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Newsline - November 26, 2002


PUTIN VETOES MEDIA-LAW AMENDMENTS...
President Vladimir Putin on 25 November invited the heads of Russia's leading media corporations who had earlier appealed to him to veto proposed amendments to the law on the mass media that would have regulated coverage of antiterrorism operations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 November 2002) and informed them that he had granted their request, Russian news agencies reported. Putin said he had sent a letter to State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev and Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov explaining that the proposed amendments would not help the state combat terrorism but would instead introduce censorship. He asked the legislators to create a conciliation commission and, together with representatives of journalists, to work out new amendments. ORT General Director Konstantin Ernst, speaking on behalf of the journalists present, told Putin that some "unwitting mistakes" were made during coverage of the 23-26 October hostage drama in Moscow, but that "they were not conscious actions, but rather misunderstandings about how to behave in such situations." VY

...BUT DOES NOT CONCEAL HIS IRRITATION WITH JOURNALISTS...
Speaking to the journalists gathered at the Kremlin, Putin said that he is not fully convinced of their argument that the problems with the hostage-drama coverage were all the result of unintentional mistakes, RTR reported on 25 November. He said that one television channel showed movements of special-forces units just moments before the beginning of the operation to storm the theater where Chechen fighters were holding more than 700 hostages in deliberate violation of an agreement between journalists and the staff of the operation command center. He noted that this action could have led to a terrible tragedy. "There was the desire to increase ratings and to make money, but this should not be done at the price of the blood of our people, assuming that they see them as 'our people,'" Putin said. The president also did not hide the fact that he was annoyed by the communication between journalists and the hostage takers. "It is not the mass media but the special services that should save hostages. The mass media should inform [the public]," Putin said. "The main weapon of terrorists is not bullets or grenades but blackmail, and there is no better means for blackmail than turning a terrorist act into a public spectacle," Putin said. VY

...WHILE MEDIA BOSSES STRIKE CONCILIATORY TONE
ORT General Director Ernst told journalists following the meeting with Putin that the public should not interpret the president's veto as a victory of journalists over legislators, ORT reported on 25 November. It is, rather, an opportunity for legislators and journalists to work together to elaborate a reasonable professional code for journalists in extreme situations. He added that a corresponding professional code should also be created for law enforcement agencies. Among the media leaders who met with Putin were VGRTK President Oleg Dobrodeev, Ekho Moskvy Editor in Chief Aleksei Venediktov, "Komsomolskaya pravda" Editor in Chief Vladimir Sungorkin, "Gazeta" Editor in Chief Raf Shakirov, and "Moskovskie novosti" Editor in Chief Viktor Loshak. VY

RUSSIA CREATES A 'NOBEL PRIZE' FOR ENERGY
State Duma Deputy Zhores Alferov (Communist), who is vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a Nobel Prize laureate, announced that Russia has created a prize called "Global Energy," which will be the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for energy and will be awarded annually in St. Petersburg, RosBalt reported on 21 November and ORT reported on 25 November. Alferov said that the funds for the $900,000 prize have been provided by Gazprom, Unified Energy Systems (EES), and oil giant Yukos. The prize will be awarded by an international jury of 25 specialists, including five Nobel Prize laureates, headed by Alferov. The first Global Energy laureate will be named in May 2003 to mark the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. VY

BOOSTER FAILURE STRANDS SATELLITE
A Proton rocket on 26 November failed to lift a $110 million French-made communications satellite into its proper orbit, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The Astra satellite, the world's largest communications satellite, was to provide television, radio, and telecommunications service to Western and Central Europe. According to a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency, a secondary booster rocket malfunctioned, leaving the Astra in a uselessly low intermediate orbit, Reuters reported. He added that both the satellite and the booster will eventually fall back to Earth, but that they present no danger. RC

DOES THE KREMLIN REALLY MANAGE THE DUMA?
Despite the widespread impression that the Kremlin has managed to tame the Duma over the two years of President Putin's tenure, its highest-priority reforms have not been passed, gazeta.ru commented on 26 November. The website noted that such crucial projects as the redistribution of responsibilities among the federal, regional, and local levels; the reform of the communal-services sector; and the reform of EES have been stalled in the Duma despite the creation there of a solid, pro-Kremlin majority. The centrist Unified Russia party, rather than becoming the engine of reform as expected, has endeavored to supplant the Communist Party as an opposition force and has become "a powerful lobbying resource" in its own right, the website argues. Unified Russia is faced with the difficult task of endorsing the Kremlin's reforms while simultaneously expanding its popular and political base. The party has, so far, given priority to the latter task, even at the expense of delaying reforms that the administration considers vital. This tendency will only gain strength as the December 2003 Duma elections approach, and all the country's political parties adopt increasingly populist tactics, the website concludes. RC

BELEAGUERED MAYOR RESIGNS
Novorossiisk Mayor Valerii Prokhorenko resigned on 25 November after a meeting with Krasnodar Krai Governor Aleksandr Tkachev, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 November. No further information concerning Prokhorenko's resignation was available. However, in October the Prosecutor-General's Office filed criminal charges against him for allegedly being negligent and ineffective in his handling of flooding in the region during the summer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 2002). RC

FSB CONTINUES SEARCH FOR BAIKAL INFORMATION LEAK
Federal Security Service (FSB) agents in Irkutsk Oblast on 25 November searched the offices of a firm called Sosnovgeos, which allegedly provided classified topographical information to a local environmental group (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 November 2002), lenta.ru reported on 26 November. The agents are investigating whether Sosnovgeos provided information about the topography in the vicinity of a chemical plant in Angarsk to Baikal Ecological Wave, whose offices were searched on 22 November. The FSB refused to comment on the results of its search of Sosnovgeos. RC

PETERSBURG SPELUNKERS GET 10-DAY TERM
Four young people who were arrested in a tunnel of the St. Petersburg subway system on 24 November have been sentenced to 10 days' administrative detention for "a gross violation of public order," RosBalt reported on 26 November. According to an unidentified acquaintance of the arrestees, the four -- two residents of Moscow, one from Tula, and one citizen of Belarus -- are amateur spelunkers who wanted to investigate the repairs to a section of the subway tunnel that has been closed for several years. The report also cited a police source as saying that criminal charges could be filed in connection with the incident. RC

DEFENSE MINISTER GAVE APPROVAL TO REBURY STALIN'S SON...
Sergei Ivanov gave permission to Tatyana Djughashvili, granddaughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, to rebury her father, Vasilii Stalin, in Moscow's Troekurovskoe Cemetery, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 25 November. Vasilii Stalin was a pilot and a high-ranking air force commander until Nikita Khrushchev came to power following Stalin's death in 1953. Vasilii Stalin was subsequently imprisoned and exiled, and he died in poverty in Kazan in 1962. Since that time, Vasilii's late sister Svetlana; his wife Maria, who died in 2001; and other relatives have applied for permission to re-inter Vasilii in Moscow near the place where his mother is buried. Moscow, however, consistently refused these requests. "Komsomolskaya pravda" also published over several issues (4, 5, 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, and 21 November) a long interview with historian Yurii Zhukov, who argued that the Communist Party apparatus -- not Josef Stalin -- initiated the mass repressions of the 1930s and 1940s and that Stalin tried to end them. VY

...REVITALIZING THEORIES ABOUT KHRUSHCHEV AND STALIN
The reburial of Vasilii Stalin has given a new lease of life to speculation that Khrushchev persecuted him in revenge for the role that Josef Stalin and his inner circle played in the death of his own son, Leonid Khrushchev. This theory was most completely presented in a 17 February 1998 "Nezavisimaya gazeta" article by KGB General Vadim Udilov. According to Udilov, Leonid Khrushchev committed a murder before World War II and was imprisoned after Stalin heeded Nikita Khrushchev's pleas to spare his life. When the war began, Leonid -- who, like Vasilii Stalin, was a pilot -- asked to be sent to the front and on his first mission he reportedly flew over to the German side. Stalin ordered security chief Lavrentii Beria and military counterintelligence chief Viktor Abadkumov to handle the matter personally. They soon learned that a partisan detachment had managed to kidnap Leonid Khrushchev from the Germans before they were able to send him back to Germany. After Leonid was returned to the Soviet authorities, Stalin reportedly summoned his inner circle to decide what to do. Soviet leaders Vyacheslav Molotov, Georgii Malenkov, Lazar Kaganovich, and Stalin all voted to execute him. After Khrushchev came to power, he reportedly told associates that he would take revenge on Stalin's associates, just as Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin took revenge on Tsar Nicholas II for the execution of his elder brother, Aleksandr. All the people reportedly associated with Leonid Khrushchev's case were repressed under Khrushchev, who also reportedly ordered the KGB to destroy all Soviet and German documents related to the case, Udilov wrote. In a subsequent issue of the daily, Aleksandr Shcherbakov, the son of one of Stalin's close associates, denied Udilov's claims that Leonid Khrushchev was a traitor. VY

DASHNAKTSUTIUN PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR ARMENIAN PRESIDENT'S RE-ELECTION BID
Following a 22-24 November conference held behind closed doors in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor, the leadership of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (HHD) announced on 25 November that the party will back President Robert Kocharian's bid for re-election in the February 2003 ballot, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. In a statement that HHD parliament faction leader Aghvan Vartanian said was adopted "almost unanimously," the HHD affirmed that despite "external and internal difficulties and numerous unsolved problems, the course adopted in 1998 [when Kocharian was first elected president] was right. It must be followed consistently and made irreversible." Armen Rustamian, whom the conference reelected to the HHD Executive Council, said the party does not expect additional cabinet posts in return for its support of Kocharian. It currently has two ministerial portfolios. LF

ARMENIANS REPATRIATED FROM TURKMENISTAN
The International Organization for Migration has facilitated the return to Armenia of 113 Armenians, most of them from Syunik, who were constrained to leave Turkmenistan because they failed to comply with the new visa requirements, Noyan Tapan reported on 25 November. The total number of Armenians living either legally or illegally in Turkmenistan is estimated at 40,000. LF

AZERBAIJANI PROSECUTOR-GENERAL TO BRING CHARGES AGAINST KARABAKH PRESIDENT?
In a 25 November interview with ANS television that was cited by Groong, Azerbaijan's Deputy Prosecutor-General Ramiz Rzaev said a criminal case will be opened against Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, on charges of violating Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. LF

AZERBAIJAN, MOSCOW OBLAST SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT
Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev and visiting Moscow Oblast Governor Boris Gromov signed an agreement in Baku on 25 November on trade, economic, scientific, and cultural cooperation, Turan and Russian news agencies reported. The agreement is primarily intended to increase economic cooperation and trade between the oblast and Azerbaijan, which amounted to only $14.9 million during the first nine months of this year, according to ITAR-TASS. At a separate meeting with Gromov, Azerbaijani Prime Minister Artur Rasizade proposed creating a special working group on cooperation that would coordinate its activities with the Azerbaijani-Russian intergovernmental cooperation commission. LF

TOP U.S. GENERAL VISITS GEORGIA
U.S. Joint Command Chief General Richard Myers met in Tbilisi on 24 November with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Defense Minister Lieutenant General David Tevzadze, and Chief of the General Staff Djoni Pirtskhalaishvili, Caucasus Press and Russian agencies reported. The talks focused on the ongoing U.S.-funded Train and Equip program for the Georgian military, which Myers was quoted as describing as a good foundation for Georgia's eventual NATO membership; the possible time frame and terms on which Georgia might be accepted into the alliance; and various aspects of bilateral military cooperation. On 25 November, Myers visited the Krtsanisi Training Center to review the Train and Equip program. LF

SOCIALISTS, FORMER GEORGIAN RULING PARTY ALIGN
Socialist Party leader Vakhtang Rcheulishvili and Minister of State Avtandil Djorbenadze, chairman of the Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK), told journalists in Tbilisi on 25 November they will cooperate for the duration of President Shevardnadze's term in order to preserve political stability in Georgia and "prevent civil war," Caucasus Press reported. Rcheulishvili said he will also discuss with Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze the possibility of his Revival Union aligning with the Socialists and the SMK. The Revival Union was the second-largest faction in the parliament elected in 1999. Relations between Shevardnadze and Abashidze have been strained for the past decade. LF

THREE HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS APPEAL ON BEHALF OF ARRESTED KAZAKH JOURNALIST
Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International League of Human Rights wrote jointly on 20 November to U.S. President George W. Bush asking him to raise with the Kazakh leadership the controversial arrest on rape charges of independent journalist Sergei Duvanov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30 October and 19 November 2002). They argue that there are grounds to believe the charges against Duvanov, a long-time critic of the Kazakh leadership, are politically motivated. They also ask that the U.S. administration call for Duvanov's release from pretrial detention. The letter was posted on forumkz.org on 25 November. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION CANDIDATE REFUSED REGISTRATION FOR BY-ELECTION
The local election commission in Kurmangazy (Atyrau Oblast) has refused to register Zhumabay Dospanov, who heads the oblast branch of the opposition Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, as a candidate in an upcoming by-election on the grounds that it has not yet received permission from Astana to do so, forumkz.org reported on 25 November. Two candidates have been registered for the ballot -- one a district administrator and the second a former deputy district administrator. The day after Dospanov submitted his registration application, officials from the local tax office and prosecutor's office visited him to offer him a senior post, which he refused, in the oblast administration. LF

LEAFLETS IN KYRGYZSTAN CALL FOR PRESIDENT'S OUSTER
Leaflets signed by the Movement for the Resignation of [President] Askar Akaev were distributed in Bishkek overnight on 24-25 November, akipress.org and RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. The leaflets called on the population not to agree to a dialogue with the country's leadership, but to resort to all means -- including roadblocks and picketing official buildings -- to force the government to resign. LF

KYRGYZ POLICE ACCUSE OPPOSITION PAPER OF DEFAMATION
In a statement released on 25 November, Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry accused a number of journalists, including some from the newspaper "Moya stolitsa," of tarnishing the image of the police by publishing inaccurate and unverified information, akipress.org reported. In particular, the ministry objected to a "Moya stolitsa" article comparing the Kyrgyz police with the notoriously ruthless rulers of the Kokand Khanate and accusing them of systematic reprisals against residents of Kyrgyzstan's southern oblasts. LF

KYRGYZ OFFICIALS HOLD MORE MEETINGS IN SOUTH
First Deputy Prime Minister Kurmanbek Osmanov and First Deputy Prosecutor-General Kurmantai Abdiev met on 25 November with residents of Kara-Kuldja to try to reconcile them to a court decision to bar former Deputy Prime Minister Usen Sydykov from participating in a runoff election in Kara-Kuldja after polling 46 percent of the vote in the first round on 20 October, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Election officials claim that Sydykov violated the regulations for registering as a candidate. Some 300 villagers reportedly staged a walkout to protest the government position on the runoff by-election, no date for which has yet been set. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF COOPERATION WITH NATO...
Imomali Rakhmonov told a session of NATO's Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in Prague on 22 November that cooperation with NATO within the framework of the EAPC and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program is one of the priorities of his country's foreign policy, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 25 November. As the most important spheres for such cooperation, Rakhmonov singled out training personnel, coping with the natural disasters, and information technology. Rakhmonov also proposed that the EAPC consider adopting a joint long-term program for combating terrorism. LF

...SEEKS TO EXPAND TIES WITH ITALY, CZECH REPUBLIC
While in Prague, Rakhmonov met on 22 November on the sidelines of the NATO summit with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to discuss bilateral relations, economic cooperation, and international and regional problems, including the situation in Afghanistan, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 25 November. Rakhmonov also held meetings with Czech Senate Chairman Petr Pithart and with Czech businessmen, whom he encouraged to invest in the Tajik economy. Tajikistan is interested in purchasing Czech-manufactured trolleybuses, air-navigation equipment, medicines, and other medical supplies. LF

MORE DETAILS EMERGE OF REPORTED ATTEMPT TO KILL TURKMEN PRESIDENT
ITAR-TASS and Reuters on 25 November quoted Saparmurat Niyazov as saying that his car suddenly accelerated that morning en route to the presidential palace, but that he learned only after his arrival there that gunmen had opened fire on his motorcade. ITAR-TASS said four gunmen took part in the attack; turkmenistan.ru implied that the number was larger, reporting that at least one of the gunmen died in an exchange of fire with police, some were apprehended, and others managed to escape. AFP on 26 November quoted presidential spokesman Serdar Durdiev as saying that 16 people have been arrested in connection with the assassination attempt, four of whom are citizens of Georgia. LF

UZBEK PRESIDENT WARNS NATO NOT TO IGNORE EXTREMISM
In his 22 November address to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Islam Karimov hailed the decision to admit seven new members to NATO and to upgrade cooperation within the parameters of the PfP program, uza.uz reported on 25 November. Karimov also praised the international operation against the Taliban in Afghanistan, but at the same time warned the situation there remains complicated. He implicitly criticized the international community for having remained indifferent for an entire decade to the emerging terrorist threat in Afghanistan. Karimov singled out drug trafficking as the primary source of financing for international terrorism and expressed regret that various international efforts to combat it are not better coordinated. He reaffirmed Uzbekistan's commitment to expand cooperation with NATO both in reforming its armed forces and in strengthening democratic institutions. LF

BELARUS SEEKS TO SELL ITS SHARE IN RUSSIAN OIL COMPANY
The Belarusian government has so far failed to sell its 10.83-percent stake in the Russian oil company Slavneft, Belapan reported on 25 November. According to a source in the Economy Ministry, Slavneftebank was the only bidder at an auction last week, offering $210 million, but its price did not satisfy the government. The starting price of Belarus's stake in Slavneft was set at 630 billion Russian rubles ($200 million). Minsk reportedly wants to sell its stake before the auction for the Russian government's 74.95-percent stake in Slavneft, which is scheduled for 18 December. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MAKES FIRST APPOINTMENTS TO YANUKOVYCH'S CABINET
President Leonid Kuchma has appointed State Tax Administration head Mykola Azarov as first deputy prime minister and finance minister in Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's cabinet, Reuters reported on 26 November, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. Hromnytska also told the agency that Ivan Kyrylenko has been appointed deputy prime minister for agriculture, Dmytro Tabachnyk as deputy prime minister for humanitarian issues, and Vitaliy Hayduk as deputy prime minister for fuel and energy. Yanukovych told journalists on 25 November that Defense Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko, Interior Minister Yuriy Smyrnov, Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych, and Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko will retain their posts in his cabinet. Kuchma also proposed that the Verkhovna Rada approve Serhiy Tihipko, the leader of the Labor Ukraine-Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs parliamentary caucus, as governor of the National Bank of Ukraine. That post is currently held by Volodymyr Stelmakh. JM

FOREIGN INVESTIGATORS RAISE MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT UKRAINIAN KOLCHUGAS
U.S. and British experts who last month investigated the alleged sale by Ukraine of a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq said in a report released on 25 November that they were unable to prove that Ukraine transferred radar systems to Iraq "under openly declared contracts," but added that "covert or illegal arms transfers, particularly with the complicity of third parties, remain a credible possibility," Reuters and AP reported. The report says Ukraine provided documentation on 72 Kolchuga systems but that four remain unaccounted for. According to Ukrainian officials, these four systems were sold to China, but Ukraine denied investigators access to the contracts, claiming they were commercial secrets. The investigators say they need missing documentation on the sale of the four systems to China, technical information on the location of the systems in China, and access to people who were not available for interviews during their visit to Ukraine in October -- especially Leonid Derkach, the former head of the Ukraine Security Service, and Yuriy Orshanskyy, the former honorary consul in Iraq. JM

ESTONIA OFFERS U.S. MORAL SUPPORT IN EVENT OF ATTACK ON IRAQ
The National Defense Council decided on 25 November that Estonia will offer the United States moral support in the event of a military action against Iraq, ETA reported. Prime Minister Siim Kallas said Estonia will allow the use of Estonian airspace for such an operation, if necessary, although he expressed doubt that such a request would be made. He described as unrealistic the idea that Estonia could contribute something militarily in the event of an attack on Iraq. "We do not have available resources for that.... Our peacekeeping, mine-clearance, and logistics units are already deployed elsewhere," he said. However, Kallas pledged that if the United States turns to Estonia with a specific request for help, his country would certainly agree to fulfill that request. SG

LATVIA PREPARES FOR NATO-ACCESSION TALKS
Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis announced on 25 November that Latvia will be the first of the seven states invited to join NATO last week to begin accession talks, BNS reported. The government met in an extraordinary meeting that day and appointed an 18-member delegation for the talks, which are to begin on 4 December. The delegation will be headed by Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins, with Defense Ministry State Secretary Edgars Rinkevics as his deputy. Foreign Minister Sandra Kalniete said the accession talks will open with two rounds. In the first, which will take place in December and January, Latvia will reach agreement with the alliance on Latvia's "future in the common budget" and will undertake to carry out remaining obligations set out by NATO. In the second stage, January through March, a NATO delegation will visit Latvia to determine Latvia's progress toward meeting its commitments, and Latvia will provide detailed proposals concerning the terms for meeting its obligations. SG

LITHUANIAN COURT RULES AGAINST CUTTING BENEFITS TO WORKING PENSIONERS
The Constitutional Court ruled on 25 November that the amendments to the state social-insurance pension law that slashed benefits to working pensioners violated the constitution, ELTA reported. The court concluded the amendments violated the principles of ownership immunity, the freedom to choose one's work and business, the state-guaranteed right to a pension, and the rule of law. Parliament passed the amendments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December 2000), which went into effect on 1 January 2001, under the provision that working pensioners receive only the basic monthly pension of 138 litas ($34.50 at the time). Social Security and Labor Ministry Secretary Audrone Morkuniene said the court ruling will be enforced, even though the State Social Insurance Fund (SoDra) stands to lose 70 million litas ($20 million) in revenues. There were 637,000 pensioners in 2001, of whom some 67,500 were still working. SG

CENSUS FINDS POLAND'S POPULATION IS 38.3 MILLION
The national census held in Poland from 21 May to 8 June 2002 found that there were 38.3 million people living in the country, 420,000 more than in 1988 when the previous census was conducted, PAP reported on 25 November, quoting President Aleksander Kwasniewski. Kwasniewski, who was addressing a demographic conference in Warsaw, added however that the country's population shrank over the past four years by 35,000. The census also revealed that more than 1 million Poles are currently living abroad. JM

REPORT SAYS CORRUPTION IN POLAND IS WIDESPREAD
According to a report published in Warsaw on 25 November by the George Soros-backed Open Society Institute (OSI), corruption in Poland is widespread and permeates many sectors of public life, PAP reported. The OSI report states that corruption can be found primarily around the activities of public agencies and funds, state and local administrations, the courts, banks, and the health-care system. Professor Jacek Kurczewski, one of the authors of the report, commented that combating corruption in Poland is not an efficient and continuous process since its methods are dependent on which political force runs the government. JM

CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS TERRORIST ATTACK WILL OCCUR 'SOONER OR LATER'
Jaroslav Tvrdik said in an interview with the daily "Pravo" on 25 November that he does not believe the Czech Republic faces a higher risk of terrorist attacks if it hosts a NATO training center for defense against weapons of mass destruction as it has offered to do, CTK and dpa reported. To the contrary, Tvrdik considers terrorist attacks on Czech soil an inevitability. "If we were to have this sort of center on our territory, the ability of our soldiers to protect our citizens would be much higher," Tvrdik said. He also said he believes his countrymen have "a false sense of security" and "sooner or later" a terrorist attack is bound to occur in the Czech Republic, as "all signals indicate that these people are fanatics" and their action is directed "against the Western democratic world" and not just against the United States. MS

CZECH NEGOTIATIONS WITH EU LARGELY STALLED AFTER PREMIER'S MEETINGS IN BRUSSELS
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla met in Brussels on 25 November with European Commission Chairman Romano Prodi and with EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, CTK reported. The agency quoted the premier as saying after the talks that no "satisfactory conclusion" was reached and that Prague will not hesitate to postpone finalizing its membership negotiations until after the EU summit in December, if no agreement is reached before then. The main dispute continues to be over the agricultural subsidies that the Czech Republic would receive following EU accession, according to CTK. The EU is unwilling to change its position that those subsidies will be 25 percent of those paid to current members, rising to 35 percent in 2006, and gradually increasing over the course of the 10-year transition period that ends in 2013. CTK said the EU is ready allow the Czech Republic to provide its farmers subsidies from the state budget, provided those subsidies do not exceed 40 percent of the subsidies paid by the EU in 2004 and 2005 and that they are not raised by more than 10 percent annually after that time. Meanwhile, progress has been achieved in securing EU support for increasing from 22 to 24 seats the Czech Republic's representation in the European Parliament, according to CTK. Spidla also met in Brussels with his Belgian counterpart, Guy Verhofstadt. MS

SENIOR CZECH OFFICIAL CALLS FOR 'RECONCILIATION GESTURE' TOWARD GERMANY
Senate Deputy Chairman Jan Ruml told journalists on 25 November that before joining the European Union the Czech Republic ought to make a "gesture of reconciliation" toward Germany over the Benes Decrees dispute, CTK reported. Ruml said the gesture should come in the form of a statement from the government. The European Parliament urged such a gesture in its resolution on EU enlargement earlier this month. MS

CZECH ULTRARIGHTIST LEADER MAKES POLITICAL COMEBACK...
Miroslav Sladek, chairman of the far-right Republicans of Miroslav Sladek (RMS) party, was elected deputy mayor of Brno-Utechov in 1-2 November local elections, CTK reported on 25 November, citing the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes." Sladek ran on the local Independents-Safety and Prosperity lists and garnered almost 20 percent of the vote in Utechov, a small district in the Czech Republic's second-largest city, Brno. Sladek was the first chairman of the far-right Assembly for the Republic-Czechoslovak Republican Party (SPR-RSC), which won parliamentary representation in 1992 and 1996. The SPR-RSC failed to enter the legislature in the 1998 elections and was declared bankrupt in February 2001. In February 2002, Sladek was elected chairman of the newly established RMS, but the party took only 0.97 percent of the vote in the 2002 parliamentary elections. MS

...WHILE COMMUNISTS BECOME IMPORTANT PLAYERS IN NORTHERN MORAVIAN MUNICIPALITIES
The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) has joined the municipal coalition in Havirov, CTK reported on 25 November, citing the daily "Lidove noviny." Havirov is the fifth town in northern Moravia where the KSCM is represented in the ruling municipal coalition following the 1-2 November local elections (after Ostrava, Karvina, Bruntal, and Frydek-Mistek). The Civic Democratic Party on 25 November called on its local party organizations that concluded coalition agreements with the KSCM after the local elections to invalidate them, according to CTK. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT DENIES 'CONCRETE PLEDGE' IN THE EVENT OF ACTION AGAINST IRAQ
President Rudolf Schuster on 25 November denied that Slovakia signed any agreement at last week's NATO Prague summit committing it to "concrete measures" in the event that Iraq fails to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1441, TASR reported. In a separate statement, the Foreign Ministry said the declaration regarding Iraq that was signed at the end of the Prague summit is a standard political document and included no legal obligations. "The Foreign Ministry wants to stress that this is not a confidential document, as has been reported by some media," the statement said. MS

MEDGYESSY SAYS SLOVAKIA'S NATO MEMBERSHIP TO IMPROVE HUNGARY'S SECURITY
In an interview with the Czech daily "Hospodarske noviny" on 25 November, Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy said the invitation extended to Slovakia to join NATO and its likely membership of the organization will increase Hungary's security, CTK reported. "To be in the same alliance with one's neighbors creates a sense of security and stability," Medgyessy said. Regarding the controversial Status Law promoted by Hungary's previous cabinet, Medgyessy said his government "has several ideas" on how to combine promoting the interests of Hungarians who live beyond the country's borders with solutions acceptable to Hungary's neighbors, while taking into consideration the "spirit of European norms." He said he has already sent his proposals for amending the Status Law to his Slovak counterpart Mikulas Dzurinda and believes that "a mutually acceptable compromise" will be found when they meet on 26 November. MS

HUNGARIAN PARTIES AGREE ON CONDITIONS FOR EU-ACCESSION TALKS
Peter Balazs, Foreign Ministry state secretary responsible for EU integration, on 25 November told reporters after briefing representatives of all four parliamentary parties on the current state of EU-accession negotiations that those parties all support the government's efforts to defend Hungarian interests in the EU talks. Balazs also said the acquis communautaire chapters on taxation and competition could be closed in Brussels this week, Budapest dailies reported. Regarding the sale of farmland to foreigners, Balazs reiterated that Hungary seeks to have its seven-year transition period extended by a further three years if land prices in Hungary do not reach those in the EU within seven years after accession. Meanwhile, "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 25 November that Former Prime Minister Viktor Orban will tour Europe this week to promote Hungary's EU accession. MSZ

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER FORESEES MAGYAR UNITY IN EU
Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said in Stockholm on 25 November that the reunification of the historical Hungarian nation could occur in an expanded EU, Hungarian radio reported. Kovacs spoke after meeting his Swedish counterpart Anna Lindh and attending Hungarian-Swedish roundtable discussions. Lindh said Sweden expects that EU enlargement will spur rapid economic growth in current and new member states alike and that the democratic institutions of the EU will be stronger and more stable. Hungarian radio quoted Lindh as saying that although Sweden supports many of the Hungarian proposals regarding EU accession, there is little room for maneuver in EU-accession talks. MSZ

BRITAIN WARNS YUGOSLAVIA OVER ALLEGED ARMS SALES TO IRAQ...
Denis Mac Shane, who is the Foreign Office minister with special responsibility for Europe, said on 25 November in London that "international rule of law means no breach of UN sanctions -- such as selling weapons to [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein," the "Financial Times" reported. Mac Shane's remarks at an international conference on organized crime in the Balkans followed the appearance of international and Serbian media reports that the Yugoslav authorities willingly and knowingly continue to sell arms to Iraq in an effort motivated by economic and political considerations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 November 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 25 October and 8 November 2002). The media reports were pegged to a new study by the International Crisis Group (ICG) that was "based in part on documents from the U.S. government," the London daily added. The paper also noted that "Washington's suspicion of illegal Yugoslav arms dealing is at its highest level" since the fall of former President Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. PM

...DESPITE YUGOSLAV DENIALS
The Yugoslav state-run news agency Tanjug carried a statement by the Foreign Ministry on 25 November in which the ministry stressed that it is taking tough action against illegal arms sales. Predrag Simic, an adviser to President Vojislav Kostunica dealing with foreign affairs, called the media reports on alleged arms sales and Kostunica's knowledge of them "complete nonsense," the "Financial Times" reported. But the daily added that "the Yugoslav authorities now face a litany of specific allegations rather than the more abstract charge of arms trading." It is not clear if and how official Belgrade will respond to the specific charges, including allegations of conflicts of interest on the part of some high-ranking individuals. ICG Balkans Program Director Nicholas Whyte told the BBC that the arms sales continued because those behind them thought they would not be caught. PM

MACEDONIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN YUGOSLAV-IRAQI ARMS DEALS
Defense Ministry spokesman Marjan Gjurovski said on 25 November in Skopje that the Macedonian defense industry is not involved in any Yugoslav-Iraqi arms deals, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. Gjurovski dismissed a comment in "The Guardian" to the effect that Macedonian arms producers are linked to the illegal arms trade of the Belgrade-based Yugoimport company. Gjurovski said the Macedonian arms industry strictly adheres to international and Macedonian legal regulations. UB

MACEDONIAN ETHNIC ALBANIAN PARTY WARNS OF RENEWED TENSIONS
Agron Buxhaku, a spokesman for the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) led by former guerrilla leader Ali Ahmeti, told a press conference in Skopje on 25 November that the recently launched demarcation of the border between Macedonia and Kosova should be stopped, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 November 2002). Buxhaku argued that "the demarcation should be halted until Kosova's independence.... This process requires a wider political approach in order to avoid unnecessary tensions." Ethnic Albanians note that they were not party to the 2001 agreement, which poses problems for their communities on both sides of the border. PM

MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS IT CANNOT PAY STRIKING MINERS
Labor Minister Jovan Manasievski said in a statement in Skopje on 25 November that the government does not have the money to pay four months' back wages to hundreds of striking miners at the Zletevo lead and zinc mine, Reuters reported. The miners also want better working conditions and vow not to end their strike until their demands are met. The strike began on 19 November and is the first such challenge to the new Social Democratic-led government. PM

UN EXTENDS CONTROL THROUGHOUT KOSOVA -- AFTER AGREEMENT WITH BELGRADE
The UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK) took control of Serb-held northern Mitrovica on 25 November following an agreement with Belgrade, international and regional media reported. UNMIK head Michael Steiner said his agency now controls all of Kosova. He added that UNMIK will administer northern Mitrovica directly, since local Serbs boycotted the recent local elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002). Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic said that "everything...has been agreed" between Belgrade and UNMIK, adding that "nothing special is happening, because UNMIK, in accordance with UN Resolution 1244, has authority over the territory of Kosovo," dpa reported. Covic appealed to local Serbs to remain calm. It is not clear how Belgrade is able to exercise such authority in a town long known for violence and lawlessness. PM

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CLAIMS AUTHORITIES PROTECT HUMAN TRAFFICKERS IN BOSNIA
The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch said in a statement on 25 November that many human traffickers in Bosnia enjoy de facto immunity from the law because of their links to local and international officials, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. The report charged that both Bosnian and international police are partly responsible for the rise in prostitution in Bosnia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2002). PM

MONTENEGRIN LEADER PLEDGES ECONOMIC REFORMS
Milo Djukanovic resigned as president of Montenegro on 25 November, paving the way for the parliament to confirm him as prime minister, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Podgorica. He told reporters he intends to concentrate on the economy and economic reforms in his new post. Djukanovic added that the current Yugoslav federation is "unacceptable" to Montenegro. He said the Serbian and Montenegrin parliaments should adopt a Constitutional Charter for a new loose union as soon as possible. PM

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES DECLARATION ON NATO INVITATION
In what Romanian state radio described on 25 November as a "solemn meeting," Romania's bicameral parliament unanimously approved a declaration stating that the NATO invitation extended to Romania at the alliance's 21-22 November Prague summit represents a "historic moment of recognition of the progress made by our country on the road to Euro-Atlantic integration," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The legislature said Romanian NATO membership will enhance global security and stability, and contribute to the struggle against international terrorism and to good relations with the country's neighbors. Addressing the lawmakers, President Ion Iliescu said parties should not attempt to exploit the situation for their own political gain, as the invitation is an achievement of the entire country. Iliescu also said the issue of former members of the Securitate who might still be active in state structures must be resolved in line with NATO standards and that the issue should not be transformed into one serving "politicking, demagogy, and populism." Prime Minister Adrian Nastase told the forum that by offering Romania an invitation, "NATO has made a long-term investment in Romania, [and] it is our turn to respond in kind" by completing the reforms that are still necessary in the economy and in the army. MS

ROMANIAN LEADERS THANK ARMY FOR CONTRIBUTION TO NATO INVITATION
President Iliescu and Premier Nastase on 25 November attended a meeting of the leading staff of the Defense Ministry and thanked the army for its crucial contribution to Romania's NATO invitation, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu said Romania's road to NATO "passed through Kabul and Kandahar," where the Romanian soldiers demonstrated their ability to meet obligations Romania assumes. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER INTENDS TO STREAMLINE CABINET
Prime Minister Nastase intends to cut the number of ministries in his cabinet, reducing them from 27 to about 22, Mediafax reported on 26 November, citing unidentified government sources. The sources said ministries with "approximately parallel activities" will be merged and some ministries will be turned into government departments. For instance, the Education and Research Ministry could be merged with the Youth and Sports Ministry, while the Development and Forecasting Ministry could be turned into a government department, according to the sources. MS

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT OPPOSED TO ALLOWING NO-CONFIDENCE VOTES IN INDIVIDUAL MINISTERS
The Relations with Parliament Ministry said in a statement issued on 25 November that the government opposes a proposal to introduce into the constitution the possibility of a no-confidence vote in individual ministers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 November 2002), Romanian Radio reported. The ministry said the proposal by the ad hoc constitutional commission examining possible amendments to the basic document could lead to cabinet members being "more interested in political sympathies and antipathies" among lawmakers than in fulfilling their tasks as members of the cabinet. It also said the amendment would violate the constitutional principle of collective governmental responsibility. MS

ROMANIAN RADIO STATION DIRECTOR SANCTIONED FOR INDULGING IN CENSORSHIP
The board of directors of the Romanian Broadcasting Authority (SRR) announced on 25 November that it has sanctioned the director of the radio's classical-music station Romania Muzical for censorship, Romanian Radio reported. The board said that the station's director ordered the interruption of a live concert broadcast on 19 November after conductor Iancu Dumitrescu addressed the audience and criticized the authorities for the meager funds they allocate to culture. The board said the station's director has been demoted for one month. It also assured listeners that the SSR "will not tolerate censorship" and ordered that the concert be rebroadcast in full, including Dumitrescu's improvised speech. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS ROMANIA'S NATO INVITE WILL TAME BUCHAREST
President Vladimir Voronin said on 26 November that the Romania's invitation to join NATO will likely lead to an improvement in Romanian-Moldovan relations, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau and ITAR-TASS reported. Voronin said in an interview published in all Moldovan government dailies that in the wake of the invitation, "the Romanian political class will have to subdue its revanchist policies vis-a-vis Moldova" to ensure that its statements regarding foreign policy are in line with democratic norms and NATO standards. This, he added, will "spare us Bucharest's anti-Moldovan improvisations, which we have had to face in the course of the last years," RFE/RL reported. ITAR-TASS quoted Voronin as saying that he hopes Bucharest will now "reassess our right to our own history and our own identity." He added that "the introduction of European standards" in Romania "has already taken the wind out of the sails of radical [pro-Romanian] Moldovan politicians." A dpa report on 25 November said Romania's decision last week to recall its ambassador to Moldova only three months after his appointment is an indication that the rift between the sides is widening. No reason was indicated for President Iliescu's decision to recall Ambassador Adrian Balanescu, who had served since January 2001. MS

BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY MOVES VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT
The opposition Coalition for Bulgaria, which is dominated by the Socialist Party (BSP), moved a vote of no confidence in the government on 25 November, BTA reported. The coalition accuses the government of acting against national interests and violating the constitution when it signed an agreement with the EU on 18 November. The conservative opposition moved a no-confidence vote on the same grounds on 22 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 25 November 2002). Parliamentary speaker Ognyan Gerdzhikov said the two motions will be discussed on 28 and 29 November, "Sega" reported. The vote itself is expected to take place on 4 December (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 November 2002). UB

There is no End Note today.


U.S. MILITARY BASES ATTACKED IN AFGHANISTAN...
Unknown attackers struck two U.S. military bases in Afghanistan on 23 November, firing nine phosphorus rockets at a base in central Afghanistan near Lwara, and one 107mm rocket at a base near Khost in the east, AP reported on 25 November. On 24 November, a U.S. Special Forces base near Gardayz, also in eastern Afghanistan, came under small-arms fire. According to U.S. military spokesman Colonel Roger King, there were no casualties in any of the attacks, but two trucks were damaged at the Lwara base, AP reported. AT

...AS JAPANESE AID WORKER KILLED IN THE NORTH...
A member of a Japanese aid organization has been killed in the Chaharbolak District of northern Balkh Province, the Kabul daily "Arman-e Melli" reported on 24 November. The paper did not elaborate on when and how the aid worker was killed but stated that the organization the victim worked for, which was not named, has closed its office in the area. AT

...AND OTHERS ARE ATTACKED NEAR KABUL
Two unidentified international aid workers "were brutalized and physically assaulted at gunpoint early afternoon on [22 November] in the Kargha Lake area, some 20 kilometers northwest of Kabul," according to a 24 November press briefing by Manoel de Almeida e Silva, spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. "While it is true that the country is not yet stable, it is also true that national and regional authorities bear the responsibility for the safety and security of Afghan citizens and their guests, in this case, international aid workers," Almeida e Sliva added. AT

ISAF'S AFGHANISTAN MANDATE TO BE EXTENDED
The UN Security Council is expected to extend the current mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, due to end on 20 December, for a reported six months in order to provide time for the German and Dutch parliaments to act on the UN decision approving the transfer of command of ISAF to them from Turkey, United Kingdom representative to the UN Jeremy Greenstock told AP on 25 November. The vote on extending the ISAF mandate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 18 November 2002) was scheduled for 25 November but was postponed due to "a busy [Security] Council schedule and a minor problem in the draft resolution," AP added, citing unidentified UN diplomats. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan have repeatedly called for the expansion of the force's mandate beyond Kabul to provide security while an Afghan police force and national army are being trained. AT

AFGHAN PAPERS BLAME AL-QAEDA FOR ATTEMPT ON DEFENSE MINISTER'S LIFE...
The 22 November attempt to assassinate Defense Minister Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 November 2002) is evidence of al-Qaeda and "its terrorist plots against the leadership of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan and the people of this country," the Kabul daily "Arman-e Melli" commented on 24 November. Claiming that Al-Qaeda is presently "operational" and is amassing arms and ammunitions in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the paper adds that terrorist "activities cannot stop the processes of peace and democracy in Afghanistan, [but] they can still create some temporary problems" for Afghanistan and its people. Writing on the same subject, the Herat paper "Etefaq-e Islam" commented on 24 November that in order not to allow Afghanistan's enemies to succeed in derailing the country from "the path of stability and peace," "security officials must be more vigilant." AT

...AS IRAQI KURDISH PAPER ADDS MORE DETAIL ON WOULD-BE ASSASSIN
Confirming the identity of the would-be assassin of Defense Minister Fahim as Bokan Akram Tawfiq, who is reported to be an Iraqi Kurd, the Iraqi Kurdish newspaper "Kurdistani Nuwe" added on 25 November that he is from Biyarah. According to the report, Tawfiq traveled to the United Arab Emirates through Iran and then went to Pakistan "in order to carry out his terrorist training with hard-line organizations." According to Afghan intelligence sources, Tawfiq "belongs to the same organization as the two men who killed Ahmad Shah Masoud in September 2001 [see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 November 2002] upon orders from the Al-Qaeda organization." The Kurdish paper did not name the organization to which Tawfiq allegedly belongs. AT

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SOURCE DENIES COOPERATION WITH UNITED STATES
A source at the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied a 25 November cnn.com report that his government has reached an informal agreement with the United States to provide medical assistance to U.S. pilots and crewmembers, should their aircraft experience mechanical failure or be shot down during a war with Iraq, IRNA reported. Cnn.com reported that U.S. officials confirmed that the agreement was reached following "discussions" between U.S. and Iranian officials over the past two months. However, IRNA on 26 November quoted an "informed source at the Iranian Foreign Ministry" as saying that "there have been no talks between the two countries and there has been no agreement of any kind regarding the dimensions of any possible cooperation between Iran and America in any possible American war with Iraq." KR

IRANIAN POLLSTERS TO STAND TRIAL
Abbas Abdi and Hussein Qazian of the Ayandeh Research Institute are scheduled to stand trial next week while Behruz Geranpayeh, the head of the Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry's National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls, is to stand trial in December following an investigation by Judge Said Mortazavi into their arrests on espionage charges (see "RFE/RL Newsline Part III," 4 and 11 November 2002), IRNA reported on 25 November. Abdi and Qazian were arrested and charged with espionage in November and October, respectively, after conducting public-opinion polls on Iranian's attitudes toward the United States. Geranpayeh was arrested on espionage charges on 16 October after his polling center released a survey that claimed two-thirds of the citizens in Tehran favor a resumption of formal relations with the United States. Members of the pro-presidential Islamic Iran Participation Party (IIPP) called on Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to serve notice to the Iranian judiciary that cases against the pollsters violate the law, IRNA reported on 24 November. In an appeal to Khatami by three members of the IIPP's Central Council, council member Said Hajjarian said the Intelligence and Security Ministry is better equipped to investigate allegations of espionage than the court. "The Information Ministry has a special department that can give expert view about espionage," Hajjarian said. "Of course, the [Intelligence and Security] Ministry has rejected any espionage charge against the defendants," he added. KR

PUBLIC PROSECUTORS OFFICE TO BE RESTORED IN IRAN
Iranian Judiciary spokesman Hussein Mirmohammadi announced that a law restoring the public judiciary will come into effect within the next three weeks, Iranian media reported on 25 November. Mirmohammadi told journalists that the law has been ratified by the Iranian parliament and approved by the Guardians Council. "According to this law, public prosecutors will be in charge of investigations, and detecting offenses and crimes," he said. "Ultimately, we will have a public prosecutor in every public prosecutor's office to deal with the initial investigations...so there will be someone in charge of taking care of public complaints, hence an improvement over how it is at present," he added. According to Mirmohammadi, verdicts will be fairer because the prosecutor, as a neutral figure between the judge and the accused, will conduct investigations. "Therefore, it appears that this law will be very beneficial in terms of enforcement of the law," he said. KR

WEAPONS INSPECTORS ARRIVE IN BAGHDAD...
The first team of weapons inspectors arrived in Baghdad on 25 November to prepare for the beginning of inspections on 27 November, Al-Jazeera television reported. The delegation includes 11 members of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), as well as six International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) employees and one communications expert, according to Al-Jazeera. On 25 November, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix briefed the UN Security Council on his preparatory trip to Baghdad last week. Blix said in the briefing published on UNMOVIC's website (http://www.un.org/depts/unmovic) that beginning inspections on 27 November would be 19 days from the date of the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1441. Iraq was given 45 days to comply with the resolution. Blix noted in his briefing that any media reports speculating as to where inspectors might go are just that -- speculation. He added that inspectors will not inform anyone in advance of their intentions. Blix said he expects to have 100 inspectors along with support staff in place "by Christmas." KR

...AS IRAQI GOVERNMENT STRUGGLES WITH DECLARATION
In his briefing to the UN Security Council, Blix said that during his preparatory visit to Iraq the Iraqis expressed some confusion as to how they should prepare their declaration of weapons of mass destruction to the Security Council. Blix said he told Iraqi officials that he and IAEA Director-General Mohammad el-Baradei have no authority to interpret the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. He also told the Iraqis that "if the Iraqi side were to state -- as it still did at our [19 November] meeting -- that there were no such programs, it would need to provide convincing documentary or other evidence." Blix also told the Security Council in his briefing that he proposed to the Iraqis that UNMOVIC set up a field office in Mosul as soon as possible. He noted that the largest number of inspection sites outside of the Baghdad region were in the areas surrounding Mosul. On the issue of inspecting government offices and presidential palaces, Blix noted that the Iraqis "remarked that the entry into a presidential site or ministry was not exactly the same thing as entry into a factory." Blix also told the Iraqis, "inspections could not be allowed to turn into some circus," and that the media would not be allowed at inspection sites during inspections. KR

RUSSIANS, EGYPTIAN TO JOIN INSPECTION TEAMS
A Russian citizen will be among the first group of chemical-weapons inspectors in Baghdad, a Russian Foreign Ministry source told Interfax on 25 November. The source said four additional Russians will be added to the roster of inspectors in early December. Three are experts in chemical weapons and one is a biologist. Thus far, 19 Russians have been chosen to participate in inspections in Iraq, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, MENA news agency reported on 25 November that IAEA Director-General el-Baradei has confirmed that an Egyptian expert will join the inspection team. El-Baradei made the announcement at a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who noted that 17 Arab experts are now working with the IAEA. KR

GERMANY CONSIDERING ISRAELI, U.S. REQUESTS FOR PATRIOT MISSILES
Germany is considering requests from the United States and Israel to provide Patriot surface-to-air missiles to defend Israel in the event of a war with Iraq, the "Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 26 November. International media reported on 26 November that Israel last week repeated a request made last year for Patriot missiles Germany had replaced with newer models and that the United States has also requested that Germany provide Israel with Patriot missiles. German Defense Minister Peter Struck, who denied on 25 November that the United States had made such a request, seemed to back away from those claims on 26 November, dpa reported. German officials have recently said that Germany will not participate in a military action against Iraq. The "Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung" reported that an unnamed German Defense Ministry source has confirmed that a request for Patriot missiles has been made, but declined to comment further on the matter. International media reported on 26 November that German officials said the country has three Patriot missile systems that it could offer to Israel. KR/MS

FOREIGN INVESTIGATORS RAISE MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT UKRAINIAN KOLCHUGAS...
U.S. and British experts who last month investigated the alleged sale by Ukraine of a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq said in a report released on 25 November that they were unable to prove that Ukraine transferred radar systems to Iraq "under openly declared contracts," but added that "covert or illegal arms transfers, particularly with the complicity of third parties, remain a credible possibility," Reuters and AP reported. The report says Ukraine provided documentation on 72 Kolchuga systems but that four remain unaccounted for. According to Ukrainian officials, these four systems were sold to China, but Ukraine denied investigators access to the contracts, claiming they were commercial secrets. The investigators say they need missing documentation on the sale of the four systems to China, technical information on the location of the systems in China, and access to people who were not available for interviews during their visit to Ukraine in October -- especially Leonid Derkach, the former head of the Ukraine Security Service, and Yuriy Orshanskyy, the former honorary consul in Iraq. JM

...AS CHINA DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN RADAR TRANSFERS
China has denied the 25 November report that said Ukraine had not provided "sufficient evidence" to make certain that four radar systems intended for China did not end up in Iraq, AFP reported on 26 November. "There is no such thing as a Chinese transfer of radar systems to Iraq," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan said. "On the Iraqi issue, China has strictly implemented the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council," he added. KR

BRITAIN WARNS YUGOSLAVIA OVER ALLEGED ARMS SALES TO IRAQ...
Denis Mac Shane, who is the Foreign Office minister with special responsibility for Europe, said on 25 November in London that "international rule of law means no breach of UN sanctions -- such as selling weapons to [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein," the "Financial Times" reported. Mac Shane's remarks at an international conference on organized crime in the Balkans followed the appearance of international and Serbian media reports that the Yugoslav authorities willingly and knowingly continue to sell arms to Iraq in an effort motivated by economic and political considerations (see "RFE/RL Newsline Part II," 25 November 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 25 October and 8 November 2002). The media reports were pegged to a new study by the International Crisis Group (ICG) that was "based in part on documents from the U.S. government," the London daily added. The paper also noted that "Washington's suspicion of illegal Yugoslav arms dealing is at its highest level" since the fall of former President Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. PM

...DESPITE YUGOSLAV DENIALS
The Yugoslav state-run news agency Tanjug carried a statement by the Foreign Ministry on 25 November in which the ministry stressed that it is taking tough action against illegal arms sales. Predrag Simic, an adviser to President Vojislav Kostunica dealing with foreign affairs, called the media reports on alleged arms sales and Kostunica's knowledge of them "complete nonsense," the "Financial Times" reported. But the daily added that "the Yugoslav authorities now face a litany of specific allegations rather than the more abstract charge of arms trading." It is not clear if and how official Belgrade will respond to the specific charges, including allegations of conflicts of interest on the part of some high-ranking individuals. ICG Balkans Program Director Nicholas Whyte told the BBC that the arms sales continued because those behind them thought they would not be caught. PM

MACEDONIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN YUGOSLAV-IRAQI ARMS DEALS
Defense Ministry spokesman Marjan Gjurovski said on 25 November in Skopje that the Macedonian defense industry is not involved in any Yugoslav-Iraqi arms deals, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. Gjurovski dismissed a comment in "The Guardian" to the effect that Macedonian arms producers are linked to the illegal arms trade of the Belgrade-based Yugoimport company. Gjurovski said the Macedonian arms industry strictly adheres to international and Macedonian legal regulations. UB

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