CRACKDOWN ON YUKOS SPILLS OVER INTO DUMA CAMPAIGN...
Investigators from the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Federal Security Service (FSB) on 23 October conducted a raid of the offices of a public-relations firm that is doing campaign work for the Yabloko party, Russian media reported. The firm, the Strategic Communications Agency, specializes in political consulting, according to "Izvestiya." Its general director, Vadim Malkin, told the daily that some 25 officers came and presented a warrant in connection with the case of suspected embezzlement and tax evasion pending against Yukos shareholder Platon Lebedev. Lebedev is chairman of the board of directors of Menatep, Yukos's financial arm, and was arrested on 2 July on charges that he embezzled a 20 percent stake in the Apatit fertilizer company in 1994 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2003). According to Interfax, an unidentified source in the prosecutor's office said the search was carried out as part of an investigation into possible tax evasion by Yukos. JAC
...AS YABLOKO SAYS ITS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN HOBBLED
Strategic Communications Agency General Director Malkin said his company has no clients with any connection to Yukos, and its basic client is the Yabloko party, izvestia.ru reported on 23 October. Yukos's press spokesman, Aleksandr Shadrin, denied that Yukos has anything to do with the Strategic Communications Agency. Malkin and Yabloko Duma Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin, who was at the firm's office when the search took place, said their campaign effort is now paralyzed because investigators seized essential information and documents. The officers also took $700,000 in cash. After the search, Yabloko party leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said officials in the prosecutor's office were "warned" that they were taking away documents belonging to Yabloko. JAC
FORMER PRIME MINISTER ELABORATES ON PLAN TO RECONCILE STATE, OLIGARCHS...
In an interview with "Argumenty i fakty," No. 43, former Prime Minister and Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Yevgenii Primakov detailed the so-called Primakov Pact that he proposed earlier as a means of reconciling the oligarchs and the state in the wake of the Yukos investigations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 2003). Under the proposal, the state would promise not to revise the results of the 1990s-era privatizations, while the oligarchs would agree to direct more energy-export revenues to state coffers. Primakov told the weekly that he opposes any renationalization in the energy sector, but he thinks the oligarchs should be compelled to share some of their enormous profits. "In manufacturing, normal profit is about 14 percent," Primakov said. "But in the oil sector, it is 27 percent." VY
...AND WARNS AGAINST BOOSTING OIL EXPORTS
In the same "Argumenty i fakty" interview, Primakov said he sees no danger that the possible sale of stakes in oil companies such as Yukos to foreign corporations could lead to foreign control of Russia's oil sector. However, he said, it is possible that the money obtained from such sales could be moved abroad rather than invested in the domestic economy. He also said that the expansion of the Russian economy should not be accomplished by boosting energy exports. "We ourselves need our oil to develop our own economy," Primakov said. "In the Soviet era, we exported 22 percent of extracted oil. Now we export 70 percent." VY
BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVES COMPLAIN TO PUTIN ABOUT PROSECUTORS
The Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) and two associations of small and medium-sized businesses -- OPORA and Business Russia -- have sent a joint letter to President Vladimir Putin asking him to meet with their representatives to discuss relations between the business community and law enforcement agencies, "Vedomosti," "Vremya novostei," and other Russian media reported on 22 October. The letter said that in recent months, relations have deteriorated, and instead of hunting for genuine tax evaders, law enforcement officials have been persecuting people who pioneered transparent business practices and who reveal reliable information about their revenues. By doing so, officials might encourage people to conceal even further their incomes and evade taxes. The letter, which was signed by 42 businesspeople, asked Putin to meet with them to resolve the situation. However, an unidentified presidential-administration source told "Vremya novostei" that it is unlikely Putin will be able to find time for such a meeting in the next six weeks or so. VY
ONE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER SENTENCED...
The Moscow Military District Court on 21 October handed down to retired Federal Agency of Government Information and Communications (FAPSI) Colonel Boris Galchuk a three-year suspended sentence after convicting him of revealing state secrets, RIA-Novosti and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 21 and 23 October, respectively. The court ruled that in 2001-03, while he was working at FAPSI -- which has since been absorbed into the FSB -- Galchuk gave secret government documents analyzing the sociopolitical situation in the regions against the background of some election campaigns to a Moscow-based public-relations firm. The court said that revealing the information might have jeopardized Russia's national security, but gave Galchuk a relatively mild sentence in view of his 35 years of exemplary service and his lack of previous transgressions. VY
...AND ANOTHER ARRESTED...
Interior Ministry agents on 22 October arrested former FSB Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Trepashkin on suspicion of illegal possession of a handgun, newsru.com reported. Trepashkin's wife, Tatyana, told the website that the police planted the weapon in order to fabricate a case against her husband, who has a long history of conflict with the authorities. VY
...AFTER YEARS OF DISPUTES WITH AUTHORITIES
In 2002, Trepashkin -- who retired from the FSB seven years ago and who is now a lawyer -- represented former FSB Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Litvinenko. Litvinenko is a close associate of former oligarch Boris Berezovskii and now has political asylum in Great Britain. Trepashkin also worked with a public commission organized by Duma Deputy and human rights activist Sergei Kovalev to look into the 1999 apartment-building bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities. As a result of this work, Trepashkin was charged by military prosecutors of divulging state secrets and other crimes. A case against him was filed on 15 September 2003, but no hearings were held pending a procedural appeal by Trepashkin to the Supreme Court. That appeal was granted on 16 October, and the case was transferred to a new court. Analysts think the weapons case is likely an attempt by the authorities to ensure that Trepashkin serves some time in prison. VY
VOLOGDA ELECTION LOOKS LIKE IT IS ALL WRAPPED UP...
The Vologda Oblast Election Commission on 22 October ended registration for candidates in the oblast's 7 December gubernatorial election, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 October. Incumbent Governor Vyacheslav Pozgalev will compete against two rivals -- a retired Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) officer from Moscow named Sergei Pivovarov and the director of the local enterprise Lostakakomservis, Vyacheslav Stepanov. According to the daily, neither Pivovarov nor Stepanov are considered "serious" candidates. Pivovarov is unknown in the region and is a "technical" candidate for Pozgalev, which means that he represents Pozgalev's interests. The Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) nominated Stepanov, and his campaign will be used to raise the party's profile in the region. Stepanov told local journalists that his party's main goal is to form its own faction in the oblast legislature. Pozgalev is seeking a third term. JAC
...AS NOVOSIBIRSK SET FOR REMATCH BETWEEN OLD RIVALS
The Novosibirsk Election Commission on 22 October stopped accepting documents for potential gubernatorial candidates, Russian media reported. Incumbent Governor Viktor Tolokonskii, who will be seeking a second term, will compete against Federation Council representative (Kostroma Oblast) Ivan Starikov, who lost in the 2000 election by just 2 percent, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 October. Four other candidates have also applied to run: Mikhail Titov, the general director of the Vestfalika shoe company; Russian Union of Writers Secretary Boris Mironov; State Duma Deputy Yevgenii Loginov (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia), and Viktor Starkov, first secretary of the oblast committee of the Workers Party. The Communist Party is supporting Titov. JAC
MEDIA MINISTRY TO CREATE LITERARY JOURNAL
The Media Ministry has initiated the creation of a journal that will publish the creative works of new Russian authors, strana.ru reported on 23 October, citing Deputy Media Minister Vladimir Grigorev. According to Grigorev, outstanding issues connected with publishing the journal will be resolved before the end of the year and a tender will be held among potential publishers. According to the site, Grigorev had difficulty answering the question of whether the journal will be fully financed by the federal budget. JAC
SERIOUS ILLNESSES RAGE IN RUSSIAN PRISONS
Almost three-fourths of Russian prisoners, some 590,000 people, suffer from a "socially significant" illness, according to Alla Kuznetsova, deputy head of the medical administration of the Justice Ministry, Interfax reported on 23 October. Kuznetsova told reporters on 23 October that one-third of prisoners suffer from psychological illnesses, 74,000 have tuberculosis, 26,000 have syphilis, and 1,500 have a form of hepatitis. More than 36,000 are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and virtually all the HIV-positive prisoners are addicted to narcotics. JAC
WHEN REINDEER FLY
The Union of Russian Reindeer Herders has given its seal of approval to an experimental program launched by the administration of Evenk Autonomous Okrug, Regnum reported on 23 October. The union sent a letter to okrug Governor Boris Zolotarev declaring that the program -- which airlifted some 500 head of reindeer from Yambura in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug to city of Tura, Evenk's capital -- was a success and should be duplicated throughout the Far North. The airlift, which consisted of five flights, took place in April. The trek would normally take at least eight months to complete and could lead to the loss of as much as half the herd. The airlift is part of an okrug program to support the traditional economy of indigenous peoples. JAC
CHECHEN LEADER NAMES CHIEF OF STAFF
Akhmed Kadyrov, the legality of whose election on 5 October as Chechen president has been widely questioned, named Ziyad Mukhamed Sabsabi, a Syrian-born Chechen, on 23 October to head his presidential staff, according to Interfax on 23 October and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 24 October. A graduate of the university of Damascus, Sabsabi subsequently studied journalism in the late 1980s and early 1990s at Leningrad State University. His fellow students were convinced that he functioned at that time as a KGB informer, according to chechenpress.com on 23 October. In early 1990, President Putin, at that time a KGB officer, occupied the post of adviser for international contacts to the university rector. Sabsabi acquired Russian citizenship in 1991. In the early 1990s, he served under then-Chechen President Djokhar Dudaev in the Chechen Foreign Ministry, but quit that post in early 1994. He became an assistant to Kadyrov in 1997, when the latter was Chechen mufti, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta." That paper quoted Russian expert Aleksandr Umnov as commenting that Kadyrov's choice of Sabsabi to head his staff reflects a desire to secure the support of the Chechen diaspora. LF
RUSSIAN, CHECHEN OFFICIALS REJECT EU CRITICISM OF CHECHEN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Leonid Slutskii, who is co-chairman of the Duma-PACE Working Group for Chechnya, condemned on 23 October a speech the previous day by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini expressing concern that the conduct of the 5 October Chechen presidential election "seemed...decidedly not in keeping with European and Western standards," Interfax reported. Slutskii affirmed that "Russia's electoral system fully corresponds to European standards, and the election in Chechnya was held in the only way it could be held considering the difficult circumstances" there. Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, who is President Putin's special representative for human rights in Chechnya, similarly told Interfax on 23 October that there are no grounds for criticizing the Chechen ballot, which, Sultygov said, "met international standards no matter what some might say." Sultygov implied that, having declined to send observers to monitor the vote, the EU had no right to criticize it. LF
NEW NATIONALITIES MINISTER NAMED IN DAGHESTAN
Zagir Arukhov, a 43-year-old former journalist and faculty member of Daghestan State University, has been named republican minister for nationalities policy, gazeta.ru reported on 22 October. Arukhov succeeds Magomedsalikh Gusaev, who was assassinated in Makhachkala two months ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 2003). LF
ARMENIAN LOCAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN TURNS VIOLENT
Four men were reportedly arrested in Yerevan on 23 October following an attack late the previous evening on the campaign office of one of the two rival candidates in the 2 November election to head the executive branch in the Yerevan district of Ajapniak, according to RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and Armenpress, as cited by Groong. Armen Sahakian, whose bid to unseat incumbent Ajapniak administration head Artsrun Khachatrian is backed by the Republican Party of Armenia, the senior partner in the governing three-party coalition, said one of his campaign workers was stabbed and hospitalized as he was about to leave the office with coworkers. Sahakian said several other people were also injured in the incident. LF
ARMENIA, BULGARIA DISCUSS MILITARY COOPERATION
Visiting Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov met in Yerevan on 22 October with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian and with members of the parliament Committee on Defense, National Security, and Internal Affairs, and the following day with President Robert Kocharian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and Armenian agencies, as cited by Groong, reported. The talks focused on expanding bilateral military cooperation. Sarkisian told journalists that Armenia is interested in the Bulgarian Defense Ministry's track record of integration into European structures, including its relations with NATO. Svinarov, for his part, explained that bilateral defense cooperation is likely to be confined to training personnel and other unspecified "joint activities." Sarkisian expressed interest in acquiring weapons and ammunition from Bulgaria, but Svinarov said Bulgaria cannot accede to that request until a solution is reached to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. LF
KARABAKH PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OCSE CHAIRMAN IN OFFICE
Arkadii Ghukasian, who is president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and his foreign minister Ashot Ghulian (whose named was spelled erroneously in "RFE/RL Newsline" on 22 October) met in Yerevan on 21 October with visiting Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman in Office and Netherlands Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Noyan Tapan reported on 23 October. The three men assessed the current stage of efforts to mediate a solution to the Karabakh conflict and the prospects of a resumption of hostilities between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces following the Azerbaijani presidential election, which Ghukasian considers unlikely. Ghukasian stressed his readiness to make a constructive contribution to resolving the conflict peacefully. LF
AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTY GIVEN ONE WEEK TO VACATE HEADQUARTERS
The Baku Municipal Council has ordered the opposition Musavat Party to vacate the premises it currently occupies in Baku by 1 November, Turan reported on 24 October. Mayor Hadjibala Abutalibov argued that the building in question is of historic and architectural significance, and therefore cannot be leased. Musavat Party Chairman Isa Qambar, who claims to have defeated Prime Minister Ilham Aliyev in the 15 October presidential election, rejected Abutalibov's argument as illogical, pointing out that the headquarters of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party are likewise located in a building that is designated an architectural and historic monument. LF
SOME DETAINED AZERBAIJANIS RELEASED, WHILE OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER BEATEN, SENTENCED
Azerbaijani human rights activist Chingiz Ganizade told Reuters in Baku on 23 October that 63 of the more than 450 people arrested following clashes on 16 October between police and demonstrators protesting the apparent falsification of the previous day's presidential election have been released. President-elect Aliyev told visiting OSCE Chairman in Office de Hoop Scheffer on 22 October that "most" of the detainees who were not "active participants" in the clashes had already been freed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 2003). But opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan General Secretary Sardar Djalaloglu, who was arrested at his home on 18 October for his alleged role in the 16 October unrest even though numerous witnesses can reportedly testify that he spent the whole of 16 October at his office, has been sentenced to three months' imprisonment, zerkalo.az reported on 24 October. The online paper quoted Djalaloglu's brother as saying that a medical examination by doctors at the Bailov jail where Djalaloglu is being held established that he had been severely beaten about the head and kidneys. LF
FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT TERMS OPPOSITION PROTESTS 'A MISTAKE'
Ayaz Mutalibov, who has lived in Moscow since fleeing Azerbaijan in May 1992, told Interfax on 23 October that the post-election protests on 15-16 October were a foolhardy mistake on the part of the opposition. At the same time, he termed the authorities' reaction impermissible. Mutalibov called for the restoration of a "balance" between the authorities and opposition, according to zerkalo.az on 24 October, and expressed the hope that President-elect Aliyev will demonstrate flexibility and undertake unspecified modifications in the country's present policies. LF
POLICE DISPERSE GEORGIAN OPPOSITION RALLY IN BATUMI
Adjar police and security officials forcibly broke up a rally staged on 23 October by more than 500 members of the opposition National Movement (EM) in Batumi, capital of the Adjar Autonomous Republic, and arrested some 70 participants, Georgian media reported. Davit Berdzenishvili, who is campaigning in Batumi as the EM's candidate for the 2 November Georgian parliamentary elections, earlier called for the replacement as Adjar leader of Aslan Abashidze, who has ruled the autonomous republic for the past 13 years. On 24 October, the Adjar National Security Council designated the rally the previous day as an attempted coup, for which it held the EM responsible. LF
GEORGIAN LOCAL OFFICIAL DENIES CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDER IN SVANETI
Kodori Governor Emzar Kvitisiani has rejected as absurd allegations made on 23 October by Russian military spokesman Colonel Ilya Shabalkin that Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelaev has settled in the west Georgian mountain region of Svaneti, where he allegedly oversees a flourishing drug-smuggling network, Caucasus Press reported on 24 October. Shabalkin said that information came from captured Chechen fighters. On 20 October, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze denied a statement by Shabalkin several days earlier that Gelaev was hiding out in the Pankisi Gorge in northeastern Georgia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2003). LF
KAZAKH, UZBEK BORDER-GUARD CHIEFS AGREE NOT TO USE FIREARMS
Kazakh Border Service Director Bolat Zakiev and head of the Uzbek State Border Committee Mahmudjon Utaganov signed a protocol on 16 October stating that the two countries' border guards will not use firearms on the common border unless there is a direct threat to their lives or the lives of others, gazeta.kz, Interfax-Kazakhstan, and uzreport.com reported. Zakiev told journalists in Astana about the protocol on 23 October. The Kazakh and Uzbek foreign ministries have been exchanging recriminations over the use of firearms since Uzbek guards wounded a Kazakh citizen whose cow had strayed over the border in early September. BB
KAZAKH ENTREPRENEURS APPEAL FOR REFORM OF LAWS ON SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES
Serik Turzhanov, director of the Department of Small and Medium Businesses at the Almaty mayor's office, told a press conference on 23 October that a group of Kazakh entrepreneurs have appealed to Kazakhstan's prime minister and the chairman of the Supreme Court for a reform of the legislation governing small and medium-sized businesses, gazeta.kz reported the same day. According to Turzhanov, the appeal asserts that despite President Nursultan Nazarbaev's pronouncement that government policy must give priority to the development of small business as the basis for the formation of a middle class, little has been done in practice. Rather, state agencies have been creating barriers to small business and existing law often slows the development of a market economy, Turzhanov said. The appeal asks that new firms be freed from corporate taxes for three years and that the Justice Ministry make changes to its registration procedure. BB
MARIJUANA HARVEST UNDER WAY IN KYRGYZSTAN
The annual marijuana harvest is under way in Kyrgyzstan, centrasia.ru reported on 23 October, quoting Deutsche Welle. Although the drug is illegal in Kyrgyzstan, according to official estimates it is being grown on more than 5,000 hectares throughout the country. Kyrgyz law-enforcement officers are reportedly detaining marijuana couriers almost daily. Daniyar Otorbaev, a high-ranking official within the Interior Ministry's Board for Combating Narcotics Trafficking, said that 30 percent-40 percent of Kyrgyzstan's marijuana goes to Kazakhstan and the rest is sold either domestically or is exported to northern Russia. From there some of it is exported to Europe. Opium poppies are also cultivated in Kyrgyzstan, but reportedly the opium is mostly used domestically because of the difficulty of processing it into heroin. BB
KYRGYZ-RUSSIAN INVESTMENT FORUM NETS AGREEMENTS WORTH $14 MILLION
A two-day Kyrgyz-Russian Investment Forum in Bishkek on 22-23 October resulted in the signing of agreements worth $14 million, akipress.org reported on 23 October. The forum was attended on its second day by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who told participants that Russia was particularly interested in investing in Kyrgyzstan's transport and energy sectors. Russian investors indicated that they wanted to bid on the electricity supplier Severoelektro, take part in the privatization of the state firm Kyrgyzgaz, and in the construction of the Kambar-Ata 2 power plant. Agreement was also reached on the Russian acquisition of shares in a number of Soviet-era military plants as a means of reducing Kyrgyzstan's external debt. BB
CRIMINAL CODE REVISION CONTINUES IN TAJIKISTAN
Deputy Chairman of the Tajik Lower House's Committee on the Constitution, Law, and Human Rights Abdumannon Kholiqov explained the rationale for further revision of the 1998 Criminal Code to Asia-Plus on 23 October, the news agency reported the same day. Earlier in the year the Tajik parliament adopted President Imomali Rakhmonov's proposal to reduce the number of crimes for which the death penalty may be applied. The legislation now being drafted by a special working group of parliamentarians, law-enforcement officials, and lawyers in response to further proposals from the president has amended the Criminal Code to provide alternatives to imprisonment, reduce terms of imprisonment, and differentiate among drug-related crimes. The objective of the revisions, according to Kholiqov, is to demonstrate Tajikistan's adherence to the international standards to which it has committed itself. BB
UZBEKISTAN INTENDS TO INCREASE URANIUM OUTPUT
Uzbekistan intends to increase its production of uranium by 40 percent, to 3,000 tons per year by 2010, head of the Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine Nikolai Kucherskii told a geology conference in Tashkent, Interfax reported on 22 October. The combine produced 2,100 tons in 2002. The increase is in response to growing demand for uranium on the world market and the availability of better mining equipment and technology. The projected amount would equal the output of the Navoi Oblast mines in the 1980s. A number of the region's uranium mines were shut down in 1995 because, according to Kucherskii, they were no longer economical. New mining techniques, however, have made it possible to open new deposits. The Navoi combine has a monopoly on uranium production in Uzbekistan, as well as being the country's largest producer of gold. In the Soviet era, convicts were reportedly used to mine Uzbekistan's uranium. BB
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DECORATES HEAD OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN COUNTRY
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 23 October bestowed the Order of Frantsishak Skaryna, the country's top state award, to Patriarchal Exarch Filaret, head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus, Belapan reported, quoting the presidential press service. The decoration was reportedly made in acknowledgment of Filaret's "great contribution to spiritual revival and the strengthening of friendship among nations." JM
NEW BELARUSIAN TV CHANNEL REPLACES RUSSIAN PREDECESSOR
Broadcasts of Lad, a national family-television channel that recently replaced Russia's Kultura channel in Belarus, cover 75 percent of Belarusian territory, Belapan reported on 23 October, quoting the new station's general producer, Alyaksandr Semyarnyou. "It is absurd that a nation of 10 million should have only one national channel," Semyarnyou said of the government decision to replace Kultura with Lad, adding that the former Russian broadcaster's audience never exceeded 3 percent of the population. Lad reportedly will offer programming on the arts, history, and national heritage, cartoons and entertainment shows for children, sports, and regional news. "There is a pronounced tendency toward increasing the share of the Belarusian language [in Lad's programs]," Semyarnyou said. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS BORDER CHANGE IN KERCH STRAIT
Following his trip to the Tuzla island on 23 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 2003), President Leonid Kuchma told journalists in Kerch, Crimea, that he considers it inadmissible for Kyiv to change the current Ukrainian-Russian border in the Kerch Strait, Interfax reported. Kuchma stressed that the Kerch-Yenikal Channel, a deep fairway in the Kerch Strait, should remain the property of Ukraine. The Ukrainian president also dismissed the idea of building a bridge between Russia and Crimea over the Kerch Strait, as declared in a 2001 accord signed by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and then-Crimean parliamentary speaker Leonid Hrach. "It is impossible to build a bridge, as no pier will stand on the ground there [in the Kerch Strait]," Kuchma said, adding that he is in favor of launching a regular ferry connection between Russia's Krasnodar Krai and Crimea. Regarding the contentious issue of the border delimitation in the Azov Sea, Kuchma said Kyiv wants to draw a borderline on the sea surface, not on the seabed, as postulated by Moscow, which wants the sea "for joint use" with Ukraine. "We are ready to agree that the Azov Sea is an internal sea of both countries, Ukraine and Russia, but the border should be drawn on its surface," RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service quoted Kuchma as saying. JM
EUROPEAN COMMISSION REASSURES ESTONIANS OF EU ADVANTAGES
Arancha Gonzalez, a representative of European Trade Commissioner Paul Lamy, has predicted that Russia's double tariffs on Estonian products will be eliminated upon Estonia's accession to the European Union, which is expected in May 2004, LETA reported on 23 October. Gonzalez said that if Russia fails to remove the double tariffs, it will be in violation of its cooperation agreement with the EU signed in 1994 that requires a most-favored-nation regime with all EU member states. The European Commission will include this issue within the negotiations on WTO membership that Russia seeks, Gonzalez said, and "under no conditions" will the EU allow Russia to preserve the double tariffs. However, Estonian businesspeople remain skeptical, LETA reported, citing the daily "Eesti Paevaleht. "Nothing will change," Pakterminal head Raivo Vare said, "[Russia] will find 110 tricks to avoid it or renegotiate it." Estonia has negotiated with Russia for 10 years on abolishing the double tariffs without success. AB
LATVIA'S SECURITY SERVICE SEIZES RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS
The Constitutional Protection Bureau, Latvia's national-security service, has detected and seized hazardous radioactive substances, thus averting a possible threat to state security, according to bureau spokesman Dainis Mikelsons, LETA and BNS reported on 23 October. Mikelsons said several people have been detained in the case but to safeguard the investigation he declined to identify how many or reveal where the incident took place. He also said the seizure was made through the "joint efforts" of the bureau, the security police, and a special unit from the National Defense Forces. The radioactive substances have been transferred to the Radiation Safety Center. The center's director, Andris Salmins, told BNS that specialists are working to identify the composition and precise amounts of the substances to aid the investigation. AB
LITHUANIAN CENTRAL BANK ALLOWS RUSSIANS TO CONTROL SNORAS BANK
The board of Lithuania's Central Bank has granted permission to the Russian Konversbank and its subsidiary, Luxembourg-based Incorion Investment Holding Company, to raise its ownership stake in the commercial bank Snoras, assuming management control as well, ELTA reported on 23 October. This ruling will take effect as soon as Konversbank secures permission from Russia's Central Bank to invest the funds in the share capital of Snoras. The authorized capital of Snoras totals 137 million litas ($46 million), and after the stock purchase Konversbank will hold a combined 57.6 percent stake in the Lithuanian commercial bank. The other major stakeholders are Nuntel Holding LLC with 9.9 percent, Hoffman Development LLC with 9.9 percent, and Axcol Properties Limited with 9.9 percent. Snoras reported a profit of 10.3 million litas last year. AB
POLISH OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF POLICE CHIEF
The centrist, liberal Civic Platform on 23 October called for the suspension of national police chief Antoni Kowalczyk with an eye to his future dismissal following an admission that he leaked information to a former senior official, PAP reported. The call came the same day that Prosecutor-General Grzegorz Kurczuk told the Sejm that Kowalczyk had changed his previous testimony and admitted that he passed information about a planned police raid in Starachowice to former Deputy Interior Minister Zbigniew Sobotka. Prosecutors recently charged Sobotka with leaking the information obtained from Kowalczyk to criminal elements in Strachowice (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2003). JM
POLISH DEPUTY PREMIER BLASTS INVESTORS OVER ZLOTY'S PLUNGE
Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Jerzy Hausner slammed financial-market participants on 23 October for their nervous and "exaggerated" reactions to Poland's growing public debt and to political uncertainty about an austerity plan recently unveiled by Hausner (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2003), PAP reported. "I want markets' outlook to be rational. Market perspective is important, it cannot be disregarded as long as behavior is consistent with the interests of owners and not lobbyists," Hausner said. Earlier the same day, the zloty fell to a record low of 4.64 zlotys to the euro. "This is a reason for concern but not panic," Hausner said. JM
CZECH TELEVISION TO OFFER LIVE COVERAGE OF MURDER TRIAL
State-owned broadcaster Czech Television announced its intention to broadcast live proceedings from a conspiracy-to-murder trial on 30 October following approval from a superior court in Prague, the daily "Pravo" reported on 24 October. The event will mark the first live coverage of a trial in the station's history, according to the paper. Czech Television News Director Zdenek Samal said coverage of the case, which involves preparations made by former Foreign Ministry aide Karel Srba to contract the murder of a Czech journalist (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 2003), is in the public interest. Coverage will reportedly include appeals procedures in the courtroom and interviews with individuals who "have something to say" about the case, "Pravo" reported. Veteran anchorman Jiri Janecek was appointed general director of Czech Television in mid-July on a pledge to "revive" the state broadcaster, where the environment has been volatile since reporters launched a strike to protest a political appointment in late-2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2003). AH
STATE OWNERS RECALL CHAIRMAN OF CZECH UTILITY GIANT
The supervisory board of domestic energy giant CEZ dismissed Jaroslav Mil as board chairman on 23 October amid reports that the company's state owners believed Mil asserted too much independence, local media reported. A Industry and Trade Ministry representative initiated the recall effort, "Pravo" reported. The Czech blue chip posted strong financial results during Mil's three-year tenure, local dailies noted, but the government was reportedly miffed by CEZ's participation in privatization tenders for several domestic brown-coal-mining companies. The daily "Pravo" reported that state officials were unhappy with staff reductions at the country's two nuclear-power stations, along with poor communication. The Czech state controls two-thirds of CEZ shares. "I'm a manager, not a politician," Mil said following the decision, according to "Hospodarske noviny." For the time being, Mil remains at CEZ as general director, a position whose fate is decided by the company's board. AH
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAUNCH OF HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY
Lawmakers approved a government-backed scheme on 23 October for the launch of a Hungarian university in the southern Slovak town of Komarno, "Sme" reported. The institution will offer classes in Slovak and Hungarian, and is aimed at narrowing the current divide between educational opportunities for the Slovak majority and the Hungarian minority, Slovak Radio reported. Two opposition legislators voted with the governing coalition to ensure passage with 77 votes in the 150-member parliament. The Janos Seley University will reportedly house three faculties: economics, pedagogy, and theology. The school should begin operating in January and offer its first classes from September 2004, "Sme" reported. AH
HUNGARY COMMEMORATES 1956 UPRISING...
Events held throughout Hungary on 23 October to commemorate the 1956 Uprising were generally low key, Hungarian and international media reported. Wreath-laying ceremonies at the gravesite of Imre Nagy, who was prime minister during the uprising and was later executed by communist authorities, were disrupted only by one incident in which activists attempted to remove a wreath laid by Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, Duna television reported. Far-right groups believe Socialist Party members have no right to participate in commemorations for the 1956 Uprising, as many of them are former communists. Medgyessy was a high-ranking official in Hungary's last communist government and is now a leader of the Socialist Party, which considers Nagy the father of modern-day social democracy. All parliamentary parties were represented at the wreath-laying ceremony despite the government's decision not to formally participate, Duna television reported. Last year's ceremony at the cemetery was disrupted by a crowd of 150-200 people who protested the participation of some politicians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October 2002). MES
...WITH FRENCH NATIONALIST WEIGHING IN AGAINST EU
An event in Budapest organized by the far-right Justice and Life Party turned from a commemoration of the 1956 Uprising into a rally against the European Union, AP reported. French far-right nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen addressed the crowd, discussing the European Union, which Hungary is expected to join in 2004. "You will no longer be the masters of your own future," Le Pen said, warning that upon joining the union Hungary will be inundated by a "mass of immigrants." Justice and Life party leader Istvan Csurka said that joining the EU will subject Hungary to the will of foreigners and become a "target country" for Israeli immigrants." Hungary will get the role of a substitute Israeli state," Csurka said. Organizers claimed up to 100,000 people attended the event, but police did not give an estimate. MES
FORMER YUGOSLAV PRIME MINISTER TESTIFIES TO SERBIAN-CROATIAN PARTITION PLAN
Ante Markovic, Yugoslavia's last prime minister before its breakup in 1991-92, testified on 23 October as a witness in the genocide and war crimes trial against Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Markovic said both Milosevic and the late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman told him in spring 1991 that they had agreed to carve up Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia. UB
EU REPRESENTATIVE URGES COOPERATION WITH WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL IN SERBIA...
EU foreign- and security-policy chief Javier Solana met with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic and Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic in Belgrade on 23 October, Beta and Tanjug reported. In an apparent allusion to reactions to recent indictments against four generals by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Solana said after the meeting with Zivkovic that Serbia should cooperate with all international institutions, including the tribunal, in a responsible way (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21, 22, and 23 October 2003). UB
...AS SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER DEFENDS ACTIONS
Prime Minister Zivkovic said on 23 October that Serbia has established the highest level of cooperation with The Hague, underscoring that the priority is the arrest and extradition of indicted former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, Tanjug reported. But Zivkovic also said his government will "use all procedural possibilities to defend Serbian interests" in the case of the four indicted generals, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Zivkovic said he backs a protest that police officers have announced for 24 October in support of one of the indictees, Deputy Interior Minister General Sreten Lukic, who also heads the ministry's department for public security. UB
SERBIAN GOVERNMENT INSISTS ON MULTIETHNIC REPRESENTATION FROM KOSOVA
Zivkovic and his deputy, Nebojsa Covic insisted in separate statements on 23 October that any delegation from Kosova should also include ethnic Serbs from the internationally administered province, Beta reported. Covic said the delegation from Serbia and Montenegro will not participate in talks on the future of Kosova until the international community ensures that representatives of the Serbian minority are included in the Kosovar delegation. After his meeting with Solana, Zivkovic also said talks on refugee returns and the destiny of displaced persons make no sense without the participation of ethnic Serbs from Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 16 October 2003, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 17 October 2003). UB
SLOVENIAN AUTHORITIES RELEASE KOSOVAR LEADER
Slovenian authorities released Agim Ceku, the commander of the civilian Kosova Protection Corps (TMK), on 23 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Ceku was detained at Ljubljana airport on 22 October on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the Serbian branch of Interpol (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 2003). Ceku was reportedly released following the intervention of Harri Holkeri, who heads the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK). UB
ROMANIA ELECTED TO NONPERMANENT SEAT ON UN SECURITY COUNCIL
The UN General Assembly on 23 October elected Romania as one of the five new nonpermanent members of the UN Security Council, Romanian Radio reported. Romania's two-year mandate will begin on 1 January 2004. A Romanian government press release lauded the vote, adding that the seat offers "exceptional opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with [international] partners, but also increased responsibilities that call for an intense internal mobilization, on the governmental level and in civil society." A U.S. Embassy to Romania release "warmly" welcomed Romania's performance. Romania, which won the seat reserved in the election for an Eastern European country, will be joined next year by fellow new nonpermanent members Algeria, Benin, Brazil, and the Philippines. ZsM
ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT VALIDATES REFERENDUM
Constitutional Court Chairman Nicolae Popa presented to the 23 October joint parliamentary session a decision validating the initial results of the 18-19 October constitutional referendum and thus formally approving the new constitution, Mediafax reported. Popa said the court analyzed and rejected two complaints forwarded by the opposition Greater Romania Party (PRM), and found no violation of legal procedures. Chamber of Deputies Chairman Valer Dorneanu said the constitution will come into effect after it has been published in the parliament's official gazette. Dorneanu added that the new constitution "will mark [Romania's] passage into normalcy, [and] will open the road for Euro-Atlantic integration." PRM deputies boycotted the parliamentary session. ZsM
POLISH PRESIDENT IN FAVOR OF EU PARTICIPATION IN TRANSDNIESTER PEACEKEEPING
Speaking to the Moldovan Parliament on 23 October, visiting Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski said his country supports the EU's participation in peacekeeping operations under OSCE supervision in the Transdniester region, Flux reported. He said solving the Transdniester conflict is "an extremely important task for the whole of Europe, including Poland," and that Poland is ready to actively support Moldova's cooperation with the EU. Poland is to join the EU in May 2004. During his two-day visit, which ended on 23 October, the Polish president met his Moldovan counterpart Vladimir Voronin and other Moldovan officials. ZsM
MOLDOVAN, RUSSIAN SECRET SERVICES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT
Visiting Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev and Moldovan Information and Security Service (SIS) Director Ion Ursu signed a cooperation agreement on 22 October, Flux reported. During their meeting, the two discussed measures aimed at strengthening economic security, as well as combating international organized crime, international terrorism, illegal arms sales, human trafficking, and illegal migration. Opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) General Secretary Ion Neagu said on 23 October the SIS is subordinated to the FSB and the reason Patrushev was visiting was to check on how the SIS was implementing FSB orders. He also warned that Patrushev's visit will lead to new "anti-Romanian diversions" and alleged that the SIS has reopened a department dealing with Romania and combating pro-Romanian actions in Moldova. ZsM
BULGARIA INSISTS ON REPAYMENT OF IRAQI DEBT
Before he left for the Iraqi donors conference in Madrid, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi said on 23 October that Bulgaria will insist on the repayment of Iraqi debts, which amount to $1.7 billion, vsekiden.com reported. Pasi said he opposes any debt relief, citing Bulgaria's decision to repay its own debts inherited from the communist era. He cautioned, however, that Bulgaria must not expect the Iraqi debts to be fully repaid as he said that such repayment is the exception rather than the rule. The Iraqi debts amount to 12 percent of Bulgaria's gross domestic product (GDP). Pasi announced that Bulgaria will assist Iraq with indirect aid worth some $1 million, BTA reported. This aid will include the delivery of medicines and medical equipment, scholarships for Iraqi students willing to attend Bulgarian higher education facilities, as well as the training of Iraqi police in Bulgaria (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 August and 20 October 2003). UB
BULGARIAN NGO EXPECTS LOCAL ELECTIONS TO BE PROBLEMATIC
The nongovernmental Civic Initiative for Free and Democratic Elections (GISDI) has said that the high number of mayoral candidates and close results in some municipalities could lead to a wave of legal actions following the local elections slated for 26 October, "Sega" reported on 24 October. According to the NGO, voter turnout in the cities will be much lower than in the provinces. GISDI will monitor the elections and carry out exit polls (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 23 October 2003). UB
RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP IN RUINS
The recent dispute over the tiny Tuzla Island in the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Azov Sea, should not be happening. The Ukrainian-Russian "strategic partnership" -- which was devoid of real content during Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's first term in office and under Russian President Boris Yeltsin -- was beginning to be finally filled with some substance during Kuchma's second term and under Russian President Vladimir Putin. As the Kuchmagate crisis unfolded after November 2000 and the reformist government of Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko was removed in April 2001, Ukraine's multivector foreign policy reoriented toward Russia and the CIS.
For Moscow, the crowning achievements of this reorientation came this year. 2002 was designated "the Year of Russia in Ukraine," and in January 2003 Kuchma became the first non-Russian CIS leader to be elected head of the CIS Council of Heads of State. On 17 September, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus signed the CIS Single Economic Space (EEP), only 12 days prior to the beginning of the territorial conflict over Tuzla.
Ukraine's reorientation toward Russia and the CIS seemed set to continue. Kuchma desperately needs Putin's support in the October 2004 presidential election in order to ensure a suitable successor -- if indeed a suitable one can be found -- is elected. One way to achieve this was to again play the Russian card in eastern Ukraine, a tactic Kuchma successfully used in the 1994 presidential election.
This can now be ruled out. Pro-Kuchma Crimean Prime Minister Serhiy Kunitsyn lamented this week that "I don't know whose idea it was to build the dam, but I do know that it is ruining everything achieved during the Year of Russia in Ukraine."
As the crisis escalated, calls from within Ukraine's elites to speed up steps to join NATO, an objective first outlined in a presidential decree in July 2002, became more frequent. Our Ukraine Deputy Yuriy Yekhanurov, head of the Verkhovna Rada's Industrial Policy and Enterprise Committee, told parliament on 22 October that Ukraine should rebuild a small nuclear deterrent as the only way to deter similar threats to Ukraine's territorial integrity.
In a secret presidential decree dated 21 October, Kuchma outlined steps to be taken to defend Ukraine's territorial integrity. Those steps included Ukraine quitting the recently agreed EEP if Russia attempts to encroach on its territory. Other nonmilitary steps include appealing to the declared nuclear powers, who provided "security assurances" in return for Ukraine's nuclear disarmament in 1994-96, the UN Security Council, NATO, and the OSCE. A further step outlined in the decree was for the Foreign Ministry unilaterally to declare the Kerch Strait and the Azov Sea internal Ukrainian waters.
Different approaches to the status of these waters lie at the heart of the conflict. Ukraine has always been a territorial-status-quo power and defends its territorial integrity based on everything it inherited from Soviet Ukraine. Ukrainian officials reminded their Russian colleagues that copies of Soviet documents showing Ukraine's right to Tuzla exist in both Kyiv and Moscow. The Ukrainian side was infuriated by Russia's claims that it does not possess and is unaware of any such documents. Russia has also always insisted that there are no legal documents proving that the port of Sevastopol was transferred together with the Crimea to Soviet Ukraine in 1954.
Russia's attitude toward CIS "internal" borders remains ambivalent. After years of territorial demands on the Crimea and the port of Sevastopol, Russia only agreed to sign a treaty that recognized Ukraine's borders in May 1997. It took Russia nearly two more years for both houses of its legislature to ratify the treaty, a step that was taken only after the Verkhovna Rada itself ratified the Crimea's non-separatist constitution.
Then, another five years were required -- from 1999-2003 -- to complete work on delimiting the Ukrainian-Russian border. In that agreement, Kyiv bowed to Russian pressure to define the Azov Sea as joint "internal waters," a definition Russia has also supported in the Caspian.
But Russia continues to reject any demarcation of its border with Ukraine, as it does with other CIS states. Russia defines "internal" and "external" (i.e., the former Soviet, except vis-a-vis the Baltic states) borders differently. To define them in the same manner would be to abandon the view of the CIS as not-foreign "near abroad."
Kuchma was criticized in Ukraine earlier this year for succumbing to Russian pressure on the Azov Sea. By agreeing that the Azov Sea is joint internal waters, he might have sent the wrong signal to Russia over the entrance to the Azov Sea. Ukraine's control of Tuzla and the Kerch Strait gives it the ability to control the entrance to the Azov, from which it obtains $150 million per year in fees from ships.
This then explains the incomprehension of both sides at the speed with which the conflict has escalated. Despite meeting regularly over the last three years for "no neck-tie summits," Kuchma and Putin failed to contact each other until after Kuchma had left for Latin America on 20 October. Kuchma returned from what was to be a 10-day tour on 22 October to oversee the handling of the Tuzla dispute and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukevych similarly cancelled a visit to the Baltic states. Kuchma visited Tuzla on 23 October to check its defenses and that day construction of the dam was halted just 100 meters from the island.
The Russian leadership has miscalculated in two respects. First, Ukraine's reorientation eastward does not mean Kuchma or his oligarch allies entertain the idea of vassal status. Similar miscalculations have even thwarted attempts to integrate Russia and Belarus. Second, Russia has continually underestimated Ukraine's readiness to defend its territorial integrity, first by diplomatic and then even by military means. A border-guard unit was hastily deployed on Tuzla Island immediately after the construction of the dam began. They are backed up by Interior Ministry special forces with naval units on standby. An air-defense exercise has also been held on the Kerch Strait. On the Russian side, there are border troops and Cossacks.
Support for Ukraine's territorial integrity has always existed across the entire political spectrum from left to right. Communist Party leader Petr Symonenko even accused Kuchma of being a "traitor" for leaving Ukraine during the crisis. The current standoff reflects the degree to which any talk of a Russian-Ukrainian "strategic partnership" will remain devoid of real content until both sides feel more confident about their respective national identities.
Taras Kuzio is a resident fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Toronto.
PUBLICATION OF DRAFT AFGHAN CONSTITUTION DELAYED
A member of Afghanistan's Constitutional Commission has confirmed delays in the planned publication for public scrutiny of the country's draft constitution, Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported on 22 October. Mohammad Mosa Marufi said the commission needs more time to discuss a number of issues, but he did not provide details. According to the Iranian broadcaster, disputes revolve around the role of Islamic jurisprudence, national languages, and regulation of the establishment of political parties. Meanwhile, Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai met with members of the Constitutional Commission on 23 October to discuss the draft document, Afghanistan Television reported. The televised report added that the draft constitution will be made public "within the next few days." The draft was originally supposed to be made public on 1 September (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 18 September 2003). AT
GREECE REJECTS NATO REQUEST FOR FURTHER HELP IN AFGHANISTAN
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on 23 October turned down a NATO request for helicopters to assist the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expansion beyond Kabul, dpa reported. Simitis said his country "has substantial financial needs related to the Olympic Games, and there is a greater need in 2004" to keep Greek forces at home to ensure security during the summer games. NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said that while he is "disappointed" at the Greek rejection, he understands, "because there is never enough security for the Olympics." Greece currently has around 120 troops serving with ISAF in Kabul. NATO is due to expand ISAF outside Kabul with the deployment of German troops in Konduz Province (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 16 October 2003). AT
AFGHAN WARLORD TO BE TRIED IN UNITED KINGDOM...
Zardad Faryadi Sarwar, an Afghan commander charged in July by a London court with multiple counts of torture and kidnapping, will be put on trial, Afghanistan Television reported on 20 October. Sarwar, who allegedly committed the crimes while serving as a commander in the area of Sarubi in Kabul Province in the 1990s, has resided in the United Kingdom since 1996 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2003). The charges against Sarwar mark the first time the International Convention on Torture, which was incorporated into British law in 1988, has been employed by prosecutors. Afghanistan Television asked anyone who might have been injured by Sarwar's forces to contact the Foreign Relations Department of the Afghan National Security Council by 1 November. AT
...WHILE AFGHAN COURT WANTS HIM EXTRADITED
The Afghan Supreme Court requested Zardad Sarwar's extradition from the United Kingdom on 21 October, Reuters reported. Deputy Chief Justice Fazl Ahmad Manawi said that "since, according to allegations, [Sarwar] committed the crimes on Afghan soil, we ask [Britain] to extradite him so he can be tried" in Afghanistan. Sarwar's case might also prompt prosecutors in the United Kingdom and other European countries -- with Afghan help -- to bring charges against members of Afghanistan's communist-era (1978-92) secret police and other warlords from the civil war (1992-2001). AT
MISS AFGHANISTAN: FROM BURQA TO BIKINI
Twenty-five-year-old Vida Samadzai will represent Afghanistan in the Miss Earth title in Manila in November, the BBC and international news agencies reported on 23 October. Samadzai will be the first Afghan beauty queen to compete in a beauty contest since 1974. Samadzai said she "would like to make people aware" that Afghan women are "talented, intelligent, and beautiful." Samadzai, who has lived in the United States since 1996, is also involved in charity efforts to raise awareness of the plight of Afghan women. AT
IRANIANS RALLY AGAINST FOREIGN PRESSURE
The Movement in Defense of Iran's Independence announced a rally after the 24 October Friday prayers to protest Iran's signing of the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), ISNA reported. "The objective of the rally is to condemn the exertion of pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran to accept the Additional Protocol," the movement announced the day before the protest, according to ISNA. "We believe that the gang leaders of global arrogance intend to weaken Iran and prevent it from peaceful application of nuclear technology." About 120 university students -- members of the Student Basij -- rallied near the Saadabad complex in Tehran on 21 October to protest Iranian acceptance of the Additional Protocol and the presence of foreign ministers from France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, ISNA and IRNA reported. The students did not have a permit to hold a rally, but they did not clash with security personnel. BS
TEHRAN PLAYS COY ON ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL AND URANIUM ENRICHMENT
Hojatoleslam Hassan Rohani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told a 23 October gathering of Tehran Province Friday prayer leaders that the government does not want to sign the Additional Protocol of the NPT and said the suspension of uranium enrichment could last less than a month, ISNA reported. "We do not want to sign the declaration; we have not yet signed the protocol either; we only made an announcement to say that we are ready to sign the protocol," Rohani said (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2003). As for suspending uranium enrichment, he said, "we leave our hand open; we may do so for a month, or perhaps for a shorter or longer time; there is no suspension yet." Rohani was emphatic on these points during a 21 October press conference, too, state television reported. He said Iran is "prepared to take the necessary steps to accede to the Additional Protocol," and added that this must not endanger Iran's "national security, national interests, or national prestige." Iran "voluntarily" decided to "temporarily suspend its enrichment activities in order to create a new atmosphere and gain the confidence of industrial countries," he said. BS
TEHRAN PROVIDES NUCLEAR DOCUMENTATION TO IAEA
Tehran promised International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohammad el-Baradei that it will provide "full disclosure of all its past nuclear activities," iaea.org reported on 21 October, and two days later el-Baradei announced, "Iran has decided to provide full disclosure of all its past activities, and I was assured that the report I got today is a comprehensive and accurate declaration," RFE/RL reported. Iran's IAEA representative, Ali Akbar Salehi, added, "We have submitted a report that fully discloses all our past activities, peaceful activities, in the nuclear field." According to a 22 October Reuters report from Vienna, where the IAEA is based, many of the environmental samples taken at the Kalaye Electric Company and at Natanz have different types of weapons-grade highly-enriched-uranium (HEU) particles. An anonymous "Western diplomat" explained the significance of this: "The more different types of enriched uranium they [the IAEA] find in Iran, the more difficult it is for Iran to explain it away with contamination." Iran has claimed that HEU came from second-hand equipment it bought on the black market. BS
PAKISTAN-IRAN PIPELINE PROJECT TO BEGIN
Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali announced following his return from Iran on 23 October that Pakistan has agreed to the laying of a gas pipeline between the two countries, "The News" reported on 24 October. Jamali's statements came at an airport press conference after he left Tehran on 23 October, flew to Mashhad, and from there returned to Islamabad. The pipeline is intended to transport gas to India, but Jamali said New Delhi is hesitating on the project. According to IRNA, furthermore, Jamali said Iran and Pakistan have set a trade target of $1 billion. "Experts will meet in about three months to take follow-up-action proposals agreed between the two countries including cooperation in oil and gas, customs, tariff, and export of Pakistani rice to Iran." Jamali said another border crossing between the neighboring states will be opened at the Sarwan, Sistan va Baluchistan Province--Panjgur, Marwan District, Baluchistan Province point. BS
U.S. CITES PROGRESS AT IRAQI DONORS CONFERENCE
U.S. officials have cited progress at the Iraqi donors conference in Madrid, where the United States seeks to raise billions for the reconstruction of Iraq, international media reported on 24 October. On the second day of the 23-24 October conference, many donors increased their original pledges of support. Japan increased its $2 billion grant pledge by offering another $3.5 billion in medium-term loans to Iraq, while Australia pledged an additional $14 million, Reuters reported. The Italian government also offered an additional contribution of 200 million euros ($235.5 million) over "a few years," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pledged up to $4.25 billion, substantially more than expected. IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler said the IMF could make $850 million available as emergency postconflict assistance, dpa reported. Saudi Arabia announced that it will offer a $1 billion financing package to Iraq that includes $500 million in project finance and $500 million as an export facility, Reuters reported. Earlier, South Korea pledged $200 million and Canada $150 million, AP reported on 24 October. KR
PENTAGON NAMES ANSAR AL-ISLAM AS MAIN THREAT IN IRAQ
The U.S. Defense Department has named the terrorist group Ansar Al-Islam the key terrorist threat to U.S. forces in Iraq, AP reported on 23 October. Lieutenant General Norton Schwartz, director of operations for the Pentagon's Joint Staff, said U.S. forces are concentrating their efforts on Ansar militants. U.S. and Kurdish forces destroyed an Ansar stronghold in northern Iraq in late March (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 28 March and 2 April 2003). It has been reported that Ansar militants subsequently dispersed to other parts of Iraq and reorganized. Schwartz said the United States has uncovered links between Ansar militants and former Ba'ath Party members, but added that "generally speaking, [Ansar members] are independent actors." KR
IRAQIS TALK BUSINESS IN DUBAI
A delegation of 55 Iraqi businesspeople traveled to Dubai this week to drum up support for possible joint business ventures in Iraq, Dubai's "Gulf News" reported on 23 October. The delegation of the Iraqi Businessmen's Association (IBA) received encouraging signs from Dubai government officials, with Ports, Customs, and Free-Zone Corporation Executive Chairman Sultan bin Sulayem saying that the Dubai government will take the necessary steps to help Iraqi traders and businessmen. "We want to form partnership[s] with Dubai's business community in the banking, finance, construction, and trading sectors," IBA Chairman Thamir al-Shaykhly said. "Dubai's resources, experience, and expertise would come in handy for Iraqi businessmen...and we look forward to work[ing] together closely," he added. KR
TURKEY NOT INSISTENT ON SENDING TROOPS
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Dushanbe on 23 October that his country is not insistent upon deploying troops to Iraq, Turkey's TRT 2 Television reported. "This [troop] request came from the United States [and] the Turkish Grand National Assembly responded to this request by endorsing a motion," Erdogan said. "We want the happiness of the Iraqi people. We are not trying to insistently and passionately dispatch troops to Iraq," he added. Erdogan is in Tajikistan for meetings with his Tajik counterpart Oqil Oqilov. KR
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT FINDS IRAQIS SUPPORT PLURALISM, GOOD GOVERNANCE
The Coalition Provisional Authority's official website (http://www.iraq-cpa.org) has posted a report by the U.S. State Department's Office of Research on a survey of some 1,400 Iraqis that measures Iraqi political aspirations. According to the findings, a large majority of Iraqis noted the importance of free and fair elections in their country and support the rule of law and the right to criticize the government. The participants were asked about their support for democracy, if they prefer an Islamic or secular state, the characteristics they look for in a leader, and their knowledge of Iraqi Governing Council members. KR