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Media Matters: October 26, 2001

26 October 2001, Volume 1, Number 35
MINSK COURT TRIES ALLEGED KIDNAPPERS OF ORT JOURNALIST. The Minsk Oblast Court on 24 October began hearing a case against five suspected kidnappers of ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski, who disappeared in July 2000, Belapan reported. The defendants include Valery Ihnatovich, a former member of the Interior Ministry's special task force Almaz. According to the prosecution, Ihnatovich and his group kidnapped Zavadski in revenge for the newspaper interview he gave revealing that some Almaz commandos had fought against Russian federal troops in Chechnya. Earlier this year, two Belarusian investigators said a government-organized death squad is responsible for the killing of Zavadski and two opposition politicians, Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar. In explaining why the trial of Ihnatovich and his group is being conducted behind closed doors, Judge Heorhiy Khomich told the agency that "[the court wants] to protect the victims and others." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

PRESIDENT APPOINTS HEAD OF BROADCASTING. On 19 October, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka appointed Yahor Rybakou as the head of the State Broadcasting Company. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF TO SUE PAPERS OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS. National Intelligence Service chief Major General Dimo Giaurov told journalist on 23 October that he has asked the Prosecutor-General's Office to begin investigating the daily "Republika," which he accuses of "slander." The daily wrote in two articles earlier this month that Giaurov and President Petar Stoyanov's brother Emil Stoyanov have misused National Intelligence Service funds that were channeled for constructing apartments for them instead of renovating buildings of the service in Bankya, BTA reported. Giaurov said the company that built the apartments has never worked for the service he heads and has nothing to do with that service. He said he is "a wealthy man, not ashamed of it," and that he financed the construction of the apartments from inherited properties and restituted property. He also said it was "mostly chance" that Emil Stoyanov purchased an apartment in the same building and that he "hardly knows" the president's brother. Giaurov also said it was "not by chance" that the allegations were printed in a newspaper known for its links with the former communist secret service. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CAMPAIGN ON THE NET. Three of the six Bulgarian presidential candidates for the 11 November elections will campaign on the web, BTA reported on 23 October. President Stoyanov and his running mate Neli Kutskova on 22 October launched their site (, which is different from Stoyanov's official site as president. A special column on the site features jokes about the incumbent president. Socialist Party candidate Georgi Parvanov and his vice presidential running mate Angel Marin also launched their site ( The candidates of the Civil Party, Bogomil Bonev and Stoyan Andreev, also announced they are preparing a site, but Union Bulgaria candidate Reneta Indjova and her running mate Krustyu Ilov said their campaign is modest and they have no funds for an Internet site. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

GOVERNMENT AGREES TELCO SALE TO DEUTSCHE TELEKOM. The Croatian government concluded talks aimed at selling Deutsche Telekom a majority stake in the Croatian national telecom, Croatian Telecom, dpa reported on 18 October. Prime Minister Ivica Racan said a contract has been signed for 500 million euros for a 16 percent stake that will increase the Germans' share to 51 percent, the agency reported. Racan called the sell-off the biggest privatization job his government has faced since taking over 1 1/2 years ago, adding that he hopes the deal will bolster foreign investors' confidence in the Croatian economy. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

EDITOR SENTENCED FOR DEFAMATORY ARTICLES. Frantisek Zamecnik, the former editor in chief of "Nove Bruntalsko," which is published in Bruntal, northern Moravia, was sentenced on 23 October to 16 months in prison for having libeled former Bruntal Mayor Petr Krejci, Social Democratic deputy Jaroslav Palas, and Ludmila Navarova, the editor of a rival local newspaper, in articles printed between September 1988 and November 1999, CTK reported. Zamecnik has been sentenced twice previously on similar charges, but those sentences were suspended. He said he is appealing the 23 October sentence. CTK said "Nove Bruntalsko" is "reportedly run by the former communist secret service." Its new editor in chief, communist activist David Pecha, faces prosecution for having "supported a movement aimed at suppressing the rights and freedoms of citizens" and for "scaremongering" after he called for the violent overthrow of the present political system. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

CABINET TO FILE LAWSUITS AGAINST POLITICAL WEEKLY. Prime Minister Milos Zeman announced after the cabinet's meeting of 22 October that the cabinet as a whole and each of its 17 ministers will file separate lawsuits against the weekly "Respekt" and "put it out of existence," CTK reported. Zeman said each minister will ask for 10 million crowns (over $268,000) in compensation against the weekly's claim, in an article published the same day, that "from the youngest to the most senior" cabinet member, each minister is corrupt. The premier said he wants an "equality-partnership with the media," but "when it tell lies, journalists should not be surprised if the government's response is allergic." "Respekt" is published by the R-Presse trust, in which President Vaclav Havel's former chancellor, millionaire Karel Schwarzenberg, has a majority stake. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October)

RIGHTIST PARTIES WANT TO SET UP OFFICE IN CHARGE OF COMMUNIST POLICE FILES. A group of deputies from the Civic Democratic Party and the Freedom Union on 17 October submitted in the Chamber of Deputies a draft bill on setting up an office that would be in charge of all of the files of the communist secret police, the StB, CTK reported. The model is that of the "Gauck Office," which is in charge of the Stasi files in the former German Democratic Republic. Vaclav Krasa of the Freedom Union said the intention is to have all the files transferred to the new Institute for the Documentation of the Totalitarian Regime. The move follows a proposal in the Senate to open up StB files and allow free access to anyone. Krasa said the two draft bills should be debated simultaneously in the two chambers of the parliament. He said the proposed institute would also process the files and would publish case studies on the way the communist regime and its security apparatus operated. Members of the institute are to be elected by the Chamber of Deputies from among candidates proposed by the country's president and the Senate, Krasa said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

LICENSE OF TELEVISION STATION TV-1 REVOKED. The Broadcasting Council revoked the license of the commercial television station TV-1 on 19 October for failure to pay its debt to the Broadcasting Transmission Center, ETA reported. Culture Minister Signe Kivi was expected to sign the formal license revocation on 22 October. The center suspended the station's transmissions earlier in the month, but TV-1 resumed transmissions of its programs on cable television on 11 October. Despite repeatedly declaring that the station's owner, Poland's Polsat Media, was sending funds to pay the 1.5 million kroon ($88,000) debt, TV-1 board Chairman Rait Killandi agreed to begin the liquidation of the station. The Culture Ministry declared that broadcasting via cable television contradicts the terms of TV-1's broadcasting license, and with the revocation of the license broadcasts must be halted. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October)

KILLING OF CRIMINAL KINGPIN LINKED TO SANAYA'S KILLING? Vephkhia Margoshvili, who was widely suspected of involvement in abductions and drug trafficking through Georgia's Pankisi gorge, was killed by a mine that exploded in his outhouse on the morning of 17 October, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze left Tbilisi for Pankisi the same day to investigate the killing. Georgian press commentaries on 18 October focused on a possible connection between Margoshvili's murder and that of journalist Giorgi Sanaya in July. Shortly before Sanaya's death, Margoshvili gave Georgian parliament Human Rights Committee Chair Elene Tevdoradze a video cassette with incriminating material which he asked her to pass to Sanaya. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

AUDIT CHAMBER: GOVERNMENT PAID FOR JOURNALISTS' FOREIGN TRIP. The Georgian Control Commission has conducted a preliminary audit of the Justice Ministry, the findings of which may be used to discredit former Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili, who was the winner in the disputed Vake by-election. The audit has registered several instances of what it termed unwarranted expenditure of budget funds, Caucasus Press reported. For example, the ministry paid 8,000 laris to finance the expenses of journalists who accompanied Saakashvili on an official visit to Sofia. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

NEW ONLINE MAGAZINE 'CIVIL GEORGIA.' The United Nations Association of Georgia with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation has launched the Internet information portal Civil Georgia at It provides information and analysis on political and social developments in Georgia from a civil viewpoint, including press reviews and interviews. The site is available in English and Georgian, and a Russian version is upcoming. For more, write (Center for Civil Society International, 10 October)

PRESIDENT'S SON-IN-LAW ACCUSES OBLAST GOVERNOR OVER MEDIA OWNERSHIP ALLEGATIONS... Rakhat Aliev, the husband of President Nursultan Nazarbaev's daughter Dariga, told journalists on 17 October on his return from an official visit to the United States that he believes Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, governor of Pavlodar Oblast in northern Kazakhstan, is behind the allegations spread last week by parliament deputy Tolen Toqtasynov, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Toqtasynov addressed an open letter to Nazarbaev advising the latter to "rein in" Aliyev who, Toqtasynov claimed, abuses his official position as deputy chairman of the National Security Committee. Toqtasynov also claimed that Aliyev and his wife control most of Kazakhstan's print and electronic media outlets. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

...AND THREATENS TO SUE PAPERS INVOLVED. At a press conference on 23 October, the editor in chief of "Vremiya Po" newspaper told journalists that Rakhat Aliyev was trying to "punish" the paper's editorial board for "being really independent." "Vremiya Po" and some other media outlets have covered the story about Aliev's alleged misuse of office. Last week, Aliev's lawyers announced that he would sue some periodicals, including "Vremiya Po," for allegedly "insulting Rakhat Aliev's personal dignity and honor." ("RFE/RL Kazakh News," 23 October)

JOURNALIST KILLED... Unidentified persons killed "Bota Sot" journalist Bekim Kastrati in a drive-by shooting in Lausha, west of Prishtina, on 19 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Kastrati was politically close to moderate Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). Also killed was Besim Dajaku, a former bodyguard of Rugova. Rugova said in a statement that the killing of Dajaku was an attack on the LDK, AP reported. A third man in the same car was wounded. UN police said that they do not know the motive for the killing. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October)

...WHICH NATO SAYS WAS DUE TO FAMILY FEUD. General Marcel Valentin of KFOR said in Prishtina on 24 October that the recent killing of a Kosovar journalist was the result of a "long-standing family feud," AP reported. UN police spokesman Barry Fletcher said, however, that police are still investigating the motive behind the drive-by shooting. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

TV REPORTER WOUNDED. A few hours after Kastrati's killing on 19 October, Rados Radonjic, an employee with the Serbian TV station RTS, in Kosova, was shot and seriously wounded at his home. The incident occurred in Devet Jugovica, an isolated Serb village in Albanian territory north of Prishtina where many interethnic conflicts have erupted over the past two years. Tanjug reported that Radonjic caught people trying to steal his cattle. (Reporters without Borders, 22 October)

MORE ACCESS TO INTERNET IN A MOUNTAINOUS REGION. A public center with free access to the Internet was opened in Naryn in the mountainous Naryn province on 23 October. The International Exchange Program (IREX) will also conduct training programs for local residents. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 24 October)

LOCAL MONTHLY NEWSPAPER IN FOUR LANGUAGES. The first issue of a monthly local paper, "Gostivar Voice," appeared on 22 October. The paper, with a print run of 3,500 copies, informs local citizens about local events in Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, and Romany. It is produced by a multiethnic team of young journalists and published by the Interethnic Project Gostivar (IPG) supported by the Dutch Interchurch Peace Council (IKV), by Dutch donors and the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Skopje. For more information, e-mail (MINELRES, 25 October)

GOVERNMENT DECLASSIFIES COMMUNIST-ERA ARCHIVES. Maciej Musial, the head of the prime minister's office, told journalists in Warsaw on 17 October that the government declassified a large quantity of top-secret documents dating from 1945-1989 of the former Office of the Council of Ministers, PAP reported. Copies of the declassified documents will be transferred to the Institute of National Remembrance, the State Archives, and major Polish universities. In particular, the documents include dramatic reports on cruel crimes committed by Red Army soldiers deployed in Poland. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

PARLIAMENTARY RADIO TO START ON 19 OCTOBER. A new Radio Parliament station will start broadcasting on 19 October, when the newly elected Sejm is to convene for its first sitting, Polish Radio reported on 17 October. On 198 kilohertz long-wave frequency, Radio Parliament will air full transmissions of debates of both houses of the parliament, reports on parliamentary committees' work, as well as interviews with parliamentarians and discussions about current legislative work. Radio Parliament will broadcast 10 hours daily on days when the Sejm and the Senate hold sessions. Henryk Walczak, the public Polish Radio's parliamentary reporter and commentator, was appointed the director of Radio Parliament. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

COLUMNIST STRIKES CHORD IN U.S. An editorial published on 24 September by Cornel Nistorescu, the managing editor of the daily "Evenimentul zilei," has turned Nistorescu into one of the most popular figures in the United States, AP reported on 18 October. The editorial has circulated in e-mails all over the U.S. and Nistorescu has since been flooded with messages of sympathy and emotional gratitude from Americans. Titled "Ode to America," the editorial pondered what could have brought together so many movie stars, popular singers, and other VIPs as those who gathered on 22 September in New York for a telethon for the victims of the 11 September attack. Nistorescu wrote: "The Americans' spirit of solidarity had transformed them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the [right] word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul. What can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their tumultuous history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer...but reached only one conclusion: Only freedom can work such miracles." Romanian television on 18 October said that "The New York Times" has purchased the distribution rights in the U.S. for Nistorescu's editorial. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

CPJ CALLS FOR FAIR TRIAL FOR PASKO. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is "deeply disturbed" by the second trial of Russian journalist Grigorii Pasko, set to restart on 29 October in the Vladivostok Military Court. A verdict is expected within weeks, say local sources. If convicted, Pasko -- charged with treason and revealing state secrets to Japanese media -- faces 12 to 20 years in prison. Pasko says that he has not revealed classified data and that he is on trial for publicizing environmental hazards at the Pacific Fleet. Pasko's new trial began on 11 July after three postponements since March and his defense has shown that it lacks any basis in Russian law. The Federal Law on State Secrets stipulates that news on environmental dangers cannot be classified and apparently the prosecution is relying on a secret Military of Defense decree (No. 055) even though the Russian Constitution forbids use of secret laws in criminal cases. Pasko's trial is being held in a secret military court. "Independent" experts -- all Federal Security Service (FSB) associates -- have testified on the classified nature of documents allegedly seized at Pasko's apartment. Several of the 53 witnesses claim that the FSB falsified their statements. For more, visit (Committee to Protect Journalists Press Release, 24 October)

NTV JOURNALISTS WARNED TO OBEY THE LAW. Sergei Shevtsov, the spokesman of the Interior Ministry units in Moscow, told Interfax on 19 October that the television journalists detained earlier that day after going into a prohibited zone around the city's water supply were from NTV and had been warned to obey the law. He said that such obedience was especially important at a time of increased activity by "international terrorist organizations." Meanwhile, the same day a lawyer for embattled magnate Boris Berezovsky told Interfax that Russian prosecutors have issued a warrant for Berezovsky to appear to answer questions regarding new charges against him, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October)

MINISTRY TRIES TO TAKE OVER HOUSE OF JOURNALISTS. The Union of Russian Journalists (UJR) is fighting an effort by the Ministry of State Property to take over its building in central Moscow and give it to a state-owned company set up by the Ministry, UJR Chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov told a 26 September press conference. Last year alone, over 700 journalism training seminars were held in the UJR building; the Ministry claims the building is being used for purposes other than journalism. In 1996, Russian President Boris Yeltsin decreed that the building be made available to the UJR "for free permanent use," although ownership of the building remained with the government. After the UJR press conference, 347 State Duma deputies demanded that the government annul the Ministry of State Property decree. ("European Institute for the Media Russian Federation Newsletter," September)

KREMLIN-LINKED 'MEDIA-UNION' OFFICIALLY REGISTERED. Russia's Media-Union has been officially registered as an all-Russian social organization of media workers. The Media Union currently has departments in 58 regions. (, 17 October)

LUKOIL READY TO PURCHASE BEREZOVSKY'S SHARE OF TV-6. LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov said on 23 October that his firm is prepared to purchase the shares in TV-6 held by embattled magnate Boris Berezovsky, Interfax-ANI reported. But Alekperov added that LUKoil would do so only after all legal cases involving Berezovsky and the station have been resolved. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

KOKH INTERESTED IN PURCHASING GAZPROM MEDIA PROPERTIES... Alfred Kokh, who resigned earlier this week as general director of Gazprom-Media, said in an interview published in "Kommersant-Daily" on 17 October that he is ready to purchase some of the media properties held by Gazprom. (Gazprom for its part said it would define the terms of sale of its media properties by mid-January 2002, Interfax reported the same day.) Meanwhile, on 16 October, embattled magnate Boris Berezovsky said that he wants to purchase LUKoil's shares in TV-6, Interfax reported. And on 17 October, the Television News Service sued TV-6 for $5 million, a move Berezovsky said violates earlier agreements, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

...BUT MAY HAVE ALFA-GROUP COMPETITION. Kokh and company are likely to face stiff competition in efforts to buy Gazprom-Media, says "The Russia Journal." The Alfa-Group, controlled by Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, already includes large stakes in STS, Nizhnii Novgorod's Nika-TV, St. Petersburg's Channel 6 and Ukraine's New Channel. As STS General Director Roman Petrenko told "The Russia Journal," "[the Alfa-Group] will likely try to make good on any opportunity to take control of NTV." ("The Russia Journal," 19-25 October)

NTV-INTERNATIONAL. "Kommersant" on 28 September carried a short report that NTV had ended business dealings with InterTV, a Vladimir Gusinsky-controlled entity that broadcasts in foreign countries under the trademark "NTV-International." NTV has refused InterTV the rights to broadcast the network's programs, since InterTV had failed to meet unspecified financial obligations to NTV. "Kommersant" also quoted NTV's claims that "the NTV television network is not satisfied with the principles by which the InterTV company is governed in forming its programming policy." The paper interpreted this as alluding to InterTV's practice of broadcasting TV-6 evening news programs, such as the Sunday evening news show "Itogi," rather than NTV's own shows. "Kommersant" also reported that NTV is forming its own subsidiary, NTV-Mir, for satellite broadcasts of NTV programs to Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Israel. "Kommersant" also quoted InterTV representatives as denying allegations that the company owed debts to NTV. They were quoted as saying that InterTV would soon resume broadcasts (presumably not of NTV programs). InterTV executives, however, said that recently NTV programs comprised only about 10 percent of Inter-TV's broadcasts. (Laura Belin --, 13 October)

OLIGARCH LAUNCHES A NEWSPAPER. Vladimir Lisin, the chairman of the Novolipetsk Metals Plant, is behind the launch of a new newspaper, "Gazeta," "Ekspert" reported on 15 October. "Ekspert" said that notwithstanding Lisin's denials, the launch of the paper is intended to promote his political ambitions. Meanwhile, Interfax-Moscow reported on 22 October that the head of Sistema, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, plans to become involved in the media business as well. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October)

END OF TAX BREAKS SEEN CUTTING NEWSPAPER PRINT RUNS BY 40 PERCENT. Deputy Media Minister Vladimir Grigorev said in an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 17 October that the elimination of existing tax breaks for newspapers and magazines will lead to higher prices and a decline in the print runs of those publications of 40 percent. He said that as a result, not only would many people no longer read newspapers, but local governments would probably again subsidize and hence control the local press. Igor Yakovenko, the general secretary of the Union of Journalists, made the same points in an interview published in "Vremya novostei" on 17 October. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

TODAY'S RADIO 'MAYAK.' Until the late 1960's, a single wired channel on loudspeakers in Soviet cities, towns, and villages was the only radio officially available in that vast country. It offered, reports "The New York Times," "an eclectic mix of stupefying ideology and world-class theater, interviews with tractor workers, and gripping hockey games." These loudspeakers were replaced by three-button radio boxes -- these sets are hard to find in Moscow today -- which aired news, culture, and light music under the name "Mayak" (Lighthouse). By law, wired radio still reaches almost every building in Russia -- plus much of the former USSR. Today's listeners, half of whom are over 60, get three choices: Radio "Mayak"; Radio Rossiya with its cultural offerings plus news feed from state TV; or the third channel, usually controlled by local governments. ("The New York Times, 18 October)

DUMA RESTRICTS ADVERTISING ON RADIO AND TELEVISION. Three hundred and thirty-one Duma deputies voted on 18 October on second reading in favor of amendments to the current advertising law that severely restricts the amount of advertising that can be carried on radio and television programs, RIA-Novosti reported. The bill bans all ads during children's programs, religious broadcasts, and movies. Vladimir Yevstafiev said that the law represents "a serious economic blow" to the Russian media. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

RUSSIAN PR SPECIALISTS MARK 10TH ANNIVERSARY. The members of the Russian Association of Public Relations on 18 October marked the 10th anniversary of their group and of the role of PR specialists in the Russian economy, "Izvestiya" reported the following day. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October)

SPS SELECTS AD AGENCY HEAD TO LEAD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. The federal political council of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) on 18 October selected Eldar Yanbukhtin, 38, as chairman of the executive committee of the party, Interfax reported. Prior to the collapse of the USSR, Yanbukhtin worked at Gosbank and in the financial planning administration of Gosteleradio. In 1989, he went into private business and created the Kontakt-Media advertising agency, which he headed until recently. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

TATAR OFFICIAL SEEKS COMPROMISE IN DISPUTE OVER SCRIPT? At a commission meeting of Tatarstan's legislature on 18 October, leading republican politicians expressed their concern about State Duma deputies' and federal government officials' recent interest in the transition from Cyrillic to Latin script of the Tatar alphabet, RFE/RL reported. Deputy Prime Minister Zilya Valeeva said during the meeting that "it is essential to obtain the approval of Tatars living outside Tatarstan for the switchover -- otherwise it would split the nation, which will lose a common system for graphically depicting the language." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

RADIO, TV GO OFF THE AIR AGAIN IN PRIMORE. All national radio and television channels in Primorskii Krai went off the air on 18 October because the local electricity supplier, Dalenergo, cut power to the krai's radio and broadcasting center, NTV reported. According to NTV, the center owes Dalenergo more than 73 million rubles ($2.47 million). The center is in turn owed money by the national channels; for example, ORT owes some 27 million rubles, according to Interfax-Eurasia. Valerii Klimov, director of the center, told NTV that this is the third time this year that the center's electricity has been cut off. According to, local commercial channels, which rebroadcast TV-Tsentr and TV-6, are still on the air. And, in some towns Chinese television programs can be picked up. Meanwhile, Primorskii Krai Governor Sergei Darkin has sent letters to Media Minister Mikhail Lesin and All-Russia Television and Radio Company head Oleg Dobrodeev asking them to intervene. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

FIRST RUSSIAN STUDY ON INFORMATION WAR PUBLISHED. "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie," No. 39, carried a review of a new book entitled "Information Challenges of National and International Security," prepared by a group of Russian scholars and published by the PIR-Center. The review said that this is the first Russian publication devoted to the defensive and offensive aspects of information security. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October)

RUSSIANS SAID AGAIN INTERESTED IN FOREIGN NEWS. According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 23 October, Russians are once again interested in news and events abroad as a result of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. and the conflict in Afghanistan. For the last 15 years, the paper said, Russians have focused almost exclusively on domestic developments but now once again are looking outward. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

'IZVESTIYA' TELLS HOW RUSSIAN MEDIA HAVE MADE MISTAKES ON AFGHAN DEVELOPMENTS. An article in "Izvestiya" on 17 October described the ways in which the Russian media have repeated rumors and analyses based on rumors and thus failed to report developments in Afghanistan accurately. The paper noted that reports that concluded from the fact that people in Kandahar had heard helicopters that the U.S. had already introduced ground forces proved to be wrong, as the aircraft in question were AC-130 gunship airplanes. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

METAL THIEVES TAKE DOWN ANTENNAS IN MOSCOW. Moscow police reported on 17 October that a gang has been stealing antennas from the rooftops of apartment blocks in the city, apparently in order to sell the metal for scrap, Interfax-Moscow reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

RUSSIAN MOBILE PHONES CONCENTRATED IN MOSCOW. Communications Minister Leonid Reiman said on 22 October that there will be 6 million cellular phones in Russia by the end of 2001, Interfax reported. He noted that 5 million of these will be in Moscow, 500,000 in St. Petersburg, and the remaining 500,000 spread over the rest of the country. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October)

COMPUTER CRIMES MORE THAN DOUBLE IN MOSCOW OVER ONE YEAR. Moscow Interior Ministry officials said that the number of crimes involving illegal access to computer information has more than doubled in the past year, Interfax reported. They added that telephone piracy and other electronic crimes have shown similar increases. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

WEBSITE ESTABLISHED FOR 2002 CENSUS. reported on 17 October the opening of a new website -- -- in support of the Russian census scheduled for 9-16 October 2002. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October)

INTERNET SITE TO MONITOR ANTI-SEMITIC CONTENT. A popular Russian web portal has been "purged" of anti-Semitic content after complaints by, according to the October "Mezhdunarodnaya Evreyskaya Gazeta." A bulletin board on Jewish topics set up by the website was flooded with anti-Semitic postings. After the story began to spread on other Russian websites, agreed to monitor the bulletin board to ensure that it eases communication among Russian Jews, not anti-Semites. (Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, 14 October)

'KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA' JOURNALIST NAMED 'MISS PRESS-2001.' "Izvestiya" reported on 18 October that Anna Yerosheva, a journalist at "Komsomolskaya pravda," has been selected as Miss Press-2001. A journalist from "Izvestiya" finished second in the competition, the paper said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

EUROPE'S 'MOST INTERNETTED' GOVERNMENT? "The Economist" sketches the workday of Dimirij Rupel, Slovenian foreign minister, to show what the magazine describes as possibly "Europe's most internetted government." ("The Economist," 20-26 October)

'RUKHNAMA' CODE ADOPTED... On 19 October, the government adopted a national code of spiritual conduct based on Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's recent book, "Rukhnama." Niyazov's 400-page book of moral commandments was adopted by the country's parliament. The president, who said he wants his book to help restore forgotten folk traditions and the nation's cultural heritage, claimed "Rukhnama" ranks with the Bible or Koran in its significance. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, 19 October)

...AS SATELLITE COMMUNICATION PLANS SET FORTH. The Turkmenistan government plans to introduce mobile satellite communication in the country, according to a press statement released on 17 October at the "TurkmenTel-2001" international technology show. The winning bids from foreign companies will be awarded by the Turkmentelekom state concern. This year, there are plans to install 638 kilometers of fiber optic communication lines, as well as to replace 15,000 analog telephone lines with digital ones in Ashgabat and 2,500 in regional centers. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, 19 October)

AMNESTY: 'PRESS FREEDOM CURTAILED.' Amnesty International on 15 October said curtailment of the freedom of expression persists in Ukraine 10 years after it declared independence. "Press freedom has also been curtailed through overt forms of harassment and intimidation, whereby journalists have been physically attacked by unknown assailants, sometimes resulting in death. The circumstances surrounding many of these attacks remain unresolved and only occasionally have those responsible been brought to justice," the world's human rights watchdog said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October)

PARLIAMENT QUERIES TOP OFFICIALS ABOUT MELNYCHENKO'S TAPES. The parliament on 17 October questioned the head of the Council of National Security and Defense, the Security Service chief, and the prosecutor-general about their reactions to a recent request made by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko, who made secret audio recordings in President Leonid Kuchma's office in 2000, Interfax reported. Last week, Melnychenko asked Ukraine's leadership to confirm that his recordings contain state secrets in order to prevent those secrets from being leaked. Melnychenko explained that he has received an official demand from the U.S. Justice Department to hand over all the recordings he made in Kuchma's office. Melnychenko asked Kuchma and top Ukrainian officials to meet him and listen to the tapes together to determine what material is confidential. Melnychenko alleges that his recordings contain not only state secrets of Ukraine, but also of Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, Spain, Turkey, and some other countries. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October)

FORMER PREMIER REPORTEDLY SUES 'FINANCIAL TIMES.' The "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported on 22 October that former Premier Viktor Yushchenko has sued the "Financial Times" for an article the newspaper published on 5 June 2000. The article, which dealt with then-U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to Kyiv, mentioned Yushchenko in one paragraph, saying that his government has been a disappointment and recalling that Yushchenko in his former capacity of National Bank governor was accused of mismanaging bank funds. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October)

CITY COUNCIL TAKES OVER 'VECHIRNIY KYIV.' The Kyiv City Council decided on 6 September to create a municipal enterprise called the "'Vechirniy Kyiv' Editorial Board." The council has also given the mayor of Kyiv the right to appoint the newspaper's editor in chief. The paper had previously been owned by its staff. ("European Institute for the Media Ukraine Newsletter," September)

ANTI-SEMITIC MEDIA OUTLETS. The anti-Semitic Ukrainian children's magazine "Dzherltse" is still distributed in Kharkov schools, reports the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry (UCSJ). In the magazine's October 2001 issue, an article by its chief editor refers to Jews as kikes; claims that the Talmud allows Jews the right to rape non-Jewish three-year-old girls; and blames Israel for the 11 September attack on the U.S. Last year, the magazine was taken to court by Jewish activists for allegedly violating a law which forbids incitement of ethnic hatred, but the trial seems to have dragged on without resolution, reports UCSJ. The Kharkov branch of the Prosvita foundation, which publishes "Dzherltse" reportedly receives government funds. In Lviv, the October issue of the paper "Idealist," with a print run of 1,200, ran an article calling for violence against Jews. (Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry, 25 October)

JOURNALISTS' ETHICS COMMISSION FORMED. Twelve leading Ukrainian journalists formed an ethics commission in September. It will focus on "creating a culture of professional and honest journalism, restoring trust in the media, and strengthening freedom of speech." Four NGOs, Khartiya-4, the Respublika institute, and the Ukrainian-Polish club, "Without Prejudice," backed the commission's formation. ("European Institute for the Media Ukraine Newsletter," September)

LEAGUE OF ECONOMIC JOURNALISTS REGISTERED. In September, the Justice Ministry registered the League of Economic Journalists which seeks to develop Ukrainian economic journalism on the principle of freedom of opinion. Representatives of five news agencies, seven newspapers, and four TV news agencies have joined the league. Hennadiy Harmash was elected the league's president. ("European Institute for the Media Ukraine Newsletter," September)

INFORMATION POLICY COUNCIL CREATED FOR RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION STATE. Pavel Borodin, the Russia-Belarus Union state secretary, is setting up a council on information policy for that union, his press secretary Ivan Makushok told Interfax on 17 October. The group -- which Borodin himself will head -- includes the leaders of the most important mass media outlets in the two countries. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

UKRAINIAN TV AVAILABLE IN RUSSIA VIA INTERNET. On 23 October in Moscow, the information service and the information center presented their joint Internet project that makes it possible for Russian audiences to watch Ukraine's leading TV networks UT-1, UT-2, Inter, STB, One Plus One, and ICTV in real time on the Internet. "For the first time, Ukrainian television can be watched all over the Russian Federation," UNIAN quoted Gleb Pavlovskii, the project leader and director of Russia's Effective Politics Center, as saying. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

NTV TO BE BROADCAST IN UKRAINE. Interfax reported on 23 October that in the near future, a new company -- NTV-Ukraine -- will begin broadcasting the programs of NTV in Ukraine. The creators of NTV-Ukraine believe, the news agency said, that "the creation of a single information space is possible only on the foundation of a civilized approach to the distribution of information which observes all licensing and copyright laws." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

SLOVAK TV MOGUL ATTACKS CZECH COMPETITOR. Pavol Rusko, co-owner of the private Markiza TV and leader of the ANO Party, told CTK on 22 October that if the Slovak License Council decides at its meeting on 23 October to grant a license to Vladimir Zelezny, the owner of Czech Nova TV, this would be tantamount to "granting a banking license to Viktor Kozeny." Kozeny is a controversial Czech financier who helped start the Czech coupon privatization in the mid-1990s and was later charged with fraud. Rusko said the ruling of an international arbitration court that Zelezny "committed a criminal act" in the conflict over Nova TV ownership justifies him in making the statement. He also said that if Zelezny is granted the license, "programs will be made according to Prague's decision" and "we have had enough Czechoslovak broadcasts over 40 years, we are fed up with them." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October)

CZECH TV MOGUL RECEIVES SLOVAK LICENSE. The Media License Council approved on 23 October the purchasing of TV Global by Czech television mogul Vladimir Zelezny, CTK reported. A spokeswoman for the council said the body has approved the purchase of a majority stake in TV Global by the Nova Television subsidiary Ceska produkcni invest (CPI). Zelezny said in a recent interview that he might rename TV Global Slovak Nova or Nova Slovakia. The council accepted Zelezny's conditions for the purchase by allotting transmission bands to TV Global in Bratislava, Zilina, and Hlohovec, and the station will now be able to cover most of Slovakia's territory. Zelezny's main rival, Slovak television mogul Pavol Rusko, the co-owner of Markiza television, refused to comment on the council's decision. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)

SEMINAR FOR CENTRAL ASIAN JOURNALISTS. On 22-23 October, Internews with the Bishkek office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe held a workshop in Osh for 25 journalists in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The head of the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, Oleg Panfilov, Kyrgyz journalist Alexander Knyazev, and Aziz Gaziev of the Osh office of the International Crisis Group led discussions on covering conflicts. ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 24 October)