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Newsline - September 29, 2003


U.S.-RUSSIA SUMMIT FOCUSES ON INTERNATIONAL ISSUES...
U.S. President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin completed a two-day summit at the U.S. presidential retreat of Camp David on 27 September with a joint declaration in which the two leaders pledged to cooperate in solving key international problems, Russian and international media reported. The statement said the two countries will increase coordination in combating international terrorism and will boost bilateral energy, trade, and high-technology ties. They also pledged to work together to protect intellectual-property rights. At a joint press conference on 27 September, Bush and Putin said they had discussed the situations in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea, as well as preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and strengthening the Russia-NATO relationship, RIA-Novosti and RTR reported. Putin said that Russia sees no alternative in the Middle East to the so-called road-map peace plan. He also confirmed Russia's willingness to participate in postwar stabilization and reconstruction in Iraq after the UN Security Council adopts an appropriate resolution. Bush said that he and Putin have agreed to work together to persuade Iran not to develop nuclear weapons. VY

...AS OLD ENEMIES STILL STRUGGLE TO BECOME FRIENDS
Commenting on the atmosphere of the Camp David Summit, TV-Tsentr commentator Aleksei Pushkov said on 27 September that the personal relationship between Presidents Bush and Putin seems better than the relations between the two countries. He said that Russia and the United States have "ceased being enemies, but have not yet become friends." VY

PUTIN DISCUSSES DOMESTIC SITUATION
Speaking at New York's Columbia University on 25 September, President Putin rejected the idea that his administration is suppressing freedom of speech, Russian media reported. He said that there was no freedom of speech in Russia for more than 100 years, so it is not exactly clear what he is being accused of repressing. After the end of the communist era in Russia, there came "a rebirth of freedom, and freedom of speech was understood as license, as anarchy and a striving for destruction by any means," Putin said. Asked about the strengthening of the secret services under his administration, Putin said that they should not interfere with domestic civil-society matters, but should "protect the interests of the state." He noted that these services had fallen into a state of almost complete decay, and that in recent years it has been possible to revive them and to organize their work more effectively. Commenting on Putin's remarks about press freedom, Soviet-era political prisoner and human rights activist Lev Ponomarev told the BBC on 26 September that what Putin calls "anarchy" and "license" is something that liberals regard as the crowning democratic achievement of post-Communist Russia. VY

PRESIDENT AGAIN AFFIRMS RESULTS OF PRIVATIZATION...
Speaking with U.S. business leaders at the New York Stock Exchange on 25 September, President Putin said he would consider granting an amnesty to capital accumulated in violation of the law during the privatizations of the 1990s, gazeta.ru and other Russian media reported. Putin said that such a move would be highly unpopular in Russia, but he is ready to consider it as part of an overall solution reached together with the Russian business community. Putin also reassured his audience that there will be no wide-scale revision of the results of privatization, as doing so would cause more harm to the economy than the botched privatization itself did. VY

...AND URGES BOOSTING ENERGY EXPORTS TO UNITED STATES
President Putin also told U.S. business leaders that Russia is hoping to increase substantially its energy exports to the United States, Russian media reported. He said Moscow hopes to provide 10 percent of U.S. oil needs within the next five to seven years. To this end, Russia is improving its oil-export infrastructure, including construction of an oil terminal in Murmansk, Putin said. He said that increasing energy exports to the United States would benefit both countries, as Russia will gain access to a huge market and to investment capital while the United States would acquire more stable and predictable energy supplies. He also advocated closer U.S.-Russian ties in space exploration and other high-technology areas. VY

EXPERTS ASSESS STATE OF U.S-RUSSIAN RELATIONS...
A position paper drafted by a group of the country's leading political scientists and experts says that Russia needs "a strategic union" with the United States, "Izvestiya," vvp.ru, and RosBalt reported on 26 September. A closed-door discussion of the document, entitled "The Doctrine of Forming a Strategic Union Between the United States and Russia," was held in Moscow on 24 September and was attended by Council for Foreign and Defense Policy Chairman Sergei Karaganov, Foundation for Effective Politics Director Gleb Pavlovskii, and Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada Director Mikhail Nosov, as well as political scientists Sergei Kurginyan, Viktor Tretyakov, and Viktor Kuvaldin. U.S., British, and French diplomats also attended the discussion. Most participants agreed that such a strategic alliance is not only desirable, but possible. However, they noted, there is a wide range of views on such a partnership, including those who agree to accept Russia's role as the United States' "junior partner" and the Russian-military industrial complex, whose economic interests depend on perpetuating U.S.-Russian animosities, vvp.ru reported. Most analysts, though, support Putin's aims of using U.S. resources to help rebuild Russia. Achieving this aim necessarily entails closer relations with the United States, vvp.ru reported. VY

...AS FORMER AMBASSADOR CALLS FOR 'SELECTIVE PARTNERSHIP'
Russia should form a "selective partnership" with Washington, Duma Deputy Speaker Vladimir Lukin (Yabloko), a former Russian ambassador to the United States, said on TV-Tsentr on 27 September. Russia should focus its foreign-policy efforts on bolstering ties with the entire North Atlantic community. Russia should seek to make relations with the United States better than those with the EU, and relations with the EU better than those with the United States. TV-Tsentr commentator Pushkov noted that the United States is beginning a presidential election campaign and said Putin should help Bush by not allowing Democratic candidates to make U.S.-Russian relations a campaign issue. VY

PRIMAKOV TRIES TO CUT A DEAL BETWEEN KREMLIN, OLIGARCHS
Former Prime Minister and head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yevgenii Primakov has sent President Putin a proposal for an agreement between the Kremlin and the oligarchs, "Komsomolskaya pravda" and TV-Tsentr reported on 25 and 27 September, respectively. According to the so-called Primakov Pact, the government will guarantee the results of all privatizations prior to 1998 if the oligarchs agree to pay in full all natural-resource fees to the states. Currently, up to 80-85 percent of such fees are misappropriated by the oligarchs, economist and academician Nikolai Petrakov told TV-Tsentr. Petrakov said this situation is as unjust as if a man who purchased a knife and fork claimed this gives him the right to all the food as well. However, "Komsomolskaya pravda" commented, if privatization results are to be reexamined, almost every businessperson in the country could be targeted by law enforcement, opening up vast vistas for corruption, with officials accepting payments to forestall investigations. Therefore, the Primakov Pact merits serious consideration, the daily wrote. VY

TIMING OF CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECISION COULD PROVE DECISIVE IN ELECTION CAMPAIGN
The Constitutional Court decided on 26 September that it will consider on 13 October the constitutionality of recent changes in federal election legislation affecting media coverage, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 September. At the 26 September plenum, the court combined four complaints into a single case. The inquiries came from a newspaper editor in Kaliningrad Oblast, "Vremya-MN" political observer Konstantin Katanyan, Ekho Moskvy Deputy Editor Sergei Buntman, and a group of more than 100 State Duma deputies. The daily noted that if the court decides to cancel the new rules on campaign coverage, then by the 7 November official beginning of the campaign period, the mass media could be operating under a new set of rules. The media "could be free to report about candidates and their programs without fearing accusations of illegal campaigning and the threat of sanctions," the daily commented. JAC

UNIFIED RUSSIA PONDERS NEED FOR ANOTHER TV CHANNEL
Unified Russia party leader and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov has appealed to party members and to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to create a party television station, polit.ru and other Russian media reported on 26 September. Mostelekom has already examined the technical possibility for such broadcasts. An unidentified source in the Moscow mayoral administration told Interfax that the money for the project would have to be earmarked for modernizing the city's cable-television network to handle the broadcasts. An unidentified source in the party leadership told "Kommersant-Daily" on 27 September that such a channel is a long-term project and is not linked with the 7 December Duma elections. Communist Party Central Committee Deputy Chairman Ivan Melnikov commented to Ekho Moskvy that he does not understand why Unified Russia needs another channel, since state-controlled ORT and RTR already fulfill the function of disseminating propaganda for the party. JAC

TVER GOVERNOR RISES FROM HIS SICK BED TO FACE THE MUSIC
The Tver Oblast prosecutor has formally accused oblast Governor Vladimir Platov of abusing his office and costing the oblast 500,000 rubles ($16,400), RIA-Novosti reported on 29 September, citing Platov's attorney. Earlier this month, the prosecutor summoned Platov to his office for formal criminal charges, but Platov reportedly fell ill and was hospitalized (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2003). According to polit.ru, Platov denies the charges and says the appearance of the case so soon before the oblast's 7 December gubernatorial election has been engineered by his political rivals. In particular, Platov blames the oblast's former deputy interior minister, Igor Zubov, who is reportedly planning to run for governor. JAC

LIBERAL WEEKLY'S WORKERS ALLOWED TO RETURN TO THEIR DESKS...
Journalists at "Novoe vremya" were allowed back into their building on 29 September, after unidentified persons in camouflage uniforms bearing what witnesses described as "Interior Ministry chevrons" raided and occupied their offices on 25 September, Ekho Moskvy reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2003). The liberal weekly's Editor in Chief Aleksandr Pumpyanskii told the radio station that staffers hope they can still put out a new edition this week. According to Pumpyanskii, the uniformed men represented the new owners of the building where the weekly's offices are located, and the weekly intends to sue the owners over the incident. JAC

...AS SOME MEDIA OUTLETS PROSECUTED FOLLOWING FIRST ROUND OF ST. PETERSBURG ELECTION
Nine criminal cases have been opened following the first round of the gubernatorial election in St. Petersburg, including one against a printing company and one against an individual journalist, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 25 September, citing St. Petersburg City Prosecutor Nikolai Vinnichenko. According to the daily, the editors of 300 regional newspapers have sent an appeal to the Union of Rightist Forces saying they fear that they could be shut down because of the vague legislation on covering election campaigns. JAC

FORMER FSB MAN BECOMES MAYOR OF KURSK
Viktor Surzhikov, the former head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) directorate for Kursk Oblast and, later, for Volgograd Oblast, has won the 28 September mayoral election in the city of Kursk, according to preliminary results available the next day, ITAR-TASS reported. Surzhikov received 32.86 percent, compared with 20.7 percent for State Duma Deputy Aleksandr Fedulov (independent). Incumbent Mayor Sergei Maltsev came in third. JAC

MORE PARTY LISTS REGISTERED...
The Central Election Commission (TsIK) on 28 September registered the federal lists of three more political parties and one electoral bloc, ITAR-TASS reported. These included the lists of Unified Russia, the Agrarian Party, the Democratic Party of Russia, and the bloc of the Party of Pensioners and the Social Justice Party. According to the agency, as of 28 September, the TsIK had registered the lists of 13 parties and five electoral blocs in total (for more information, see RFE/RL's dedicated Russian election webpage at http://www.rferl.org/specials/russianelection/). JAC

...AS 'RED GOVERNOR' HEADS REGIONAL LIST FOR UNIFIED RUSSIA
Viktor Anpilov, whose Working Russia party was earlier denied registration, pointed out on 29 September that former Communist Party member and Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev leads the interregional party list for the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party, iamik.ru reported. Anpilov complained that there are no Communists or even former Communists in the gubernatorial-administration apparatus in the oblast. "I think that the presidential administration understands very well that in the end, [governors] serve not the parties but whomever they belong to and who try to belong to them," Anpilov said. "Today it is not possible to be a Communist in the executive branch." JAC

MORE PROBLEMS WITH DEMOCRACY BUILDING IN VLADIVOSTOK
Legislators in Vladivostok could not gain access to their building on 26 September because the electricity had been turned off, RosBalt reported. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 27 September, Deputy Mayor Yurii Uspangaliev ordered repairs to the building. Mayor Yurii Kopylov is in opposition to the half of the city legislators that are still reportedly close to former Mayor Viktor Cherepkov. One city deputy complained that the repairs are not needed, saying the building was thoroughly renovated just two years ago. However, the city administration responded that if the city legislators feel their rights have been violated, they should appeal to the courts. The legislators, who were elected in June, have not yet been able to begin work. Three attempts to elect a chairman of the city legislature have failed, and at the last session on 18 September, legislators failed to form a quorum. The next legislative session was postponed until 18 December. JAC

CHECHEN PRIME MINISTER HOSPITALIZED
Anatolii Popov was hospitalized in Grozny late on 27 September with acute poisoning and flown to Moscow for specialized treatment the following day, Russian media reported. Popov's aide said on 28 September that his condition is stable, but serious. Popov became unwell after eating lunch in Gudermes on 27 September following a ceremony to launch a new natural-gas pipeline. No other member of his entourage has fallen ill. It is unclear whether he succumbed to food poisoning or whether a deliberate attempt was made to poison him. LF

PACE WILL NOT MONITOR CHECHEN ELECTION
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Chairman Peter Schieder announced in Strasbourg on 26 September that the PACE's bureau has decided not to send observers to monitor the 5 October Chechen presidential election, ITAR-TASS reported. Also on 26 September, Ella Pamfilova, who heads the Russian presidential commission for human rights, characterized as "a serious mistake" a decision by Russian human rights activists not to send election observers to Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 2003). LF

ARMENIAN, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey, Vartan Oskanian and Abdullah Gul, met late on 25 September in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, RFE/RL's Armenian Service and the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 26 and 27 September, respectively. Oskanian told RFE/RL after the talks that he could report "no practical results," but he termed the meeting an "important circumstance" in the dialogue that he and Gul began in Madrid in early June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2003). The two ministers also discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and, according to the "Turkish Daily News," a trilateral Armenian-Azerbaijani-Turkish meeting will take place after next month's Azerbaijani presidential election. The June meeting between Oskanian and Gul triggered optimistic speculation in Yerevan that Turkey might lift its decade-old blockade of Armenia and open its border with that country. The Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council recently issued a statement calling for the normalization of relations between the two countries and for defusing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to Arminfo, as cited by Turan on 25 September. LF

ARMENIAN JOURNALISTS ASSAULTED, BEATEN
Four masked men halted a car belonging to Rafael Hovakimian, manager of the newspaper "Or," in Yerevan early on 27 September and beat up Hovakimian and "Or" Editor Gayane Mukoyan, Interfax and A1+ reported. Mukoyan, who has been hospitalized with a broken nose, said she believes the assault was intended to intimidate her. RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau quoted the daily "Hayots ashkhar" as suggesting on 27 September that the attack was a response to coverage in "Or" of corruption related to grain imports. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HOLD CAMPAIGN RALLIES...
The Azerbaijan National Independence Party (AMIP)-Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AHCP) (reformist wing) election coalition held a campaign rally in Baku on 28 September that was attended by some 15,000 people, Turan reported. The coalition's presidential candidate, AMIP Chairman Etibar Mamedov, criticized the authorities for failing to resolve any of the problems facing the country. Opposition Musavat Party Chairman Isa Gambar held a series of rallies in Beylagan, Barda, Agstafa, Gazakh, and Tovuz raions on 27-28 September. Attendance was in the thousands despite efforts by local officials to prevent access to the meeting venues and reported intimidation of would-be participants. LF

...AFTER ANTICIPATED ASSAULTS FAIL TO TAKE PLACE
Ganimat Zahidov, editor of the newspaper "Azadlig" which is sympathetic to Ali Kerimli's wing of the AHCP, told Turan on 26 September that he had been warned that an attack on his paper's premises ordered by Customs Committee Chairman Kemaleddin Haydarov was imminent. Zahidov published on 26 September an article that he authored alleging that President Heidar Aliev's son, Prime Minister Ilham Aliev, was a member of a gay club in Moscow in the late 1980s. Also on 26 September, Kerimli informed senior security officials that he anticipated an attempt on his life, and requested increased protection, Turan reported. Kerimli said the attack on "Azadlig" has been postponed. Journalists escorted Kerimli on 26 September in the hope of thwarting any assault on him. LF

GEORGIAN SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES ELECTION CAMPAIGN VIOLENCE
Meeting on 26 September, Georgia's National Security Council absolved the pro-presidential For a Free Georgia (AS) electoral bloc of any responsibility for the violent clashes earlier that day between the bloc's supporters and those of opposition National Movement (EM) leader Mikhail Saakashvili in Bolnisi, southeast of Tbilisi, Caucasus Press and the website of the independent television station Rustavi-2 reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2003). A criminal investigation has been opened into the incidents, in which several people were injured. Leading AS member Irakli Gogava accused the EM of forming armed "terrorist groups" in a bid to sow chaos and destabilize the political situation, Caucasus Press reported. Saakashvili accused the Georgian leadership at a press conference on 26 September of deploying police against the opposition and seeking a direct confrontation. A further clash between police and EM supporters took place in the west Georgian district of Senaki the same day, Caucasus Press reported. On 29 September, Kamal Muradkhanov, who is the EM's parliamentary candidate in Bolnisi, told journalists in Tbilisi on 28 September that police in the district are intimidating local residents who support the EM, Caucasus Press reported on 29 September. LF

ANNIVERSARY OF END OF ABKHAZ WAR MARKED IN TBILISI...
Georgia observed one minute's silence at 12 p.m. local time on 27 September in remembrance of those killed during the 1992-93 war in Abkhazia, which effectively ended with the fall of Sukhum to Abkhaz forces on 27 September 1993, Georgian media reported. President Eduard Shevardnadze visited the grave in Tbilisi of his protege, Zhiuli Shartava, who was executed by the Abkhaz in the final days of the war. Some 1,000 Georgian veterans of the fighting held a march in Tbilisi to commemorate the anniversary. LF

...AND SUKHUM
Vladislav Ardzinba, president of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia, returned to Sukhum on 25 September from Moscow, where he has been undergoing medical treatment, Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2003). Ardzinba issued a decree amnestying some 70 prisoners and conferred awards, some posthumous, on Abkhaz participants in the war. LF

CIS PEACEKEEPER ABDUCTED IN WESTERN GEORGIA
Grigorii Derevyannykh, a member of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed since mid-1994 under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone, was abducted on 27 September in the west Georgian town of Zugdidi while his superior officer was buying food at a local market, Russian media reported. Derevyannykh telephoned the peacekeeping command the following day to report he was unharmed and is being treated "normally" by his unidentified captors. LF

KAZAKH COURT UPHOLDS SIX-MONTH BAN ON OPPOSITION COALITION
The Atyrau Oblast Court on 26 September upheld an earlier ruling by the Atyrau City Court prohibiting the activity of the opposition coalition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) throughout the country for six months, centrasia.ru reported on 29 September, quoting a statement of oblast court Chairman Bektas Beknazarov at a press conference in Atyrau. The city court decree was issued on 29 August in connection with a finding that a DVK member had committed administrative offenses. It was based on a 4 July ruling by the specialized inter-raion economic court in Astana that ordered the DVK to cease its activities for four months. Despite the prohibition, a DVK official had taken part in a seminar in Atyrau prior to the 20 September local elections. According to the law on public organizations, an organization whose activity has been suspended by a court may not use the media, hold public gatherings, or participate in elections. BB

U.S. NGO CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF KYRGYZ JOURNALIST'S DEATH
The U.S.-based human rights group Freedom House has called for an independent investigation of the death of Kyrgyz journalist Ernis Nazalov, whose body was found in a canal in southern Kyrgyzstan's Kara-Suu Raion on 15 September, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service and "Obshchestvennyi reiting" reported on 29 September. Law enforcement officials have said they are not starting a criminal investigation into Nazalov's death because there were no signs of violence on the body (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 25 September 2003). However, according to the Osh Resource Center for Journalists, Nazalov was beaten up by unidentified assailants two days before his death. His journalist colleagues suspect that Nazalov's death was connected to his investigations into alleged corruption among high-level officials. BB

KYRGYZ ENTREPRENEURS' ASSOCIATION NOMINATES PRESIDENT FOR ANOTHER TERM
The Association of Entrepreneurs of Kirghizia nominated President Askar Akaev for another term at the organization's second congress on 27 September, Interfax reported. The congress brought together 700 entrepreneurs from throughout Kyrgyzstan. Association General Director Sergei Voronin told the congress that reforms currently under way need to be completed, and Akaev is the best person to accomplish this. The constitution allows for one person to serve only two, five-year presidential terms. Akaev's second term ends in 2005, and he has said repeatedly that he does not intend to seek another. The report did not say how he reacted to the nomination, although he was present at the congress. BB

NGO SAYS KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION IMPROPERLY REGISTERED
The international human rights NGO World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) reported on 26 September that the Kyrgyz Justice Ministry has registered as the executive committee of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR) three people whose election violated the organization's charter. Long-time KCHR Chairman Ramazan Dyryldaev was voted out of office in August and replaced by Bolot Tynaliev during a special meeting of people who, under the charter, had no right to replace the head of the organization, OMCT noted. Only the KCHR board may replace the chairman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 and 28 August 2003). Tynaliev had previously resigned his membership of the KCHR, making him ineligible for any post in the organization. The OMCT noted that this is the second time since the KCHR's founding in 1996 that a "false" KCHR has been registered by the authorities to silence the highly critical Dyryldaev and his organization. The first time was in 1999, 10 months after the Justice Ministry revoked the KCHR's registration. On that occasion, an international outcry compelled the authorities to restore the registration of the Dyryldaev's KCHR. BB

RUSSIAN DEPUTY SAYS TAJIKISTAN SHOULD PAY FOR REMOVAL OF RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS
Russian General Andrei Nikolaev, chairman of the State Duma's Defense Committee, was quoted by Interfax on 26 September as saying that if Tajikistan wants the Russian border guards stationed there to leave, the Tajik authorities will have to pay the costs of their transfer to another location. Nikolaev, a former head of Russia's Federal Border Guard Service, was reacting to a 19 September statement by the commander of the Tajik State Border Committee's General Staff, Major General Nuralisho Nazarov, in which he asserted that Tajik border troops are ready to assume responsibility for guarding the country's borders and that it is time to end the Tajik-Russian division of authority on the Afghan border (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 2003). Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Saidamir Zukhurov quickly denied that Nazarov's statement reflected the view of the Tajik government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2003). Nikolaev said Tajikistan's border guards are not ready to do without the 50 percent Russian financing of their activities and lack the capability to protect the border effectively, particularly in view of the situation in Afghanistan. BB

NEW DEFENSE MINISTER NAMED IN TURKMENISTAN
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov on 29 September appointed Major General Agageldy Mamedgeldiev, previously head of the State Border Service, as the country's new defense minister, RIA-Novosti and turkmenistan.ru reported. The previous defense minister, Deputy Prime Minister Rejepbai Arazov, a civilian who has held a number of government posts, has been transferred to head the Turkmen state trade unions, reportedly at his own request. BB

UZBEK PRESIDENT LIBERALIZES PRISON CONDITIONS
Islam Karimov has signed a decree liberalizing prison conditions for first offenders that was published in the country's media on 27 September, uzreport.com and RIA-Novosti reported. According to the decree, by 1 February 2004, first offenders who have committed certain less-serious crimes are to be moved from normal colonies to low-security facilities, while first offenders who have been convicted of more serious crimes are to be transferred from strict-regime prison facilities to normal ones. Convicts in low-security facilities will be allowed to live with and support their families and to take part in raising their children. BB

BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES EXPEL ANOTHER GERMAN
Belarusian authorities on 26 September expelled a German national upon his arrival in Minsk, Belapan reported. Stefan Kammerling was traveling to Belarus to lecture on the participation of young people in public life in Belarus and Germany at a seminar organized by the Mahilyou regional branch of the Lew Sapeha Foundation and the Young Socialists of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Kammerling had a valid Belarusian visa, but was turned back by border-control officers at the National Airport in Minsk. Last month, Belarusian authorities deported Jan Busch, a member of the youth wing of Germany's Social Democrats, for what they called "interference in the internal affairs" of Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 20 August 2003). JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER FINED $5,000
A district court in Minsk fined the opposition newspaper "Narodnaya volya" the equivalent of some $5,000 on 26 September, after finding the publication guilty of defaming the Belarusian State Television and Radio Company Chairman Yahor Rybakou in an article published in October 2001, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. JM

KYIV CRITICIZES RUSSIAN OFFICIAL OVER COMMENT ON RUSSIAN LANGUAGE
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Serhiy Dovbeshko told Interfax on 26 September that he is surprised to see that "one country is trying to resolve for another issues that are outside its competence." Dovbeshko was commenting on Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Eleonora Mitrofanova's statement the previous day that Russia's foreign-policy goal is to obtain official status for the Russian language among former Soviet republics. "[Mitrofanova's statements] are not worthy of additional comments because they cannot in any way influence the language policy of Ukraine, which is developing [its policy] on the basis of its own legislation and its international obligations in this sphere," Dovbeshko added. Asked by Ukrainian journalists to comment on Mitrofanova's statement, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin said, "It is difficult for me to say what she had in mind." JM

UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS ARREST FOUR OVER JOURNALIST'S SLAYING IN 2001
Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin told journalists on 26 September that police have arrested businessman Oleksandr Rybak and his brother Dmytro Rybak for allegedly contracting the murder of Ihor Aleksandrov, director of TOR television company in Slavyansk in Donetsk Oblast, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www2.pravda.com.ua) reported. Police also arrested two men who are suspected of carrying out the killing. Shokin said the killing was provoked by Aleksandrov's professional activities but gave no details. Aleksandrov died in hospital in July 2001 after unidentified assailants attacked him in his office with baseball bats (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2001). JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SIGNALS CABINET RESHUFFLE
Ukrainian Premier Viktor Yanukovych told journalists on 26 September that there will be changes in his cabinet, Interfax and Reuters reported. "There are really quite serious problems," Reuters quoted Yanukovych as saying. "We are talking about [the] political and managerial efficiency of different members of political groups, about their ability to work in a cabinet team rather than creating their own political image." There are 22 posts in the Ukrainian cabinet: premier, first deputy premier, and finance minister; three deputy premiers; and 17 ministers (including one without portfolio). JM

ESTONIAN FINANCE MINISTER OFFERS TAX BOARD CHIEF A NEW POST
Tonis Palts proposed on 26 September that the suspended general director of the Tax Board, Aivar Soerd, become an adviser in the Finance Ministry as Palts does not intend to reinstate him, BNS reported. Although the investigation into Soerd's activities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 2003) did not find any violations of the law, it stated that his working knowledge was inadequate, causing losses to taxpayers and damaging the reputation of the Tax Board and the state. Palts noted: "A good specialist is not necessarily a good leader." Soerd indicated that he was not interested in the offer from Palts. SG

LATVIAN COURT SENTENCES FORMER KGB OFFICER FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
The Zemgale Regional Court found former KGB officer Nikolai Larionov guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide on 26 September and sentenced him to five years in a maximum-security prison, LETA reported. The 82-year-old Larionov was charged with ordering the deportations of more than 500 farmers and their families to Siberia in March 1949. Russian Duma Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dmitrii Rogozin, who also heads Russia's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said in an interview in the Russian television program "Vesti" that Russia should grant citizenship to Larionov and demand his extradition to Russia, BNS reported on 27 September. Rogozin charged that Latvia is failing to comply with any fundamental standards of human rights and democracy, yet will become a member of the European Union, which is "generally a community of civilized nations." SG

LITHUANIAN CONSERVATIVES ESTABLISH CHRISTIAN-DEMOCRAT FACTION
The Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) officially established a Christian-Democrat faction in Vilnius on 27 September, "Lietuvos zinios" reported on 29 September. Parliament Deputy Irena Degutiene, the head of the new faction, the formation of which was announced at the Homeland Union congress in the spring, said it currently has about 200 members. She also noted that there are no efforts to lure members from the Lithuanian Christian Democrats or to unite the two. Also on 27 September, the council of the Social Democrats 2000 accepted the resignation of party Chairman Rimantas Dagys. Dagys, who stopped participating in the party's activities some time ago, has said that he will join the Homeland Union. He is currently in Rome. The council also decided that the party will hold a congress in December during which the party's name will be changed to Union of Lithuania's Social Democrats. SG

POLISH MINERS BLOCK ROADS OVER PLANNED JOB CUTS
Polish miners followed through on their threats and blocked roads on 26 September at 18 sites around Katowice, the center of the coal-mining region in southern Poland, Polish media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 2003). The blockades are intended to protest the plans of a state holding to close four coal mines, a move that will result in a loss of some 14,000 jobs. The same day, President Aleksander Kwasniewski called on the government and protesting miners to find a compromise in talks. Meanwhile, Premier Leszek Miller said the mine closures must be implemented for the sake of the entire mining sector and claimed that there are jobs for miners that will be made redundant. JM

POLAND ARRESTS ALGERIAN TERRORISM SUSPECT
Officers of Poland's Border Guards and Internal Security Agency arrested an Algerian man at Krakow's Balice Airport on 26 September, Polish media reported the next day. The man, who is suspected of terrorist activities, is reportedly being sought under an international arrest warrant issued by Interpol. JM

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES U.S. POSITION ON EUROPE
Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz told Reuters on 26 September that the U.S. administration was wrong to divide the continent into "old Europe" and "new Europe" prior to the Iraq war. "It is a wrong perception of what is going on in Europe," Cimoszewicz said. Cimoszewicz was referring to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's statement in which the latter suggested that opponents of the war France and Germany belong to an old Europe, while states of the former Soviet bloc supporting Washington's Iraq policy, such as Poland, are part of a new Europe. JM

CZECH CABINET SCORES SECOND VICTORY IN BUSY LEGISLATIVE DAY
The lower house gave final approval on 26 September to 11 government bills on fiscal reform just hours after having rejected a no-confidence motion against Premier Vladimir Spidla's cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2003), CTK and Reuters reported. The bills are intended to help trim the budget deficit to 4 percent of GDP by 2006. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the bills are only the beginning of a deeper overhaul of public spending, with bigger changes to come. "We are preparing a second phase [of fiscal reform], which will begin with the submission of three bills concerning the struggle against the gray economy," Sobotka said. All 11 bills must still be approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Vaclav Klaus before they become law. MS

CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER, U.S. AMBASSADOR VISIT CZECH SOLDIERS IN IRAQ
Defense Minister Miroslav Kostelka, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Craig Stapleton, thanked the troops and staff of a Czech military field hospital during a visit to the southern Iraqi city of Al-Basrah on 27 September, CTK reported. Kostelka said he will propose that the mission be shut down at the end of 2003. The Defense Ministry had envisaged asking parliament to prolong the mission to the end of February. Stapleton said the new date reflects a changing situation in the region and a reassessment of resources. MS

SLOVAK PREMIER IDENTIFIES CANDIDATE TO REPLACE SECURITY CHIEF...
Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda told local Radio Express on 27 September that he intends to appoint Milan Jezovica as the new head of the National Security Office (NBU) to replace Jan Mojzis, whom Dzurinda has been seeking to oust for weeks, TASR reported. Jezovica is an adviser to the premier and previously served at the Slovak Embassy in Washington. Dzurinda stressed that Jezovica does not belong to any political party. Two of the four coalition parties, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Hungarian Coalition Party, rejected Dzurinda's first nominee on the grounds that he is a member of Dzurinda's own Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 2003). Dzurinda said he will "delicately consider" the timing of replacing Mojzis, adding, "One thing is certain: Mr. Mojzis cannot remain NBU director." MS

...BUT CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS RULE HIM OUT
KDH Deputy Chairman Pavol Minarik said on TV Joj on 28 September that -- if his party backs the sacking of NBU Director Mojzis -- any potential replacement cannot be from Premier Dzurinda's SDKU party or "his close circle," TASR reported. Minarik declined to comment on Jezovica's appropriateness for the post. Alliance for a New Citizen (ANO) Deputy Chairman Lubomir Lintner, participating in the same televised debate, said ANO is considering submitting a candidate of its own for the position. In related news, the ANO leadership, whose chairman is television mogul Pavol Rusko, unanimously chose Lintner to replace Rusko as deputy speaker of parliament on 27 September. Lintner told the daily "Sme" the same day that if the other coalition parties do not approve his appointment, he will have no option but to leave the coalition. Lintner is a former senior editor for the private TV Markiza, which is co-owned by Rusko. MS

SLOVAK MAYORS ACCUSE GOVERNMENT OF INTENTION TO LIQUIDATE RUTHENIAN MINORITY
The mayors of 51 eastern Slovak settlements sent a letter to Premier Dzurinda and parliamentary speaker Pavol Hrusovsky on 26 September to protest a cabinet decision to move a district seat from Svidnik to Stropkov, CTK reported. The signatories called the decision "cynical and discriminatory," and say it is intended to "completely liquidate the ethnic Ruthenian minority." A copy of the letter was also sent to diplomatic representatives of the European Union, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, and Russia. The signatories asked parliament to change "the government's irrational, discriminatory, and nationalist-oriented proposal." MS

SLOVAK UNIONS HOLD WARNING STRIKE
Members of the Slovak Trade Union Confederation (KOZ) conducted a one-hour warning strike on 26 September to protest fiscal reforms that they say favor the wealthy, TASR and AFP reported. The KOZ is also demanding that minimum monthly wages be raised and that pensions be increased. KOZ estimated participation in the labor stoppage at 500,000, while Labor and Social Affairs Minister Ludovit Kanik disputed that estimate and said the warning strike in fact weakened KOZ's bargaining position. MS

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER RENEWS ATTACK ON BENES DECREES
Opposition FIDESZ Chairman Viktor Orban told a gathering in the Hungarian village of Palotabozsok that "there should be no room for such legislation as the [post-World War II Czechoslovak] Benes Decrees" in an EU "held together not by globalization but by Christian love," MTI news agency reported. During his 1998-2002 tenure as prime minister, Orban repeatedly called on the Czech and Slovak republics -- before their accession to the EU -- to abolish 1945-46 decrees that legalized the mass expulsion of ethnic Germans and Hungarians and the expropriation of their property. Orban met in Budapest on 28 September with Hans-Gert Poettering, group leader of the European People's Party, and announced after the meeting that their respective political formations will campaign jointly ahead of next year's elections to the European Parliament, the agency reported. MSZ

HUNGARIAN VOJVODINA POLITICIAN CRITICIZES BUDAPEST OVER HANDLING OF DUAL CITIZENSHIP
Jozsef Kasza, chairman of the Federation of Vojvodina Hungarians, told a Hungarian-language newspaper in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in northern Serbia and Montenegro that the recent furor in Budapest over granting dual citizenship to ethnic Hungarians abroad has "created a rift in the Hungarian nation" by whipping up public opinion in Hungary. In the Novi Sad-based "Magyar Szo," Kasza accused Hungarian government officials of creating a dispute that makes ethnic Hungarians in Serbia and Montenegro feel like "aliens or undesirable elements," "Nepszabadsag" reported on 29 September. Kasza said the 50,000 ethnic Hungarians who left Vojvodina and settled in Hungary enriched the latter with their intellectual and financial capital. Dual citizenship would help stem the emigration of Vojvodina Hungarians, Kasza concluded. MSZ

CLARIFICATION
The 26 September End Note titled "Pope Pushes Christian Values for Expanded EU Family" should have noted that Malta is predominantly Roman Catholic (98 percent according to "The World Factbook") and that Cyprus is predominantly Greek Orthodox (78 percent).

KOSOVA'S PRESIDENT WARNS AGAINST GREATER ALBANIA
Kosova's President Ibrahim Rugova told Munich's "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" of 29 September that delays by the international community in recognizing the province's independence will play into the hands of extremists who want a greater Albania. Rugova said Kosova needs to have its own diplomatic representation abroad and a transfer of the UN civilian administration's (UNMIK) powers to elected Kosovar officials as soon as possible. He stressed that Kosova has almost achieved independence in practical terms, adding that there is increasing recognition of this fact in the European Union as well as in the United States. Rugova noted that it is Kosova's obligation -- as it is the obligation of all the countries in the region -- to cooperate with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. He argued that Serbia's policies toward Kosova are unchanged since the days of former President Slobodan Milosevic. Rugova added that he is not enthusiastic about any talks with Belgrade before the international community recognizes Kosova's independence. PM

IS THE UN PLANNING HIGH-PROFILE TALKS ON KOSOVA?
UNMIK head Harri Holkeri wants the Belgrade-Prishtina talks slated for 14 October in Vienna to take place "at the highest level," RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Service reported from Belgrade on 29 September. He will depart for the Serbian capital shortly to persuade Serbia and Montenegro's President Svetozar Marovic and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic to lead their country's delegation. The ethnic Albanians in particular -- fearing that the international community will force them into political talks with Belgrade -- have maintained that talks should be focused on technical questions that are best dealt with by experts, (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and 24 September 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 and 20 June, and 1 and 15 August 2003). PM

POLITICIANS PREPARE FOR KOSOVA TALKS
Kosova's Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi asked the parliament on 27 September to give him the necessary powers for negotiating with Belgrade, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Service reported. The government appealed to UNMIK to hand over various powers to it if UNMIK insists on acting as a mediator rather than as part of the Prishtina delegation. Elsewhere, leaders of Kosova's Serb minority told Holkeri that they are ready for talks for the resolution of "all" outstanding questions. And in Nis, General Branko Krga, who heads the General Staff of the Serbia and Montenegro Army, warned that the run-up to the talks could witness "provocations by extremists." He did not elaborate. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY TO BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL VOTE
Mladjan Dinkic, who is the deputy leader of the G-17 Plus political party, said in Belgrade on 27 September that his party will not take part in the Serbian presidential election scheduled for 16 November, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Service reported. Meanwhile, Dragoljub Micunovic, who is the presidential candidate of the governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, said that, if elected, he will work to ensure that parliamentary elections are held as soon as possible. Previous Serbian presidential elections in October and December 2002 were inconclusive or invalid (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17, 18, and 24 September 2003). PM

ADRIATIC CHARTER MEMBERS MEET IN MACEDONIA
Representatives of the Albanian, Croatian, and Macedonian governments gathered in Ohrid on 27 September for a two-day conference on the implementation of the U.S.-sponsored Adriatic Charter, "Dnevnik" and "Utrinski vesnik" reported. Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva said after the conference that although there is no final document, the three partners agreed that more has to be done to combat the new challenges to the regional security, which mainly stem from organized crime. The participants in the conference also agreed that both Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia should join the Adriatic Charter in the near future. Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula said the Balkans must be given a new image. "We cannot develop our countries in an insecure environment," Picula said, stressing that the image of the region is still marred by the violence of the past (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 March, 4 and 9 May, 23 and 24 June, and 16 September 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 22 November 2002 and 27 June 2003). UB

EU APPROVES POLICE MISSION FOR MACEDONIA
EU foreign ministers agreed in Brussels on 29 September to create a 200-member police-training mission for Macedonia to be named Proxima, dpa reported. It will replace the current EU military mission in Macedonia, which ends on 15 December (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 20 June and 5 September 2003). PM

CROATIA GETS ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY...
The founding session of the Adriatic Assembly took place in Zadar on 27 September with the aim of providing a political voice for the islands, coastal regions, and hinterland, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Service reported. Political regionalism, which was frowned upon under the rule of the late President Franjo Tudjman, is strongest in Istria. PM

...AND A NEW CARDINAL
Pope John Paul II named Archbishop Josip Bozanic of Zagreb as one of 31 new cardinals in the Vatican on 28 September, "Vecernji list" reported. Bozanic replaced Cardinal Franjo Kuharic as head of the church in Croatia in 1997 but did not acquire the title of cardinal until now. The pope will invest the new cardinals with their symbols of office on 21 October at a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of his papacy. Kuharic, who resisted attempts by Tudjman to co-opt the church and criticized his policies in Bosnia, died in retirement in 2002 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 March 2002). The senior ethnic Croat in the Roman Catholic hierarchy is Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Bosnia. PM

AILING FORMER BOSNIAN LEADER APPEALS FOR UNITY
Speaking by telephone from his hospital bed to Sarajevo's private Hayat television station, former Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said Bosnia will survive as a state if "Serbs stay Serbs, Croats stay Croats, and [Muslims] stay [Muslims], but they also should all be Bosnians," AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2003). "Nobody should seek revenge but rather justice, because revenge starts a chain of evil that has no end," he said. The former president, who is in critical condition, argued that people "should not forget the past but not live in it. They should turn toward the future." Izetbegovic thanked the interviewer for his greetings but added that he is "not sure we will see each other any more." PM

ROMANIA'S LIBERALS, DEMOCRATS FINALIZE ELECTORAL ALLIANCE...
The National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Party sealed their electoral alliance on 28 September, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 September 2003). Extraordinary congresses held on the same day by the two formations approved the setting up of the "Alliance for Justice and Truth PNL-PD," which has as co-Chairmen PNL leader Theodor Stolojan and Democratic Party leader Traian Basescu. The two formations will each have seven members in the joint leadership body. Stolojan and Basescu said the alliance is open to other political parties, except the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the ultranationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM). On 27 September, the PNL also finalized its merger with the PNL-Campeanu wing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 2003). That party's chairman, Radu Campeanu, who was the first PNL chairman after the party was re-established in 1990, was given the title "founding chairman." MS

...AND PREMIER NASTASE ATTACKS IT
Addressing a forum of local government PSD leaders on 28 September, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said the Alliance for Justice and Truth is nothing but a repetition of the failed Democratic Convention of Romania-2000 (CDR-2000), which did not manage to get any seats in the legislature in the 2000 elections, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He called the alliance "CDR-2003" and said it was looking to the past. He also said the new alliance should more fittingly call itself the "Alliance for Injustice and Untruth." Nastase said the opposition alliance was born out of an "act of desperation" that lacks any ideological foundation. Nastase said the two parties are responsible for the dire state of the economy inherited by the PSD, which his formation has had to "work for three years to mend." Meanwhile, Nastase said at the same forum that he does not believe candidates for the presidency in the elections slated for late 2004 must resign their current positions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 25 September 2003). On 26 September, Nastase said the PSD will decide on its presidential candidate after the local elections, due to be held in mid-2004, Mediafax reported. MS

MAVERICK ROMANIAN SENATOR JUMPS INTO ULTRANATIONALIST BOAT
Senator George Pruteanu announced on 26 September that he has resigned from the PSD and joined the PRM, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Pruteanu was sanctioned by the PSD after recently voting against the constitutional amendments and was dismissed as deputy chairman of a Senate commission. In March 1988, Pruteanu likewise was excluded from the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, after voting against the education bill granting extended rights to members of the Hungarian minority. According to media reports, the PRM has promised Pruteanu a "safe place" on its electoral lists in the next parliamentary elections. In 1996, Pruteanu was one of 37 plaintiffs against PRM Chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor, whom the plaintiffs accused of libel for running their names on a so-called list of shame published in Tudor's weekly "Romania mare." MS

ROMANIA, UKRAINE MAKE NO PROGRESS IN NEGOTIATIONS OVER SERPENTS ISLAND
No progress was made in the 20th round of negotiations between Romania and Ukraine over the oil-rich continental shelf around the Black Sea's Serpents Island, Romanian Radio reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 2003). Foreign Minister State Secretary Cristian Diaconescu said Romania will "in all probability" appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for a ruling in the dispute. MS

ROMANIA RIDS ITSELF OF UNPROFITABLE COMMUNIST-ERA COMPANIES
Deals for the privatization of three major loss-making state enterprises were signed on 26 September, Romanian Radio reported. All three enterprises were sold to foreign investors for only 400,000 euros ($458,600). The cheapest acquisition, for only one euro, went to the Malaysian Pesaca Astana company, which bought the Brasov-based, truckmaker Roman. The Malaysian company is to take over Roman's 90 million euro debt and to transform most of Roman's premises into an industrial park. The Campulung-based ARO automaker was sold to the U.S. company Crosslander for 150,000 euros. The new owners are to lay off 1,500 of the company's current 2,200 workers. The Brasov-based tractor manufacturer Tractorul was sold to the Italian Landini company for 250,000 euros. Landini pledged not to lay off any of the company's 3,300 employees. Also on 26 September, the government approved a deal with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank's International Finance Corp., which acquired a 25 percent stake in Romania's Commercial Bank (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 2003). MS

MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT 2004 BUDGET
The government approved on 27 September the draft budget for 2004, Flux reported. The budget envisages a surplus of 340 million lei ($2.5 million), with spending estimated at nearly 5.3 billion lei and revenues at some 5.6 billion lei. Finance Minister Zinaida Greciani said internal debt is forecast to grow by some 200 million and to reach 3.7 billion at the end of 2004, making up 13.4 percent of gross domestic product. The government intends to issue bonds in value of 200 million lei to finance the disbursement of Moldova's external debt, which will be $76.9 million in 2004, representing some 22 percent of the budget's expenditure. MS

PPCD HOLDS PROTEST IN CHISINAU
A protest meeting organized by the opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) in Chisinau on 28 September approved a resolution denouncing the government's infringements on democratic and human rights, the continued "Russian occupation" of the Transdniester, the plan to federalize Moldova, the government's intention to introduce a course of "integrated history" in schools, and its intention to grant Russian the status of an official language, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. RFE/RL correspondents estimated participation at some 4,000. PPCD Chairman Iurie Rosca announced at the meeting that his party will start picketing the Russian Embassy as of 29 September, demanding the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Transdniester. MS

U.S. READY TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL AID FOR RUSSIAN EVACUATION FROM TRANSDNIESTER
Douglas Davidson, deputy head of the U.S. mission to the OSCE, said in Vienna last week that the United States is ready to provide financial assistance for the removal of Russian troops and ammunition from Transdniester, Infotag reported on 26 September. Davidson said that Washington is deeply concerned about the lack of progress in the Russian-troop withdrawal and the stalemate in resolving the Transdniester conflict. He emphasized that according to the Porto OSCE resolution of December 2002, Moscow alone is responsible for the evacuation in strict accordance with the agreed timetable, in which a deadline was set for December 2003. MS

ROW OVER CONTROVERSIAL BULGARIAN SECRET-SERVICE ADVISER CONTINUES
Following media reports that Bulgaria's future NATO allies might protest the nomination of retired General Brigo Asparuhov as the prime minister's secret-service adviser, a government spokesman announced on 26 September that Asparuhov has not yet been officially employed, mediapool.bg reported. Meanwhile, Asparuhov said he will not consult the NATO partners at all, as the decision to nominate him was made by a sovereign state. "If I am named, it will be an act of self-respect on the part of all those who nominated me," Asparuhov said. The retired general, who is a former lawmaker for the opposition Socialist Party (BSP), headed the National Intelligence Service until 1997, when he was dismissed for his involvement in the communist-era secret service and his alleged role in the fall of the first democratic government in 1992 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16, 17, and 23 September 2003). Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski is expected to decide on Asparuhov's nomination upon his return from the United States in early October. UB

BULGARIA, SERBIA AGREE ON COOPERATION
Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski and his visiting Serbian counterpart Zoran Zivkovic on 26 September signed a declaration of intent on accelerating the construction of a highway between the two countries, bnn reported. The 100-kilometer stretch of highway is to link the southern Serbian city of Nis and the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. Both sides agreed on seeking foreign investors for the project. Serbian Economy Minister Slobodan Milosavljevic and his Bulgarian counterpart Lidia Shuleva discussed plans to set up a free-trade zone by the end of 2004 in an effort to facilitate bilateral economic cooperation, the "Sofia Morning News" reported. UB

COPING WITH KYRGYZSTAN'S URANIUM TIME BOMB


The recent announcement by the Kyrgyz government's press service that the World Bank is financing a $5 million project to clean up and stabilize uranium-tailings dumps in Kyrgyzstan is the latest in a series of international efforts to help the Central Asian country cope with the waste left from Soviet-era uranium mining. Most of the international attention to the need to rehabilitate the tailings dumps has been focused on the town of Maili-Suu in southern Kyrgyzstan's Djalal-Abad Oblast, because these sites potentially could contaminate parts of the Ferghana Valley, one of the Central Asia region's most populous areas.

An American journalist visited Maili-Suu (then generally still known by its Soviet name, Maili-Sai) in the mid-1990s; her radio reports on conditions there were probably the first that even many specialists on the Soviet Union had heard about the dangers of radioactive contamination from the uranium tailings dumps that were left behind when uranium mining ended in the area in the 1960s. In 1996, Kyrgyz and Uzbek environmental agencies planned a joint cleanup operation, motivated by the realization that heavy rains and mudslides could cause leakage from the dumps, particularly those close to the Maili-Suu River, a tributary of the Kara Darya, which flows into the Naryn River of western Kyrgyzstan, itself a major tributary of the Syr Darya, which provides drinking and irrigation water for much of Central Asia. Should there be a large leakage of radioactive material from the dumps, it could affect not only the Ferghana Valley but also the cities of Khujand and Tashkent, and the lower course of the Syr Darya, possibly reaching what remains of the Aral Sea.

The canyon through which the Maili-Suu River flows is subject to frequent landslides, particularly after heavy rains. The region is also reported to be seismically active. Environmentalists and emergency-management experts fear that a mudslide blocking the river could cause water to back up into the radioactive dumps nearest the river and, once the contaminated water found its way through or around the blockage, the radioactive contaminants would be on their way to the Syr-Darya. In fact, mudslides have blocked or partially blocked the Maili-Suu on a number of occasions without major problems arising -- so far. Nonetheless, the potential exists for a major catastrophe.

Kyrgyz officials and environmentalists said in 1998 that when the Soviet Union broke up, Russian bureaucrats leaving Kyrgyzstan took with them all documentation on the radioactive dumpsites throughout the country. The officials added that Moscow was refusing Kyrgyz requests for the documentation to be returned to facilitate cleanup of the sites. Kyrgyz environmentalists also reported that the Soviet authorities had not only used the dumpsites for tailings from uranium mines in Kyrgyzstan itself, but had deposited radioactive materials there in the 1950s from uranium mines in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, and that no one in independent Kyrgyzstan really knew what was in the dumps. The German technical-assistance organization GTZ had installed motion meters in dumps at Maili-Suu that were close to the river, but by the mid-1990s little else had been done.

Local officials in the Maili-Suu area were ambivalent in the late summer of 1998 when two field officers from the OSCE's Central Asian Liaison Office in Tashkent (including this writer) appeared in the town after a heavy rainstorm, which had caused a mudslide that almost blocked the river directly in front of one of the dumpsites only a few meters from the riverbed. The visit had been suggested by the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry, and the local officials might have feared that the mudslide would somehow reflect on their competence. Four militia checkpoints had been set up on the approach to Maili-Suu from the main highway in order to discourage visitors (a fifth, manned by security-service personnel, was added while the OSCE staffers were in town inspecting a dumpsite on the river).

By 2001 the danger posed by the 23 known tailings dumps at Maili-Suu was well-enough recognized in the international community for the European Commission to launch a two-year, 500,000 euro ($456,000) project to assess the actual threat, improve the existing monitoring system, stabilize the most dangerous of the dumps, and carry out technical and economic analyses of the various possibilities for rehabilitation of the area. The results of the project were presented in Maili-Suu at the end of June 2003, causing the head of the town council to say that the assessment had turned up no new information and little of the project funding had gone to local contractors. He later complained that all the talk of radiation danger in the town was frightening off the townspeople, 12,000 of whom, he said, had moved away in an unspecified time period. Lack of job opportunities might have played at least as large a role in the exodus as the stories of radiation danger.

European Union experts have said that 3 million euros will be needed to clean up only the most unstable sites at Maili-Suu. Most of the $5 million that the World Bank has allocated for the cleanup of nuclear-waste sites in Kyrgyzstan is to go for work at Maili-Suu. But whether and when all danger posed by the tailings dumps around the town will be completely removed remains a matter for conjecture, given the geological instability of the area. The World Bank has estimated that rehabilitation of all nuclear-waste sites in both northern and southern Kyrgyzstan will cost over $20 million, while Kyrgyz Ecology and Emergency Situations Minister Satyvaldy Chyrmashev told an international conference in April that cleaning up Maili-Suu alone would cost $40 million to $50 million, and there is no way that Kyrgyzstan can cope with such expenditures by itself. And warnings about a potential region-wide environmental catastrophe might not be sufficient for international donors to put the funding of Kyrgyzstan's nuclear waste cleanup ahead of financing the fight against drug and arms trafficking and the struggle against international terrorism.

HELMAND PROVINCE GOVERNOR'S BODYGUARDS KILLED
Unidentified gunmen killed seven soldiers in the Sangin District of Helmand Province on 28 September, Radio Afghanistan reported. All seven men were bodyguards of Helmand Province Governor Mullah Shayr Mohammad Akhond, who was not with his bodyguards at the time of the attack. Akhond's spokesman, Haji Mohammad Wali, accused neo-Taliban forces of the attack. There have been no arrests so far in the case. AT

GIRLS' SCHOOLS TORCHED IN AFGHANISTAN
Unidentified perpetrators burned down girls' schools in Balkh and Nangarhar provinces in separate incidents on 27 and 28 September, Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported on 29 September. Two tents that were being used to house classrooms for girls were destroyed in the Chahar Bolak District of Balkh Province, AP reported on 29 September. The report did not specify the location of the damaged schools in the Nangarhar Province. The arsonists reportedly left notes in the vicinity of the fires warning villagers not to send their daughters to school. The former Taliban regime in Afghanistan banned all women from attending school. AT

U.S. MILITARY CONVOY ATTACKED IN AFGHANISTAN'S PAKTIYA PROVINCE
U.S. forces in Afghanistan said a U.S. military convoy was attacked on 27 September in Gardayz, the capital of Paktiya Province, Radio Afghanistan reported. There were no reports of casualties in the attack, and the perpetrators have not been identified. The United States operates a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Gardayz. AT

DISMISSED OFFICERS STAGE PROTEST IN KABUL
An estimated 200 recently dismissed officers -- presumably of the former Afghan army -- staged a rally in Kabul on 29 September to demand pensions or alternative posts in the civil service, Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press reported. The report stated that most belonged to the "Afghan Army," presumably a reference to either the mujahedin- or the communist-led army, since the Afghan Transitional Administration's Afghan National Army is still in its formative stages. AT

AFGHANISTAN, IRAN, AND PAKISTAN TO ESTABLISH THREE COMMITTEES
A meeting on the sidelines of UN General Assembly on 26 September between the Afghan, Iranian, and Pakistani foreign ministers brought an agreement to establish three-way consultative committees on political, intelligence, and counternarcotics issues, according to the Afghan Foreign Ministry and Iran's IRNA news agency. "The region should not be taken hostage by past thoughts, and we should identify new thoughts and policies to meet our interest and regional security in line with modern circumstances," IRNA quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi as saying on 28 September. Kharrazi's statement was a presumed allusion to perceived interference by both Islamabad and Tehran in Afghan internal affairs in the past. AT

PAKISTAN ACCUSES INDIA OF TRAINING TERRORISTS IN AFGHANISTAN
Pakistani Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat accused India of establishing camps inside Afghanistan to train Afghans and Pakistani dissidents for terrorist activities, the London-based, Arabic language daily "Al-Hayat" reported on 28 September. Hayat said his country "comes under brutal, subversive attacks by Indian intelligence agencies that sponsor camps inside Afghanistan, particularly in areas where India [has] opened consulates, such as Herat, Jalalabad, and Kandahar." Hayat added that Islamabad has "clear evidence" that "there is a link" between Indian consulates and "camps where dissident Pakistanis and Afghans are trained." Since April, Islamabad has voiced concern at the reopening of Indian consulates in Afghan cities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 2003). Afghanistan had no official relations with India during the Islamabad-backed rule of the Taliban regime. One of Pakistan's strategic objectives in supporting the Taliban was to foment disagreement between Afghanistan and Islamabad's archenemy, India. At the time, New Delhi accused Pakistan of training Kashmiri terrorists inside Afghanistan. AT

IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER CLAIMS U.S. AGAINST ISLAM
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a 28 September address to the winners of the 20th international contest of Koran reciters, memorizers, and interpreters in Tehran that the United States and other countries have created an anti-Islamic coalition, state radio reported. "Today, the satanic and despotic powers, with America at their head, are the source of mischievous and seditious behavior aimed against humanity," he said. "They have formed a coalition against the world of Islam." Khamenei said unity is the solution to this problem, and he warned against the harmful effects of divisiveness and infighting. BS

IRANIAN REFORMIST DAILY BANNED TEMPORARILY
The Press Court on 28 September banned the reformist "Yas-i No" daily newspaper for 10 days, news agencies reported. Said Shariati, the political affairs editor of "Yas-i No," told ISNA that the daily's refusal to republish a judiciary response to one of its articles is behind the ban. Shariati said the response was published once, and, furthermore, it was not clear to which article the response originally referred. BS

IRAN RESUMES IMPORTS OF PAKISTANI RICE
Abdul Rahim Janoo, chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), announced on 27 September that Iran will resume importing Pakistani rice, the "PakTribune" reported. Janoo said a REAP delegation that visited Iran recently was able to finalize a deal for 22,000 tons of rice worth $12 million. Iran used to be the biggest buyer of Pakistani basmati rice, Janoo said, but unexplained "misfortunes" have hindered trade. Iranian Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari denied on 17 September that excessive rice imports will jeopardize the interests of those who grow rice in paddies, IRNA reported. Shariatmadari said his ministry will provide price supports and buy the farmers' surplus output at the market price. He pledged that the level of imports will decrease as domestic production rises. BS

LOW PRODUCTIVITY HINDERS IRANIAN INDUSTRY
Ken Inoue, director of industry in the Asia Productivity Organization, said on 28 September in Tehran that most Iranian companies use the "5S" system to manage the workplace, IRNA reported. The idea behind the system is that a clean and organized workplace has a positive impact on productivity: seiri (sorting), seiton (arranging), seiso (cleaning), seiketsu (maintaining), and shitsuke (self-discipline) (see http://npcc.intnet.mu/5s.htm). Low productivity is hindering the Iranian industrial sector, Industries and Mines Minister Ishaq Jahangiri said at Sharif Technical University in Tehran on 27 September, IRNA reported. Jahangiri ascribed this problem to the workforce's low level of education and of skill. He said the average Iranian industrial worker is less educated than the average worker in other sectors of the economy. BS

FIRST OFFICIAL IRANIAN PILGRIMS LEAVE FOR IRAQ
The first officially permitted caravan of Iranian pilgrims left for Iraq on 29 September, from Shalamcheh, Khuzestan Province, IRNA reported. Khorramshahr Governor Mohammad-Ali Shirali said the Iranians will visit the Iraqi cities of Karbala, Kazemin, Al-Najaf, and Samara, and he added that regulation of the pilgrimages will preclude the negative consequences of illegal visits. Khuzestan Governor-General Fatollah Moin said in Abadan on 28 September that health and passport offices have been established to facilitate the pilgrimages, IRNA reported. Many Iranians who have tried to make the pilgrimage illegally with unqualified or unethical guides have died (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 8 September 2003). BS

BAGHDAD UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT DISMISSED FOR NOT EXCLUDING BA'ATHIST PROFESSORS
Iraqi interim Higher Education Minister Ziad Abd al-Razzaq has reportedly dismissed Baghdad University President Sami al-Muzaffar from his position after al-Muzaffar refused to abide by an Iraqi Governing Council decision to exclude senior Ba'athists from the university's teaching and administrative staff, Al-Jazeera reported on 27 September. "Regrettably, [al-Muzaffar] stood against this [de-Ba'athification] measure despite the fact that I had called him several times and tried to convince him of implementing the decision" of the governing council, Abd al-Razzaq said. He added that he believes al-Muzaffar was keeping professors in their positions because of personal relations. Al-Muzaffar told the satellite news channel in a 27 September interview that he will not recognize the authority of the interim minister. "I was not relieved from my duties and [Abd al-Razzaq] has no authority to discharge me," al-Muzaffar said. "I am a person who was elected while he is the one who has been appointed." Al-Muzaffar accused Abd al-Razzaq of sending contradictory orders to the university and denied that he kept Ba'athists on staff because of personal relations. He said he will remain at home but added that he considers the dismissal "illegal." KR

KURDISH DAILY CRITICIZES U.S. IMMUNITY DEAL WITH FORMER IRAQI DEFENSE MINISTER
Kurdishmedia.com carried an article on 28 September criticizing the special treatment given to former Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad upon his surrender to coalition forces on 18 September (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 September 2003), considering that Ahmad is known to have participated in the 1988 Anfal campaign during which, according to Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org), then-President Saddam Hussein's forces killed 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds from February to September 1988 alone. Kurdishmedia.com reprinted a letter by Ahmad to Hussein dated March 1988 in which Ahmad refers to himself as the "chief of Anfal Operation," listing the names of villages destroyed by Iraqi troops. The article also details meetings between Hussein and Ahmad, including one in Al-Sulaymaniyah that was held just four days prior to the massacre of some 5,000 Kurds in the nearby town of Halabjah. The report also questions Kurdish human rights activist Dawud Bagistani's role in helping negotiate Ahmad's surrender and speculates whether the United States granted immunity to Ahmad in the hope that he might provide information on Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction program. KR

U.K. REPRESENTATIVE TO IRAQ SAYS COALITION CAN GO IT ALONE
Sir Jeremy Greenstock has told BBC radio that the coalition could manage in Iraq without the help of additional international troops, Reuters reported on 28 September. "It would be a very good development if we had a wider international involvement but that doesn't mean to say we cannot do what needs to be done with the forces we have deployed already," said Greenstock, a former U.K. ambassador to the UN. Britain currently has some 10,000 troops in Iraq, and the United States has about 130,000 military personnel there. The United States plans to send about 15,000 additional troops in the coming weeks. Greenstock was appointed special representative in June (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 June 2003), and is the British equivalent of U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer in Iraq. KR

U.S. FORCES UNCOVER WEAPONS CACHES IN IRAQ...
U.S. forces uncovered large stores of weapons in Iraq from 27-28 September. Major Mike Rauhut described the weapons cache discovered on 27 September near deposed President Hussein's hometown of Tikrit as one of the largest seized by U.S. forces since April, AP reported on 28 September. The cache included some 23 Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, 450 kilograms of plastic explosives, grenades and grenade launchers, rockets, a mortar, and mortar rounds, he said. Nytimes.com reported the number of grenades seized at more than 400. Another discovery near Kirkuk on 27 September uncovered eight SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, seven mortar tubes, and "a substantial number of electrical switches" used to make homemade bombs, AP quoted Major Josslyn Aberle as saying on 28 September. Meanwhile, Iraqi police uncovered a cache in Baghdad on 27 September that included more than 10 small rockets without warheads. AP reported that the warheads were likely removed to be used in the construction of roadside bombs. Police General Ahmad Kadhim Ibrahim said the weapons were smuggled into Al-Basrah port from an unidentified neighboring country and brought to Baghdad. An informant's tip led police to the weapons. KR

...BUT FAIL TO CATCH 'TRIGGERMEN' IN TIKRIT RAID
U.S. forces had little luck on 29 September in tracking down about a dozen "triggermen" believed to be responsible for assassinating members of the new Iraqi police force, drive-by shootings, and roadside bombings, Reuters reported on 29 September. Four suspects were arrested in raids on 15 houses in the early morning hours, but many suspects eluded capture. "The 12 to 15 we were after were the trigger pullers. This was the biggest operation we've conducted in Tikrit so far," Lieutenant Colonel David Poirier told reporters. "Unfortunately, it looks like we didn't get any of them." Poirier added that the suspects are constantly on the run, changing houses on a daily basis. Some 100 U.S. soldiers and 200 Iraqi police participated in the operation. KR

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