FORMER FSB OFFICER TESTIFIES ABOUT 1999 APARTMENT-BUILDING BOMBINGS...
Former Federal Security Service (FSB) Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Litvinenko, who lives in Great Britain, testified by satellite link on 25 July before a public commission looking into the 1999 apartment-building bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities, lenta.ru and gazeta.ru reported. Litvinenko's representatives distributed to the commission copies of a handwritten document purported to be the testimony of Achemez Gochiyaev, who is wanted by the FSB in connection with the bombings. According to the document, Gochiyaev was approached by an unidentified school friend in 1999 to rent four basements in Moscow for use as storage. He did this, and only after the two explosions figured out that the locations were the ones that he had rented. He claims he anonymously called the authorities and warned about the other two locations, preventing additional explosions. RC
...AND NAMES HIGH-RANKING FSB OFFICIAL AS INSTIGATOR...
Litvinenko said that he had also been in contact with two other men wanted in connection with the incidents, Timur Batchaev and Yusuf Krymshamkhalov, gazeta.ru reported. On the basis of their information, Litvinenko named the late Deputy FSB Director German Ugryumov as the instigator of the explosions. Urgyumov, who headed the FSB operation in the North Caucasus from January 2001 until his death on 31 March 2001, oversaw the capture of Chechen field commander Salman Raduev and a number of other operations in the region. Officially, he died of a heart attack, but rumors have persisted that he committed suicide. Litvinenko did not explain what Ugryumov's motive for instigating the bombings might have been. RC
...AS FSB DISMISSES THE TESTIMONY
The FSB denounced Litvinenko's information as "an promotional exercise by dubious people," grani.ru reported on 25 July. "The testimony distributed by Litvinenko is unfounded and cannot be accepted by serious people who are seriously investigating these terrorist acts," an unidentified FSB spokesman said. RC
PREMIER CALLS FOR MORE COMPETITION FOR STATE PURCHASES
Speaking to a cabinet meeting on 25 July, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov expressed dissatisfaction with the state procurement process, strana.ru and other Russian news agencies reported. Kasyanov criticized the lack of competition for state purchases and said that in the first half of the year, the majority of tenders were won by state enterprises controlled by federal agencies. "If this is true," he said, "it is an enormous shame." According to RIA-Novosti, Kasyanov ordered officials to look into the statistics and, if they are accurate, to propose measures for addressing the problem. "How can we call on regional leaders to develop competition when these principles are not observed on the federal level," Kasyanov was quoted by strana.ru as saying. RC
NEW PARTY OF POWER REPORTEDLY MAKING INROADS...
In an interview with gazeta.ru on 24 July, Academic Aleksei Kara-Murza, a member of the political council of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), said that the recent drop in the popularity rating of the Communist Party (KPRF) is connected with recent activities by the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party. According to Kara-Murza, that party "has started to pick up successfully the electorate of the Communist Party," in part by adopting the KPRF's "paternalistic rhetoric." In elections, Unified Russia "will not oppose the Communists, but will campaign in all the regions for strong economic managers, proteges of the presidential administration, or members of Unified Russia," he continued. "They will approach the little old ladies, give them firewood, and take them to vote. Cynically, pragmatically, and absolutely non-ideologically." The elderly, who are considered most likely to turn out at the polls, are generally considered to be strong supporters of the Communist Party. On 23 July, sociologists Mikhail Gorshkov and Vladimir Petukhov wrote in "Izvestiya" that the popularity of Unified Russia is going up because the group's ideology is "so vague that many voters interpret it as they see fit." JAC
...AS GOVERNOR PREDICTS PARTY'S ULTIMATE FAILURE
In an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 24 July, Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev commented on a meeting he had earlier in the month with President Vladimir Putin. According to Khodyrev, he advised the president that "attempts to organize [political] parties from above, from Moscow, as a rule, end in fiasco." He added this is even more likely if leaders from the regions are not included in the effort. Therefore, he predicted, neither Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev's Rossiya movement nor Unified Russia will work effectively. He also noted that it is interesting how "people change colors." "For example," he continued, "the head of LUKoil's Volga Nefteprodukt, Vadim Vorobev, formerly headed the Union of Rightist Forces faction in the city Duma, and heads the Unified Russia faction in the oblast's legislature." Khodyrev, who has formed an alliance of sorts with presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko, suspended his membership in the Communist Party during his tenure as governor, and later announced his resignation from the party to protest its expulsion of Seleznev and others (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 and 17 June 2002). JAC
LOCAL LEGISLATURE CALLS FOR CONTROL OF MEDIA...
The legislature of North Ossetia has appealed to the State Duma to adopt strict new controls over the media when it debates the law on mass media in the next legislative session, lenta.ru reported on 25 July, citing state-run RTR television. On 24 July, the republic's parliament adopted an appeal to State Duma speaker Seleznev calling for the adoption of "articles and norms forbidding direct or indirect propagandizing of cults of cruelty, profit, drugs, and pornography." The letter also characterizes the current state of the regional and national media as "moral nihilism" that threatens "to wash away the moral values [of young Russians]." Further, parliamentarians are alarmed because they believe the majority of mass media outlets, especially television, are controlled by private individuals "dictating to the entire country their own conceptions of morality." They urged the Duma to address this "socially dangerous phenomenon." RC
...AND ANOTHER STATE MEDIA OUTLET OPENS
State-owned Vneshtorgbank will launch the Agency of Corporate Information in August, Prime-TASS reported on 24 July, citing "Vedomosti." The business-information agency represents a $4 million investment by the bank, its largest non-core business project. Vneshtorgbank will own 49 percent of the project, with the remainder controlled by Interfax. The move comes despite repeated statements from federal officials, including President Putin and Media Minister Mikhail Lesin, that the government intends to reduce its presence in the Russian media market. RC
STATE TV WARNS VIEWERS ABOUT 'GYPSIES'...
A report on RTR on 24 July provides details about the Moscow police directorate's Operation Tabor, in which city police check all persons who appear to be ethnically Roma at train stations to make sure they are legally registered (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2002). According to the correspondent, a Rom began to feel his pockets during a fortune-telling session and removed a 500 ruble ($16) note from his pocket. "The [Roma] possess remarkable sleight of hand," he said, adding that "in addition to swindling, [the Roma] also sell drugs." The report concluded: "Although Operation Tabor is over, the problem remains: It does not seem that there will be fewer [Roma] in the future." JAC
...AS PUTIN DECRIES CHAUVINISM
President Putin met in the Kremlin on 25 July with Tatyana Sapunova, who was severely injured in May when she tried to remove a booby-trapped anti-Semitic sign, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau and other news agencies reported. "In any country, the development of extremism undermines the very basis of a nation's being, while for a country like Russia, it is absolutely disastrous, because it is a multiethnic, multi-religious country," Putin said. "If we let this bacillus of chauvinism and national or religious intolerance develop, we will ruin our country." RC
ACTIVIST SEES NO PROGRESS IN DEVELOPMENT OF CIVIL SOCIETY
In a sharply worded comment in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 25 July, activist Aleksandr Ivanchenko, chairman of the Public Council on Cooperation Between Civil Society and the State, lamented the weakening of civil society over the last two years. "Today, we do not know what kind of state we are building or what we mean by 'civil society,'" Ivanchenko wrote. "Citizens objectively ... have no channels of communication with the organs of power. The president compensates for the absence of permanent contact [with society] by recalling his former life in a communal apartment." He argues that citizens had more channels of expression in the communist period and says that following the Kremlin-sponsored Civic Forum (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001), nothing positive has happened. He argued that none of the initiatives discussed at that event have been implemented. Ivanchenko said that the first priority must be the immediate adoption of a sweeping law guaranteeing public access to information about the activities of local and federal organs. RC
DARYAL-TV FACES LOSS OF LICENSE
The government advisory commission that makes recommendations concerning broadcast licenses recommended on 24 July that the government not renew the license of the private Daryal-TV channel, ITAR-TASS and other new agencies reported. According to commission member Manana Aslamazian, the channel has received three warnings from the Media Ministry for such actions as broadcasting commercials for alcoholic beverages. Aslamazian acknowledged that the channel's ownership has changed since the warnings were issued, but said the new owners "have to pay the price for other people's mistakes." The channel was founded in 1999 and Sweden's Moden Times Group AB purchased a controlling stake in it in April 2001. Aslamazian said that the new owners would be able to participate in a tender for the license, which is expected to be held in October. The commission also recommended not extending the license of ATN television in Yekaterinburg, which was accused by the Media Ministry in August 2000 of using subliminal advertising techniques (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 2000). RC
MOSCOW DRAWS THE LINE FOR DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
Moscow city officials have ordered a clinic run by the Brussels-based Doctors Without Borders to move by the end of August or close, "The Moscow Times" reported on 25 July. The clinic's eviction from its current location in the Presnya Raion follows complaints from residents that the clinic's clientele of primarily homeless men have been loitering in their neighborhood. Officials said they will try to find another location for the clinic, but do not rule out closing it altogether if residents complain again. Doctors at the clinic expressed concern that its patients would have difficulty reaching the clinic if it moved to another location. They said that if the clinic -- which is the only one of its kind in the capital -- closed, the city's homeless might go without necessary care. Various estimates put the number of homeless people in Moscow between 30,000 and 100,000, and the clinic treats about 60 patients a day. LG
WRITER TO UNDERGO QUESTIONING
Vladimir Sorokin, against whom the Prosecutor-General's Office has filed charges of disseminating pornography because of his avant-garde novels, will be summoned for questioning as early as next week, lenta.ru reported on 25 July, citing an interview with the author. AP reported the same day that Sorokin will be questioned on 29 July, citing one of his lawyers. Sorokin also told lenta.ru that Aleksandr Ivanov, general director of the Ad Marginem publishing house, was questioned on 23 July. Sorokin added that he is being represented in the case by the well-known human rights attorney Genri Reznik. Sorokin also reported that his own lawsuit against the pro-Putin youth movement Walking Together, in which he alleges that the group disseminated pornography by distributing excerpts from his novels to passersby during a Moscow protest, will be heard in the Taganskii District Court on 5 August. RC
MAYOR GETS THE MOST OUT OF BUREAUCRATS
More than 300 bureaucrats from the city of Saransk were sent to a local state forest to fell timber, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 25 July. According to the daily, the officials have been ordered by Saransk Mayor Ivan Nenyukov to perform the work in order to save the city money. Nenyukov personally supervised the work being carried out, although he did not participate. "My belly makes it impossible for me to bend over," he told the paper. "But my officials are young and I'm satisfied with their work." Three years ago, Nenyukov sent his bureaucrats to clean up a local rest area, according to the paper, and next year he intends to use them to clean up the Insar River. Earlier this year, he began setting up Russian-language courses for officials, claiming that their command of the language is "atrocious" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 March 2002). RC
DEPUTY FORESEES NEW ERA OF STAGNATION
In a comment for "Vedomosti" on 25 July that was republished in "The Moscow Times," State Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov (independent) lamented a recent Constitutional Court decision that allows many regional governors to seek third and, in some cases, fourth terms of office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July 2002). Ryzhkov writes that the regional political system is now based on vast networks of officials and businesspeople who are dependent on regional governors, "who owe their success to these officials and the preferential conditions they provide for their 'own.'" He says that "competitive, free elections put the whole system in jeopardy and are thus viewed as undesirable." Ryzhkov adds that, although long-standing local regimes create the appearance of stability and can help the president himself get re-elected, they also give rise to systemic corruption. "Once political competition has been suppressed, business competition is next," he writes. In conclusion, Ryzhkov argues that the decision shows the Constitutional Court is moving away from its Yeltsin-era role of "strengthening democratic institutions, values, and procedures." RC
RUSSIA TO TIGHTEN ITS BORDERS
Minister Vladimir Zorin, who oversees nationalities policies, said that in 2003 the government plans to create around 300 migration-control points that will allow the authorities to "prevent the penetration of undesirable immigrants and also those people who engage in illegal activities on the borders of this or that region," regions.ru reported on 24 July. The new centers will augment the 100 control points currently operating at the country's 450 border crossings, according to Zorin. JAC
BRITISH PETROLEUM VENTURES INTO SAKHALIN...
State-owned oil giant Rosneft will ally with the British Petroleum Corporation to carry out a joint oil-and-gas venture to develop the Sakhalin-5 oil field, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. Rosneft and its Sakhalin subsidiary will receive 51 percent of the shares of the project, with BP taking the remainder. The project will survey and drill the Kaigansko-Vasyugan deposit. Although the financing is unclear, it was reported that BP will fully fund the geological prospecting stage. Drilling is expected to begin in 2004. LG
...AS RUSSIA WILL LAUNCH BRITISH SATELLITES
State arms exporter Rosoboroneksport signed a contract to launch eight British micro-satellites by 2004, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. Seven of the satellites will form the first international system to monitor natural disasters, while the eighth will track variations in the Earth's crust for the British National Space Center. "This agreement means that the Russian aerospace industry is broadening its ties with foreign partners," an unidentified Rosoboroneksport executive was quoted as saying. All of the satellites will be launched from Plesetsk cosmodrome using "Kosmos" boosters. The first is expected to be launched next month. LG
UPPER CHAMBER TO BEGIN PROCESS OF RETURNING LAND TO CHURCH...
Federation Council Agriculture Committee Chairman Ivan Starikov announced that he intends to start working on a law that would restore land seized by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 Revolution to the Russian Orthodox Church, "Izvestiya" reported on 24 July. The church at one point owned about 3 million hectares of land, according to the daily, making it one of the most important landlords in pre-revolutionary Russia. Land will also be returned to other religious groups, such as Muslims and Buddhists. Starikov told reporters in Moscow that he and Federation Council Deputy Chairman Valerii Goreglyad will meet with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II on 30 July, according to ITAR-TASS. Starikov explained that land would be returned through a voluntary association of owners with the participation of the church featuring the pooling of land shares and the formation of cooperative-type production. He added that he does not expect the law to be approved this year. JAC
...AS PUTIN SIGNS REVOLUTIONARY LAND LAW
President Putin signed into law on 25 July a new measure allowing the sale of agricultural land, Western and Russian news agencies reported. According to AP, the total value of agricultural land is estimated at from $80 trillion to $100 trillion. The new law forbids the sale of arable land to foreigners or foreign-controlled companies. RC
GREATER CENTRALIZATION PROPOSED AS SOLUTION TO PROBLEM OF WAGE ARREARS
This fall Unified Russia will prepare legislation to transfer the administration of schools and hospitals from local to federal jurisdiction, Andrei Isaev, chairman of the party's General Council for Cooperation with Public Organizations and Movements, said in Irkutsk on 24 July, according to Interfax-Eurasia. With this move, the party will take under federal control the payment of wages to budget-sector workers, which in some regions has fallen far behind (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July 2002). According to the agency, the proposal arose during the course of trips by council members to 16 regions this month. JAC
NOT SO POETIC
A Moscow court on 24 July sentenced Irina Derguzova and Tatyana Lomakina to six and eight years' imprisonment, respectively, for organizing an illegal armed group and for illegally imprisoning and torturing five children, Western and Russian news agencies reported. The women belong to a group called the Poeticized Association for the Development of a Theory of Public Happiness (PORTOS), which was founded in 1993 and was supposed to make members happier by encouraging them to live a healthy life and to help the disadvantaged, AP reported. Numbering about 150, its members were not allowed to drink, smoke, or swear and were required to maintain a daily journal and obey the group's leaders. Prosecutors said that Derguzova and Lomakina beat group members and deprived them of their liberty for violating its rules. The two pleaded innocent and some group members testified at the trial on their behalf. Prosecutors also said that a number of air rifles had been found in an apartment used by the group, which a group member told TVS television were purchased "for education and, of course, self-defense." RC/LG
GAZPROM LAYS OFF WORKERS IN REGION TO BOOST PROFITS...
The leadership of Astrakhan-Gazprom has begun large-scale layoffs, RFE/RL's Astrakhan correspondent reported on 13 July. On 1 April, 660 people were laid off and, as of 1 August, another 880 will lose their jobs. By the end of the year, around 10 percent of the company's work force will be let go. According Astrakhan-Gazprom's new director, Vitalii Zakharov, one reason for the layoffs is that the company hopes to increase its profitability. According to the correspondent, Astrakhan-Gazprom became unprofitable only recently when all its assets were transferred to the balance sheet of Gazprom and leasing payments were raised several times. Some analysts in Astrakhan believe this was done so that money from the region could be sent to the center. JAC
...AS FAR EASTERN REGION HIT BY DOUBLE-DIGIT UNEMPLOYMENT
Meanwhile, almost 12 percent of the population of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast is officially registered as unemployed as of the beginning of this year, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 24 July. Currently, though, the oblast has jobs for workers with gas-industry experience, special construction skills, personal-computer skills, and experience in wholesale food preparation. JAC
TENT CAMPS IN CHECHNYA DISMANTLED
The last remaining tent camps for displaced persons, which were located in the Znamenskoye and Nadterechnyi Raions of northern Chechnya, have been dismantled, and some 6,000 former inmates have been re-housed in temporary accommodations in Grozny and other Chechen towns, Chechen Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov told Interfax on 24 July. In addition, Ilyasov said, some 200-300 families return to Chechnya from Ingushetia each week. He again denied that Chechen displaced persons are being pressured to leave Ingushetia. LF
An item entitled "Key Player In Media-MOST Affair Dies In London" in the 24 July 2002 issue of "RFE/RL Newsline" incorrectly stated the age of Andrei Tsimailo when he died. He was 43.
COURT BATTLE OVER CLOSED ARMENIAN TV STATION CONTINUES
A group of 36 supporters of the Armenian television station A1+, which was forced to quit broadcasting in April after losing a tender for its frequency, won a minor victory on 24 July, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The 36 filed an official complaint on 29 May with a Yerevan district court claiming that the commission that ruled on the tender violated their fundamental right to freedom of information, including the right to watch a television station of their choice. The district court on 24 July agreed to the plaintiffs' request to replace the presiding judge on the grounds that he violated legal procedure by failing to summon members of the tender commission to testify. LF
ARMENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH RUSSIAN FSB DIRECTOR
Robert Kocharian met in Yerevan on 24 July with visiting Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev to discuss cooperation in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, and illegal immigration, Russian news agencies reported. They also agreed to regular exchanges of information on energy and nuclear security. LF
AZERBAIJAN DETERMINES REFERENDUM PROCEDURE...
By a vote of 13 in favor, four against, and one abstention, the Central Election Commission on 24 July approved the procedure for voting in the 24 August referendum on changes to the constitution, Turan reported. The 39 proposed amendments will be divided into eight groups, each of which voters must either approve or reject. The eight groups and the procedure for voting are explained in detail in the official Azerbaijani press on 25 July, according to Turan. Opposition parties have demanded, on the contrary, that each amendment should be voted on separately. LF
...AS AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION REPEATS DEMANDS
Meeting in Baku on 24 July, the 25 opposition parties aligned in the Democratic Congress again said they will boycott the referendum unless their demands are met, Turan reported. Those demands include a one month postponement and dropping the proposed change in the electoral system abolishing the election of some parliament deputies according to the proportional system. Also on 24 July, the opposition demanded that the OSCE and other international organizations be invited to monitor the referendum. But "Ekho" on 24 July quoted Peter Burkhardt, head of the OSCE mission in Baku, as saying his organization will not monitor the referendum because the Azerbaijani authorities have not invited it to do so. LF
GEORGIAN, RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS DISCUSS FRAMEWORK TREATY
The fourth round of talks between Russian and Georgian officials on the draft framework treaty on bilateral relations took place in Moscow on 24 July, Russian agencies and Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 22, 21 June 2002). Among the issues discussed were security cooperation and Georgia's debts to Moscow, according to ITAR-TASS. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said the talks were "friendly." The two sides "have stopped passing judgment on each others' faults. We tried our best to reach a consensus over acute problems," Menagharishvili said. But whereas Georgian diplomats have recently predicted that the treaty could be ready for signature in August or September, Russian State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs Chairman Boris Pastukhov, who headed the Russian delegation at the talks, said it might be signed by the end of this year. A further round of talks, expected to be the last, is scheduled for August. LF
RUSSIA'S ABKHAZ ENVOY BRIEFS WESTERN DIPLOMATS ON GEORGIA TALKS...
Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin, who is Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, met in Moscow on 24 July with the U.S., British, French, and German ambassadors to inform them about his recent visit to Tbilisi and Batumi, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 2002). Those four countries, together with Russia, comprise the "Friends of the UN Secretary-General" group, which is trying to mediate a political solution to the Abkhaz conflict. The talks focused in particular on the draft document "Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competencies Between Tbilisi and Sukhumi." Caucasus Press of 25 July quoted Pastukhov as saying that the draft is a "reasonable basis" for resolving the conflict and that the Abkhaz authorities are wrong to reject it. LF
...AS CIS PEACEKEEPERS FIND ARMS CACHE IN WESTERN GEORGIA
The Georgian authorities are investigating the reported discovery by CIS peacekeepers of an arms depot in a disused tea factory in Georgia's Zugdidi Raion, which borders on Abkhazia, Georgian Minister for Special Assignments Malkhaz Kakabadze told Interfax on 24 July. Also on 24 July, the chairman of the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz parliament in exile, Tamaz Nadareishvili, appealed to the Georgian guerrilla formations that operate in southern Abkhazia not to launch new hostilities before the expiration of their 31 July deadline for finding a political solution to the Abkhaz conflict, according to Caucasus Press. "Forest Brothers" guerrilla leader David Shengelia refused to respond to an Interfax query as to whether his men plan to resume hostilities. LF
GEORGIA TO DEPLOY POLICE IN ETHNICALLY MIXED SOUTHERN RAION
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told a government session on 24 July that a battalion of Interior Ministry troops will be deployed in Tsalka Raion beginning in 2003, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. He explained that the ethnic composition of the district, which has large Greek and Armenian communities, renders it vulnerable to internal tensions and outside interference (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 25, 23 June 2000). Shevardnadze expressed concern that no local judge has yet been appointed because none can be found who speaks Georgian, Armenian, and Greek. As a result, there is a backlog of some 400 cases awaiting trial. LF
KAZAKH COURT ORDERS CLOSURE OF OPPOSITION PUBLISHING HOUSE
An Almaty court on 24 July ordered the closure of the firm PR-Consulting on the grounds that it failed to comply with an earlier court ruling suspending for two months from April 2002 publication of the opposition newspaper "Respublika-Delovoe obozrenie," Interfax reported. PR-Consulting plans to appeal that verdict. The editorial offices of "Respublika-Delovoe obozrenie" were destroyed by a firebomb in May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23, 24, and 28 May 2002). LF
KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTRY REAFFIRMS COUNTRY'S COMMITMENT TO DEMOCRACY
Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry has issued a statement responding to an article published in the opposition newspaper "Respublika" on 23 July, akipress.org reported on 24 July. The article quotes a letter from the International Federation for Human Rights (IHF) asking the European Union to consider suspending its cooperation with Kyrgyzstan in the light of what the IHF describes as that country's inadequate commitment to democratization and safeguarding human rights. The Foreign Ministry statement condemns that approach as one-sided and appeals for "understanding" of the "specific conditions" in Kyrgyzstan. It affirms that Kyrgyzstan "has no choice but to deepen democratic processes," and expresses the hope that the EU will extend active support for Kyrgyzstan's efforts to implement President Askar Akaev's plan to make human rights a national ideology. LF
SOUTH KOREAN BUSINESSMAN SHOT DEAD IN KYRGYZSTAN
A group of gunmen dressed as women shot and killed a South Korean businessman in his Bishkek office on 24 July, together with his wife and an ethnic-Korean Kyrgyz citizen, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The incident was the second murder of a South Korean businessman in Bishkek this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2002). LF
KYRGYZ SECURITY OFFICIAL CLAIMS IMU LEADER ALIVE...
Djuma Namangani, the head of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, is alive and gathering some 1,500 supporters to launch a new attack on the Ferghana Valley, Kyrgyz National Security Council Chairman Misir Ashyrkulov told Interfax on 24 July. He said Namangani has recovered from wounds received while fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan last fall and is currently in the Badakhshan district of Afghanistan, while some of his supporters have entered Tajikistan. U.S. officials have said that Namangani is dead, while Afghan Defense Minister Fahim Khan said during a visit to Tajikistan in May that he might be alive (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 January and 28 May 2002). Twice last month Ashyrkulov warned that IMU members are congregating on the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan in preparation for a new incursion into Kyrgyzstan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 28 June 2002). LF
...AS TAJIK COUNTERPART DENIES ANY IMU PRESENCE IN TAJIKISTAN
Ashyrkulov's claim that some Namangani supporters have entered Tajikistan is "an unfounded statement and an invention," Tajik Security Council Deputy Secretary Mirzovatan Hasanliev told Asia Plus-Blitz on 25 July. He conceded that "small uncoordinated groups" of such militants are currently in Afghan Badakhshan, as Ashyrkulov claimed, but added that their presence there does not necessarily herald "large-scale aggression" against the countries of Central Asia. LF
RUSSIAN SERVICEMAN MURDERED IN TAJIKISTAN
A Russian serviceman was found stabbed to death on 24 July near a Russian military base in Qurghon Teppa, the capital of Khatlon Oblast, ITAR-TASS and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Police are searching for three men with whom the victim reportedly met shortly before his death. LF
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT WARNS OF POSSIBLE TERRORIST THREAT IN UZBEKISTAN
In a statement released on 23 July, the U.S. State Department warned of possible terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities worldwide, including in Uzbekistan, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. The statement noted that the U.S. embassy in Tashkent has intensified security procedures and will maintain heightened security at least until October. LF
FRENCH DELEGATION ENDS VISIT TO UZBEKISTAN
Visiting Tashkent from 20-23 July, Vice Admiral Alain Coldefy, who is France's Deputy Chief of General Staff for International Relations, and French Foreign Ministry department head Hugues Pernet met with Uzbek Defense Minister Kadyr Gulyamov and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov to discuss bilateral military cooperation, regional security and the situation in Afghanistan, uza.uz reported. Speaking at a press conference on 23 July, Coldefy quoted from a letter from French President Jacques Chirac to his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov affirming support for political reforms aimed at "the creation of a democratic, open, and flourishing Uzbekistan," Interfax reported the following day. LF
UZBEKISTAN TO HOST FOUNDATION FOR AFGHAN RECONSTRUCTION
Businessmen from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Central Asian states have established a foundation in Tashkent to fund civil reconstruction in Afghanistan, Interfax reported on 24 July. The first projects will be hotels in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif. LF
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS MINISTERS FOR EXPORT POLICY...
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka harshly criticized the government for the "unsatisfactory development rate" of Belarusian exports at a joint conference of the leaderships of the Foreign Ministry, the Economy Ministry, and the Trade Ministry on 24 July, Belarusian television and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Lukashenka reportedly decided to replace more than 10 Belarusian ambassadors because of inadequate promotion of Belarusian economic interests abroad. He also expressed his anger with the cabinet over problems in economic relations with Russia. "It is necessary to end the practice of bothering the head of state with the resolution of all...economic problems with Russia. Unless the president pushes you in the back, unless the president bangs his fist on the table, you -- forget my saying this -- won't do a damned thing," Lukashenka said. JM
...THREATENS ECONOMIC 'RECIPROCAL MEASURES' AGAINST UKRAINE...
"EU or U.S. discriminating measures against our exports are explainable even if unpardonable. They do not treat us, mildly speaking, as their equals," Belarusian television quoted Lukashenka as saying on 24 July. "But if similar things are done with regard to us by Ukraine...then your inaction, esteemed comrades in the government, cannot be explained. Ukraine has categorized Belarus as a country with a nonmarket economy. You see, they consider themselves to be a market-economy country. And on this basis, they are trying to dictate their own conditions of economic cooperation by introducing limitations on Belarusian exports. I have said many times that it is necessary to opportunely take reciprocal measures against the countries that apply discriminating measures with regard to Belarusian commodities." JM
...DENIES CHARGES OF GROWING ANTI-SEMITISM IN BELARUS...
Lukashenka flatly rejected recent charges by Jewish activists in Belarus of growing anti-Semitism in Belarus. "Anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi actions have acquired a massive scale in Belarus," the Union of Jewish Public Organizations and Communities said in a statement after unidentified vandals desecrated about 60 Jewish graves earlier this month at two cemeteries in Minsk. "There are absolutely no reasons for stirring [claims of] anti-Semitic acts in Belarus," the Belarusian president told a news conference later the same day. "[The vandalization] was a commonplace hooligan action. Belarus is an open country that is crossed every day by 2-3 million people. It has not yet been established who did that." JM
...VOWS 'TO CEASE BOWING' TO OSCE...
"We need to cease bowing to different European structures, in particular, the OSCE, which is hardly useful to anybody," Lukashenka told journalists. Commenting on the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's resolution earlier this month regarding Minsk's alleged illegal arms trade and the disappearances of people in Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July 2002), Lukashenka called it a "glaring example of ineptitude" on the part of the OSCE. "If you know that Belarus trades in arms with Iraq, then put specific facts on the table. There are no facts," he noted. "In short, incompetent people work today in that organization which, incidentally, is financed by us and lives at our expense. They [in the OSCE] do not know what they should do," Lukashenka said in summing his appraisal of the OSCE. JM
...AND EXPLAINS REASONS FOR NOT MEETING WITH RUSSIAN PRESIDENT
Lukashenka also rejected journalistic speculations that his failure to meet, as previously planned, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July testifies to colder relations between the two presidents following Putin's criticism of Belarusian integration proposals (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002). "We planned to meet in Sochi when [Putin] conferred with [French President Jacques] Chirac. But [in the meantime] an emergency situation occurred as regards gathering crops. I cannot leave the country right now. He [Putin] has accepted this [excuse] with understanding," Lukashenka explained. JM
IVANO-FRANKIVSK ORGANIZATIONS PROTEST PLANNED COMMEMORATION OF PEREYESLAV TREATY ANNIVERSARY
Right and center political parties and organizations in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast have protested against President Leonid Kuchma's decree to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Pereyaslav Treaty of 8 January 1654 whereby Ruthenia (Ukraine) joined Muscovy (Russia) under the scepter of the Russian tsar, UNIAN reported on 24 July. The decree, issued in March 2002, provides for a wide range of commemoration activities (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 7 May 2002). "World history does not know any nation that would like to glorify the beginning of its enslavement," the Ivano-Frankivsk organizations wrote in a letter to President Kuchma, Premier Anatoliy Kinakh, and parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn. JM
RIVNE OBLAST COUNCIL WANTS VETERAN STATUS FOR UPA SOLDIERS
The Rivne Oblast Council has appealed to the Ukrainian president, the Cabinet of Ministers, and the Verkhovna Rada to adopt legislation declaring the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) a belligerent side in World War II and giving veteran status to former UPA combatants. The UPA, created by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in 1942, fought German troops and Soviet and Polish partisan forces in Nazi-occupied Ukraine and continued its military operations against the Soviets and the Poles after World War II. The government has recently announced that it has prepared a draft bill on honoring the OUN and the UPA as "fighters for freedom and independence of Ukraine" (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 July 2002). JM
UN RANKS LATVIA AMONG WORLD'S DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
The recently released annual UN Human Development Report for the first time listed Latvia among the world's developed countries, LETA reported on 24 July. Last year Latvia ranked 50th among 162 countries with a rating of 0.791 according to the Human Development Index (HDI) that measures average life expectancy, education, and per capita income. This year Latvia's rating rose to 0.80, the requirement to be considered a developed country, although its ranking dropped to 53rd overall out of 173 countries. Lithuania's rating increased from 0.803 to 0.808, but it dropped from 47th to 49th place while Estonia's rating increased from 0.812 to 0.826 and it rose from 44th to 42nd place. Norway was again the highest ranked country, followed by Sweden, Canada, Belgium, Australia, and the United States. SG
HIV CASES ON THE RISE IN LITHUANIAN PRISON
The Lithuanian AIDS Center has announced that recent tests on blood samples of inmates at a prison in Alytus have found that 38 of the 547 samples tested positive for HIV, BNS reported on 23 July. This raised the number of HIV-positive prisoners to 245, more than one-third of the 638 recorded HIV cases in Lithuania. AIDS Center Director Saulius Caplinskas proposed that syringes should be sold at the prison to reduce the risk of infection from intravenous drug use. Health Minister Romualdas Dobrovolskis criticized the proposal the next day, saying, "If they are allowed to buy syringes they will at the same time find a way to get hold of drugs." SG
POLISH DAILY SAYS GOVERNMENT LOST $2.5 BILLION BECAUSE OF 'OIL MAFIA'
Quoting the Central Investigation Bureau, the respected "Rzeczpospolita" daily reported on 25 July that "hundreds of companies and people" form an "oil mafia" in Poland and are involved in wide-scale corruption practices, tax evasion, and credit frauds. According to "Rzeczpospolita," the losses incurred by the state treasury because of "oil mafia" activities are estimated at 10 billion zlotys ($2.5 billion). About a dozen or so investigations in the "oil mafia" are under way in the country but investigators do not coordinate their work and the state is not undertaking systematic activities to recover lost assets. JM
SOLIDARITY CONDEMNS POLISH GOVERNMENT PLAN TO REFORM MINING
Solidarity on 24 July issued a statement denouncing the reform plan in the coal-mining sector announced by the government earlier this week as "naive" and based on "wishful thinking," PAP reported. In particular, the party is protesting the government's proposals to close down six or seven mines, reduce employment, freeze miners' wages for three years, and introduce a six-day working week in the sector. The statement stresses that the proposed reforms are "an invitation to rebellion." JM
CZECH REPUBLIC TO WITNESS A FLURRY OF SCANDALS?
Czech dailies reported on 25 July that the Karel Srba affair, in which the former Foreign Ministry secretary-general has been implicated in plotting to have Czech journalist Sabina Slonkova murdered, could trigger an avalanche of additional scandals, CTK reported. The dailies "Mlada fronta Dnes" and "Lidove noviny" reported that police have launched investigations into the public orders issued by the Foreign Ministry, involving Srba and other ministry staff while Srba worked there. According to the daily "Pravo," police intend to reexamine some corruption cases involving the Health Ministry, where Srba worked in the 1990s before taking his Foreign Ministry post. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda told "Mlada fronta Dnes" that the ministry has temporarily suspended issuing new orders, is reexamining already closed contracts, and is preparing to reorganize the ministry's financial management. On 24 July, Svoboda dismissed Pavel Jaros, Srba's replacement as secretary-general after he resigned in March 2001, and the head of the financial department from their posts. MS
NEW DETAILS ON MURDER-PLOT SCANDAL EMERGE IN CZECH MEDIA REPORTS...
Suspected Srba accomplice and girlfriend Eva Tomsovicova told police that for three years she has been working for Srba collecting bribes from companies that secured large contracts from the Foreign Ministry, CTK reported on 25 July, citing "Mlada fronta Dnes." That daily and "Lidove noviny" published reports the same day questioning a recently agreed contract for the reconstruction of the Czech Embassy in Zagreb. According to the newspapers, the company that secured the contract allegedly last week handed Tomsovicova a 5 million crown ($163,864) bribe. MS
...AS CZECH PRIME MINISTER PLANS TO HEAR FROM KAVAN
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said on 24 July that he expects UN General Assembly Chairman Jan Kavan to discuss the Srba affair with him later this week when he returns to Prague, CTK reported. "The government considers the affair [to be] important and serious...and wants it clarified regardless of the identity of those involved it in," Spidla told journalists after a cabinet meeting. President Vaclav Havel has suggested that Kavan, who brought Srba on at the Foreign Ministry while he served as foreign minister, resign his current UN post as a result of the scandal because his ties to Srba could negatively affect the Czech Republic's image abroad (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2002). MS
CZECH SECURITY COUNCIL, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE TO BE HEADED BY PREMIER
The government on 24 July approved the composition of the government committee on intelligence activity and that of the National Security Council, Spidla told journalists the same day. Czech media reported that both the council and the committee will be headed by Spidla. The committee also includes Interior Minister Stanislav Gross as executive deputy chairman, and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. The National Security Council is composed of nine members and Gross is its deputy chairman as well. The council also includes Svoboda, Justice Minister Pavel Rychetsky, Health Minister Marie Souckova, Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky, Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, and Industry and Trade Minister Jiri Rusnok. No representative of the Freedom Union-Democratic Union is included on the council or the committee. MS
AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR WELCOMES PRAGUE SIGNALS ON BENES DECREES
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel on 24 July welcomed signals from Prague on the Czech government's readiness to discuss the issue of the Benes Decrees (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July 2002), but warned that if talks are indeed open on the issue they are likely to be "very difficult," CTK reported. Schuessel said he believes reason will prevail in the end. He noted that the two countries have long been linked by cultural and economic ties and that the time has come to deal with their difficult joint past. MS
CZECH POLICE CLOSE INVESTIGATION AGAINST TELEVISION DIRECTOR
Police on 25 July announced they have closed the investigation launched at the request of trade unions against Czech Television General Director Jiri Balvin, CTK reported, citing the dailies "Pravo" and "Hospodarske noviny." The investigators concluded that Balvin did not act unlawfully when he ordered that surveillance equipment be placed in Czech Television studios to monitor whether private work is conducted using the company's equipment (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 June 2002). At the same time, police are continuing their investigation into a complaint launched by Balvin himself against an unknown perpetrator who allegedly erased surveillance video of the studios. MS
CZECH, SLOVAK EU NEGOTIATORS SAY THEIR COUNTRIES ARE READY FOR ACCESSION
Slovak chief negotiator with the European Union Jan Figel and his Czech counterpart Pavel Telicka said in Brno on 24 July that the two countries are on schedule to complete negotiations on joining the EU by the end of this year, CTK reported. They said their respective countries have closed most of the chapters in the acquis communautaire, and those that are still open are being dealt with jointly by the EU because of the similarity of their positions. Figel and Telicka agreed that one of the most difficult chapters yet to be negotiated is that of agriculture. The two negotiators also said that the only way to negotiate the best-possible conditions is through cooperation between candidate countries. MS
SECOND HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION APPROVES AGENDA
The parliamentary commission investigating cabinet members' past involvement with state security organs approved its agenda on 24 July, Hungarian dailies reported. The governing parties and the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum voted for the agenda, while FIDESZ rejected it. FIDESZ deputy Zoltan Kovacs said the commission should have waited for the data-privacy ombudsman's position, as it remains unclear how the commission will be able to make public the results of its investigation or how it will handle data concerning retired cabinet members. Commission Chairman Imre Mecs said he sent a list of 193 former and current cabinet members to the Historical Office, the Interior Ministry, and the civilian and military secret services, asking them to investigate whether anyone on the list previously served as an officer in the former Interior Ministry's secret services. Another parliamentary investigative commission set up to probe Prime Minister Medgyessy's past in counterintelligence approved its agenda on 23 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2002). MSZ
HUNGARIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY APPOINTS ROMANY OFFICIAL
Education Minister Balint Magyar on 24 July appointed 27-year-old Viktoria Mohacsi as a new ministry commissioner responsible for promoting the integration of Romany and other disadvantaged children, "Nepszabadsag" reported. Magyar also announced that the ministry will allocate 6.6 billion forints ($27 million) in subsidies to schools in the country's underdeveloped regions as part of its "21st-Century School" program. The minister said that the condition of Roma constitutes one of Hungary's greatest social problems, pointing out that while the overall high-school graduation rate is 70 percent in Hungary, the figure for Roma is less than 10 percent. MSZ
TWO SUSPECTS DETAINED IN HUNGARIAN BANK ROBBERY
Following two days of secrecy, police on 24 July confirmed that they have apprehended two Budapest men they suspect of being responsible for the 9 May bank robbery in the town of Mor that resulted in the shooting deaths of eight people (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 May 2002). The two 27-year-old suspects, identified as Ede K. and Laszlo H., were captured in Budapest on 22 July in a commando operation, Hungarian media reported. National police spokesman Laszlo Garamvolgyi said several eyewitnesses have identified one of the suspects as the man who stood watch at the bank's entrance during the robbery. He said one of the men served in the French Foreign Legion, and the other fought as a mercenary in the Bosnian war and in several African countries. MSZ
GENERAL MOISIU SWORN IN AS ALBANIAN PRESIDENT
Alfred Moisiu was inaugurated as the successor to outgoing President Rexhep Meidani in Tirana on 24 July, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 25 June 2002). He owes his five-year term to an all-party consensus recently reached under pressure from the European Parliament in an effort to curb the debilitating effects of a long-polarized political culture. "I am president as the result of a handshake," AP quoted him as saying. After his swearing-in ceremony, Moisiu told the 140-member legislature that "my guiding principles will be [catching up with] the West and working for peace, justice, and development." Prime Minister Pandeli Majko is expected to resign shortly, paving the way for Moisiu to approve a new government headed by Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano. He represents the party's old guard and party loyalists, who now appear to have triumphed over a younger group including Ilir Meta and Majko, who believe that the government's policies should not necessarily be subordinated to those of the party. Moisiu has said he will not approve the appointment of any "corrupt" ministers. PM
SOLANA TO 'ENCOURAGE' AGREEMENT IN BELGRADE...
Javier Solana, the EU's security-policy chief, is scheduled to arrive in Belgrade on 25 July to "encourage" Serbian and Montenegrin politicians to meet their own deadline of finishing a proposed constitutional charter by the end of July, the BBC's Serbian Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2002). EU officials declined to say exactly which proposals Solana will make to his hosts. Serbian and Montenegrin leaders have accused each other of trying to rewrite the terms of the March agreement on the future relationship between the two republics. At the heart of the dispute is the clash between the Serbian concept that the new entity will be a single country and the Montenegrin view that it will be a very loose association of two sovereign states. In Belgrade, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac told Reuters that Solana's mediation will be necessary to bridge the gap. In related news, officials of the Christian Democratic Party (DHSS) said that they will present the parliament on 26 July with some 200,000 signatures of citizens demanding a referendum on Serbian independence from Montenegro, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. PM
...BUT MONTENEGRO WILL NOT BE BULLIED
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic recently charged that Brussels is trying to bully it into accepting a unified market, which it did not agree to in the March compromise (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2002). He warned on 24 July in Podgorica that "any pressure on Montenegro to adopt something that it does not agree to...could cause the whole deal to collapse," Reuters reported. He said that the 31 July deadline for an agreement now appears unrealistic, adding, however, that Solana's visit "may help us...come up with some new solutions that would help resolve the dilemmas and speed up the work." PM
MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT CHALLENGES OPPOSITION...
Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 24 July that he will not approve the changes to the media and election laws passed in the legislature by the Liberal Alliance (LSCG) and the Together for Yugoslavia coalition, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 July 2002). He added that it is likely that there will be early elections in Niksic, where the local council is split between 20 of his supporters and 20 of his opponents following the election of one member of the opposition as council president. PM
...AS IMBROGLIO OVER BRIBE CHARGE DEVELOPS
President Djukanovic told a press conference in Podgorica on 24 July that he confirms a recent declaration by a member of his party that the Liberal Alliance (LSCG) demanded a $10 million payment in 2001 in return for supporting a minority government, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2002). A spokesman for the LSCG said he will not dignify the charges by commenting on them. The spokesman added that the charges come at a time when Djukanovic is anxious to shore up his standing with voters. PM
SERBIAN POLICE CHIEF DENIES SPYING CHARGE
In the latest installment of what is known as the "Pavkovic affair," Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic told the Serbian parliament's investigating commission on 24 July that the government did not bug the conversations of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2002). Mihajlovic added: "It would have been impossible without my knowledge or permission [to eavesdrop on the president's conversations]. To believe someone would think of such a thing is ludicrous." The Serbian media have devoted much space to the work of the commission and the issue of whether state secrets are being discussed in public, "Vesti" reported. PM
NATO TO WORK WITH OSCE DURING MACEDONIAN ELECTIONS
NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson informed President Boris Trajkovski in a letter on 24 July that NATO has agreed to a request by the OSCE for additional protection of its election observers, "Dnevnik" reported. The letter stated that NATO troops will be responsible in cases of emergency, while the Macedonian police are responsible for the general security of the observers. The head of the OSCE election observation mission, Julian Peel Yates, told journalists that NATO agreed to ensure the evacuation of injured or endangered personnel in any emergency situations. NATO Ambassador to Macedonia Nicolaas Biegman said it is not yet clear whether it will be necessary to bring in additional NATO troops. UB
OSCE: KOSOVA'S JOURNALISTS IN A DIFFICULT SITUATION
The OSCE has published a study showing that 78 percent of the journalists in Kosova fear reprisals if they do investigative reporting, the weekly Internet-based magazine IFEX reported on 23 July. Some 40 percent of the ethnic Albanian respondents and 35 percent of the Serbs said that they have already been threatened because of something they have written. Journalists based in Prishtina tended to feel more endangered than those in other areas. The study added that the journalists are in need of an organization to protect their interests, and that the current Journalists' Association is too small to be effective. PM
TEN KILLED IN TOURIST BUS ACCIDENT IN KOSOVA
A bus drove off a mountain road near Kula in the early hours of 25 July, killing at least 10 people and injuring about 30, Reuters reported from Prishtina. The passengers were tourists returning from a visit to Ulcinj in Montenegro. A local radio broadcast said that most of them were ethnic Albanians. PM
HAGUE TRIBUNAL AND NATO SEARCH BOSNIAN BASES
In Tuzla on 24 July, officials of the war crimes tribunal based in The Hague collected military archive materials at the headquarters of the Second Corps of the army of the Muslim-Croat federation, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. SFOR troops provided security for the investigators. The Second Corps controlled Srebrenica before it fell to Serbian forces in July 1995. Serbs have frequently charged that Muslim units from Srebrenica raided and attacked nearby Serbian villages before the town fell. In a second search, NATO troops confiscated computer equipment from a base near Mostar, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. A NATO spokesman said that a check will be carried out to see if the computers were used for unspecified "illegal activities" that violate the 1995 Dayton peace accords. PM
CROATIAN PARLIAMENT TO VOTE ON NEW CABINET
Parliament speaker Zlatko Tomcic has called a special session of the legislature for 30 July and 1 August to cast a vote of confidence on the new cabinet that Prime Minister Ivica Racan is expected to name shortly, Hina reported on 24 July. Doubts nonetheless remain as to whether Racan has the strength and political will to carry out much-needed reforms. He has not ruled out the possibility of calling new elections to secure a fresh mandate. PM
CHIEF OF STAFF SAYS ROMANIA CAN 'DISPATCH TROOPS ANYWHERE'
Chief of Staff General Mihail Popescu said on 23 July that Romania "is one of the few countries in the world capable of sending troops anywhere on the planet," Mediafax reported. Addressing a student forum in Izvorul Muresului, Popescu said that while Romania's security will be enhanced by joining NATO, the country is "not only a security consumer, but also a security provider." He also said NATO membership "is a long-term investment" in European security and that seldom in its history has there been such a great chance for Romania to achieve genuine European integration. MS
ROMANIA TO DRAFT LAW BANNING ENTRY OF FORMER NAZIS
Prime Minister Adrian Nastase on 23 July called on the Justice Ministry to draft legislation making it possible for the authorities to deny entry to Romania of former Nazis expelled from other countries, Mediafax and international agencies reported. Nastase reportedly said Romania does not want to "become a new Paraguay," and government spokesman Claudiu Lucaciu told Reuters it is Romania's duty to "show the international community we are not an oasis for war criminals." The initiative comes after international Jewish organizations criticized Romania for having allowed the entry last May of Nikolaus Schiffer, who was expelled from the United States. On 8 July, a U.S. judge ruled that another former Nazi who, like Schiffer, is Romanian-born, should be deported from the United States. At a hearing in St. Louis, the judge found that Michael Negele, 81, served as an SS guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1943-44 and later at Theresienstadt. On 18 July, also in St. Louis, proceedings were initiated for the extradition of yet another Romanian-born SS guard--Adam Friedrich, 80, Mediafax reported. Israeli Ambassador to Romania Sandu Mazor said his country welcomes the Romanian government's initiative, Reuters reported. MS
ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADER IN ROMANIA REJECTS PREMIER'S 'SUGGESTIONS' ON BISHOP TOEKES...
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) Chairman Bela Marko on 24 July said that although he does not agree with the positions of UDMR Honorary Chairman Bishop Laszlo Toekes on what role the UDMR should play in Romanian political life, the organization "does not accept suggestions on who should be a UDMR member and who should not," Mediafax reported. Marko was responding to Prime Minister Adrian Nastase's remarks one day earlier, in which he expressed his bewilderment as to why Bishop Toekes continues to be a UDMR member (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2002). The same day, the UDMR Reformist Bloc, which is made up of the bishop's supporters, said in a press release that the pact signed between the UDMR and Nastase's Social Democratic Party (PSD) has created ties that are "so solid that Adrian Nastase believes he is entitled to decide who can be expelled from the UDMR and on what grounds." The bloc said it "understands" Nastase, who, as leader of a political formation inheriting "the ideology and practice of the totalitarian regime" is incapable of understanding Toekes's insistence on the need for an internal reform of the UDMR. MS
...SEES NO INFRINGEMENTS ON PROVISIONS OF HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN MEMORANDUM
Marko also contradicted Prime Minister Nastase's recent claim that the provisions of the Hungarian-Romanian memorandum on the implementation of the Status Law are not being abided by (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 2002). Marko said that the UDMR "acts within the provisions of the memorandum" and that some 250,000 ethnic Hungarians have thus far applied for receiving the Hungarian I.D. card required by the Status Law. He added that he cannot say how many of those applicants were deemed eligible for the card because "this is not the UDMR's business." According to the memorandum, the UDMR may collect applications and make recommendations to the Hungarian authorities, but the cards are to be issued in Budapest. MS
'ALL POWER TO CIORBEA' IN ROMANIAN PEASANTIST PARTY
The leadership of the extraparliamentary National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) decided on 25 July that PNTCD Chairman Victor Ciorbea is to exercise sole and complete leadership duties until the end of the year, Mediafax reported. The leadership said that, at the next meeting of the party's Permanent Delegation, Ciorbea is to introduce a team of six persons of his choice with whom he intends to work to reform the PNTCD and ensure its return to the country's political life. MS
FORMER ROMANIAN LABOR MINISTRY SPOKESMAN INDICTED FOR CORRUPTION
Former Labor Ministry spokesman Razvan Purde was officially indicted on 23 July, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Purde and the husband of a former subordinate are charged with "influence trafficking" for having asked for a $1,000 bribe in exchange for securing work in Portugal for land laborers. MS
MOLDOVA THREATENS TO HALT MEAT IMPORTS FROM ROMANIA
Moldova is demanding that Romania urgently agree to negotiations between the two countries on renewing the import of meat products from Moldova, Mediafax reported on 24 July. Chisinau is threatening to retaliate for the current ban by halting meat imports from Romania if an agreement is not reached by 1 August. The authorities in Chisinau said Romania's decision this May to ban Moldovan meat on the basis of unhygienic slaughtering methods and product preparation is groundless and that Bucharest never "produced scientific proof" that Moldovan meat imports "are life-threatening or endanger public health." MS
COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAKES RECOMMENDATION ON TELERADIO MOLDOVA DRAFT LAW
The Council of Europe is recommending that the Moldovan parliament approve legislation on the transformation of Teleradio Moldova into a public company, mainly based on the draft worked out by the Braghis Alliance and the Association of Electronic Media, Flux reported on 25 July. The parliament was to examine on 25 July three different drafts proposed by President Vladimir Voronin, the Popular Party Christian Democratic, and the Braghis Alliance. The council recommends that the three drafts be merged into one, mainly based on the Braghis Alliance proposal, which the council says is "the most democratic" draft, providing for monitoring of Teleradio Moldova's performance by nongovernmental organizations. MS
BULGARIAN CONSERVATIVE OPPOSITION SAYS GOVERNMENT POLICY IS DOMINATED BY GROUP INTERESTS...
In her assessment of the first year of the current government, Nadezhda Mihailova, the chairwoman of the conservative Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), on 24 July told parliament that there is a big difference between the self-evaluation provided by Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski and the opinion of his voters, mediapool.bg reported. "We believe that the government is a victim of lobby-group interests," Mihailova said. In emphasizing that the ruling National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) is not a conservative party, Mihailova added that "the participation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) in the government largely contributes to the character of the administration." Deputy SDS Chairwoman Ekaterina Mihailova expects the situation in the country to deteriorate should the government continue on its current course. UB
...WHILE OPPOSITION SOCIALISTS EXPECTED MORE SELF-CRITICISM
Reacting to Prime Minister Saxecoburggotski's address to the nation on 23 July on the occasion of his first year in office, Socialist Party Chairman Sergey Stanishev the next day told journalists that he expected the address to be more self-critical, mediapool.bg reported. Stanishev said he does not share Saxecoburggotski's belief that the government succeeded in reducing the unemployment, quoting Mark Twain's "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." According to Stanishev, the government does not do enough to support the domestic agricultural sector; he also criticized the government's lack of a clear position on the existing nuclear-power plant in Kozloduy and the project for a second one in Belene. UB
YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER HAILS BULGARIA'S STABILITY
Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said in an interview on 24 July that Bulgaria has solved some of its biggest problems following the last year's parliamentary and presidential elections, BTA reported. "[Bulgaria] made great progress toward its integration into the EU. We expect Bulgaria to make its decisive step to NATO by the year's end at the Prague summit [in November]. Then we will have a stable, well-integrated neighbor, which is in our interests," Svilanovic said. During his two-day official visit beginning on 25 July, Svilanovic is expected to discuss a number of issues with the Bulgarian government. They mainly regard bilateral political cooperation and the improvement of the transport infrastructure linking the two countries. UB
UKRAINE'S ASPIRATIONS TO 'RE-JOIN EUROPE' STILL NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY
Ukraine and the European Union held a summit in Copenhagen on 4 July followed five days later by a visit by NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson to Kyiv on the fifth anniversary of the NATO-Ukraine charter. The outcome of both events reflects the skepticism with which Ukraine's strategic foreign policy goal of "returning to Europe" through integration into trans-Atlantic and European structures is still met in Brussels.
In his annual address to parliament in May, President Leonid Kuchma outlined a timetable for the creation of a free-trade area with the EU by 2004, a customs union in 2005-07, signing an associate agreement in 2007, and fulfilling all of the criteria laid out by the EU in order to join the union by 2011. On the eve of the Copenhagen summit, the Ukrainian parliament issued an appeal approved by 257 out of 450 deputies asking the summit to upgrade the 1994 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which was ratified and put into effect only in 1998, "to a qualitatively new level of development" that would lead to EU membership. But the joint EU-Ukraine summit statement reaffirmed that only the PCA would be the basis "for developing our relations further" (PCAs do not recognize aspirant membership status and were signed only with CIS members, while the EU signed association agreements with other postcommunist states). The EU also refused at the Copenhagen summit to grant Ukraine the status of a "market economy."
Why has Ukraine again failed to convince Europe of its right to join the EU? Denmark, which took over the EU presidency in July, is the only EU member to have closed down its Ukrainian Embassy, itself a reflection of its lack of interest in that country. For the EU it is highly convenient that Ukraine's domestic policies simply reinforce the deeply held view in Brussels that Ukraine is not part of "Europe." Bertel Haarder, Danish Minister for Refugees, Immigration, and Integration, laughed off Kuchma's plan to gradually move into the folds of the EU by 2011 as reminiscent of Soviet-era announcements that communism was on the verge of being achieved, but never actually was. "Instead of statements and expectations for clear signals, the Ukrainian authorities should switch to fulfilling arrangements and fulfilling their declarations," Haarder advised.
A major obstacle to "returning to Europe" is the deeply ingrained Soviet political culture that eastern Ukrainian leaders, such as Kuchma and his oligarchic allies, are seemingly incapable of breaking with. The executive and its oligarchic allies fail to grasp that their unwillingness to resolve the murder of journalists such as Heorhiy Gongadze undercuts their desire to switch from a PCA to an association agreement as the stepping stone to future EU membership. Only nine days after the Copenhagen summit, Our Ukraine member and anti-Kuchma campaigner Oleksandr Zhyr was removed, through a flagrant misuse of the legal system, from contesting repeat elections in Dnipropetrovsk he was set to win. His removal ensured a victory for the pro-Kuchma For a United Ukraine candidate.
The visit by NATO Secretary-General Robertson to Ukraine was more productive than that of the EU summit because the EU has a closed-door while NATO has an open-door policy on membership. Whereas the EU rules out moving from a PCA to an association agreement, NATO is willing to upgrade Ukraine from a charter to a Membership Action plan (MAP), which must be fulfilled for membership. But Ukraine is still at least 10 years away from NATO membership.
For the moment, NATO still doubts Kyiv's willingness to adopt the necessary all-round nonmilitary reforms that make up four of out five MAP sections. Robertson warned that Kyiv would have to display "a sustained commitment to the implementation of political, economic, and defense reforms" and uphold human rights, the rule of law, and freedom of the media.
NATO also remains concerned that Soviet-era ties between CIS intelligence services could compromise shared intelligence between Ukraine and NATO. Ukraine's annual expenditure of $590 million on the military is abysmal and would require a six- to sevenfold increase. Hungary, with armed forces only one-seventh the size of Ukraine's, spends twice as much annually on the military ($1.09 billion), while Poland, with a population only slightly less than Ukraine's, spends $3.58 billion annually. Ukraine spends only $2,900 per serviceman per year, compared to $9,700 by Romania, one of the poorest NATO aspirants, or Poland's $18,000.
The newspaper "Zerkalo nedeli/Dzerkalo tyzhnya" pointed to a lack of enthusiasm in NATO for Ukraine's membership and a Polish newspaper reported that only one-third of NATO members support Ukraine's membership. NATO is also tempering its enthusiasm so as not to damage its new strategic relationship with Russia.
The 23 May decision by Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) to seek NATO membership was transformed into a presidential decree during Robertson's visit. Nevertheless, NATO, like the EU, believes Kuchma issues declarations that go unfulfilled. The government has not, for example, made any attempt to mobilize public support for NATO membership or to create a consolidated position on NATO among the Ukrainian leadership, which presidential administration head and oligarchic Social Democratic Party-united leader Viktor Medvedchuk opposes. A July poll by the Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Studies found that the same proportion (32 percent) supported and opposed NATO membership, with 22 percent of Ukrainians undecided.
The EU still continues to rule out Ukraine's membership and it would be only forced to change this position if someone it has faith in to implement Ukraine's "Europeanization," such as former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, was elected president in 2004. If, on the other hand, Kuchma succeeds in engineering the election of a like-minded successor, Ukraine's aspirations for EU membership will be again thwarted for five to 10 years. NATO's secretary-general believes that Ukraine's membership also remains "hypothetical" and "long-term," and that "membership is not on the agenda right now." Nevertheless, at least NATO has not fully ruled out Ukraine's membership, unlike the EU.
Dr. Taras Kuzio is a resident fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European studies, University of Toronto.