Accessibility links

Newsline - November 13, 2002


MOSCOW URGES BAGHDAD TO ACCEPT UN RESOLUTION
Deputy Foreign Minister Yurii Fedotov told journalists on 13 November that Moscow has asked Iraq to accept and comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1441, dpa and Russian news agencies reported. If Iraq accepts the resolution, it will be easier for Russia to work within the Security Council to lift the economic sanctions against Baghdad, Fedotov said. Speaking to reporters during a state visit to Norway, President Vladimir Putin said, "We proceed from the premise that Baghdad will use this chance to avoid confrontation." Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the Council for Defense and Foreign Policy, said that if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein rejects the resolution as the Iraqi parliament has, Russia will have to retreat from its traditionally pro-Iraqi position and vote in favor of the use of force against Baghdad. VY

PUTIN TALKS ECONOMIC COOPERATION IN NORWAY
President Putin told journalists on 12 November following talks with Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik that they discussed joint projects in the energy, telecommunications, transport, and shipbuilding spheres, Russian news agencies reported. Putin said Norway could be a leading developer of the Stockman natural-gas deposit in northern Russia. That deposit is the biggest in Europe and requires up to $20 billion in investment. The president added that negotiating the border between the two countries in the oil- and fisheries-rich Barents Sea is a top priority. "This problem is not new. It emerged when we were children, and [Bondevik and I] agreed to solve it before we retire," Putin said. VY

UPPER CHAMBER APPROVES RESTRICTIONS ON COVERING ANTITERRORISM OPERATIONS...
The Federation Council approved on 13 November amendments to the law on the mass media that would regulate the coverage of antiterrorism operations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 2002), RTR and other Russian news agencies reported. According to Interfax, 145 senators voted in favor of the amendments, one voted against, and two abstained. According to RFE/RL's Russian Service, First Deputy Chairman of the council Valerii Manilov told senators before the vote, "With the help of these [amendments], we can increase the effectiveness of the fight against terror and consolidate our society for this fight." In a written message to Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov submitted before the vote, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii appealed to senators to reject the amendments, writing that they "would create the basis for limiting freedom of speech and persecuting the mass media." He called the language in the amendments "slippery and vague" and said the changes would make it possible for the executive branch "to prosecute any journalist writing about Chechnya or terrorism." RC

...AND AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON COMBATING TERRORISM...
The Federation Council on 13 November also approved amendments to the law on combating terrorism that would authorize the government to refuse to turn over to relatives the bodies of those killed during antiterrorism operations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 2002), RTR and other Russian news agencies reported. Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the council's Defense and Security Committee, said the changes "are a warning to terrorists that the battle against them will be merciless." The vote was 133 for and two against. RC

...BUT REJECTS EARLY MARRIAGES
Senators on 13 November overwhelmingly rejected amendments to the Family Code that would have legalized marriages for people as young as 14 years old "in extraordinary circumstances" with the permission of local executive-branch officials, Russian news agencies reported. The amendments were unanimously passed by the Duma on 30 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2002), but just four senators voted for them while 134 opposed them and four abstained, according to RIA-Novosti. During discussion of the amendments, senators spoke out harshly against the legislation, and the council also voted not to form a conciliation committee to discuss the matter with the Duma. RC

PROTESTORS SENT HOME
Police in Moscow on 13 November dispersed a small, unauthorized demonstration organized by the youth wing of Yabloko outside the Federation Council building, RosBalt and other Russian news agencies reported. About 20 protestors carried signs and banners criticizing proposed amendments to the law on the mass media that would regulate the coverage of antiterrorism operations. Two protestors were detained and taken to a nearby police station. An organizer told journalists the group's request for permission to hold the demonstration was rejected "on a technicality." RC

DUMA ALLOCATES MORE FUNDS FOR FIGHTING TERRORISM
The State Duma Commission on Classified Budget Articles on 11 November agreed in closed session to allocate an additional 3 billion rubles ($97 million) to agencies of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB) to combat terrorism, "Izvestiya" reported on 12 November. The extra money is likely to be compensated by reductions to other defense-related programs, so total expenditures on defense and security remain unchanged in the 2003 budget. According to Duma Budget Committee Deputy Chairman Vitalii Shuba (Russian Regions), the Duma can increase funding for counterterrorism efforts without returning the budget for a vote in its second reading. The Duma will consider the budget in its third reading as scheduled on 22 November. LB

PUTIN, SCHROEDER HOLD WIDE-RANGING TALKS
President Putin on 12 November held talks in Oslo with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Russian and Western news agencies reported. A meeting between the two leaders scheduled to be held in Berlin on 24 October was canceled because of the Moscow hostage crisis. Putin and Schroeder discussed the results of the 11 November EU-Russia summit in Brussels, the situation in Iraq following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, the Middle East, and impending NATO expansion, ITAR-TASS reported. Putin repeated early statements that the conflict in Chechnya is "a domestic problem that Russia should settle independently," while Schroeder expressed support for "the political process with respect to Chechnya." The two men also discussed expanding energy cooperation between the two countries. RC

NUMBER OF CITIZENS LIVING IN POVERTY CONTINUES TO DECLINE
Some 27 percent of Russian citizens, approximately 38.7 million people, had incomes lower than the subsistence minimum (the official poverty level) in the third quarter of 2002, the State Statistics Committee announced on 11 November. That figure is down from 36.6 percent in the first quarter of 2001 and 33.3 percent in the first quarter of 2002, "Novye izvestiya" reported on 12 November. Poverty is not evenly distributed among regions and population groups. Some 28 percent of men between the ages of 31 and 59 are estimated to live in poverty, as opposed to 43.6 percent of children age 16 or younger. Ivanovo Oblast consistently has the highest proportion of residents with incomes below the subsistence minimum -- about 70 percent of the population. Less than 16 percent of citizens live in poverty in oil- and gas-rich Tyumen Oblast and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. LB

GAZPROM TALKS TOUGH WITH MINSK
Speaking at a 12 November Duma hearing on the supply of Russian natural gas to Belarus, Gazprom Deputy Chairman of the Board Aleksandr Zyuganov said his company is dissatisfied with the policies of the Belarusian government, pravda.ru reported on 13 November. Zyuganov told deputies that Minsk is resisting the introduction of market principles. Until recently, Russia sold Belarus gas at a heavily subsidized price of $21 per 1,000 cubic meters. As a result, Gazprom lost $2 billion over the last four years alone. Minsk, in turn, sells the gas domestically for $42 per 1,000 cubic meters. Therefore, Gazprom decided last month to reduce supplies to Belarus by 50 percent unless Minsk agrees to pay higher rates and to give Gazprom a 50 percent stake in Beltransgas, the state-owned natural-gas company. If Minsk refuses, Zyuganov said, Gazprom will use its influence to support construction of a Northern European gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea and bypassing Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002). President Putin discussed such a pipeline during this week's EU-Russia summit in Brussels. VY

FSB INTERROGATES 'VERSIYA' STAFFERS
Rustam Arifdzhanov, the editor in chief of the weekly "Versiya," was interrogated by FSB officers in Moscow on 12 November, TVS and gazeta.ru reported. The previous day, FSB officers questioned "Versiya" journalist Andrei Soldatov for a second time, and a staff member who handles computer equipment has been summoned for an interview on 14 November. The FSB is investigating an article Soldatov wrote for the 27 May edition of the weekly. However, speaking to TVS, Arifdzhanov speculated that the FSB is more broadly interested in his newspaper's sources and methods of reporting. Investigators told him they continue to examine the computers and server confiscated during a search of "Versiya" offices on 1 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002). LB

RUSSIAN PALLADIUM, PLATINUM EXPORTS FALL
Russia's exports of platinum in 2002 will be reduced to 950,000 troy ounces, compared to 1.3 million last year, gazeta.ru reported on 13 November, citing a report by the American metals company Johnson Matthey. The report further forecasts that exports of palladium will fall by 63 percent compared to 2001 to 1.6 million ounces. Despite the reductions, Russia will remain the world's second-largest producer of these metals, after South Africa. RC

CONSIDERATION OF NEW BASHKIR CONSTITUTION DELAYED
Legislators in Bashkortostan have voted to postpone consideration of a new draft republican constitution, lenta.ru reported on 13 November. According to the report, deputies postponed consideration because of the large number of comments and proposals being received from throughout the republic. The draft, which would create a parliamentary republic and eliminate the post of republican president, was approved by a constitutional commission on 16 October. RC

POLICE HUNT PETERSBURG LIBRARY THIEVES
The recent spate of thefts of rare academic books from St. Petersburg libraries might be part of a wave of similar crimes across Europe, utro.ru reported on 12 November, citing unidentified Western book dealers who are reportedly consulting with Russian police investigating the cases. The report says, without giving details, that a number of rare scientific volumes have been stolen from Western museums and libraries in recent months. In the last 10 days, two first-edition copies of Isaac Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" and several other rare volumes were reported stolen (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 November 2002). According to utro.ru, the Newton volumes, which were published in 1687 and of which only about 200 exist, are worth about $300,000 each. Police have determined that the thieves gained access to the St. Petersburg libraries by posing as graduate students. RC

NEW CHECHEN PRIME MINISTER NAMED
Grozny administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov on 12 November appointed as Chechnya's new prime minister the first deputy governor of Ivanovo Oblast, Mikhail Babich, ITAR-TASS reported the following day. Outgoing Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov, who was named on 7 November minister for reconstruction in Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002), termed that appointment "a wise choice" and predicted that he, Kadyrov, and Babich will work well as a team. Adlan Magomadov, who is Chechnya's representative to the Russian presidential administration, characterized Babich, 33, as an "experienced and promising politician." LF

CHECHEN DISPLACED PERSONS REQUEST REFUGE IN KAZAKHSTAN
A group of more than 300 Chechen families currently facing expulsion from Ingushetia have appealed to Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev to grant them temporary refuge in that country until the war in Chechnya is ended, chechenpress.com reported. The letter, dated 12 November, explains that Chechens consider Kazakhstan a "second homeland" as their forebears were deported there by Stalin in 1944. It adds that the October hostage taking by Chechens in Moscow has triggered a wave of indiscriminate reprisals against civilians in Chechnya, in which "entire families of totally innocent people disappear." It also says that Chechens are subjected to harassment and arrest elsewhere across the Russian Federation and that Western countries that earlier accepted refugees from Chechnya are no longer willing to do so. LF

ARMENIAN LEGISLATORS OBJECT TO PROPOSED WAGE INCREASES
Members of several parliamentary committees on 12 November denounced the salary increases for parliament deputies, judges, and government officials envisaged in the 2003 draft budget, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The monthly salaries of the country's president and judges would increase from $350 to approximately $1,000, those of parliament deputies from $270 to $700, and those of customs and tax officials from $60 to $120. Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian argued that raising tax inspectors' wages is the only way to stamp out bribe taking among them. But several deputies pointed out that the wage increases will only serve to deepen social inequalities and ensuing resentment. The average Armenian monthly salary is less than $50, and the average pension is $10. LF

ARMENIAN JOURNALISTS CRITICIZE AMENDED DRAFT MEDIA LAW
At a 12 November meeting at the Ministry of Justice, Armenian journalists criticized the new draft media law on the grounds that it fails to define journalists' rights and holds journalists responsible for the publication of information containing state secrets rather than the person who provided the information, Noyan Tapan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002). LF

KARABAKH PRESIDENT SAYS SETTLEMENT UNLIKELY BEFORE ELECTIONS
Speaking on 12 November in Yerevan, Arkadii Ghukasian, who is president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, said he doubts a formal agreement resolving the Karabakh conflict will be signed before the presidential elections to be held in both Armenia and Azerbaijan next year RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Armenian President Robert Kocharian is scheduled to meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev in Prague on 22 November on the sidelines of the NATO summit. Ghukasian said he doubts that meeting will result in a settlement, given that both men are running for reelection and are thus unwilling to make compromises that might alienate voters. LF

UN OFFICIAL CALLS FOR RESUMPTION OF ABKHAZ-GEORGIAN TALKS...
On the final day of his fact-finding mission to Georgia and Abkhazia, UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno met separately in Tbilisi on 12 November with parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze and with President Eduard Shevardnadze, Caucasus Press and Russian news agencies reported. Burdjanadze reportedly complained that the UN has not done enough to promote a settlement of the conflict and called on the organization to pressure Russia to drop its double standard toward Georgia, by which she presumably meant that Russia has no right to deny Chechnya independence while tacitly supporting Abkhazia. She also pointed out that nine years after the end of the war, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Georgian authorities to convince Georgian displaced persons from Abkhazia that the conflict should be resolved peacefully. Guehenno told journalists after his talks with Shevardnadze that he considers it imperative for Tbilisi and Sukhum to begin talks on the so-called Boden document "Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competencies Between Tbilisi and Sukhumi," which Abkhazia has previously rejected. A spokeswoman for Shevardnadze said that document gives Abkhazia "broad autonomy" within Georgia. "Rezonansi" on 13 November quoted Belgian constitutional expert Bruno Coppieters as saying the document provides for a federative system with horizontal ties between the central government and those of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Caucasus Press reported. LF

...AND CRACKDOWN ON CRIME
Guehenno indicated the UN is unlikely to respond positively to Georgian calls for augmenting the Russian peacekeeping force in the Abkhaz conflict zone with contingents from other countries, according to Interfax on 12 November. He further called for a crackdown on criminal gangs operating in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion, saying they are an obstacle to peace, according to Caucasus Press. On 13 November, Caucasus Press quoted Georgia's Ambassador to the UN Revaz Adamia as saying the UN has "unofficially" discussed the possibility of imposing economic sanctions on Abkhazia if it continues to refuse to begin talks on the "Boden" document. LF

KAZAKH POLICE DETAIN SUPPORTERS OF ARRESTED JOURNALIST...
Police detained about a dozen supporters of arrested independent journalist Sergei Duvanov who staged a silent protest on 12 November outside an Almaty theater by carrying umbrellas inscribed with Duvanov's name, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Forty participants in five previous demonstrations in support of Duvanov have likewise been detained; three of them were sentenced to between two and four days' administrative arrest and 12 were fined, according to Roza Taukina, who heads the nongovernmental organization Journalists in Trouble. LF

...AS U.S. CALLS FOR FAIR TRIAL...
Speaking in Washington on 12 November, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher acknowledged that the charges of raping an underage girl brought against Duvanov are serious, Reuters and AFP reported. He said Washington's "primary concern is that any legal process against him be carried out in a fair, transparent, and open manner." Boucher added that the United States had communicated to the Kazakh authorities its concern over Duvanov's health. On 9 November, Duvanov abandoned a hunger strike he began 10 days earlier to protest his innocence. LF

...AND LAWYERS DETAIL VIOLATIONS OF KAZAKHSTAN'S CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE
Meanwhile a U.S. legal firm has compiled a memorandum, a copy of which has been made available to "RFE/RL Newsline," detailing violations of the Criminal Procedure Code in Duvanov's case. The memorandum, dated 12 November, notes among other violations that the senior investigator in the case has affirmed the alleged rape took place, thereby violating the presumption of innocence; that Duvanov was not permitted access to a lawyer within the legally required time period; that although his formal detention and arrest were conducted in violation of the legally required timeframe he was not released pending trial; that he was not permitted to confront the complainant prior to his interrogation; and that his request for scientific tests to be conducted at the scene of the alleged crime was refused. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT AGAIN FAILS TO REACH CONSENSUS ON BY-ELECTION DISPUTE
On 12 November, the Legislative Assembly (the lower parliament chamber) continued to discuss, but failed to adopt and called for additions and amendments to, a resolution focusing on the situation in the south of the country following a court decision to bar former Deputy Prime Minister Usen Sydykov from a run-off by-election, akipress.org and RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Sydykov has appealed to the Constitutional Court to overrule the Supreme Court's upholding of that ruling (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002). Some deputies argued the dispute does not lie within the parliament's competence and should be dealt with by the Central Election Commission. LF

KYRGYZSTAN, U.S. SIGN MILITARY-COOPERATION AGREEMENT
Visiting the United States from 6-11 November, Kyrgyzstan's Defense Minister Colonel General Esen Topoev met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to discuss bilateral military cooperation and regional-security issues, Interfax reported on 10 November. Topoev and U.S. Army commander General Tommy Franks signed an agreement on military-technical cooperation for 2003. LF

TURKMEN PRESIDENT BLAMES DISASTROUS COTTON HARVEST ON HUMAN FAILURE
Addressing a cabinet session on 11 November, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov blamed the low cotton harvest on local officials' poor organization and the inefficient use of manpower and technical resources, Interfax reported the following day. To date only some 500,000 tons of cotton have been harvested, or one quarter of the target figure. Niyazov said even accounting for adverse weather conditions it should have proved possible to harvest 1.5 million tons. He had warned local officials in the country's main cotton-producing regions one week earlier that he will hold them personally responsible for failing to meet the target figure (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2002). LF

NEW TURKMEN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER, COMMITTEE HEADS NAMED
Acting on the recommendation of President Niyazov, parliament deputies on 12 November elected as the new speaker of the legislature Supreme Court Chairman Ovezgeldy Ataev, Interfax and turkmenistan.ru reported. Ataev replaces Tagandurdy Khallyev, who retired from the post of speaker but will retain his deputy's mandate. Gozel Nuralieva, who is editor of the official Russian-language newspaper "Neytralnyi Turkmenistan," was elected deputy speaker. In addition, new chairpersons were named for the parliament committees on economy and social policy (former Foreign Ministry official Boris Mikhailov), science, education and culture (Kakabay Ilyasov, editor of the newspaper "Turkmenistan"), international and inter-parliamentary ties (parliament deputy Akcha Nurberdieva) and legislation (Murad Karryev, former head of the law enforcement organs department of the presidential administration). LF

NATO REPORTEDLY SENDS BLUNT MESSAGE TO BELARUSIAN, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma have been sent messages stressing that "their presence at the NATO summit in Prague is undesirable," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 12 November, citing an unnamed source at NATO headquarters. The source added that if those two leaders make an appearance at the 21-22 November summit, they "will see a lot of empty chairs around them." Minsk maintains that, as a full-fledged member of NATO's Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Belarus needs no special invitation to attend the summit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002). Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Paval Latushka told RFE/RL that NATO's approach to the Prague summit betrays NATO's "selective attitude" toward Partnership Council members and "a practice of double standards" in relation to Belarus. AM

UKRAINE REVEALS KOLCHUGA SECRETS
Ukraine's Topaz factory in Donetsk has manufactured 76 Kolchuga radar stations since 1987, when the first was produced, Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, said at a briefing on 12 November, according to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. The factory had manufactured 46 Kolchuga stations for the Soviet Defense Ministry by January 1992, and 14 of those units have been located among Ukrainian military units, he said. After January 1992, another 30 stations were produced: 18 for Russia, eight for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, and four for China. In or after 1991, three stations were sold to Ethiopia following modifications. Medvedchuk said the serial numbers of all the radar stations -- aside from the first unit in 1987, which had no serial number -- have been provided to U.S. and British experts. There are 19 Kolchuga stations in Ukraine, he said, and the visiting experts were shown all their locations. "We are talking about top-secret information, but we provided it to [the U.S. and British] experts," Medvedchuk added (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 11 November 2002). AM

UKRAINE CLAIMS IT STEPPED IN AND HALTED DISCUSSIONS ON SELLING RADAR SYSTEMS TO IRAQ
Ukrainian presidential administration head Viktor Medvedchuk has said the Ukrainian Security Service and the Defense Ministry halted talks between state arms exporter Ukrspetseksport and a Jordanian middleman attempting to buy Kolchuga radar systems for Iraq, Interfax news agency reported on 12 November. According to the report, Medvedchuk recalled that former Ukrspetseksport head Valeriy Malev "really held such unofficial talks, but they were not held at the level of signing protocols, making offers, or concluding deals. The talks concerned a request on the possibility of a sale." As a result, he contended, the Ukrainian state security services, along with the intelligence directorate of the Defense Ministry, intervened and advised Malev to terminate talks with the Jordanian. KR

ESTONIA LEADS BALTICS, POSTCOMMUNIST REGION ON ANNUAL ECONOMIC FREEDOM LIST
The Heritage Foundation and "The Wall Street Journal" issued their annual Economic Freedom index ranking of 161 countries, BNS reported on 12 November. Estonia placed sixth, tied with Denmark and the United States. Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Ireland topped the list. Last year, Estonia was fourth along with Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United States (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November 2001). Lithuania was second among other Eastern and Central European countries, retaining its 29th position, followed by the Czech Republic and Hungary in 32nd place and Latvia, which climbed from 38th to 33rd. The index, created in 1995, is based on an analysis of 50 indicators that include trade restrictions, tax policies, government intervention in the economy, trade and fiscal policies, foreign investment, banking and finance, price and wage regulations, real estate, and the scale of the black market. SG

LATVIA'S RULING PARTIES AGREE ON COMMISSION CHAIRMEN IN LEGISLATURE
The four parties in the ruling center-right coalition reached an agreement on 12 November on the distribution of chairmen's posts among parliament's 17 commissions, LETA reported. The New Era will lead seven commissions: Audit; Budget and Finance; Corruption, Contraband and Organized-Crime Prevention; Human Rights and Public Affairs; Internal Administration; and Legal. The Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS) will chair five commissions: Economy, Agrarian, Environmental and Regional Development; Education, Culture, and Science; Inquiry; National Security; and State Administration and Local Government. Latvia's First Party (LPP) will head four commissions: Citizenship Law Implementation; Defense and Internal Affairs; Mandate and Submission; and Social and Labor Affairs. For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK will chair the remaining two commissions: European Affairs and Foreign Affairs. SG

MOODY'S HIKES CREDIT RATINGS OF BALTIC STATES
Moody's Investors Service announced on 12 November that it is raising the foreign-currency ratings of the eight Central and Eastern European countries expected to join the EU in 2004, ETA reported. The higher ratings reflect Moody's belief that the economic and financial integration of those countries in the EU is irreversible and that such integration lowers the risk of a foreign-currency crisis. Each of the three Baltic countries' ratings were increased by three notches: Estonia's from Baa1 to A1; Latvia's and Lithuania's from Baa2 to A2 and from Baa1 to Ba1, respectively. The countries' foreign-currency ratings now equal those of government-issued bonds in the respective local currencies. SG

LITHUANIAN PREMIER SUPPORTS EU-RUSSIA AGREEMENT ON KALININGRAD TRANSIT
In an interview on Lithuanian National Radio on 12 November, Algirdas Brazauskas praised the recent EU-Russia agreement on transit to and from the Kaliningrad Oblast (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002), BNS reported. "My evaluation is positive, because the principal issues have been resolved and the procedure agreed upon in Brussels were not new to Lithuania," Brazauskas said. Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis called the agreement "a search for a political compromise" and noted: "There are sufficient preconditions to achieve results beneficial for Lithuania in further negotiations, because the final transit conditions will have to be determined with Lithuania's consent." He said guarantees must be forthcoming that the agreement will not be an obstacle for Lithuania's early entry into the Schengen zone nor create additional financial or administrative obligations. SG

CENTER-RIGHT CANDIDATES MAINTAIN TOEHOLD IN BIG CITIES FOLLOWING ELECTORAL RUNOFF
The Polish Peasant Party (PSL) won the greatest number of communal leadership (wojt) posts while the Democratic Left Alliance-Labor Union (SLD-UP) coalition won the greatest number of town and city mayorships, Polish radio reported on 11 November. But that pattern does not extend to big cities, the broadcaster stressed. Rafal Dutkiewicz (63 percent), a joint candidate of the Civic Platform and Law and Justice (PiS), won in Wroclaw. Pawel Adamowicz (72 percent) is to become mayor of Gdansk, and Ryszard Grobelny (65 percent) will lead Poznan -- both are Civic Platform candidates. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski on 12 November said he is "pleased" with the election results. "Rightist parties will undoubtedly assume some responsibility for cities and the state now," PAP quoted Kwasniewski as saying. "Each of the major parties, for democracy's sake, should bear the part of this responsibility." AM

KUWAIT OFFERS TO FINANCE EXTENSION OF CZECH TROOP ASSIGNMENT
Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik told TV Nova on 12 November that Kuwait has offered to finance an extension of the Czech antichemical-warfare unit's service in that country for one more year, CTK reported. The government decided after the Czech Republic's devastating August floods to withdraw 200 of the unit's 250 members to save costs. TV Nova reported that the Czech National Security Council for the time being has only "taken note" of the offer. The station also said Kuwait and other Arab countries have offered to buy the unit's equipment and pay for the training of their own specialists in antichemical warfare. The Czech unit has been serving in Kuwait since March as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. MS

CZECH REPUBLIC TO HALVE MILITARY RECRUITMENT IN 2003
As a first step toward professionalizing the Czech Army, military recruiting will be halved in 2003, CTK reported on 12 November, citing the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes." The daily reported that while 20,300 individuals have been recruited in 2002, only 10,800 will be drafted next year. Outgoing Chief of Staff General Jiri Sedivy told the daily that the physical condition of prospective recruits will be the chief criterion to decide on their possible service, but other factors like their social situation might also be taken into consideration. MS

RESIDENTS FEAR RIOTS IN CZECH CAPITAL BUT SUPPORT NATO SUMMIT
An overwhelming 80 percent of Prague residents fear street riots during the upcoming NATO summit in the Czech capital, according to a public-opinion poll conducted by the School of International and Public Relations, CTK reported on 12 November. Fifty-three percent are also afraid of a possible terrorist attack during the 21-22 November summit. However, 58 percent of those questioned said they approve of Prague's hosting of the summit, while 42 percent said they disagree. Rioting cut short the IMF/World Bank's annual meeting in Prague in September 2000. MS

'GRAND COALITION' TO CONTINUE IN CZECH CAPITAL
Jan Buergermeister, chairman of the Prague chapter of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), on 12 November told CTK that an agreement has been reached with the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on continuing their joint governance of the Czech capital. In last month's local elections, the ODS won the highest number of seats on the local council, while the CSSD placed third. The ODS-CSSD local coalition will control 42 of the city's 70 assembly seats. Buergermeister also said Pavel Bem of the ODS will be Prague's next lord mayor, a seat currently held by Igor Nemec (ODS). MS

CZECH OPPOSITION 'EURO-REALIST' WARNS SLOVAKS AGAINST EU OVERENTHUSIASM
Lecturing in Bratislava on 12 November, Czech ODS Chairman and likely presidential candidate Vaclav Klaus warned the audience against pinning excessive hopes on what he called the "formal" entry of Slovakia and the Czech Republic into the European Union, CTK reported on 12 November, citing the daily "Hospodarske noviny." He said one should distinguish between genuine integration in Europe and "formal membership in the EU," from which people are expecting more than they will actually receive. Klaus said that while the Iron Curtain fell 13 years ago, a "psychological iron curtain" still divides the continent. He also said the entire project for Europe's future has changed course and Central European states are no longer faced with participating in the opening of Europe but with becoming members of some sort of European "superstate." Klaus said that, if elected Czech president, he will continue to be "a great friend and advocate" of Slovakia. MS

FORMER SLOVAK LEADER CHAMPIONS SWEEPING CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES...
Speaking in parliament on 12 November, former Premier and the current Chairman of the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia Vladimir Meciar proposed the unification of the posts of president and prime minister, TASR reported. Meciar also proposed that Slovakia's unicameral parliament be divided into an upper house and a lower house without increasing the number of parliamentarians, which is currently 150. MS

...AND CRITICIZES SLOVAK GOVERNMENT'S PROGRAM
In the same address before parliament, Meciar accused the government of having "no economic policy" and being "strangely silent on privatization," CTK and TASR reported. He said public-administration reforms under current Premier Mikulas Dzurinda's 1998-2002 cabinet have in fact increased bureaucracy. Meciar also criticized the cabinet's social and health policies, its intended measures to fight corruption, and planned measures to improve the situation of the Romany minority. Robert Fico, leader of the opposition Smer (Direction) party, also assailed the current government. Fico said the cabinet intends to privatize strategic state-owned companies, which, he added, amounts to "a sellout of the last valuable property" the state has in its hands. MS

SLOVAK DEPUTY PREMIER TO CONTINUE COORDINATING ROMANY AFFAIRS
Representatives of the four right-wing coalition parties reached an agreement on 12 November to have Deputy Premier Pal Csaky continue coordinating Romany affairs in the government, CTK reported. Parliamentary speaker Pavol Hrusovsky said the parties also agreed not to change the previous government's strategy for dealing with these issues. In effect, this amounts to a rejection of the coalition Alliance for New Citizens' proposal to revise that strategy, CTK said. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT VISITS LUXEMBOURG
Visiting Slovak President Rudolf Schuster met in Luxembourg on 12 November with Premier Jean-Claude Juncker, Foreign Minister Lydie Polfer, and parliamentary speaker Jean Spautz, TASR reported. They discussed Slovakia's NATO candidacy, the expansion of Luxembourgian investments in Slovakia, and cooperation between Visegrad Four and Benelux countries. Slovak Defense Minister Ivan Simko, who accompanied Schuster on his trip, signed a military-cooperation agreement with his Luxembourgian counterpart Charles Goerens. MS

HUNGARY TO PARTICIPATE IN U.S. MISSILE-SHIELD PROGRAM?
Defense Minister Ferenc Juhasz said on 12 November that Hungarian participation in a possible U.S. missile-defense program could bring benefits to the country, Budapest dailies reported. The Hungarian government must be open to such a program, Juhasz said, as it would enhance security. He said the United States could deploy a missile system in Hungary as part of a global missile-defense umbrella. He stressed, however, that there is no specific U.S. requirement yet, as a related decision will be made in the United States only in the spring. The question of joining the missile-defense system was raised during Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy's visit to Washington last week, "Nepszabadsag" reported. The Czech Republic's defense minister, Jaroslav Tvrdik, has hinted at his country's willingness to be involved in the project (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 20 September and 4 October 2002). MSZ

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY WINS DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST SOCIALIST PARTY CHAIRMAN
The opposition FIDESZ party on 12 November won a lawsuit against Socialist Party Chairman Laszlo Kovacs in Buda Central District Court, Hungarian media reported. FIDESZ sued Kovacs for claiming between the two rounds of the parliamentary elections in April that a major state company produced false Socialist Party leaflets abroad and wanted to distribute them during a period in which campaigning is banned by law. Kovacs indirectly linked the alleged action with FIDESZ. According to the ruling, Kovacs created a false impression and damaged FIDESZ's reputation. The court obliged Kovacs to make public the verdict in three national newspapers and to apologize to FIDESZ. The court rejected the argument that the statements can be viewed as an opinion. Hungarian radio reported on 13 November that Kovacs will appeal the ruling. MSZ

MOODY'S IMPROVES HUNGARY'S COUNTRY-RISK RATING
Moody's Investors Service on 12 November upgraded Hungary's foreign currency sovereign debt two levels from A3 to A1, "Vilaggazdasag" reported. Moody's upgraded its rating on debt to all countries expected to join the EU in the next two years (see Baltic item above). The announcement is nevertheless something of a surprise for Hungary, since Fitch recently announced that it is considering a downgrade of Hungary. The Moody's upgrade merely reflects the market climate but is a good sign, said local analyst Zoltan Torok. He said Moody's is expressing an opinion on a region, not specifically Hungary. As a result of the upgrade, Moody's is reviewing its ratings of Hungarian banks with a view to a possible upgrade. MSZ

UN ADMINISTRATOR SAYS KOSOVA IS SHORT ON TIME
Speaking in Berlin on 12 November, Michael Steiner, who heads the UN civilian administration in Kosova, said the international community will not remain in Kosova indefinitely, dpa reported. He stressed that the international community has rethought the nature and duration of its mission in the province following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Steiner argued, "The idea in [world] capitals before 11 September last year that [the reconstruction of Kosova] could take generations or an eternity is outdated." He did not set a new timetable for reconstruction or for deciding on the political status of the province. Steiner added, however, that there can be no partition of Kosova or return to its status before NATO intervened in 1999, when the province was totally subordinate to Belgrade. He stressed that KFOR troops are essential for the security of the 11,000 UNMIK personnel. He noted that infrastructure and the overall security situation are better than in 1999, but said unemployment remains the most important problem (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 2002). PM

BELGRADE STILL SEEKS A ROLE IN KOSOVA...
Rasim Ljajic, who is a Muslim politician from Sandzak and the Yugoslav minister for minority issues, told Reuters in Belgrade on 12 November that it is too early to raise the issue of Kosova's status but that the matter might be discussed in 2005. "I believe the issue of Kosovo's status could be raised then. It will be resolved in a triangle -- Belgrade, Pristina, and the international community," Ljajic said. He added that in the meantime there will be opportunities "to warm up this general political climate prior to negotiations." This is the second time in two weeks that official Belgrade has let it be known that it intends to have a role in Kosova, which the ethnic Albanian majority rejects outright (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 11 November 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 August 2002). PM

...WHILE LOCAL SERBS STILL BOYCOTT THE PARLIAMENT
Rada Trajkovic, who heads the Serbian Povratak (Return) faction in the Kosovar parliament, told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service in Prishtina on 12 November that Serbian legislators will continue their boycott of parliamentary sessions until Serbs cease to be marginalized in Kosovar institutions, as she put it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002). Povratak holds 22 out of 120 seats in the parliament. Serbs make up less than 10 percent of the population. PM

EU CONTINUES ITS PRESSURE ON SERBIA-MONTENEGRO
EU security-policy chief Javier Solana told Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica by telephone on 12 November that Serbia and Montenegro should complete the projected draft Constitutional Charter as soon as possible, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September and 22 October 2002). PM

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT ADJOURNS OVER INDEPENDENCE ISSUE
The legislature broke off its work on 12 November after a majority of legislators objected to holding a proposed discussion on a referendum for Serbian independence from a joint state with Montenegro, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Independence enjoys wide support in public-opinion polls and is a favorite cause of Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic and his Christian Democrats. Opposition parties, Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia, and the Social Democrats oppose holding a referendum. In related news, the Yugoslav parliament is expected to set up a committee on 13 November to investigate arms sales to Iraq (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 8 November 2002). PM

MONTENEGRIN PARLIAMENT SPEEDS UP MEDIA REFORMS
The legislature voted on 12 November to bring three media laws supported by the Council of Europe into effect within eight days and not in the spring of 2003 as originally planned by the last legislature, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. In related news, the opposition Socialist People's Party (SNP) has joined the Liberal Alliance in launching a boycott of legislative sessions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October and 4 November 2002). SNP President Predrag Bulatovic said SNP members of parliament will show up only if they have time to do so. PM

SARAJEVO COURT RELEASES FOUR CROATS SUSPECTED IN 1999 ASSASSINATION
The Sarajevo county court ordered the release on 12 November of Jedinko Bajkusa, Zeljko Cosic, Zoran Basic, and Dominik Ilijasevic, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. The court ruled that there is not enough evidence to justify holding the men in conjunction with the assassination in 1999 of Deputy Interior Minister Jozo Leutar. PM

WHO IS THE FOURTH MAN WANTED BY BOSNIAN SERB AUTHORITIES?
Former Bosnian Serb air-force and air-defense chief General Radoslav Pandzic is the fourth man sought by Republika Srpska authorities on charges of involvement in illegal production of and trade in arms and explosives, in addition to forging and destroying documents, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Bijeljina on 12 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002). PM

CROATIAN COURT SAYS IT CANNOT RULE IN HAGUE-RELATED CASE
The Constitutional Court ruled in Zagreb on 12 November that it is not legally competent to decide on the constitutionality of the indictment of former General Janko Bobetko by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002 and "RFE/RL South Slavic Report," 7 November 2002). The court ruled that only the tribunal itself can deal with the matter. PM

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT SETS UP ANTICORRUPTION COMMISSION
Parliament appointed a seven-member Anticorruption Commission on 12 November, dpa reported. The members include lawyers and economists nominated by the ruling parties as well as by NGOs such as the Macedonian chapter of Transparency International. The opposition Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) and the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH) protested the nomination procedure. They declared that the opposition must have the right to nominate four of the seven members. With the formation of the commission, the government has complied with new anticorruption legislation that was adopted but not implemented by the previous government. Fighting widespread corruption will be crucial for the stabilization of the country, which depends heavily on international financial support. UB

ROMANIAN RULING PARTY DISCUSSES EARLY ELECTIONS
The leadership of the Ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) discussed in a closed-door meeting on 12 November the possibility of holding early elections, Romanian Radio reported. No details emerged from the meeting, but Public Administration Minister Octav Cozmanca earlier said that he is convinced the PSD and President Ion Iliescu will "find a formula" that would assuage Iliescu's objections to early elections. Cozmanca said one possibility would be to have a 30-day election campaign, Mediafax reported. In an interview with Romanian Radio, Iliescu said the consultations with political parties he was to begin on 13 November will focus mainly on advancing Romania's bids for NATO and EU accession but other issues, among them holding early elections, might also be discussed. The Greater Romania Party said it is ready to support early elections but other parliamentary formations have rejected the idea, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

PACE PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA
Peter Schieder, chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, told a joint session of Romania's bicameral parliament on 12 November that violation of the conditions for free travel within the Schengen zone on the part of Roma and other Romanian citizens could lead to a reimposition of visa requirements on Romanian nationals, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Schieder said he is personally opposed to this step and that Romania is not the only EU candidate country that risks the reimposition of a visa regime for such violations. In his speech, Schieder praised Romania for removing from its Penal Code an article imposing prison sentences on same-sex relations. He also said Romania is a functioning democracy and an important contributor to regional stability. Schieder, who was decorated by President Iliescu one day earlier, also met on 12 November with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana. MS

ROMANIA REJECTS UKRAINIAN CHARGES
In a press release dated 12 November, the Foreign Ministry rejected Ukraine's charges that Bucharest's positions are making it impossible to reach an agreement on the delimitation of the two countries' borders, Mediafax reported. The ministry said Ukraine's allegations that Romania is making territorial demands regarding the Black Sea Serpents Island are untrue, emphasizing that from the beginning of negotiations in 1997 Romania has accepted Ukraine's full sovereignty over the territory inherited from the former Soviet Union. It said only the delimitation of the continental shelf and "economic zones" are at issue, and that in the last round of negotiations held in Kyiv the Ukrainian side refused to address this issue in any way. MS

U.S. EMBASSY IN MOLDOVA CONFIRMS SEARCH FOR 'DIRTY BOMB' RELICS
The U.S. Embassy in Moldova confirmed on 12 November that U.S. specialists are searching in Moldova for lead-shielded canisters containing the radioactive cesium 137 materials, from which a "dirty bomb" could be manufactured, Romanian Radio reported. "The Washington Post" reported on 11 November that scientists in the former Soviet Union developed a radioactive device that was sent to the countryside for a project known as Gamma Kolos. Its purpose was to expose plants to radiation and measure the effects. The report said fears that Al-Qaeda terrorists could lay their hands on the material led to a 10-month search in Georgia that has turned up five of the Gamma Kolos devices, all of which are now in safe storage. Four devices have also been found in Moldova. MS

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS AGAINST 'RENATIONALIZATION'
Former Premier Dumitru Braghis, chairman of the Braghis Alliance, warned on 12 November that a "creeping renationalization" of former state companies is under way in Moldova and that foreign investors will become wary of investing in the country, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Braghis said this could trigger a serious economic crisis in the country, as well as harm Moldova's image abroad. "It would be naive to believe that these moves are not guided by the communist governmental team, but it would be even more naive to think that European public opinion is unaware of the gap between the government's statements and its actual deeds," he said. MS

MOLDOVAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST RESTRICTIONS ON MEDIA
Dozens of journalists picketed the parliament on 12 November in protest against infringements of the freedom of expression by the government, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Journalists Union Chairman Valeriu Saharneanu said that despite a parliamentary decision, Romanian Television's Channel 1 broadcasts have still not been resumed. The protest was also directed at recent measures against the "Accente" weekly and its staff. While the demonstration was going on, the Audiovisual Council announced it has withdrawn the broadcasting licenses of several radio stations for violating broadcasting regulations. The stations affected include Bessarabia's Voice, of which Saharneanu is director. Audiovisual Council Chairman Ion Mihailo said Bessarabia's Voice has never broadcast newscasts or other programs taken from Moldovan state radio, but it continuously carries newscasts and programs of foreign stations, including the BBC, Voice of America, and RFE/RL. MS

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT PROVIDES DETAILS OF ALLEGED ILLEGAL ARMS EXPORTS...
In response to reports that the state-owned ordnance company TEREM sold Iraq spare parts for armed troop transporters (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002), government spokesman Dimitar Tsonev said on 12 November that the equipment was destined for Syria. According to Tsonev, a joint investigation by the Defense Ministry, intelligence services, and customs authorities established that a deal for the parts was closed between managers of TEREM and an employee of the Bulgarian trade company Poldis who represented a Washington, D.C.-based firm. The final recipient of the goods was the Syrian company Al-Karnak, which is based in Bab Alhala. Tsonev said the deal has been stopped and only civilian goods were exported. He added that those responsible for the deal will face charges of violating export regulations for dual-use goods. UB

...WHILE PARTIES TRADE ACCUSATIONS IN PARLIAMENT...
Speakers for the major political parties engaged in mutual accusations over the export scandal during a 12 November parliamentary debate, "Standart" reported. The ruling parties said the arms-export deal was closed by the former managers of TEREM, who were appointed by the previous, United Democratic Forces-led (ODS) government. The conservative opposition ODS, for its part, demanded that Economy Minister Nikolay Vasilev be questioned in a closed session. Vasilev chairs the Interdepartmental Council on Arms Control, which must approve all export deals for arms and dual-use goods. ODS politicians expressed concern that the deal could endanger Bulgaria's NATO bid. Members of both the ruling National Movement Simeon II and the ODS criticized Deputy Defense Minister Mehmed Cafer of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), saying he is responsible for overseeing TEREM. UB

...AND FOREIGN MINISTER TRIES TO CALM THE STORM
Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi met with U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria James Pardew on 12 November to discuss the possible consequences of the disclosed arms deal, BTA reported. After the meeting, Pasi said Pardew expressed Washington's recognition of the government's swift reaction. Pasi indicated that he views the arms deal as a provocation, whether intended or not. "I have repeated many times that the invitation to NATO membership has not been secured yet. Many obstacles could crop up and stand in the way to Prague, and one such potential obstacle is an illegal arms deal," Pasi said. UB

There is no End Note today.


STUDENTS CONTINUE PROTEST AT KABUL UNIVERSITY...
Demonstrations at Kabul University continued on 12 November, with a number of students barricading themselves in a dormitory building on campus, RFE/RL reported from Kabul on 12 November. Afghan security forces opened fire on protesting students on 11 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002) and a Kabul University student, who requested anonymity, told RFE/RL: "We wanted to raise our voice to the authorities and tell them we don't have electricity or food. But along the way in Nawabad-e Dehmazang [District], the soldiers stopped us, though we told them not to do that. At last, as the students were going on their way ahead, first they fired into the air and then they opened fire on the students." AT

...AS CONFLICTING REPORTS EMERGE ON THE NUMBER OF CASUALTIES...
Following initial reports that one Kabul University student was killed and four were wounded when Afghan security forces opened fire (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002), differing casualty figures have emerged. According to demonstrators, four students were killed and at least 10 were injured, while the head of the Interior Ministry's Department of National Security said six students and six policemen were injured, without mentioning any fatalities, Radio Afghanistan reported on 12 November. Citing an unnamed "security official," the Kabul daily "Arman-e Melli" reported on 12 November that two students, Abdul Hakim and Abdul Ghafar from the Faculty of Medicine, were killed and 14 students were injured. Without citing a source, the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported from Mashhad that six students were killed. AT

...AND KARZAI ORDERS AN INQUIRY INTO SHOOTINGS
Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his "deep regrets and condolences to the family of the martyr" in a message broadcast by Bakhtar News Agency (BNA) on 12 November. Karzai said the police did a poor job of managing the situation and that the university is a place of learning, not "a place for political violence." Karzai added that several Afghan ministries and the Department of National Security have been "ordered to investigate the issue at once and forward their reports to the government office as soon as possible." According to BNA, Karzai said a "conspiracy" seems to exist behind the incident. Therefore, in addition to an investigation into why police fired on demonstrators, "the ones [who] plotted the demonstration and the policemen who opened fire should be identified and prosecuted." AT

U.S. INDICATES A SHIFT IN AFGHAN POLICY...
According to "The New York Times" the United States is signaling that it is ready to switch its priorities in Afghanistan from searching for remaining Al-Qaeda and Taliban members to maintaining security and road construction. Referring to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers said in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on 4 November that the "issue before us is: Are we ready for the next phase?" the New York daily reported on 12 November. According to Myers, "the next phase primarily [is] the reconstruction piece," and it is time to shift the emphasis in "at least three-quarters" of Afghanistan. During the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign, President George W. Bush "derided" the use of military forces for nation building and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld still remains uncomfortable with committing American troops to "long-term reconstruction and peacekeeping missions," the paper added. However, last spring Bush pledged to help rebuild Afghanistan "in the best traditions of George Marshall," -- referring to the former U.S. secretary of state who developed the plan for rebuilding Europe after World War II, the daily commented. AT

...AS PRESIDENT BUSH WELCOMES AFGHAN ROAD PROJECT
President Bush welcomed the start of reconstruction of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway on 10 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"11 November 2002), according to a press release issued the same day by the Office of the Press Secretary. The statement said that this highway "along with others that will connect Afghanistan to its neighbors can set the stage for a complete transportation system that will integrate the country, increase trade, and establish links through Afghanistan from the Indian Ocean to Central Asia and along the 'Silk Road,' bridging East and West." AT

NATO'S ROLE IN AFGHANISTAN WOULD BE A FIRST
NATO's expected assistance to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002) would be the alliance's "first formal role in the fight against terrorism and in helping to stabilize Afghanistan," the "Financial Times" reported on 12 November. It is believed that as the United States shifts its military role in Afghanistan to more reconstruction projects, the ISAF could be invited to expand its presence from its current mandate of protecting Kabul to the protection of other Afghan cities. A senior NATO official told the "Financial Times" that "no country would be prepared to take the lead of ISAF outside Kabul unless it had full backing from NATO and full access to NATO assets, particularly planning and strategic airlift." Moreover, if the ISAF were to expand beyond Kabul "then we would need many, many more troops," the official said. A U.S. diplomat told the paper that during the war in Afghanistan against Al-Qaeda, "NATO as an alliance was marginalized," but that "may now change in the coming weeks." The "Financial Times" added that thus far France has opposed NATO "or even a NATO-backed United Nations force playing any role in Afghanistan." AT

IRANIAN PROFESSOR WILL NOT APPEAL DEATH SENTENCE...
Hashem Aghajari's lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, told reporters on 13 November that his client will not appeal his death sentence, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 November 2002). Nikbakht added that he will try to persuade Aghajari to appeal. Nikbakht read out a letter from Aghajari that said: "The authorities which issued this verdict must carry it out if they think that the sentence was just. But if they believe that it was not fair, then the judicial branch must investigate the case because the sentence was issued by the judicial apparatus." Nikbakht criticized the fact that the trial was conducted behind closed doors and without a jury. BS

...AS IRANIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES AGHAJARI'S SENTENCE
President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami on 13 November said that the death sentence against Aghajari, a Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization member and a university professor, is an "improper verdict," the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. BS

PROTESTS AGAINST AGHAJARI'S SENTENCE CONTINUE...
RFE/RL's Persian Service reported on 12 November that protests against Aghajari's death sentence were conducted throughout the country that day. There were events at Kerman's Shahid Bahonar University, 150 student protesters gathered at Urumiyeh University, and other demonstrations were held in Ahvaz, Bushehr, Shiraz, and Yazd. Some professors at Tarbiat Mudariss (Tehran Teachers Training College) have cancelled their classes for a week. Some of the demonstrators chanted slogans against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and they called for the resignations of President Khatami and Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, according to RFE/RL's Persian Service. Students at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran gathered in the afternoon of 12 November to protest against Aghajari's death sentence, the Iranian Students News Agency reported, and vowed to continue their protest until the verdict is reversed. Thirty-seven professors serving on the scientific board at Tarbiat Mudariss released a statement on 12 November condemning the verdict, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. BS

...BUT NOT EVERYBODY BACKS HIM
A statement from the Islamic Society of Students, as reported in the 12 November "Resalat" daily newspaper, accused the majority faction of the government -- the reformists -- of trying to use its "wealth and power and its convulsion-creating foot soldiers" to pursue a "strategy of democratic charlatanism." The statement said the verdict against Aghajari is preliminary and it is only factional politics that is creating a crisis. The atmosphere has changed the judge into the criminal, according to the statement, and it urged the judiciary to issue a final verdict as soon as possible in order to eliminate reasons for creating disorder. BS

STUDENT GROUP SCHEDULES STRIKE AT IRANIAN UNIVERSITY
The Office for Strengthening Unity (Daftar-i Tahkim-i Vahdat) student organization's branch at Allameh Tabatabai University's economics faculty has urged faculty and students to go on strike on 17 November to protest the death sentence against Professor Aghajari, the Iranian Students News Agency reported on 13 November. This group also is planning to hold an event in the evening of 13 November about the political philosophy of Ramadan, and this could turn into another demonstration. BS

JUDICIARY PLACES LIMITS ON KURDISTAN PROVINCE PRESS
Hiwa Qavami, a reporter from the Kurdistan Province town of Sanandaj, told RFE/RL's Persian Service on 12 November that the local judiciary has banned local newspaper distributors from carrying special inserts from reformist publications like "Hayat-i No" and "Iran." The reason for this is that the inserts carried a great deal of news about the government's activities and they also were geared toward Kurdish issues and local concerns, according to Qavami, but the judiciary cited national-security concerns and said such news excites the locals. It is not just reformist publications that carry special inserts. "Jam-i Jam," which is affiliated with the official and hardliner-headed Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, every Wednesday carries an eight-page, full-color insert that is dedicated to Kurdistan Province and will continue to be allowed to do so. Qavami speculated that the judiciary wants "Jam-i Jam" to be the dominate publication in the local press. BS

GREECE-IRAN-ARMENIA ECONOMIC-COOPERATION MEETING HELD IN TEHRAN
Deputy foreign ministers from Greece and Armenia met with their Iranian counterpart in Tehran on 12 November to discuss the expansion of trilateral economic and trade cooperation and signed a memorandum of understanding, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported, as cited by ITAR-TASS. Among the topics they discussed during the meeting were the revival of the Great Silk Road, transportation of Iranian gas via Armenia, and transport. They also decided to create a forum that would encourage cooperation in the private sector. BS

IRAQ DENIES SPYING ON U.S. FACILITIES
A spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry denied an ABC-TV news report that Iraqi diplomats are spying on U.S. embassies and military installations, Iraqi Satellite TV reported on 12 November. The spokesman called the report "another addition to the record of lies and fabrications spread by the evil U.S. administration's agencies and its officials." abcnews.com reported on 11 November that U.S. "sources" indicated that there is evidence that Baghdad has ordered its diplomats to undertake surveillance activities of U.S. diplomatic and military sites. ABC said the sites under surveillance include the U.S. embassies in Jordan and Finland, U.S. Navy facilities in Bahrain and Spain, and a cemetery in the Philippines where the U.S. ambassador was scheduled to attend a Veteran's Day ceremony on 11 November. KR

UKRAINE CLAIMS IT STEPPED IN AND HALTED DISCUSSIONS ON SELLING RADAR SYSTEMS TO IRAQ
Ukrainian presidential administration head Viktor Medvedchuk has said the Ukrainian Security Service and the Defense Ministry halted talks between state arms exporter Ukrspetseksport and a Jordanian middleman attempting to buy Kolchuga radar systems for Iraq, Interfax news agency reported on 12 November. According to the report, Medvedchuk recalled that former Ukrspetseksport head Valeriy Malev "really held such unofficial talks, but they were not held at the level of signing protocols, making offers, or concluding deals. The talks concerned a request on the possibility of a sale." As a result, he contended, the Ukrainian state security services, along with the intelligence directorate of the Defense Ministry, intervened and advised Malev to terminate talks with the Jordanian. KR

IRAQI NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SPEAKER COMMENTS ON RECOMMENDATIONS
Iraqi National Assembly Speaker Sadoun Hammadi told Iraq Satellite TV on 12 November that the National Assembly's decision to reject UN Security Council Resolution 1441 was a "sound and balanced" decision. Hammadi said the decision "expressed the Iraqi people's opinion about this ill-intentioned resolution...which is designed...for the purpose of provoking Iraq and finding a pretext to carry out aggression against it." He added that Iraq will take the necessary steps to encourage "friendly parliaments" in the world and other international organizations to reject U.S. "aggression." KR

KURDISH PARLIAMENT PREPARES FOR ELECTIONS
The Kurdish parliament in northern Iraq announced it has set up a committee to prepare for legislative elections, kurdistanobserver.com reported on 12 November. According to the website, elections will be held by July 2003. The committee consists of representatives from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and the Assyrian Christians. The website noted, "the KDP [currently] holds 51 seats and the PUK 49 in the parliament which was elected in 1992 and met last October 4 for the first time since bloody clashes between the two factions peaked in 1996." KR

PUK APPOINTS NEW MINISTERS, JUDGES
Barham Salih, the prime minister of PUK-controlled territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Al-Sulaymaniyah, has appointed three new ministers, kurdishmedia.com reported on 11 November. The appointments to the Agriculture, Economy, and Health ministries were the first in seven years. In a related event, PUK newspaper "Kurdistani Nuwe" reported on 8 November that the Kurdistan Regional Government also appointed three female judges. "Kurdistan Nuwe" noted that the judges were appointed "on the basis of qualification and suitability." KR

XS
SM
MD
LG