Accessibility links

Newsline - June 12, 2003


PRIME MINISTER TESTS DUMA WATERS AHEAD OF CONFIDENCE VOTE
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov appeared before the Duma's Economic Committee on 11 June to defend his government's economic achievements and to test the mood in the lower house ahead of a scheduled vote of confidence in his leadership, NTV and RTR reported. The Communists and Yabloko initiated the confidence vote, which is slated for 18 June. Kasyanov told the committee that Russia posted economic growth of 6.6 percent in the first four months of the year, and said foreign investment of $6.3 billion during the same period is more than the figure for all of 2002. Duma Deputy Valentin Ronamov (Communists) accused Kasyanov's government of incompetence, at best, for making huge foreign-debt payments at the expense of a major section of the population living in poverty, NTV reported. Kasyanov countered that debt repayment boosts investor confidence, which ultimately leads to a reduction in poverty and unemployment through increased investment. The deputy chairman of the Economic Committee, Anatolii Aksankov, commented afterward that Kasyanov impressed deputies and appeared confident on the eve of the confidence vote. VY

FORMER INTELLIGENCE OFFICER CONVICTED OF SPYING FOR UNITED STATES
A Moscow military court sentenced Aleksandr Zaprozhskii on 11 June to 18 years in prison for spying for the United States while he was a colonel in the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), NTV and ORT reported. Meeting in a closed-door session, the court also stripped Zaporozhkii of his military rank and state honors. The prosecution claimed that Zaporozhkii approached the CIA in 1995, when he headed an SVR counterintelligence unit responsible for infiltrating the U.S. intelligence community, with an offer to cooperate, according to NTV. Zaporozhkii compromised SVR operations and agent networks in the United States and "serious damaged Russian intelligence," according to the prosecution. Sergei Ignatchenko, a spokesman for the Federal Security Service (FSB), said Zaporozhkii was lured to Russia from his home in Maryland in 2001 "in a unique FSB operation" to secure his arrest. Zaporozhskii's lawyer, Maria Veselova, said her client maintains his innocence, adding that the military court did not provide direct evidence to support the indictment. NTV reported that the court proceedings and verdict are classified, adding that Zaporozhskii's sentence is longer than the 16 years requested by prosecutors. VY

HEALTH MINISTRY PROPOSES RESTRICTING ABORTION RIGHTS...
At a forum on children and medicine in Moscow on 11 June, Deputy Health Minister Olga Sharapova announced that her ministry is seeking to reduce the number of circumstances under which a woman may seek an abortion, polit.ru reported. Under the proposal, a woman could get an abortion under one of three instead of the current 13 conditions: if the pregnancy is the result of a rape, if a woman's husband dies while she is pregnant, or if there is a court order restricting parental rights, ITAR-TASS reported. Sharapova said the ministry has already prepared the corresponding government decree, RosBalt reported. Human Rights Ombudsman Oleg Mironov condemned the proposal, saying he was opposed to "this harsh regulation and restriction of the opportunity for a woman to make the decision for herself," Ekho Moskvy reported. Mironov's term in office is set to expire on 22 June, and the names of various candidates, including former Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov, have already been proposed to replace him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April 2003). JAC

...AS NUMBER OF SICK CHILDREN SURGES
Speaking at the same forum, Tatyana Yakovleva, deputy chair of the State Duma Committee on Health and Sports, said that Russia is experiencing a catastrophic increase in the number of children affected by AIDS, alcoholism, and drug addiction, news.ru reported. According to Yakovleva, the number of children suffering from alcoholism has more than doubled since 1993, while the number affected by drug addiction has increased by a factor of 20. Around 40 percent of infants are born with a chronic illness, while 70 percent of adolescents suffer from a chronic health problem. JAC

PUTIN QUASHES SPECULATION OF KALININGRAD 'TRADE'
Speaking at the Kremlin on 11 June with officials who conducted the 2002 census, President Putin dismissed a suggestion that Moscow might be willing to surrender Russia's rights to the Kaliningrad Oblast in exchange for writing off foreign debt, RTR reported. "Russia does not trade in its lands and never will," Putin said. Putin noted that there is a Russian naval base in Kaliningrad, adding that it will remain there. He added that transit issues with respect to Kaliningrad are "solved in principle, but some technicalities remain." Putin also said Russia has resolved the problem of its foreign debts. VY

PEOPLE'S DEPUTY INTRODUCES BILL TO BAN BARGAINING WITH CRIMINALS
Duma Deputy and Security Committee member Gennadii Gudkov has introduced a draft law that would prohibit the fulfillment of political demands by criminals, including the payment of ransom in order to free hostages, Russian media reported on 11 June. Gudkov said the bill's wording is tough but would save lives in the long run, since potential hostage takers would realize that their demands cannot be met. Gudkov said Russia and Israel should lead a global initiative to ban the payment of ransom for people taken hostage by terrorists. VY

COMMUNISTS LOSE ANOTHER BATTLE
The Constitutional Court upheld on 11 June the ban on holding national referendums in the same year as parliamentary or presidential elections, Russian media reported. The Communist Party faction in the State Duma had sought to overturn the law, which came into force in September, Interfax reported. The court ruled that holding elections and referendums simultaneously could damage the voting process. The court also noted that under the constitution, the Federal Assembly has the authority to set the date of referendums, lenta.ru reported. However, Communist Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin told reporters after the decision that the constitution does not put any quantitative or time-based constraints on referendums, gazeta.ru reported. JAC

LEGISLATORS GIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORMS ANOTHER PASS...
State Duma legislators passed the presidential bill on local-government reform in its second reading on 11 June, RosBalt reported. The vote was 242 in favor, with 126 against and one abstention, according to the agency. The bill attempts to delineate the responsibilities of the three levels of government: federal, regional, and local. In addition, Article 26 would allow direct federal rule in regions where debts exceed revenues by more than 30 percent. Some 1,300 amendments were submitted to the bill after its first reading, more than 200 of which deputies took into account while the rest were rejected, the agency reported. An attempt by the Communists to postpone consideration of the bill failed. JAC

...AND APPROVE LAST-MINUTE TAX BILLS...
State Duma deputies also approved in their first reading on 11 June amendments to the Tax Code, Interfax reported. The amendments would cancel the excise tax on natural gas in 2004, raise the tax on the extraction of oil and natural gas, and raise the export duty on natural gas from 5 percent to 20 percent. The vote was 278 in favor with 47 against and two abstentions. Also approved were amendments to the Tax Code lowering the value-added tax (VAT) from 20 percent to 18 percent. Deputies also agreed to extend the spring 2003 legislative session by one day in order to consider legislation that the government considers a priority. JAC

...AS KASYANOV EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION
Addressing the State Duma on 11 June, Prime Minister Kasyanov said he is opposed to a proposal by the Union of Rightist Forces to abolish the office of prime minister and have the president head the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 2003). Kasyanov said he thinks changing anything in the constitution today would be "simply harmful and dangerous." Kasyanov also promised that the government will intervene if bread prices increase more than expected. According to Kasyanov, the price of bread usually goes up in May and June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2003). JAC

SENATORS DEFY SPEAKER...
Federation Council members voted twice on 11 June to reject the nomination of Valentina Petrenko as deputy chair of the upper legislative chamber, Russian media reported. Petrenko represents the executive branch of Khakasia and formerly worked in the upper chamber's apparatus. Petrenko's candidacy needed 90 votes to pass, but she never got more than 81, according to ITAR-TASS. NTV characterized the votes as a "quiet revolt" against Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, who nominated Petrenko to replace Andrei Vikharev. Mironov dismissed Vikharev without explanation two weeks ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2003). Mironov said he considers the results of the voting a reaction by the chamber to his failure to pay enough attention to proposals that the positions of deputy chairmen be filled on a rotating basis. "Izvestiya" reported on 10 June that unidentified sources in the council said that not all senators are happy with the growing tendency to make appointments according to the gender principle. JAC

...AND APPROVE MOVING UP DUMA ELECTIONS BY ONE WEEK
According to gazeta.ru, the 11 June votes did not represent Mironov's first defeat. It alleged that Mironov promised lobbyists that the package of bills on reforming the railway sector would be passed by the Federation Council without any exception; however, senators rejected one bill completely. Also on 11 June, council members voted to support the bill moving the State Duma elections forward one week, from 14 December to 7 December. Only one senator voted against the bill with 130 in favor, Interfax reported. The Federation Council also approved other bills passed recently by the State Duma governing elections, such as one prohibiting public organizations from participating in elections. JAC

WEEKLY FLOATS RUMORS ABOUT VOLOSHIN'S PENDING DEPARTURE
Citing only unidentified sources, "Versiya," No. 21, reported that President Putin is preparing to replace presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin. According to the weekly, Putin and Prime Minister Kasyanov have formed an alliance of sorts against the so-called Family and the oligarchic structures that support it. As a result, Voloshin, who is considered the leader of the Family, "has lost all his influence over the government" and may be replaced. According to the weekly, former Federal Border Guard Service head Nikolai Bordyuzha is under consideration as a replacement for Voloshin. Voloshin replaced Bordyuzha at the head of the presidential administration in 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 March 1999). JAC

THREE ARMENIAN PARTIES AGREE TO FORM COALITION GOVERNMENT...
Leaders of the three major political parties that support President Robert Kocharian -- Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) Chairman and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, Orinats Yerkir (Law-Based State) Chairman Artur Baghdasarian and Armen Rustamian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (HHD) -- signed a protocol on 11 June at a special ceremony at the presidential palace on forming a coalition government, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and Armenian news agencies reported. Under the agreement, Markarian will retain the post of premier while Baghdasarian will be named parliament speaker (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 9 June 2003). The HHK and HHD will each name a deputy speaker. The HHK will have six portfolios, and most of its outgoing ministers will be reappointed, according to Markarian. Orinats Yerkir will nominate the ministers of culture, education, and science and urban development, and the HHD those of agriculture, health, and social security. The outgoing foreign and defense ministers, whose appointment is a presidential prerogative, will retain their posts. LF

...AND SHARE RESPONSIBILITY
Markarian hailed the three-party coalition as "the basis of a new political tradition," according to Mediamax as cited by Groong. But he stressed that the three parties will bear equal responsibility, despite the discrepancy in the number of government positions they hold, according to Armenpress. Vahan Hovannisian of the HHD, one of the two new deputy parliament speakers, termed it "a civilized method of handling things," according to Armenpress as cited by Groong. Asked how his party will set about cooperating with the HHK, which it criticized harshly during the parliamentary election campaign, Baghdasarian answered that "we will try to reduce major drawbacks together with our friends and cooperate...to address the problems Armenia is facing." Kocharian for his part warned that the smooth functioning of the coalition is a major precondition for political stability, and that if it fails to function effectively "we will have problems." LF

FORMER DISSIDENT ACCUSES ARMENIAN PREMIER OF WORKING FOR KGB
Self-Determination Union Chairman and longtime Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hairikian told journalists in Yerevan on 11 June that Prime Minister Markarian collaborated with the Committee for State Security (KGB) in the mid-1970s, Noyan Tapan reported. Markarian, who was born in 1951, joined Hairikian's underground National Unity Party (AMK) in 1968, and was sentenced in 1974 to a two-year prison sentence for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. According to Hairikian, Markarian quit the AMK in 1976 and began working for the KGB. Hairikian advocated opening secret archives in order to determine the names of collaborators and to exclude them from positions of power. LF

MANDATES PRESENTED TO NEW ARMENIAN LEGISLATORS
Central Election Committee Chairman Artak Sahradian formally presented the parliament deputies elected in the 25 May ballot with their mandates on 11 June, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. But most of the 17 deputies elected from the opposition Artarutiun alliance boycotted the ceremony to underscore their rejection of the officially proclaimed results of the ballot, which they claim were falsified to deny the bloc of its victory. Nine deputies from the opposition National Unity Party headed by Artashes Geghamian (which is not to be confused with Hairikian's Soviet-era party) likewise refused to attend the presentation ceremony. LF

EMBATTLED ARMENIAN TELEVISION STATION LOSES TENDER FOR FREQUENCY
Armenia's National Commission on Television and Radio rejected on 11 June a bid by the independent television station A1+ for the frequency currently used by Armenia TV, thereby granting the latter the permanent right to that frequency, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Armenia TV is owned by a U.S. Armenian businessman who backed President Kocharian in the presidential ballot in February-March 2003. Commission Chairman Grigor Amalian said the proposals submitted by A1+ to invest $5 million in the station over the next seven years "were baseless" and contained no guarantees. A1+ was forced to cease broadcasting in April 2002 after losing a tender for the frequency on which it broadcast (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 3 April 2002). LF

MORE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES NOMINATED IN AZERBAIJAN
At its fourth congress in Baku on 11 June, the pro-presidential Ana-Veten party nominated two candidates for the 17 October presidential election -- incumbent President Heidar Aliev and his son Ilham, Turan reported. Neither man is a member of Ana-Veten. Also on 11 June, delegates to a congress of the Adalet Party unanimously proposed the party's Chairman Ilyas Ismailov as its presidential candidate, zerkalo.az reported on 12 June. Ismailov served in the 1980s as prosecutor and under the Azerbaijan Popular Front government in 1992-93 as justice minister. He resigned from that post when Aliev returned to power in Azerbaijan in 1993. LF

KARABAKH WAR VETERANS DEMAND AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION
The Movement of Karabakh War Veterans issued a statement in Baku on 11 June calling on President Aliev to resign, Turan reported. The statement blames Aliev for the deterioration in the socioeconomic and military-political situation in Azerbaijan, for the emigration of hundreds of thousands of people in search of employment, and for failing to liberate Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenian forces. LF

FORMER BAKU DEPUTY MAYOR REFUSES TO TESTIFY IN CORRUPTION TRIAL
Eldaniz Laidjev refused on 12 June to testify or answer any questions from the prosecution at his ongoing trial for embezzlement, Turan reported. Laidjev and several subordinates are accused of embezzling funds paid in compensation by the United States to families whose homes were demolished to make way for the expansion of the U.S. Embassy complex (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 April and 6 June 2003). Several of the families in question are picketing the courthouse to demand that former Baku Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev, once a close associate of Aliev, also be brought to trial in the case. LF

ENVOY SAYS UN OBSERVERS WILL NOT LEAVE GEORGIA...
Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, who is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, told journalists in Tbilisi on 11 June that despite last week's abduction of three UN observers, the UN will continue its joint patrols of the Kodori Gorge, Russian news agencies reported. Tagliavini noted that the approval of the UN Security Council is needed for Georgia to deploy a small armed force in Kodori permanently. Following the 10 June release of the three abducted observers and their interpreter, the leadership of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia has demanded the immediate withdrawal from Kodori of the Georgian troops sent to participate in the search for the missing men. LF

...AS RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS' COMMANDER REJECTS GEORGIAN COMPLAINTS
Sergei Melnichenko, who is a spokesman for the Russian peacekeeping troops deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone, has denied Georgian accusations that the four armed Russian soldiers who were accompanying the unarmed UN observers when the latter were abducted on 5 June did not do all they could have done to protect them, Caucasus Press reported on 11 June. Those accusations were leveled by Georgian Defense Minister Lieutenant General David Tevzadze and Minister for Special Assignments Malkhaz Kakabadze, who is the Georgian government's point man for Abkhazia. Interfax on 11 June said there were eight armed and masked kidnappers, while Caucasus Press on 6 June quoted another member of the Russian peacekeeping force as saying there were 30 of them. Reuters on 11 June quoted one of the three men as describing their abductors as "quite professional [and] well-trained." Melnichenko noted that the Georgian Defense Ministry has given written guarantees of the safety of the monthly patrols of Kodori conducted by the UN observers together with the Russian peacekeepers. LF

GEORGIA REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OVER HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Georgian National Security Council Secretary Tedo Djaparidze told Caucasus Press on 12 June that the inclusion of Georgia in the third-annual U.S. State Department report, which was released the previous day, listing 15 countries liable for sanctions because of their failure to take measures to combat human trafficking is "a misunderstanding" based on inaccurate data. Other countries on that list include Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. The Georgian parliament last week amended the Criminal Code to designate human trafficking a criminal offense punishable by five to 10 years' imprisonment (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2003). LF

LOWER CHAMBER OF KAZAKH PARLIAMENT RATIFIES AMENDED CFE TREATY
The Mazhilis on 11 June ratified the amendments to the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe signed by 30 European states at the OSCE summit in Istanbul in November 1999, Russian news agencies reported. Those amendments grant Kazakhstan the right, which it did not have previously, to deploy a limited amount of military hardware (including 50 tanks and 100 artillery systems) on the European part of its territory. LF

KAZAKH EX-PREMIER WILL REMAIN ON PRESIDENT'S TEAM
Kazakh Prime Minister Imanghali Tasmaghambetov, whose resignation on 11 June was accepted by President Nursultan Nazarbaev the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June), privately told journalists that he will remain on the president's team and accept any job Nazarbaev offers him, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. Tasmaghambetov noted that he had first submitted his resignation on 19 May after he won a parliamentary vote of confidence in his government, but that Nazarbaev had asked him to reconsider. He said he had again submitted his resignation because the continuing conflict between the executive and legislative branches over the controversial Land Code could have had undesirable political consequences and led to social destabilization. Tasmaghambetov was quoted as saying that under no circumstances would he run for parliament in next year's elections. A successor is to be selected at a joint session of parliament on 13 June. BB

SPEAKER OF KAZAKH LOWER HOUSE DENIES PARLIAMENT TO BLAME FOR PREMIER'S RESIGNATION
The chairman of the Mazhilis (lower house) of the Kazakh parliament, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, reacting to former Prime Minister Tasmaghambetov's statement explaining his resignation, told journalists on 11 June that the Mazhilis could not be blamed for the premier's decision to resign and that the resignation itself had been brought about artificially, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported the same day. In his statement to an emergency meeting of the government, Tasmaghambetov had noted that no members of the Senate or the counting commission had been involved in determining the results of the 19 May vote of confidence, and he therefore concluded the results had been falsified. He added that the Mazhilis had demonstrated its complete incompetence in dealing with economic reform, particularly in agriculture. The text of his remarks appeared on khabar.kz on 11 June. Despite the obvious friction between Tasmaghambetov and the Mazhilis, Tuyakbai said he was not happy about the resignation because of the way it came about, adding that "drastic steps, categorical statements, and unconstructive approaches have caused today's awkward situation between the branches of power." BB

KAZAKH PRESIDENT MEETS WITH MAZHILIS ABOUT LAND CODE
President Nazarbaev met with members of the Mazhilis behind closed doors on 11 June, and according to deputy Romin Madinov, it was agreed that a joint session of both houses of parliament will be held on 27 June to resolve the issue of the Land Code, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported the same day. Madinov was quoted as saying that the solution would probably be a compromise. He said that at the meeting with the president, all participants agreed that "all political games" involving the Land Code should stop and that Nazarbaev might veto some sections of the code. According to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Nazarbaev has reportedly sent the Land Code back to parliament for revision. BB

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER ASKS THAT DEPORTATION OF KYRGYZ NOT BE POLITICIZED
Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev has asked Kyrgyzstan not to make a political issue of the recent expulsions of Kyrgyz citizens from Kazakhstan, akipress.org reported on 11 June. Toqaev was quoted as saying that relations between the two countries are developing well and he does not want the incident to damage them, adding that the persons who were expelled were considered illegal immigrants because they were working without permits and had not entered Kazakhstan as part of the immigration quota (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2003). Akipress.org noted that Toqaev failed to explain why the persons in question had been deported to Kyrgyzstan without a court order. According to the report, Kazakh officials forced citizens of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan onto buses and dumped them across the border in Kyrgyzstan's Kant Raion, east of Bishkek. BB

KAZAKH NAMED SECRETARY-GENERAL OF ECO
Kazakhstan's ambassador to Pakistan, Bekzhasar Narbaev, was confirmed in the post of secretary-general of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) at the regular meeting of ECO foreign ministers in Bishkek on 11 June, centrasia.ru reported the following day, quoting the Kazakh Foreign Ministry. This is the first time a representative of one of the post-Soviet states has held the post, which rotates among the member states. All the Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan joined the ECO soon after obtaining their independence. The other members of the organization, which had been largely inactive up to that time, are Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The ECO promotes economic development in the post-Soviet member states, concentrating on vital areas such as transportation and communications, trade, energy, and agriculture. A top priority for the 11 June meeting was ECO assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The meeting approved an action plan for Afghanistan, to be implemented over the next five years. BB

KYRGYZSTAN DENIES HIZB UT-TAHRIR ACTIVIST ARRESTED IN MOSCOW IS KYRGYZ
Kyrgyzstan's National Security Service has said that a Hizb ut-Tahrir activist identified as Alisher Musaev, who was arrested in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003), is not a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, centrasia.ru reported on 11 June. The Kyrgyz security service was quoted as saying that the Kyrgyz passport found in Musaev's possession was a forgery. The Russian law enforcement officials who detained 55 Hizb ut-Tahrir sympathizers on 9 June identified Musaev as leader of the banned movement's Moscow cell. BB

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION DAILY 'MOYA STOLITSA' SHUTS DOWN
The Kyrgyz opposition daily "Moya stolitsa" officially ceased publication on 11 June, its chief editor, Aleksandr Kim, announced that day, according to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, akipress.org, and Deutsche Welle. The closure was not unexpected, since Kim had said that he would have to close down the newspaper after the most recent court case against the publication was decided in favor of the plaintiff, Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev. "Moya stolitsa" has been fined 4 million soms (about $95,000) in various criminal libel cases for allegedly defaming the honor and dignity of various government officials and of an American firm that supplied jet fuel to Manas airport. The publication enjoyed wide popularity for its investigative journalism, which focused on government corruption. Kim has said that he intends to start another publication under a different name. Numerous international organizations and the Kyrgyz public are supporting him in his plans, he added. Commenting on the burning of his car in a guarded parking area sometime last weekend, Kim said that the methods the government is using against him are taking on a criminal hue. BB

POLICE PRESS-GANG CULLS DRAFTEES IN NORTHERN TAJIKISTAN
The authorities in Khudjand, northern Tajikistan, succeeded in meeting the spring target figure for induction into the armed forces only by sending police to bring young men to conscription centers by force, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 11 June. Only 10 percent of the draftees (165 men) showed up voluntarily. LF

UNICEF WARNS AGAINST EXPLOITATION OF EASTERN EUROPEAN CHILDREN IN WEST
Thousands of children from Eastern Europe are being exploited as sex slaves and cheap labor in Western Europe, dpa reported on 10 June, citing a UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) report. The report was prepared by UNICEF's German branch and released ahead of Child Labor Day on 12 June. The report says Albania alone accounts for 15,000 children and adolescents forced into prostitution or sweatshops in Western Europe. Unscrupulous traders, according to the findings, "buy" children for roughly $25 from Albanian parents, claiming that they can provide better lives for them in the West. A spokesman for UNICEF Germany said children as young as six years old are being brought from Moldova and Ukraine and forced to work on the streets. MS

USAID TO HELP IMPROVE ROMA'S LOT IN EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has signed a four-year agreement on cooperation with the international organization Partners for Democratic Change to improve living conditions for Roma in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, TASR reported on 11 June. The $2.7 million program is aimed at fostering Romany participation in their respective countries' economic, political, and social affairs. The program also aims at improving access to services and opportunities on a local-governmental level, and at combating anti-Roma stereotypes. MS

BELARUSIAN POLICE SEIZE PART OF PRINT RUN OF INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER
Police officers on 11 June confiscated 1,600 unsold copies of an issue of "Predprinimatelskaya gazeta" that carried materials prepared by journalists of the suspended "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2003), RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The total print run was 15,000. That issue of "Predprinimatelskaya gazeta" was printed in Smolensk, Russia, and delivered to Minsk in a van earlier the same day. "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" was suspended by the Information Ministry for three months for having published defamatory articles about President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and disclosing details of criminal investigations without official permission. Its staff has arranged deals to appear under the mastheads of other independent newspapers since the ban was imposed. The authorities have reportedly prohibited all printing houses in Belarus from printing periodicals with "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" materials. JM

UKRAINIAN, POLISH PRESIDENTS TO ATTEND RECONCILIATION EVENT
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski will take part in a reconciliation ceremony commemorating the Poles of Volhynia, western Ukraine, who were murdered by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and local Ukrainians 60 years ago (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 4 March 2003), PAP reported on 11 June. The decision was confirmed by Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council head Yevhen Marchuk and Polish National Security Bureau chief Marek Siwiec during their meeting in Kyiv on 11 June. The ceremony will be held on 11 July in Pavlivka, where more than 100 Poles were herded into a local church and burned alive on 11 July 1943, the agency reported. Polish historians estimate that some 60,000-80,000 Poles died as a result of the UPA operation, intended to drive them out of Volhynia. Ukrainian historians estimate that up to 30,000 Ukrainians were killed in reprisals by the Polish Home Army. JM

KYIV URGED TO USE ODESA-BRODY PIPELINE IN 'REVERSE MODE'
Russia's Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) proposed to the Ukrainian government on 11 June the creation of a working group to study the possible use of the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline in a "reverse mode" -- that is, for pumping oil from Brody to an oil terminal in Odesa -- Interfax reported, quoting TNK Executive Director German Khan. Khan said the proposal was made jointly with British Petroleum (BP), a stakeholder in TNK, during BP Executive Director John Brown's meetings with President Kuchma and other Ukrainian officials in Kyiv. Meanwhile, the Stratfor commercial-intelligence group reported on 11 June that Kuchma approves of the idea of pumping Russian oil from Brody to Odesa until it becomes possible to pump Caspian oil to Europe through the pipeline. The use of the Odesa-Brody pipeline for pumping oil in the "reverse mode" reportedly could bring Ukraine an estimated $60 million in annual revenues. JM

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VISITS ESTONIA
Georgi Parvanov began a two-day state visit to Estonia on 11 June with talks with his Estonian counterpart Arnold Ruutel, BNS reported. The presidents discussed bilateral relations and ways Estonia could support Bulgaria's accession to the EU in the next round of enlargement. After the meeting, Estonian Interior Minister Margus Leivo and Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Lubomir Ivanov signed agreements on returning illegal immigrants and visa-free travel between their countries. The second agreement was needed only to fulfill an EU requirement to have an official agreement on visa-free travel. Estonia unilaterally dropped visa requirements for Bulgarian citizens in July 1992 and Bulgaria later abolished them for Estonian citizens. Prime Minister Juhan Parts told Parvanov that he hopes the Bulgarian business delegation visiting with him will help boost economic ties. SG

LATVIA MAY ENLIST EU TO PRESSURE RUSSIA OVER BORDER PACT
President Vaira Vike-Freiberga told parliamentary deputies from the People's Party at a meeting on 11 June that Latvia might ask the EU not to begin talks with Russia on visa-free travel before Moscow ratifies a border agreement with Latvia, BNS reported. She noted that Russia had ratified the border treaty with Lithuania only because it was a condition of an agreement with the EU needed to obtain simplified visa procedures for its citizens traveling via Lithuania to and from Kaliningrad Oblast. Vike-Freiberga said that Russia had responded to numerous Latvian goodwill offers to improve relations by "producing a whole list of conditions precedent to opening any talks with Latvia." She mentioned that during recent conversations with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov in St. Petersburg, she reiterated Latvia's willingness to develop bilateral cooperation, but said that "for a dialogue to happen, both parties must be willing to talk." SG

VILNIUS MAYORAL ELECTIONS FAIL AGAIN
The Vilnius City Council did not succeed in electing a mayor on 11 June, "Lietuvos rytas" reported the next day. Social Democrat Gediminas Pavirzis had been elected to the post in April, defeating incumbent Liberal Arturas Zuokas by a vote of 27 to 24 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 April 2003), but held the post only a few days before his powers were suspended by the Vilnius District Administrative Court over protests that the elections were illegal. Three parliamentary deputies had participated in violation of a Constitutional Court ruling in December forbidding simultaneous membership in the parliament and local councils. Zuokas had expected to win, as 26 council members had expressed support for him, but the vote ended in a 25-25 tie after Polish Election Action deputy Tadeusas Filipovicius failed to appear due to post-surgery treatment. Another round of elections will be held on 26 June. SG

NEW MAN TAKES CONTROL OF POLAND'S ECONOMIC STRATEGY
Premier Leszek Miller nominated Economy Minister Jerzy Hausner on 11 June to be the new deputy prime minister in charge of economic strategy following the resignation of Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko earlier the same day, Polish media reported. Kolodko's resignation was widely expected after Miller signaled on 9 June that he wants to introduce a flat-rate income tax (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003) and shift the center of economic planning in the cabinet from the Finance Ministry to the Economy Ministry. Jerzy Raczko, a former deputy finance minister, was designated to head the Finance Ministry. "My priority will be to accelerate economic growth to 5 percent next year," Hausner told a news conference following his nomination. Hausner also said he favors the introduction of an 18 percent flat-rate income tax and wants Poland to join the euro-zone in 2007 or 2008. JM

NEW CAUCUS SET IN POLISH PARLIAMENT
Lawmakers of the Peasant Democratic Party (PLD), the Polish Peasant Bloc (PBL), and independent deputy Tomasz Maminski established a new parliamentary caucus on 11 June, PAP reported. Maminski is head of the National Party of Pensioners and Annuity-Holders (KPEiR). The new caucus -- named the Federation Parliamentary Caucus of PLD, PBL, and KPEiR -- comprises 15 deputies. PLD leader Roman Jagielinski said the new caucus will support Premier Leszek Miller's cabinet during a vote of confidence on 13 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 2003). JM

FORMER CZECH BROADCAST COUNCIL MEMBERS CHALLENGE DISMISSAL IN COURT
Six ousted members of the Czech Radio and Television Broadcasting Council have lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court and filed a joint lawsuit in Prague over their dismissal by the Chamber of Deputies and by Premier Vladimir Spidla in early April, CTK reported on 11 June, citing the daily "Hospodarske noviny" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April 2003). The six claim that the lower house and Spidla ignored provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, since only one of those dismissed was allowed to defend himself (Chairman Martin Muchka). They also charge that proper procedure was ignored in their collective dismissal. Spidla countered that he is not aware of any laws having been infringed. The Chamber of Deputies elected a new council in May, so the case potentially threatens decisions made since then. In related news, the Czech Television Council invited new applications on 11 June for the post of general director of state-run Czech Television, since none of the applicants for the post was chosen last week. MS

CZECH PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE CLEARS PATH TO NOMINATION OF NEW INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR
The Defense Committee in the lower house approved the candidacy of Jiri Lang on 11 June as the next chief of the Czech Security Information Service (BIS), CTK reported. Lang is to replace Jiri Ruzek, who resigned last month. Lang was Ruzek's deputy at the BIS. Premier Spidla said Lang will be officially named to the post within the next two weeks. MS

CZECH 'MEIN KAMPF' PUBLISHER PLEADS NOT GUILTY AT NEW TRIAL
The retrial of Michal Zitko, publisher of a Czech translation of Adolf Hitler's notorious "Mein Kampf," began in a Prague district court on 11 June, CTK reported. Zitko maintains he is innocent of spreading materials that are liable to further the activities of extremist movements. He was sentenced by the same district court to a five-year suspended sentence in 2002, but the Supreme Court canceled the verdict last year and ordered a new trial (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2002). MS

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT AUGMENTS POWERS OF EMBATTLED DEPUTY PREMIER
The government decided on 11 June to expand the powers of Pal Csaky, deputy premier in charge of European integration, TASR reported. Csaky is to coordinate the government's use of both pre- and post-accession EU funds. The decision was taken despite opposition-led criticism of Csaky's handling of funds for the campaign that preceded last month's referendum on EU accession (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 2003). MS

SLOVAKIA TO PARTICIPATE IN EU POLICE MISSION IN BOSNIA
The Slovak government on 11 June approved the signing of an agreement with the EU on Slovak participation in the EU Police Mission (EUPM) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, TASR reported. Slovakia will deploy both police officers and civilian staff to Bosnia. The EUPM was set up on 1 January with the goal of reforming and monitoring the activities of local police. It is the first mission of this kind by the EU. The EUPM thus far comprises some 500 police officers from 33 countries, including 18 non-EU members. MS

BBC AND RFI LAUNCH MULTILINGUAL RADIO BROADCAST IN BUDAPEST
The BBC and Radio France International (RFI) jointly launched a 24-hour, multilingual radio station in Budapest on 11 June, officials from the two broadcasters told AP. The BBC will broadcast in English and Hungarian, while RFI will broadcast in French and German on the 92.1 FM frequency. With the exception of some locally produced programs from the BBC's Hungarian Service, most programs will be taken from the broadcasters' international programming and will focus on news, current affairs, and culture. Nigel Chapman, deputy director of BBC World Service, noted that the station's launch coincides with Hungary's preparations for the European Union. For his part, RFI head Jean-Paul Cluzel said, "We want to contribute to the pluralism of information in the world." The new channel will reach around 650,000 people in Budapest, although the broadcasters hope they will be allowed to extend coverage in the future. MSZ

KOSOVA MARKS FREEDOM DAY
Celebrations took place across Kosova on 12 June to mark Freedom Day, which is the anniversary of the arrival of NATO troops in 1999 and the end of Serbian rule over the more than 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see End Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). On 11 June, President Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina: "During those four years, Kosova has achieved significant progress in all areas. The overall security situation and political stability have improved considerably, especially with regards to the functioning of democratic institutions. These results have been achieved together with the UNMIK [UN civilian administration in Kosova], OSCE, KFOR and with the all-round help of the United States, the European Union, and other countries," Hina reported. Rugova noted the tasks ahead in privatization, job creation, and the integration of ethnic minorities. He called on the international community to support independence for Kosova and its integration into NATO and the EU. PM

SERBIAN LEADERS RULE OUT TALKS WITH KOSOVARS AT EU SUMMIT
In the run-up to the Serbian general elections widely expected in 2003 or 2004, two Serbian deputy prime ministers said on 11 June that Serbian representatives will not talk with Kosovar officials at the EU's 21 June Thessaloniki summit, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). Cedomir Jovanovic said in Zagreb that Serbian officials will not have direct talks with Kosovar leaders until the Kosovars "meet basic preconditions," including improving the security situation and "not allowing ethnic criteria to be paramount in state institutions" in the province. Nebojsa Covic said in Bujanovac that talks in Thessaloniki cannot be "serious" and that Serbia wants only "serious" talks. In related news, Covic called on the governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) to chose between him and his critics among the Kosovar Serb political leadership. PM

U.S. NAMES REGIONAL STATES INVOLVED IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING...
Several Balkan and European postcommunist countries are mentioned in the U.S. State Department's third annual report on human trafficking, which Secretary of State Colin Powell presented in Washington on 11 June, RFE/RL reported. Among the countries in the "Tier 3" group, which Powell said do not meet even minimum standards and do nothing to combat trafficking, are Bosnia, Georgia, Greece, and Turkey. Among the "Tier 2" group, which also do not meet minimum standards but are trying to do so, are Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The "Tier 1" group of countries that fully comply with the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of October 2000 include, among others, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Macedonia, and Poland. Tier 3 countries face sanctions if they do not make what the State Department calls "significant efforts" by 1 October. PM

...AS MONTENEGRO SEEKS TO CLEAR ITS NAME
On 11 June in Podgorica, the government presented foreign ambassadors and representatives of international organizations with a memorandum on its efforts to combat human trafficking, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 2003). In Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro's President Svetozar Marovic assured EU ambassadors that Montenegro will do its best to deal with trafficking. PM

SERBIA MOVES TO DEMILITARIZE BORDER WITH CROATIA
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Jovanovic said in Zagreb on 11 June that Serbia will soon withdraw its troops from the border with Croatia, dpa reported. Croatia has repeatedly requested such a move following a violent incident along the Danube one year ago (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report" and "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 2002). Jovanovic also said the two countries will work together in seeking to join the EU. "For Serbia, relations between Zagreb and Belgrade are very important because we are aware that [our] road to Brussels goes via Zagreb. It is important to send the message to the European Union that Croatia and Serbia are ready to resolve all open questions," Jovanovic added. Croatia believes that all western Balkan states should seek EU membership at their own respective paces and that Zagreb's membership should not be held up so that all might join at the same time (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 2003). PM

CROATIAN LEADER URGES SERBS TO RETURN
The Croatian cabinet on 12 June approved a package of measures aimed at facilitating the return of ethnic Serb refugees, Reuters reported. "I take this opportunity to call on all refugees, Croatian citizens, to return to their homeland and make use of the opportunities provided by these measures," Prime Minister Ivica Racan said. Croatia must improve its record on refugee returns if it wants to join the EU. Many Serbian refugees want to go back to Croatia because the standard of living is higher than in Serbia and Montenegro or Bosnia. Many refugees and Croatian Serb political leaders charge, however, that Zagreb has proven anything but helpful to them. PM

CROATIAN PRESIDENT CALLS ON THE HAGUE TO REVIEW INDICTMENT
President Stipe Mesic said in Zagreb on 11 June that his careful reading of the interview by fugitive indicted war criminal General Ante Gotovina in the weekly "Nacional" has prompted him to urge the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to reconsider its indictment, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 2003). PM

MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION BLOCKS LAWS, DEMANDS CONSULTATIONS
The parliament failed to produce the necessary two-thirds majority on 11 June to approve two key laws mentioned in the 2001 Ohrid peace accord because the opposition Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) abstained from the vote, Macedonian media reported. VMRO-DPMNE lawmaker Ganka Samoilovska-Cvetanova said her party abstained in order to remind the governing parties to fulfill their promise to consult the VMRO-DPMNE over "issues of national importance" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 30 May 2003). The Social Democratic-led government charged that the opposition is just trying to block implementation of the Ohrid peace agreement. The laws in question regulate the use of minority languages in state institutions. UB

ROMANIA TO HAVE 1,700 PEACEKEEPERS STATIONED ABROAD IN 2003
Defense Ministry State Secretary George Maior said on 11 June that this year Romania will have its largest-ever number of peacekeeping troops deployed abroad, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Maior said 1,700 Romanian soldiers will serve in 2003 in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He added that this is one of the largest peacekeeping forces among East-Central European countries. Maior added that the United States will grant Romania $15 million in military aid for this particular purpose. He also said Bucharest has sent NATO a full list of military facilities on Romanian territory that could served as NATO bases should the organization decide to move some of its forces eastward, and would be "very satisfied" if Romanian facilities were chosen to house relocated forces. MS

WHO WILL CHECK WHOSE COMMUNIST RECORDS IN FUTURE NATO MEMBER ROMANIA?
Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Director Radu Timofte said on 11 June that members of the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (CNSAS) must receive clearance from the Office of National Register for Secret State Information (ORNISS) to gain access to secret SRI documents, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. ORNISS is tasked with providing clearance to classified information for people who could have access to NATO secret documents. However, in an interview with RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service, ORNISS spokesman Vlad Stefanescu said decisions his office makes regarding clearance are based on information received from the SRI, the Foreign Intelligence Service, and the CNSAS. The daily "Cotidianul" wrote on 12 June that, in practice, this means that instead of having the CNSAS check the records of former communist secret police members still employed by the SRI and other institutions, it is the SRI that controls the CNSAS. Timofte admitted that 70 SRI staffers have been denied access to NATO secret documents because of their service in the communist secret police. He also said the SRI will not transfer the records of the Securitate to the CNSAS because current legislation does not allow this. MS

ROMANIA'S LIBERALS CONDITION SUPPORT FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
National Liberal Party (PNL) Deputy Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu said on 11 June that the PNL will not "support unconditionally" the amendments to the Romanian Constitution proposed by the ad hoc commission of which the PNL was a member, Romanian Radio reported the next day. Debates in parliament on the proposed amendments are to begin next week. Popescu-Tariceanu said the PNL conditions its support on the acceptance of PNL-proposed amendments that were turned down by the commission. He mentioned among those a clear separation of the prerogatives of the two chambers of parliament, strengthening parliamentary control over the executive, limiting parliamentary immunity, limiting the number of emergency ordinances the cabinet can issue, and reducing the powers of prefects. MS

SPANISH KING VISITS ROMANIA
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, on a two-day official visit to Romania, held talks on 11 June with President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, and other Romanian officials, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. King Juan Carlos and Iliescu exchanged their countries' highest state orders. The Spanish monarch congratulated Romania on its invitation to join NATO and said Spain firmly backs Romania's quest to join the EU. The royal couple was to be received on 12 June by Princess Margareta and her spouse, Prince Radu de Hohenzollern-Veringen. The Spanish queen and Princess Margareta's father, former King Michael I, are cousins. MS

ROMANIAN SENATE SPEAKER SAYS TREATY WITH MOLDOVA MIGHT BE SIGNED THIS YEAR
Romanian Senate speaker Nicolae Vacaroiu, who is attending a meeting of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization in Chisinau, met on 11 June with his Moldovan counterpart Evgenia Ostapciuc, Flux reported. Vacaroiu said his country has always recognized Moldova's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. He also said he hopes the pending basic treaty between the two countries will be signed by the end of 2003. MS

JOINT MOLDOVAN-TRANSDNIESTER COMMISSION HOLDS FIRST MEETING IN CHISINAU
The joint Moldovan-Transdniestrian commission on the elaboration of the constitution for the envisaged federal state held its first meeting in Chisinau on 11 June, RFE/RL's bureau in the Moldovan capital reported. Discussions focused on procedural issues. The meeting was also attended by William Hill, OSCE mission chief to Moldova, and by representatives of Russia and Ukraine, which along with the OSCE are mediating the negotiations for resolving the Moldova-Transdniester conflict. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO RESPECT CHISINAU ELECTORATE'S DECISION
President Vladimir Voronin pledged in a statement published in Moldovan newspapers on 11 June to respect the outcome of the 8 June runoff for Chisinau mayor, in which incumbent Mayor Serafim Urechean defeated Party of Moldovan Communists (PSM) candidate Vasile Zgardan, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Urechean took 54 percent of the vote, while Zgardan garnered 46 percent (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 10 June 2003). At the same time, Voronin said Urechean should take into account that his vote tally was only "insignificantly" higher than Zgardan's and should thus keep in mind the interests of the nearly half of the electorate that voted against him. MS

MOLDOVAN LOCAL ELECTIONS STILL NOT OVER
The Central Election Commission announced on 11 June that repeat elections will be held in five localities and a runoff will be conducted in another locality, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Final results of the validated elections conducted on 25 May and 8 June show that the PSM won 41.14 percent of all mayoral posts, the Social-Liberal Alliance "Our Moldova" won 21.19 percent, independent candidates 17.49, the Democratic Party 8.07, the Popular Party Christian Democratic 2.25, and the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova took 2.02 percent of those posts, according to Infotag. MS

BULGARIAN ENERGY MINISTER SAYS CONSTRUCTION OF NEW NUCLEAR-POWER PLANT WILL BEGIN IN 2004
During an official visit of the construction site of the future nuclear-power plant at Belene, Energy Minister Milko Kovachev said on 11 June that construction will begin in 2004, mediapool.bg reported. He expects the Belene plant, which will be the country's second nuclear-power facility, to begin operating between 2006 and 2008. Veselin Bliznakov, who chairs the parliament's Committee on Energy, said Bulgaria must invest some $2 billion-$3 billion in the plant. The construction of the Belene plant began under the communist regime, but was interrupted in the early 1990s due to financial problems and to a decrease in the demand for electricity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 April 2002, 3 March 2003, and End Note "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 2002). UB

BULGARIA REGISTERS SLIGHT DEFLATION
The National Statistics Institute (NSI) has registered a 0.6 percent decrease in consumer prices in May, as compared to the previous month, mediapool.bg reported. Prices have risen by 0.8 percent since the beginning of the year, while prices in May 2003 were 1.7 percent higher than one year ago. The current fall in prices is mainly due to lower prices for vegetables, pork, gasoline, and diesel fuel. Economy Minister Nikolay Vasilev told businessmen in Sofia on 11 June that given the weak U.S. dollar, the structure of the country's exports, and lower prices for some raw materials, he expects a zero inflation rate by the end of this summer. He added that unemployment continues to be the country's biggest problem. UB

GENDER DISCRIMINATION PERSISTS IN BULGARIA
According to data presented by Yuliana Nikolova of the Sofia-based European Institute during a seminar in Veliko Tarnovo on 11 June, women's wages in Bulgaria are 31 percent lower than those of men doing the same job, news.bg reported. According to Nikolova, the share of women among the long-term unemployed is also higher than that of men. In addition, more women than men have jobs with poor pay and hold positions that require very few qualifications. Experts hope the situation will improve once the parliament approves the long-delayed antidiscrimination law, which would also improve Bulgaria's position in its membership negotiations with the EU. UB

PUBLISHING OR PERISHING IN BELARUS
Even President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's Belarus -- a country generally believed to be deeply immersed in the Soviet era in terms of its political regime and socioeconomic environment -- offers its citizens many liberties that were utterly unthinkable in the days of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. To name just a few: people may travel abroad freely (provided they have the finances); opponents of the ruling regime may take their discontent to the streets (provided they are unafraid of spending a dozen days in jail); journalists may write what they choose (provided they work for a nonstate publication and are unafraid of spending a couple of years in an "open-type corrective-labor institution" for "defaming the president"); and Belarusian writers may publish what they wish, provided they can find a publisher.

Freedom of expression in Soviet Belarus posed a problem similar to that faced by authors in other Soviet republics or former communist countries in Eastern Europe. However, in contrast to the situation in Russia or Ukraine, let alone Poland, Belarusian writers of the Soviet era produced only a negligible number of publications that could be designated by the internationalized Russian word "samizdat." The reasons for this were many; but one is of particular interest, as it presents a good angle from which to view Belarus's unique cultural and linguistic situation. For Belarusian writers, writing in their mother tongue was (and still is) not only an outlet for releasing their creative potential and expressing themselves, but also (or, perhaps, first and foremost) a noble mission of saving the Belarusian language and Belarus's indigenous culture from total oblivion. Thus, the political and ideological curbs imposed by Soviet censors on the literary process in Belarus were of much less importance to participants in this process than the very fact of being published in Belarusian.

Naturally, it is debatable whether the ideologically tainted Belarusian literature of the Soviet era could actually erect a tangible barrier on the methodical path of the cultural and linguistic Russification of Belarusians pursued by the government in the 1960s and 1970s. On the other hand, however, the situation in which the government intended to destroy the national identity of its citizens while writers sponsored by the same government intended to save it was nothing more than a typical Orwellian dichotomy. Thus, even writers of younger generations who debuted in post-Soviet Belarus are not eager to assert that their older colleagues were merely conformists when they followed some Communist Party precepts in their works in order to get published. From today's perspective, it seems that financial support for literature in the Belarusian language was the most significant contribution of Belarus's Soviet-era regime to maintaining the Belarusian national identity as distinct from the Russian one.

The 1990s, with its numerous market-economy shocks and surprises for the citizens of postcommunist countries, radically corrected cultural policies pursued by postcommunist governments. Suddenly, ideological concerns in cultural policies gave way to economic calculation. Writers en masse were denied public money for publication and told to look for nonstate sponsors or to write books that would sell just like any other commodity and bring financial profits for themselves and their publishers. A similar policy was adopted in post-USSR Belarus, although in the pre-Lukashenka period (1991-94) this policy was not as severe as nowadays. The publication of books in Belarusian has fallen dramatically, particularly following the 1995 referendum, which gave Russian the status of an official language alongside Belarusian. That referendum has buried the hope awakened in Belarus in the early 1990s that an appropriate government policy might significantly contribute to preserving the mother tongue of Belarusians and making it a full-fledged means of communication in the independent state.

However, even under Lukashenka's rule, the state continued to finance the publication of a few literary periodicals in Belarusian. Such a situation lasted until mid-2002, when the government established the Office of Literature and Art to manage the publication of four literary monthlies and one weekly, which had been operated until then by the Union of Belarusian Writers (SBP), an organization independent of the government. The Ministry of Information appointed writers loyal to government policies to head those periodicals in what was generally perceived as a step toward the imposition of stricter ideological controls on cultural and literary life in the country. The government subsequently tried and failed to replace the SBP leadership with a more compliant one that could provide a sort of intellectual support to the ruling regime. The union defended its political independence but simultaneously lost any lingering hope of state financing. It seems that it was only in 2002 that Belarusian writers actually became divorced from the idea that it was possible to pursue different national ideals than those followed by the government and publish books for government money at the same time.

All of the above refers primarily to older-generation writers who remember both the harsh ideological controls over their work and lavish royalties paid to them by Soviet-era publishers. The Belarusian writers who reached their creative maturity after the collapse of the Soviet Union harbored few illusions about state sponsorship, and started to publish their books and periodicals outside the SBP publishing system and for money obtained from nonstate sponsors both at home and abroad. From the very start, they preferred creative freedom to self-imposed censorship, which was a sine qua non for gaining state sponsorship. This independent literary process, which somewhat resembles the Soviet-era "samizdat" in its unimpressive circulation figures, now remains the only hope of those Belarusians who have not yet abandoned the dream of one day seeing a revival of the Belarusian language and culture in their country. After all, as exemplified by the plight of the Irish language in Ireland, state sponsorship is insufficient to revive a native language if natives cease to be interested. Judging by the tortuous course of Belarusian literature over the past decade, some Belarusian natives still derive interest and amusement from the artful use of their mother tongue. And this provides the grounds for some historical optimism -- particularly since history has repeatedly taught us that dictators and dictatorships are not immortal.

FORMER CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR TO HELP UNITED STATES IN IRAQ
The United States has enlisted the help of David Kay, a former chief UN weapons inspector, to hunt for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Reuters reported on 11 June. Kay, a U.S. citizen, will serve as an Iraq-based special adviser to the Iraq Survey Group, which was recently assembled by the Pentagon (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 6 June 2003). The group will employ an approach different from that of previous UN inspectors as they sift through documents left by the regime, and will attempt to integrate various types of intelligence. Kay led three UN arms inspection missions to Iraq in 1991-92. "His understanding of the history of the Iraqi programs and knowledge of past Iraqi efforts to hide WMD will be of inestimable help in determining the current status of [deposed Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons," Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet said when announcing Kay's appointment on 11 June. KR

IRAQI JEWS MAKE REVERSE ALIYAH
The Voice of Mujahedin, the Iranian radio station that serves as the mouthpiece of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), reported on 11 June that "large numbers" of Iraqi Jews, who left the country for Israel in the late 1940s, are rumored to be returning to Iraq. Having come back from what the radio station refers to as "the occupied Palestinian territories," the Iraqi Jews allegedly are trying to regain property that they abandoned in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. According to Voice of the Mujahedin, Iraq's borders are open and "any Jew is able to enter the country without difficulty." Many of the Iraqi Jews' flight to Israel, which is referred to as aliyah, via Iran is discussed in Uri Bialer's, "The Iranian Connection in Israel's Foreign Policy -- 1948-1951," "Middle East Journal," v. 39, No. 2 (Spring 1985). BS

IRAQI DETAINEE DIES IN CUSTODY
An Iraqi being held by coalition forces in "the vicinity" of Al-Nasiriyah, some 375 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, was found dead on 6 June, U.S. Central Command announced in an 11 June press release (http://www.centcom.mil). The detainee was taken into custody on 3 June. "A full and thorough investigation into the death is being conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the findings of the investigation will be released when the investigation is complete," the press release stated. According to an 11 June report by Reuters, U.S. forces in May released approximately 7,000 prisoners captured or detained during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some 2,000 remain in custody. KR

AZERI JOURNALIST SENTENCED TO PRISON IN IRAN
A court in Iran's northwestern Ardabil Province has sentenced ethnic Azeri journalist Ali Suleimani to five years in prison or a 10-year internal exile in Rasht, Baku's "Ekspress" newspaper reported on 10 June. After serving his sentence, furthermore, Suleimani will not be allowed to visit Azerbaijan for 10 years. Suleimani worked for the "Shams-i Tabriz" newspaper. "Shams-i Tabriz" was closed in late December for stirring up "ethnic divisions," and its owner, Ali Hamed Iman, was sentenced to 74 lashes and a suspended two-year prison sentence (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 13 January 2003). BS

STUDENTS IN NORTHEASTERN IRAN STAGE PROTEST...
Students at the Islamic Azad University in the northeastern city of Kashmar staged a sit-in on 10 June to protest a ban on holding a meeting to discuss a play entitled "The Tumult of Justice," ISNA reported. The students objected to this ban and demanded to speak to the university chancellor. They waited for three hours and then the vice chancellor spoke with them. It was decided to hold an open meeting at which university administrators will explain their actions. BS

...AS TEHRAN PROTESTS CONTINUE
The student protests that began on 10 June continued during the night of 11-12 June, according to dpa, and the protest at Tehran University ended in the early hours of 12 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 2003). Tehran University Vice Chancellor Ali Asqar Khoda-Yari told ISNA that hard-line vigilantes riding motorcycles gathered off-campus and provoked the students by chanting "offensive slogans." They then threw rocks at the students, who retaliated by tossing rocks and some Molotov cocktails. The police and campus officials managed to stop the stone throwing, Khoda-Yari said, but some of the vigilantes continued to hang around in the street. Khoda-Yari criticized the police for not keeping the vigilantes and the students apart. According to AP, the police joined the hard-liners in the stone throwing. An estimated 50 hardliners -- members of the Ansar-i Hizbullah -- were gathered in the streets, according to dpa, while the students shouted anti-regime slogans. Students at Tehran's Shahid Beheshti University also demonstrated late on 11 June. More protests are planned for the evening of 12 June, according to the Baztab website. BS

POLICE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL STUDENT DETENTIONS
Tehran University students claim that only four of the 16 students detained over the past two nights were arrested by the police, according to a report from the Baztab website. This implies that the others were detained by Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) personnel, other security units, or vigilantes. Baztab went on to report that MOIS personnel in plainclothes are on the campus. BS

TEHRAN BLAMES STUDENT UNREST ON UNITED STATES
Iranian officials have reacted to large campus protests on 10 and 11 June with the usual obfuscations and scapegoatism. Intelligence and Security Minister Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi said on 11 June that "the individuals concerned were chanting illegal slogans owing to provocation by foreign elements and extremists and radicals inside the country," ISNA reported. Yunesi also said the United States provoked the incident and that it "even set up agitation headquarters made up of 19 people, who have been identified and arrested." Some observers anticipate that their "confessions" will be televised soon, which is what happened after the July 1999 student demonstrations. Hojatoleslam Mohammad Hassan Abuturabi, the supreme leader's representative at Tehran University, said outsiders tried to exploit the incident, ISNA reported on 11 June. And state television reported on 11 June that "the Western media have magnified the whole thing." BS

JAPANESE INDUSTRIALISTS ARRESTED FOR EXPORTING MILITARY GOODS TO IRAN
Tokyo police arrested Haruhiko Ueda, president of the Seishin Enterprise Company engineering machinery firm, and four other individuals on 12 June for illegally exporting missile-related equipment to Iran, "Yomiuri Shimbun" and NHK television reported. Two jet mills, which are used for developing missile fuel, and related equipment allegedly were exported to an Iranian military-goods firm and a military-research institute at an Iranian engineering college in May 1995 and November 2000, without authorization from Japan's International Trade and Industry Ministry. BS

TEHRAN DENIES UN INSPECTORS' ACCESS TO NUCLEAR SITE
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors who arrived in Iran on 7 June left the country abruptly on 11 June, according to "The Wall Street Journal" on 12 June. The IAEA team reportedly left because Iranian officials would not grant it access to the Kalaye Electric Company nuclear-power plant in Tehran. BS

IRANIAN JUDICIARY SPOKESMAN EXPLAINS CONSEQUENCES OF NOT FILTERING WEBSITES...
In an interview with the Fars news agency published by the Tehran daily "Aftab-i Yazd" on 10 June, judiciary spokesman Gholam Hoseyn Elham explained that a lack of adequate, government-imposed filtering would "pollute the climate" of Internet sites so that those seeking information would be put off from using the sites. They would thus be deprived of their natural rights to gain knowledge. Elham explained that an advisory committee of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council will take charge of filtering. SF

...AND SPECIFIES INTERNET OFFENSES
In his interview with Fars, Elham listed more than 20 matters that would likely be filtered, including "the dissemination of blasphemous items; ...insulting Islam and Islamic sanctities; opposing the constitution and publishing any item that might undermine the independence and the territorial integrity of the country; insulting the leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] and the sources of emulation [leading clerics]; ...[distorting] the values of the Islamic revolution and the principles of the political thought of Imam Khomeini; undermining national unity and solidarity; creating pessimism and hopelessness among the people regarding the legitimacy and effectiveness of the [Islamic] system; providing publicity for illegal groups and political parties; ...propagating prostitution and forbidden acts; publishing pictures and photographs that are contrary to public morality; ... providing publicity for smoking cigarettes and the taking of narcotics; ...making false accusations against any of the officials or ordinary members of the society; insulting individuals or organizations; and creating any unidentified radio or television network and program without the supervision of the Voice and Vision Organization [radio and television]." SF

AFGHAN LEADER ATTEMPTS TO STEM CORRUPTION, NEPOTISM
Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai issued a decree on 10 June establishing a commission to reform the civilian sectors of his administration, Reuters reported on 11 June. According to the decree, the Independent Commission for Administrative Reforms and Civil Services will have the powers to appoint or dismiss even high-level government employees "on the principle of merit and qualification." Khaleq Ahmad, a spokesman for Karzai's office, said the main aim of the decree "is to end bribery, corruption, and get rid of nepotism." Karzai's decision to establish the new commission comes after accusations by many Afghans that corruption and nepotism are common practice in the Transitional Administration (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 15 May 2003; for complete text of the decree, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 12 June 2003). AT

SUICIDE BOMBER OF ISAF BUS IDENTIFIED
Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali told a news conference on 12 June that the suicide bomber who on 7 June blew up a bus carrying German troops serving with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 June 2003) has been identified, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press reported. Jalali said the bomber was Abdul Rashid, an Afghan from the Khogiani District of Nangarhar Province. It is known that on 28 May he purchased in Nangarhar Province the taxi he used in the attack. Tora Bora, the center from which jihad was carried out against the Soviets, is situated in Khogiani District, the report noted. Some of the caves and training camps of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network were situated in Khogiani. Karzai previously said the suicide bomber was mostly likely not an Afghan. AT

AFGHANISTAN REJECTS PAKISTAN'S COMPLAINT
The Afghan Foreign Ministry in an 11 June statement rejected a formal complaint made by Pakistan regarding Afghan authorities' transfer to Pakistan of 20 bodies killed in 5 June fighting near Spin Boldak in Kandahar Province on the basis that the dead rebels were not Afghans (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2003), Radio Afghanistan reported. The Afghan statement said both Afghanistan and Pakistan are partners in the international campaign against terrorism and should cooperate in arresting suspected terrorists and in the identification process of those killed in action. On 9 June, Rahmatollah Musa Ghazi, an Afghan diplomat in Islamabad, denied that Islamabad had lodged a complaint to Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). It is not clear from the report what part of the Pakistani complaint the Afghan side rejected. Pakistan's main complaint was the transfer of bodies to its side of the border. The issue is illustrative of the often-tense relations between Kabul and Islamabad over cross-border activities. AT

SWISS EXPERT SAYS AFGHANISTAN HEADED TOWARD CHAOS
Albert Stahel, a leading Swiss expert on security issues, said following a recent fact-finding mission to Afghanistan that "the country will sink deeper step by step" if the United States does not change its policy, Swissinfo reported on 11 June. Stahel said the U.S.-led war on terrorism is making the Afghans "increasingly angry" because of the presence of foreigners in their country. He suggested that the Afghans themselves be given a chance to "control the country." He also blamed the ISAF for being isolated from the local population, adding that the feeling is that the ISAF is "operating in a territory that belongs to the enemy." Stahel said ISAF troops should not be isolated in barracks. It seems highly unlikely that the ISAF will become more open, especially after the 7 June suicide attack that left four Germans dead (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 June 2003). AT

XS
SM
MD
LG