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Newsline - October 6, 2003


DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA COULD USE FORCE TO DEFEND ITS COMPATRIOTS IN CIS
Speaking to journalists in Reykjavik en route to an official visit to North and South America, Sergei Ivanov outlined situations in which Moscow might carry out a preemptive military strike under the terms of its new military doctrine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2003), Russian media reported. Ivanov said Russia might carry out a preemptive military strike if there is a distinct, clear, and inevitable military threat to the country. Moscow might also opt for such a measure if it is threatened with reduced access to regions of the world where it has crucial economic or financial interests. Furthermore, Russia might use its military might within the CIS if a complex, unstable situation develops or if there is a direct threat to Russian citizens or ethnic Russians, Ivanov said. He added, however, that he sees no such threat within the CIS now and that military force would only be used if all other means, including the application of international sanctions, have been exhausted. VY

MOSCOW DISSATISFIED WITH NEW IRAQ RESOLUTION
Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said on 3 October that Russia is not satisfied with the proposed U.S.-drafted UN Security Council resolution on Iraq, RTR and polit.ru reported. Putin said Russia still hopes to play a greater role in the postwar restoration of the Iraqi economy than is envisioned by the U.S. draft. He said that he hopes that contracts concluded by Russian companies with the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will be respected. "The Iraqis have more trust for their traditional partners [Russia] than they have for those who now control Iraq," Putin said. Defense Minister Ivanov said in Reykjavik on 5 October that a new resolution on Iraq should convince Iraqis that the international community is only interested in promoting democracy and economic development through the introduction of elections and a new constitution, newsru.com and RIA-Novosti reported on 5 October. He added that it is important to avoid a security vacuum such as the one the emerged several years ago in Afghanistan. In the end, however, security in Iraq can only be maintained by the Iraqis themselves, Ivanov said. VY

RUSSIA CONDEMNS ISRAELI AIR STRIKE ON SYRIA
Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said on 5 October that Moscow is concerned by a 5 October Israeli air strike against alleged terrorist bases in Syria that was carried out in retaliation for a 4 October suicide-bomb attack in Haifa that left at least 19 dead, newsru.com and other Russian media reported. "The extension of the geographic framework of the [Israeli-Palestinian] confrontation could involve other countries and lead to even more dramatic consequences in an already overheated situation," Yakovenko said. VY

PROSECUTORS LAUNCH NEW SEARCHES IN YUKOS PROBE...
Investigators from the Prosecutor-General's Office on 3 October searched the premises of a Yukos-owned business club and boarding school in Moscow, Russian media reported. According to Prosecutor-General's Office official Irina Aleshina, officers seized evidence of schemes to evade millions of dollars in taxes, RBK and nns.ru reported on 4 October. Reportedly, the evidence was taken from Yukos computers seized during the searches. Aleshina said she found it strange that such files would be kept on computers at such organizations. A Yukos lawyer said the company will challenge the latest searches in court. VY

...AMID REPORTS ABOUT THE POSSIBLE SALE OF YUKOS STAKE TO EXXON
ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, is in talks with Yukos to purchase a 40-50 percent stake of the embattled company for an estimated $25 billion, the "Financial Times" reported on 3 October. According to the daily, ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who arrived in Moscow on 3 October to participate in the World Economic Forum, is expected to meet with Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii and with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Deputy Duma Speaker Irina Khakamada, a leader of the Union of Rightist Forces, told journalists during the forum that there are links between the sale rumors and the prosecutors' latest moves in the Yukos probe, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 4 October. VY

COMMUNIST LEADER LASHES OUT AT PUTIN
Speaking in Moscow on the 10th anniversary of the October 1993 confrontation between former President Boris Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 3 October criticized President Putin as "the successor of Yeltsin's cause and course," Russian and Western media reported. He said that the brutal crackdown on the Supreme Soviet led to a chain of violent events including two wars in Chechnya that have taken more than 100,000 lives. Putin has continued these policies and bears full responsibility for their consequences, Zyuganov said. Former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, one of the leaders of the anti-Yeltsin forces in 1993, told NTV on 3 October that he and his supporters tried at the time to warn the country of the plans for "robber privatization." He said that Yeltsin's main criticism of Rutskoi's side in the 1993 confrontation was that it was hindering reform and privatization. Now, however, everyone sees the results that such privatization has produced, Rutskoi said. VY

POWER MINISTRIES ANTICIPATE EVENTUAL MERGER OF SMALLER REGIONS WITH LARGE
"Izvestiya" reported on 6 October that despite the absence of a formal mechanism for merging regions, the law enforcement and intelligence services in certain regions have been taking the first steps toward consolidating their departments in certain autonomous okrugs with those of their larger neighboring krais and oblasts. Justice Minister Yurii Chaika recently announced that an experiment launched by his department in September 2002 to create five territorial justice organs governing 10 federation subjects was successful. For example, the Justice Ministry directorate for Perm Oblast was merged with that for the Komi-Permatskii Autonomous Okrug. Chaika did not exclude the possibility that six more directorates in the remaining 10 autonomous okrugs will also be absorbed soon. Last fall, the heads of the Interior Ministry departments for Krasnoyarsk Krai and Taimyr Autonomous Okrug signed an agreement to merge. The krai legislature has not yet approved a request from the governors of the two regions to unify their police forces. One legislator told the daily that only the interior minister can make that decision. JAC

PUTIN'S CANDIDATE WINS ST. PETERSBURG RACE
As expected, presidential envoy to the Northwest Federal District Valentina Matvienko won the 5 October second round of the St. Petersburg gubernatorial election, Russian media reported. According to preliminary results, Matvienko received 63 percent of the vote, compared to 24 percent for St. Petersburg Deputy Governor Anna Markova, RBK reported on 6 October. About 12 percent of the votes were cast against both candidates, and about 28 percent of registered voters participated in the ballot. Markova told grani.ru that there were six attempts by local police to search her headquarters the night before the vote. The last of these began at 2:30 a.m. and lasted until 5:00 a.m. Markova's staff was not shown any documents by the people wearing military uniforms who carried out the search. However, according to Markova, her staff recognized the deputy prosecutor for the Admiralteiskii Raion sitting in the driver's seat of one police car. However, when they tried to photograph him, he put his hands in front of his face. JAC

PUTIN DEFENDS RIGHTS OF MESKHETIANS TO LEAVE RUSSIA
During a meeting with representatives of the Cossack community and World War II veterans in Krasnodar Krai on 3 October, President Putin said that Meskhetians have the right to return to their historic homeland and that this question has been raised with the leadership of Georgia more than once, RIA-Novosti reported. However, Georgia's leadership "is not still ready to resolve this problem," Putin said. Putin added that while the "Meskhetian-Turks are living in Russia, they should live normally, observing our laws." Some 13,000 Meskhetians who live in Krasnodar Krai have been refused even temporary registration since October 2001 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 2002). They also do not have the right to register their children and cannot lease land, which makes it difficult for them to survive since they are primarily agricultural workers, newsru.com reported on 3 October. JAC

BATTLE UNDER WAY OVER LOCAL TELEVISION NEWS PROGRAMS
The news programs of two independent television channels in Pskov Oblast have been removed from the air, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 4 October. The new chairman of the Pskov branch of the State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), Petr Kotov, stopped the broadcasts so that he could introduce "legal order" into the relationship between his company and the independent channels, MKTV and TV-Com. Local observers believe that this pretext masks a political agenda, according to the daily. Kotov, who assumed his post in the middle of August, previously worked as editor in chief of the Unified Russia party newspaper "Pskovskaya zhizn." He also reportedly works as a press secretary for the head of the local party branch, Aleksei Sigutkin. Sigutkin, an adviser to Interior Minister and Unified Russia party leader Boris Gryzlov, is running for a seat in the State Duma. In September, Sigutkin was mentioned 32 times on local news broadcasts, while the news broadcasts of MKTV, according to an MKTV press release, tried to reflect a broader spectrum. MKTV is controlled by State Duma Deputy Mikhail Kuznetsov (People's Deputy). JAC

25 PARTIES AND BLOCS MAKE FIRST CUT FOR DUMA RACE
Central Election Commission (TsIK) Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov announced on 4 October that a new stage of the State Duma election campaign has begun, as the deadline for candidates to nominate themselves to run in single-mandate districts has expired, ITAR-TASS reported. Veshnyakov also reported that no more than 20 parties and five blocs are eligible to participate in the 7 December election. These parties and blocs now have until 22 October to gather 200,000 signatures in support of their lists or to pay a fee of 37 million rubles ($1.2 million). Veshnyakov expressed doubt that all 25 parties and blocs will be able to meet that deadline. At the commission's session the previous day, commission members certified the party lists of seven parties -- For Holy Russia, the People's Republican Party, SLON, the Union party, the National Patriotic Forces of Russia, the Conservative Party, and the Constitutional Democratic Party. JAC

CHECHEN ADMINISTRATION HEAD BECOMES PRESIDENT...
As universally anticipated, Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, who has served since June 2000 as Chechen administration head, was declared the victor in the 5 October Chechen presidential election, Russian and international media reported. According to preliminary estimates made public on 6 October, Kadyrov defeated six rival candidates, receiving more than 80 percent of the vote, Reuters reported. Voter turnout was estimated at 81.4 percent, which analysts viewed as either an exaggeration or the result of threats by Kadyrov's vast armed militia to kill anyone who failed to vote for him. In an opinion poll released three months ago, more than 60 percent of Chechens said they would not vote for Kadyrov, but the three most popular opposition candidates were either barred from the ballot or quit under pressure. On 6 October, washingtonpost.com quoted a young Chechen as saying, "Ninety percent of the people don't want Kadyrov to be president, but we all know he will be." LF

...AS OBSERVERS SAY POLL WAS 'DEMOCRATIC,' WITH NO VIOLATIONS...
CIS Executive Secretary Yurii Yarov, who headed a team of CIS observers, told Interfax on 5 October that Chechen voters "had absolute freedom of choice," and that no opposition candidates complained that voters were being pressured. Chechen Central Election Commission Chairman Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov said on 5 October that observers reported no serious violations of election procedures. But defeated candidate Shamil Buraev was quoted by "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 6 October as saying the election was accompanied by serious violations and the abuse of administrative resources. He said some voters were given up to 10 ballot papers to complete, and that his observers were not allowed to enter polling stations in the Kurchaloi District under the pretext that documents from the Chechen election commission were required for admission. LF

...WHILE CHECHENS FEAR ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE
In a statement posted on 4 October on chechenpress.com, the Chechen Democratic Association expressed concern that the election the following day would presage a new cycle of violence and genocide, and that in the future the violence will be considered a purely Chechen issue. Reuters on 5 October quoted a Chechen police officer as predicting that once the ballot is over, "there will definitely be a third [war]." LF

ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL VOTE OF CONFIDENCE NO LONGER CONSIDERED URGENT
Constitutional Court Chairman Gagik Harutiunian told journalists in Yerevan on 3 October that the court's proposal made in April to conduct a "referendum of confidence" in President Robert Kocharian "has lost its urgency," Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The court proposed the vote of confidence at the same time as it rejected an appeal by Stepan Demirchian, whom Kocharian defeated in the two-round presidential election in February-March, to declare the outcome of the ballot invalid in the light of alleged serious irregularities. Kocharian rejected the referendum proposal immediately (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 April 2003). LF

AZERBAIJANI SERVICEMAN RELEASED
An Azerbaijani private apprehended by Karabakh Armenian forces on 26 September after inadvertently straying on to Armenian-controlled territory was released on 3 October following mediation between the two conflict sides by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 2003). LF

SENIOR OFFICIAL REJECTS RUMORS OF SPLIT IN AZERBAIJANI RULING PARTY
Ali Akhmedov, executive secretary of Azerbaijan's ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party (YAP), told Interfax on 3 October that the announcement the previous day that President Heidar Aliev is withdrawing his candidacy in the 15 October presidential election in favor of his son, Prime Minister Ilham Aliev, has not occasioned a split within the party. Akhmedov said opposition claims of such a spilt are wishful thinking. Azerbaijani presidential administration head Ramiz Mekhtiev similarly told Interfax on 3 October that supporters of President Aliev unanimously back Prime Minister Aliev's candidacy. Mekhtiev described Prime Minister Aliev as having all the qualities a modern head of state needs. LF

U.S. STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF DEMOCRATIC BALLOT IN AZERBAIJAN...
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher characterized President Aliev's decision to withdraw from the 15 October presidential ballot as an internal matter for Azerbaijan, Turan reported on 4 October. At the same time, Boucher again stressed that Washington considers it "very important" that the presidential election meet OSCE standards. On 4 October, U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) met in Baku with opposition party leaders and with Prime Minister Aliev to discuss the election, Turan reported on 6 October. The agency quoted McCain as saying that Prime Minister Aliev undertook to eliminate "shortcomings" in the election campaign. LF

...AS OPPOSITION CANDIDATES SUBJECTED TO FURTHER HARASSMENT
Police and YAP supporters attacked opposition presidential candidates Isa Gambar (Musavat Party) and Sabir Rustamkhanli (Civic Solidarity Party) on 3 October as they campaigned in Devichi and Ali-Bairamli, respectively, Turan reported. Several people were injured in the Devichi fighting. On 4 October, police bearing shields, helmets, and truncheons tried to bar access to a square in the district center of Masally where Gambar was scheduled to hold campaign rally. Trucks blocked access to the venue in nearby Lenkoran where Gambar had scheduled a second meeting with voters. In Gyanja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city, more than 10,000 people attended a campaign rally on 4 October for opposition Azerbaijan National Independence Party Chairman Etibar Mamedov, despite attempts by men in civilian clothes to pressure people not to attend, Turan reported. LF

GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES TO ENFORCE COMPLIANCE WITH ELECTION CAMPAIGN REGULATIONS
At a 4 October meeting between President Eduard Shevardnadze and the heads of law enforcement agencies, it was decided to enforce legislation on the conduct of campaign rallies, Caucasus Press and the website of the independent television station Rustavi-2 reported. Specifically, those regulations require organizers of campaign rallies to inform local authorities five days in advance of the time and venue of the rally and the anticipated number of persons who will attend. National Security Council Secretary Tedo Djaparidze explained to journalists on 4 October that the rationale for demanding strict compliance with those requirements, which he stressed are not new, is to prevent a recurrence of the clashes that took place in Bolnisi Raion on 26 September between supporters of the opposition National Movement and of former regional administrator Levan Mamaladze, a member of the pro-presidential For a New Georgia election bloc (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2003). LF

GEORGIAN, ABKHAZ OFFICIALS SEEK TO MINIMIZE ENERGY SHORTAGES
Georgian and Abkhaz energy officials met on 4 October to discuss how to minimize the impact of the reduction of the generating capacity at the Inguri hydroelectric-power station, Caucasus Press reported. The Abkhaz staff reduced power supplies to Georgia late the previous day without warning after the water level in the station's reservoir fell below the required minimum. Further talks will take place on 7 October. Georgian Fuel and Energy Minister Mamuka Nikolaishvili said on 6 October that most regions of Georgia will have only limited supplies of electricity until the end of the month when the Tbilisi thermal-power station will be in a position to make up for the shortfall. LF

PARLIAMENTARIANS SEEK INFORMATION ON KAZAKHGATE BRIBERY CASE
Several members of the lower house of the Kazakh parliament have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft asking to be informed of any progress in the investigation of the so-called Kazakhgate bribery case, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported, citing a copy of the letter distributed by the parliamentary press service. The parliamentarians particularly asked to be informed of the names of any government officials implicated in the scandal. The deputies said their requests for information from Kazakh government agencies have been ignored, and some Kazakh officials have denied that there is an investigation under way in the United States. The Kazakhgate affair involves allegations that U.S. businessman James Giffen and others gave bribes to senior Kazakh officials, possibly including President Nursultan Nazarbaev. BB

KAZAKH JOURNALIST BEATEN, WARNED OFF REPORTING
Andrei Doronin, a correspondent for the independent daily "Ekspress-K," was beaten near his Almaty apartment by unidentified assailants, who then questioned him about his work and warned him to give up journalism, the newspaper reported on 4 October. In recent months Doronin has written about losses to the national budget caused by vodka production in the untaxed shadow economy. BB

KAZAKH INFORMATION MINISTER EXPLAINS SPLIT OF INFORMATION FROM CULTURE MINISTRY...
Newly appointed Kazakh Information Minister Sautbek Abdrakhmanov, in an interview in "Ekspress-K" on 3 October, explained the recent division of the former Ministry of Culture, Information, and Public Harmony into separate ministries of information and culture as part of a general government reorganization. The Culture Ministry is responsible for implementing the presidential Cultural Heritage program and youth and language policies, while the Information Ministry promotes public accord through state media policies. This includes "regulation of the information sphere," which, according to Abdrakhmanov, means creating conditions for the development of competitive domestic media that provide objective information to the public. He added that this goal will be achieved partly through the placement of state orders with approved private media outlets and warned that current tax exemptions for the media will not continue indefinitely. BB

...AND PROMINENT EDITOR WARNS OF THREAT TO MEDIA FREEDOM
Aleksandr Shukhov, editor in chief of the popular weekly "Karavan," described Minister Abdrakhmanov's remarks on placing state orders with independent media as a potential threat to media freedom in Kazakhstan in an article posted on the "Karavan" website (http://www.caravan.kz) on 5 October. He believes state orders are intended to serve as a substitute for the advertising revenues the media will lose when a ban on alcohol and tobacco advertising goes into effect in 2004. He added that such orders could be an effective way of ensuring the publication of information the state wants disseminated, rather than information the population desires. BB

POLL: AR-NAMYS BEST-KNOWN PARTY IN KYRGYZSTAN
According to a national poll of 900 citizens conducted by a Bishkek polling service in September, the best-known political party in Kyrgyzstan is the opposition Ar-Namys Party of imprisoned former Vice President Feliks Kulov, akipress.org and RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 3 and 4 October, respectively. Forty-one percent of respondents were unable to name any party, and 66.1 percent were unable to name a party they trust. Thirty-five percent were aware of the Ar-Namys Party, although only 17 percent of respondents said they trust it. The communists -- presumably both communist parties taken together -- were known by 25.2 percent of respondents and trusted by 14 percent, while the socialist Ata-Meken Party was known by 24.8 percent and trusted by 14 percent. Other parties were known by less than 20 percent and trusted by 10 percent or less. BB

PRIVATE TELEVISION STATION IN UZBEKISTAN STOPS ORIGINAL BROADCASTING DUE TO LACK OF FUNDS
The only independent television station for young people in the Ferghana Valley city of Andijan has stopped producing its own programs because of a lack of money, centrasia.ru reported on 6 October, quoting the Uzbek Committee on Freedom of Expression. The station, Andijan, dismissed its remaining journalists as of 1 October. It was unable to find sponsors in Uzbekistan's current worsening economic climate, according to the report, and over the last three years the amount of original programming has declined from more than 35 hours per week to six to 10 hours, while the number of journalists employed by the station has declined from 15 to three. The station continues to exist, rebroadcasting programs from Russia's ORT. BB

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PRESENTS AWARDS AT HARVEST FESTIVAL
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka bestowed awards upon top performing harvester operators in the 2003 harvest campaign at the Dazhynki (Harvest) festival in Pruzhany, Brest Oblast, on 4 October, Belapan reported. Thirteen combine operators were presented with automobiles. Monetary awards of 10 million-40 million Belarusian rubles ($4,750-$9,500) and diplomas were also given to harvester crews, farm managers, and district- and region-level officials for their contributions to the nationwide campaign to build up fodder stocks. Lukashenka said at the event that Belarus harvested 5.5 million tons of grain this year, with an average yield of 2.7 tons per hectare. JM

MINSK WANTS UP TO $5.3 BILLION FOR ABANDONING NATIONAL CURRENCY
Belarusian National Bank Chairman Pyotr Prakapovich said on 3 October that Belarus will need from 120 billion-160 billion Russian rubles ($3.9 billion-$5.3 billion) to replace its national currency in 2005 with the Russian ruble, Belapan reported. Prakapovich added that the amount is equivalent to 20 percent of Belarus's estimated GDP in 2005. "If we make the decision to adopt the Russian ruble in Belarus...the Russian ruble should ensure Belarus's economic development," he said. Prakapovich pointed out that Russia should print the money required by Belarus rather than budget additional expenditures. "It is surprising that it takes the Russian side so long to resolve the compensation and other issues, because it costs Russia nothing," he said, stressing that he will not sign an agreement on the currency union until Russia pledges to supply enough money. JM

UKRAINIANS RALLY AGAINST CIS SINGLE ECONOMIC SPACE
Nearly 5,000 people took part in a demonstration in Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine, on 5 October to protest Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan's recent accord to create a CIS Single Economic Space ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 September 2003), UNIAN reported on 6 October. A resolution adopted at the rally calls the accord signed on behalf of Ukraine by President Leonid Kuchma a "betrayal" of national interests and appeals to the Verkhovna Rada not to ratify it. The demonstration was organized by Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and other organizations in the region. JM

MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT VISITS UKRAINE
President Kuchma met with his Macedonian counterpart Boris Trajkovski in Uzhhorod, Transcarpathia, on 3 October, Interfax reported. The two presidents reportedly discussed bilateral cooperation and the situation in the Balkans. "Ukraine is a state with high rates of economic development, and it may render Macedonia great support in its economic development," Trajkovski said. It was announced after the meeting that the Macedonian-Bulgarian firm Granat-AHM was hired as the general contractor for a $45.5 million project to repair 210 kilometers of a mountainous road connecting Kyiv and the town of Chop on the Hungarian border, dpa reported. JM

EC CRITICIZES ESTONIA'S FAILURE TO PROTECT CITIZENS FROM DISCRIMINATION
The European Commission on 3 October published a report criticizing Estonia for its lack of nondiscrimination legislation, BNS reported. It states that despite EU requirements, Estonia has failed to pass laws on specific measures against discrimination in the workplace, job training, social policy, education, access to goods and services, and housing. Estonia and several other EU candidate countries were also singled out for not having campaigns and institutions in place to inform citizens of their rights in combating discrimination. The document notes that Estonia is the only EU candidate country that has no state structures for social dialogue. The situation is expected to improve once parliament passes a framework antidiscrimination law, the passage of which has been delayed. However, the draft law does not pay enough attention to reducing inequality arising from language proficiency and ethnic origin, according to the commission's report. SG

LATVIAN PREMIER AWARDED FOR CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN UNIFICATION
Einars Repse traveled to Berlin on 3 October to receive the Die Quatriga award from the German nongovernmental organization Werkstatt Deutschland for his contribution to the unification of Europe, BNS reported. Werkstatt Deutschland was established in May 1993 to promote understanding among nations and to enhance democracy in Europe. The award is presented each year for significant contributions in the fields of politics, economics, media, and culture. Other laureates this year were Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, architect Sir Norman Foster, and actor Armin Mueller-Stahl. Repse said all of Latvia can take credit for the award for its return to Europe following 50 years of Soviet occupation. He noted that the ceremony took place at an important place and time -- in the historical capital of Germany on its reunification day. Repse also said Germany understands the tragedy of a divided Europe better than other countries, and noted that it granted significant financial support for the renewal of democracy and a market economy in Latvia and was among the first states to ratify the NATO and EU accession treaties. SG

LITHUANIAN OFFICIAL SAYS EU MEMBERSHIP WILL GIVE 'ADDITIONAL PUSH' TO U.S. TIES
Foreign Ministry Secretary Rytis Martikonis told a visiting U.S. delegation on 3 October that Lithuania's entry into the EU will "give an additional push to U.S. participation and investment in the region and a new qualitative base for the development of Lithuanian-U.S. trade, cultural, and scientific exchange and interstate relations," BNS reported. The meeting with the U.S. delegation, headed by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Charles Ries, was also attended by officials from the Agriculture, Foreign, Interior, and Justice ministries and other institutions. Martikonis praised a new U.S. initiative to strengthen partnership with Northern European countries and boost activities in the Baltic Sea region. He also said that at the EU's intergovernmental conference in Rome the next day Lithuania would declare that the common EU defense policy should not duplicate existing NATO structures and forces. SG

POLISH TROOPS REPORTEDLY FIND FRENCH-MADE MISSILES IN IRAQ
Polish Defense Ministry spokesman Eugeniusz Mleczak told journalists on 3 October that last month Polish soldiers in Iraq found four French-built Roland-type antiaircraft missiles that were built this year, Polish and international media reported. The French Foreign Ministry promptly denied this information, saying the production of the most modern Roland 3 rocket ended in 1993. "There could not be any 2003 missiles because those missiles have not been manufactured for 15 years," French President Jacques Chirac told journalists at the EU summit in Rome on 4 October. "I believe the Polish soldiers have created confusion that could have been avoided with thorough verification," Chirac added. The same day Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski apologized to Paris, saying the report was released without his authorization and suggesting that Polish soldiers might have drawn wrong conclusions regarding the production date of the discovered missiles. JM

POLISH PREMIER PLEDGES COMMITMENT TO NICE TREATY AT EU MEETING
Premier Leszek Miller told an intergovernmental conference on the EU Constitution in Rome on 4 October that keeping the 2000 Nice Treaty system of voting in the union's Council of Ministers is of paramount importance for Poland, PAP reported. "We believe that the rejection of the Nice system before it has been tested is unjustified," Miller said. "One should keep in mind that citizens of my country opted for settlements reached in Nice voting in a referendum on integration with the EU." Miller said Poland will not come forward with any proposal of a compromise between the Nice Treaty and the draft EU constitution treaty prepared by the European Convention chaired by Valery Giscard d'Estaing because the system agreed upon in Nice was a compromise in itself. JM

CZECH PRIME MINISTER HOPEFUL OF EU CONSTITUTION'S APPROVAL
Vladimir Spidla on 4 October said he is optimistic that the proposed EU constitution will be approved, although he said there are several issues in the document that the Czech Republic will seek to change, CTK reported. Spidla, speaking at the Rome intergovernmental summit, said the positions held by the Czech Republic are shared by three or four other countries and, "we are not in any isolated position." He added that the opposing positions "do not dramatically differ and are not strictly formulated." The Czech government is known to be seeking equal representation for all member countries in the European Commission, among other EU institutions, and wants greater clarification of the duties to be held by the head of the Council of Ministers, a new position. Spidla said it is too early to say whether the EU constitution will be approved by the Czech parliament or by the Czech people in a referendum. Miroslav Grebenicek, head of the Czech Republic's Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, said on 4 October that he will push for a referendum. The Communists are highly critical of the constitution. PB

CONSCRIPTION COULD END IN CZECH REPUBLIC IN 2004
Jan Vana, deputy defense minister in charge of military reform, has said that mandatory military service in the Czech Republic could be abolished as early as next year, the daily "Lidove noviny" reported on 6 October. Vana said the military is prepared for an end to compulsory service and that the decision to do so needs to come from Premier Spidla's cabinet. The government is to debate the issue in November. The Defense Ministry will make several suggestions to the cabinet, with 2006 being the latest date at which conscription would be abolished, according to the daily. PB

SLOVAK PREMIER SAYS NO COMPROMISE OF STATE'S INTERESTS AT EU CONSTITUTION TALKS...
Mikulas Dzurinda said at the EU constitutional summit in Rome on 4 October that it is possible to have a constitution without "weakening the national idea or interests," TASR reported. Like the Czech Republic, Bratislava supports the idea of "one country, one commissioner" within the European Commission. Dzurinda said Slovakia has five proposed changes to the draft constitution, including a mention of Christian values in the preamble of the document. Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, who is also in Rome for the summit, said discussion on the presidency of the Council of Ministers was a "complex debate." He said the meeting of foreign ministers failed to reach the final item on the agenda, that of the future post of EU foreign minister. Kukan and Dzurinda said they will meet with officials from all parliamentary parties in Bratislava to brief them on the results of the summit. PB

...AS HE'S CRITICIZED AT HOME
The Slovak dailies "Sme" and "Pravda" offered criticism of Prime Minister Dzurinda's delegation at the EU constitutional summit in Rome for not fighting for changes to the draft document, CTK reported. "Pravda" wrote in a 6 October editorial that "Dzurinda has distanced himself, with several statements, from the camp of staunch opponents of the constitution and joined the other side of the front even before the first shot of the battle over the constitution was fired." "Sme" wrote the same day that Dzurinda's intention "to support the treaty without considerable changes" contrasts sharply with the intentions of officials from Estonia, Austria, Finland, and the Czech Republic to fight for changes. "Sme" concluded that the Slovak position "is not ambitious but timid or almost cowardly." PB

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER PITCHES FOR IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
Visiting Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on 3 October and expressed Hungary's interest in participating in the reconstruction of Iraq, Hungarian media reported. Kovacs argued that Hungarian companies have already completed a number of projects in Iraq and that their experience there would be beneficial to reconstruction efforts. Powell thanked Kovacs for the firm support Hungary has lent to the antiterrorism effort by sending its soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also made it clear during the talks that the United States will train Iraqi police officers in Jordan, not in Hungary, as was suggested earlier this year, "Nepszabadsag" reported. MSZ

HUNGARY'S FIDESZ SIGNS PACT WITH ROMANY PARTY
Opposition FIDESZ party Chairman Viktor Orban on 5 October signed a cooperation agreement with Florian Farkas, chairman of the Romany political organization Lungo Drom, "Nepszabadsag" reported. The agreement is more restricted in scope than those FIDESZ signed with its other political partners, as Lungo Drom has no representative in the FIDESZ leadership, the daily noted. However, the agreement stipulates that FIDESZ's list for European Parliament candidates will include one Romany candidate. Farkas said the agreement stipulates that "Hungarian Gypsies will have guaranteed political representation in Europe." MSZ

EU PRESSES CLAIM TO TAKE OVER BOSNIAN PEACEKEEPING MISSION
EU defense ministers agreed in Rome on 4 October to make plans to take over Bosnian peacekeeping from NATO in 2004, Reuters reported. French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told the news agency: "We are looking at some time during 2004, [most] likely the second half of 2004. And that is why I asked for us to do some pre-planning." Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino said that "the Pentagon [may] be favorable to a reduction of their commitment in the Balkans because they already have so much going on there and in other theaters." Several U.S. officials have said that it is too early to discuss NATO's exit from the Balkans. Many in Washington also have doubts about the EU's ability to manage the security situation in Bosnia and about the EU's ultimate goal in building up a military with no ties to the United States (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August and 5 September 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 20 June and 19 September 2003). PM

FORMER U.S. ENVOY WARNS AGAINST U.S. PULLOUT FROM BALKANS
Speaking in Prishtina on 4 October, former U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said it would be a "historical mistake" for the United States to withdraw from the Balkans before finishing the job it came to do, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. He said in Belgrade on 2 October that the process of determining Kosova's final status is taking too long, warning that prolonging the process "will only make things more complicated." Earlier in Sarajevo, Holbrooke denied that the 1995 Dayton peace agreement is a "straitjacket," adding that any changes to it must be made by the citizens of Bosnia themselves. PM

U.S. REPORTEDLY TURNED DOWN KOSOVA'S OFFERS OF HELP IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN
"The New York Times" of 6 October reported that Kosova's president, Ibrahim Rugova, and parliamentary speaker Nexhat Daci have between them made several offers to send police to Iraq or Afghanistan but were turned down or ignored by Washington. Agim Ceku, who heads the civilian Kosova Protection Corps (TMK), has offered to send some of his 3,000 men, many of whom are former guerrillas of the Kosova Liberation Army. The Kosovars argue that they have much experience of value to Iraq and Afghanistan, noting also that most Kosovars are Muslims. Elizabeth Jones, who is assistant secretary of state for European affairs, reportedly told Rugova that he should concentrate on building democracy in Kosova. Pro-U.S. feeling is very strong in Kosova as result of U.S.-led efforts that stopped the Serbian crackdown there in 1999. PM

DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS MACEDONIA WILL REMAIN NEUTRAL IN KOSOVA TALKS
Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski told the Prishtina-based daily "Koha Ditore" of 4 October that Macedonia will remain neutral in the internationally brokered talks on Kosova between the authorities in Prishtina and Belgrade, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. Buckovski said that unspecified "extremist" groups that try to destabilize Kosova, southern Serbia, and Macedonia are working against the interest of Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 29 September and 1 October 2003). In other news, Buckovski said in Ohrid on 3 October that a 13,000-strong Macedonian army will be fully interoperable with NATO troops by 2007, MIA reported. Buckovski stressed that the country's priority in the coming years will be border security and combating regionally based crime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September and 3 October 2003). UB

THOUSANDS STAGE PROTEST MARCH IN SERBIAN CAPITAL
Several thousand people marched in Belgrade on 5 October to mark the third anniversary of the ouster of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and to protest his successors' failure to end crime and corruption, Reuters reported. The march was organized by the Otpor (Resistance) student movement, which was instrumental in staging protests toward the end of Milosevic's reign. One woman told the news agency: "Nothing has changed, there is still bribery, corruption, and crime. Those who are extremely rich still rule this country, and those who are poor are even poorer" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 28 March, 9 May, 25 July, and 8 August 2003). PM

CROATIA DECLARES 'FISHING AND ECOLOGICAL ZONE' IN THE ADRIATIC
Following a government recommendation the previous day, the Croatian parliament voted on 3 October to declare a "fishing and ecological zone" in the Adriatic, which will take effect after one year, regional and international media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2003 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 and 22 August and 5 September 2003). Supporters of the move say it is necessary to protect fishing stocks, which are already heavily depleted. A spokesman for European Fishing and Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler told Reuters, however, that "the Mediterranean is a packed sea, and we are calling on all interested parties to engage in a dialogue. Croatia's ambition to become an EU member and the imposing of an economic zone are two separate issues, but the EU is interested in cooperation and dialogue between member countries and candidates." Slovenia and Italy have repeatedly called on Croatia not to implement any decisions without "dialogue." On 4 October, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry protested the Croatian parliament's latest decision, dpa reported. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR POLITICAL ARMISTICE AHEAD OF CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM
In a 3 October open letter sent to political parties, Prime Minister and ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) Chairman Adrian Nastase proposed a political armistice ahead of the 19 October referendum on amendments to the constitution, Romanian Radio reported. Nastase argued that political debates should only deal with possible constitutional amendments. He further said that possible low turnout in the referendum should not be seen as evidence of low support for the government or the PSD, but as a "worrying signal" of lack of interest for European integration. President Ion Iliescu also called on political parties to stop attacking each other, Mediafax reported. Democratic Party Chairman Traian Basescu responded that he cannot refrain from political attacks as long as the PSD persists in "stealing." ZsM

PLAGIARISM COSTS ROMANIAN HEALTH MINISTER HIS TEACHING POST
Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmaceutics' Senate on 3 October ruled that Health Minister Mircea Beuran plagiarized medical publications and dismissed him from the university's teaching staff, Mediafax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October, 30, 16 and 25 September 2003). Following a university commission's recommendation, the Senate voted in favor of relieving Beuran by a tally of 45-6, with three abstentions. On 4 October, Interior Minister Ioan Rus said the plagiarism allegations against Beuran are based not as much on "morality and ethics" as on his ministerial activities, which Rus says affect "major interests" in the health system. ZsM

ROMANIAN EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY PARTIES DECIDE TO UNITE
Former President Emil Constantinescu and former Prime Minister Vasile Lupu on 4 October signed an agreement to merge their respective parties, Mediafax reported. Constantinescu is chairman of the Popular Action party and Lupu heads the Popular Christian Party, which are to approve the move at a joint congress scheduled for 29 November. Local chapters of the two parties are to merge by 22 November. The merged party will be called Popular Action. ZsM

SOCIAL-LIBERAL PARTY JOINS PROTESTS IN MOLDOVA
Opposition Social-Liberal Party (PSL) representatives on 3 October launched a protest in front of the government building in Chisinau against the government's alleged passivity regarding Russia's failure to evacuate its troops and armaments from Transdniester, Flux reported. PSL representatives also joined Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) members picketing the Russian Embassy in the Moldovan capital. The PPCD began demonstrating in front of the embassy on 29 September because of Russia's failure to respect its obligation to withdraw its troops from Transdniester by the end of this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September 2003). PSL Chairman Oleg Serebrean said the protests will continue at least until Russia proposes an evacuation plan. ZsM

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER TALKS ABOUT SUCCESS STORY
Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski in his 3 October televised address to the nation underscored his government's achievements in the economic and social spheres, mediapool.bg reported. Saxecoburggotski said that in his first 800 days office inflation remained low, unemployment rates fell, and economic growth was stable. He added that the country's biggest problem remains the mentality of its citizens, who are deeply influenced by Bulgaria's communist past. In his famous speech of 6 April 2001, Saxecoburggotski, who is the former Bulgarian king, announced that upon his election he would significantly improve Bulgarians' living standards within 800 days. Recent opinion polls show that the majority is deeply disappointed with the achievements of Saxecoburggotski's government. UB

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY RAISES CONCERNS OVER BULGARIAN SECRET-SERVICE ADVISER
In reaction to the nomination of retired General Brigo Asparuhov as the prime minister's special adviser on secret-service issues, Britain has issued a demarche to the Bulgarian government expressing its concern over the nomination, mediapool.bg reported on 3 October. Italy and the Netherlands reportedly supported the demarche. Meanwhile, a NATO spokesman in Brussels told RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service that Asparuhov's nomination is of interest to all NATO members. Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov said he expects more demarches protesting Asparuhov's nomination. Ahmed Dogan, who heads the junior coalition partner in the government, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), rejected such protests as interference in Bulgaria's internal affairs. Asparuhov has been harshly criticized for his involvement in the communist-era secret services and his role in the downfall of the first noncommunist government in 1992 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16, 17, 23, 29, and 30 September 2003). UB

TEAMWORK IN THE BALKANS
The trans-Atlantic alliance has played a vital role in bringing peace and stability to the western Balkans over the past decade or so. This is particularly true of the U.S.-German partnership, which brings together the sole surviving superpower and the European power with the greatest influence in the Balkans. The question now is whether a good trans-Atlantic working relationship there can be revitalized and continued.

Berlin's upscale KaDeWe department store recently featured a display of well over a dozen books on the United States -- all of them critical. But while the German media still produce growls and yips about some aspects of U.S. foreign policy and especially about President George W. Bush, the recent loud barking over "cowboy Bush" and the "U.S.-Americans" -- an uneducated, obese, and gun-loving nation of religious fanatics -- seems to be fading into the past.

As Josef Joffe of the Hamburg weekly "Die Zeit" noted in the 30 September issue of "Time" magazine's European edition, a process of sobering up is taking place on both sides of the Atlantic, and "the headaches are all for the good." The veteran journalist argues that the realization is growing in the United States that the vital tasks at hand "require help from the rest of the world."

At the same time, Joffe adds, "the Europeans...have been bitten by another reality, [namely] their irreducible weakness in the great-power ring." One might add that any dreams in Paris, Berlin, or elsewhere of a closely integrated EU ready and able to act as a military counterweight to the United States should be seen as a project for the future, if it ever becomes reality at all.

Joffe stresses that the leaders on both sides of the Atlantic will now have to decide whether they want a "cooperative international order" or a return to the world of "19th-century power politics."

The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 27 September that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has proven that it is now possible to win elections in Germany by appealing to anti-American sentiments and to take votes from the conservative parties in the process. But, the daily adds, anti-Americanism is not a foreign policy. Nor did Schroeder achieve much by detaching Berlin from Washington's orbit only to land in that of Paris. The Germans' task now is to see how they can best promote their interests by restoring their influence with the United States, the only superpower, the paper argues.

Karsten Voigt, who is the German Foreign Ministry's coordinator for trans-Atlantic relations, told Vienna's "Standard" of 26 September that a healthy redefinition of an important relationship is in progress, starting from the premise that the crises requiring attention are no longer in the middle of Europe as they were during the Cold War.

Many questions nonetheless loom on the horizon as the hangovers only begin to wear off. Concerns are still very much present throughout Europe about U.S. "unilateralism," although some Europeans say that U.S. isolationism is more of a danger to European interests than is unilateralism. At the same time, suspicions remain on the other side of the Atlantic that "multilateralism" is little more than a vehicle for others to control or block U.S. foreign policy.

In a recent interview with RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service, Janusz Bugajski, who is director of the Eastern European Project at the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that he would not "put too much hope on bridge building between certain countries in Western Europe and the United States. It's not a question of misunderstanding. They understand very well what their differences are."

He argued that the United States and its allies should differ and argue as much as they please, but once the Americans have made their decision, the dissenting allies should "air those differences between them privately and not make it into a public affair, whereby the alliance itself comes into danger and...the enemies of the alliance exploit" the rift. One might add that this point has been at the heart of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl's criticism of the policies of his successor.

But there has not been only tension in trans-Atlantic relations in recent months. The outgoing French ambassador to Macedonia, Francois Teral, said in September that cooperation between Washington and its European partners in Macedonia and the Balkans is good, and that Brussels does not want to jeopardize it over non-Balkan issues.

Good cooperation was also a prominent theme at a Berlin conference sponsored by the Suedosteuropa-Gesellschaft (SOG) -- which is Germany's primary organization for Balkan studies -- and the German Foreign Ministry on 12-13 September.

Several German speakers stressed that crises farther afield should not distract their country's attention from the fact that much work remains to be done in the Balkans. Indeed, they argued, Germany cannot afford to neglect the Balkans, where it has so many political, economic, and other interests. Some speakers recalled that any instability or lawlessness in that region means refugees, smuggling, and organized crime directly impacting on Germany and its immediate neighbors.

Gernot Erler, who chairs the SOG and is a leading member of the parliament for Schroeder's Social Democratic Party (SPD), noted that the Balkans and Afghanistan are Germany's chief areas of concentration in the international division of labor.

He stressed that the EU will eventually be able to deal with the Balkans by itself, but that time has not yet come. The U.S. role remains necessary in the Balkans even as the EU promotes a European-wide postcommunist transformation process. Erler concluded that the EU cannot expect to be taken seriously on the international stage if it cannot put its European house in order.

Michael Schaefer, who is political director of the German Foreign Ministry, noted that the EU and NATO work closely together in the Balkans in an atmosphere of trust. He stressed that the U.S. role in Kosova and Bosnia in particular is "indispensable." He also suggested, however, that the EU's role will grow in the region since it is closer than the United States and presumably able to be more effective.

Stefan Lehne, who is director of the European Council's foreign and political-military affairs department in Brussels, stressed that "things can be done with the United States in the Balkans but not without it." He noted the vital U.S. role not only in Kosova and Bosnia, but also in promoting military reform in Serbia and Montenegro. Lehne hailed the well-developed "culture of cooperation" between the United States and its EU allies in the Balkans, noting that the tumult over Iraq did not affect Western cooperation in the Balkans.

Daniel Serwer, who is director of the Peace Operations and Balkans Initiative of the United States Institute of Peace, noted, as did some European speakers, that not all Western countries share a common "vision" for the Balkans. He pointed out that one important difference regarding multiethnicity is that most EU countries except France endorse the concept of group rights to protect the interests of minorities, whereas the U.S. tradition does not.

Serwer feels that the key to trans-Atlantic cooperation is "joint projects," even if the partners have differing views on a theoretical plane. He argued that the United States has never had major strategic interests in the Balkans and intervened only because the European powers could not manage things themselves.

Fresh from a trip to Kosova, Serwer pointed to the difficulties facing the upcoming Belgrade-Prishtina talks. He suggested that the United States and the EU make the success of these talks their next joint project.

NEW POLITICAL MOVEMENT FAVORS DEMOCRATIC VALUES IN CONSTITUTION...
The National Front for Democracy in Afghanistan (NFDA), an umbrella organization comprising 45 political groups, met on 4 October in Kabul and called for a democratic constitution for Afghanistan, RFE/RL reported. The NFDA conference brought together pro-democracy activists from a broad political spectrum beyond NFDA. Speakers such as Sima Samar, former minister for women's affairs, and Anwar al-Haq Ahady, head of Afghan Millat Party and of Da Afghanistan Bank, indirectly rebuffed the idea expressed at a recent seminar of the Council of Ulama of Afghanistan that democracy runs contrary to Islam (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 18 September 2003). Fatima Gailani, a member of the Constitutional Commission, said this was proven by the commission's recent national consultation process. "Literate and illiterate people, mullahs and laymen want Islam enshrined in the constitution in the first place, but all of them also mentioned either democracy or mardom-salari [people's power]," Gailani said. "There is no contradiction between Islam and democracy, and the people understand this." Gailani conceded that although these were "staged" consultation meetings, "we were able to find out the opinions of the people anyway." JH

...WHILE INTELLECTUALS REMAIN SKEPTICAL ABOUT PRACTICABILITY
Many participants at the NFDA-sponsored conference warned that even a good constitution might be meaningless if it cannot be implemented in practice, RFE/RL reported on 4 October. Noting that the draft still has not been published and that a general atmosphere of insecurity prevails in the country, Qasem Akhgar, one of Afghanistan's most outspoken intellectuals, said, "The process is heading in an antidemocratic direction, and the people are being cheated again." NFDA member Jawed Kohestani demanded that the draft constitution be published "paragraph by paragraph so that both intellectuals and common people can discuss it freely." As the main guest speaker, EU Special Representative Francesc Vendrell laid out some expectations from the future constitution: that internationally accepted values are duly reflected, that the armed forces and the intelligence service be brought under civilian control, that the judiciary and the civil service become apolitical, and that parliamentary and presidential elections be held simultaneously next year in accord with the Bonn agreement. JH

FORMER MUJAHEDIN POLITICAL COALITION TO CHALLENGE KARZAI IN NEXT AFGHAN ELECTION...
At a meeting on 4 October, about 70 leaders of former mujahedin parties agreed to form a joint political party -- the United National Islamic Front of Afghanistan -- to challenge Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai, the Hindukosh news agency and Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported on 5 October. The meeting took place in the home of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani and was attended by Defense Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim; Education Minister Yunos Qanuni; Herat Governor Mohammad Ismail Khan; General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Karzai's special adviser on security and military affairs; and Dostum's rival, General Ata Mohammad. All of these individuals, except Dostum, are affiliated with Jamiat-e Islami party. The meeting included several leaders of other former mujahedin parties. AT

...BUT WILL STAY LOYAL TO THE AFGHAN LEADER UNTIL THE ELECTION
Speakers at the meeting of the United National Islamic Front of Afghanistan emphasized that their actions are in opposition to Chairman Karzai's administration, Hindukosh news agency reported on 5 October. Fahim indicated that it is the right of the former mujahedin to unite and make decisions regarding the future of their country. Fahim added that ignoring the right of the former mujahedin parties to participate in the Afghan political process would have unpleasant results for Afghanistan and for countries interested in Afghanistan. AT

SOURCE CLOSE TO JAMIAT-E ISLAMI SAYS POLITICAL TIES WITH KARZAI HAVE BEEN SEVERED
Discussing the formation of the new mujahedin coalition, Hafiz Mansur -- publisher of "Payam-e Mojahed," which speaks for Jamiat-e Islami party -- said that the meeting meant "cutting political ties with [Chairman] Karzai," "The Washington Post" reported on 6 October. Mansur said the new coalition will be searching for a new candidate, adding that "what is clear is that from now on, Karzai will be isolated." AT

FORMER AFGHAN PRESIDENT DECLARES HIS CANDIDACY
Mohammad Sediq Chakary, a spokesman for Jamiat-e Islami, has said that former Afghan President Rabbani will run in the presidential election scheduled for June 2004, Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported on 5 October. AT

TEHRAN DENIES CONTACTS WITH WASHINGTON
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said on 5 October that Tehran and Washington have not had any secret meetings in Geneva or exchanged any diplomatic messages recently, dpa reported. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in a 3 October interview with reporters from "The Washington Post" had said: "We have received a number of indications from Iran and we are responding to those indications.... But I think it's encouraging that they are sending out these signals and we are responding to the signals." "Their signals are not simply going into the ether," he added, "They are hitting a reflector and going back." The "Los Angeles Times," furthermore, had reported on 4 October that anonymous "senior U.S. officials" said that Iran wants to resume behind-the-scenes Tehran-Washington discussions that were abandoned in May. "We've seen some signs and heard from others that the Iranians want to talk," a "senior State Department official" said. "We're sending some signals back." BS

TALKS WITH IAEA CONTINUE IN TEHRAN
A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran on 2 October, and Iranian representative to the IAEA Ali Akbar Salehi said on 4 October that an understanding was reached with the visitors, IRNA reported. He did not describe the nature of the understanding. Salehi said in an interview with a Saudi daily that the two sides did not discuss the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), ILNA reported on 5 October. "Iran rejected surprise visits, which is one of the clauses of the Additional Protocol," Salehi added. "This was meaningless and vestigial given that there have been constant inspections and that cameras have been installed on reactors." Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi on 5 October said that before signing the Additional Protocol Iran must receive guarantees that it will have access to nuclear technology in order to satisfy its energy requirements, IRNA reported. BS

IRANIAN LEGISLATURE UNINFORMED ABOUT ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL
Tehran parliamentary representative Elahe Kulyai said on 5 October that the legislature's National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee does not have any information on whether Iran will sign the NPT's Additional Protocol, ISNA reported. She explained that in the previous (fifth) parliament, the head of the committee attended Supreme National Security Council meetings, but this is no longer the case. Kulyai said she gets all her information from the Internet or the news media. Intelligence and Security Minister Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi said on 4 October that Iran accepts the Additional Protocol on the condition that Iran's national sovereignty and dignity are respected, IRNA reported. Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said during the 3 October Tehran Friday prayers that Iran's conditions for signing the Additional Protocol are probably the same as those of the United States, state radio reported. "Firstly, the protocol must not jeopardize our country's security, secondly not to harm our values and sanctities, and finally, it should not lead to disclosure of secrets that are not related to this issue [nuclear energy]." BS

RUSSIA NOT READY TO SUPPLY IRAN WITH NUCLEAR FUEL
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on 5 October that Moscow will not supply fuel for the nuclear-power plant at Bushehr until Tehran signs an agreement on returning the spent fuel to Russia, Interfax reported. Iranian and Russian officials met in Moscow in early September to discuss this issue (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 15 September 2003). Some Russian officials said at the time that the process was delayed because Iran did not have emergency procedures in place for the transportation of the spent fuel, while other Russian officials said commercial issues were to blame. Tehran reportedly sees the spent fuel as its property and wants to be paid for sending it back to Russia for storage and reprocessing. BS

TEACHERS DEMONSTRATE IN TEHRAN
A group of teachers gathered outside an Education and Training Ministry building in Tehran on 5 October and called for greater attention to their salaries and pensions, as well as a greater focus on education in the fourth five-year plan, which will start in 2005, Mehr News Agency reported. Mahmud Beheshti-Langerudi, head of the teachers' trade union, said: "Officials have tried to console teachers with promises and assurances, ...but no practical step has been taken to resolve the many problems of this hard-working segment of the population." He added that the Management and Planning Organization is supposed to submit legislation on making teachers' salaries more uniform by 5 November, and he warned that if this is not done the teachers' trade union has something planned for 7 November. BS

SCIRI LEADER VISITS IRAN
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) Chairman Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim arrived in Tehran on 5 October and told reporters that the main reason for his visit is to thank Iran for its years of support for the Iraqi people, ISNA reported. Al-Hakim said he has received invitations from "many countries," but, "because of Iran's principled policies toward Iraq over the years, I preferred to visit Iran before visiting other countries." He said he would meet with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, and he hopes to meet other officials. Before al-Hakim's arrival, ISNA reported on 5 October that he also will meet with senior clerics and participate in the conference of the Ahl-al-Bayt organization. BS

SCIRI LEADER BLAMES SADDAM SUPPORTERS FOR BROTHER'S ASSASSINATION
SCIRI Chairman al-Hakim said on 5 October that the investigation into the early-September assassination of his brother, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, is continuing and there is no definitive conclusion yet, ISNA reported. "What is clear, however, is that the former Iraqi regime and its supporters had a hand in this crime." Al-Hakim added, "Of course, there are people who have argued that foreign groups were also involved in committing this serious crime." BS

FORMER IRAQI SOLDIERS RIOT IN IRAQ
Thousands of former Iraqi soldiers on 4-5 October protested, then rioted in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Al-Hillah, and Al-Basrah demanding compensation for their loss of jobs, international media reported. A British soldier shot and killed an armed Iraqi in Al-Basrah on 4 October, while other British forces fired rubber bullets at the crowd of protesters, Reuters reported the same day. Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) spokesman Charles Heatley told reporters that the former soldiers "decided to stir up the crowd that was waiting outside the payment centers in Baghdad and Al-Basrah, in particular, to create a disturbance." Two Iraqis were believed killed in Baghdad during rioting at the Al-Muthanna airport, the news agency reported. The former soldiers had gathered there to collect a one-time $40 payment by the CPA to some 440,000 former soldiers. "Reports to us indicate that there were two killed in Baghdad, and that's from the Iraqi police, not the coalition," Lieutenant Colonel George Krivo said. Smaller demonstrations erupted on 5 October, but there were no reports of deaths. KR

WHITE HOUSE REORGANIZING IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN MISSIONS
The White House is taking steps to reorganize U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan by directly overseeing reconstruction efforts in both countries, nytimes.com reported on 6 October. The daily noted that the change effectively shifts control over Iraq's day-to-day operations to the White House and its National Security Council, and takes some weight off the Pentagon. Most notable is the establishment of the "Iraq Stabilization Group," which will be headed by U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. The group will include committees on counterterrorism, economic development, political affairs in Iraq, and the media. "The Pentagon remains the lead agency, and the structure has been set up explicitly to provide assistance to the Defense Department and Coalition Provisional Authority," Rice said on 5 October. KR

U.S. CLOSES CAMP CROPPER...
The U.S. military closed Camp Cropper, a military detention center in Baghdad where hundreds of Iraqis were detained in tents during the summer months, AP reported on 5 October. The camp was closed on the order of U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer on 1 October, and detainees were moved to prison facilities in and around Baghdad. The facility held as many as 1,200 at one time. "It wasn't supposed to be a detention center," but rather a temporary holding facility, U.S. Army Colonel Ralph Sabatino said. "It was designed for 250 people. When it grew to 500, to 700, it got very crowded. It had a very bad reputation, appropriately," he added. Journalists were barred from entering the facility, but detainees reported overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, as well as physical abuse by guards, AP reported. KR

...AND AGREES TO ACCELERATED HEARINGS FOR DETAINEES
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Lawyers League has won the right for some detainees to have legal representation and accelerated hearings, league President Malik Dohan al-Hassan told AP on 5 October. Thousands of Iraqis have been held for months by coalition forces without charge since the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom. CPA-appointed Spanish Judge Ignacio Rubio is overseeing a program that assigns court-appointed attorneys to represent detainees at preliminary hearings. The first of such hearings was held at Baghdad Central Detention Center, formerly known as Abu Ghurayb prison, in Baghdad last week. KR

INC HEAD WANTS TO ESTABLISH FUND FOR IRAQI BUSINESSMEN
Iraqi National Congress head Ahmad Chalabi is reportedly calling on the U.S. government to establish an investment fund for Iraqi businessmen, according to a 4 October report in the INC newspaper "Al-Mu'tamar." Chalabi said the fund should be set up with a capital of $500 million to help Iraqi industrialists and businessmen who want to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq or contribute to economic growth in general. He said the fund will help Iraqis who don't have enough capital or those who could not operate under the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein because of their religion, ethnicity, or tribal affiliation. KR

NEW IRAQI ARMY'S FIRST SOLDIERS MAKE DEBUT
Soldiers graduating from the New Iraqi Army's nine-week basic-training course made their debut on 4 October in a ceremony at their training camp in Kirkush, located 85 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, international media reported. "Our army will be for the defense of our nation and all of our citizens," said Iyad Allawi, the president of the Iraqi Governing Council President for October. "It will be an army for Iraq and for the protection of Iraq. An army for peace and reconstruction," he added. The new army comprises former Iraqi soldiers, Kurdish peshmerga fighters, and new volunteers. The 700 graduates include 65 officers. The United States plans to have a 40,000-man Iraqi army in place by next October. Meanwhile, "Al-Da'wah" reported on 4 October that the second class of trainees left for basic training the same day. The class comprises some 2,500 volunteers, including 30 former Iraqi officers from the deposed Hussein regime. KR

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