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Newsline - June 7, 2004


PUTIN LAUDS NEW FRANKNESS IN APPRAISING WORLD WAR II ROLES...
President Vladimir Putin, participating in the international commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Allied landing in Normandy, said on 6 June that now that the Cold War is over, it is time for all countries to acknowledge the roles played by other countries in defeating fascist Germany, ITAR-TASS reported. Putin said that while he was attending a military parade earlier in the day with U.S. President George W. Bush, Bush leaned over and said, "Had it not been for Russia, all this would not have happened." Putin called this "the most frank and honest assessment" of the Soviet contribution in World War II that he has heard from a major Western politician. "Neither will we play down the role of the Allies. The USSR waited anxiously for the opening of the second front, and it was an event that brought victory nearer," Putin said. He noted, however, that there were roughly nine times as many German troops on the eastern front as on the western at the time of the D-Day landings. RC

...AND CALLS FOR UNITY IN CONFRONTING TERRORISM
President Putin on 6 June also urged the world to unite in combating international terrorism, ITAR-TASS reported. "The world is facing new threats, quite serious ones, and international terrorism is among them. The struggle against it requires joint international efforts," Putin said. On the evening of 6 June, Putin attended a private dinner hosted by French President Jacques Chirac, the news agency reported. Putin was the only one of the 15 world leaders attending the D-Day commemoration who was invited to dine with Chirac. Also on 6 June, Putin met with Russian tennis stars Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva, strana.ru reported on 7 June. Myskina on 5 June defeated Dementieva in the women's final of the French Open. "French President Jacques Chirac asked me to extend his congratulations," Putin told the players, "saying that if one has to lose, it's better to lose to a Russian." Putin left France on 6 June for Mexico, where he met on 7 June with Mexican President Vicente Fox. RC

DIPLOMAT LASHES OUT AT RUMSFELD'S SPEECH IN SINGAPORE
First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov told journalists in Tokyo on 5 June that Washington does not understand the situation in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported. Trubnikov noted that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not mention Russia "even once" in his address to an Asian-Pacific security conference in Singapore on 4 June. "Chechnya began long before 11 September 2001, and we had long faced this problem of terrorism," Trubnikov said. "Rumsfeld avoided this problem for Russia, which reflects, I think, a lack of understanding of what we are dealing with in Chechnya." Influential television commentator Aleksei Pushkov said on TV-Tsentr on 5 June that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell "lied to the UN and the entire world on the issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction." "In general, after such lies, respectable people simply resign," Pushkov said. Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry head and former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov told NTV on 6 June that although Moscow has "stuck to its position" on Iraq, it has not "allowed this policy to develop into anti-Americanism." RC

POLITICIANS, EXPERTS COMMENT ON POSSIBLE RUSSIAN MILITARY PARTICIPATION IN IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN
First Deputy Foreign Minister Trubnikov also said on 4 June that Russian troops should not join the international stabilization force in Iraq, ITAR-TASS reported. "I believe that we must not participate in Iraq in military terms. This is my personal point of view. It is another matter what the political leadership will decide," Trubnikov said, referring to the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 4 June, however, that officers in the Defense Ministry are increasingly beginning to think that Moscow intends to send troops to Iraq and/or Afghanistan in October or November. The daily noted that Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov recently held consultations with German Defense Minister Peter Struck (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 June 2004) and that Russia is conducting a heavy schedule of military exercises this summer. Experts interviewed by the paper believe that it is more likely that Russia would participate in operations in Afghanistan than in Iraq, although that situation might change if a satisfactory UN resolution on Iraq is adopted. The daily noted that the Soviet Union carried out major military-mobilization exercises in the months before it sent its forces in Afghanistan in December 1979. RC

BUDDHISTS TO APPEAL GOVERNMENT'S REFUSAL TO ALLOW DALAI LAMA TO VISIT
Kalmykia President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said on 4 June that Russia's Buddhists will appeal to the Constitutional Court to overturn a Russian government decision not to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Russia, Reuters reported. Moscow has long refused to issue the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa to avoid upsetting China. Ilyumzhinov said he has invited the Dalai Lama to Russia each year since 1996. "We have 5 million Buddhists in Russia who want to see their religious leader," Ilyumzhinov said. "And it isn't as if he is a terrorist or Al-Qaeda or something." He noted that the Soviet Union allowed the Dalai Lama to visit several times. RC

PUTIN HOLDS TALKS WITH TAJIK PRESIDENT...
Imomali Rakhmonov met with President Putin in Sochi on 4 June, Russian media reported. The talks centered on Russian-Tajik cooperation in protecting Tajikistan's borders, and Rakhmonov reportedly asked Putin to extend the handover of border-protection duties to Tajik forces until the end of 2006. Moreover, Rakhmonov agreed to give Russia the free and indefinite use of a plot of land for the construction of a military base in Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS reported, quoting Putin's foreign-policy aide, Sergei Prikhodko (see today's "End Note"). RC

...AND WITH BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT
Alyaksandr Lukashenka met with President Putin in Sochi on 5 June, Russian media reported. Putin told journalists following the talks that it is unlikely that the two countries will manage to adopt a common currency by 1 January 2005 but added that "we have not given up work and we'll continue it," Interfax reported. Lukashenka added, "As soon as the time comes when we are certain we can launch the single currency, we'll make that decision." Putin said the two presidents have "virtually resolved" all outstanding issues pertaining to Russian supplies of natural gas to Belarus. Putin stressed, however, that Belarus buys gas from a Russian commercial entity -- the state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom -- and not from the Russian government, so any problems "are commercial issues." RC

INVESTIGATORS PROBING SAMARA, NEFTEKUMSK EXPLOSIONS
The investigation into a 4 June bomb blast in a market in Samara that left 10 dead and more than 40 injured is continuing, Russian news agencies reported on 7 June. The 1 1/2-kilogram bomb exploded near midday on 4 June in the crowded market, and a criminal investigation has been launched. A Federal Security Service (FSB) team has arrived on the scene from Moscow, RIA-Novosti reported. Authorities have not determined if the motive for the blast was a business dispute, an attack on specific individuals, or terrorism, the news agency reported. Meanwhile, investigators in Stavropol Krai are looking into a 5 June explosion of an oil tank at the oil-pumping station of Kamysh-Burun near Neftekumsk, Russian media reported. No one was injured in the explosion, which was caused by radio-controlled bomb. A second, unexploded device was found at the scene. Investigators believe the motive for the blast was most likely a commercial dispute among oil companies. The Kamysh-Burun facility is owned by Chernomortransneft. RC

DUMA APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL BILL ON MEETINGS AND STREET DEMONSTRATIONS...
The State Duma passed a much-criticized bill on public gatherings in its third and final reading on 4 June, Russian news agencies reported. The vote was 336 in favor with 97 against and two abstentions, RosBalt reported. Under the bill, organizers of public demonstrations will have to inform authorities about their planned event at least 10 days in advance. In a meeting with Duma deputies on 4 June, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II criticized the bill, saying that it "could be instrumental in heavily restricting church and religious activity." He noted a provision that requires that street rallies be held no later than 11 p.m. or earlier than 7 a.m. "What shall we do on Easter night then," he said. "Will the cross-bearing processions be banned?" Despite President Putin's revision of the bill between its first and second readings, it continues to draw criticism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2004). Now, the bill will go the Federation Council for approval. JAC

...AND PASSES BILL FINE-TUNING LAW ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Also on 4 June, deputies approved amendments to the constitutional law on the federal government in their second and third readings, RosBalt reported. State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said the bill will pave the way for completing structural and staff changes in the government, according to Interfax. The amendments are needed because of new structural divisions in the cabinet of ministers initiated in March and to implement administrative reforms, Gryzlov said. Also on 4 June, deputies dropped from consideration a bill that would have reduced the legal age for marriage to 14 under certain circumstances such as pregnancy, Ekho Moskvy reported. The bill passed the Duma in 2002, but was rejected by the Federation Council. This time, the Duma Committee for Women, Family, and Youth Affairs recommended that the bill be dropped. JAC

DIRECTOR OF COAL COMPANY ARRESTED OVER WAGE ARREARS AS HUNGER STRIKERS ARE HOSPITALIZED...
Two of 40 miners in the city of Shakhty in Rostov Oblast who have been participating in a hunger strike for back wages have been hospitalized, RIA-Novosti reported on 6 June. The 40 miners work at two enterprises that are part of Rostovugol. Rostovugol is currently undergoing bankruptcy procedures, and the company's directors say they cannot pay wages until the company's property has been sold, and an auction for the property will not take place until 15 June. According to the agency, the hunger strike began on 31 May. Presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Vladimir Yakovlev was quoted by NTV on 3 June as saying the company's assets are substantial enough to cover the miners' wages. Meanwhile, the Rostov Oblast prosecutor launched four criminal cases against the directors of the coal mines over the wage arrears, Regnum reported on 5 June. Anatolii Ignatov, director of Shakhtinskoe Construction and Assembly Administration No. 1, which is a subsidiary of Rostovugol, was arrested on 4 June and charged with nonpayment of wages and fiduciary impropriety. According to Regnum, the workers are refusing to halt their hunger strike until they are paid. JAC

...AS PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SEEKS HARSHER SENTENCE AGAINST ANOTHER COAL-MINE DIRECTOR...
Meanwhile in Moscow, the Prosecutor-General's Office has filed an appeal against a recent verdict by a Khakasian court against the Yeniseiskaya coal mine's former director, Ten Yon Tark, Interfax reported on 4 June. The local court fined Tark 80,000 rubles ($2,800) for not paying miners their salaries and barred him for holding a senior management post for three years. "The Prosecutor-General's Office considers his verdict extremely lenient and, consequently, unfair," Deputy Prosecutor-General Valentin Simuchenkov told the agency. The miners launched a 12-day hunger strike that ended only when the republic's government allocated money from its budget to pay the enterprise workers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24, 26, and 28 May 2004). NTV alleged on 2 June that while the miners were not receiving their wages, Tark was regularly receiving his monthly salary of 100,000 rubles and was providing his friends and acquaintances with free coal. JAC

...AND VOLGA REGIONAL PROSECUTOR BUILDS CASES AGAINST TARDY EMPLOYERS
The Prosecutor-General's Office in Nizhnii Novgorod has brought criminal cases against the former directors of Stovskii construction-materials company and of the Zarya construction-material plant in Dzerzhinsk for failing to pay employee wages, ORT reported on 4 June. Vyacheslav Igoshin, head of the investigations department at the oblast prosecutor's office, said more criminal cases along the same lines are being prepared. JAC

INFANTRY, AIR FORCE GET NEW, POST-SOVIET BANNERS
Defense Minister Ivanov on 5 June signed an order removing the Soviet-era symbols from the official banners of Russia's infantry and air force, lenta.ru and "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 7 June. Since 1920, the infantry's flag had featured a five-pointed star in the center of a red banner. The new flag has a flaming grenade in the center with two crossed swords behind it. The air force's blue and yellow banner now has a crossed propeller and antiaircraft gun in the center, surrounded by wings, instead of the five-pointed Soviet star. The Defense Ministry is expected to confirm the new banners of the strategic-missile forces and the airborne forces by the end of the week, and all the new flags will be used during the celebrations of Russian Independence Day on 12 June, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. RC

UNIFIED RUSSIA SHAKES UP LOCAL LEADERSHIP IN VOLGOGRAD...
The regional branch of the Unified Russia party has changed its leadership, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 4 June. The president of a local soccer club and State Duma Sports Committee Chairman Vladimir Goryunov (Unified Russia) defeated businessman Oleg Savchenko with two-thirds support within the local organization. The daily also reported that Goryunov plans to run in the oblast's gubernatorial elections this fall and has already started forming his campaign headquarters. Savchenko ran in the 2001 gubernatorial elections, finishing second behind incumbent Nikolai Maksuta and, according to RFE/RL's Volgograd correspondent, is also expected to run again (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 3 January 2001). Goryunov is a "compromise" figure for the competing regional groups, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," and could not have won election in the 2003 State Duma elections without the support of the local Communist Party and the administrative resources of Matsyuta, according to the daily. JAC

...AS CAMPAIGNING FOR GUBERNATORIAL RACE HAS ALREADY BEGUN
According to RFE/RL's Volgograd correspondent on 27 May, the unofficial campaign season has already started and posters have appeared in city streets ahead of the fall election. Pictured on many of them next to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II is another likely candidate, Federal Construction, Housing, and Utilities Agency Deputy Director Anatolii Popov. Popov also participated in the 2001 gubernatorial election, but more recently served as Chechen prime minister before his dismissal in mid-March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 March 2004). JAC

TWO CHECHENS ABDUCTED IN INGUSHETIA
Russian Interior Ministry forces conducted a search operation on 5 June in the village of Sagopshi in Ingushetia, during which they detained two Chechen displaced persons, the independent website ingushetiya.ru reported on 6 June. The whereabouts of the two detainees is unknown. LF

NEW RUSSIAN TROOP COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA NAMED
Lieutenant General Vyacheslav Dadonov, deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Interior Ministry troops, has been named commander of the Joint Federal Forces in the North Caucasus, Russian agencies reported on 4 June. Dadonov, who arrived in Chechnya that day, replaces Colonel General Valerii Baranov, who was seriously injured on 9 May by the bomb at a Grozny stadium that killed pro-Moscow Chechen leader Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov and five other people (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 May 2004). LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PROTEST DRAWS LOWER TURNOUT
Leading members of the Armenian opposition Artarutiun alliance again postponed on 4 June the announced intensification of their ongoing campaign to force the resignation of President Robert Kocharian, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Only a few thousand opposition supporters attended an opposition rally on 4 June which did not, contrary to earlier announcements, culminate in a march to the presidential palace. Albert Bazeyan told participants that Artarutiun is "not yet ready to carry out the actions needed for our final victory," but a second leading Artarutiun member, Aram Sargsian, said the protests will nonetheless continue and that "the authorities must know they will have no respite." A further protest demonstration has been scheduled for 16 June. LF

PRESIDENT SAYS KARABAKH SHOULD ADOPT A CONSTITUTION
Addressing the first session of the newly formed Constitutional Commission, Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, said on 3 June that conditions are ripe for the drafting and adoption of a constitution for the enclave, Noyan Tapan reported on 3 June. Ghukasian said that unspecified internal and external political factors have delayed the process, but that the appropriate legal framework has been created. He tasked his legal adviser, Armen Zalinian, with proposing within 10 days the members of a working group that will draft the basic law. LF

POLICE THREATEN FORMER AZERBAIJANI INTERIOR MINISTER
Iskander Hamidov, who was released from jail late last year after serving eight years of a 14-year sentence for embezzlement, abuse of his official position, and causing grievous bodily harm (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 2004), was detained by armed police in a Baku teahouse on 4 June together with his driver, Turan and zerkalo.az reported the following day. Hamidov was questioned in connection with an alleged complaint that one of his assistants had tried to extort $150,000 from a construction firm. Hamidov quoted an Interior Ministry official as telling him he had been under constant surveillance since his release and that the authorities are concerned by his statements in support of opposition parties, in particular his appeal to the population to participate in a protest rally planned for 4 June. The Baku municipal authorities refused permission for that protest (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 May 2004). Hamidov was released after questioning, but his driver was sentenced to 10 days administrative arrest for allegedly resisting police. LF

AZERBAIJANI, GEORGIAN BORDER OFFICIALS AGREE ON JOINT CONTROLS
During talks on 6 June at the Tsiteli khidi (Red Bridge) border crossing between Georgian and Azerbaijan, Georgian State Border Department Chairman Badri Bitsadze and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elchin Kuliev agreed on the imposition of joint control of an area through which goods are regularly smuggled from Azerbaijani to Georgia, Caucasus Press reported on 7 June. Georgian police seized large quantities of contraband in a major operation one week earlier in two Azerbaijani-populated villages near the border with Azerbaijan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2004). LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS STATEMENT ON SOUTH OSSETIA
Deputies adopted a statement on 4 June expressing support for President Mikheil Saakashvili's proposals for resolving the standoff with the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. At the same time, they appealed to the Russian media and unspecified Russian institutions to show greater restraint in their comments on the situation. On 5 June, the Georgian and Russian Foreign Ministries issued a joint statement welcoming the agreement reached at a 2 June session of the Joint Control Commission that monitors developments in the conflict zone. That agreement provides for the withdrawal of Georgian Interior Ministry troops from the conflict zone and the joint deployment of Georgian, Ossetian, and Russian peacekeepers in the village of Tkviavi to prevent smuggling across the internal border from South Ossetia into Georgia. An Ossetian government spokeswoman told Caucasus Press on 7 June that Georgian Interior Ministry troops are indeed being pulled out. LF

GEORGIA PROPOSES JOINT ANTITERRORISM CENTER
Speaking in Washington on 3 June, Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili said Tbilisi has proposed to Russia the establishment of a joint antiterrorism center as a substitute for, and to expedite the closure of, the two remaining Russian military bases in Georgia, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. She also said Russian officials have hinted that the closure of the two bases could be achieved within eight years; Moscow had initially insisted it would take 15 years, but then reduced that estimate to 10-11 years (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 3 January 2003 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November and 8 December 2003). Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said in Moscow on 4 June that the issue was raised during Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania's visit to Moscow last month, and that the Russian leadership is "considering" the offer, ITAR-TASS reported. The same agency quoted Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze on 5 June as telling the independent television station Rustavi-2 that such a center would not pose any threat to Georgia. LF

IMF RESUMES LENDING TO GEORGIA
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a new three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program for Georgia on 4 June, Georgian media reported the same day, quoting an IMF press release (http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2004/pr04107.htm). The program envisions loans totaling approximately $144 million, of which the first $21 million tranche has already been disbursed. The IMF suspended lending to Georgia last year due to the previous government's failure to comply with requests to expedite systemic reform and improve tax collection (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September and 30 October 2003). Announcing the IMF decision, Deputy Managing Director and acting Chairman Takatoshi Kato noted that "the new Georgian authorities have launched an ambitious reform effort aimed at...strengthening macroeconomic fundamentals," as well as "a decisive attack on corruption to bolster tax collection." LF

COUNCIL OF FOREIGN INVESTORS MEETS WITH KAZAKH PRESIDENT...
President Nursultan Nazarbaev said at a 4 June news conference that his earlier discussions with the council of foreign investors will serve as the basis for future cabinet decisions and changes to legislation, KazInform reported the same day. The council's 11th session, which took place on 4 June at Kazakhstan's Kendirli resort, brought together representatives of the country's largest foreign investors, including ChevronTexaco, ABN AMRO Bank, British Gas, LUKoil, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), regnum.ru reported. The main topics of discussion were Caspian oil development, oil transport, and economic diversification. KazInform quoted EBRD President Jean Lemierre as saying: "Kazakhstan today has a strong oil-and-gas sector, but nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. That's why we, as foreign investors, support Kazakhstan in the implementation of its industrial policy." DK

...AS RUSSIA'S LUKOIL PLANS NEW CASPIAN INVESTMENTS
Vagit Alekperov, president of Russia's LUKoil, told the council of foreign investors on 4 June that his company plans to step up its involvement in Caspian oil projects, Interfax reported the same day. According to Alekperov, LUKoil will invest $13 billion to develop various projects in the Caspian; by 2020, the region will account for 18 percent of the oil company's total hydrocarbon production. RusEnergy quoted Alekperov as saying, "It's encouraging that Kazakhstan's leadership is doing its best to speed up processes of integration and to create the most favorable legal, economic, ecological, and socio-cultural environment in the region." LUKoil has already invested $1.5 billion in Kazakhstan. DK

KYRGYZ DEPUTY PREMIER SAYS GANSI BRINGS IN $50 MILLION A YEAR
Djoomart Otorbaev said on 3 June that the United States' Ganci air base brings Kyrgyzstan more than $50 million annually, KyrgyzInfo reported the next day. The comment came during an official visit to the base by Otorbaev, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Askar Aitmatov, and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Young. Otorbaev called the base a significant boon to the Kyrgyz economy. For his part, Aitmatov noted that the base serves as an important factor guaranteeing stability in the region. DK

SHANGHAI GROUP SECURITY HEADS MEET IN UZBEKISTAN
Security secretaries from the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) met in Tashkent on 4 June to discuss threats to regional security, Uzbek Television reported the same day. The Security Council secretaries met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov to review the agenda for the upcoming SCO summit that will bring together member countries' heads of state in Tashkent on 17 June. Uzbek Security Council Secretary Ruslan Mirzaev told Uzbek television that he and his counterparts agreed on the importance of developing specific programs to fight such regional threats as terrorism, separatism, and extremism. Kazakh Security Council Secretary Bulat Utemuratov noted that he and his colleagues feel there is a need for greater cooperation with other international and regional organizations such as the Conference for Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, KazInform reported. The member states of the SCO are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai will attend the summit as a guest of the Uzbek side, uzreport.com reported on 4 June. DK

UZBEK BORDER CHIEF DISMISSED AFTER FATAL SHOOTING INCIDENT
President Islam Karimov has dismissed Gafurjon Tishaev, deputy chairman of the National Security Service (SNB) and chairman of the Border Service, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported on 4 June. The dismissal came after a 1 June incident in which Uzbek border guards shot dead a Kazakh national under circumstances that remain unclear. The SNB confirmed Tishaev's dismissal to RFE/RL but refused to say whether it was connected to the border incident. Kazakh Security Council Secretary Utemuratov met with his Uzbek counterpart, Ruslan Mirzaev, on 3 June to discuss the incident, KazInform reported. According to the news service, Mirzaev explained that Uzbek border guards are taking measures to prevent such incidents in the future. DK

BELARUSIAN LAWMAKERS CONTINUE HUNGER STRIKE OVER ELECTION CODE
Three Chamber of Representatives deputies, Uladzimir Parfyanovich, Syarhey Skrabets, and Valery Fralou, who went on a hunger strike in the parliamentary building on 3 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2004), moved their protest to Fralou's apartment in Minsk on 5 June, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Fralou explained the move by the need of the three protesting deputies to be close to those giving them moral support. The deputies are protesting the blockade by the parliamentary leadership of their initiative to put on the agenda a draft bill providing for democratic changes to the Election Code. They are also demanding the release of their political associate Mikhail Marynich, who has been in custody since 26 April (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 11 May 2004). Three activists of the opposition United Civic Party (AHP), who pitched several tents in the backyard of Fralou's apartment block, joined the hunger strike on 5 June. The same day, police dismantled and confiscated the tents, warning the AHP activists that they could be punished for staging an unauthorized rally. JM

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT SUSPENDS PUBLICATION OF NONSTATE NEWSPAPER
Information Minister Uladzimir Rusakevich on 3 June suspended publication of the Minsk-based weekly "Rabochaya salidarnasts" for three months, charging the newspaper with violating the media law, Belapan reported on 5 June. The formal reason for the suspension was the weekly's failure to report its new address following the withdrawal of its cofounder, the Belarusian Union of Automobile and Agricultural Implement Workers, in March. Under the law, the other cofounder, the Belarusian Party of Labor (BPP), should have made appropriate changes to the newspaper's registration certificate within one month. The BPP applied to the Minsk city authorities in early April for registration of its new address. The authorities, however, notified the newspaper more than a month later that it was still considering the request. "Rabochaya salidarnasts" has a circulation of 9,000-12,000 and is distributed primarily among workers. BPP leader Alyaksandr Bukhvostau said that the paper is being targeted for its criticism of the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus. JM

PRESIDENT WANTS TO CREATE SILICON VALLEY IN BELARUS
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 4 June said the government is planning to create a high-tech information-technology research and manufacturing center similar to the famous Silicon Valley in California, Belapan reported. "This is not a bluff, not a propaganda gimmick," Lukashenka said while presenting diplomas to members of the National Academy of Sciences. "I want to gather creative-minded people whose work can yield results now. We will create conditions for them, offer preferences," Lukashenka said. According to the presidential press service, the project will be launched this year. JM

UKRAINIAN NONSTATE MEDIA MARK JOURNALISTS DAY WITH 'LIVE NEWSPAPER'
The editorial offices of "Lvivska hazeta," "Ukrayina moloda," and the "Ukrayinska pravda" website celebrated Journalists Day in Kyiv on 6 June with the publication of a "live newspaper," which was edited and printed in front of the building of the Union of Ukrainian Journalists on Khreshchatyk Street, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported. Journalists sent articles for several issues of the "live newspaper" via notebooks, while an ad hoc editorial office on the street edited them, printed issues of several hundred copies each on a Risograph printer, and distributed the publication immediately among passersby. The event organizers reportedly said their goal was "to show that a newspaper can be made even without appropriate conditions," adding that "it is enough to do one's work honestly and at a good quality level in order to counter the pressure to which the authorities frequently resort." JM

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER EDITOR ATTACKED
Andriy Voytsekhovskyy, editor of the opposition newspaper "Gremuchaya smes" (Explosive Mixture) and a local correspondent of other publications linked to the Socialist Party, was beaten up in Kharkiv on 3 June, UNIAN reported on 5 June. Voytsekhovskyy told the agency that he was attacked at night, when he was coming home from work. The editor said he is not sure whether he was beaten up for his professional activity but he added that he has long been in "strong opposition to the authorities." Voytsekhovskyy has been a Socialist Party member for some 10 years. Hanne Severinsen, a rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said at a news conference in Kyiv on 3 June that in Ukraine opposition media are in danger. JM

SLOVAK PRESIDENT VISITS UKRAINE
Slovak President Rudolf Schuster met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, on 7 June during a one-day visit to Kyiv, Ukrainian media reported. Schuster said at a news conference after the meeting that "the Schengen border will not become a dividing line between Ukraine and Slovakia." The two leaders reportedly discussed the participation of their countries in the international stabilization mission in Iraq and bilateral issues relating to trade and visa regimes. JM

KILLING OF SERBIAN YOUTH FUELS TENSIONS IN KOSOVA...
Unidentified gunmen killed 17-year-old Dimitrije Popovic in Gracanica on 5 June, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Several hundred people attended his funeral the following day, where speakers called for better protection for the Serbian minority and an end to violent attacks against Serbian settlements. Zoran Sami, who is the speaker of Serbia and Montenegro's parliament, called on the international community to understand that "terrorism is at work here in its worst possible form." Local Serbian leader Oliver Ivanovic told Reuters that "there is no living together here [between Albanians and Serbs].... We must seal off all roads through Serbian districts." London's "The Independent" wrote on 7 June that "the latest controversy will play well in Serbia with the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), whose candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, is on course to do well, and perhaps win, Serbia's presidential election on 13 June. Moderate Serbian parties also used the incident to condemn the UN's administration" in the province (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 2 and 16 April 2004). UN police have detained two unidentified Kosovar Albanians in connection with the incident, the daily added. PM

...AND CONDEMNATION
Kosova's Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi said in Prishtina on 5 June that all "criminals [will be] brought to justice" and their motives will be identified, Reuters reported. He also appealed for calm. President Ibrahim Rugova argued that such killings "are directed against the future independence of our country." Outgoing UNMIK head Harri Holkeri and Kosova's parliamentary speaker Nexhat Daci also condemned the killing of Popovic, as did Hashim Thaci, who heads the Democratic Party of Kosova (PDK), and Ramush Haradinaj, who heads the Alliance for the Future of Kosova (AAK), RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. London's "The Independent" noted on 7 June that "as well as drawing attention to the ailing state of the UN administration, known as UNMIK, the latest killing will focus minds on the shadowy Albanian extremist groups which encourage random attacks on Serbs..... Mainstream Albanian leaders are aware that continued violence has damaged their credibility and delayed their chances of securing an independent state in Kosovo, the cherished goal of all the Albanians." In related news, EU foreign- and security-policy chief Javier Solana is scheduled to arrive in Kosova later in the day. PM

MACEDONIA AND KOSOVA SIGN AGREEMENT ON EDUCATION
Macedonian Education Minister Aziz Pollozhani and his counterpart in the Kosovar government, Rexhep Osmani, signed an agreement on cooperation in education in Prishtina on 5 June, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. The two governments agreed to work together in designing curricula and in training teachers, as well as to exchange expertise and personnel. Osmani said the pact can serve as an example for other countries in the region. Pollozhani stressed that the agreement shows the Macedonian government's willingness to improve relations with the Kosovar authorities. An unnamed UNMIK representative said cooperation in education is important for regional stability. UB

BREAKTHROUGH IN SOLVING MONTENEGRIN MURDER CASE?
The Montenegrin police have the names of all those involved in the recent assassination of opposition journalist Dusko Jovanovic, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 6 June, citing various Podgorica media. The media reports suggested that the police will make the names public soon (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 4 June 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 4 June 2004). Elsewhere, the opposition Socialist People's Party (SNP) called on Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to announce early elections under the supervision of an interim government. Miodrag Vukovic of Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) rejected the demand as "an invitation to a lynching." PM

FORMER MINISTER DOUBTS EFFICACY OF MONTENEGRIN DIPLOMACY
Goran Svilanovic, who is the former foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service on 5 June by telephone that most of Montenegro's separate diplomatic missions abroad are closed, adding that one can not speak of Montenegro truly having its own diplomacy. In related news, officials of Montenegro and Albania signed an agreement in Tirana on 4 June against money laundering and the funding of terrorists (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2004). PM

BOSNIAN SERBS ANNOUNCE DISCOVERY OF MASS GRAVES
The Bosnian Serb government said on 4 June that 31 additional mass graves have been found in various locations, containing remains of victims of the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which up to 8,000 mainly Muslim males were killed, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 29 April, and 20 May 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 September 2002). Officials of the Croat-Muslim federation have already visited the sites with their Bosnian Serb counterparts. Amor Masovic, who heads the federation's bureau for missing persons, said that some estimates suggest that the graves could contain the remains of up to 2,500 people. Some of the sites appear to be "primary" graves where bodies were originally dumped, as opposed to pits where remains were later taken with the intent of hiding them. PM

BOSNIA COMPLETES MILITARY DOWNSIZINGS
Bosnian Defense Minister Nikola Radovanovic said on 4 June in Sarajevo that the forces of the Croat-Muslim federation have completed their planned reduction since 2002 from 26,000 troops to 8,000, dpa reported. The Bosnian Serb military downsized from 18,000 to 4,000 over roughly the same period. The cuts in forces are part of the reforms that the Bosnian military must meet if that country is to be accepted into NATO's Partnership for Peace program. The new military will have a common general staff, flag, and uniforms, but remain ethnically segregated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 25 May, and 1 June 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 28 May 2004). A major problem with the downsizing was finding jobs for former soldiers in a country with a high unemployment rate. The biggest single current obstacle to Partnership for Peace membership is the failure of the Bosnian Serb authorities to bring any war crimes indictees to justice. PM

EXIT POLLS PREDICT DEFEAT OF RULING PARTY IN ROMANIAN CAPITAL...
Several exit polls conducted by different polling institutes indicate that incumbent Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu, the candidate of the National Liberal Party (PNL)-Democratic Party alliance, has won a second mandate in the first round of the local elections conducted on 6 June, Mediafax and international agencies reported. While the opposition has always won the mayoral race in Bucharest, this is the first time that an opposition candidate has won in the first round. The polls estimate that Basescu might have won as much as 60 percent of the vote. His main challenger, ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, apparently garnered some 29 percent of the votes. While Basescu's victory was largely expected, the polls show the PSD as suffering a crushing defeat and losing all the Bucharest district mayoralties, which were held by the ruling party after the 2000 local elections. In addition, the PSD is believed to have suffered a defeat in the election for the municipal council, where the opposition alliance headed by Basescu might now have an absolute majority. Geoana conceded defeat and congratulated Basescu on his victory. MS

...WHILE CLUJ EXTREME NATIONALIST MAYOR IS TROUNCED...
The exit polls also show that Greater Romania Party Executive Secretary and Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar has been eliminated from the mayoral runoff slated to be held on 20 June, Mediafax and international news agencies reported. The mayoral runoff will match PSD candidate Ioan Rus against PNL-Democratic Party candidate Emil Boc. In Timisoara, incumbent Mayor Gheorghe Ciuhandu of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic has won a third term, AFP reported. The polls show PSD mayors elected in the first round in Constanta. MS

...THOUGH ROMANIAN PREMIER CLAIMS GENERAL VICTORY
Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said at his party's headquarters in Bucharest that the PSD has done "exceptionally well" in the local elections and has won some 40 percent of the vote, Mediafax reported. Nastase said the PSD has a "good chance" to win in the first round in 16 county capitals and might win six other county capitals in the runoff. He said it was a "spectacular" outcome to witness a ruling European party performing better in local elections than the opposition. "The victory of the PSD is a victory for all Romanians.... We are all winners today: we, the PSD, have won because we now have the proof we are on the right road...and you, Romania's citizens, have won because valiant people who know how to fight to solve problems are standing by you," the premier said. The Central Electoral Bureau announced on 7 June after counting some 14 percent of the votes that the PSD has thus far garnered the most mayoral mandates (41.17 percent), followed by the PNL, the Democrats, the Greater Romania Party, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR). The PSD has also won most mandates for county councilors (32.17 percent) and of local councilors (35.96 percent). MS

ROMANIA CLOSES MORE CHAPTERS IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH EU
Romania on 4 June closed two more chapters in accession negotiations with the EU, thereby increasing the number of agreed policy areas to 24 out of the 31 chapters of the aquis communautaire, Mediafax and Reuters reported. The two chapters closed on 4 June include budget and the particularly difficult agriculture chapter. MS

UDMR DEPUTY LEAVES HUNGARIAN PARTY IN ROMANIA
Parliamentary deputy Zsolt Szilagyi and 17 other members of the UDMR resigned from the party last week, the daily "Ziua" reported on 7 June. Szilagyi said his decision was prompted by the fact that the UDMR "has not only abandoned the struggle for autonomy, but is also encroaching on democratic principles." Szilagyi was apparently referring to the refusal of the authorities to register the Hungarian Civic Union in the local election race. Supporters of the union claim this decision was due to the current alliance between the UDMR and the PSD. Szilagyi has initiated the project for autonomy of the Szekler lands, which has been submitted to Romania's parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 February 2004). MS

ROMANIA TO ACCELERATE GRANTING OF CITIZENSHIP TO TIRASPOL PRISONER
Romanian Ambassador to Moldova Filip Teodorescu told the Bucharest daily "Ziua" on 4 June that the embassy in Chisinau is speeding up the procedure to grant Romanian citizenship to Tudor Petrov-Popa, Flux reported. Petrov-Popa is the only member of the "Ilascu group" who has not yet been granted citizenship. He and Andrei Ivantoc have three more years to serve of the 15-year sentence given to them in 1993 by Tiraspol authorities for alleged terrorism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 2004). MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT LASHES OUT AT INDEPENDENT MEDIA...
Vladimir Voronin said on 4 June that journalists should never forget that the first duty of the media is to accurately, timely, and impartially inform about events in the country and "what its authorities really do," Infotag reported. Voronin, speaking in Chisinau to representatives of the provincial press, said that many of those claiming to work for the independent media are doing little more than running after money and indulging in "disguised political advertising" that leads journalism into disrepute. "Very often, behind the alleged struggle for human rights is a masked struggle for power," Voronin said. He noted the recent dispute concerning the legalization of the Chisinau-based municipal Antena C radio station and Euro TV station, saying it is "convenient" for Chisinau Mayor Serafim Urechean --who is also co-chairman of the opposition Our Moldova alliance -- to have at his disposal obedient media that also includes two newspapers and a printing house (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February, 22 March and 1, 5, 7, and 8 April 2004). Voronin said that rather than dividing the media "into government-supporting and independent, it should be divided into professional and nonprofessional." MS

...PROMPTING REACTION FROM PPCD LEADER
Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) Chairman Iurie Rosca said on 5 June in reaction to Voronin's statement on the media that in the "most vile Leninist tradition," the president is issuing orders to state and mass media institutions and is employing the "Bolshevik arsenal" when he describes independent media and media with opposition ties, Flux reported. He said that the gathering of provincial media leaders reflects a dictatorial drive to establish control over local media ahead of the 2005 parliamentary elections. MS

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION PARTY CRITICIZES VORONIN'S SSPM INITIATIVE
In a statement released on 4 June, the Our Moldova alliance said President Voronin's recent Stability and Security Pact for Moldova (SSPM) reflects the "incapacity of the Party of Moldovan Communists to solve the major problems of our society," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 June 2004). The statement said that on one hand, the SSPM seeks to induce the United States, the EU, and Romania to sign the initiative and become involved in the settlement of the Transdniester conflict, while on the other hand it stipulates that the current five-sided negotiation format for the settling of the conflict is not going to be changed. According to the Our Moldova alliance, the SSPM is a "crass exemplification of ignoring diplomatic norms and ethics...and of overt blackmailing of Moldova's strategic partners, who are ready to stand by Moldova in its European integration efforts." The PPCD has earlier also criticized the SSPM. MS

CARROTS, STICKS, AND THE TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER
After months of public and private wrangling, Russia and Tajikistan finally settled numerous military-cooperation issues at a 4 June meeting of the two countries' leaders. Though the outlines are still coming into focus, the agreement underscores a new Russian approach to relations with Central Asia that seeks to achieve ambitious strategic ends with pragmatic economic means.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov met in Sochi against a backdrop of three interrelated, unresolved issues -- Russia's 201st Motorized Infantry Division, control over the Tajik-Afghan border, and a space-surveillance facility in Nurek. Russia has long wanted to transform the 201st, which has been "temporarily" deployed in Tajikistan since the Soviet Union fell apart, into a permanent military base. Russia has also wanted to retain control of the Tajik-Afghan border, where Russian commanders supervise a border force composed largely of Tajik guards. Finally, Russia wants to own Nurek, a space-surveillance center that can detect and monitor objects at altitudes up to 40,000 kilometers.

Until the two presidents met face-to-face, talks had been a tough slog. By March 2004, Russian negotiators were sufficiently irritated at the lack of progress to leak the sticking points to the media, which duly reported that Dushanbe wanted Moscow to write off $300 million of Tajik debt, shell out an additional $50 million in cash for Nurek, and even give the Tajik president the right to take command of Russia's 201st Division in an "emergency" situation. Russian negotiators refused even to consider such "unacceptable" conditions, as each leaked report carefully noted. Meanwhile, along the Tajik-Afghan border, Tajikistan was gearing up to take back control in a yearlong handover slated to last until 2005, even as a chorus of Russian voices warned of an impending narcotics deluge.

That was then. Now, Russia will get its base, Nurek, and keep control of the border. Putin's foreign-affairs adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, told journalists on 4 June that Russia will receive "free of charge and in perpetuity" the use of territory for a permanent military base, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. The center in Nurek will become Russian property. The border handover will be postponed until 2006, and a new Russian-Tajik operational group will be created to provide a framework for resolving border issues, from drug-interdiction efforts to any eventual handover of control to Tajikistan.

What does Tajikistan get? A Russian government source told RIA-Novosti, "Part of [Tajikistan's] debt, which today comes to $299 million, will be invested in projects in Tajikistan's energy sector, in particular the Sangtuda hydroelectric station." The source went on to say that Russia will halt interest payments as long as the Tajik side continues to make investments into the project. Once the hydroelectric station is finished, Russia will own a part of it, apparently through Russia's Unified Energy Systems (EES) electricity monopoly

The diplomatic formula -- "investing debt" -- seems to means that Russia will write off a portion of Tajikistan's debt in exchange for equity in the Sangtuda station, an arrangement that will require close scrutiny to determine its real costs and benefits to the two sides. For now, only the general outline is clear: Russia writes off Tajik debt, and Tajikistan gives Russia not only an equity share in its power industry, but the abovementioned goodies as well.

With Tajikistan apparently giving more than it is receiving, initial reactions to the deal focused on the horse-trading that presumably took place behind the scenes. Russia's gazeta.ru noted on 4 June that a Russian threat to withdraw its border troops, potentially opening the door to a huge influx of drugs across the vulnerable Tajik-Afghan border, frightened the Tajik president into cutting a deal. "Kommersant-Daily" opined the same day that Russian negotiators hinted at introducing entry visas for Tajik citizens, hundreds of thousands of whom now take advantage of lax entry requirements to cross into Russia in search of work. Increased obstacles to Tajik labor migration would deal the Tajik economy a potentially destabilizing blow, and their mere mention may have served as a persuasive negotiating ploy. "Vremya novostei" offered yet another explanation, writing on 3 June -- the day before the agreement was announced -- that influential members of the Tajik elite recently warned President Rakhmonov that chilly relations with Russia would harm their lucrative business ties with Moscow. Finally, several reports indicated that inhabitants of Tajikistan's Pamir region, which borders Afghanistan, were so upset at the prospect of a Russian troop withdrawal that they were ready to start a campaign of serious civil unrest.

The details will take time to emerge. RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported on 5 June that President Putin plans to visit Tajikistan by year's end, at which time he will presumably open Russia's new military base. By then, a clearer picture should emerge of the deal that paved the way for the base. For now, the breakthrough in Russian-Tajik relations shows that Russian foreign policy once again places a high priority on the expansion of strategic influence in Central Asia, and that Moscow is learning how to use economic carrots and sticks to obtain what it wants.

UN SPOKESMAN SAYS NO FUNDS YET AVAILABLE FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS...
Manoel de Almeida e Silva, spokesman for the special representative of the secretary-general for Afghanistan, told a press briefing on 6 June that there are no funds yet available for the Afghan election process, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) website (http://www.unama-afg.org). According to de Almeida e Silva, a total of $101 million is required for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for September and UNAMA has pledges and firm commitments of about $70 million. However, he added, the "situation is more serious than what these figures show because not one penny is actually in the bank yet." Some observers believe that both elections are taking place prematurely, although Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai has insisted that they should be held in September, the BBC reported on 6 June. (For more on the Afghan election process, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 8 and 23 January, 26 February and 2 June 2004.) AT

...AS AFGHAN ELECTION CHIEF SAYS VOTER REGISTRATION IS SLOW
Faruq Wardak, the director of the Secretariat of the Joint Electoral Management Body, said that the registration process for the Afghan elections is slow, Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported on 6 June. Wardak said that the election body originally predicted that 100,000 people will register each day, however, reports indicate that currently between 50,000 and 60,000 people are registering daily. The report does not elaborate on the effects of the slower registration process on the timing of the elections. According to UNAMA spokesman de Almeida e Silva, as of 1 June, 3,065,369 Afghans had registered to vote -- 2,041,948 of whom are men and 1,023,537 women. Estimates vary, but there are thought to be around 10 million eligible voters in Afghanistan. AT

AFGHAN, U.S. FORCES KILL EIGHT SUSPECTED NEO-TALIBAN MILITANTS
In an operation conducted by Afghan forces on 5 June, with support from the U.S. Air Force, eight suspected neo-Taliban fighters were killed in southern Afghanistan, Radio Afghanistan reported on 6 June. According to Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Zaher Azimi, the operation against a neo-Taliban hideout was carried out in the Shenkay District of Zabul Province. Afghan and U.S. forces did not sustain any casualties. In late May, in a similar joint operation, nine suspected neo-Taliban militia were killed in Shenkay (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 2 June 2004). AT

UNIVERSITY RADIO STATION CLOSED IN WESTERN AFGHANISTAN
The student-run Sada-e Jawan radio station at Herat University halted its broadcasts on 3 June, Herat News Center reported on 4 June. A representative of the radio station, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the news agency that the university's dean, Abdul Ra'uf Mukhles, told the radio station to separate male and female staffers and demanded that the radio station change its policies. Students have said that they will not work at the radio station until the problem is solved. The new Afghan Constitution gives equal rights to men and women and does not specifically call for the separation of the sexes. However, Article 3 of the document stipulates that "no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam" -- a clause that can easily be used by conservative religious forces to block legislation that they deem to be un-Islamic (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 6 and 13 November 2003). AT

NEW TELEVISION STATION STARTS BROADCASTING IN WESTERN AFGHANISTAN
Farah Television began broadcasts on 6 June from the city of Farah, the provincial capital of Farah Province, Bakhtar News Agency reported. The television station broadcasts 2 1/2 hours of programs per night and can cover a broadcast radius of around 50 kilometers. AT

EUROPE'S 'BIG THREE' DRAFT NUCLEAR RESOLUTION ON IRAN
France, Britain, and Germany are drafting a resolution urging Iran to improve its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which they intend to present at a scheduled mid-June meeting of the IAEA borad of governors, unnamed diplomats in Vienna told Reuters on 6 June. The IAEA is investigating whether Iran has a hidden program to make nuclear bombs, as the United States suspects; Iran has promised to cooperate to prove it runs a program designed only to meet civilian energy needs. The resolution will state that "there are areas where Iran has [cooperated] with the [IAEA], and areas where [Iranians] have not," Reuters quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying. The resolution "will also tell [Iran] to cooperate more," the diplomat said, adding that the European resolution will want snap inspections of Iranian installations to continue. Reuters quoted IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei as saying on 6 June in Talloires, eastern France, that the IAEA hopes to conclude its investigations within months. VS

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS NUCLEAR ISSUE CLARIFIED
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said in Tehran on 6 June that Iran has cooperated with the IAEA and "responded to many ambiguities, and there is nothing left to question" regarding its nuclear activities, "Keyhan" reported the same day. He said that a 1 June report by the IAEA, which cited a number of outstanding concerns regarding Iran's program, "is nothing new, just a repetition of the past in a different language." "We think that the report is more an indication of the [IAEA] being fussy than of any failure to collaborate," "Keyhan" quoted him as saying. Separately, Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said in Tehran on 6 June that "contrary to Israeli and American ideas that...Iran has a [hidden nuclear] program, we do not have a nuclear doctrine in our defense strategies," ISNA reported the same day. He said that the June IAEA meeting will show if Iran's dossier is a "technical" matter, or "an instrumental dossier used to serve American polices and strategies in the Middle East." VS

IRANIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS ITS SPEAKER
Iran's parliament on 6 June elected Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, a Tehran representative and member of the conservative Developers Coalition, as its speaker for one year, IRNA reported the same day. Haddad-Adel, a 59-year-old former philosophy professor, was the only candidate for the speaker's position and won 226 of the 259 votes cast, IRNA reported. Kerman representative Mohammad Reza Bahonar won 188 of 259 votes to become first deputy speaker, and Qazvin representative Seyyed Hassan Abutorabifard received 173 votes to become the second deputy speaker, Mehr News Agency reported the same day. Haddad-Adel is the first noncleric since the 1979 revolution to become speaker of parliament, AP reported on 6 June. VS

IRAN REJECTS ARAB STATEMENT ON DISPUTED ISLANDS...
In Tehran on 6 June, Foreign Ministry spokesman Assefi rejected the "repetitive positions" and "baseless claims" of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) over three Persian Gulf islands, ISNA reported on 6 June. Iran and the U.A.E. dispute the ownership of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb. In a 5 June statement of the 91st session of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Jeddah, participating foreign ministers expressed regret "that contacts with [Iran] have so far failed to achieve results" helping to resolve the dispute, AFP reported on 5 June. Assefi said the "islands are and will remain an inseparable and eternal part of [Iran]," ISNA reported. VS

...AND SAYS WILL WORK WITH IRAQI INTERIM GOVERNMENT
Assefi also said that Iran will cooperate with the Iraqi interim government, but urged the UN to become more active in Iraq and help the country take "a step closer to the full transfer of power to [Iraqis]," ISNA reported. Iran, Assefi said, "does not intend to impose its will" in Iraq. "Neither Iran nor America have the right to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs. The American mistake was to think that the Iraqis would accept an injected democracy," he said. VS

DEAL TO DISARM SOME IRAQI MILITIAS CLEARS PATH FOR BAN ON PRIVATE ARMED GROUPS
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced on 7 June the "successful completion of negotiations on the nationwide transition and reintegration of militias and other armed forces previously outside of state control," Al-Arabiyah television and international news agencies reported the same day. Reuters reported that nine of the countries' major militias have agreed to disband under the agreement, adding that militias that did not sign onto the agreement were outlawed -- including the Imam Al-Mahdi Army of Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. "As of now, all armed forces outside of state control, as provided by this order, are illegal," Allawi said, warning, "Those that have chosen violence and lawlessness over transition and reintegration will be dealt with harshly." Allawi said "the vast majority" of about 100,000 militiamen "will enter either civilian life or one of the state security services" by early 2005, according to Al-Arabiyah and Reuters. Parties to the plan include the Kurdish peshmerga and the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Shi'ite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The U.S.-led administration will issue a ban on militias and private armed groups, Allawi added, according to Reuters. AH

IRAQ WILL CONTROL ITS OIL SECTOR AND REVENUES, PREMIER SAYS
Interim Prime Minister Allawi told Al-Arabiyah in an interview broadcast on 6 June that "the Iraqis will take full control over the Oil Ministry and its revenues," adding that "there will be good news shortly" on the forgiveness of Iraqi debt. Allawi noted that interim Iraqi President Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir is attending this week's summit of the Group of Eight industrialized countries on Georgia's Sea Island. AH

IRAQI PRESIDENT WARNS AGAINST UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS CONCERNING FOREIGN-TROOP PRESENCE
Interim President al-Yawir told an Al-Arabiyah television audience on 6 June that Iraqis "should be realistic" about the likely continued presence of foreign troops in their country after the U.S.-led coalition's deadline for handing over authority on 30 June. The issue will become clearer once the UN Security Council issues a new resolution on Iraq, he added. "If the said resolution states that the multinational forces will withdraw on the request of the Iraqi government, then they will do so when the Iraqi government decides to ask them to withdraw," al-Yawir said. "However, we should be realistic. I don't believe this will happen overnight, not even within three or four months, perhaps more. The real test is our persistent work to establish or rehabilitate the Iraqi security bodies." AH

MILITIA ARMS DUMP EXPLODES NEAR AL-KUFAH MOSQUE
An arms dump belonging to Muqtada al-Sadr's militia reportedly exploded on 7 June, shaking the Al-Kufah mosque at which the anti-U.S. cleric often leads Friday prayers, Al-Jazeera and international news agencies reported. Reuters quoted hospital sources saying at least one person was killed and nine others injured, while dpa subsequently reported that three were killed and 12 others wounded. All of the casualties were members of al-Sadr's Imam Al-Mahdi Army, according to hospital staff. Al-Sadr last week ordered his fighters in Al-Kufah and nearby Al-Najaf to disarm; the U.S. military then said it was suspending offensive operations against the cleric. The U.S. Army said in a statement after the explosion that its forces were not operating in the area at the time. AH

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