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Newsline - June 10, 2005


DEFENSE MINISTER ALLEGES FOREIGN HAND IN UZBEK UNREST, AL-QAEDA EXPANSION TO NEW REGIONS
Sergei Ivanov suggested in Brussels on 9 June that the May insurrection and violence in Uzbekistan was "instigated from the territory of Afghanistan and nearby regions," RTR reported. Ivanov was speaking at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. He said "the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and other extremist organizations" were to blame. "We are concerned by information that the training of terrorists for further export has continued in Afghanistan," Ivanov said. Ivanov said that about 50 foreign nationals whom he called extremists were killed during the Uzbek violence. He said that Russia opposes an international investigation into the bloodshed and believes such a probe falls within the purview of the Uzbek authorities. He claimed that Al-Qaeda has extended its activities into new regions, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Northeastern Africa, and Latin America. Ivanov urged Russia and NATO to continue their cooperation to combat terrorism. VY

CHINESE INVEST FURTHER IN RUSSIAN ECONOMY
Chinese and Russian executives signed eight contracts worth an expected $1.5 billion on the opening day of the Russian-Chinese Investment Forum in St. Petersburg on 9 June, RosBalt and Xinhua news agencies reported. The deals include the $1.25 billion Baltic Pearl residential complex planned for St. Petersburg, which should house some 35,000 people and is China's single largest commercial venture in Russia to date (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 2005). The president of the Chinese National Oil and Gas Company, Chen Gen, said Russian oil imports to China will increase from 10 million tons this year to 15 million tons in 2006, Xinhua reported. Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref urged Chinese participants in the forum to make the transition from economic cooperation with Russia to investment in the Russian economy, RTR reported. Li Tieying, the deputy chairman of the Chinese National People's Congress Committee, said bilateral trade has already exceeded the $20 billion per year figure predicted for 2006, RosBalt reported. Li suggested that bilateral trade could reach $60 billion per year by 2010. VY

SWISS COURT GRANTS ADAMOV APPEAL, BUT KEEPS HIM IN CUSTODY
The Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne on 9 June granted an appeal by former Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov, who argued that his status as a former government minister makes it illegal to hold him in custody pending hearings on extradition requests by the United States and Russia, ITAR-TASS, RIA-Novosti, and other media reported. However, the court ordered Adamov returned to custody, pending action by the Swiss Justice Department, which has 30 days to appeal the ruling. ITAR-TASS reported that the United States is expected to submit its extradition request by 30 June. Also on 9 June, the Moscow Municipal Court upheld a 14 May decision by the Basmannyi Raion Court authorizing a warrant for Adamov's arrest, despite claims by Adamov's defense lawyers that they had not been informed of the original hearing or of the charges against their client. Adamov was arrested in Bern on 2 May on a U.S. warrant charging him with embezzling some $9 million in U.S. assistance intended to improve security at Russian nuclear facilities while Adamov was minister (1998-2001). RC

REPORT: PROSECUTORS FIND LINKS BETWEEN KILLING OF CHECHEN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, U.S. JOURNALIST
Strana.ru reported on 9 June that prosecutors have merged the cases related to the killings of former Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Yan Sergunin and U.S. journalist Paul Klebnikov into a single case, quoting unofficial sources close to the investigation. Sergunin was gunned down 10 days before Klebnikov was killed in similar fashion in Moscow in July 2004 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 2004). Two Chechen residents, Valid Agaev and Kazbek Dukuzov, have been arrested on suspicion of having carried out the Klebnikov slaying (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 13 July 2004 and 23 February 2005), while Moscow-based notary Fail Sadreddinov has been accused of organizing and contracting the murder of a Moscow businessman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 7 June 2005). All three are now reportedly suspects in the Sergunin killing as well, strana.ru reported. RBK-TV reported on 6 June that investigators suspect Klebnikov was killed in connection with materials he was collecting for a book on the plundering of state funds in Chechnya. VY

GOVERNMENT SEEKS STAKE IN MAJOR MACHINE-BUILDER
An unnamed source at Interros, which is controlled by oligarch Vladimir Potanin, told "The Moscow Times" on 10 June that the holding company is in talks with the government to sell a 25 percent blocking stake in Silovie Mashiny, Russia's leading producer of electrical-generating equipment. Earlier, Interros planned to sell a majority stake in the company to the German firm Siemens, but the Federal Antimonopoly Service vetoed the deal in April, saying that it would compromise Silovie Mashiny's defense-related work. According to media reports, Base Element, the holding company of oligarch Oleg Deripaska, has also expressed interest in a stake in the company. Industry and Energy Ministry spokesman Stanislav Naumov confirmed that talks with Interros are being conducted, while Interros told the daily that it is still possible that the company will sell a smaller stake to Siemens or another foreign company. Last week, ProfMedia, the media-holding arm of Interros, announced that it had sold a majority stake in the daily "Izvestiya" to state-controlled Gazprom-Media. RC

KHODORKOVSKII APPEALS CONVICTION
Lawyers for former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskii and Menatep Chairman Platon Lebedev have formally filed appeals of the two men's 31 May convictions on charges of fraud and tax evasion, Russian media reported on 9 June. The appeals to the Moscow Municipal Court call for the complete overturning of the entire verdict in the case and the dismissal of charges against the two men. RC

GERMANY GRANTS ASYLUM TO FORMER YABLOKO BACKER
Germany granted political asylum on 8 June to former Legprombank security chief Oleg Liskin, who left Russia in 2002 and is sought on charges of hooliganism and contempt of court, Russian media reported. Liskin claimed he is a victim of political persecution in Russia because of Legprombank's financial support of the liberal Yabloko party. Legprombank was a major backer of Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii's 2000 presidential bid against President Vladimir Putin. German legislator Rudolf Bindig was quoted by "Der Tagesspiegel" as saying that Liskin's case was "a smaller version of the case of [former Yukos CEO Mikhail] Khodorkovskii." According to "The Moscow Times," the charges against Liskin stem from an August 2002 incident in which Liskin and other Legprombank employees prevented two former bank shareholders and a court marshal from taking control of the bank's Moscow headquarters. Liskin reportedly assaulted the marshal and broke the window of his vehicle. Although Moscow has asked Germany several times to return Liskin to Russia, it has never filed a formal extradition request. RC

RUSSIA HOPES TO WIND UP WTO NEGOTIATIONS IN DECEMBER
Maksim Medvedkov, who leads the team negotiating Russia's proposed membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO), told ITAR-TASS on 9 June that he has completed bilateral talks with 31 countries and that the multilateral phase of negotiations could be completed as early as December. Medvedkov was in Oslo, winding up talks with Norway, which pledged its support for completing the multilateral phase this year. Medvedkov said the bilateral documents on Russia's WTO bid will be signed when Norwegian Prime Minister Kjelle Magne visits Moscow on 20-21 June. RC

RUSSIAN WINS SUIT AGAINST GOVERNMENT AT STRASBOURG COURT
The European Court of Human Rights on 9 June ruled in favor of Russian national Nadezhda Fadeeva, who sued the Russian government for failing to relocate her from an environmentally unsafe area, Ekho Moskvy reported, quoting Anatolii Kovler, Russia's judge on the Strasbourg court. According to Fadeeva, the area where she lives near Cherepovets in Vologda Oblast has air that vastly exceeds contamination norms. She applied to the government for relocation in 1996 and again in 1999, but remains on a waiting list for new housing. According to Ekho Moskvy, Fadeeva sent her case to the European Court in 1999, and received a favorable verdict in October 2003. On 9 June, the court ruled that Russian government must pay her 6,000 euros ($7,330) and reimburse her legal fees. RC

CIVIC FRONT POSTS MANIFESTO, COLLECTS SIGNATURES
The United Civic Front (OGF), which was formed last month by Committee-2008 co-leader Garri Kasparov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2005), has posted its anti-Putin manifesto on a new website (http://www.rufront.ru). The document accuses the Putin regime of ignoring the rights and interests of citizens and says the OGF is "made up of people who recognize that Russia has no future with the Putin authorities and who are ready to act in order to demonstrate their commitment to freedom and democracy." The manifesto urges like-minded people to sign the document online. RC

CHARGES AGAINST KAMCHATKA GOVERNOR DISMISSED...
The Kamchatka Oblast prosecutor's office has ended an abuse-of-office probe of Governor Mikhail Mashkovtsev and his former deputy, Vladislav Skvortsov, RIA-Novosti reported on 10 June. Skvortsov is now mayor of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii. According to prosecutors, the investigation was dropped because the accused have made amends and expressed regret. The case was filed in October 2003 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December 2004) and involved allegations that Mashkovtsev authorized illegal salmon-fishing quotas, causing the state harm worth 7 billion rubles ($233 million). The two men were also accused of abuse of office in connection with preparations for the 2002 heating season. Mashkovtsev is a Communist who was elected to a second term in December. RC

...AS MERGER WITH KORYAK OKRUG STEAMS AHEAD
Koryak Autonomous Okrug Governor Oleg Kozhemyako told "Izvestiya" on 6 June that the proposed merger of his region with Kamchatka Oblast is proceeding rapidly. On 5 June, the okrug election commission officially registered a group that is organizing the merger referendum. "The merger will result in the downsizing of the administrative apparatus," Kozhemyako said. "We should have common communications routes, air routes, and mineral-deposit developments." Kozhemyako, who replaced dismissed okrug Governor Vladimir Loginov in March and is one of the wealthiest businessmen in the Far East, has been widely seen as the most likely candidate to head the new merged entity. RC

CHECHENS SOLICIT MOSCOW'S HELP IN DELIMITING BORDER WITH INGUSHETIA
Unidentified participants in a 9 June meeting with pro-Moscow Chechen administration head Alu Alkhanov suggested that the office of presidential representative to the Southern Federal District Dmitrii Kozak be asked to help expedite the delimitation of the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia, Interfax reported. They reasoned that the delimitation should be completed before the parliamentary elections tentatively scheduled for late November. They also pointed out that when the Checheno-Ingush ASSR was split in June 1992 into two separate republics, two districts that had been part of Chechnya prior to the creation of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR in 1934, Sunzha and Malgobek, were placed under Ingushetia's jurisdiction. Earlier this year, Chechen officials sought, apparently without success, to have the return of Sunzha and Malgobek to Chechnya legally incorporated into the bilateral treaty between the federal center and Chechnya that, according to Alkhanov, is to be signed later this month. LF

PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR CONFIDENCE VOTE IN PRESIDENT OF KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA REPUBLIC
Fifty-three of the 64 deputies of the parliament of the Karachaevo-Cherkessia Republic (KChR) supported a proposal on 10 June by Yurii Krivobokov, head of the republican chapter of the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party, to include in the agenda of the parliament's current session a vote of confidence in President Mustafa Batdyev, regnum.ru reported. Krivobokov argued that the political situation in the KChR is so tense that the parliament cannot work normally. He also proposed inviting the republic's representatives in the State Duma and the Federation Council to attend the next parliament session, together with presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Kozak. LF

POLICE DETAIN DEFEATED ARMENIAN MAYORAL CANDIDATE
Samvel Hovsepian, whose proxies earlier this week questioned the official returns showing he was defeated in the 5 June election for the new mayor of Yerevan's Malatia-Sebastia district (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 2005), was detained early on 9 June by police, who failed to explain the reason for his detention, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Hovsepian told RFE/RL he believes he may be suspected of having thrown a hand grenade on 7 June at the home of Rafi Avakian, a close associate of Hovsepian's rival in the 5 June vote, Aghvan Grigorian. LF

ARMENIAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ESPIONAGE FOR AZERBAIJAN
Armenian citizen Sergei Maziev pleaded guilty on 9 June in a Yerevan district court to charges of high treason, violating public order, and plotting a terrorist act and the assassination of a senior politician, Noyan Tapan reported. Maziev, 44, is said to have been recruited in late 1999 by Azerbaijani intelligence, which he supplied with numerous photographs of President Robert Kocharian landing at Zvartnots Airport in 2000 after official visits abroad. Maziev is also accused of passing to his Azerbaijani contact photos of the embassies in Yerevan of the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Lebanon, Ukraine, and China, and of the official representation in Yerevan of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. LF

TURKEY GIVES ADDITIONAL MILITARY AID TO AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA
Under an agreement signed in Baku on 7 June, Turkey has given Azerbaijan $2.1 million to finance projects intended to bring Azerbaijan's armed forces closer to NATO standards, Turan reported on 8 June. On 9 June, Turkish and Georgian representatives signed an agreement in Tbilisi under which Turkey allocated $1.5 million to re-equip the Kodjori special brigade, provide equipment for the Georgian Navy, and help modernize the military airfield at Marneuli, Caucasus Press reported. LF

RELATIVES OF VANISHED GEORGIANS LAUNCH PROTEST
Relatives of one of the four Georgian men who disappeared on 6 June in the South Ossetian conflict zone planned to block road and rail traffic between western Georgia and Tbilisi on 10 June to demonstrate their lack of trust in Georgian officials' assurances that the four men are alive and unharmed, Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 June 2005). The car in which the four men were traveling prior to their disappearance was found burned out on 9 June in Tskhinvali. Meeting on 9 June with Georgian Minister for Conflict Resolution Giorgi Khaindrava, South Ossetian Minister for Special Assignments Boris Chochiev suggested that the Georgians were not abducted as an act of revenge by the families of Ossetians shot dead by Georgian police late last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2005) but may have been kidnapped in a business dispute. Their relatives reject that hypothesis, saying the four were not involved in business. LF

GEORGIAN, ABKHAZIA REACH AGREEMENT ON ENERGY EXPORTS
During talks in Sukhum on 8 June, Georgian Energy Minister Nika Gilauri and Chernomorenergo head Revaz Zantaria reached agreement that Tbilisi will pay Abkhazia for energy it uses generated by the Inguri hydroelectric power plant, Caucasus Press reported. The price will be determined in talks next week between Gilauri and Abkhaz Deputy Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya. It was further agreed that Georgia will export to Turkey during the summer months energy generated by Abkhazia's Vardnili hydroelectric power station and receive a comparable amount of electricity from Abkhazia during the winter. LF

GEORGIAN TRADE UNIONS TO HOLD NEW CONGRESS
The standoff between Georgian Trade Unions Chairman Irakli Tughushi and his deputy Irakli Petriashvili was resolved on 9 June when the two men agreed they will both run for election as the new chairman at a congress to be held within two months, Caucasus Press and rustavi2.com reported. Petriashvili's supporters earlier occupied the trade unions' headquarters and barred Tughushi from entering his office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2005). LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION FIGURE GUILTY OF DEFAMATION
Mustakhim Tuleev, a lawyer representing former Emergency Situations Agency head Zamanbek Nurkadilov, told Interfax-Kazakhstan on 9 June that a court in Almaty the day before found Nurkadilov guilty of defaming President Nursultan Nazarbaev. The court ruled that Nurkadilov must pay 485,500 tenges ($3,660) in damages for suggesting at a July 2004 news conference that Nazarbaev and other high-ranking officials were implicated in the death of journalist Askhat Sharipzhanov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 2004), Deutsche Welle reported. Nurkadilov, who broke with Nazarbaev in March 2004 to join the opposition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March 2004), plans to appeal the sentence; prosecutors also plan to appeal for a heavier sentence. DK

KYRGYZ PARTIES CRITICIZE BAKIEV-KULOV PACT...
Kyrgyzstan's Communist Party, Erkindik Party, and Republican Party claimed on 9 June that several points in the pact between acting President Kurmanbek Bakiev and acting First Deputy Prime Minster Feliks Kulov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May 2005) violate the country's constitution, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. They said a power-sharing provision in the pact obligating the president to step down in the event of the prime minister's resignation violates the basic law. The parties also called on Bakiev to retain the posts both of president and prime minister until the situation in the country stabilizes. Kulov recently announced that Bakiev will soon step down from the post of prime minister, but not president, in order to focus on his election campaign in the lead-up to the 10 July presidential election. DK

...AS POLL PUTS BAKIEV AT HEAD OF PRESIDENTIAL PACK
A poll of nearly 5,000 citizens across Kyrgyzstan conducted by Bishkek-based research center M-Vektor found that 81 percent of respondents support acting President Bakiev's candidacy for the presidency, akipress.org reported on 9 June. Ombudsman Tursunbai Bakir uulu was a distant second with 2.7 percent support. In response to the question, "What would the results of the [10 July] presidential election be if Feliks Kulov participated?" 51 percent said they would vote for Bakiev, and 42 percent for Kulov. DK

TURKMEN LEADER BLASTS FRENCH CONTRACTOR
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov blasted French construction firm Bouygues on 8 June for perceived low quality and tardy work, Turkmenistan.ru reported the next day. Niyazov's remarks came during an 8 June meeting with Bouygues executives, Turkmen Television First Channel reported. Niyazov pointed to the tarnished dome of a vast mosque recently constructed in his hometown (see "RFE/RL Central Asia Report," 15 June 2004) as an example of shoddy work. Bouygues representatives said they will do everything possible to remedy the defects. DK

UZBEK REPRESENTATIVE SKIPS NATO MEETING
Uzbekistan, a member of NATO's Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, chose not to send its defense minister to a 9 June NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels . Uzbek-U.S. relations have deteriorated sharply since the 13 May violence in Andijon, Reuters reported. Alliance members Germany and the United States have leased bases in Uzbekistan. Reuters quoted a NATO official as saying, "Using the bases is useful from an operational point of view, but we are keeping our relationship with Uzbekistan under review." DK

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS UZBEK 'MASSACRE'
The European Parliament on 9 June described events in 13 May in Andijon, where Uzbek forces are alleged to have killed hundreds when they fired on demonstrators, as a "massacre" and urged a trial of the perpetrators, Reuters reported. A joint resolution published on the European Parliament's website (http://www.europarl.eu.int) stated that members of the body "strongly condemn the excessive, brutal and indiscriminate use of force by the Uzbek security forces and urges the Uzbek authorities to bring those responsible for the massacre in Andijan to trial." DK

U.S. SENATORS CALL FOR RETHINK OF UZBEK POLICY
In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a group of six U.S. senators has called on the administration of President George W. Bush to review its ties with Uzbekistan in the wake of bloodshed in Andijon, "The New York Times" reported on 9 June. Addressing recent reports that the United States is involved in negotiations over a long-term base in Uzbekistan, the letter asked, "What would be the likely fallout from America's deepening relations with a government that brutally represses its people?" Initiated by Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona), the letter was also signed by Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware), Mike DeWine (Republican, Ohio), Lindsey Graham (Republican, South Carolina), Patrick Leahy (Democrat, Vermont), and John Sununu (Republican, New Hampshire). Graham, McCain, and Sununu recently visited Uzbekistan, although officials there refused to meet with them (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2005). DK

BELARUS IMPOSES VISAS FOR GEORGIANS TO THWART 'ILLEGAL MIGRATION'...
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 9 June introduced visas for Georgians visiting Belarus, thus withdrawing Belarus from the CIS agreement of 1992 on visa-free travel, RFE/RL's Belarus Service and Belapan reported. Russia introduced visas for Georgians in 1999. "The Republic of Belarus, which is a party to the agreement on creating a union state [with Russia]...coordinates its foreign-policy positions on a bilateral basis, including in consular issues," Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ruslan Yesin commented on Minsk's move toward Tbilisi. "The lack of border and customs control on the Belarus-Russia border has provided an opportunity for Georgian citizens to use Belarus regularly as a transit country for illegal entrance into the Russian Federation. The number of such transgressions of the law is growing." JM

...AS SOME SEE POLITICAL MOTIVES BEHIND MOVE
Mikalay Charhinets, chairman of the commission for international issues in Belarus's upper house of parliament, told RFE/RL that the introduction of visas for Georgians was prompted by Tbilisi's political stance vis-a-vis Minsk. "Militant and hostile statements by Georgian President [Mikheil] Saakashvili [regarding Belarus] do not create prerequisites for eyeing one another with trust," Charhinets said. "The Belarusian leadership thinks that it is possible to export a revolution from Tbilisi in valises or tangerines.... It was done to make communication between Georgians and Belarusians more difficult, primarily between those who are ready to cooperate in political and humanitarian spheres," opposition United Civic Party leader Anatol Lyabedzka noted. "It is a typical decision for an authoritarian regime and an authoritarian leader who thinks that there is the threat of a colored revolution from Georgia," Georgian parliamentarian Konstantine Gabashvili commented. JM

CLOSED BELARUSIAN UNIVERSITY REOPENS IN LITHUANIA
The European Humanitarian University (EHU), which was shut down by the Belarusian Education Ministry in July 2004 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 2004), will reopen in Vilnius, RFE/RL's Belarus Service and Reuters reported on 9 June. "We salute your determination and courage to work for the future of a democratic and prosperous Belarus from your outpost in Vilnius," Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said at an EHU inauguration ceremony in the Lithuanian capital on 9 June. The EHU, which currently has some 600 students, will reportedly receive 1.44 million euros ($1.8 million) from the U.S. State Department and U.S. foundations and 488,000 euros from the EU for the upcoming academic year. The government closed the Minsk-based EHU, citing violations of its operating license, but President Lukashenka subsequently revealed that the main motive behind the closure was the fact that the university had trained Western-oriented students (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 September 2004). JM

BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FINED, FACES ANOTHER HEAVY FINE
A district court in Minsk on 9 June ordered the independent daily "Narodnaya volya" to pay 15 million rubles ($7,000) in damages to six persons who denied signing a statement in support of the Will of the People opposition movement, whose lists of signatories were published by the newspaper earlier this year, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reported. Alyaksandr Kazulin, leader of the Will of the People movement, suggested that the authorities might have pressed the claimants to sue "Narodnaya volya" in order to cripple the newspaper with damages (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 6 June 2005). Next week, the same court is scheduled to hear another libel suit against "Narodnaya volya," in which Liberal Democratic Party head Syarhey Haydukevich is demanding some $93,000 in damages from the daily (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 April 2005). JM

SCALE OF UKRAINIAN REPRIVATIZATIONS STILL UNCLEAR
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told journalists in Kyiv on 9 June that he has instructed the government to shorten the list of companies that are to be subject to resale because of their questionable privatizations in the past, Interfax reported. Yushchenko said he discussed this issue with Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko last week. "At that time I obtained a number of [reprivatization] projects that, mildly speaking, did not satisfy me, and I gave them back to the government for reworking," Yushchenko noted. "I think this issue [will be resolved] within a few days." Last month, "Kommersant-Daily" published a list of 29 Ukrainian companies that was allegedly compiled by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh for the government to review their questionable privatizations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 2005). Tymoshenko denied that such a list existed at all, adding that her cabinet was working out a law on the revaluation of privatized properties in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 2005). JM

GAZPROM GIVES UKRAINE TWO WEEKS TO PONDER NEW GAS PRICES FOR 2006
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has passed to Kyiv a proposal of new prices for Russian gas supplies in 2006 in connection with an earlier bilateral agreement on switching to cash payments for Russian gas deliveries to and gas transit across Ukraine as of 2006, Interfax reported on 9 June. Gazprom deputy head Aleksandr Ryazanov said in a statement on 9 June that the proposal sets the new prices at a "European level," adding that Kyiv has asked for two weeks to prepare an answer. RIA-Novosti reported earlier this week that the price of Russian gas for Ukraine in 2006 might soar from the current $50 for 1,000 cubic meters to $160 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2005). "Should the Russian side insist on transferring to cash payments, we, of course, might raise the gas-transit charges accordingly, paying no attention to European tariffs on gas transit, and we might set our tariffs higher than those in Europe," Interfax quoted Naftohaz Ukrayiny head Oleksiy Ivchenko as saying on 8 June. JM

U.S. SAYS SERBIA IS TRYING TO FIND WAR CRIMES INDICTEE
After announcing the restoration of U.S. assistance to Serbia and Montenegro, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said in Belgrade on 9 June that his "strong impression from our discussions here...is that the [Serbian] government is working very seriously to find [war crimes indictee and former Bosnian Serb] General [Ratko] Mladic, and there will be a sincere attempt to capture him or to have him voluntarily surrender and...send him to The Hague," RFE/RL reported. Burns stressed that once Mladic has been arrested, the EU and the United States "will look for ways to build a much better and closer relationship" with Belgrade, adding that "then the future is limitless for what our two countries can do together" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2005 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 April 2005). PM

DID BOSNIAN SERBS ADMIT SERBIAN INVOLVEMENT IN SREBRENICA?
The latest report by an ethnically mixed Bosnian Serb government commission appointed under international pressure to investigate the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre says that the Republika Srpska Interior Ministry has admitted that forces from Serbia and the Croatian Serb rebels also took part in the killing of up to 8,000 mainly Muslim males, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 9 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 September 2002 and 10 June 2005). But Republika Srpska police spokesman Radovan Pejic denied the account, saying that "nobody from the Interior Ministry has ever or will ever confirm the involvement of Serbian forces in Srebrenica." In related news, Amor Masovic, who is vice president of the Srebrenica-Potocari Foundation, said in that town that the foundation has compiled a list of 8,106 persons still reported missing from the time of the massacre. He added that "a few hundred" names might soon be added if it is determined that they are indeed among the missing. PM

BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER NAMES ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER
Bosnia-Herzegovina's Prime Minister Adnan Terzic on 9 June appointed Ana Trisic-Babic acting foreign minister to replace Mladen Ivanic, whom he recently sacked in a controversial move, Hina reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 June 2005). Trisic-Babic belongs to Milorad Dodik's Independent Social Democrats, which does not belong to the governing coalition. Ivanic belongs to the governing Party of Democratic Progress, which is a coalition partner of the Serbian Democratic Party. Prior to her appointment, Trisic-Babic was deputy foreign minister for bilateral relations. PM

GERMAN CONSERVATIVE LEADER BACKS MACEDONIA'S EU MEMBERSHIP
On the last day of his visit to Germany, Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski met with Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber in Munich on 9 June, MIA news agency reported. Stoiber reassured Buckovski that there will be no shift in German policy on the western Balkans if a new government comes to power in the early general elections expected to be called for this fall. Stoiber stressed that the EU must focus its efforts on the western Balkans rather than on Turkey, whose EU membership is opposed by Stoiber and his party. Stoiber heads the conservative Christian Social Union, which is the junior partner of the Christian Democratic Union headed by Angela Merkel, whom polls suggest is likely to replace Gerhard Schroeder as chancellor after the elections. Stoiber added that the French and Dutch "no" to the European constitution will not affect Macedonia, adding that Macedonia should continue its efforts to meet the criteria for EU membership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2005 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 3 June 2005). Washington has expressed concern lest the EU's current crisis lead to a delay in European integration for the western Balkans. UB

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES UKRAINIAN PLAN FOR TRANSDNIESTER
The Moldovan parliament on 10 June endorsed the plan for the settlement of the Transdniester conflict that was proposed by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 6 June 2005), ITAR-TASS reported. The legislature noted in a special resolution that the plan does not include provisions for pulling Russian troops out of Transdniester or establishing reliable border control on the Transdniester stretch of the Ukrainian-Moldovan border. Therefore, the resolution reads, these two problems should be tackled additionally, "with support from international community and Ukraine's vigorous cooperation." Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, who attended the parliamentary session jointly with other government officials, told lawmakers that Yushchenko's plan is the most promising of all documents that have ever been discussed between Chisinau and Tiraspol. The parliament also adopted two appeals to international community, calling for assistance in democratizing and demilitarizing the separatist region of Transdniester. JM

DOES AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION HAVE GROUNDS TO CLAIM MORAL VICTORY?
During talks in Baku late on 3 June, the Baku municipal authorities finally caved in to demands by the opposition Ugur bloc (comprising the Musavat party, the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, and the progressive wing of the divided Azerbaijan Popular Front Party [AHCP]) that they give the green light for a planned march and rally in the city the following day.

Opposition spokesmen attributed that U-turn to pressure from the international community. It seems more probable, however, that the authorities intended all along to permit the planned rally, but gave permission only at the last minute in order to wrongfoot the opposition and limit the number of participants. Such tactics would be in line with the inconsistency that has for years been one of the hallmarks of Azerbaijani domestic policy.

The 4 June rally in Baku was the first for which the authorities had granted official permission since the violent clashes in Baku in the wake of the disputed presidential election of October 2003. On 21 May, police resorted to violence against several hundred people who defied an official ban and tried to congregate to hold a similar rally, also organized by Ugur. Dozens of would-be participants were beaten or detained. Within days, Ugur announced plans for the 4 June rally, and presidential administration official Ali Hasanov hinted that the authorities would not ban it, but on 2 June a senior municipal official summoned the organizers to inform them that permission was refused to hold the gathering at any of the four alternative venues they suggested, but they were free to do so at the motorcycle racetrack on the outskirts of the city. But organizers rejected that venue as too remote and inaccessible.

The rationale for both the abortive 21 May rally and the successful one on 4 June was identical: to publicize opposition demands for free elections, freedom of assembly (theoretically guaranteed by the constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic), amendments to the existing election legislation that would remove the restrictions on election monitoring by local NGOs, and changes in the composition of election commissions at all levels to give the opposition and the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party (YAP) equal representation. The opposition raised that issue in the run-up to the October 2003 presidential ballot, and greater opposition representation on election commissions was one of the recommendations made in the final assessment by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the October 2003 ballot. It also figured among joint recommendations submitted to the Azerbaijani authorities in March 2004 by ODIHR and the Council of Europe.

In an interview with Turan news agency two months ago, Gianni Buquicchio, who heads the Council of Europe's Venice Commission, said the council urged Azerbaijan in April 2005 to submit proposed amendments to the composition of the election commissions. But Azerbaijani officials have repeatedly said no such changes will be made prior to the November parliamentary elections. In late May, however, Azerbaijani representatives told the Venice Commission that they are prepared to make such changes after the November ballot, according to day.az on 4 June. That signaled a readiness to compromise may be -- like the last-minute permission for the 4 June rally -- part of a carefully calibrated program of minor concessions intended to deflect international criticism.

But if the 4 June rally highlighted certain demands common to most Azerbaijani opposition parties, including the Umid party, the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan and the youth movement Yeni Fikir which also participated along with the three parties aligned in Ugur, it also demonstrated the limitations on opposition solidarity. According to echo-az.com on 7 June, members of the various parties marched in separate columns, and supporters of the Musavat and AHCP chairmen, Isa Qambar and Ali Kerimli, vied with each other as to which faction could chant its leader's name louder. (On 6 June, day.az reported that Qambar will seek election in Baku's Narimanov Raion while Kerimli will run in Khatai Raion.)

The number of participants in the 4 June rally likewise served as an indication of Ugur's popularity, or lack thereof. Estimates of attendance ranged from 3,000-4,000 (the municipal authorities' estimate) to 8,000 (echo-az.com) or 10,000 (ITAR-TASS). Those numbers included some small children brought along by their parents, according to echo-az.com. The relatively low turnout (compared with the hundreds of thousands who rallied on Baku's Azadlyg Square in the summer of 1989) can be attributed partly to uncertainty whether the rally would indeed take place. In addition, police blocked the main Gyanja-Baku highway late on 3 June to prevent would-be participants from travelling to the capital to participate in the rally, Turan quoted Musavat party spokesmen as saying on 3 June.

Addressing the 4 June rally, Kerimli announced that Ugur will hold another such demonstration on 18 June, and he predicted that attendance will be double that of 4 June. The Azerbaijani authorities have publicly pledged not to impose any restrictions on holding rallies after the election campaign formally commences in mid-June.

ITALIAN HOSTAGE RELEASED IN AFGHANISTAN...
Clementina Cantoni, an Italian aid worker who was kidnapped on 16 May in Kabul, was released on 9 June unharmed, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 2005). Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali told a news conference on 9 June that no concessions were made to the kidnappers. Authorities said earlier they thought Cantoni had been abducted by a criminal gang rather than by Islamic militants. Cantoni worked for CARE International on a project that provides food and other services for 11,000 widows and their children. AT

...AS AFGHAN, ITALIAN LEADERS HAIL HER RELEASE
In a statement released on 9 June, Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his extreme pleasure at the news of Cantoni's release. Karzai praised the hard work of the Interior Ministry and other security forces, the valuable efforts of some ulema and tribal leaders, and the expression of solidarity by women's groups in Afghanistan, which together resulted in the resolution of the hostage case. Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in a statement said that he is "overjoyed and deeply relieved" at the news of the care worker's release, AFP reported on 9 June. AT

NATO DEBATES INCREASING NUMBER OF AFGHAN PEACEKEEPERS
NATO defense ministers debated their widening peacekeeping agenda on 9 June in Brussels, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported. The ministers looked at plans to boost NATO's peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), during the country's September parliamentary elections. NATO planners are hoping for an extra 3,000 soldiers for the 8,300-strong ISAF. Hundreds of extra troops would come from Romania, Spain, and the Netherlands. German Defense Minister Peter Struck said Germany is asking its parliament to add to the 2,250 German soldiers already there. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the situation in Afghanistan is improving, but a recent increase in violence indicated problems were not overcome there. "Significant progress has been made concerning the establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan, but as recent violence has shown, we should avoid being overly optimistic and continue to follow the security situation closely," he said. AT

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER VOICES CONCERN ABOUT AFGHANISTAN...
Speaking at the NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels, Sergei Ivanov on 9 June voiced his concern over the "the continuing activity of antigovernment groups" in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov said that "combat activities" of the neo-Taliban, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e Islami, and Al-Qaeda, is "not subsiding," which is happening "against the background of Afghan ethnic minorities' discontent" with the elections for the lower house of parliament. Without elaborating on his comments on the Afghan elections, Ivanov said that the "attempts to install democracy in Afghanistan, or in any other country, without account of local customs and traditions don't facilitate peaceful life either." Ivanov also criticized the efforts by the international community and the Afghan government to combat the production and export of narcotics. AT

...AND SAYS THAT TALIBAN WERE INVOLVED IN UZBEKISTAN UNREST
Discussing the bloody unrest in Andijon in May, Ivanov said on 9 June that his government has "information that purposeful training of militants who are supposed to go to other countries continues in Afghanistan," ITAR-TASS reported. "A vivid instance of it could be seen during recent developments in Uzbekistan," he added. Ivanov said that Moscow had "reliable" information that the events in Andijon "were instigated from Afghan territory." Claiming that a number of neo-Taliban have been "preparing an invasion of Uzbekistan for a long time," Ivanov asked, "who, how, and with whose help organized the disturbances" in Uzbekistan, Interfax reported on 9 June. Immediately after the events in Andijon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the events there were planned in advance with the participation of "different groups" from the Ferghana Valley region and from Afghanistan "from the Taliban camp" (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 27 May 2005). Neither the Uzbeks nor the Russians have yet to produce any evidence to substantiate their claim of Afghan involvement in Andijon, which is hundreds of kilometers from Afghanistan. AT

JAILED IRANIAN LAWYER CONTINUES HUNGER STRIKE
Imprisoned attorney Nasser Zarafshan, who represents the families of dissidents allegedly murdered by Ministry of Intelligence and Security personnel in 1998-99, is continuing the hunger strike he began on 7 June, Radio Farda reported. The attorney's wife, Homa Zarafshan, told Radio Farda on 9 June that a physician came to Evin prison and examined him. Mr. Zarafshan told his spouse that the physicians said he has problems with both kidneys and needs surgery for kidney stones. She went on to tell Radio Farda that her husband has not received permission to leave the prison for his operation. She told Radio Farda he will continue his hunger strike until released. BS

TEHRAN AND DUSHANBE CONSIDER FURTHER COOPERATION
Tajik Energy Minister Jurabek Nurmahmadov, who is visiting Tehran, delivered a message from President Imomali Rakhmonov to President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami on 9 June, IRNA reported. Khatami said Iran is ready to cooperate with Tajikistan more closely, and he noted their cooperation on projects such as construction of the Anzob tunnel in Tajikistan. On 7 June in Dushanbe, Rashid Gulov, who heads the Tajik Energy Ministry's energy-policy department, told Asia-Plus the main reason for Nurmahmadov's trip is to discuss building the Sangtuda-2 hydroelectric power station in southern Tajikistan. BS

IRANIAN OFFICIAL CRITICIZES STATE ECONOMIC POLICIES
Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs Mohammad Hadi Nejad-Husseinian said on 9 June in the northeastern city of Mashhad that there is too much state interference in the economy and other areas, IRNA reported. He added, "Currently around 70 percent of the national economy is in the hands of the government and over 530 state-affiliated companies' budgets are earmarked from the national budget." He said the private sector is not willing to invest in businesses because it sees the government as a competitor. Nejad-Husseinian also said nongovernmental organizations have not taken root, while the size of the government has increased. He referred to contradictory state policies, as well as a lack of realism and decisiveness on the part of officials. BS

IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MAKES PLEDGE TO MINORITIES
Reformist presidential candidate Mustafa Moin said during a 6 June visit to Kurdistan Province, "The strength of my future government would depend on the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of its members," "Eqbal" reported on 8 June. He explained that this is the reason for his visit to Khuzestan, Ilam, Kermanshah, and Kurdistan provinces, where many ethnic Kurds and Arabs live. Moin added, "I will try to make use of people from all ethnic groups at the highest levels of management, such as reformers from among Kurdish people, the Sunnis, and other Iranian ethnic groups." Moin referred to provincial problems and said the people of Kurdistan deserve to be treated better by the government. Moin said he entered the presidential race in order to "restore the denied rights of ethnic and religious groups." He stressed that his platform includes defending the rights of Arabs, Baluchis, Kurds, Persians, Turkmen, Turks, and religious minorities. While in the town of Saqez, Moin encouraged his audience to vote and said a boycott would lead to a "black and suffocating climate in which you cannot breathe." BS

SUNNIS REJECT DEAL ON IRAQI CONSTITUTION...
Iraq's Sunni leaders have rejected as insufficient an offer for greater representation on a parliamentary committee drafting the country's new constitution, Reuters reported on 9 June. Iraq's Shi'a-led government had offered to increase the size of a constitutional-drafting committee to 69 people from the current 55 and raise the number of Sunni seats on the body to 15 from two. The deal would have given Sunnis equal representation to that of the Kurds. The Gathering of the Sunni People, an umbrella group, insisted on its original demand, made on 8 June, for 25 seats on the committee (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2005). "We will not agree and will not concede any seat," Adnan al-Dulaymi, the group's spokesman, said. "If they refuse our demand we will resort to arbitration. If they insist, then we will suspend our participation," he added. BW

...AS UN OFFERS HELP IN DRAFTING CONSTITUTION
The United Nations plans to set up a consultancy office in Baghdad aimed at assisting Iraq in drafting a constitution, dpa reported on 10 June. "The UN will play a legal role and will back up the Iraqi National Assembly in drafting the constitution," Ashraf Qadi, an envoy for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said. "The role of the UN in drafting the constitution lies in helping Iraqis and setting up an office of specialized international lawyers," he added. Qadi met on 9 June with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to discuss measures needed to write the constitution and stressed the need for all sections of Iraqi society to take part in the process. BW

IRAQI POLICE GUNNED DOWN IN KIRKUK AND AL-BASRAH
Militants killed the head of an Iraqi police unit in charge of fighting guerrilla violence in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Reuters reported on 10 June, citing police officials. Colonel Rahim Uthman and a second police officer were killed late on 9 June when gunmen opened fire on their car from a passing vehicle, according to Colonel Adil Zain Alabidin of the Kirkuk police. "They were struck by gunfire by people driving a blue BMW," Alabidin said. In the southern city of Al-Basrah, guerillas shot dead Colonel Abd al-Karim al-Daraji and a second officer, Reuters reported on 10 June, citing hospital officials. Witnesses said neither victim was in uniform when three or four gunmen swerved in front of their unmarked car and opened fire. BW

16 BODIES KILLED EXECUTION-STYLE FOUND IN WESTERN IRAQ
The bodies of 16 people who were killed execution-style have been discovered in western Iraq, Reuters reported on 10 June, citing witnesses. The discovery came after 22 Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped after leaving their base in the town of Al-Qa'im near the Syrian border (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2005). It is unclear if the victims, who were in civilian clothes, were the soldiers. The bodies were left in two locations near Al-Qa'im, a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency. Eleven were scattered in a gravel pit and five were left beside a desert road often used by soldiers. Many of them had their hands bound behind their backs and two were beheaded. BW

AL-QAEDA GROUP CLAIMS TO HOLD 36 IRAQI NATIONAL GUARDSMEN
An Al-Qaeda affiliated group in Iraq said on 9 June that it is holding 36 Iraqi troops hostage and demanded the government free all women prisoners within 24 hours, Reuters reported the same day. "We in the Al-Qaeda Organization for Holy War in Iraq give...[Prime Minister] Ibrahim al-Ja'fari 24 hours to free all Muslim women prisoners held in Interior Ministry jails," a statement posted on an Islamist website said. The statement added that the group is holding 36 National Guards seized after raids in western Iraq. It said the 36 are being questioned about their "crimes against Sunnis." BW

U.S. MILITARY REJECTS UN CRITICISM OVER DETAINEES IN IRAQ
The U.S. military has rejected criticism from the United Nations over its detainee policies in Iraq, Reuters reported on 9 June. The UN said in a report on 8 June that thousands of people are being detained in Iraq without due process in violation of international law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2005). The military dismissed the criticism, insisting Iraqi detainee cases are reviewed promptly either by Iraq's central criminal court or by a joint U.S.-Iraqi prisoner review board. "Approximately 470 security detainees have been tried so far, with 315 convictions," Lieutenant Colonel Guy Rudisill, spokesman for detainee operations, told Reuters, referring to cases tried in Iraq's criminal court. The rest are having their cases looked at by the Combined Review and Release Board, a nine-member body consisting of three senior officers from the U.S.-led coalition and six Iraqi representatives from the ministries of Justice, Interior, and Human Rights. Approximately 10,000 people are in detention in Iraq, with about 6,000 in U.S.-run prisons and the rest in Iraqi hands. BW

U.S. MILITARY ACKNOWLEDGES DETAINING U.S. SECURITY CONTRACTORS IN SHOOTING INCIDENT IN IRAQ
U.S. troops detained 16 American private security contractors and three Iraqis in late May after they allegedly opened fire on civilians and U.S. Marines in Al-Fallujah, Reuters reported on 9 June. The 19, employed by the U.S. company Zapata Engineering, were held for three days after the shooting incident, in which nobody was hurt. "At approximately 2 p.m. on 28 May, Marines of Regimental Combat Team 8 in Falluja reported receiving small-arms fire from gunmen in several late-model trucks and sport-utility vehicles," the U.S. military said in a statement. "Marines also witnessed passengers in the vehicles firing at and near civilian cars on the street. Three hours later, another Marine observation post was fired on by gunmen from vehicles matching the description of those involved in the earlier attack. Marines saw passengers in the vehicles firing out the windows," the statement said. The 19 men were taken into custody at a U.S. military camp on the outskirts of Al-Fallujah. BW

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