENCE...
Students in Tehran and in Hamedan have continued to protest the death sentence of university Professor Hashem Aghajari, IRNA reported on 12 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002 and "RFE/RL Iran Report," 11 November 2002). Some 2,000 students and professors gathered on 12 November at the Tehran University campus mosque to continue the protest and some classes were cancelled. BS

...AND SAY PROTEST IS SPONTANEOUS
Two students at Tehran Teachers Training College (Tarbiat Mudariss) discussed their protests with RFE/RL's Persian Service on 11 November. One of them, who was identified only as Ahmad, said some of the students were initially protesting the poor and worsening quality of food that is available during Ramadan, and they dumped their food in front of the university administrative offices. Then the demonstration became politicized, and the students protested against Hashem Aghajari's sentence for making a controversial speech in June. Ahmad explained that the students' participation is spontaneous and not part of an organized political effort. He added that students at Amir Kabir Technical University, Sharif University, and Tarbiat Mudariss are more progressive than those from Tehran University, but the Tehran University campus has become the headquarters since the riots of July 1999. Another student, identified as Miss Faramarz, added in an interview with RFE/RL's Persian Service that the students are objecting to the imprisonment of all political activists and students. BS

CONVICTED IRANIAN WRITER DESCRIBES HIS PERSECUTION
Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on or around 10 November sentenced 27-year-old Amir Abbas Fakhravar -- a journalist who worked for the now-banned pro-reform dailies "Mosharekat" and Khordad" -- to eight years in prison, RFE/RL's Persian Service reported on 11 November. Fakhravar said that he was convicted for his book "Inja Chah Nist" ("This Place Is Not a Ditch"), which was a finalist for the 2001-02 Paulo Coelho Literary Prize. Fakhravar said that in the last year he was arrested four times and tortured. Fakhravar has 20 days to appeal the sentence, which is particularly severe because he was accused of criticizing the Supreme Leadership. Fakhravar is not sure if he should appeal, and when he was sentenced to prison, his father advised him not to request a pardon, telling him: "Go with your head held high, and we will honor you." BS

SUPREME LEADER WARNS OFFICIALS...
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed the necessity of safeguarding the revolution and Islamic law in a 62-minute speech at an 11 November Ramadan ceremony broadcast by state television. "Our most important obligation today is to safeguard the Islamic state," he said, adding that "qualified and pious individuals" must implement Islamic laws and regulations. Khamenei warned that Iran's enemies are trying to sow discord among state officials, so they must settle their differences or he will do so for them. "Of course, when the heads of the three branches confront major problems that they are unable to, unwilling to, or fail to cope with, then it will be left to the popular force to intervene. I hope the day will never come when the leader deems it necessary to rely on the popular force in order to resolve a problem." BS

...AND PRESIDENT SPEAKS OF CONSTITUTION
Speaking before the Supreme Leader at the same 11 November Ramadan ceremony, President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami discussed the duties of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and said that the constitution sets the limits. In his words, as broadcast by state television: "The president has particular duties. He must not go beyond those duties. He must not exceed the limits of authority given to him by the constitution, and he must not neglect any of his obligations either. Likewise, the Islamic parliament must retain its lofty status. In the same way, the judiciary -- in view of its important and sensitive role in our society -- must have its own sphere of authority. Of course, if there are any ambiguities or shortcomings, there are clear legal ways to overcome them. The constitution is the yardstick that can help all of us along the same path to rebuild the country, to strengthen and defend the great gains of the Islamic Revolution." BS

MOTORCYCLISTS PROTEST UNEMPLOYMENT IN TEHRAN
Approximately 55 motorcyclists disrupted traffic in downtown Tehran on 11 November and then gathered in front of the legislature to protest their unemployment, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Unemployment in Iran currently stands at about 13-14 percent officially and around 25 percent unofficially. A recent plan to reduce pollution in Tehran would impose heavy fines on motorcyclists who violate the law, and some of these motorcyclists serve as private taxis. BS

NEW PUBLICATION LICENSED IN IRAN
A new monthly entitled "Ayin" has received a license to publish, the Iranian Students News Agency reported on 11 November. Despite claims that "Ayin" will be apolitical, the license was issued to the Islamic Iran Participation Party (IIPP), and the magazine's managing editor is parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Khatami. The banned daily "Mosharekat" was also is identified with the IIPP. "Under the current circumstances, the Islamic Republic needs to develop the dimensions of various ideas and theories. These include [the concepts of] religious democracy, the Islamic Republic, and various other ambiguous issues. Hence the need for individuals and groups to work on them in order to clear up ambiguities," Khatami said. He also said that he has been in touch with hard-line Islamic Coalition Association Secretary-General Habibullah Asgaroladi-Mosalman. "All factions speak of freedom and republicanism, yet the dimensions of these ideas have not been clearly defined. Hence the need for the elaboration of various ideas," Khatami explained. BS

IRAQI NATIONAL ASSEMBLY REJECTS UN RESOLUTION...
The Iraqi National Assembly voted unanimously on 12 November to reject UN Security Council Resolution 1441 in its recommendations to the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), and said it would "authorize the political leadership to take the appropriate decision to defend Iraq's independence, sovereignty, and dignity," Reuters reported. Iraq Satellite TV broadcast live coverage of the first day of debate on 11 November, in which numerous assembly members referred to the resolution as "unjust" and called it a "pretext" for a U.S. military attack on Iraq. The National Assembly resumed debate on 12 November and voted after a statement issued by the assembly's Arab and International Committee was read. The assembly's recommendations are not binding on the RCC, which is chaired by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The RCC has until 15 November to decide whether to accept the terms of Resolution 1441. KR

...AFTER IRAQI PRESIDENT'S SON CRITICIZES TRADITIONAL ALLIES FOR SUPPORTING IT
In a speech sent to the National Assembly, Uday Saddam Hussein, son of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, criticized UN Security Council permanent members Russia and China and nonpermanent member Syria for voting in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. Uday Hussein stated, "Some states that [voted for the resolution]...are the same countries that pretended that they would use the veto against Resolution 1441 of 2002," Al-Jazeera Satellite TV reported on 12 November. Hussein added, "Before we enter into economic deals with this or that party, Arab or foreign, we should first use some sensors to determine what positions this or that party might take." Hussein was apparently referring to the vast economic and oil contracts Iraq has signed with the three states in recent months (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 6 September and 18 October 2002). In his letter to the National Assembly, Uday Hussein also said Iraqi diplomacy "must be given enough time to engage in political action and achieve some reciprocal conditions," Al-Jazeera reported. KR

IRAQ CALLS UP RESERVE OFFICERS
Iraqi reserve officers have been instructed to report for duty by 5 December, according to a 11 November report by the Iraqi weekly "Nabd al-Shabab," which is run by Uday Hussein. The weekly quoted an "informed source" at the Defense Ministry's Mobilization and Statistics Directorate who said the officers were told to report to the directorate for "documentation" and to submit photographs along with ration and housing cards, identity cards, and nationality cards. Officers currently residing outside Iraq are required to report to the embassies and missions in their country of residence. KR

KURDS AND ISLAMISTS CLASH IN IRBIL PROVINCE
The Al-Sulaymaniyah daily "Hawlati" reported on 11 November that several people were killed during clashes in the village of Zamak (bordering Iran) between Kurdish peshmerga (militia) forces and Islamic militants from the Ansar al-Islam movement. The daily reported, "Three fighters from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] and two from Ansar al-Islam were killed in the clashes in which both sides also suffered other casualties." According to an 11 November report by AFP, four Ansar al-Islam members were arrested in Irbil by Kurdish forces, while other members fled to the Iraqi city of Mosul. Last week, PUK leader Jalal Talabani told "The New York Times" that Iran promised to assist the PUK in ousting Islamists from northern Iraq. In addition, the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) recently announced it will form an army after a number of members of the militant Islamic fighting group Ansar al-Islam decided to return to the KIG (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 8 November 2002). KR

XS
SM
MD
LG