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Newsline - June 19, 2003


AS EXPECTED, GOVERNMENT SURVIVES VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE...
As was widely predicted, the no-confidence vote held by the Duma on 18 June failed to gather enough votes to dissolve the government of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Russian media reported. The vote was 172 in favor, with 163 opposed and six abstentions, polit.ru reported. The motion needed 226 votes to pass. The motion was put forward and supported by the Communist and Yabloko factions. The Union of Rightist Forces faction did not participate in the vote, while the pro-presidential factions Unity and Fatherland-All Russia voted almost solidly in favor of the government, according to ITAR-TASS. The People's Deputy group was split, with nine voting for the government, four deputies abstaining, and 40 not voting. Fourteen members of the centrist Russian Regions group voted for the government to resign. JAC

...AS YABLOKO, COMMUNIST LEADERS LASH OUT AT GOVERNMENT...
In his speech to Duma deputies on 18 June, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said his faction supported the no-confidence motion "not because the government is guilty of something, but because it has done nothing to change the situation," gzt.ru and NTV reported. He criticized the government for not carrying out reforms in the financial sector, state administration, taxation, and the so-called natural monopolies. He said the government is staffed with "temporary people" who are sitting on their bank accounts just waiting to leave the country. "Can you imagine what they are putting in their coffers in the meantime?" Yavlinskii asked. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told deputies that the no-confidence motion was necessary to "save the country from disaster," gzt.ru reported on 18 June. He charged that the country produces almost nothing domestically and that it exports natural resources worth $100 billion annually for which it receives only 2,000 rubles ($65) a month per capita -- about $10 billion per year. Zyuganov also emphasized the country's demographic crisis, saying that Russia has the lowest life expectancy in Europe and that the suicide rate has grown by 80 percent over the last decade. VY

...AND MORE DEPUTIES EXPRESS THEIR OPPOSITION THAN HAD BEEN PREDICTED
Members of the Yabloko and Communists factions voted solidly against the government, Russian media reported. Russian Regions leader Oleg Morozov told gazeta.ru that the measure would fail not because a Duma majority loves the government, but because there is simply no sense in dismissing the government just before new Duma and presidential elections. According to "Vremya novostei" on 19 June, more deputies voted against the government than had been expected, and that might have been because no one from the government bothered to show up for the vote. JAC

PRIME MINISTER PUSHES GOVERNMENT'S ECONOMIC ACHIEVEMENTS
Ignoring the Duma's no-confidence debate, Prime Minister Kasyanov addressed an international economic forum in St. Petersburg on 18 June and lauded his government's economic achievements, Prime-TASS and RosBalt reported. He said that economic growth this year should reach 5 percent, with the natural-resources sector continuing to set the pace of growth. However, Kasyanov said that other sectors of the economy are also catching up and that the growth rate of industrial production for the first five months of this year reached 10 percent. He acknowledged that few Russian companies are ready to face direct international competition and that Russia needs more large and very large corporations, as well as efficient small businesses. Kasyanov said his government is preparing for Russian accession to the World Trade Organization by implementing economic reforms and eliminating economic distortions that remain from the Soviet era. VY

RUSSIA NOW WORLD'S LEADING ARMS EXPORTER...
Russia in 2002 surpassed the United States and became the world's leading weapons dealer, selling arms abroad worth $5.9 billion, according to an annual study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russian and Western media reported on 17 and 18 June. The SIPRI figure for Russia is higher than the $4.8 billion figure officially released by Russia's state arms export agency Rosoboroneksport, with the discrepancy accounted for by differing methods for calculating the total, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 18 June. China and India are the biggest customers for Russian military hardware and are also the world's largest arms importers. According to the report, the United States led the world in military spending with a total of $336 billion, followed by Japan with $49 billion and the United Kingdom with $36 billion. The United States accounts for 43 percent of global military spending, according to the SIPRI report. VY

...AS COMMENTATOR QUESTIONS WISDOM OF SELLING WEAPONS TO CHINA
Although most Western countries do not sell advanced weapons systems to China, Russia offers Beijing some of its most modern military equipment despite potential threats to its own security, TV-Tsentr political commentator Stanislav Kucher stated on 18 June. Many analysts believe that Russia could someday be threatened by these weapons, as China is the only country likely to pose a real military threat to Russia in the foreseeable future, Kucher said. He noted that while Russia is selling state-of-the-art weaponry to China and Malaysia, it cannot find funding to purchase advanced equipment for its own military. In the last year, the Russian Army has purchased only two new airplanes and just 600 new Kalashnikov automatic rifles, Kucher asserted. VY

MOSCOW REJECTS TALK OF NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS
Speaking to journalists in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 18 June, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Russia does not favor increasing military and economic pressure on North Korea because of its refusal to dismantle its nuclear-weapons program, RTR and "Izvestiya" reported. Ivanov is participating in a session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). "For us, the prospect of North Korea gaining nuclear status and any attempt to resolve the problem of its nuclear program by force are equally unacceptable," Ivanov said. Moscow is urging continued negotiations about this issue in both bilateral and multilateral formats involving North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, and Japan. Ivanov said he discussed the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is also attending the ASEAN session, and with North Korea's ASEAN representative. Deputy Foreign Minister Yurii Fedotov said that Russia categorically opposes the imposition of economic sanctions against Pyongyang, "which is already in a very miserable economic situation." VY

BILL TO RESTRICT MEDIA COVERAGE OF ELECTIONS MOVES TO UPPER CHAMBER...
Duma deputies passed on 18 June in its third reading a bill restricting media coverage of elections, Russian media reported. The vote was 358 in favor and 41 against, RosBalt reported. Under the bill, a media outlet could have its license or registration annulled if found guilty of multiple violations of election rules. The legislation also imposes harsher penalties on non-media entities that violate election rules. For example, a person found guilty of falsifying election results could receive up to four years in prison, according to polit.ru. JAC

...AS EXTRA BUDGET INCOME DIVIDED UP...
Also on 18 June, deputies passed in its third reading a bill to distribute more than 35 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) in additional federal-budget income, ITAR-TASS reported. Three billion rubles was earmarked for financing counterterrorism activities, and 10 billion was allocated to regional budgets to pay for increased wages for public-sector workers. More than 14 billion rubles will be used to compensate citizens who lost property as a result of the fighting in Chechnya. The vote was 309 in favor, with 20 against and one abstention, according to RosBalt. JAC

...AND POPULATION GIVEN LEGAL GUARANTEE OF TELEPHONE, INTERNET ACCESS
Deputies on 18 June also approved in its third and final reading a bill establishing the right of citizens to choose to pay for local telephone service either by a flat fee or on a per-minute basis, RosBalt reported. The bill also introduces a new understanding of "universal service" with regard to the location of public payphones and the provision of public access to the Internet. Each population point should have at least one public payphone and one Internet-access point. The expenditures of companies providing "universal service" will be compensated from the federal budget. Legislators also approved in its second and third readings a bill on judges' qualifications, which stipulates that they be Russian citizens and at least 35 years of age, RosBalt reported. They must have higher legal education and may not hold any other official government responsibilities. The bill gathered 370 votes in favor. JAC

FAR EAST SPY CASE TO RESUME
A Primorskii Krai court is expected to continue hearings on 1 July on the espionage case against local Professor Vladimir Shchurov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002), regions.ru and other Russian media reported on 18 June. Shchurov is accused of divulging state secrets and of illegally transferring sensitive technological information to China. In August 1999, Shchurov's laboratory at the Pacific Ocean Oceanographic Institute was searched by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) after a device that was produced there was discovered by customs officials. According to the charges filed by prosecutors, Shchurov allegedly attempted to smuggle the device -- which could be used to detect extremely quiet Russian submarines -- to China. Shchurov's lawyers say that all the scientist's work is based on openly available information. They have also complained that the expert assessment of the evidence in the case was made by officers of the Russian General Staff, and have demanded that a new evaluation be made by independent civilian experts. VY

MOSCOW POLICE SAY FOREIGNERS ARE BEATING EACH OTHER UP
More than 1,500 crimes were committed against foreign citizens in Moscow during the first five months of this year, Moscow Police Major Yurii Yudin told reporters on 18 June, RIA-Novosti reported. However, Yudin contends that only 5-7 percent of these crimes were committed by Muscovites and that most them are committed by members of various foreign diasporas. Yudin also reported that foreigners committed 6,701 crimes during this period. Ukrainians led the list with 2,067 crimes, compared to 1,116 crimes by citizens of Moldova and 788 by citizens of Tajikistan. Meanwhile, a Chinese diplomat was beaten up a group of hooligans in Moscow on 11 June, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 18 June. "We did not expect that this sad, but in our view routine, event [would] attract such attention from the Russian media," the Chinese Embassy commented in a statement. "Chinese people living in Moscow long ago got used to the risk of encounters with adolescent-hooligans who frequently do not know the nationalities of their victims. For example, last year, when the Russian soccer team lost to Japan, Moscow fans struck several Chinese and Korean citizens." JAC

ULTRANATIONALIST WRITER/ACTIVIST WINS EARLY RELEASE FROM JAIL
A municipal court in Saratov Oblast ruled on 18 June that National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov be released on parole within 10 days, Russian media reported. According to Interfax, the court took into account in its decision a petition on his behalf from several Duma deputies, including Vladimir Zhirinovskii (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, or LDPR), Aleksei Mitrofanov (LDPR), Vasilii Shandybin (Communist), Viktor Alksnis (Russian Regions), and others. Limonov was sentenced in April to four years' imprisonment on weapons charges (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April 2003). He was arrested in April 2001. JAC

ANOTHER REGION GIVES EXECUTIVE ADDITIONAL YEAR IN OFFICE
Legislators in Orenburg Oblast voted on 18 June to extend the term in office of the oblast governor from four to five years, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency did not say how soon the change would take effect, but the next gubernatorial election there will be held in December. Earlier this year, legislators in the Chavash Republic voted to extend their four-year terms by one year, while legislators in Novgorod and Irkutsk oblasts approved lengthening the terms of their governors by one year to a total of five years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 March and 19 May 2003). JAC

OMSK RESIDENTS LOSE A PUBLIC RESTROOM, GAIN A CAFE
The city of Omsk with a population of more than 1 million residents will soon have only two functioning public restrooms, IMA Press reported on 18 June. One public toilet has been turned into a cafe, while the rest of the city's facilities have been closed due to their "extreme decrepitude," according to the agency. During the Soviet period, the situation regarding public facilities was only a little better. There were 12 restrooms at that time, the agency reported. JAC

CHECHEN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS PRESIDENT'S ENVOY MISQUOTED
Ilyas Akhmadov denied in a statement released on 18 June and posted on chechenpress.com and the website of the Chechen Foreign Ministry (http://www.chechnya-mfa.info) that President Aslan Maskhadov's envoy to the Russian Federation, Salambek Maigov, told journalists the previous day that Maskhadov would agree to autonomous status for Chechnya within the Russian Federation. Akhmadov said that the only official peace proposal Chechnya has made is that it be accorded "conditional independence via an international administration." LF

DID CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDER SURRENDER?
In an undated statement first published in seventh issue of the Chechen resistance publication "Jihad Today" and reposted on 18 June on the website http://www.kavkazcenter.com, President Maskhadov said that maverick field commander Salman Raduev surrendered to the Russians, believing in promises of an amnesty. Russian media, however, reported in March 2000 that Raduev had been captured by the FSB in a special operation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 March 2000). Maskhadov warned in his statement that Russian offers of amnesty to those fighters willing to surrender their weapons are part of a ploy to annihilate the Chechen people. He claimed that very few fighters took advantage of earlier such offers, of which he claimed there had been 20 during the first (1994-96) war and 13 since military operations resumed in 1999. LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITIONIST BACKS 'REFERENDUM OF CONFIDENCE'
At an 18 June press conference in Yerevan, National Unity Party (AMK) Chairman Artashes Geghamian read a statement calling on the newly elected parliament to initiate a "referendum of confidence" in President Robert Kocharian, as suggested in April by Armenia's Constitutional Court, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 22 April 2003). Geghamian said that if parliament, in which parties supporting Kocharian have an absolute majority, refuses to do so, the AMK will begin collecting signatures in support of such a plebiscite. The statement accused the authorities of "usurping power" by falsifying the outcome of both the presidential and parliamentary ballots. Geghamian also announced at the press conference that he and the other eight AMK deputies will not participate in the 19 June debate on the coalition government's program, as doing so would be tantamount to acknowledging the legitimacy of the 25 May parliamentary election. LF

POLICE DISPERSE OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATORS IN AZERBAIJAN
Police used force on 18 June to disperse more than 200 participants in an unsanctioned picket of the Central Election Commission (CEC) building in Baku, Turan and zerkalo.az reported. The picket was jointly organized by the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (ADP) and Azerbaijan National Independence Party (AMIP) to protest the adoption of an Election Code that they believe creates favorable conditions for the current authorities to falsify the ballot, and to demand equal conditions for all presidential candidates. Twenty-seven people were taken into custody, including nine women who were reprimanded and then released. Nine of those detained reportedly received injuries at the hands of baton-wielding police. AMIP subsequently released a statement condemning the police action as "repression," zerkalo.az reported on 19 June. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION DENIES REACHING AGREEMENT ON JOINT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
The opposition ADP, AMIP, and Musavat parties and the progressive wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AHCP) denied on 18 June that during talks in Baku four days earlier their leaders had reached agreement on which of them should be nominated as their joint candidate for the 15 October presidential election, Turan reported on 19 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"18 June 2003). Also on 18 June, the AHCP progressive wing formally nominated its Chairman Ali Kerimli as its presidential candidate. Meanwhile Interfax on 18 June quoted Azerbaijan CEC Chairman Mazahir Panahov as saying that ADP chairman Rasul Guliev and former President Ayaz Mutalibov, both currently living in exile, are not eligible to register as candidates for the ballot as both men have been charged with serious crimes. On 11 June, zerkalo.az quoted a senior ADP member as saying that Guliev will return to Azerbaijan before the beginning of August, and possibly as soon as 22 June. LF

PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS AZERBAIJAN'S DESIRE TO JOIN EU
Meeting on 18 June in Baku with visiting Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Magriotis, Heidar Aliev again said that Azerbaijan will endeavor to expedite economic reforms and meet EU standards with the ultimate aim of becoming a member of the EU, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 February and 27 June 2001). Magriotis, who also met in Baku with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev, told journalists that a planned visit to Azerbaijan by Greek President Constantinos Stephanopoulos, originally scheduled for 30 June-1 July, has been postponed until the fall of this year. LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS FAIL TO ATTEND MEETING WITH ODIHR DIRECTOR
For reasons that remain unclear, the leaders of only three of the 15 Georgian parliament factions were present on 18 June for a scheduled meeting with Ambassador Christian Strohal, director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Caucasus Press and the website of the independent television station Rustavi-2 reported. LF

ABKHAZ FOREIGN MINISTER REJECTS PROPOSED INTERNATIONAL ADMINISTRATION
Sergei Shamba, who is foreign minister of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia, said in Sukhum on 18 June that the joint Georgian-Abkhaz administration under the UN aegis that Georgia proposes establishing in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion concurrently with the repatriation to Gali of Georgian displaced persons is "unacceptable," Caucasus Press reported. Shamba also said that the Russian peacekeeping troops currently deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone must remain there until a final solution to the conflict is reached. On 17 June, Georgian Ambassador to Russia Zurab Abashidze told Interfax that Tbilisi wants the peacekeepers' mandate amended to deploy them throughout Gali Raion, rather than in a 14-kilometer zone on the right bank of the Inguri River. In January, the Georgian National Security Council ruled that the CIS peacekeepers' mandate should be prolonged only if it is simultaneously amended to allow for their deployment throughout Gali (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 30 January 2003). LF

ABKHAZ DEFENSE MINISTRY SAYS NO AGREEMENT REACHED ON KODORI
In a statement released on 18 June, the Abkhaz Defense Ministry denied that Georgians and Abkhaz have reached agreement on policing the de facto border between their respective zones of influence in the Kodori Gorge, Caucasus Press reported. Kodori Governor Emzar Kvitsiani had announced such an agreement the previous day, noting that it is unlikely that joint patrols of the gorge by CIS peacekeepers and members of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia will resume in less that six-eight weeks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003). The Abkhaz statement added, however, that the Abkhaz Defense Ministry and Kvitsiani's administration have agreed unofficially not to engage in any actions that could again destabilize the situation in the gorge. LF

KAZAKH PRESIDENT SAYS NEW PRIME MINISTER 'NOT CONSERVATIVE'
Following the swearing in of the new Kazakh government on 18 June, Nursultan Nazarbaev said on national television that Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov is "not a conservative" because he has served in government posts only since Kazakhstan's independence in 1991 and his mentality was not shaped by Soviet experience, khabar.kz reported. Nazarbaev called particular attention to Akhmetov's experience managing both the industrial and the agricultural sectors as governor of North Kazakhstan Oblast and, later, Pavlodar Oblast. Nazarbaev urged the population not to be anxious about the change of government because Kazakhstan is a presidential republic, and the president is constitutionally obliged to oversee both the economy and politics. Some figures within the Kazakh opposition have expressed doubt that Akhmetov lacks a Soviet mentality, as witnessed by his prior treatment of political opponents and independent media (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2003). BB

KAZAKH PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ACCEPTS PRESIDENT'S CHANGES TO LAND CODE
Erkin Ramazanov, the chairman of the Agriculture Committee of the Mazhilis (the lower house of Kazakhstan's parliament), announced on 18 June that his committee has accepted President Nazarbaev's proposals for amending the controversial Land Code that introduces private ownership of agricultural land, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service and Interfax reported. The parliament intends to revise the draft drawn up by the previous government, although some members of the lower house still question the need for the Land Code. Communist Party head and Mazhilis deputy Serikbolsyn Abdildin was quoted as complaining that Nazarbaev's proposals need more work. BB

CLOSER COOPERATION AGREED BETWEEN KYRGYZ AND U.S. MILITARIES
A high-level delegation from Kyrgyzstan's military and security organs -- the Defense Ministry, the National Guard, the Border Service, and the Ministry of Environment and Emergencies -- has completed talks at the Florida headquarters of U.S. Central Command on closer cooperation between the Kyrgyz and U.S. militaries in combating "new threats," the official Kyrgyz daily "Vechernii Bishkek" reported on 17 June. The press service of the Kyrgyz National Guard was quoted as reporting that plans for cooperation have been drawn up covering the next five years. Plans for the immediate future include an exchange of visits -- Kyrgyz National Guardsmen will visit the Montana National Guard and officers of U.S. Central Command will visit Kyrgyzstan -- and educational and financial support for a newly established training school for sergeants. Priority also is to be given to training Kyrgyz rapid-reaction forces and peacekeeping units. BB

TAJIK PRESIDENT PROMOTES ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH IRAN
Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov arrived in Iran on 16 June for a three-day state visit during which he held talks with the top Iranian leadership on promoting increased economic cooperation between the two countries, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 17 June, quoting Rakhmonov's press spokesman Zafar Saidov. Agreements have already been signed on road and power-plant construction that, according to Rakhmonov, will help resolve many of Tajikistan's problems. During his visit, Rakhmonov asked for additional bilateral projects in transportation and energy development. Iran has offered Tajikistan $5 million in credits for the construction of a tunnel at Anzob that would link the northern and southern parts of Tajikistan, thus facilitating travel in winter, and has indicated interest in helping complete the Sangtuda power plant. Rakhmonov also asked Iran to join a Tajik initiative for the creation of a coalition against drug trafficking, Saidov said. During a visit to Tabriz on 18 June, Rakhmonov promoted closer ties between that city and the northern Tajik city of Khujand, saying that direct flights between the two cities are to be started soon and that he expects that tourist contacts and historic ties will lead to economic cooperation between Khujand and Iranian Azerbaijan, IRNA reported the same day. BB

TURKMEN PRESIDENT LAUNCHES CONTEST AMONG TV OFFICIALS TO SEE WHO PRAISES HIM LEAST
Saparmurat Niyazov announced on 16 June that he is launching a competition among the directors of the three state television channels to determine who praised him the least, turkmenistan.ru and the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations reported on 18 June. First prize in the contest is Niyazov's thanks. In announcing the contest, Niyazov complained about what he called the excessive television coverage of him and his activities, and the excessive praise heaped on him. He said he is tired of looking at his own portrait and that the focus of television coverage on him demonstrates the low professional level of broadcast journalists. He suggested that songs based on his poems should be broadcast instead, along with reports on what Turkmenistan has achieved since obtaining its independence. Niyazov has regularly voiced similar complaints about his personality cult for at least the last five years, but they have consistently resulted in an intensification, rather than a reduction, of that cult. BB

70-80 RUSSIAN FAMILIES REPORTED TO BE LEAVING ASHGABAT DAILY
Seventy to 80 Russian-speaking families are reported to be leaving Ashgabat daily, Deutsche Welle reported on 18 June. The deadline set by President Niyazov for holders of Turkmen-Russian dual citizenship to decide which passport they want to keep and which country they want to live in is 22 June. After that date, Russian citizens will have to obtain visas to stay in Turkmenistan, and ethnic Russians who retain their Turkmen citizenship will be unable to travel using their Russian passports, but will have to obtain hard-to-acquire Turkmen exit visas. According to Deutsche Welle, some Russian citizens in Turkmenistan expect that Niyazov will extend the deadline, while others are trying to get out of the country, abandoning their homes and most of their possessions, because no one can predict what Niyazov will do after 22 June. His creation of a special commission to resolve problems arising from the revocation of dual citizenship reportedly is not inspiring much hope for an improvement in the situation of Russian speakers in Turkmenistan because the commission includes a number of officials from the security services. BB

TURKMENISTAN STRENGTHENS CONTROLS ON AFGHAN AND IRANIAN BORDERS
President Niyazov has told the heads of the "power" ministries that they should boost controls along Turkmenistan's borders with Afghanistan and Iran, Deutsche Welle reported on 18 June. The number of customs officials and border guards at border crossing points is to be doubled, shipments of goods are to be checked more carefully, and the number of Afghan and Iranian citizens admitted to Turkmenistan is to be limited. The number of police posts on main highways within Turkmenistan is to be doubled, and security officials are supposed to prevent any expressions of discontent by citizens. According to an unnamed Turkmen security official, the reason for the tightened security measures on the borders and within the country is Niyazov's concern about recent events in Iran, as well as tensions with Russia over the dual-citizenship issue. BB

UZBEK, IRANIAN, AFGHAN LEADERS SIGN TRANSIT ACCORD
The presidents of Uzbekistan, Iran, and Afghanistan signed an agreement in Tehran on 18 June on the construction of a transit road linking the three countries, uzreport.com reported on 19 June. The road is intended to further regional economic development and help the Central Asian countries gain access to seaports. Before he departed for Tehran, Uzbek President Islam Karimov said Uzbekistan is interested in using Iranian ports, uzreport.com reported on 18 June. IRNA reported on 18 June that the three leaders told journalists the road will also boost regional security. Iranian President Said Mohammad Khatami was quoted as saying that the national rail networks of the three signatory states should also be linked, and he expressed the hope that funding for the road project could be obtained from the Islamic Development Bank. The same day, Khatami and Karimov signed agreements on expanding trade between Uzbekistan and Iran and on cooperation between their respective security services, uzreport.com, Interfax, and IRNA reported. BB

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT APPEARS TO BACKPEDAL ON CURRENCY UNION WITH RUSSIA...
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 18 June that Belarus will agree to adopt the Russian ruble only if the measure contributes to "further economic progress" and raises living standards in the country, Belapan reported. Lukashenka also stressed that Belarus will commit itself to a monetary union with Russia only after all other Belarusian-Russian agreements regarding the union state are implemented. "One cannot introduce a [common] currency without having resolved the issues of [common] defense [and] foreign policies, parliamentary elections, the Supreme State Council, or the issue of [whether there should be a joint] president and vice president," Lukashenka said. He added that Belarus would not mind the common currency being printed solely in Russia, provided the printing is supervised by a Belarusian-Russian interbank council in which the two countries have equal powers. Lukashenka's pronouncements appear to contradict a recently concluded preliminary agreement on the currency union, according to which Belarus was reportedly to have "limited control" over the printing of money as well as over exchange-rate and monetary policies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 2003). JM

...AND OUTLINES CONDITIONS FOR REFERENDUM ON HIS THIRD TERM
President Lukashenka also said on 18 June that he will start working "more actively toward remaining in power" beyond the end of his term in 2006 if the opposition or someone from "our team" creates "additional instability in the country and the country starts dynamically moving not to peace and order, but in the opposite direction," Belapan reported. "If everything is calm, the country continues to develop as it should, we [continue] to carry out what we have planned, and society is stable, does it make a difference who is the president? It does, but not to such an extent," Lukashenka said. He stressed that he would seek his next presidential term only via presidential elections following a referendum in which voters would be asked to grant him permission to run again for president. JM

KYIV SAYS LAND-BORDER ACCORD WITH BUCHAREST 'UNBLOCKS' BILATERAL RELATIONS
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko said on 18 June that by signing the agreement on the Ukrainian-Romanian land border the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003), both presidents "have unblocked the situation that existed in Ukrainian-Romanian relations," Interfax reported. "The most fundamental issue [is that] we confirmed the state-border line determined by accords of 1947 and 1961," Zlenko said. The minister added that the 2003 border agreement contains provisions that make its revision impossible. Commenting on the dispute over Serpent Island (Zmiyinyy Ostrov) in the Black Sea, Zlenko said the issue was settled by a Ukrainian-Romanian treaty in 1997 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 May 1997). "Under the treaty of 1997, the island belongs to Ukraine; the issue has been settled and closed," he said. Meanwhile, upon returning to Bucharest, Romanian President Ion Iliescu said he hopes the agreement signed with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma will facilitate an understanding over the outstanding issue of Serpent Island, Romanian Radio reported on 18 June. The same source added that Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana said the sides are as far apart on the issue as ever. JM

GERMAN CHANCELLOR LAUDS ESTONIA FOR INTEGRATION OF MINORITIES
Gerhard Schroeder told visiting Estonian President Arnold Ruutel in Berlin on 18 June that Estonia serves as an example for other countries on how to integrate ethnic minorities into their societies, BNS reported. He said Germany wholeheartedly backs Estonia's membership of the EU and that relations between the two countries could not be better. Ruutel said environmental issues -- including a ban of single-hull oil tankers, the Via Baltica highway, and the integration of Baltic Sea energy systems -- will be priorities when Estonia takes over the presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in July. The leaders also discussed the work of the EU Convention on the Future of Europe and agreed that it serves as a good basis for the work of an intergovernmental EU conference scheduled for this fall. SG

U.S. ARMY COMMANDER VISITS LITHUANIA, LATVIA
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers began a brief visit to Vilnius on 18 June with talks with Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius and armed forces commander Major General Jonas Kronkaitis, BNS reported. Myers told reporters after meeting with President Rolandas Paksas that the Lithuanian troops serving in Afghanistan "are carrying out their mission perfectly. The coalition forces serving in Afghanistan admire their work." He praised Lithuania's preparations for NATO membership and said the country's military cooperation with the United States will become closer. Myers then flew to Riga, where President Vaira Vike-Freiberga expressed gratitude for the United States' rapid ratification of the NATO Protocols of Accession. They discussed the development of Latvia's armed forces and its participation in the reconstruction of Iraq. Myers also met with Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis and army commander Rear Admiral Gaidis Andrejs Zeibots before traveling to Tallinn. SG

THREE PARTIES AGREE TO FORM COALITION TO ELECT VILNIUS MAYOR
Representatives of the leftist New Union (Social Liberals), the rightist Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania), and the Liberal and Center Union signed an agreement on 18 June to form a broad coalition in Vilnius, "Lietuvos rytas" reported the next day. The coalition would have at least 28 of the 51 seats in the City Council, which has been unable to elect a mayor on three previous occasions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2003). Social Democratic Party Chairman and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said he was surprised by the decision of his party's coalition partner, the New Union, but after meeting with its Chairman Arturas Paulauskas he said, "I would not call it a betrayal." It appears that the coalition will accept the Social Democrats, but not the Liberal Democrats as additional members. The representatives did not name their candidate for mayor, but it is likely to be Arturas Zuokas. SG

POLAND CLOSES LIST OF FOREIGN TROOPS FOR ITS MISSION IN IRAQ
Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said on 18 June that the list of states sending contingents to join the international division under Polish command in Iraq has been closed after Spain declared a deployment of 1,100-1,300 troops (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 2003), PAP reported. "We still want to go to Kyiv and meet commanders there to pass as much information as possible to the Ukrainians, since they are to bear a great deal of responsibility by having control over Wasit Province, where they will be in command of their brigade," Szmajdzinski said. Earlier this month, the Ukrainian parliament approved sending up to 1,800 peacekeepers to the Polish sector in Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2003). In total, 20 states declared that they will contribute troops to the Polish-led division of some 7,000-8,000 servicemen in Iraq, including Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador. JM

CZECH DOCTORS' STRIKE TARGETS GOVERNMENT-BACKED REFORMS...
An estimated one in eight physicians vowed to join a labor stoppage called by public-sector physicians' unions on 19 June to protest the government's tack on public-finance reform, local media reported the same day. Organizers have assured the public that the action will not threaten treatment in emergency cases, according to CTK. The strike was organized by the Doctors Trade Union-Association of Czech Doctors (LOK-SCL). Meanwhile, Health Minister Marie Souckova condemned the strike, stressing that "health workers are not civil servants...[and] they should realize that they provide medical services to us, the citizens, for which each of us pays," according to CTK, which cited an interview in the daily "Vecernik Praha" of 19 June. She added that she "reject[s] the doctors' blackmailing citizens with a strike." She said the planned reforms include "increased health-insurance payments from private businesses, something the trade unions are demanding." Protest organizers have emphasized that their displeasure stems from the way the government is moving forward on the reforms, rather than their substance. AH

...AS SUNDRY GROUPS JOIN PROTEST IN CZECH CAPITAL
More than 1,000 union members from around the country demonstrated in Prague on 19 June to voice their displeasure over the government's planned reforms, CTK reported. Marches snaked through the city, including past the government building, before joining up on the city's historical Old Town Square, where the umbrella Association of Independent Trade Unions (ASO) launched a noon rally. Protesters arrived on chartered buses and trains from depressed regions all over the country, and included miners, metal workers, and farmers. The groups are protesting a perceived decline in living standards in connection with the reforms, which still have not been approved by the lower house of parliament, where the government holds a one-seat majority. The three-party coalition -- led by the Social Democratic Party and including the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party and the Freedom Union-Democratic Union -- hopes the reforms will lead to 200 billion crowns ($7.4 billion) in savings over the next three years. AH

CZECH GOVERNMENT HAILS EU REFERENDUM OUTCOME
The Czech government officially welcomed the outcome of the country's weekend referendum on EU accession on 18 June, CTK reported. A statement released by the cabinet said it expects EU enlargement to be "a decisive step toward the unification of the European continent." The statement also said the EU has managed to overcome the consequences and the horrors of World War II and to replace them by a common path of reconciliation and mutual cooperation. "EU accession will also mean the completion of the process of mutual reconciliation with our neighbors, in the sense of the 1997 joint Czech-German declaration, which the government continues to regard as being a milestone on this road," the statement said. At an official reception attended by legislators and members of former and the current Czech governments, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said on 18 June that he is convinced that Czechs have enough originality and force to be able to make a real contribution to the construction of a united Europe. MS

EU DOES NOT WELCOME CZECH VISION OF DIALOGUE WITH ISRAEL, PALESTINIANS
A proposal by Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda on ways to overcome the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian relations is getting a chilly reception in Brussels, CTK reported on 18 June. Svoboda said in the EU capital earlier this week that in order to help reestablish a dialogue in the Middle East, EU members should negotiate with Israel at one point and with the Palestinians at a different point in time. Israel has announced that it will not meet with foreign visitors who intend also to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Svoboda, who will visit Israel in July, appeared to be hinting that he will meet only with Israeli representatives, and, according to CTK, he intends to meet with Palestinian representatives during a subsequent trip to Jordan. According to CTK, with the exception of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, the Czech proposal was criticized by all other EU leaders, who said Arafat is an elected official and represents a large part of the Palestinian population. MS

EUROPEAN BODY ALLOWED OVERSIGHT OF CZECH EU FUNDS
The Czech government approved a proposal on 18 June to allow the European Antifraud Office (OLAF) to supervise the spending of EU funds in the Czech Republic, CTK reported. The cabinet decided that if any minister suspects misuse of EU funds within his or her ministry, OLAF should be alerted immediately. MS

FORMER CZECH PRESIDENT LASHES OUT AT 'POSTCOMMUNIST MAFIOSI'
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel said on 18 June in Berlin that during his presidential terms in office his goal was always to steer a steady reconciliation between East and West while at the same time defending the Czech Republic's interests, dpa reported. In his acceptance speech for the 2003 Prize of the German National Foundation Weimar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003), Havel said politicians must "work to dispel political intrigue, lies, fraud, and dirty deals behind the scenes." He said he always "endeavored to pursue policies of common sense and responsibility and to shun political opportunism, which panders to popular prejudice." He added, "Not surprisingly, this stance was always a thorn in the side of postcommunist mafiosi and the so-called pragmatic politicians who support them." Havel's successor as Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, often labels himself "pragmatic." MS

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES LONG-TERM ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM
The government approved a seven-year program for improving the environment on 18 June, CTK reported, citing Environment Ministry spokeswoman Karolina Sulova. The program envisages investments of 285 billion crowns ($10.7 billion) for this purpose. The largest burden is to be borne by companies and municipalities, which will have to build new sewage systems, among other investments. Sulova said that after acceding to the EU, the Czech Republic expects to use EU structural funds for the purpose, as well as support from the Solidarity Fund. MS

SLOVAKIA TO CURB PEACEKEEPING EFFORT
Defense Minister Ivan Simko told journalists on 18 June that Slovakia will end its participation in the UN peacekeeping mission in Eritrea this year, CTK reported. Simko said that since he took over the defense portfolio in late 2002, he has repeatedly argued that Slovakia participates in too many peacekeeping missions. There are currently 196 Slovak soldiers in the Eritrean UN effort, while about 800 Slovak soldiers are part of 13 different peacekeeping missions around the world. Simko said the Slovak peacekeeping force stationed in East Timor (a military field hospital) will continue. Slovakia will also dispatch engineering troops to Iraq, and it will probably extend the mission of its engineering troops in Afghanistan, Simko said. MS

SLOVAK COMMUNISTS PROPOSE MEASURE TO FIGHT UNEMPLOYMENT
The Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS) issued a recommendation on 18 June to reduce the workweek to four days to combat unemployment and create new job opportunities, CTK reported. All other Slovak political parties rejected the proposal. KSS parliamentary deputy Karol Ondrias said in parliament that, ideally, unemployment would best be dealt with by returning to a centrally planned economy, which drew laughter from his peers in the legislature. MS

SLOVAK PREMIER SAYS AMENDED HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW IS 'WHOLLY UNACCEPTABLE'
Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda told journalists after a meeting of his cabinet on 18 June that proposed amendments to neighboring Hungary's Status Law are "wholly unacceptable" to Slovakia, TASR reported. The Hungarian parliament began debating those amendments -- which extend financial and other benefits to ethnic Hungarians outside of Hungary -- the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003). Dzurinda said Slovakia will take appropriate measures to prevent the implementation of the law in Slovakia due to the legislation's remaining "extraterritorial and discriminatory" aspects, and because the Status Law is "in violation of international legislation." He declined to say what measures the government has in mind, telling journalists: "You will learn in due course." Dzurinda said he does not intend to bring up the Status Law at next week's summit of the premiers of the Visegrad Four (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia), due to be held in the Lower Tatra mountains. "Our bilateral [Slovak-Hungarian] problems should not burden multilateral cooperation," he said. MS

HUNGARIAN DAILY ALLEGES SECRET COMPILATION OF INFORMATION ON PROSECUTOR-GENERAL
An unknown individual or individuals are collecting information on Prosecutor-General Peter Polt's personal, professional, and public activities with an unspecified goal in mind, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 19 June. The daily said Polt recently got hold of a document containing such information, but did not specify. A spokesman for the Prosecutor-General's Office, Zoltan Borbely, confirmed the existence of the file and said it contains false information. Polt has relayed copies of the file to President Ferenc Madl, Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, and parliament speaker Katalin Szili. MSZ

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT CUTS BUDGETS...
Ministry budgets will be cut by a total of 42 billion forints ($190 million) as part of the cost-cutting measures announced recently by the coalition government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2003), Janos Veres, political State Secretary at the Finance Ministry, told reporters on 18 June. The single largest cut will be at the Defense Ministry, whose budget was trimmed by 7.5 billion forints. The Interior Ministry budget was reduced by 6.7 billion forints, the Education Ministry by 5.5 billion, and the Finance Ministry by 3.2 billion, while the Economy Ministry lost 4 billion forints from its operating budget, Hungarian state television reported. The ministries are expected to announce details of their cost-saving measures to the public next week. It will be left to the discretion of the specific ministries to decide where in their operational budgets to cut. MSZ

...AND APPROVES PROGRAM TO CURB HOOLIGANISM
The cabinet on 18 June accepted a seven-point program to curb hooliganism and improve public safety at sports events, Sports Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany told a press briefing, according to "Magyar Hirlap." An essential element of the program is to introduce regulations banning fomenting hatred against a particular community, as specified in the Penal Code. Under the new measures, courts are authorized to enforce the rule that no racist statements or emblems of tyranny are allowed in stadiums, "Magyar Hirlap" reported. MSZ

OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS ACCUSATIONS OF RIGHTS ABUSES MARK 'BREAKTHROUGH' FOR HUNGARY
The Lisbon resolution of the International Democratic Center (IDC) in which the group accused the Hungarian government of human rights violations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11, 13, and 17 June 2003) "marks a breakthrough, as it finally deals with the state of human rights in this country," opposition FIDESZ Chairman Viktor Orban told a meeting of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on 18 June. Orban said a new era began in Hungary when the country signed the EU accession treaty, adding, "It therefore makes no sense to make statements that it is not expedient to take matters to outside, international forums," Hungarian television reported. Orban said the Lisbon resolution did not question Hungarian democracy and was both moderate and accurate. MSZ

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS ON WESTERN BALKAN COUNTRIES TO ACCEPT EU ACCESSION TERMS
In an exclusive article for the Skopje daily "Dnevnik" of 19 June, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin outlined the conditions that the countries of the western Balkans must meet to qualify for EU membership. Villepin stressed that the EU accession process should not be understood as a series of technical formalities. He said the upcoming EU Thessaloniki summit on 19-21 June will be one of "hope and ambition," as it will express support for the candidacies of Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro. He cautioned, however, that the summit will also stress the obligations of the candidates, adding that EU integration also means meeting political, economic, humanitarian, and moral conditions, including a commitment to regional integration. "Denying this would be irresponsible towards our European fellow-citizens," Villepin wrote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 17 June 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 4 April, 30 May, and 13 June 2003). UB

WESTERN BALKAN COUNTRIES PREPARE FOR EU SUMMIT
Croatian President Stipe Mesic and Svetozar Marovic, his counterpart from Serbia and Montenegro, agreed in Paris on 18 June that their countries should work together to achieve their common goals of NATO and EU membership, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Marovic added that French President Jacques Chirac assured him that France will support Serbia and Montenegro's aspirations at the EU Thessaloniki summit. Meanwhile in Skopje, members of the foreign affairs committees of the Croatian, Albanian, and Macedonian parliaments met with the NATO and U.S. ambassadors to Macedonia to discuss integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, Hina reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 22 November 2002). The delegations sent a letter to the EU summit, calling on the bloc to state clearly that the countries of the western Balkans will be admitted to the EU, present them with a timetable for admission, and state when assistance will begin to flow. PM

UN CHIEF NAMES KOSOVA'S DELEGATION TO THESSALONIKI SUMMIT
Michael Steiner, the outgoing head of the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK), has named himself, Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, and Minister for Refugee Returns Milorad Todorovic as Kosova's delegates to the Thessaloniki summit, Beta reported from Belgrade on 17 June. Ethnic Albanians make up over 90 percent of Kosova's population (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 June 2003). Representatives of the western Balkan countries and leaders of the EU will meet on 21 June after the close of the summit at an airport on the Halkidiki Peninsula near Thessaloniki. PM

KOSOVAR PRESIDENT SAYS KOSOVA IS 'DE FACTO INDEPENDENT'
Ibrahim Rugova told Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service on 18 June that the province is already "de facto independent" and called on foreign countries to grant Kosova diplomatic recognition (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 June 2003). He stressed that quick recognition of Kosova's independence will bring security and calm to the region by ending uncertainty and instability. Kosova's foreign policy will be based on integration into the EU and NATO and on "lasting friendship with the United States." He thanked "our friends in NATO, the United States, and the EU [for the fact that] Kosova is free today" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2003). Rugova said that privatization and securing foreign investment are top priorities for Kosova as it enters its fifth year free from Serbian rule. PM

REPORTS PERSIST ABOUT POSSIBLE BRITISH DETENTION CENTERS IN CROATIA...
London's "The Observer" reported on 15 June that the British Home Office is building a detention camp for asylum seekers in Trstenik near Zagreb on the site of a former army base near a cement factory. The EU-funded facility will reportedly hold up to 800 persons from Eastern Europe and the Balkans who have filed requests for asylum in Britain. The weekly noted that the secrecy surrounding the project has alarmed many U.K. human rights activists. Local people from the Trstenik area are quite unhappy about having such a camp nearby, the report added. In April, a Croatian government spokesman called on the United Kingdom to "take care of its own asylum seekers," but "Zagreb's attitude has since softened," the weekly noted. In Brussels, EU officials told Deutsche Welle on 18 June that the facility is not British but one that the Croatian authorities are obliged to construct in qualifying for EU membership in order to house any refugees arriving in that country. PM

...AND ALBANIA
"The Independent" reported on 19 June that Britain is planning to construct a detention center in the Kukes area of northeastern Albania for its would-be asylum seekers. London is reportedly seeking to refurbish former facilities for Kosovar refugees to that end. The article added that U.K. Ambassador to Albania David Landsman recently visited the area to check possible sites. The daily noted that "large sections of the local media remain unconvinced by British denials [including those by Landsman] and attacked any potential proposals as insulting and unhelpful." PM

HAGUE TRIBUNAL CALLS ON SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO TO COOPERATE
Florence Hartmann, who is spokeswoman for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said on 18 June that Serbia and Montenegro is obliged to arrest and extradite all indicted war criminals on its territory, including those in transit, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. She specifically mentioned former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic in this context. Hartmann stressed that Belgrade must fully cooperate with The Hague at all times, and not just when "a specific country" puts pressure on them to do so (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 17 June 2003). PM

FORMER YUGOSLAV LEADER CALLS SREBRENICA MASSACRE 'TRULY TRAGIC'
Former Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic said at the war crimes trial of fellow former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague on 18 June that the Belgrade leadership learned quickly of the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim males at Srebrenica following its fall to Bosnian Serb forces in 1995, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Lilic said the Supreme Military Council did not launch an investigation into the killings, however. Milosevic said while questioning Lilic that the massacre was "truly tragic" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003). PM

BOSNIAN SERB AUTHORITIES ARE READY FOR THE POPE
The Interior Ministry of the Republika Srpska has 4,000 police officers ready to protect Pope John Paul II when he arrives on Bosnian Serb territory on 21 June, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Banja Luka. Police officials said they will ensure that possible anti-Catholic protesters do not mar the pope's visit, which represents his second trip to Bosnia and his first to the Republika Srpska. He is expected to stress the importance of Roman Catholics returning to their former homes in Banja Luka and elsewhere on Bosnian Serb territory. He will also beatify a Bosnian Croat from that city, Ivan Merz. Elsewhere, an SFOR spokesman said that "this visit [will] be remembered as the most important event in this country at the beginning of the 21st century," dpa reported. PM

HUGE MASS GRAVE EXHUMED IN EASTERN BOSNIA
Forensic experts on 19 June completed the exhumation of the remains of 232 people from a mass grave near Vlasenica, AP reported. The victims are believed to have been killed at the nearby Susica camp by Bosnian Serb forces in 1992. Since the end of the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict, the remains of about 16,500 people have been found in 273 mass graves across Bosnia. PM

PEACEKEEPERS PRACTICE CATCHING BOSNIAN WAR CRIMINALS
A spokesman for SFOR said in Mostar on 18 June that the recent activity by peacekeepers in eastern Bosnia was an exercise aimed at practicing capturing indicted war criminals and sending them to The Hague, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003). PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER WANTS U.S. MILITARY BASE IN CONSTANTA
Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said in an interview with the "International Herald Tribune" on 18 June that Romania "will respond positively" if asked by the United States to agree to the establishment of a military base in the Black Sea port of Constanta. Nastase said the Black Sea "has strategic importance," as it provides access not only to "the Caucasian region, but also to the Middle East." He also said that having a U.S. military base on Romanian territory would likely contribute to Romania's economic development. "They spent more than $30 million here," he said in a reference to the U.S. military's use of the Mihail Kogalniceanu airfield near Constanta during military operations against Iraq. Asked whether the setting up of such a base would not be counterproductive to Romania's quest to join the EU, Nastase replied: "We do not see our relations with Europe or the United States in terms of one or the other. It is clear that [between them] there are differences of interest, differences of approach, but this is natural. We have to encourage the fair and direct dialogue between the European countries and the United States." MS

LIBERAL POLITICIAN LEAVES ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT
Former National Liberal Party Deputy Chairman Dinu Patriciu resigned from the lower house on 18 June, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Patriciu, who is a successful businessman, said the recently approved legislation aimed at combating corruption and at preventing "conflicts of interest" does not apply to him because he is not the manager of a state or private Romanian company, but is president of the administrative council board of a Romania-based Dutch company. The legislation does not address cases such as Patriciu's. Nevertheless, Patriciu said, he decided to resign from parliament "because I consider it abnormal to take advantage of a legal loophole." He also said that since he became a legislator 10 years ago, he has donated all of his parliamentary salary to charity. Patriciu is the second Romanian businessmen to resign from parliament as a result of the new legislation. The first was Democratic Party deputy Adrian Videanu. MS

ROMANIAN HUMAN RIGHTS NGO SUES PROSECUTOR-GENERAL
The Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania-Helsinki Committee (APADOR-CH) has sued Prosecutor-General Joita Tanase because of his office's refusal to release information pertaining to phone tapping and other forms of surveillance of Romanian citizens, AP reported on 18 June, citing an APADOR-CH spokeswoman. The Romanian nongovernmental organization sued Tanase in April and a court ordered him to release the information. However, Tanase refused to do so on the grounds that this would threaten national security. He then appealed the verdict before the Supreme Court by making use of a judicial instrument called "extraordinary appeal." The instrument -- a legal holdover from the communist era -- allows the prosecutor-general to cancel court decisions, even when the court ruling is final, and to order a new trial. APADOR-CH said it is "very serious when a state institution does not comply with the law," adding, "We asked for figures, for statistics, not for names." The European Union has criticized the "extraordinary appeal" judicial device and Justice Minister Rodica Stanoiu announced on 18 June that this provision will be considerably restricted in the new Penal Code, the daily "Adevarul" reported on 19 June. MS

MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER PROPOSES TRIPARTITE SUMMIT
Foreign Minister Nicolae Dudu proposed in Luxembourg on 18 June that a tripartite summit be held among the EU, the Council of Europe, and Moldova, Infotag reported. Dudau spoke in his capacity as rotating chairman of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers. He said the envisaged summit should examine Moldova's relations with the EU and the Council of Europe and stipulate ways to improve those relations. Dudau welcomed a decision by the European Commission and the Council of Europe to work out a joint program aimed at backing democratic reform in Moldova in 2003-04. He also requested that the EU, the Council of Europe, and the Venice Commission take part in drafting the constitution of the envisaged Moldovan federation. MS

IMF WILL NOT RESUME DISBURSEMENTS TO MOLDOVA BEFORE SEPTEMBER
Marta Castello-Branco, who heads the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) mission in Moldova, said on 18 June while reviewing the government's financial and economic policies that the fund will not resume loan disbursements to Moldova prior to September, Infotag reported. She said the mission has reached a preliminary agreement with the government stipulating three conditions for resuming disbursements: amending the 2003 budget to bring it into line with an agreement reached with the fund in December 2000; eliminating export restrictions and direct government interference in companies' activities; and introducing pre-shipment inspection (PSI) of goods imported to Moldova. If all three conditions are met before 21 July, she said, the executive board of the IMF may deal with the issue at its September meeting. Castello-Branco stressed that time is of utmost importance, since the agreement that was frozen by the IMF expires in December. Unless it is extended by the fund's executive board in September, she said, the agreement will expire and Moldova will have to negotiate a new one. Moldova received three $12.6 million tranches of a $142 million loan agreed with the IMF in December 2000 before disbursements were frozen last year due to nonfulfillment of the agreement's conditions. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT PRESSES EU ON NUCLEAR-POWER PLANT
In an address to an international forum on nuclear energy, President Georgi Parvanov said in Sofia on 18 June that the EU should soon fix a date for the promised peer review of blocks No. 3 and No. 4 of the Kozloduy nuclear-power plant, according to the president's official website (http://www.president.bg). Parvanov insisted the review should take place in October or November. Under the terms of the energy chapter of the EU's acquis communautaire that Bulgaria closed in November 2002, it agreed to close down the blocks in question by 2006, while the EU pledged to carry out a peer review of the facility's security standards. "I have already said it many times that if the peer review is professionally carried out in time with a clear mandate, we will recognize its findings, whatever they might be," Parvanov said. "At the same time I insist that if the review shows that blocks No. 3 and No. 4 can operate safely until after 2006 it will be an argument for the member states to drop their demand for an early closure of these two blocks" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 20 November 2002, and 10 January, 31 March, and 1 April 2003). UB

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT VOWS NOT TO TAKE 'ONE-SIDED POSITION' ON ICC
Government spokesman Dimitar Tsonev said on 18 June that Bulgaria will not take a position regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC) that would be in contradiction with the positions of the United States or the EU, news.bg reported. Tsonev said it is still too early to say what the Bulgarian position might be. He added that it would be beneficial for Bulgaria and the other countries of Southeast Europe if Brussels and Washington were to reach an agreement on the ICC. He denied that official negotiations over a bilateral extradition-immunity agreement exempting U.S. citizens from being handed over to ICC are under way. UB

TURKEY'S NEW ENERGY POLICY HITS BULGARIA
During a recent official visit to the site of the future nuclear-power plant near Belene, Energy Minister Milko Kovachev announced that the construction of that facility will begin in 2004. Kovachev also said the power plant will begin operating between 2006-08. Being an enormous investment of up to $3 billion, it is hoped that the Belene plant will produce enough electricity to not only meet domestic demand, but also to ensure Bulgaria's position as a leading electricity exporter in the region. Bulgaria's state-owned National Electricity Company (NEK) delivers electricity mainly to neighboring countries, including Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece.

Until recently, one of the biggest customers for Bulgarian electricity was Turkey, which bought up 4 billion kilowatt hours per year. That amounted to more than half of Bulgaria's annual electricity exports, or 7-8 percent of the country's electricity production. The Bulgarian-Turkish electricity deal was regulated by a 1998 intergovernmental agreement under which Bulgaria agreed to contract Turkish companies for two major infrastructure projects, while Turkey was to purchase a certain amount of electricity at fixed prices. The 10-year agreement seemed to work fine until the Turkish Ceylan Holding, which was chosen by the Bulgarian government to participate in the infrastructure projects, experienced financial difficulties. As no other Turkish company was commissioned by the Bulgarian side, both infrastructure projects, the Gorna Arda hydroelectric-power project as well as the construction of the Maritsa highway, remained stuck in the planning phase.

The Turkish government interpreted this failure as nonfulfillment of the intergovernmental agreement. As a result, the state-owned Turkish electricity distributor TEDAS warned that should Bulgaria fail to meet its commitments, it would stop purchasing power from Bulgaria, which it duly did one week later, on 21 April. "We acknowledge that there is a delay (in the two projects), which is caused by reasons that do not depend on us," an unidentified energy ministry official told Reuters in Sofia the next day. "The ministry is surprised and disappointed with [TEDAS'] hasty decision, given Bulgaria's efforts to organize a meeting between the two countries' energy ministers to discuss the issue," the official said.

Some observers suggested that the Turkish decision to halt the Bulgarian electricity imports came in response to the Bulgarian Privatization Agency's selection of the Austria-based and U.S.-back Viva Ventures as its first choice to purchase the state-owned Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTK), and not the runner-up Turkish consortium comprising the private Koc Holding and the state-owned Turk Telekom.

But on closer examination it becomes clear that it was the Turkish government's efforts to cut expenditures for energy imports -- not only from Bulgaria, but also from Russia -- that were the prime reason behind the halt of energy imports. Also in April, Turkey unilaterally suspended Russian natural-gas imports through the controversial Blue Stream pipeline. With the Shah Deniz natural-gas field in Azerbaijan, the Turkish government has a cheaper alternative at hands, which could make negotiations with Russian energy giant Gazprom easier. However, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipeline to deliver Shah Deniz gas has not been built yet and will not be operational before 2006. The suspension of imports from Russia therefore could be interpreted as preliminary muscle flexing in an effort to pressure Russia to lower prices, although Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler purportedly favors cutting the government's gas-purchase commitments rather than renegotiating prices. Another factor is that Turkey has signed up over the past few years to buy more gas that it can possibly use, and might have to look around to sell some of that gas to customers in Europe. As Eurasianet reported on 30 April, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler favors cutting the government's gas-purchase commitments rather than renegotiating prices.

It is not clear, however, whether the import stops for Bulgarian electricity and Russian gas were also partly prompted by the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) demand that the Turkish government raise consumer prices for energy in order to stabilize the country's budget. Complying with that demand could have damaged the credibility of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on the campaign trail had promised his voters lower rather than higher electricity prices.

The Turkish government's efforts to sort out its energy-import commitments also became clear in early June, when Energy Minister Guler told a parliamentary committee investigating the previous governments' alleged abuse of powers that almost all contracts signed by the previous governments in the energy sector were detrimental to Turkish interests. In connection with the Bulgarian-Turkish intergovernmental agreement, Guler said Turkey agreed not to produce electricity in its European regions, which border Bulgaria and Greece.

After weeks of high-level talks and delays, a compromise was reached in Ankara on 9 June, following 12 hours of negotiations between Guler and his Bulgarian counterpart Kovachev. Guler announced that Turkey will resume purchasing Bulgarian electricity, but in smaller quantities and at lower prices. The exact amount and prices will be fixed during consultations between Bulgaria's NEK and Turkey's TEDAS.

Bulgaria, for its part, pledged to resume the two infrastructure projects in question. "We fully agree that the investments [in Bulgarian infrastructure] must correspond with the commitments for electricity exports," Kovachev told "Dnevnik" of 10 June. He added that the Bulgarian government will consider revising the 2004 budget in order to secure the funds for the Gorna Arda project and the Maritsa highway. The Bulgarian side has proposed a currency swap for the payment of the exported electricity from U.S. dollars to the euro.

As the Bulgarian-Turkish energy dispute seems to have come to a more or less satisfying end for both sides, the question remains whether Bulgaria's ambitious energy-export program indeed needs a second nuclear-power plant in addition to the planned Gorna Arda hydroelectricity facilities. When Turkey halted its electricity imports, a major coal-fired power plant in southeastern Bulgaria had to reduce its production to such an extent that the nearby Maritsa-Iztok coal mines were considering laying off all of their 8,000 workers, 3,000 of whom would have lost their jobs in June alone.

U.S. FORCES ANNOUNCE CAPTURE OF MOST SENIOR HUSSEIN-ERA LEADER TO DATE
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced the capture of former Iraqi General Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, fourth on CENTCOM's list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis from the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein, in an 18 June press release posted on the CENTCOM website (http://www.centcom.mil). Mahmud served as Hussein's personal secretary and senior bodyguard. He was also the president's national security adviser and cousin. U.S. military officials believe Mahmud might be one of the few people who know the current whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, and that he was in a position to have extensive knowledge of Iraq's alleged weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) programs. "The Washington Post" reported on 19 June that a British dossier on top Iraqi officials states that Mahmud "is regarded by some as the real number-two figure in the Iraqi leadership." Mahmud was captured near Tikrit, according to U.S. military officials. Former Iraqi Major General Wafiq al-Samarra'i told Al-Jazeera on 18 June that Mahmud was not a personal secretary to Hussein, "but rather a secretary of the president of the republic. This means he had access to all political, economic, military, security, and intelligence activities," as well as to alleged WMD programs. "I can say that arresting this person will enable the coalition forces to arrest Saddam Hussein," al-Samarra'i added. KR

IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTRY RECRUITING
The Iraqi Foreign Service Institute has been tasked with organizing courses for Iraqis seeking to join the diplomatic corps, Baghdad's "Al-Sa'ah" reported on 14 June. The institute is a branch of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. The daily also reported that Ambassador Ghassan Muhsin, head of the Guidance Committee at the Foreign Ministry, said the ministry's main building has been cleaned up to repair damage from looting and burning. Muhsin added that the Al-Rashid Company, an affiliate of the Iraqi Housing and Reconstruction Ministry, will rehabilitate the Foreign Ministry building. The Japanese government has pledged $1.6 million to the rehabilitation project. Muhsin said the UN Development Program (UNDP) will also help fund the project. KR

IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTRY SOURCE SAYS FEMALE DIPLOMAT TO GO TO UN
London-based "Al-Hayat" reported on 18 June that a source at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said a female diplomat might be named the next Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations. The source named Aqilah al-Hashimi, director of the Research and Studies Department at the Foreign Ministry, as a possible candidate. Hashimi, who would replace former Ambassador Muhammad al-Duri, is fluent in English, French, and Spanish, in addition to her native Arabic. She holds a doctorate in international law. The appointment would make her the first Iraqi female diplomat to hold such a senior position, "Al-Hayat" reported. KR

IRAQI NATIONAL ACCORD HEAD CITES PROGRESS
Iraqi National Accord (INA) head Iyad Allawi told Amman-based daily "Al-Ra'y" in an interview published on 18 June that progress is being made on the political level in Iraq. Allawi, who left Iraq in 1972 and returned after the fall of Baghdad, told "Al-Ra'y" that Iraqi political groups "have covered important steps in the formation of a political council, which will assume the responsibility of naming administration officials in Iraqi ministries as counterparts for the supervisors from the coalition forces." On the composition of a future Iraqi government, he said: "Most likely there will be a political council, made up of politicians, and a ministerial council made up of technocrats. This is in addition to a constitutional entity, which will work for the unity of the country and the human rights of the citizen." Allawi said the INA is working to maintain a good dialogue with all Iraqi groups. "In our common endeavor, we meet with Shi'ite, Sunni, Christian, and leaders from different Iraqi cultural backgrounds while firmly emphasizing Iraqi identity as the guarantee for our existence as a country and a people," he added. KR

WEEKLY COLUMN ON FATWAS INTRODUCED BY BAGHDAD NEWSPAPER...
The Baghdad-based newspaper "Sawt al-Tali'ah" has introduced a weekly column on the religious rulings (fatwas) of Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Muhammad Taqi al-Mudarrisi. The column will also publish fatwas issued by other "high religious authorities." The 15 June issue carried the rulings of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Asked if it is permissible to punish those former regime members who played a role in the killing of Iraqis, he said: "Punishment is the right of the family of the victim after the crime has been proven in a Shari'a court. It is impermissible for others to mete out a punishment. Moreover, there must not be any punishment before a Shari'a judge has announced the sentence." Al-Sistani added that action may not be taken against former regime members or suspected collaborators until the cases have been ruled on in Shari'a courts. Asked about reports of Shi'ites expelling Sunni clerics from their mosques, he said: "This is completely rejected and must be stopped. The imam must be protected and returned to his mosque in a dignified and honorable manner." KR

...AS GRAND AYATOLLAH OUTLINES VISION FOR 'POLITICAL' ROLE IN IRAQ
As for mixing politics and religion, al-Sistani said in the 15 June issue of "Sawt al-Tali'ah": "It is not right to involve men of religion in administrative and executive affairs. Their role must be confined to that of guidance and supervision of the committees formed to run the affairs of the town and insure security and public services for the people." Asked whether it is permissible for Iraqis to purchase weapons for self-defense, he ruled: "Weapons stolen from prisons and other centers remain the property of the state. It is impermissible to deal with them. They must be collected and kept under the supervision of a committee formed by the people of the area so that they will then be returned to the competent authorities." He added that only official security personnel have the right to carry arms. KR

U.S. FORCES RAID FARMHOUSES IN TIKRIT, DETAINING 15-20 PEOPLE AND SEIZING CASH
U.S. forces raided two farmhouses outside Tikrit on 18 June, detaining more than a dozen people and seizing $8 million and millions of Iraqi dinars, as well as "a large sum" of British pounds and euros, CENTCOM announced in a 19 June statement posted on its website. "Other items seized in the raid were expensive jewels and gems with an estimated value of more than $1 million; late-model, Russian-made night-vision goggles; a sniper rifle; and uniforms and equipment of [Saddam Hussein's] personal guard," the press release stated. U.S. forces detained 15-20 "individuals associated with Saddam's Special Security Forces" in the raid. The raids were conducted as part of Operation Desert Scorpion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 17 June 2003). KR

BUSH SAYS WORLD WILL NOT TOLERATE IRANIAN NUKES
U.S. President George W. Bush told reporters at the White House on 18 June that the world must not let Iran have nuclear weapons, international news agencies reported. "The international community must come together to make it very clear to Iran that we will not tolerate construction of a nuclear weapon," Bush said. "Iran would be dangerous if they have a nuclear weapon." In Tehran, meanwhile, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami defended Iran's right to acquire "advanced nuclear technology" for producing nuclear energy, IRNA reported. He dismissed U.S. allegations of an Iranian program to acquire nuclear weapons as "groundless accusations and pressures" that are politically motivated. He pledged Iran's continued cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose Board of Governors is meeting in Vienna this week to discuss whether Iran is fulfilling its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. SF

ON MKO, IRAN'S PRESIDENT PRAISES FRANCE BUT SCORES UNITED STATES
President Khatami has praised France for its 17 June arrests in Paris of members of the Iranian opposition Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), IRNA reported on 18 June. "Paris, with this move, has acted according to its commitments as a member of the European Union," he said. The EU, like the United States, has designated the MKO as a terrorist group. However, Khatami said Washington has "suspicious" links to the group, apparently reflecting continuing unease in Tehran over the U.S. military's cease-fire agreement with MKO forces in Iraq at the end of the recent war in Iraq, as well as suspicions that the Pentagon has plans to use the group against the Iranian government. SF

FRANCE SAYS MKO PLANNED ATTACKS IN EUROPE
Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, head of France's DST counterintelligence agency, told a news conference on 18 June that the MKO, whose Paris base French security forces raided on 17 June, was planning attacks on Tehran's embassies in Europe, Reuters reported. "We know they had the intention to commit attacks outside Iran, including in Europe, against Iranian interests and even against diplomatic representations," he said. A spokesman for the group's political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, called the allegations "pure fabrication," Reuters reported. At least three members of the group in Paris and London have set themselves ablaze in the wake of the raid, critically injuring themselves in protest against France's crackdown on the group and arrest of its leader in Paris, Maryam Rajavi. SF

MKO 'PRESIDENT-ELECT' TO REMAIN IN CUSTODY
French antiterrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere on 19 June extended by 48 hours the time that Maryam Rajavi, the MKO's choice of "president-elect" for a future Iranian government, can be held by the police, AFP reported. She is among the MKO members detained following the 17 June raid on MKO offices in and around Paris. BS

IRANIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS VIGILANTES
President Khatami on 18 June said the Iranian government will not tolerate the vigilante groups that have been violently attacking student demonstrators since last week, IRNA reported. "We recognize the right to protest, but we do not intend to confront our opponents with violence and force," he said. He promised that police will hunt down the vigilantes who have attacked student dormitories and injured students. SF

IRANIAN ACTIVISTS, JOURNALISTS DETAINED...
The Iranian Labor News Agency reported on 18 June that national-religious activists Mohammad Rezai and Ali Asghar Sadeqi were arrested the previous night. ILNA did not mention who made the arrests, and reported that Sadeqi has been transferred to an unknown location. Reporters Without Borders on 18 June protested against the arrests of six journalists over a three-day period. Ensafali Hedayat of "Salam" was detained on 16 June, and Mohsen Sazgara of the www.alliran.net website and "Gulistan-i Iran" Editor Amin Bozorgian were detained on 15 June. Three journalists -- Taqi Rahmani of "Omid-i Zanjan," "Iran-i Farda" Editor Reza Alijani, and "Iran-i Farda" staff member Hoda Saber -- were detained on 14 June. Vigilantes abducted Bozorgian and Hedayat, and their families have not heard any news of them since. BS

...AS ARE SCORES OF STUDENTS
Ali Akbar Mohseni, managing director of security at the Science, Research, and Technology Ministry, said on 18 June that about 25 people were arrested since the most recent bout of unrest began in Tehran, ISNA reported. However, he then said he has no information about the number of arrests made by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Mohseni added that only the MOIS and the police are authorized to make arrests, and that four or five "illegal detentions" took place off-campus. Intelligence and Security Minister Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi said after an 18 June closed parliamentary session that the detainees are being questioned, state television reported. "However, it might be proven at this preliminary stage that they have been arrested by mistake," he said. "In that case, these persons will be released." BS

AFGHAN LEADER MEETS WITH IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER
Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on 18 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003), IRNA reported. Khamenei said stability in Afghanistan is in Iran's interests and cautioned that the superpowers have attempted to change Afghanistan's culture and Islamic identity to prolong their domination of that country. Khamenei advised Afghans to be vigilant in guarding against the "subversive schemes" the big powers seek to implement in their country, IRNA reported. Karzai said the future Afghan constitution will be based on the principles of Islam. AT

AFGHANISTAN, IRAN, UZBEKISTAN SIGN TRANSIT AGREEMENT
During his visit to Tehran on 18 June (see above), Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Karzai signed a memorandum of understanding with Iranian President Khatami and Uzbek President Islam Karimov under which they agreed to open transport routes linking the three countries, IRNA reported. According the agreement, landlocked Afghanistan and Uzbekistan would be linked to Iran via a highway, thus giving them access to the open sea. Karzai described the development of relations between Kabul and Tehran as "very significant," adding that the new understanding on the transit route should help this relationship grow even more and help in the development of Afghanistan, IRNA reported. Afghanistan seeks to establish an alternative route to the sea other than via Pakistan, and Uzbekistan is eager to use the Afghan route to bypass Turkmenistan. Iran seeks to gain access to Central Asian markets but the war in Afghanistan and cool relations between Ashgabat and Tashkent have prevented this. AT

AFGHAN CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMISSION REACTS TO ICG REPORT...
Members of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) have called a recent International Crisis Group (ICG) report about "Afghanistan's Flawed Constitutional Process" unfair and ill informed, the BBC reported on 18 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 2003). Reacting to the ICG's recommendation that the planned Constitutional Loya Jirga scheduled for October be postponed, one CRC member, Qazi Mohammad Amin Waqad, said any delay in the process could lead to a "power vacuum." Another CRC member, Fatima Gailani, defended the loya jirga tradition, saying Afghans "have historically believed" it to be a place where problems can be solved. The question that has gone unanswered is how the upcoming Constitutional Loya Jirga can be representative of the Afghan people when most of the country is ruled by warlords or militias independent of Kabul. Moreover, the fact that the draft constitution has been kept from the people raises questions about the sincerity of the CRC's stated claim that "everyone who wants to be involved can contribute." AT

...AS FOUR CLERICS ARE REPORTEDLY ADDED TO REVIEW COMMISSION
Supreme Court Chief Justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari has said that four members of the Ulama Council of Afghanistan have been added to the 35-member CRC (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 1 May 2003), the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported on 17 June. Shinwari said CRC Chairman Nematullah Shahrani told the Ulama Council that the future constitution "should be in accordance with Islam." The four new members of the CRC, according to Shinwari, are Deputy Chief Justice Fazel Ahmad Manawi, Ata'ullah Lodin, Shaykh Haidari, and Enayatullah Bilagh. AT

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