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Newsline - August 11, 2005


A SECOND POLISH DIPLOMAT IS BEATEN IN MOSCOW
The Polish Foreign Ministry issued a strongly worded protest after unknown assailants attacked Polish Embassy Second Secretary Marek Reszuta in Moscow on 10 August, the second such attack on a Polish diplomat since assailants beat up several children of Russian diplomats in Warsaw on 1 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 8 August 2005), newsinfo.ru reported. Polish Ambassador to Russia Stefan Meller has demanded a meeting with senior officials from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which has expressed regret over the latest incident, NTV reported. "We are studying the situation, and our reaction will follow as we gather information," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Officials on both sides have avoided suggesting the incidents are in any way connected. VY

A SECOND POLISH DIPLOMAT IS BEATEN IN MOSCOW
The Polish Foreign Ministry issued a strongly worded protest after unknown assailants attacked Polish Embassy Second Secretary Marek Reszuta in Moscow on 10 August, the second such attack on a Polish diplomat since assailants beat up several children of Russian diplomats in Warsaw on 1 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 8 August 2005), newsinfo.ru reported. Polish Ambassador to Russia Stefan Meller has demanded a meeting with senior officials from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which has expressed regret over the latest incident, NTV reported. "We are studying the situation, and our reaction will follow as we gather information," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Officials on both sides have avoided suggesting the incidents are in any way connected. VY

PUTIN APPOINTS NEW ALTAI GOVERNOR, DISMISSES REGIONAL SECURITY CHIEF
President Vladimir Putin officially appointed Mikhail Kozlov to succeed Mikhail Yevdokimov as acting governor of Altai Krai following the latter's recent death in an automobile accident (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 August 2005), RTR and other Russian media reported. Putin issued an edict the same day dismissing the head of the Altai Krai's Interior Ministry directorate, Major General Vladimir Valkov, who one week before the fatal accident withdrew the police convoy that had escorted Yevdokimov's vehicle, RTR reported. "Instead of providing for Yevdokimov's security, Valkov through his actions weakened it," the edict says. Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev has meanwhile ordered his ministry's regional directorates to bolster personal security afforded to regional governors, RTR reported. VY

PUTIN APPOINTS NEW ALTAI GOVERNOR, DISMISSES REGIONAL SECURITY CHIEF
President Vladimir Putin officially appointed Mikhail Kozlov to succeed Mikhail Yevdokimov as acting governor of Altai Krai following the latter's recent death in an automobile accident (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 August 2005), RTR and other Russian media reported. Putin issued an edict the same day dismissing the head of the Altai Krai's Interior Ministry directorate, Major General Vladimir Valkov, who one week before the fatal accident withdrew the police convoy that had escorted Yevdokimov's vehicle, RTR reported. "Instead of providing for Yevdokimov's security, Valkov through his actions weakened it," the edict says. Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev has meanwhile ordered his ministry's regional directorates to bolster personal security afforded to regional governors, RTR reported. VY

WEEKLY SUGGESTS KREMLIN PRESSURED PROSECUTORS IN KASYANOV CASE
"Argumenty i fakty," No. 32, reports that the Prosecutor-General's Office did not want to release former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov until the Kremlin insisted it must bring an airtight case or release him. Prosecutors had studied contracts signed by Kasyanov, the article says. The Kremlin warned Kasyanov before his family's departure for a Mediterranean holiday (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 2005) that "a subpoena will await you at the airport immediately on your return" if Kasyanov chooses to return to politics, "Argumenty i fakty" reported. VY

WEEKLY SUGGESTS KREMLIN PRESSURED PROSECUTORS IN KASYANOV CASE
"Argumenty i fakty," No. 32, reports that the Prosecutor-General's Office did not want to release former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov until the Kremlin insisted it must bring an airtight case or release him. Prosecutors had studied contracts signed by Kasyanov, the article says. The Kremlin warned Kasyanov before his family's departure for a Mediterranean holiday (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 2005) that "a subpoena will await you at the airport immediately on your return" if Kasyanov chooses to return to politics, "Argumenty i fakty" reported. VY

MOTHERLAND QUESTIONS NAVY LEADERSHIP OVER MINI-SUB INCIDENT
Motherland leader Dmitrii Rogozin told a Moscow news conference on 10 August that the recent mini-sub incident off Kamchatka demonstrates that senior military commanders have failed to improve the effectiveness of the Russian Navy since the "Kursk" nuclear submarine disaster in 2000, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported. Rogozin added that his party's parliamentary faction has prepared a list of essential questions to ask military prosecutors, including the nature of navy budgetary funds allocated since the "Kursk" tragedy and what a poachers' net might have been doing in restricted waters. The Motherland list also includes the broader question of how the navy can protect the Russian coast from external threats if it is unable to maintain its own security in domestic waters. VY

MOTHERLAND QUESTIONS NAVY LEADERSHIP OVER MINI-SUB INCIDENT
Motherland leader Dmitrii Rogozin told a Moscow news conference on 10 August that the recent mini-sub incident off Kamchatka demonstrates that senior military commanders have failed to improve the effectiveness of the Russian Navy since the "Kursk" nuclear submarine disaster in 2000, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported. Rogozin added that his party's parliamentary faction has prepared a list of essential questions to ask military prosecutors, including the nature of navy budgetary funds allocated since the "Kursk" tragedy and what a poachers' net might have been doing in restricted waters. The Motherland list also includes the broader question of how the navy can protect the Russian coast from external threats if it is unable to maintain its own security in domestic waters. VY

EX-FINANCE MINISTRY WARNS CAPITAL AMNESTY COULD BE A 'TRAP'
Former Finance Minister Aleksandr Shokhin, who chairs investment firm Renaissance Kapital's board of trustees and heads a coordination council of business unions, predicted on 10 August that the capital-amnesty proposal outlined recently by Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 August 2005) could be a "trap for simpletons," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Regardless of assurances by the finance minister, Shokhin said, Russian law requires that every transaction above 600,000 rubles (roughly $21,500) be screened by a committee that monitors financial transactions for possible criminal activities. Shokhin warned that, without an amendment to that legislation, anyone who repatriates substantial capital could automatically prompt an investigation. VY

EX-FINANCE MINISTRY WARNS CAPITAL AMNESTY COULD BE A 'TRAP'
Former Finance Minister Aleksandr Shokhin, who chairs investment firm Renaissance Kapital's board of trustees and heads a coordination council of business unions, predicted on 10 August that the capital-amnesty proposal outlined recently by Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 August 2005) could be a "trap for simpletons," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Regardless of assurances by the finance minister, Shokhin said, Russian law requires that every transaction above 600,000 rubles (roughly $21,500) be screened by a committee that monitors financial transactions for possible criminal activities. Shokhin warned that, without an amendment to that legislation, anyone who repatriates substantial capital could automatically prompt an investigation. VY

COULD KHODORKOVSKII CAMPAIGN FOR A DUMA SEAT?
Yurii Schmidt, a lawyer for convicted former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskii, said ON 10 AUGUST that Our Choice leader Irina Khakamada and Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov (Independent) have made overtures to the imprisoned former oligarch over a possible run for a recently vacated Moscow seat in the State Duma, utro.ru reported. The head of the Central Election Commission (VTsIK), Aleksandr Vishnyakov, meanwhile confirmed that Khodorkovskii -- whose nine-year sentence does not ban him from running while it remains under appeal -- is not barred by the constitution from competing for such a seat, utro.ru reported. Meanwhile, Khodorkovskii said through his own website (http://www.khodorkovsky.ru) that he believes the authorities would do everything they could to block such a bid; but if friends endorse him, he added, he will run -- even at the risk of fresh persecution. VY

COULD KHODORKOVSKII CAMPAIGN FOR A DUMA SEAT?
Yurii Schmidt, a lawyer for convicted former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskii, said on 10 August that Our Choice leader Irina Khakamada and Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov (Independent) have made overtures to the imprisoned former oligarch over a possible run for a recently vacated Moscow seat in the State Duma, utro.ru reported. The head of the Central Election Commission (VTsIK), Aleksandr Vishnyakov, meanwhile confirmed that Khodorkovskii -- whose nine-year sentence does not ban him from running while it remains under appeal -- is not barred by the constitution from competing for such a seat, utro.ru reported. Meanwhile, Khodorkovskii said through his own website (http://www.khodorkovsky.ru) that he believes the authorities would do everything they could to block such a bid; but if friends endorse him, he added, he will run -- even at the risk of fresh persecution. VY

DEFENSE MINISTRY PUBLISHES CHECHNYA CASUALTY FIGURES, MOTHERS' GROUP DISPUTES THEM
The Defense Ministry announced that 3,459 servicemen have been killed and another 14 are missing in action in Chechnya since so-called antiterrorist operations began in September 1999, newsinfo.ru reported on 11 August. Sixty-seven troops have been killed and two are missing so far this year, it noted. But Valentina Melnikova, executive secretary of the Soldiers' Mothers Union, countered the same day that the true casualty figure is at least five times what the Defense Ministry claims, newsinfo.ru reported. The figures cited by the Defense Ministry do not include casualties from the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Services (FSB), or other agencies that have experienced casualties during the Chechen campaign. VY

DEFENSE MINISTRY PUBLISHES CHECHNYA CASUALTY FIGURES, MOTHERS' GROUP DISPUTES THEM
The Defense Ministry announced that 3,459 servicemen have been killed and another 14 are missing in action in Chechnya since so-called antiterrorist operations began in September 1999, newsinfo.ru reported on 11 August. Sixty-seven troops have been killed and two are missing so far this year, it noted. But Valentina Melnikova, executive secretary of the Soldiers' Mothers Union, countered the same day that the true casualty figure is at least five times what the Defense Ministry claims, newsinfo.ru reported. The figures cited by the Defense Ministry do not include casualties from the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Services (FSB), or other agencies that have experienced casualties during the Chechen campaign. VY

PRIMORE LEGISLATORS SEEK TO ABOLISH TERM LIMITS FOR PRESIDENT...
Deputies in the Primorskii Krai legislature have drafted an amendment to the federal constitution that would remove the third clause of Article 81, which limits the president to two terms in office, Russian media reported on 10 August. Deputy Adam Imadaev, the leading figure behind the proposed amendment, told journalists that current term limits contradict Article 32 of the constitution, which grants Russian citizens the right to vote and to run for office as long as they are competent and have not been convicted of a crime. He argued that the constitution "is not a bible" and should be changed in the interests of citizens, who have the right to decide how many times they wish to elect a person president, Ekho Moskvy reported. According to gazeta.ru, Putin was most recently asked about a possible third term during a 2 August news conference in Finland. He replied, "Maybe I would want to [serve a third term], but the country's constitution does not allow me to do this," adding that "stability, which is achieved only on the basis of constitutional provisions, is the most important thing in today's Russia." LB

PRIMORE LEGISLATORS SEEK TO ABOLISH TERM LIMITS FOR PRESIDENT...
Deputies in the Primorskii Krai legislature have drafted an amendment to the federal constitution that would remove the third clause of Article 81, which limits the president to two terms in office, Russian media reported on 10 August. Deputy Adam Imadaev, the leading figure behind the proposed amendment, told journalists that current term limits contradict Article 32 of the constitution, which grants Russian citizens the right to vote and to run for office as long as they are competent and have not been convicted of a crime. He argued that the constitution "is not a bible" and should be changed in the interests of citizens, who have the right to decide how many times they wish to elect a person president, Ekho Moskvy reported. According to gazeta.ru, Putin was most recently asked about a possible third term during a 2 August news conference in Finland. He replied, "Maybe I would want to [serve a third term], but the country's constitution does not allow me to do this," adding that "stability, which is achieved only on the basis of constitutional provisions, is the most important thing in today's Russia." LB

...BUT POLITICIANS DO NOT EXPECT EFFORT TO SUCCEED
Yurii Serebryakov, who chairs the budget and tax committee of the Primorskii Krai legislature, predicted that the Primore legislature will reject the constitutional amendment proposed by Imadaev, REN-TV reported on 10 August. Serebryakov speculated that the proposal is a public-relations stunt by its supporters, who hope to capitalize on support for Putin among the electorate. Also on 10 August, State Duma Deputy Andrei Makarov (Unified Russia) told Ekho Moskvy that he does not think such an amendment will pass the federal parliament, which will consider the measure if it clears the legislature in Primorskii Krai. Meanwhile, numerous legal experts questioned Imadaev's justification for proposing the amendment. Constitutional Court Justice Tatyana Morshchakova told Ekho Moskvy that she does not see any contradiction between the term limits for the president and Article 32. Other prominent figures, including Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov and Central Election Commission Deputy Chairman Oleg Vilyashev, criticized the legal reasoning behind Imadaev's proposal, lenta.ru reported. LB

...BUT POLITICIANS DO NOT EXPECT EFFORT TO SUCCEED
Yurii Serebryakov, who chairs the budget and tax committee of the Primorskii Krai legislature, predicted that the Primore legislature will reject the constitutional amendment proposed by Imadaev, REN-TV reported on 10 August. Serebryakov speculated that the proposal is a public-relations stunt by its supporters, who hope to capitalize on support for Putin among the electorate. Also on 10 August, State Duma Deputy Andrei Makarov (Unified Russia) told Ekho Moskvy that he does not think such an amendment will pass the federal parliament, which will consider the measure if it clears the legislature in Primorskii Krai. Meanwhile, numerous legal experts questioned Imadaev's justification for proposing the amendment. Constitutional Court Justice Tatyana Morshchakova told Ekho Moskvy that she does not see any contradiction between the term limits for the president and Article 32. Other prominent figures, including Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov and Central Election Commission Deputy Chairman Oleg Vilyashev, criticized the legal reasoning behind Imadaev's proposal, lenta.ru reported. LB

SUPREME COURT POSTPONES SELEZNEV'S LAWSUIT AGAINST DUMA
The Supreme Court on 9 August delayed until 27 September hearings in former Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev's lawsuit against the lower house of the parliament, "Vremya novostei" and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 10 August. Duma Deputy Speaker Lyubov Sliska requested the delay because the Duma is currently in recess and needs time to select deputies to represent the chamber during the proceedings. Seleznev, a longtime Communist who does not currently belong to any Duma faction, filed the suit after the Duma on 25 May adopted a resolution removing him from the post of deputy chairman of the Interparliamentary Group of Russia, which deals with official trips abroad and other foreign contacts of Russian parliamentarians. Seleznev has charged that the resolution was passed without any debate, in violation of Duma rules. Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, who co-chairs the Interparliamentary Group with Federation Council Speaker Mironov, told him that he had no complaints about his work but felt more comfortable working with a member of Unified Russia, Seleznev claimed in his interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 10 August. However, Seleznev told the daily that his ambition to run for president in 2008 is the real reason he was removed from that post. LB

SUPREME COURT POSTPONES SELEZNEV'S LAWSUIT AGAINST DUMA
The Supreme Court on 9 August delayed until 27 September hearings in former Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev's lawsuit against the lower house of the parliament, "Vremya novostei" and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 10 August. Duma Deputy Speaker Lyubov Sliska requested the delay because the Duma is currently in recess and needs time to select deputies to represent the chamber during the proceedings. Seleznev, a longtime Communist who does not currently belong to any Duma faction, filed the suit after the Duma on 25 May adopted a resolution removing him from the post of deputy chairman of the Interparliamentary Group of Russia, which deals with official trips abroad and other foreign contacts of Russian parliamentarians. Seleznev has charged that the resolution was passed without any debate, in violation of Duma rules. Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, who co-chairs the Interparliamentary Group with Federation Council Speaker Mironov, told him that he had no complaints about his work but felt more comfortable working with a member of Unified Russia, Seleznev claimed in his interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 10 August. However, Seleznev told the daily that his ambition to run for president in 2008 is the real reason he was removed from that post. LB

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE MINISTRY DEFENDS TRIPS ABROAD FOR ORPHANS
The Education and Science Ministry has officially defended the practice of taking orphans abroad for summer vacations during which they meet with potential adoptive parents, "Izvestiya" reported on 10 August. In June, Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergei Fridinskii asserted that such holiday trips are illegal because Russian law prohibits any kind of acquaintance between orphans and prospective adoptive families before those families have submitted documents to begin the adoption process. The Prosecutor-General's Office issued an official opinion to the Education and Science Ministry in late June concerning allegedly unlawful procedures in foreign adoptions. In its written response, the Education and Science Ministry disagreed with the prosecutors' legal analysis, saying that "Russian legislation does not contain provisions limiting the right of foreign citizens to request adopting a child with whom they have become acquainted during a summer vacation." The response also noted that adoption agencies organize such trips abroad for children aged 6 or older, who, because of their age, are very rarely adopted by Russian families. LB

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE MINISTRY DEFENDS TRIPS ABROAD FOR ORPHANS
The Education and Science Ministry has officially defended the practice of taking orphans abroad for summer vacations during which they meet with potential adoptive parents, "Izvestiya" reported on 10 August. In June, Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergei Fridinskii asserted that such holiday trips are illegal because Russian law prohibits any kind of acquaintance between orphans and prospective adoptive families before those families have submitted documents to begin the adoption process. The Prosecutor-General's Office issued an official opinion to the Education and Science Ministry in late June concerning allegedly unlawful procedures in foreign adoptions. In its written response, the Education and Science Ministry disagreed with the prosecutors' legal analysis, saying that "Russian legislation does not contain provisions limiting the right of foreign citizens to request adopting a child with whom they have become acquainted during a summer vacation." The response also noted that adoption agencies organize such trips abroad for children aged 6 or older, who, because of their age, are very rarely adopted by Russian families. LB

SPIRITUAL LEADER OF OLD BELIEVERS DIES
The head of the Russian Orthodox Old Believers' Church, Metropolitan of Moscow and All-Russia Andrian, died of a heart attack on 10 August, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. Since becoming the leader of the church in February 2004, Andrian had gained a reputation as a reformer. He established unprecedented contacts with secular Russian authorities, attending Putin's inauguration and convincing Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to name a street after the Old Believers and to transfer to the church two cathedrals. More startlingly, Andrian broke with over 300 years of tradition and met with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. (Old Believers rejected changes within the church during the mid-17th century and were anathemized and persecuted by the Russian Orthodox Church at that time.) According to "Kommersant-Daily," Andrian's rapprochement with the Russian Orthodox Church sparked much discontent among both prominent figures and lay members of his own church, and the next leader of the Russian Orthodox Old Believers' Church may well take a more conservative approach. A representative of the Russian Orthodox Church described Andrian's death as "a big loss for all Christians in Russia." LB

SPIRITUAL LEADER OF OLD BELIEVERS DIES
The head of the Russian Orthodox Old Believers' Church, Metropolitan of Moscow and All-Russia Andrian, died of a heart attack on 10 August, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. Since becoming the leader of the church in February 2004, Andrian had gained a reputation as a reformer. He established unprecedented contacts with secular Russian authorities, attending Putin's inauguration and convincing Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to name a street after the Old Believers and to transfer to the church two cathedrals. More startlingly, Andrian broke with over 300 years of tradition and met with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. (Old Believers rejected changes within the church during the mid-17th century and were anathemized and persecuted by the Russian Orthodox Church at that time.) According to "Kommersant-Daily," Andrian's rapprochement with the Russian Orthodox Church sparked much discontent among both prominent figures and lay members of his own church, and the next leader of the Russian Orthodox Old Believers' Church may well take a more conservative approach. A representative of the Russian Orthodox Church described Andrian's death as "a big loss for all Christians in Russia." LB

CHECHEN PRESIDENT CONVENES WAR COUNCIL
Abdul-Khalim Sadullaev convened a meeting of field commanders in Urus-Martan, southwest of Grozny, during the night of 7-8 August, chechenpress.org reported on 10 August, citing RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service. It was the third such meeting Sadullaev has held since he was named in March to succeed slain President and resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 March 2005). Participants discussed military preparations for the coming winter, and approved the creation of a unified intelligence and counterintelligence service for the entire Caucasus front, which comprises not only Chechnya but other North Caucasus republics. Akhmed Zakaev, who is the special representative of the Chechen president in Europe, told RFE/RL that participants also reaffirmed their commitment to abide by international conventions on warfare while conducting military operations. LF

CHECHEN PRESIDENT CONVENES WAR COUNCIL
Abdul-Khalim Sadullaev convened a meeting of field commanders in Urus-Martan, southwest of Grozny, during the night of 7-8 August, chechenpress.org reported on 10 August, citing RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service. It was the third such meeting Sadullaev has held since he was named in March to succeed slain President and resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 March 2005). Participants discussed military preparations for the coming winter, and approved the creation of a unified intelligence and counterintelligence service for the entire Caucasus front, which comprises not only Chechnya but other North Caucasus republics. Akhmed Zakaev, who is the special representative of the Chechen president in Europe, told RFE/RL that participants also reaffirmed their commitment to abide by international conventions on warfare while conducting military operations. LF

JUSTICE MINISTRY THREATENS SIX ARMENIAN POLITICAL PARTIES WITH DISSOLUTION
Six political parties failed to comply with the requirement that they provide the Justice Ministry with detailed up-to-date membership statistics by 8 August, Justice Ministry official Eduard Markarian told Arminfo on 10 August, according to Groong. Markarian named the parties in question as: the Conservative Democratic Party; the Liberal Democratic Party; the Armenian Socialist Congress Party; the National Democratic Party; the Labor, Law and Democracy Party; and the National Unity Party. The ministry issued a reminder two months ago that a party must number no fewer than 2,000 members within six months of registration, with a minimum of 100 members in each of Armenia's 10 provinces and also in Yerevan, Noyan Tapan reported on 21 June. Armenia currently has 62 registered political parties, and the Justice Ministry is reviewing a registration application from the Armenian Motherland party, according to Arminfo on 10 August. LF

JUSTICE MINISTRY THREATENS SIX ARMENIAN POLITICAL PARTIES WITH DISSOLUTION
Six political parties failed to comply with the requirement that they provide the Justice Ministry with detailed up-to-date membership statistics by 8 August, Justice Ministry official Eduard Markarian told Arminfo on 10 August, according to Groong. Markarian named the parties in question as: the Conservative Democratic Party; the Liberal Democratic Party; the Armenian Socialist Congress Party; the National Democratic Party; the Labor, Law and Democracy Party; and the National Unity Party. The ministry issued a reminder two months ago that a party must number no fewer than 2,000 members within six months of registration, with a minimum of 100 members in each of Armenia's 10 provinces and also in Yerevan, Noyan Tapan reported on 21 June. Armenia currently has 62 registered political parties, and the Justice Ministry is reviewing a registration application from the Armenian Motherland party, according to Arminfo on 10 August. LF

REGIONAL BRANCHES OF AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTY ATTACKED
Protesters stormed the regional offices of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party in Lenkoran, Sumgait, and Nakhichevan on 10 August, shouting derogatory slogans, Turan and echo-az.com reported. But thanks to the agreement reached on 9 August between leading AHCP activists and Interior Minister Ramil Usubov, police prevented a further attack on the AHCP headquarters in Baku (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 2005). The protesters, whom the AHCP suspects have been mobilized by the Azerbaijani authorities, accuse the AHCP and its chairman, Ali Kerimli, of collusion with opposition youth activist Ruslan Bashirli, who was arrested on 3 August on charges of plotting to overthrow the Azerbaijani leadership with financial help from Armenian intelligence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 2005). LF

REGIONAL BRANCHES OF AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTY ATTACKED
Protesters stormed the regional offices of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party in Lenkoran, Sumgait, and Nakhichevan on 10 August, shouting derogatory slogans, Turan and echo-az.com reported. But thanks to the agreement reached on 9 August between leading AHCP activists and Interior Minister Ramil Usubov, police prevented a further attack on the AHCP headquarters in Baku (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 2005). The protesters, whom the AHCP suspects have been mobilized by the Azerbaijani authorities, accuse the AHCP and its chairman, Ali Kerimli, of collusion with opposition youth activist Ruslan Bashirli, who was arrested on 3 August on charges of plotting to overthrow the Azerbaijani leadership with financial help from Armenian intelligence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 2005). LF

U.S. EMBASSY CALLS FOR IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION INTO AZERBAIJANI COUP ALLEGATIONS
The U.S. Embassy in Baku released a statement on 10 August stressing the need for "a fair and impartial investigation" into the accusations brought by the Prosecutor-General's Office against Bashirli, Turan reported. The statement also stressed that those accusations should be evaluated by a court of law, and not the media. It reaffirmed Washington's hopes that the Azerbaijani authorities will ensure that the 6 November parliamentary elections are fair and transparent, and that they will condemn unwarranted attacks on political parties or individual politicians and permit all political forces "to pursue their election campaigns without harassment or unsubstantiated allegations." LF

U.S. EMBASSY CALLS FOR IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION INTO AZERBAIJANI COUP ALLEGATIONS
The U.S. Embassy in Baku released a statement on 10 August stressing the need for "a fair and impartial investigation" into the accusations brought by the Prosecutor-General's Office against Bashirli, Turan reported. The statement also stressed that those accusations should be evaluated by a court of law, and not the media. It reaffirmed Washington's hopes that the Azerbaijani authorities will ensure that the 6 November parliamentary elections are fair and transparent, and that they will condemn unwarranted attacks on political parties or individual politicians and permit all political forces "to pursue their election campaigns without harassment or unsubstantiated allegations." LF

FORMER AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER'S ELECTION APPLICATION ACCEPTED
Election officials at Baku's 4th Khatai constituency accepted an application on 10 August by members of the opposition Azadlyg (Liberty) election bloc to register Democratic Party of Azerbaijan Chairman Rasul Guliev as a candidate in the 6 November parliamentary elections, day.az reported on 11 August. An earlier application by Azadlyg to register Guliev was rejected on the grounds that the supporting documentation did not include adequate personal identification, according to echo-az.com on 10 August. Guliev left Azerbaijan nine years ago after a high-profile disagreement with then President Heidar Aliyev and was subsequently charged in absentia with embezzling funds from the state budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 January 1998). His applications to register as a parliamentary candidate in 2000 and a presidential candidate in 2003 were unsuccessful, and law-enforcement officials warned earlier this year that he faces arrest should he return to Azerbaijan. LF

FORMER AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER'S ELECTION APPLICATION ACCEPTED
Election officials at Baku's 4th Khatai constituency accepted an application on 10 August by members of the opposition Azadlyg (Liberty) election bloc to register Democratic Party of Azerbaijan Chairman Rasul Guliev as a candidate in the 6 November parliamentary elections, day.az reported on 11 August. An earlier application by Azadlyg to register Guliev was rejected on the grounds that the supporting documentation did not include adequate personal identification, according to echo-az.com on 10 August. Guliev left Azerbaijan nine years ago after a high-profile disagreement with then President Heidar Aliyev and was subsequently charged in absentia with embezzling funds from the state budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 January 1998). His applications to register as a parliamentary candidate in 2000 and a presidential candidate in 2003 were unsuccessful, and law-enforcement officials warned earlier this year that he faces arrest should he return to Azerbaijan. LF

BAD WEATHER DELAYS RUSSIAN MILITARY WITHDRAWAL FROM GEORGIA
Stormy weather off the Black Sea port of Batumi on 10 and 11 August has prevented the landing of two Russian transport vessels that are to load 40 tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery systems withdrawn from the Russian military bases at Batumi and Akhalkalaki, Caucasus Press reported. A further convoy of armor left Akhalkalaki on 5 August, heading overland to Russia via Vladikavkaz, according to rustavi2.com on 5 August. On 4 August, Caucasus Press quoted unidentified Russian officers from the Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus as expressing resentment at being "sacrificed to [Moscow's] political interests." They said that there is no accommodation available for them or their families in the town of Prokhladnoe in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria where they are to be stationed. LF

BAD WEATHER DELAYS RUSSIAN MILITARY WITHDRAWAL FROM GEORGIA
Stormy weather off the Black Sea port of Batumi on 10 and 11 August has prevented the landing of two Russian transport vessels that are to load 40 tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery systems withdrawn from the Russian military bases at Batumi and Akhalkalaki, Caucasus Press reported. A further convoy of armor left Akhalkalaki on 5 August, heading overland to Russia via Vladikavkaz, according to rustavi2.com on 5 August. On 4 August, Caucasus Press quoted unidentified Russian officers from the Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus as expressing resentment at being "sacrificed to [Moscow's] political interests." They said that there is no accommodation available for them or their families in the town of Prokhladnoe in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria where they are to be stationed. LF

INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATS MEET WITH ABKHAZ PRESIDENT
The diplomatic representatives in Tbilisi of the five states that are members of the Friends of the UN Secretary-General for Georgia group (France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) met in Sukhum on 10 August with Abkhaz President Sergrei Bagapsh, Prime Minister Aleksandr Ankvab, and Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba, Caucasus Press reported. Bagapsh expressed his appreciation of the work of the UN, specifically of Special Representative of the Secretary General Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, to resolve the Abkhaz conflict. At the same time, he stressed that while Abkhazia is "ready to discuss any topic conducive to peaceful dialogue," it will not compromise on its declared independent status. Bagapsh subsequently described the talks as "constructive," as did German Ambassador Uwe Schramm, who said he was "amazed" by Bagapsh's openness. (For an in-depth analysis of the Abkhaz peace process, see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 12 August 2005.) LF

INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATS MEET WITH ABKHAZ PRESIDENT
The diplomatic representatives in Tbilisi of the five states that are members of the Friends of the UN Secretary-General for Georgia group (France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) met in Sukhum on 10 August with Abkhaz President Sergrei Bagapsh, Prime Minister Aleksandr Ankvab, and Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba, Caucasus Press reported. Bagapsh expressed his appreciation of the work of the UN, specifically of Special Representative of the Secretary General Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, to resolve the Abkhaz conflict. At the same time, he stressed that while Abkhazia is "ready to discuss any topic conducive to peaceful dialogue," it will not compromise on its declared independent status. Bagapsh subsequently described the talks as "constructive," as did German Ambassador Uwe Schramm, who said he was "amazed" by Bagapsh's openness. (For an in-depth analysis of the Abkhaz peace process, see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 12 August 2005.) LF

KAZAKH VETS CONFIRM BIRD FLU A DANGER TO HUMANS
Kazakhstan's Agriculture Ministry confirmed in a 10 August press release that a recent outbreak of avian flu in Pavlodar Province involved a strain potentially dangerous to humans, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. The press release stated that an analysis of tissue samples from wild and domesticated birds in Pavlodar Province revealed "highly contagious type-A (H5N1) avian flu." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov) notes that while H5N1 "does not usually infect humans...human cases of H5N1 infection have occurred in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia during large H5N1 outbreaks in poultry. The death rate for these reported cases has been about 50 percent." No human cases have been confirmed during the recent bird flu outbreak in Kazakhstan, and Golubovka, the village in Pavlodar Province where cases have been confirmed, is currently under quarantine. DK

KAZAKH VETS CONFIRM BIRD FLU A DANGER TO HUMANS
Kazakhstan's Agriculture Ministry confirmed in a 10 August press release that a recent outbreak of avian flu in Pavlodar Province involved a strain potentially dangerous to humans, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. The press release stated that an analysis of tissue samples from wild and domesticated birds in Pavlodar Province revealed "highly contagious type-A (H5N1) avian flu." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov) notes that while H5N1 "does not usually infect humans...human cases of H5N1 infection have occurred in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia during large H5N1 outbreaks in poultry. The death rate for these reported cases has been about 50 percent." No human cases have been confirmed during the recent bird flu outbreak in Kazakhstan, and Golubovka, the village in Pavlodar Province where cases have been confirmed, is currently under quarantine. DK

KAZAKH PRESIDENT'S SON-IN-LAW APPOINTED OSCE REPRESENTATIVE
First Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliev has been appointed Kazakhstan's special representative for cooperation with the OSCE, Kazinform reported on 10 August. Aliev is the son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbaev. He was appointed to his current post in the Foreign Ministry in July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 2005), at which time he was relieved of his post as ambassador to Austria. DK

KAZAKH PRESIDENT'S SON-IN-LAW APPOINTED OSCE REPRESENTATIVE
First Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliev has been appointed Kazakhstan's special representative for cooperation with the OSCE, Kazinform reported on 10 August. Aliev is the son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbaev. He was appointed to his current post in the Foreign Ministry in July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 2005), at which time he was relieved of his post as ambassador to Austria. DK

UNHCR OFFICIAL IN OSH TO EXAMINE CASE OF 15 UZBEK DETAINEES
A representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has arrived in Osh, Kyrgyzstan to meet with some of the 15 Uzbek citizens detained there, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 10 August. The representative will focus on three detainees who have not received refugee status; Uzbekistan has accused them of committing serious crimes and is demanding their extradition. The remaining 12 detainees have received refugee status. Sumar Nasiza, an official at the Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office, told Reuters on 10 August that Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands have offered to accept all 15 Uzbek detainees. But Nasiza added, "We are now discussing the issue and the final decision is yet to be made." DK

UNHCR OFFICIAL IN OSH TO EXAMINE CASE OF 15 UZBEK DETAINEES
A representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has arrived in Osh, Kyrgyzstan to meet with some of the 15 Uzbek citizens detained there, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 10 August. The representative will focus on three detainees who have not received refugee status; Uzbekistan has accused them of committing serious crimes and is demanding their extradition. The remaining 12 detainees have received refugee status. Sumar Nasiza, an official at the Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office, told Reuters on 10 August that Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands have offered to accept all 15 Uzbek detainees. But Nasiza added, "We are now discussing the issue and the final decision is yet to be made." DK

NEW MAYOR ELECTED IN KYRGYZ CITY
The city council of Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city, elected Jumadyl Isakov mayor on 10 August, akipress.org reported. With 28 of 30 councilmen present, Isakov was elected with 16 votes. His opponent, former acting Mayor Mamasadyk Bakirov, received 11 votes. Before the fall of former President Askar Akaev's regime on 24 March, Isakov was the deputy mayor of Osh. More recently, he ran the Osh election headquarters of President-elect Kurmanbek Bakiev in the lead-up to the 10 July presidential election. DK

NEW MAYOR ELECTED IN KYRGYZ CITY
The city council of Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city, elected Jumadyl Isakov mayor on 10 August, akipress.org reported. With 28 of 30 councilmen present, Isakov was elected with 16 votes. His opponent, former acting Mayor Mamasadyk Bakirov, received 11 votes. Before the fall of former President Askar Akaev's regime on 24 March, Isakov was the deputy mayor of Osh. More recently, he ran the Osh election headquarters of President-elect Kurmanbek Bakiev in the lead-up to the 10 July presidential election. DK

TAJIK PARTY HEAD SAYS CONFESSION OBTAINED UNDER DURESS
Democratic Party head Mahmadruzi Iskandarov told Tajikistan's Supreme Court on 10 August that his confession to participation in acts of violence was extracted under duress, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. Denying that he or his supporters took part in attacks last year on an Interior Ministry branch and Prosecutor-General's Office, Iskandarov said he confessed to the acts after investigators subjected him to extensive interrogation and mistreatment. Azam Badriddinov, Iskandarov's lawyer, said that he wrote an official letter about the mistreatment but never received any reply. Iskandarov is currently on trial on corruption and terrorism charges. DK

TAJIK PARTY HEAD SAYS CONFESSION OBTAINED UNDER DURESS
Democratic Party head Mahmadruzi Iskandarov told Tajikistan's Supreme Court on 10 August that his confession to participation in acts of violence was extracted under duress, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. Denying that he or his supporters took part in attacks last year on an Interior Ministry branch and Prosecutor-General's Office, Iskandarov said he confessed to the acts after investigators subjected him to extensive interrogation and mistreatment. Azam Badriddinov, Iskandarov's lawyer, said that he wrote an official letter about the mistreatment but never received any reply. Iskandarov is currently on trial on corruption and terrorism charges. DK

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT CONCERNED WITH CROP IN WAKE OF DEVASTATING STORMS
Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 10 August tasked the government with saving the country's harvest following severe storms that hit Belarus on 9 and 10 August, Belapan reported. Lukashenka stressed that this year's grain harvest should amount to no less than 6 million tons, although at a government teleconference on the harvesting campaign two weeks earlier, he instructed the authorities to gather 7 million tons of grain. "Today it is no longer a harvesting campaign but a battle for the harvest," he said on 10 August. RFE/RL's Belarus Service quoted a Belarusian government official as saying that the recent storms affected one-fourth of all towns and cities in the country, either damaging buildings and roads or cutting off electricity supplies to households. JM

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT CONCERNED WITH CROP IN WAKE OF DEVASTATING STORMS
Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 10 August tasked the government with saving the country's harvest following severe storms that hit Belarus on 9 and 10 August, Belapan reported. Lukashenka stressed that this year's grain harvest should amount to no less than 6 million tons, although at a government teleconference on the harvesting campaign two weeks earlier, he instructed the authorities to gather 7 million tons of grain. "Today it is no longer a harvesting campaign but a battle for the harvest," he said on 10 August. RFE/RL's Belarus Service quoted a Belarusian government official as saying that the recent storms affected one-fourth of all towns and cities in the country, either damaging buildings and roads or cutting off electricity supplies to households. JM

WARSAW TO TALK WITH MINSK ON CONFLICT OVER ETHNIC POLES
Sejm Speaker and leading presidential candidate Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz told journalists on 10 August that Poland should respond positively to last week's Belarusian proposal to talk about the ongoing conflict over the Union of Poles in Belarus (SPB) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 2005), PAP reported. "The Polish side should formulate clear-cut conditions for reaching an agreement: cessation of all unfriendly actions towards Polish diplomats, cessation of illegal interference in the internal affairs of the SPB -- a nongovernmental organization -- and thus observance of the international commitments of Belarus," Cimoszewicz said. He reasoned that Poland should maintain relations with Belarus because the countries are neighbors and because hundreds of thousands of Poles live in Belarus. At the same time, Cimoszewicz stressed that these relations should exclude senior officials so as to avoid Belarusian claims that the country is no longer diplomatically isolated. JM

WARSAW TO TALK WITH MINSK ON CONFLICT OVER ETHNIC POLES
Sejm Speaker and leading presidential candidate Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz told journalists on 10 August that Poland should respond positively to last week's Belarusian proposal to talk about the ongoing conflict over the Union of Poles in Belarus (SPB) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 2005), PAP reported. "The Polish side should formulate clear-cut conditions for reaching an agreement: cessation of all unfriendly actions towards Polish diplomats, cessation of illegal interference in the internal affairs of the SPB -- a nongovernmental organization -- and thus observance of the international commitments of Belarus," Cimoszewicz said. He reasoned that Poland should maintain relations with Belarus because the countries are neighbors and because hundreds of thousands of Poles live in Belarus. At the same time, Cimoszewicz stressed that these relations should exclude senior officials so as to avoid Belarusian claims that the country is no longer diplomatically isolated. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAYS SHE LIVES 'EXTREMELY MODESTLY'
Yuliya Tymoshenko told journalists on 10 August that she is not a rich person and holds no stocks in any company, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "The year 2004 was the apogee of reprisals against me and my family. That is why neither my husband nor I own any property, as our family has diversified all risks," she explained. She said her 2004 income statement truly reflects her earnings, adding that she and her husband are living "extremely modestly." According to that statement Tymoshenko earned some 66,000 hryvnyas ($13,000) last year, while her husband reportedly did not bring home a single kopeck. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAYS SHE LIVES 'EXTREMELY MODESTLY'
Yuliya Tymoshenko told journalists on 10 August that she is not a rich person and holds no stocks in any company, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "The year 2004 was the apogee of reprisals against me and my family. That is why neither my husband nor I own any property, as our family has diversified all risks," she explained. She said her 2004 income statement truly reflects her earnings, adding that she and her husband are living "extremely modestly." According to that statement Tymoshenko earned some 66,000 hryvnyas ($13,000) last year, while her husband reportedly did not bring home a single kopeck. JM

KOSOVA'S SERBS REJECT DECENTRALIZATION PLAN...
Local Serbian political leaders belonging to the Serbian Lists for Kosovo and Metohija told Reuters in Prishtina on 10 August that they reject the second and latest proposal on decentralization submitted by Kosovar Minister for Local Self-government Lutfi Haziri (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 August 2005). "We rejected the proposed idea [at a meeting in Gracanica]. We concluded there will be no talks without an all-inclusive plan for decentralization...with precise numbers on how many [Serbian] villages will make up municipalities," parliamentary deputy Randjel Nojkic said. Legislator Oliver Ivanovic called the second proposal, known as Plan B, an improvement over the original draft "but still insufficient compared to what we have asked for." He suggested that the Serbs might soon produce a counterproposal, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Meanwhile in Belgrade, the Serbian government said in a statement that Plan B and its predecessor are both unacceptable because they do not offer even "minimal guarantees for the improvement of the position of the Serbs and [other] non-Albanians" in the province. PM

KOSOVA'S SERBS REJECT DECENTRALIZATION PLAN...
Local Serbian political leaders belonging to the Serbian Lists for Kosovo and Metohija told Reuters in Prishtina on 10 August that they reject the second and latest proposal on decentralization submitted by Kosovar Minister for Local Self-government Lutfi Haziri (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 August 2005). "We rejected the proposed idea [at a meeting in Gracanica]. We concluded there will be no talks without an all-inclusive plan for decentralization...with precise numbers on how many [Serbian] villages will make up municipalities," parliamentary deputy Randjel Nojkic said. Legislator Oliver Ivanovic called the second proposal, known as Plan B, an improvement over the original draft "but still insufficient compared to what we have asked for." He suggested that the Serbs might soon produce a counterproposal, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Meanwhile in Belgrade, the Serbian government said in a statement that Plan B and its predecessor are both unacceptable because they do not offer even "minimal guarantees for the improvement of the position of the Serbs and [other] non-Albanians" in the province. PM

...AS ALBANIANS WAIT
Kosovar government spokesman Daut Dauti told Reuters in Prishtina on 10 August that the Serbian response is "hurried and irrational," stressing instead that decentralization remains a work in progress. He argued that "the decentralization plan continues to be debated and updated with other details. Consultations with the Serbian and other communities are ongoing. The final version of the plan has not been seen by them [because] it doesn't even exist." The Kosovar authorities need to show progress on decentralization, which is a key Serbian demand, if they expect the international community to agree to talks this fall on Kosova's final status. Many Albanians suspect that Belgrade has told the local Serbian politicians to stall in order to hold up those talks and that the Serbs' ultimate aim is to partition Kosova along ethnic lines (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 19 December 2003 and 16 April 2004). PM

...AS ALBANIANS WAIT
Kosovar government spokesman Daut Dauti told Reuters in Prishtina on 10 August that the Serbian response is "hurried and irrational," stressing instead that decentralization remains a work in progress. He argued that "the decentralization plan continues to be debated and updated with other details. Consultations with the Serbian and other communities are ongoing. The final version of the plan has not been seen by them [because] it doesn't even exist." The Kosovar authorities need to show progress on decentralization, which is a key Serbian demand, if they expect the international community to agree to talks this fall on Kosova's final status. Many Albanians suspect that Belgrade has told the local Serbian politicians to stall in order to hold up those talks and that the Serbs' ultimate aim is to partition Kosova along ethnic lines (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 19 December 2003 and 16 April 2004). PM

U.S. HAILS ARGENTINE ARREST OF BOSNIAN SERB CONVICTED WAR CRIMINAL...
The U.S. State Department said in a statement on 10 August that it welcomes the recent arrest of Milan Lukic by police in Buenos Aires, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 August 2005). Lukic is wanted by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal and is expected to be extradited there shortly. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for war crimes by a Serbian court in 2003. The State Department also called on authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, "particularly within the Republika Srpska," as well as in Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro, to "fulfill their international obligations...without further delay.... This includes the apprehension and transfer of [former Bosnian Serb leader] Radovan Karadzic, [former Bosnian Serb commander and General] Ratko Mladic, [former Croatian General] Ante Gotovina, and all other fugitives on their territories" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 and 29 July, and 12 August 2005). PM

U.S. HAILS ARGENTINE ARREST OF BOSNIAN SERB CONVICTED WAR CRIMINAL...
The U.S. State Department said in a statement on 10 August that it welcomes the recent arrest of Milan Lukic by police in Buenos Aires, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 August 2005). Lukic is wanted by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal and is expected to be extradited there shortly. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for war crimes by a Serbian court in 2003. The State Department also called on authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, "particularly within the Republika Srpska," as well as in Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro, to "fulfill their international obligations...without further delay.... This includes the apprehension and transfer of [former Bosnian Serb leader] Radovan Karadzic, [former Bosnian Serb commander and General] Ratko Mladic, [former Croatian General] Ante Gotovina, and all other fugitives on their territories" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 and 29 July, and 12 August 2005). PM

...AS A BRITISH DAILY SAYS SERBIAN AUTHORITIES LEFT HIM ALONE FOR YEARS
London's "The Guardian," which was instrumental in calling international attention in 1996 to Lukic's alleged 1992 war crimes in Visegrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina, reported on 11 August that the Serbian authorities arrested him for racketeering on three different occasions in recent years and let him go each time. The daily adds that Lukic openly owned an apartment in Belgrade at that time and was often seen in Visegrad and Serbia. He left former Yugoslavia by early 2004 after allegedly falling out with the underworld network protecting him and Karadzic in early 2003 and after his powerful cousin and protector, Sretan Lukic, was subsequently sacked as Serbian chief of police. Following his recent arrest in Buenos Aires, Milan Lukic reportedly told a Argentine court that he wants to go to The Hague for his own safety because many unnamed people close to Karadzic fear that he will reveal their secrets to the tribunal. "I know lots of things happened during the war, and I was afraid that [Karadzic's people] would kill me because there are many who do not want it known what happened. As the saying goes: better to be a tongue without a voice." Sreten Lukic went to The Hague to face war crimes charges of his own volition in April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 April 2005). PM

...AS A BRITISH DAILY SAYS SERBIAN AUTHORITIES LEFT HIM ALONE FOR YEARS
London's "The Guardian," which was instrumental in calling international attention in 1996 to Lukic's alleged 1992 war crimes in Visegrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina, reported on 11 August that the Serbian authorities arrested him for racketeering on three different occasions in recent years and let him go each time. The daily adds that Lukic openly owned an apartment in Belgrade at that time and was often seen in Visegrad and Serbia. He left former Yugoslavia by early 2004 after allegedly falling out with the underworld network protecting him and Karadzic in early 2003 and after his powerful cousin and protector, Sretan Lukic, was subsequently sacked as Serbian chief of police. Following his recent arrest in Buenos Aires, Milan Lukic reportedly told a Argentine court that he wants to go to The Hague for his own safety because many unnamed people close to Karadzic fear that he will reveal their secrets to the tribunal. "I know lots of things happened during the war, and I was afraid that [Karadzic's people] would kill me because there are many who do not want it known what happened. As the saying goes: better to be a tongue without a voice." Sreten Lukic went to The Hague to face war crimes charges of his own volition in April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 April 2005). PM

CHISINAU URGES MOSCOW TO LIFT BAN ON MEAT EXPORTS
The Moldovan government said on 10 August that it has met all the conditions set by Russia for lifting its import ban on Moldovan meat, BASA reported. Russia introduced the ban in April, charging that Moldova was involved in re-exporting since its total amount of meat exports to Russia were larger than produced domestically. Moldova's state veterinary inspection announced on 10 August that it has prepared a new, fake-proof certificate for meat exports that will help eliminate re-exports in the near future. Chisinau also obliged itself to give to Moscow every three months a list of Moldovan firms that are authorized to export meat. JM

CHISINAU URGES MOSCOW TO LIFT BAN ON MEAT EXPORTS
The Moldovan government said on 10 August that it has met all the conditions set by Russia for lifting its import ban on Moldovan meat, BASA reported. Russia introduced the ban in April, charging that Moldova was involved in re-exporting since its total amount of meat exports to Russia were larger than produced domestically. Moldova's state veterinary inspection announced on 10 August that it has prepared a new, fake-proof certificate for meat exports that will help eliminate re-exports in the near future. Chisinau also obliged itself to give to Moscow every three months a list of Moldovan firms that are authorized to export meat. JM

IN MOSCOW, GEOPOLITICS IS THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNISM OF TODAY
For many Russian analysts, geopolitics now fills the gap left by the collapse of Soviet Marxism, providing them with yet another simplified model of a world divided between good and evil and encouraging them to believe that Moscow remains a far more central player in world affairs than is in fact the case.

And just like the earlier Soviet theory, Boris Kagarlitskii argues in the current issue of "Svobodnaya mysl'--XXI," this Manichean vision of the world not only distorts their interpretation of what is taking place but renders most of their recommendations meaningless and wrong (http://www.polit.ru/research/2005/08/09/kagarlitsky.html).

In the USSR, the often-controversial director of the Moscow Institute of Globalization says, "official Marxist ideology functioned as a kind of civil religion." Its rigidity and sterility led to its collapse, along with the system that created it, but its departure from the scene did not eliminate the desire of many people for an analogous faith.

And consequently, he writes, many of them have turned to geopolitical doctrines, which, like "the scientific communism" that so many of them accepted in the past, divide the world into a "good" Russia surrounded by a permanently and ineluctably "evil" world focused on nothing except the destruction of the Russian Federation.

"Precisely this stereotypical and universally applicable quality made geopolitical thought not simply attractive but [almost] an ideal replacement for the old dogmatism, " Kagarlitskii continues, especially since it posits a division of the world largely unchanged from the 1970s and the continuing centrality of Russia and themselves in that world.

"Instead of analyzing the real -- and changing -- interests of countries and their ruling elites and thinking seriously about the contradictions of contemporary society and the global economy," he says, "the [geopolitical] ideologues tell one another terrible stories [about the threats facing their country] and then, without any basis, promise a happy ending."

There is "nothing mysterious" in the current international situation, the Moscow commentator suggests. "The problem is only that it cannot be described by a simple binary formula of 'we' and 'they,'" as geopoliticians in the Russian Federation and some other countries continue to do.

Instead, he insists, current political conflicts have their roots in economic competition between the major centers of world capitalism, the United States on the one hand and the Euro zone on the other, with each nervous about the rising power of China but not much concerned about Russia except as a supplier of raw materials.

"No one intends to dismember Russia," Kagarlitskii writes, "but no one is [much] agitated about [the need for] the preservation of its territorial integrity either," a situation that Russian geopoliticians find impossible to accept because of what it says about the declining power of their country in the world.

And their failure to do so, he continues, is reflected both in their choice of gurus and prophets and in the mistakes they make about what the United States and other international powers are doing in their dealings with Moscow and with countries situated around the edge of the Russian Federation.

"Like any religion," Kagarlitskii says, "geopolitics needs to have its own prophets," and if one reads "the Russian patriotic press," it is almost impossible not to conclude that "its chief ideologue" is Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser and a frequent commentator on Russian affairs.

The reasons for that paradoxical conclusion, Kagarlitskii argues, should be obvious. On the one hand, many Russian political writers today began their careers as specialists on scientific communism when Brzezinski was in office, and they continue to operate on the basis of what they knew then rather than attempting to keep up.

And on the other, Brzezinski's hostility toward Russia, which Kagarlitskii characterizes as a form of Russophobia, makes his ideas "unbelievably interesting for and close to the hearts of Russian patriots." His views on Russia, they know, are extremely "negative," but at least he continues to treat Russia as being at the center of world affairs.

"For [Russian] patriots," Kagarlitskii writes, "this is a balm for their wounds," and consequently, "the Russophobic paranoia of the American politician of Polish origin" somewhat unexpectedly but entirely logically "combines with the neo-Slavophile paranoia of numerous Moscow publicists."

But the fascination of Moscow's geopolitical writers with Brzezinski, their willingness to believe that whatever he writes is current American policy rather than a reflection of the ideas of the Cold War, gets these authors into no end of trouble when they try to understand the very different world of the present day, Kagarlitskii insists.

Indeed, he writes, "judging the policies of contemporary American by the reflections of a retiree of the Carter Administration is the equivalent of predicting the politics of President [Vladimir] Putin on the basis of articles by General L[eonid] Ivashov or the theories of A[leksandr] Dugin."

And in his article, Kagarlitskii provides two examples of what he has in mind. First, he says, Russian geopoliticians completely misunderstand U.S. policies about NATO, viewing the expansion of the alliance eastward and U.S. bases in former Soviet republics as part of a continuing effort to rein in Russia.

Today, he writes, "Washington needs NATO as an instrument which it can use to subordinate to itself the force structures and when possible the foreign policies of its former 'Cold War' allies," particularly among European countries who currently challenge the U.S. economically and politically.

Indeed, Kagarlitskii says, one of the greatest failures of the geopoliticians is that they continue to speak of a single undivided "West," instead of recognizing that the United States and Europe have very different interests not only about the world as a whole but with respect to the Russian Federation specifically.

Expanding NATO eastward gave the United States new leverage against the older members of the alliance, he argues, and the establishment of bases in Central Asia had less to do with any plans to "contain" Russia than it does with efforts to put the United States in a position to restrict the geopolitical rise of China.

And second, the geopoliticians completely misunderstand America's support for "orange"-style revolutions in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. They invariably view these as intended to put pro-American governments in place and thus to undermine Russian influence across the region.

Neither of these views is true, Kagarlitskii insists, at least in the simplified form that the geopoliticians usually outline. He notes that in every case, the regimes that the United States worked to overthrow -- such as Eduard Shevardnadze's in Georgia and Leonid Kuchma's in Ukraine -- generally had been doing precisely what Washington wanted.

The United States sponsored the revolutions against them then not so much to promote policy change as to ensure its continuity. "In essence," Kagarlitskii concludes, "Washington acted to maintain the status quo" because it understands "that for policy to remain unchanged, one must [from time to time] change its executors."

That hardly represents the kind of planned campaign against Russia that geopoliticians inevitably suggest is taking place via these revolutions. After all, Kagarlitskii notes, Moscow fears "any serious changes in the post-Soviet space" and is trying just as hard as the Americans to prevent any of them from taking place.

But the tactics Moscow has adopted are just the reverse of Washington's, Kagarlitskii continues. The Kremlin, he says, has decided that "it is necessary to oppose any transformations, to support existing regimes at any price, and to struggle to the last with all its forces. [Or] as people used to say, not one step backward."

Washington's policy is far more flexible than Moscow's and thus has been more effective so far, but it is entirely possible that it may prove more successful over time, especially given the likelihood that the United States will continue to shift its focus away from this region.

If Russian geopoliticians would focus on these realities, on how different the world is now from what it was when the Soviet Union existed and when the world was divided between two blocs, they might be able to make some useful suggestions about what the Kremlin could do next, Kagarlitskii concludes.

But because they will not face the unpleasant fact that the world has changed, that Moscow is not as important as it used to be, Kagarlitskii concludes, their proposals are likely to remain just as useless and counterproductive as those generated by followers of "scientific communism" in the last years of Soviet power.

(Paul Goble, former publisher of "RFE/RL Newsline" and a longtime Soviet nationalities expert with the U.S. government, is currently a research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia.)

IN MOSCOW, GEOPOLITICS IS THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNISM OF TODAY
For many Russian analysts, geopolitics now fills the gap left by the collapse of Soviet Marxism, providing them with yet another simplified model of a world divided between good and evil and encouraging them to believe that Moscow remains a far more central player in world affairs than is in fact the case.

And just like the earlier Soviet theory, Boris Kagarlitskii argues in the current issue of "Svobodnaya mysl'--XXI," this Manichean vision of the world not only distorts their interpretation of what is taking place but renders most of their recommendations meaningless and wrong (http://www.polit.ru/research/2005/08/09/kagarlitsky.html).

In the USSR, the often-controversial director of the Moscow Institute of Globalization says, "official Marxist ideology functioned as a kind of civil religion." Its rigidity and sterility led to its collapse, along with the system that created it, but its departure from the scene did not eliminate the desire of many people for an analogous faith.

And consequently, he writes, many of them have turned to geopolitical doctrines, which, like "the scientific communism" that so many of them accepted in the past, divide the world into a "good" Russia surrounded by a permanently and ineluctably "evil" world focused on nothing except the destruction of the Russian Federation.

"Precisely this stereotypical and universally applicable quality made geopolitical thought not simply attractive but [almost] an ideal replacement for the old dogmatism, " Kagarlitskii continues, especially since it posits a division of the world largely unchanged from the 1970s and the continuing centrality of Russia and themselves in that world.

"Instead of analyzing the real -- and changing -- interests of countries and their ruling elites and thinking seriously about the contradictions of contemporary society and the global economy," he says, "the [geopolitical] ideologues tell one another terrible stories [about the threats facing their country] and then, without any basis, promise a happy ending."

There is "nothing mysterious" in the current international situation, the Moscow commentator suggests. "The problem is only that it cannot be described by a simple binary formula of 'we' and 'they,'" as geopoliticians in the Russian Federation and some other countries continue to do.

Instead, he insists, current political conflicts have their roots in economic competition between the major centers of world capitalism, the United States on the one hand and the Euro zone on the other, with each nervous about the rising power of China but not much concerned about Russia except as a supplier of raw materials.

"No one intends to dismember Russia," Kagarlitskii writes, "but no one is [much] agitated about [the need for] the preservation of its territorial integrity either," a situation that Russian geopoliticians find impossible to accept because of what it says about the declining power of their country in the world.

And their failure to do so, he continues, is reflected both in their choice of gurus and prophets and in the mistakes they make about what the United States and other international powers are doing in their dealings with Moscow and with countries situated around the edge of the Russian Federation.

"Like any religion," Kagarlitskii says, "geopolitics needs to have its own prophets," and if one reads "the Russian patriotic press," it is almost impossible not to conclude that "its chief ideologue" is Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser and a frequent commentator on Russian affairs.

The reasons for that paradoxical conclusion, Kagarlitskii argues, should be obvious. On the one hand, many Russian political writers today began their careers as specialists on scientific communism when Brzezinski was in office, and they continue to operate on the basis of what they knew then rather than attempting to keep up.

And on the other, Brzezinski's hostility toward Russia, which Kagarlitskii characterizes as a form of Russophobia, makes his ideas "unbelievably interesting for and close to the hearts of Russian patriots." His views on Russia, they know, are extremely "negative," but at least he continues to treat Russia as being at the center of world affairs.

"For [Russian] patriots," Kagarlitskii writes, "this is a balm for their wounds," and consequently, "the Russophobic paranoia of the American politician of Polish origin" somewhat unexpectedly but entirely logically "combines with the neo-Slavophile paranoia of numerous Moscow publicists."

But the fascination of Moscow's geopolitical writers with Brzezinski, their willingness to believe that whatever he writes is current American policy rather than a reflection of the ideas of the Cold War, gets these authors into no end of trouble when they try to understand the very different world of the present day, Kagarlitskii insists.

Indeed, he writes, "judging the policies of contemporary American by the reflections of a retiree of the Carter Administration is the equivalent of predicting the politics of President [Vladimir] Putin on the basis of articles by General L[eonid] Ivashov or the theories of A[leksandr] Dugin."

And in his article, Kagarlitskii provides two examples of what he has in mind. First, he says, Russian geopoliticians completely misunderstand U.S. policies about NATO, viewing the expansion of the alliance eastward and U.S. bases in former Soviet republics as part of a continuing effort to rein in Russia.

Today, he writes, "Washington needs NATO as an instrument which it can use to subordinate to itself the force structures and when possible the foreign policies of its former 'Cold War' allies," particularly among European countries who currently challenge the U.S. economically and politically.

Indeed, Kagarlitskii says, one of the greatest failures of the geopoliticians is that they continue to speak of a single undivided "West," instead of recognizing that the United States and Europe have very different interests not only about the world as a whole but with respect to the Russian Federation specifically.

Expanding NATO eastward gave the United States new leverage against the older members of the alliance, he argues, and the establishment of bases in Central Asia had less to do with any plans to "contain" Russia than it does with efforts to put the United States in a position to restrict the geopolitical rise of China.

And second, the geopoliticians completely misunderstand America's support for "orange"-style revolutions in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. They invariably view these as intended to put pro-American governments in place and thus to undermine Russian influence across the region.

Neither of these views is true, Kagarlitskii insists, at least in the simplified form that the geopoliticians usually outline. He notes that in every case, the regimes that the United States worked to overthrow -- such as Eduard Shevardnadze's in Georgia and Leonid Kuchma's in Ukraine -- generally had been doing precisely what Washington wanted.

The United States sponsored the revolutions against them then not so much to promote policy change as to ensure its continuity. "In essence," Kagarlitskii concludes, "Washington acted to maintain the status quo" because it understands "that for policy to remain unchanged, one must [from time to time] change its executors."

That hardly represents the kind of planned campaign against Russia that geopoliticians inevitably suggest is taking place via these revolutions. After all, Kagarlitskii notes, Moscow fears "any serious changes in the post-Soviet space" and is trying just as hard as the Americans to prevent any of them from taking place.

But the tactics Moscow has adopted are just the reverse of Washington's, Kagarlitskii continues. The Kremlin, he says, has decided that "it is necessary to oppose any transformations, to support existing regimes at any price, and to struggle to the last with all its forces. [Or] as people used to say, not one step backward."

Washington's policy is far more flexible than Moscow's and thus has been more effective so far, but it is entirely possible that it may prove more successful over time, especially given the likelihood that the United States will continue to shift its focus away from this region.

If Russian geopoliticians would focus on these realities, on how different the world is now from what it was when the Soviet Union existed and when the world was divided between two blocs, they might be able to make some useful suggestions about what the Kremlin could do next, Kagarlitskii concludes.

But because they will not face the unpleasant fact that the world has changed, that Moscow is not as important as it used to be, Kagarlitskii concludes, their proposals are likely to remain just as useless and counterproductive as those generated by followers of "scientific communism" in the last years of Soviet power.

(Paul Goble, former publisher of "RFE/RL Newsline" and a longtime Soviet nationalities expert with the U.S. government, is currently a research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia.)

NEO-TALIBAN EXECUTE WOMAN IN SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN
A woman was gunned down in her home on 10 August in the Mizan District of Zabul Province, Pajhwak Afghan News reported. Yunos Akhundzada, police chief of Mizan, told Pajhwak that militants killed the woman on the suspicion of spying for U.S.-led coalition forces. According to Akhundzada, the militants also kidnapped the victim's brother and father. Neo-Taliban spokesman Mawlawi Latifullah Hakimi claimed responsibility for the murder. He told Pajhwak that the two kidnapped men will be tried by neo-Taliban scholars. The slain woman has been identified as the wife of Malik Rozi Khan, a local elder. AT

NEO-TALIBAN EXECUTE WOMAN IN SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN
A woman was gunned down in her home on 10 August in the Mizan District of Zabul Province, Pajhwak Afghan News reported. Yunos Akhundzada, police chief of Mizan, told Pajhwak that militants killed the woman on the suspicion of spying for U.S.-led coalition forces. According to Akhundzada, the militants also kidnapped the victim's brother and father. Neo-Taliban spokesman Mawlawi Latifullah Hakimi claimed responsibility for the murder. He told Pajhwak that the two kidnapped men will be tried by neo-Taliban scholars. The slain woman has been identified as the wife of Malik Rozi Khan, a local elder. AT

U.S. SOLDIER DIES FROM WOUNDS
One of two U.S. soldiers wounded in the south-central Ghazni Province on 9 August died of his wounds on 10 August, international news agencies reported. Speaking for the neo-Taliban on 9 August, Hakimi claimed that the militia planted the explosive device to target the U.S. military vehicle in which those wounded were riding (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 2005). The casualty means that five U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the past week, AP reported on 10 August. U.S. military spokeswoman Lieutenant Cindy Moore said that Afghan and coalition forces expect to step up their operations against the neo-Taliban and their allies in the coming weeks. "We knew we would see an increase in individuals trying to disrupt the elections [scheduled for September] or disrupt the processes of the government," she told AP. AT

U.S. SOLDIER DIES FROM WOUNDS
One of two U.S. soldiers wounded in the south-central Ghazni Province on 9 August died of his wounds on 10 August, international news agencies reported. Speaking for the neo-Taliban on 9 August, Hakimi claimed that the militia planted the explosive device to target the U.S. military vehicle in which those wounded were riding (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 2005). The casualty means that five U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the past week, AP reported on 10 August. U.S. military spokeswoman Lieutenant Cindy Moore said that Afghan and coalition forces expect to step up their operations against the neo-Taliban and their allies in the coming weeks. "We knew we would see an increase in individuals trying to disrupt the elections [scheduled for September] or disrupt the processes of the government," she told AP. AT

NEO-TALIBAN CASUALTIES, U.S. INJURIES REPORTED IN SOUTHEASTERN AFGHANISTAN
Six suspected neo-Taliban were killed and three U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter were wounded on 9 August in a firefight in Paktika Province, Pajhwak Afghan News reported on 10 August. The clash occurred during a search operation, a U.S. military spokesman said. AT

NEO-TALIBAN CASUALTIES, U.S. INJURIES REPORTED IN SOUTHEASTERN AFGHANISTAN
Six suspected neo-Taliban were killed and three U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter were wounded on 9 August in a firefight in Paktika Province, Pajhwak Afghan News reported on 10 August. The clash occurred during a search operation, a U.S. military spokesman said. AT

ELECTION MATERIEL BEGINS ARRIVING IN AFGHAN PROVINCES
The first shipment of ballot papers arrived in the northeastern Badakhshan Province on 10 August, a press release from the Joint Election Management Body (JEMB) indicated (http://www.jemb.org). Claiming that JEMB's "distribution network" has been tested during the candidate nomination and voter registration processes, the body's chairman, Besmellah Besmel, said that "despite the challenge...polling material will be in place" by election day, which is scheduled for 18 September. In addition to the ballot papers, 135,000 ballot boxes and 140,000 bottles of indelible ink will be shipped to 26,000 polling stations across the country. During Afghanistan's presidential election in October, some of the ink used to mark the fingers of voters in order to prevent them from voting multiple times proved to rub off quite easily. AT

ELECTION MATERIEL BEGINS ARRIVING IN AFGHAN PROVINCES
The first shipment of ballot papers arrived in the northeastern Badakhshan Province on 10 August, a press release from the Joint Election Management Body (JEMB) indicated (http://www.jemb.org). Claiming that JEMB's "distribution network" has been tested during the candidate nomination and voter registration processes, the body's chairman, Besmellah Besmel, said that "despite the challenge...polling material will be in place" by election day, which is scheduled for 18 September. In addition to the ballot papers, 135,000 ballot boxes and 140,000 bottles of indelible ink will be shipped to 26,000 polling stations across the country. During Afghanistan's presidential election in October, some of the ink used to mark the fingers of voters in order to prevent them from voting multiple times proved to rub off quite easily. AT

PAKISTAN NOT PLANNING TO SEAL ITS BORDER FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS
Pakistani military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said on 10 August that his country will not seal its border with Afghanistan next month when parliamentary elections are held, Pajhwak Afghan News reported. "No such decision has been taken to close our border...[nor do] we have any such intentions," Sultan told the news agency. He said, however, that Pakistan will remain vigilant against terrorists and illegal migrants trying to infiltrate Afghan territory. According to the Kabul government, much of the terrorist and militant activities in southern and eastern Afghanistan are launched from bases in Pakistan. AT

PAKISTAN NOT PLANNING TO SEAL ITS BORDER FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS
Pakistani military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said on 10 August that his country will not seal its border with Afghanistan next month when parliamentary elections are held, Pajhwak Afghan News reported. "No such decision has been taken to close our border...[nor do] we have any such intentions," Sultan told the news agency. He said, however, that Pakistan will remain vigilant against terrorists and illegal migrants trying to infiltrate Afghan territory. According to the Kabul government, much of the terrorist and militant activities in southern and eastern Afghanistan are launched from bases in Pakistan. AT

IRAN UNSEALS URANIUM-CONVERSION FACILITY...
The uranium-conversion facility in Isfahan was partially unsealed on 10 August, IRNA reported. This is the section of the facility where uranium hexafluoride (UF6) is produced. Other sections of the facility, where uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) is produced, had not been sealed, and they resumed activity on 7-8 August. "Once the seal is broken, a 15-day interval is required between the final stages of production at Isfahan Uranium Processing Complex and production of the final product [UF6]," an anonymous specialist told IRNA. BS

IRAN UNSEALS URANIUM-CONVERSION FACILITY...
The uranium-conversion facility in Isfahan was partially unsealed on 10 August, IRNA reported. This is the section of the facility where uranium hexafluoride (UF6) is produced. Other sections of the facility, where uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) is produced, had not been sealed, and they resumed activity on 7-8 August. "Once the seal is broken, a 15-day interval is required between the final stages of production at Isfahan Uranium Processing Complex and production of the final product [UF6]," an anonymous specialist told IRNA. BS

...ALARMING WASHINGTON
The Iranian removal of seals at the Isfahan uranium-conversion facility prompted a stern reaction from Washington. Deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said on 10 August that Iran's message to the international community is that it is distancing itself from cooperation, RFE/RL reported. He continued: "I think that that's a message that's being heard loud and clear by the members of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] board [of governors]." Ereli added, "We view this as yet another negative step taken by Iran in breach of the November 2004 Paris agreement. It shows that Iran is just isolating itself further, digging itself deeper into a hole." BS

...ALARMING WASHINGTON
The Iranian removal of seals at the Isfahan uranium-conversion facility prompted a stern reaction from Washington. Deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said on 10 August that Iran's message to the international community is that it is distancing itself from cooperation, RFE/RL reported. He continued: "I think that that's a message that's being heard loud and clear by the members of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] board [of governors]." Ereli added, "We view this as yet another negative step taken by Iran in breach of the November 2004 Paris agreement. It shows that Iran is just isolating itself further, digging itself deeper into a hole." BS

TEHRAN DENIES INTERFERING IN IRAQ
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi dismissed on 10 August U.S. allegations of Iranian involvement in the Iraqi insurgency, IRNA reported. Assefi advised Washington to "admit the consequences of its blunders in Iraq and avoid raising baseless charges against others." He went on to say that, "On account of their terrible blunders in Iraq, the U.S. officials are pressurized by the world and regional public opinion, particularly that of Iraqi Muslim people. In order to justify their failure, they have taken the option of resorting to a visionary enemy." Assefi said the U.S. cannot undermine Tehran-Baghdad relations. The issue arose at a 9 August Pentagon press briefing when a reporter asked about "sophisticated weapons, including shaped charges" that are allegedly entering Iraq from Iran, according to the State Department website (http://usinfo.state.gov). U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded: "It is true that weapons, clearly, unambiguously from Iran have been found in Iraq." When asked about the amount of weapons, Rumsfeld said, "Goodness, how can you know? You only know what you know. That's a big border. And it's notably unhelpful for the Iranians to be allowing weapons of those types to cross the border." BS

TEHRAN DENIES INTERFERING IN IRAQ
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi dismissed on 10 August U.S. allegations of Iranian involvement in the Iraqi insurgency, IRNA reported. Assefi advised Washington to "admit the consequences of its blunders in Iraq and avoid raising baseless charges against others." He went on to say that, "On account of their terrible blunders in Iraq, the U.S. officials are pressurized by the world and regional public opinion, particularly that of Iraqi Muslim people. In order to justify their failure, they have taken the option of resorting to a visionary enemy." Assefi said the U.S. cannot undermine Tehran-Baghdad relations. The issue arose at a 9 August Pentagon press briefing when a reporter asked about "sophisticated weapons, including shaped charges" that are allegedly entering Iraq from Iran, according to the State Department website (http://usinfo.state.gov). U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded: "It is true that weapons, clearly, unambiguously from Iran have been found in Iraq." When asked about the amount of weapons, Rumsfeld said, "Goodness, how can you know? You only know what you know. That's a big border. And it's notably unhelpful for the Iranians to be allowing weapons of those types to cross the border." BS

IRANIAN CHOLERA OUTBREAK TAKES MORE LIVES
An Iranian Health Ministry Official identified as Dr. Sorush said on 10 August that more cases of cholera have been identified in the country, ISNA reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 2005). He mentioned one case in Abhar, five in Azadshahr, two in Gonbad, 13 in Karaj, one in Konarak near Chahbahar in the south, one in Nazarabad, one in Qazvin, 51 in Qom, one in Robat Karim, two in Savojbolagh, five in Shahriar, two in Shahrud, and one in Zabol. A medical center in western Tehran, he added, has identified a further three cases of cholera, and another three people have died of the disease. BS

IRANIAN CHOLERA OUTBREAK TAKES MORE LIVES
An Iranian Health Ministry Official identified as Dr. Sorush said on 10 August that more cases of cholera have been identified in the country, ISNA reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 2005). He mentioned one case in Abhar, five in Azadshahr, two in Gonbad, 13 in Karaj, one in Konarak near Chahbahar in the south, one in Nazarabad, one in Qazvin, 51 in Qom, one in Robat Karim, two in Savojbolagh, five in Shahriar, two in Shahrud, and one in Zabol. A medical center in western Tehran, he added, has identified a further three cases of cholera, and another three people have died of the disease. BS

RUSSIA-IRAN DISCUSS COUNTERNARCOTICS, FOREIGNERS
Iranian Drug Control Headquarters chief Ali Hashemi said on 10 August in Moscow that Iran and Russia have almost identical opinions of the narcotics situation in Afghanistan and believe trafficking is increasing, ITAR-TASS reported. Hashemi and Russian Federal Drug Control Service Director Viktor Cherkesov signed a memorandum of cooperation and afterwards Hashemi said the agreement will yield new results. Cherkesov also derided other countries' efforts to help the Afghan people, saying, "As regards the influence of international forces on the situation in Afghanistan and the influence of the countries which have their military contingents there, their efforts have not yet contributed to a serious change in the situation." Cherkesov did not comment on the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its continuing impact. Collective Security Treaty (CST) Council Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha said in a 10 August meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Gholamreza Ansari that Iran should participate in Afghan narcotics-trafficking operations, ITAR-TASS reported. The two sides reportedly reached an agreement on the presence of "extraregional foreign states" in the Caucasus and Central Asia, saying, "their presence should be reduced as the situation in the region stabilizes, in particular, in Afghanistan and around it." BS

RUSSIA-IRAN DISCUSS COUNTERNARCOTICS, FOREIGNERS
Iranian Drug Control Headquarters chief Ali Hashemi said on 10 August in Moscow that Iran and Russia have almost identical opinions of the narcotics situation in Afghanistan and believe trafficking is increasing, ITAR-TASS reported. Hashemi and Russian Federal Drug Control Service Director Viktor Cherkesov signed a memorandum of cooperation and afterwards Hashemi said the agreement will yield new results. Cherkesov also derided other countries' efforts to help the Afghan people, saying, "As regards the influence of international forces on the situation in Afghanistan and the influence of the countries which have their military contingents there, their efforts have not yet contributed to a serious change in the situation." Cherkesov did not comment on the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its continuing impact. Collective Security Treaty (CST) Council Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha said in a 10 August meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Gholamreza Ansari that Iran should participate in Afghan narcotics-trafficking operations, ITAR-TASS reported. The two sides reportedly reached an agreement on the presence of "extraregional foreign states" in the Caucasus and Central Asia, saying, "their presence should be reduced as the situation in the region stabilizes, in particular, in Afghanistan and around it." BS

IRAQI SHI'ITE LEADER CALLS FOR AUTONOMY...
Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), called for an autonomous federal state in the Shi'ite-dominated governorates of central and southern Iraq during a mass rally on 11 August in Al-Najaf marking the two-year anniversary of the assassination of his brother and former SCIRI head Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim and 83 others in a double car bombing, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 2003). "Regarding federalism, we think it is necessary to form one entire region in the south," al-Hakim told demonstrators. Hadi al-Amiri, a leading member of SCIRI's Badr Organization said: "We have to persist in forming one region in the south or else we will regret it. What have we got from the central government except death?" he asked. Sunnis, who are the third-largest grouping in the country after the Shi'ites and Kurds, have protested the two groups' calls for autonomy, claiming it will further fracture the country along ethnic and sectarian lines. Sunnis' main fear is that federalism will leave much of the country's vast oil resources -- located in the south and north of the country -- in the hands of the Kurds and the Shi'a. KR

IRAQI SHI'ITE LEADER CALLS FOR AUTONOMY...
Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), called for an autonomous federal state in the Shi'ite-dominated governorates of central and southern Iraq during a mass rally on 11 August in Al-Najaf marking the two-year anniversary of the assassination of his brother and former SCIRI head Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim and 83 others in a double car bombing, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 2003). "Regarding federalism, we think it is necessary to form one entire region in the south," al-Hakim told demonstrators. Hadi al-Amiri, a leading member of SCIRI's Badr Organization said: "We have to persist in forming one region in the south or else we will regret it. What have we got from the central government except death?" he asked. Sunnis, who are the third-largest grouping in the country after the Shi'ites and Kurds, have protested the two groups' calls for autonomy, claiming it will further fracture the country along ethnic and sectarian lines. Sunnis' main fear is that federalism will leave much of the country's vast oil resources -- located in the south and north of the country -- in the hands of the Kurds and the Shi'a. KR

...AS SHI'ITE PRIME MINISTER REPORTEDLY REJECTS FEDERALISM CALL
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari's spokesman, Laith Kubba, told reporters in Baghdad on 11 August: "The idea of a Shi'ite region...is unacceptable to us." Al-Ja'fari is head of the Shi'ite Islamic Al-Da'wah Party, the main rival to SCIRI. Sunni politician and drafting committee member Salih al-Mutlaq also commented on al-Hakim's call, saying: "We hoped this day would never come. We believe that the Arabs, whether Sunni or Shi'ite, are one. We totally reject any attempt to stir up sectarian issues to divide Iraq." Al-Mutlaq added that he believed many Shi'ites agree with his position. KR

...AS SHI'ITE PRIME MINISTER REPORTEDLY REJECTS FEDERALISM CALL
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari's spokesman, Laith Kubba, told reporters in Baghdad on 11 August: "The idea of a Shi'ite region...is unacceptable to us." Al-Ja'fari is head of the Shi'ite Islamic Al-Da'wah Party, the main rival to SCIRI. Sunni politician and drafting committee member Salih al-Mutlaq also commented on al-Hakim's call, saying: "We hoped this day would never come. We believe that the Arabs, whether Sunni or Shi'ite, are one. We totally reject any attempt to stir up sectarian issues to divide Iraq." Al-Mutlaq added that he believed many Shi'ites agree with his position. KR

INTERIOR MINISTER CITES BORDER INCIDENTS WITH IRANIANS
Bayan Jabr told the Iraqi National Assembly on 10 August that at least two separate incidents have occurred where Iranians -- including military personnel -- have crossed into Iraq, Al-Sharqiyah television reported on the same day. The first incident involved an officer and border guard who entered Iraq on a motorcycle and were arrested one kilometer inside Iraqi territory. The men are currently being interrogated. The second incident involved a group of people who entered Iraq from Iran carrying boxes. When Iraqi border police fired at the group, they fled back into Iranian territory, leaving the boxes behind. The boxes contained eight dynamite sticks, Jabr said. Al-Sharqiyah did not report when the incidents described by Jabr took place. KR

INTERIOR MINISTER CITES BORDER INCIDENTS WITH IRANIANS
Bayan Jabr told the Iraqi National Assembly on 10 August that at least two separate incidents have occurred where Iranians -- including military personnel -- have crossed into Iraq, Al-Sharqiyah television reported on the same day. The first incident involved an officer and border guard who entered Iraq on a motorcycle and were arrested one kilometer inside Iraqi territory. The men are currently being interrogated. The second incident involved a group of people who entered Iraq from Iran carrying boxes. When Iraqi border police fired at the group, they fled back into Iranian territory, leaving the boxes behind. The boxes contained eight dynamite sticks, Jabr said. Al-Sharqiyah did not report when the incidents described by Jabr took place. KR

INSURGENT LEADER WORRIED ABOUT LOSING MOSUL TO COALITION...
U.S. forces have intercepted a message from an insurgency leader in Mosul identified as Abu Ziyad and addressed to his superiors in western Iraq that outlines the need to concentrate efforts on regaining control over Mosul, after significant gains by Iraqi and U.S. forces in the northern city, "Al-Zaman" reported on 10 August. Abu Ziyad, who reportedly holds the position of "amir," or prince, argued that full insurgent control over Mosul will help ease the pressure on insurgents fighting multinational forces in western Iraq. "The fall of Mosul in the hands of the mujahedin is possible. This will lessen pressure on cities like Al-Qa'im and Tel Afar," Abu Ziyad said. He advised his followers to concentrate on the "quality of operations rather than their quantity." KR

INSURGENT LEADER WORRIED ABOUT LOSING MOSUL TO COALITION...
U.S. forces have intercepted a message from an insurgency leader in Mosul identified as Abu Ziyad and addressed to his superiors in western Iraq that outlines the need to concentrate efforts on regaining control over Mosul, after significant gains by Iraqi and U.S. forces in the northern city, "Al-Zaman" reported on 10 August. Abu Ziyad, who reportedly holds the position of "amir," or prince, argued that full insurgent control over Mosul will help ease the pressure on insurgents fighting multinational forces in western Iraq. "The fall of Mosul in the hands of the mujahedin is possible. This will lessen pressure on cities like Al-Qa'im and Tel Afar," Abu Ziyad said. He advised his followers to concentrate on the "quality of operations rather than their quantity." KR

...AND DISCUSSES STATE OF INSURGENCY OPERATIONS
In the intercepted message obtained by U.S. forces and viewed by "Al-Zaman," Abu Ziyad also expressed concern over the conditions of foreign fighters in the city and warned against the "disobedience and lack of cooperation" among insurgent groups in the city, the daily reported on 10 August. "Foreign fighters are in miserable conditions. Their salaries are marginalized and they lack accommodation," he said. "Al-Zaman" reported that earlier this week insurgents distributed leaflets throughout Mosul calling on residents to phone in tips about "collaborators" -- anyone cooperating with the United States or the Iraqi government. The leaflets reportedly included several telephone numbers, and said in part that every Muslim had a religious obligation to phone in tips. "All forms of cooperation [with the U.S. and the Iraqi government] are blasphemy and no excuses are acceptable," said one leaflet signed by a group called the Muhammad bin Salma Patrol for assassinations. KR

...AND DISCUSSES STATE OF INSURGENCY OPERATIONS
In the intercepted message obtained by U.S. forces and viewed by "Al-Zaman," Abu Ziyad also expressed concern over the conditions of foreign fighters in the city and warned against the "disobedience and lack of cooperation" among insurgent groups in the city, the daily reported on 10 August. "Foreign fighters are in miserable conditions. Their salaries are marginalized and they lack accommodation," he said. "Al-Zaman" reported that earlier this week insurgents distributed leaflets throughout Mosul calling on residents to phone in tips about "collaborators" -- anyone cooperating with the United States or the Iraqi government. The leaflets reportedly included several telephone numbers, and said in part that every Muslim had a religious obligation to phone in tips. "All forms of cooperation [with the U.S. and the Iraqi government] are blasphemy and no excuses are acceptable," said one leaflet signed by a group called the Muhammad bin Salma Patrol for assassinations. KR

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