YUKOS HEAD SAYS PROBE IS HARMING ECONOMY...
Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskii said on 16 July following his arrival in Moscow after a short trip to the United States that "shallow political intrigues" have caused enormous damage to the Russian economy, Russian media reported. By the end of the year, those damages could total tens of billions of dollars, Khodorkovskii said. He said that he returned to Russia in order to strive to see that "investor confidence in Russia is not totally undermined," and he expressed the hope that the government's actions against his company "are not irreversible." VY
...AS TAX MINISTRY CONFIRMS THAT PROSECUTORS ARE LOOKING AT YUKOS'S TAX DOCUMENTS...
Deputy Tax Minister Rinat Dosmukhamedov said on 16 July that the Prosecutor-General's Office has asked his ministry to turn over all documents relating to tax probes of Yukos, including those of three Yukos-owned enterprises in Bashkortostan where tax violations were uncovered, TV-Tsentr reported. Natalya Vishnyakova, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General's Office, has denied media reports that her agency has opened a new criminal case against Yukos on the basis of a complaint filed by state-owned oil company Rosneft, polit.ru reported on 16 July. VY
...BUSINESS LEADER URGES OLIGARCH TO OBEY 'THE RULES OF THE GAME'...
Speaking to journalists in Moscow on 16 July following a meeting in the Kremlin with President Vladimir Putin, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) President Arkadii Volskii said that Yukos head Khodorkovskii must use patience to resolve his problems with the authorities, gzt.ru and other Russian media reported. The meeting with Putin was the second for Volskii in the last week. During their talks, the two discussed the relationship between the government and business in light of recent events concerning Yukos and other major companies. Volskii noted that the controversy goes beyond any one company or personality and is having an impact on whole sectors of the economy. Volskii said that Khodorkovskii's fate depends on "whether he has learned the rules of the game and whether he will comply with them." VY
AUDIT CHAMBER HEAD CALLS FOR REVISING ESTIMATES OF COUNTRY'S WEALTH
Sergei Stepashin on 16 July said in Moscow that Russia should increase official estimates of the value of the country's natural wealth, polit.ru reported. Doing so, together with the noticeable growth of the capitalization of Russian companies would help Russia gain global economic influence and play a significant role in the processes of globalization, Stepashin said. It would also upgrade Russia's status within the Group of Eight leading industrialized countries and change attitudes about Russia among international investors and foreign governments. VY
RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE ACTIVE AROUND THE WORLD
In a rare interview, Army General Valentin Korabelnikov, who is the head of Russian Military Intelligence (GRU), told "Izvestiya" on 16 July that his agency continues to operate in even the most remote corners of the world and, "when necessary," in Russia as well. Asked about his agency's use of open sources of information compared to its special operations, Korabelnikov implied that he relies largely upon the latter. "If working with open sources were enough, the state would maintain research institutes, but not special services," he said. He also noted that his agency has suffered extremely high casualties during the current campaign in Chechnya, having lost about 300 men. He refused to comment on his agency's activities before and during the recent U.S.-led military operation to depose former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, saying that those events are too fresh to be discussed. However, he noted that in a recent interview, President Putin praised the work of the country's intelligence agencies. Korabelnikov also said that he does not share the opinion of some in Russia's political elite that the country is "overrun by foreign spies." However, he noted that as long as state secrets exist, there will be interest in acquiring them. VY
DEFENSE MINISTER AGAIN RULES OUT PEACE TALKS WITH CHECHEN PRESIDENT
Speaking to reporters following a meeting in Khankala with commanders from the North Caucasus Military District on 16 July, Sergei Ivanov said that any further large-scale fighting with Chechen fighters "is practically excluded," RIA-Novosti and RTR reported. He said, however, that he expects more explosions, ambushes, and suicide bombings. Ivanov added that there are about 1,200-1,300 Chechen fighters active in Chechnya "with whom it is impossible to negotiate and who must be liquidated." Ivanov again ruled out the possibility of peace talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February 2003), commenting that Maskhadov is no more acceptable as a negotiating partner than Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Finally, Ivanov announced that all Russian servicemen attached to the federal forces in Chechnya will be contract volunteers by 2005. VY
PRESIDENT WRITES OFF AGRICULTURE-SECTOR DEBTS...
President Putin on 16 July met in the Kremlin with Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev and announced that he has signed a decree writing off 57 billion rubles ($1.88 billion) owed to the state by about 18,000 agricultural producers, RTR reported. The write-off includes about 300 billion rubles in principle, with the rest being accrued penalties and fees. After the meeting, Gordeev said the move will positively affect the sector and should help bring it increased investment. VY
...AND AUTHORIZES HIGHER-THAN-EXPECTED PENSION INCREASE
President Putin decided on 16 July during a meeting with Pension Fund Chairman Mikhail Zurabov to increase pensions by 8 percent -- instead of by 7.4 percent as originally planned, Interfax reported. Putin said the decision was made because of positive economic indicators from the first half of the year, the agency reported. JAC
DO THE SECURITY AGENCIES PREFER JAZZ?
Independent radio station Ekho Moskvy went off the air temporarily without warning on 15 July during a discussion of the Yukos scandal on a program hosted by Editor in Chief Aleksei Venediktov, Russian media reported on 16 July. According to regions.ru, the show went off the air just as Venediktov was sharply criticizing the activities of law enforcement officials during and after the arrest of Menatep head Platon Lebedev. Venediktov continued speaking, not realizing that he wasn't being heard beyond the studio. When he realized that broadcasting had been interrupted, he switched to playing some jazz and broadcasting was resumed. He told gazeta.ru that the broadcasting interruption was not the fault of the station and that it had been "ordered." JAC
COMMENTATOR HINTS THAT RUSSIA IS HEADING TOWARD A COUP
Writing in "Novaya gazeta," No. 50, political observer Yuliya Latynina argues that although there are at least four theories circulating to explain the recent actions against oil giant Yukos, they all feature the basic assumption that Russia's security and law enforcement officials are intervening in the economy. She writes that while the security and law enforcement agencies have not been successful at fulfilling their core missions, they excel "at eviscerating private-sector companies." She concludes that Russia "is witnessing a low-level civil war instead of an election campaign." While the two ruling classes -- "the oligarchs" and "the enforcers" -- are hurling corruption allegations at one another, neither will win the elections. The Communist Party will win, she concludes. And this means that "the enforcers...will have to retain power by other means." JAC
MORE CHANGES PENDING IN GOVERNMENT APPARATUS?
Deputy head of the government apparatus Aleksei Volin has resigned, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 17 July. According to the daily, there is an information embargo on the announcement until 21 July, when Volin will already be working at another place not associated with the government. Nonetheless, the information leaked out somehow. However, the daily was unable to confirm the report with Volin before going to press. Volin is considered a close ally of his former boss, Igor Shuvalov, who recently resigned as head of the government apparatus to become a presidential aide. Both men are considered members of the team of presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin, rather than that of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 4 June 2003). JAC
CRIME CAPITAL DECLARED CENTER OF 'DECRIMINALIZED ZONE'...
Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov has declared St. Petersburg a "decriminalized" zone, RIA-Novosti reported on 16 July. A special detachment of the ministry has been working in the city and in Leningrad Oblast since the beginning of the year, and as a result of their work, "many crimes have been solved, prophylactic measures have been taken, and a serious reduction in the level of crime in the region has been noted," he said. The number of registered crimes dropped almost 13 percent during the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, according to Gryzlov. At the same time, Gryzlov announced that two employees of the ministry's directorate for the Northwest Federal District were arrested in St. Petersburg on 15 July, ORT reported. They are suspected of belonging to a criminal group and of committing murders. Meanwhile, the Yabloko party has decided to back city legislator Mikhail Amosov in the city's 21 September gubernatorial election, RosBalt reported on 15 July. JAC
...AS ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE MOVES EAST
The Far Eastern Federal District prosecutor's office has opened 33 criminal cases against law enforcement officials who are accused of concealing crimes from being officially registered, RIA-Novosti reported on 16 July, citing Deputy Prosecutor-General Konstantin Chaika. The prosecutor's office has uncovered more than 3,000 refusals or failures by law enforcement officials to instigate criminal proceedings following the filing of a complaint during the first half of 2003 in the district, which includes the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic; Primorskii and Khabarovsk krais; Amur, Kamchatka, Magadan, and Sakhalin oblasts; the Jewish Autonomous Oblast; and the Koryak and Chukotka autonomous okrugs. In addition, according to Chaika, 529 police officers have been disciplined. JAC
FAR EASTERN LEGISLATORS PLAYING HOOKY
"Amurskaya pravda" has published a list of absentees from the oblast's legislature, presscenter.ru reported on 16 July. Legislator Igor Gorevoi, who was involved in making the list public, said he hopes to shame fellow lawmakers into showing up more regularly. Only three of the legislature's 29 members have attended every legislative session, while three others attended only about half of them. The regular attendees say that truancy discredits the body's authority and disrupts its work, since voting cannot take place without a quorum. JAC
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CONDEMNS RUSSIAN REPRISALS IN INGUSHETIA
Anna Neistadt, who heads the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch, told journalists on 16 July that Russian special forces are now conducting "sweeps" among Chechen displaced persons in Ingushetia similar to the search operations that have become routine in Chechnya, Interfax reported. Neistadt said HRW staff who visited Ingushetia earlier this month collected evidence of human rights violations during such sweeps, which she believes are aimed at expediting the return of all Chechen displaced persons from Ingushetia to Chechnya. LF
FIRST CHECHEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE APPLIES FOR REGISTRATION
Said-Khamzat Gairbekov from Vedeno Raion, who currently works for Astrakhangazprom, was the first person to apply to Chechnya's Central Election Commission (CEC) for registration as a candidate for the 5 October presidential ballot, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 July quoting CEC Chairman Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov. Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov told journalists in Moscow on 16 July that he is in no hurry to register. Kadyrov added that he does not think more than four or five candidates will contest the presidency, naming only Moscow-based Chechen businessman Malik Saidullaev and Industrial Bank President Abubakar Arsmakov. Former Interior Ministry General Aslanbek Aslakhanov, who represents Chechnya in the Duma, told Ekho Moskvy on 16 July he might join the race, ITAR-TASS reported. In an interview published in "Ekspert," No. 26, Aslakhanov said Kadyrov is the Kremlin's preferred candidate, even though even he does not totally control the situation in Chechnya. Aslakhanov noted that members of the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party have traveled to Grozny to support Kadyrov. Kadyrov, however, at his 16 July press conference ruled out joining any political party, ITAR-TASS reported. LF
POLICE DENY LINK BETWEEN ARMENIAN ARRESTED IN RUSSIA, PARLIAMENT SHOOTING
A senior official from the Armenian Prosecutor-General's Office denied on 16 July that Suren Petrosian, an Armenian national arrested two months ago in St. Petersburg, is suspected of involvement in the October 1999 Armenian parliament shootings, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The official said Petrosian is wanted in connection with unspecified "serious crimes" committed in Armenia. Interfax reported the same day that Petrosian, who was reportedly carrying a fake passport, is likely to be extradited to Armenia within days. LF
FRENCH PRESIDENT URGES RESUMPTION OF KARABAKH TALKS
Meeting on 16 July in Paris with his visiting Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian, Jacques Chirac called for a resumption before the end of this year of talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan on resolving the Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. A spokesman said the French government considers the current "stalled" state of talks unsatisfactory, and wants to help the parties resume talks on a settlement. Speaking in Baku on 16 July, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev said that if France wishes to be considered a fair arbiter, it must treat Armenia and Azerbaijan equally, according to ANS TV, as cited by Groong. LF
AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT LEAVES TURKISH HOSPITAL
Heidar Aliev left the Gukhane military clinic in Ankara late on 15 July for a Turkish government residence, where he is expected to receive Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Turan reported on 16 July. LF
AZERBAIJANI TRAFFIC POLICE AGAIN TARGET OPPOSITION LEADER
Traffic police halted two cars carrying opposition Musavat party leader and presidential election candidate Isa Gambar and members of his bodyguard in Baku during the early evening of 16 July, Turan reported. Two bodyguards and one driver were detained. A three-car motorcade in which Gambar was traveling was halted in Baku late on 14 July for alleged violations of traffic regulations. Eight Musavat party activists were arrested, four of whom were sentenced to 15 days' administrative arrest and four fined 110,000 manats ($22) each, according to Interfax on 16 July. Gambar met later on 16 July with Peter Burkhardt, head of the OSCE Baku office, to discuss the detentions, Turan reported. LF
U.S. AGAIN CALLS FOR DEMOCRATIC AZERBAIJANI ELECTIONS
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington on 15 July that the U.S. hopes the Azerbaijani presidential election scheduled for 15 October will be held in accordance with the provisions of the recently adopted Election Code and OSCE standards, RFE/RL and zerkalo.az reported on 15 and 17 July, respectively. "This includes registering all qualified candidates, permitting public debate, providing equal access to the media, and ensuring that the balloting is free and fair," Boucher added. LF
GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO DEMAND UN INTERVENTION IN ABKHAZIA...
Meeting in emergency session on 16 July, parliament deputies adopted a resolution condemning the Abkhaz authorities' refusal to accept as a basis for resolving the Abkhaz conflict the document drafted by former UN special envoy Dieter Boden, Caucasus Press reported. They also condemned alleged ongoing ethnic cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazia, and called on the Georgian government to request that the UN launch a peace-enforcement operation in Abkhazia and to demand the replacement of the Russian peacekeeping force currently deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone by an international force. Also on 16 July, the Georgian parliament ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, thereby opening the way for Georgia to file a formal suit against Abkhazia for genocide, Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May 2003). LF
...WHICH ABKHAZ PREMIER DISMISSES AS IMPLAUSIBLE
Raul Khadjimba, prime minister of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia, predicted that the UN will not act on any Georgian request for a peace-enforcement operation in Abkhazia, Apsnipress reported on 17 July. He noted that during talks in Sukhum on 15 July, Georgian Minister for Special Assignments Malkhaz Kakabadze rejected Georgian calls for UN military intervention in Abkhazia as unacceptable, Caucasus Press reported. Kakabadze also told Caucasus Press on 16 July that he does not consider the replacement of the Russian peacekeeping force by an international force possible at this juncture. UN Special Envoy Heidi Tagliavini, who chaired the 15 July talks, said in a statement that day that "the participants confirmed their commitment to decide all disputed issues exclusively by peaceful means," Caucasus Press reported. LF
DUMA DEPUTY SAYS RUSSIA WILL TRY TO PREVENT FURTHER BLOODSHED IN ABKHAZIA
Dmitrii Rogozin, who chairs the Russian State Duma Foreign Relations Committee, said in Sukhum on 15 July following talks with Prime Minister Khadjimba, Vice President Valerii Arshba, and Abkhaz parliament speaker Nugzar Ashuba that Russia will do everything possible to ensure that "not a single drop more blood is spilled in Abkhazia," Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. Rogozin also said Russia is drafting a response to the Abkhaz parliament's appeal to grant the unrecognized republic associate membership of the Russian Federation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 March 2003). LF
ABKHAZIA REGISTERS INCREASE IN VIOLENT CRIME
Meeting on 16 July, the Abkhaz Interior Ministry board reviewed the crime situation during the first half of the year, and registered a 3 percent increase in violent crime, Apsnipress reported on 17 July. The largest number of murders was reportedly committed in Sukhum, while the majority of killings in Gali Raion were blamed on Georgian guerrilla forces operating there. Prime Minister Khadjimba rejected the board's overall positive assessment of the crime situation and demanded more effective measures to crack down on drug trafficking and to raise the professional expertise of the police force. Deputy Prime Minister Astamur Tania proposed sending the best police officers to Russia to acquire additional skills. LF
GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES DISPATCH OF PEACEKEEPING FORCE TO IRAQ
At the emergency parliament session on 16 July, deputies adopted a resolution approving the deployment of a peacekeeping detachment to Iraq, Caucasus Press reported. The Georgian force will number 100 members, including 25 military doctors, according to Interfax on 21 June. LF
KAZAKHSTAN'S KARACHAGANAK OIL FIELD SHIPS FIRST OIL
The giant Karachaganak oil field in western Kazakhstan shipped its first oil on 15 July, Kazinform, Interfax, and other Kazakh and Russian media reported on 16 July, citing British Gas (BG), one of the major firms working the field. BG head Frank Chapman noted that the field went into production exactly on schedule. The first sale of Karachaganak oil will take place at the end of September when the oil reaches Novorossiisk via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium's pipeline system. BG and its main partner in operating the field, Italy's ENI, have invested more than $1 billion in the project. Together the two firms have a 32.5 percent stake in the project, which is managed by the Kazakh state oil-and-gas firm KazMunayGaz. Other major investors are ChevronTexaco, with a 20 percent share, and Russia's LUKoil, with 15 percent. Kazakhstan hopes that the oil field will create 20,000 jobs. It is projected to produce 200,000 barrels of oil per day and up to 7 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The gas is already being exported to Orenburg, Russia, for processing. BB
KAZAKHSTAN, TURKMENISTAN DRAFT AGREEMENT ON CASPIAN DIVISION
Two days of talks between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on the division of the Caspian seabed ended on 15 July with the two sides adopting a draft agreement laying out the dividing line between the two countries, Interfax-Kazakhstan and RIA-Novosti reported on 16 July, citing a press release from the Kazakh Foreign Ministry. The delegations also reportedly agreed that the next step in the process should be trilateral talks including Azerbaijan, talks which could produce an agreement on the exact delimitation of the three countries' shares of the seabed and the Caspian Sea's resources. Kazakhstan has already reached similar agreements with Russia and Azerbaijan on the division of the seabed. While the former Soviet republics, eager to begin exploiting their portions of the Caspian seabed, have gone ahead with bilateral and trilateral agreements on the division of the sea, Iran continues to insist that the Caspian be divided into five equal parts. BB
OSCE TO TRAIN KYRGYZ POLICE TO COPE WITH MASS DISTURBANCES
A spokesman for the OSCE Center in Bishkek, Shamshibek Mamyrov, told a press conference at the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry on 16 July that an OSCE police-training program will definitely include the formation of special police units to deal with "mass disturbances," akipress.org reported. Mamyrov was quoted as asserting that such units are necessary order to avoid diverting ordinary police from their normal jobs, adding that the experience of "many countries" has shown that special units are particularly effective in dealing with mass disturbances. The OSCE program also includes the formation of eight mobile canine units and two checkpoints equipped with modern equipment to fight drug smuggling. Mamyrov added that the OSCE expects the success of the police program will encourage the Kyrgyz government to allocate funds to reform the law enforcement system. BB
KYRGYZ PARTIES PREPARE FOR GOVERNMENT ROUNDTABLE...
Kyrgyz opposition parties held an informal meeting on 16 July to prepare for a 19 July government-sponsored roundtable, Deutsche Welle reported. The round table, in which President Askar Akaev is expected to participate, will focus on the contributions of political parties and nongovernmental organizations to the development of Kyrgyz society, as well as on the responsibilities of the media and government transparency. According to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, leaders of parties and groups that are considered irreconcilable opponents of the government have not been invited to attend. Parliamentarian Azimbek Beknazarov, head of the Asaba Party and the Movement for Akaev's Resignation, has already said that his movement is too busy trying to force the president out of office to take part in such events (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2003). Other prominent opposition leaders who have not been invited are Erkindik Party head and a prominent human rights activist Topchubek Turgunaliev and Tursunbek Akunov, chairman of the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan. BB
...AND VOW TO PRESS GOVERNMENT FOR GREATER FREEDOMS
Fifteen strongly oppositionist and centrist parties have been invited, including Ar-Namys -- whose leader, former Vice President Feliks Kulov, is in jail -- Ata-Meken, and Moya Strana, according to Deutsche Welle. According to Ar-Namys official Emil Aliev, the invited parties agreed at their 16 July gathering that they will press for local and parliamentary elections by party lists and for genuine freedom of the media and of assembly. They will also try to persuade the government top grant the opposition equal access to the state media. BB
KYRGYZ MILITARY OFFICIALS INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN NATO EXERCISES
Three representatives of Kyrgyzstan's Defense Ministry have been invited to take part in NATO military exercises in Lviv, Ukraine, akipress.org reported on 16 July. The exercises are being organized under NATO's Partnership for Peace (PFP) program, of which Kyrgyzstan has been an active participant since it was established in the early 1990s. In Lviv, the Kyrgyz participants will join contingents from 12 other PFP states and eight NATO members to undergo training as multinational battalions in the use of computer systems and in field exercises. The objective of the exercises is to establish a common understanding of the tasks involved in peacekeeping operations. BB
IRAN GIVES TAJIKISTAN $31 MILLION FOR TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE
Iran will provide $31 million to fund construction of the Tajik transportation infrastructure, RIA-Novosti and Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 16 July, quoting Iranian Minister of Roads and Transport Ahmad Khoram, who spoke to journalists after meeting with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov. Of that amount, $10 million will be in the form of a grant, and $21 million will be a credit. The $10 million was already pledged to Tajikistan to construct a tunnel at Anzob that will link the northern and southern parts of the country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2003). The rest is earmarked for road construction and the reconstruction of the road linking Dushanbe with Kashgar in Xinjiang Province, China, via eastern Kyrgyzstan. Hurram noted that the recent trilateral agreement among Tajikistan, Iran, and Afghanistan includes a feasibility study for a road linking the three countries that would give Tajikistan access to Persian Gulf ports. BB
TURKMEN DIPLOMAT OBTAINS POLITICAL ASYLUM IN U.S.
Turkmenistan's Ambassador to Armenia Toily Gurbanov and his family have been granted political asylum in the United States, Interfax and other Russian media reported on 16 July, quoting unnamed Armenian security sources and Arminfo. Staff at the Turkmen Embassy in Yerevan were quoted as saying they do not know Gurbanov's whereabouts, but they acknowledged that he had requested political asylum in the United States a few days earlier. They said they have received instructions from the Turkmen Foreign Ministry informing them that Gurbanov, a former minister of foreign economic relations, is no longer an ambassador and that his diplomatic passports and those of his family have been annulled. BB
STAFF OF UZBEK NEWSPAPER RESIGNS OVER CENSORSHIP ORDER
The entire staff of the Uzbek newspaper "Mokhiyat" has resigned to protest an order from the publication's new director to stop publishing articles critical of the government, centrasia.ru reported on 17 July. The newspaper belongs to the NIA Turkiston-press news agency. Sa'dulla Hakim became director of the agency last month. According to the report, Hakim formerly served as the head of the presidential information office. "Mokhiyat" journalists said that immediately after he took over the directorship, Hakim began to censor the contents of the newspaper. The journalists asserted that previously "Mokhiyat" was the only newspaper in Uzbekistan trying to report the truth. Recently, President Islam Karimov called on the media to be more critical in their reporting. BB
BELARUSIAN NGO WARNED FOR PROVIDING HELP OUTSIDE ITS REGION
The Minsk city government's justice department issued a warning to the Minsk-based Independent Association of Legal Studies (IALS) on 15 July for assisting the Hrodna-based NGO Ratusha in a legal battle with authorities seeking its closure (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April 2003), Belapan reported on 16 July. The city officials said the IALS strayed from its charter by providing legal assistance to Ratusha in a Hrodna regional court, which is outside Minsk Oblast. IALS Chairwoman Alena Tankachova announced that her organization will continue providing help to persecuted NGOs, even if it is forced into civil disobedience. AM
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT PASSES DRAFT AGREEMENT ON RUSSIAN OIL TRANSIT
The Ukrainian government approved a draft 15-year agreement with Russia on 16 July on the transit of oil through Ukraine, Fuel and Energy Minister Serhiy Yermilov told Interfax. The government thus authorized Yermilov to sign the agreement, which applies to all Ukrainian pipelines except the Odesa-Brody project (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 2003). The document allows Russian oil companies to transit up to 79.5 million tons of oil annually through Ukraine. Ukraine is currently using less than half of its pipeline network's capacity, according to Yermilov. AM
UKRAINE, POLAND DISCUSS IRAQI TASKS
Ukrainian and Polish Defense Ministers Yevhen Marchuk and Jerzy Szmajdzinski met in Krakow on 16 July to discuss the final stage of their military contingents' preparations for the international stabilization mission to Iraq, PAP and Interfax reported. Marchuk and Szmajdzinski praised the Polish-Ukrainian battalion Polukrbat and discussed the legal grounds for further cooperation in military training, education, and joint rescue missions. The Polish-Ukrainian cooperation program in 2003 includes 68 projects, 34 of which are to take place in Poland, 33 in Ukraine, and one in Kosova. AM
HIGH-RANKING NATO OFFICER INSPECTS ESTONIAN AIR FORCE
Lieutenant General Jurgen Hoche, NATO's deputy commander allied air forces north, began a three-day visit to Estonia on 16 July accompanied by a five-member NATO delegation, BNS reported. The delegation is scheduled to hold talks with defense forces Chief of Staff Colonel Alar Laneman, Deputy Chief of Staff Colonel Valeri Saar, and Air Force commander Brigadier General Teo Kruuner. On 18 July, the delegation will visit and inspect the Air Force base and the air-sovereignty operations center at Amari before proceeding to Latvia in the evening. SG
LATVIA SIGNS AGREEMENT TO SELL 5 PERCENT STAKE OF VENTSPILS NAFTA
Latvian Privatization Agency Director General Arnis Ozolnieks on 16 July signed an agreement in Riga with representatives of the company Latvijas Naftas Tranzits (Latvian Oil Transit [LNT]) under which LNT will purchase a 5 percent stake in Ventspils Nafta (Ventspils Oil) for 4.54 million lats ($7.96 million), BNS reported. The deal will give LNT a majority stake in the joint-stock oil company; prior to the agreement, LNT owned a nearly 47 percent stake in Ventspils Oil and the state, 43.6 percent. The remainder is owned by various entities. The purchase price, which must be paid within three years, was based on the average price of shares in Ventspils Oil over the past month on the Riga stock exchange. SG
LITHUANIA TO RAISE MINIMUM WAGE
The government decided on 16 July to increase the monthly minimum wage for most workers from 430 litas ($140) to 450 litas as of 1 September, "Lietuvos rytas" reported the next day. The hourly minimum wage is to be increased from 2.53 litas to 2.67 litas. The action was taken on the recommendation of the Trilateral Council, which comprises representatives of the government, trade unions, and employers organizations. According to the Lithuanian Statistics Department, slightly more than one-sixth of the workers in Lithuania earn only the minimum wage, which had not been changed since June 1998. However, the monthly minimum wage will remain at 430 litas for agricultural workers, politicians, judges, public officers, and civil servants. SG
POLAND'S SUPREME COURT CONFIRMS EU REFERENDUM RESULT
The Polish Supreme Court on 16 July confirmed the official results of the country's June referendum on EU accession, Polish media reported. The justices nullified the results in two constituencies, Elk and Wroclaw, but said those tallies did not significantly affect the final result. More than 77 percent of Poles backed accession, while nearly 23 percent opposed it among the 58.85 percent of voters who turned up to cast their ballots (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2003). AM
LEADING POLISH SENATOR URGES IMPROVED RELATIONS WITH EASTERN NEIGHBORS
Senate Deputy Speaker Ryszard Jarzembowski said on 16 July that relations between Poland and Belarus can and should be better, PAP reported. Jarzembowski was speaking at the end of an unofficial three-day visit to Mahilou aimed at boosting the 28-year-old cooperation between that city and Wloclawek in northeastern Poland. It is a great mistake to neglect Belarus and Poland's other eastern neighbors, Jarzembowski warned. "We have enormous possibilities for cooperation with that country in trade, culture, and sports," he added. AM
EU REBUKES POLAND OVER PREPARATIONS TO ABSORB FUNDS
The European Commission criticized Poland on 16 July for delays in Warsaw's preparations to absorb EU structural and cohesion funds from early 2004, PAP reported. The commission's report predicted that Poland will not be ready by the end of February with a computer system to sort out projects seeking EU funding, and regulations on public procurement, among other obstacles. It also cited the need for amended laws on public aid to industry, greater coordination among ministries, and delays in plans to employ 2,000 additional workers in local-government administration. The commission warned that if the problem is not tackled soon, Poland will have a limited ability to absorb EU funds. AM
OVERSIGHT BODY SELECTS NEW CZECH TELEVISION DIRECTOR
The Czech Television Council voted on 16 July to appoint current news director and anchorman Jiri Janecek as the state broadcaster's new director, local dailies reported, filling a vacancy that arose when Jiri Balvin was dismissed in November. Janecek defeated a list of applicants that included acting Director Petr Klimes, whose half-year tenure has seen a marked rise in the station's ratings. Janecek, a 13-year veteran of Czech Television who went into the selection process as a clear favorite, was expected to assume the post at midnight on 17 July, according to "Mlada fronta Dnes." "I would like to revive Czech Television," Janecek told CTK after the announcement. He vowed to resist pressure from both unions and politicians, and identified his priorities as implementing a new management structure and laying down advancement guidelines to motivate employees. The station has been plagued by dissent and acrimony since employees launched a strike in late 2000 to protest a highly politicized appointment to head the station (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 January 2001). AH
POLL: MOST SLOVAKS APPROVE OF ABORTION-LAW AMENDMENT
A new MVK poll suggests that nearly 70 percent of Slovaks approve of the draft amendment to the abortion law passed recently by parliament, while 18.6 percent oppose it, TASR reported on 16 July. The amendment, drafted by the junior ruling Alliance of a New Citizen (ANO) and opposed by the other coalition members (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3, 7, 8, and 9 July 2003), extends the permissible period for an abortion under specific circumstances. Another MVK poll released on 16 July shows increasing public support for the opposition Smer party and ANO amid declining support for the coalition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), which stridently opposed the abortion amendment. Smer and ANO showed gains of 3.7 and 2.6 percentage points, respectively. Smer (25.2 percent) led all parties, followed by the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (15.9 percent), the coalition's ANO (11.1 percent) and Hungarian Coalition Party (10.9 percent), and the opposition Communist Party of Slovakia (9.5 percent). Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) received 9 percent, while parliament speaker Pavol Hrusovsky's KDH received 7.1 percent, down 1.4 percentage points since June. DW
SLOVAK LEADERS CALL FOR BUGGING CASE TO BE RESOLVED
Slovakia's three highest-ranking elected officials agreed at a meeting on 16 July that the investigation into the "Sme" wiretapping scandal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11, 15, and 16 July 2003) must continue, CTK reported. President Rudolf Schuster, Prime Minister Dzurinda, and parliament speaker Hrusovsky agreed that the probe into the wiretapping in December 2002 of ANO Chairman Pavol Rusko and an editor from the Slovak daily "Sme," halted by military prosecutors due to a lack of evidence, must be resumed. "I trust that it [the case] will be thoroughly investigated. The investigation must not be stopped," Schuster said. Dzurinda called the wiretappings "mafia practices and a flagrant violation of the law" and expressed surprise that the investigation was halted. Dzurinda previously rejected calls by opposition Smer leader Robert Fico to dismiss Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Ladislav Pittner, who assumed that post in April, after Vladimir Mitro resigned over fallout from the bugging scandal. "When I decide to act, I do so, but on the basis of facts, not of politicking," Dzurinda said. DW
HUNGARIAN PREMIER SETS 2008 TARGET FOR ADOPTION OF EURO...
Speaking at the press conference following a 16 July cabinet session, Premier Peter Medgyessy said Hungary aims to adopt the euro on 1 January 2008, MTI news agency reported. He added that Hungary intends to join the ERM-II exchange-rate mechanism when it joins the EU in May 2004. The premier said the introduction of the European currency to replace the forint is a "national issue" and will symbolize the completion of the economic transformation. He predicted that Hungary's adoption of the euro will result in new jobs, low inflation, and economic growth. At the same press conference, Hungarian National Bank Governor Zsigmond Jarai said the central bank supports the 2008 target for the euro's introduction, but he warned that such a goal will require stricter fiscal policies. ZsM
...AND BUDGET TARGETS FOR COMING YEARS
Medgyessy also announced his government's budget priorities for next year at the 16 July press conference, MTI reported. He added that he considers 2004 to be the first year on the road to Hungary's introduction of the euro. An economic program adopted the same day together with the Hungarian National Bank assumes reduced inflation of 3 percent, internal debt pared to 60 percent of GDP, and a budget deficit trimmed to 3 percent of GDP in the next four years. The government intends to achieve economic stability and lower the deficit not by cutting spending, according to Medgyessy, but by increasing revenues. Medgyessy vowed to go ahead with a promised pension increase and motorway-construction projects. The government also raised its official deficit target for 2003 to 4.8 percent of GDP, from 4.5 percent. ZsM
SERBIAN BANK CHIEF CALLS TOP OFFICIALS CORRUPT
Serbian National Bank Governor Mladjan Dinkic said in Belgrade on 17 July that Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic should be sacked for failing to deal with corruption of which he was aware, the private Beta news agency reported. Dinkic charged that Mihajlovic knew that Nemanja Kolesar, who heads the bank-privatization agency, and Zoran Janjusevic, who is Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic's security adviser, are involved in a money-laundering operation worth $1.6 million. The bank governor based his charges on a document from the Hungarian police, which, he said, was sent to the Serbian Interior Ministry on 25 June. He added that Zivkovic should quit if the charges prove true. Dinkic, who heads the G-17 Plus political party, has traded accusations for some weeks with officials of the governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, who repeatedly demanded that he prove his allegations of government corruption (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June and 15 July 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 May 2003). There are few differences in ideology between DOS and G-17 Plus, but both groups are competing for the same constituency of pro-reform voters. PM
SERBIAN NGO WARNS OF NATIONALISM AT MAIN UNIVERSITY
Sonia Biserko, who heads the Serbian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, said in Belgrade on 15 July that Belgrade University has become the country's leading center of nationalism, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. She noted that the departments of law, political science, and philosophy are at the core of a movement to reinterpret the recent past from a nationalist perspective and disseminate such views among the younger generation. Biserko added that the army and the Serbian Orthodox Church are two other important nationalist institutions. She argued that nationalism plays a major role in discussions about the new Serbian Constitution and about Kosova. Many nationalists are angry over proposals to redefine Serbia in the new constitution as a "state of its citizens" and not as a "state of the Serbian nation and all minorities who live there," "Vesti" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 2003). Borisav Pelevic, who heads the nationalist Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ), suggested ironically that the constitution should drop the name "Srbija" for the country and replace it with "Gradjanija," from the word meaning citizen. PM
U.S. TO MEDIATE KOSOVA-SERBIA TALKS?
Reno Harnish, who is chief of mission of the U.S. Office Prishtina, told reporters in the Kosovar capital on 16 July that the United States is willing to mediate talks between Serbian and Kosovar leaders if that allows the discussions to begin soon, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13, 20, and 27 June 2003). The talks are not expected to begin before September. In related news, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson told a Prishtina radio interviewer on 17 July that he disagrees with a recent suggestion by KFOR commander Lieutenant General Fabio Mini eventually to replace international peacekeepers in Kosova with units from unspecified Balkan countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 2003). Robertson stressed that Mini was simply expressing his own personal opinion. PM
EU MILITARY TO STAY IN MACEDONIA, BUT LEADERSHIP IS UNCLEAR
In Brussels on 16 July, the EU agreed to extend its 400-strong Concordia military mission to Macedonia by 2 1/2 months until 15 December, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10, 20, and 27 June 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 27 June 2003). French representatives said, however, that France does not want to continue leading the operation. It is not clear why the French, who place great stress on developing an EU military capacity, took this stand, nor is it known who will replace them. Elsewhere, NATO agreed to extend its support for the mission. Several Macedonian leaders have made it clear that they do not see any need for a foreign military presence beyond that date. They agreed to the current extension only to please the EU, which is anxious to show that it can field an effective force, even though the situation in Macedonia is quite stable. PM
MACEDONIAN LABOR PROTEST GETS FEISTY
Several hundred workers who recently lost their job at state-owned electric company Elektrostopanstvo na Makedonija (ESM) staged a protest outside the parliament building on 16 July, Macedonian media reported. Police intervened when protesters started hurling eggs, bottles, and stones at the parliament to protest plans for further layoffs. UB
CROATIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OPPOSE YOGA CLASSES
The Croatian Bishops' Conference said in a statement in Zagreb on 14 July that the government and public should oppose the introduction of yoga classes in public schools, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. The bishops warned that the state authorities are attempting to introduce "culturally alien influences" that are at odds with Croatia's "generally accepted values and European cultural traditions" into the schools without the knowledge or approval of the pupils' parents. The long-term effects of the yoga classes are "incalculable," the bishops argued. In February, the Education and Sport Ministry signed an agreement with a yoga society to enable teachers to learn yoga practices and techniques under experienced guidance. The Vatican has long opposed the spread of interest in Eastern religions and philosophies in traditionally Christian countries. Pope John Paul II has specifically singled out Buddhism and New Age spirituality as particularly suspect. PM
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ASSESSES GOVERNMENT'S ACHIEVEMENTS
President Ion Iliescu told a press conference on 16 July that in the past three years Romanian society has benefited from vast improvements, primarily due to economic progress and measures taken by the government to improve living conditions, Mediafax reported. He added that foreign-policy successes -- such as the country's invitation to join NATO and reception of a clear target date for EU accession -- can be credited to Romanian society as a whole. Iliescu said the government's priorities are now reforming the justice system, fulfilling the criteria to achieve status as a functioning market economy, and modernizing the agricultural sector. He noted the progress the country has made in justice reform and combating bureaucracy and corruption. Iliescu also said the justice system needs to become "powerful, independent," and immune to corruption and outside pressure. ZsM
STABILITY PACT TO SET UP REGIONAL CRIME-FIGHTING CENTER IN BUCHAREST
Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe Special Coordinator Erhard Busek and Romanian Justice Minister Rodica Stanoiu signed an agreement on 16 July on setting up the pact's Bucharest-based Regional Center for Organized Crime, Mediafax reported. The initiative aims at creating a regional system for combating organized crime. Busek said Romania "has an important role in combating organized crime and will coordinate the stability process in the region." He added that Romania needs to adopt laws regarding the protection of data and of witnesses. Busek met with Romanian Premier Adrian Nastase and President Iliescu bestowed the national order Romania's Star upon him for his support in establishing the center in Bucharest and for promoting cooperation in the region. ZsM
MOLDOVAN AUTHORITIES UNIMPRESSED BY TIRASPOL'S CUSTOMS HIKES
Moldovan Deputy Economy Minister Marian Lupu said on 16 July that Transdniestrian authorities' customs-duty hikes will have little impact on his country in light of the low level of mutual trade, RFE/RL reported. He added that the measure will have a much more significant impact on Transdniestrian companies and Tiraspol's tax revenues. Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov issued a decree on 14 July raising customs fees on goods imported to Moldova via Transdniester from 20 percent to 100 percent, Flux reported on 16 July. Smirnov said the measure was merely a response to an alleged "economic blockade" imposed by Chisinau against Transdniester (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 2003). ZsM
IMF WARNS MOLDOVA NEEDS TO DO MORE FOR A NEW LOAN
The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) representative to Moldova, Edgardo Ruggiero, said on 16 July that Moldova needs to do more to convince his organization that it should approve the release of a $142 million tranche of credit aimed at reducing poverty, the BBC reported. Moldovan Premier Vasile Tarlev recently declared that Moldova has complied fully with conditions imposed on issuing that installment. Ruggiero said essential conditions include the liberalization of foreign trade, a lifting of restrictions on exports, and the establishment of relations with the World Bank. ZsM
A 16 July "RFE/RL Newsline" item titled "EU, NATO Discuss OSCE Proposal On Sending Peacekeeping Forces To Moldova" should have quoted Stella Ronner, spokeswoman for the OSCE's Dutch chairmanship, as saying, "The efforts of the OSCE chairmanship [in Moldova] are focused first and foremost on reaching a political settlement." On 17 July, she told RFE/RL that: "The Netherlands is sounding out options for strengthening the implementation of a political settlement through a peace-consolidation operation." The 16 July "RFE/RL Newsline" item also incorrectly reported that European Council Policy and Security Committee Chairman Maurizio Melani said a decision on whether to send peacekeeping troops to Moldova will come soon. "RFE/RL Newsline" regrets the errors.
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER CONFIRMS GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE...
Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski has asked parliament to vote on changes he made in his cabinet on 16 July, mediapool.bg reported. Parliament was expected to conduct the vote on 17 July. In what is the first major government reshuffle since Saxecoburggotski took office in 2001, he replaced Social Affairs Minister Lidia Shuleva, Education Minister Vladimir Atanasov, and Health Minister Bozhidar Finkov with their current deputies, Hristina Hristova, Igor Damyanov, and Slavcho Bogoev, respectively. Shuleva will replace Nikolay Vasilev as economy minister and Vasilev will become the new transport minister. Outgoing Transport Minister Plamen Petrov will either become an adviser to Saxecoburggotski or head the state Communications Agency. Incumbent Silistra Oblast deputy administrator Filiz Husmenova will replace Minister without portfolio Nezhdet Mollov. Atanasov, Finkov and Mollov will leave the government. Saxecoburggotski nominated Plamen Panayotov as first deputy prime minister in charge of coordinating ministries' work during the European integration process, while European Affairs Minister Meglena Kuneva will remain the country's chief negotiator with the EU. Government spokesman Dimitar Tsonev predicted that major changes will be made in the lower echelons of the government as well, "Standart" reported. UB
...AND CARRIES OUT A SLIGHT RESTRUCTURING...
Saxecoburggotski also announced that the Transport and Communications Ministry will be renamed the Transport and High Technology Ministry, mediapool.bg reported. The Economy Ministry's responsibility for the food- and tobacco-production industries will be handed over to the Agriculture Ministry, as was demanded by Saxecoburggotski's coalition partner, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). In addition, at the DPS's request a Tourism Agency was formed, which will most likely be headed by Deputy Economy Minister Dimitar Hadzhinikolov, "Dnevnik" reported. UB
...AS OPPOSITION REMAINS SKEPTICAL
Both the conservative opposition Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) and the Socialist Party (BSP) criticized Saxecoburggotski on 16 July for not going far enough in his reshuffle, mediapool.bg reported. SDS Chairwoman Nadezhda Mihailova said it is evident from Saxecoburggotski's actions that he is unwilling to change his overall policies. BSP spokesman Angel Naydenov said the public expected radical changes in the government, but "what actually happened is that the faces in the government were [simply] moved around." He said also said he does not expect any major change in the government's policies. UB
DOES THE YUKOS SCANDAL MEAN THE END FOR RUSSIAN PHILANTHROPY?
The owners of Russia's biggest companies have begun thinking in recent years about ways of sharing with others the resources and opportunities that they possess, the "Financial Times" wrote in February. The paper cited Olga Alekseeva, director of Charities Aid Foundation in Moscow, as saying leading Russian businesspeople annually donate from $5 million to $20 million to charity. "A new generation of leaders came in that is familiar with Western management," Alekseeva said. "They consider corporate responsibility a part of the new business culture."
However, the recent attacks on oil giant Yukos and other incidents that have been interpreted as signaling that the state intends to rein in the oligarchs could have the unintended consequence of deterring businesspeople from social investment to enable them to concentrate on survival and on transferring their assets out of a hostile political environment.
As a growing number of Russian companies adopted international norms for accounting and fiscal accountability, they also started investing in "social assets," providing, for example, educational programs for their employees and upgrading local infrastructures inherited from the Soviet era. These activities, combined with more purely philanthropic gestures such as sponsoring cultural or sporting events, not only improve the image of the company in question but also increase their capitalization, according to a report published by the Institute of Urban Economics in Moscow.
There are a growing number of high-profile examples of such philanthropy, although details can be hard to come by. Russian Aluminum (Rusal) is the main sponsor and partner of the Russian Olympic Committee. Interros holding President Vladimir Potanin finances and runs a charity foundation and pays stipends to students across Russia. Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) has allocated $1.5 million for a program called Russian Leadership, which is also supported by the U.S. Library of Congress.
In 2000, oil giant Yukos gained a lot of press with its Pokoleniye.ru project, which was aimed at overcoming the "digital divide" in Russia by opening 50 regional Internet-education centers before 2005. According to the proposal, about 500,000 schoolteachers and 10 million students will acquire Internet and computer skills at these centers.
Recently, Yukos became the first major Russian corporation to show interest in an institution of higher education whose specialization is not directly related to the company's profile. In May, the Russian State Humanities University in Moscow, the Education Ministry, and Yukos signed a trilateral agreement earmarking $100 million for the university over the next 10 years. Yukos says it chose the humanities university because ''Russia currently needs humanities specialists most.'' ''Our goal is to create a model for university financing that is similar to those that already exist in the United States and the United Kingdom and that have proven their viability," Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskii said. Leonid Nevzlin, a major Yukos shareholder and one of the company's founders, became rector of the university and has assumed responsibility over university management and fund-raising.
Of course, some within the academic community worry that the influx of "oligarchic capital" will have a negative effect on the spirit of this prestigious university. Others counter that corporate support for higher learning is an established global practice that seems finally to be reaching Russia.
The State Humanities University project is interesting because it is clear that Yukos is not thinking solely in terms of its own human-resources needs. By providing long-term funding to a university that is not likely to be a major source of company employees, Yukos seems to be trying to foster changes in the larger social environment in which the company operates. "Yukos's decision in this respect," Nevzlin said on Ekho Moskvy, "is to invest in the quality of the social environment that surrounds business. This, first of all, is the realm of science, law, teaching, and state administration. That's our sphere of investment."
However, just 10 days after Nevzlin took over as rector of the State Humanities University, he and Khodorkovskii were summoned by federal prosecutors for questioning in connection with an alleged case of illegal privatization stemming back to 1994. According to most analysts, the case was initiated by the so-called St. Petersburg chekists as a warning to Khodorkovskii not to continue his political activities, which include providing financial support to Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces.
Political analyst Igor Bunin told Ekho Moskvy on 3 July that the state's "power-vertical" policy does not work in a situation that includes relatively autonomous players, such as major transnational corporations. He added that it is important to understand that such corporations are not just economic entities but powerful social institutions as well. This means that the state must develop the capacity to interact with them dialogically, rather than through a top-down command model. According to Bunin, the present government's failure to realize this inevitably produces conflicts and economic disasters that arise when the market capitalization of Russian companies plummets in response to an assault by the state. This, for instance, is exactly what has happened with Yukos in recent days. "This dubious prosecution for the $283 million case that took place nine years ago is bringing the economy $9 billion in damages, 'Izvestiya' has written," former Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin said on Ekho Moskvy on 9 July. "And that is not the end, because now many [business] projects will be put on hold because the recent events have demonstrated the still-high risks of doing business in Russia."
The Kremlin's attitude toward private business creates particular problems in the realm of philanthropy. Only major corporations are capable of implementing large-scale, long-term projects; even the Russian government has proven unable to do so, due to its tight budget and different priorities. The St. Petersburg chekists and the other political clans certainly cannot do so, since they operate on the basis of clan logic.
Thus the attack on oligarchs, which many believe is motivated by a desire to take over their assets, has the real potential for destroying the nascent world of Russian philanthropy. Just as foreign investors are likely once again to become wary of doing business in such a country, so too will Russian businesspeople begin to rethink the wisdom of investing their threatened assets in culture, education, communications, and other socially important spheres.Andrei Deriabin is an independent media analyst and director of the nonprofit partnership Development Policies in Novosibirsk.
FORMER AFGHAN WARLORD CHARGED IN LONDON
British police announced that Zardad Faryadi Sarwar will appear in court on 17 July to face multiple charges for acts of torture and kidnapping he allegedly committed while serving in the 1990s as a commander of a group of fighters in the area of Sarubi, Kabul Province, RFE/RL reported. Sarwar, 40, was arrested on 16 July following an investigation by Scotland Yard's antiterrorism branch that involved sending detectives to Afghanistan to investigate and gather evidence, "The Independent" reported on 16 July. He arrived in the United Kingdom in the 1990s and requested asylum. The charges against Sarwar mark the first time the International Convention on Torture, which was incorporated into British law in 1988, has been employed by prosecutors. Sarwar's case might also prompt prosecutors in Britain and other European countries to bring charges against many members of Afghanistan's communist-era (1978-92) secret police and other warlords from the civil war (1992-2001). AT
KABUL DEMONSTRATION DEMANDS EQUAL RIGHTS, REFORMS, AND INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY
Approximately 300 people, most of whom have ties to the Freedom and Democracy Movement or the National and Islamic Movement, staged a rally in Kabul on 15 July to demands reforms within the Afghan Transitional Administration and the structure of the future Afghan National Army, and the acceleration of the disarmament process, Hindukosh news agency reported. The demonstrators also demanded that the future Afghan constitution provide equal rights for men and women and called for conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari to resign, accusing him of having links to former mujahedin parties. The protestors submitted an 11-point communique to the office of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan for consideration (for a full text of the communique, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 17 July 2003). AT
GERMANY HANDS OVER ISAF COMMAND TO CANADA...
In Kabul on 17 July, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander Lieutenant General Norbert van Heyst handed over command of the multinational peacekeeping force to Canadian Brigadier General Peter Devlin, the ISAF announced. German Brigadier General Werner Freers had held the command since March. Germany is expected to gradually reduce its forces in Kabul from 2,600 soldiers to 1,500, and the Canadian contingent will increase to 1,800 soldiers by August. While Freers said he had an extraordinary experience leading the ISAF, he expressed regret for not being able to bring all of his soldiers back home, dpa reported on 17 July. Four German soldiers were killed in a 7 June suicide attack (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 12 June 2003). AT
...IN PREPARATION FOR NATO TAKEOVER
NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said in Brussels on 16 July that the Atlantic alliance will remain in Afghanistan "until the job doesn't need to be done," AFP reported. Command of the ISAF is scheduled to be handed over to NATO on 11 August, dpa reported. Following a meeting in Brussels with Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, Robertson said that under Canadian command, the NATO-led ISAF will focus on maintaining security in Kabul and helping the Transitional Administration train its security forces. Robertson added that Afghanistan "may well be one of the toughest [missions] that we've taken on," but gave assurances that NATO is committed for the long term and does not "intend to fail" (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 20 December 2002). AT
IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SUGGESTS CANADIAN JOURNALIST FELL
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in a 16 July conversation with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham that photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who died on 11 July of a cerebral hemorrhage (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 16 July 2003), had a fractured skull and suggested that her injuries might have resulted from a fall, Canada's "The Globe and Mail" reported on 17 July. Graham insisted that the Iranian government get to the bottom of the matter. However, the newspaper on 16 July quoted Canadian Ambassador to Iran Philip McKinnon as saying that Iran's "feudal" political system leaves little hope for a fair and transparent investigation. He added that Iranian law does not recognize dual citizenship and noted that Tehran is treating the case as the death of an Iranian citizen, thus precluding Canadian participation in the investigation. BS
IRANIAN EMBASSY IN PARIS SAYS JOURNALIST NOT BURIED YET...
The Iranian Embassy in Paris said on 16 July that the remains of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi have not been buried and will not be buried until an investigation into her death is concluded, AFP reported. Earlier that day, Iranian Ambassador to France Seyyed Sadeq Kharrazi told a delegation from Reporters Without Borders that the remains were buried on 13 or 14 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 2003). BS
...BUT SHE MUST STAY IN IRAN...
"Since Mrs. Zahra Kazemi is an Iranian, no country has the right to seek the transfer of her body," Iranian government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh said on 16 July, according to IRNA. Ramezanzadeh said that, as an Iranian national, Kazemi is subject to Iranian law regardless of what the Canadian government says. BS
...DESPITE SON'S WISHES
Zahra Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi, has demanded that his mother's remains be returned to Canada, Toronto's "The Globe and Mail" newspaper reported on 17 July. He said he has spoken with his grandmother in Shiraz and, "It has been clear between us, and all the members of the family, that [Zahra Kazemi] won't be buried in the land of the people who murdered her." "She belongs with me, her only child," he added. BS
TWO MORE IRANIAN STUDENTS DETAINED
Tehran authorities detained two student leaders on 16 July, ILNA reported. Said Babai and Amir Motamedi, the head and secretary of the Islamic Association of Students at Tehran University, respectively, failed to return after responding to a summons from the Tehran Prosecutor's Office, according to a member of the student association's central council. BS
IRANIAN WOMEN LACK EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Safdar Husseini said on 16 July that Iranian women's participation in national security and socioeconomic development requires improvement, IRNA reported. In Iran, the figure stands at 12-14 percent, he said, in comparison with 22-25 percent in countries such as Syria and Kuwait. IRNA cited data from the Iran Statistics Center that shows an unemployment rate of 41.4 percent for Iranians with a high-school education or higher, and 23 percent for those who are less educated. Although the number of female job seekers is lower than that of male job seekers, women still have a lower chance of securing employment, according to the Statistics Center. The head of Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, Mahmud Mohammadi-Araqi, said during a 15 January meeting with Mumbai University Vice Chancellor Bhalchandra Mungekar that the West inaccurately portrays Iranian women as being unable to pursue higher education, IRNA reported. Araqi said at least half the university students in Iran are women, and that the Islamic revolution prepared the ground for this trend. BS
IRAN-JAPAN OIL NEGOTIATIONS ON HOLD
Iran-Japan negotiations on development of the Azadegan oil field will be suspended temporarily at the end of this week, the "Asahi Shimbun" daily reported on 17 July. The Iranian side is going on summer break and the future negotiation schedule is undecided, but Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) remains keen on reaching an agreement. However, U.S. objections to the deal are a consideration and its potential profitability is in doubt. An anonymous oil-industry official pointed out that the field is near the Iraqi border in an area full of land mines, and two members of the Japanese consortium are having second thoughts -- Inoex Corporation objects to the sizable investment risks, and Japan Petroleum Exploration Company fears that the investment risk will reduce the price of its initial public offering (IPO). METI officials also are concerned about possible competition from China, with which Iran has entered negotiations (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 14 July 2003). BS
CENTCOM CHIEF SAYS IRAQI RESISTANCE IS ORGANIZING...
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General John Abizaid told reporters at a Defense Department press briefing on 16 July that Iraqi resistance groups appear to be conducting a more organized, guerrilla-style campaign than in previous weeks, according to the Defense Department website (http://www.defenselink.mil). Abizaid said U.S. forces continue to fight pro-Hussein resistance elements from the Iraqi intelligence services, Special Security Organization, Special Republican Guard, and mid-level Ba'athists who are working at regional levels in cell structures of six to eight people. He added that regional-level leaders are likely financing the militants. Asked about the level of resistance in Iraq, Abizaid said, "I'm not so sure that I would characterize it as escalating in terms of number of incidents. But it is getting more organized, and it is learning. It is adapting...to our tactics, techniques and procedures." He said militants are "less amateurish, and their ability to use improvised explosive devices and combine the use of these explosive devices with some sort of tactical activity...is more sophisticated." Abizaid contended, however, that there is no evidence of a central command structure guiding militant activities. KR
...AND SAYS ANSAR AL-ISLAM REMAINS A PROBLEM...
General Abizaid told reporters at the same 16 July press briefing that the terrorist group Ansar Al-Islam continues to present a problem for U.S. forces, according to the Defense Department release. Coalition forces hit an Ansar Al-Islam stronghold close to the Iranian border in northeastern Iraq on 21-22 March. The group had controlled about 18 villages close to the Kurdish village of Halabjah on the Iranian border (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 25 March 2003). "We don't know how they're infiltrating. There's some impression that they could be infiltrating from Iran," Abizaid said. "There's also [a] possibility that there were people that instead of moving away from the center of Iraq after they were hit, moved down into Baghdad. So, it's clear that Ansar Al-Islam is re-forming and is presenting a threat" to coalition forces. KR
...AS WELL AS AL-QAEDA SYMPATHIZERS
General Abizaid told reporters on 16 July that other "Al-Qaeda look-alikes or Al-Qaeda people" also appear to be attacking coalition forces in Iraq, according to the Defense Department. Asked if there is an organized Al-Qaeda group working in Iraq, Abizaid said, "I don't know that I would say that Osama bin Laden has made an order that has been conveyed to people that has caused them to move into Iraq to kill us, but I do know that there are those that would sympathize with him that have moved into Iraq and are trying to kill us." He added that foreign fighters continue to maintain a presence in Iraq. He maintained, however, that mid-level Ba'athists pose the primary threat to U.S. occupation forces. KR
COALITION FORCES ATTACKED ON ANNIVERSARY OF FORMER IRAQI LEADER'S COUP
Coalition forces were targeted in several attacks around the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on the 24th anniversary of Saddam Hussein's seizure of power on 16 July, leaving one U.S. soldier dead and six others wounded, according to international media reports. Militants fired a surface-to-air missile at a C-130 cargo plane landing at Baghdad International Airport, nytimes.com reported on 16 July. It was the second such attack in 10 days aimed at a transport plane as it approached the airport. In another incident, a U.S. Army convoy traveling west from Baghdad near the Abu Ghurayb Prison was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades, killing one soldier. A third incident left two U.S. soldiers seriously wounded after their vehicle drove over a land mine in Saidiya, south of Baghdad. Meanwhile, militants assassinated the U.S.-appointed mayor of Hadithah in that town on 16 July, Al-Jazeera reported the same day. Eyewitnesses told the satellite channel that unidentified assailants opened fire on Muhammad Nayil al-Jurayfi's car, killing the mayor and his son. Al-Jazeera reported that local residents had accused al-Jurayfi of "collaborating" with coalition forces. KR
RESISTANCE GROUP CLAIMS IT HAS HALTED ATTACKS
An Iraqi resistance group identifying itself as "Iraq's Revolutionaries -- Al-Anbar's Armed Brigades" issued a statement to "Al-Zaman" in which it claimed it has halted all resistance activities against coalition forces, the daily reported on 16 July. The group stated that its truce is temporary and is aimed at distancing itself from the deposed Hussein regime, which it claims is taking credit for the Al-Anbar brigades' attacks. "The one behind the mass graves and the executions wants to employ the struggle of our people who reject the occupation, hegemony, and guardianship to his own benefit and the benefit of his regime," the statement said. The group claimed it has not participated in any attacks on coalition forces since 2 July. "Al-Zaman" also reported on 16 July that a group calling itself the "Black Banners Organization" issued a statement to the daily calling on all Iraqis, Arabs, and Muslims to bomb oil pipelines and oil wells in order to "deprive" Americans and Europeans of oil. KR