RUSSIA URGES DIPLOMATIC HANDLING OF NORTH KOREA
Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Mamedov said after talks in Moscow on 21 October with U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2002) that Washington has given Moscow confidential information about North Korea's nuclear-weapons program, and the Kremlin is now verifying it, Russian news agencies reported on 22 October. "We are in no hurry to draw conclusions and want to check out the information, especially since we have good relations with Pyongyang, Tokyo, and Seoul," Mamedov said. He also said Russia believes problems concerning North Korea should be resolved peacefully "without harassment or pressure," and that the United States understands how dangerous it would be to create "a crisis situation in this complicated region." Russian Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said after his meeting with Bolton that he finds it hard to imagine that North Korea could have the technology to create nuclear weapons, Ekho Moskvy reported on 21 October. VY
MAGADAN GOVERNOR ALLEGEDLY KILLED WHILE SEARCHING FOR MISSING MILLIONS...
According to RFE/RL's Magadan correspondent Mikhail Gorbunov on 21 October, the most likely motive for the murder of Magadan Governor Valentin Tsvetkov on 18 October in Moscow was the governor's inquiry into what happened to the bulk of a $75 million credit granted to the oblast. In an interview with the Moscow bureau, Gorbunov said about $43 million of the sum remains in Moscow, while the rest never made it to Magadan. Tsvetkov might have started to "unravel" the mystery of the missing money. According to reports, Tsvetkov was determined to recover the money, and in his enthusiasm for the task, he might have ruffled some feathers. According to Gorbunov, both Tsvetkov's friends and his enemies called him "Bulldozer," and "this nickname described him perfectly." JAC
...AS LOCALS SAY CRIME ORIGINATED IN MOSCOW, NOT IN FAR EAST
A Magadan official, who requested anonymity, sarcastically commented on Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov's pledge to cleanse Magadan of criminals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2002), saying, "[If only] they would cleanse Moscow...," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 October. According to the daily, Magadan-based policymakers and journalists believe that to determine the motive for Tsvetkov's murder it is necessary to search not in Magadan, but in Moscow or Vladivostok. JAC
PRIME MINISTER SAYS ACCEPTABLE KALININGRAD SOLUTION NEAR
Speaking in Kaliningrad on 22 October, Mikhail Kasyanov said a solution to the problem of access to Kaliningrad Oblast following expected European Union expansion will be resolved at an EU-Russia summit in Copenhagen on 11 November, Russian news agencies reported. Kasyanov added that he cannot predict whether it will be a permanent solution or a temporary one, but he noted that talks with the EU have been proceeding more smoothly than previously. The prime minister, who was in Kaliningrad to chair a session of the Naval Collegium, also said that the personal-income growth rate in the oblast is lower than the national average and called for special government measures to support the exclave's economy. VY
PUTIN BRACES FOR INTENSIVE FOREIGN-POLICY WEEK
On the sidelines of the Asian Pacific Economic Conference in Los Cabos, Mexico, on 25-27 October, President Vladimir Putin will hold a summit with U.S. President George W. Bush, during which the two men will discuss key issues of global strategic stability and efforts to combat international terrorism, RIA-Novosti reported on 21 October, citing Putin's foreign policy aide, Sergei Prikhodko. Putin will also meet in Mexico with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. VY
INTELLIGENCE SERVICE AMASSING FUNDS FOR NEXT ELECTIONS?
In a long article in "Novaya gazeta," No. 77, two of the newspaper's investigative journalists allege that members of Russia's intelligence and military services have created special funds -- including charity funds -- that might be used to bankroll upcoming national and local elections. The weekly reported that when Yukos published data about its shareholders this summer, it was revealed that Viktor Ivanenko, who served as briefly the director of the Russian Federation's KGB in 1991 and who now serves as Yukos vice president responsible for security, has a Yukos stake worth around $110 million and noted that "that kind of money would be enough for any election campaign." The newspaper also reported that a recently created Russian Free Elections Fund is headed by Lieutenant General Andrei Przhezdomskii, who retired as deputy director of the Federal Tax Police in 1999 after spending a career in the intelligence services. Other members of the board of this fund are former Foreign Intelligence Service head and former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov and former Federal Security Service directors Nikolai Kovalev and Sergei Stepashin. The authors of the article conclude that the kingmakers in Russian politics might no longer be the oligarchs, but the special services, which will be able to "create" new Duma members and regional leaders with their special funds. JAC
PUTIN VETOES LAW ON STOCK MARKET
President Putin vetoed on 21 October amendments to the law on the stock market that were approved by the State Duma on 13 September, polit.ru reported. Putin said the bill requires fundamental reworking. Vladimir Tarachev, deputy chairman of the Duma's Banking Committee, said legislators were completely surprised by some of the presidential administration's suggestions, several of which require additional clarification. However, the Federal Securities Commission reacted calmly to news of the veto, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 October. The commission's press secretary, Ilya Razbash, said the commission will work on the bill, and members hope the modified amendments will be in effect by the end of the year. JAC
ELECTION TSAR SAYS DEMOCRACY HAS COME TO KALMYKIA...
Commenting on the 20 October presidential elections in Kalmykia, Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov told reporters in Moscow on 21 October, "It is impossible to say the elections in Kalmykia were undemocratic, Neanderthal," RosBalt reported. Veshnyakov recalled that seven years ago only one candidate came forward for the election, even though this violated local law. In the latest race, Veshnyakov noted, there were 11 candidates, and the electorate "had a real opportunity to choose." He also noted that 40 percent of the republic's population voted against incumbent President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. A second round will be held on 27 October, RBK reported on 22 October. JAC
...AND ECHOES CALL TO RENAME JOB TITLE OF LEADERS OF ETHNIC REPUBLICS
According to ITAR-TASS, Veshnyakov also said that only the president of the Russian Federation should have the title "president." He said the leaders of regions and republics within the federation "could be called something else." Recently, Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov and Mukhu Aliev, chairman of the parliament of Daghestan, expressed the same sentiment (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 15 October 2002). JAC
SECOND ROUND SEEN AS BATTLE OF 'FAMILY' VS. 'PETERSBURG CLAN'
Despite the fact that Ilyumzhinov picked up nearly three times as many votes as his second-place rival, High Technology Bank Chairman Baatyr Shondzhiev, the latter has a good chance of unseating the incumbent, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 22 October. The daily noted that the anti-Ilyumzhinov opposition will now be represented by a single candidate who will be able to boil down his campaign to the simple slogan "against Ilyumzhinov." Moreover, Shondzhiev has openly declared that he is supported by the "St. Petersburg" clan in the Kremlin, particularly by deputy head of the presidential administration Viktor Ivanov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 October 2002). Ilyumzhinov is reportedly supported by the remnants of the Yeltsin-era "family," especially presidential Chief of Staff Aleksandr Voloshin. The second round in Kalmykia, the paper speculates, might reveal details about the relative strengths of these two factions. Strana.ru, on the other hand, wrote that Ilyumzhinov is certain to win the second round, but that his monopoly on power in the republic has been irreparably broken. "If it becomes necessary, the federal center will know to whom among Kalmykia's politicians it can talk to get around Ilyumzhinov," the website editorialized. RC
LIBERALS CONVENE TO DISCUSS COMMON STRATEGIES, CANDIDATES
Leaders of Russia's liberal political parties and groups met at the fourth All-Russia Democratic Conference in Moscow on 22 October, polit.ru and other Russian news agencies reported. The Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) repeated its call for liberals to agree on a single candidate to run in the 2004 presidential election, while Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii called for coordinating tactics on a wider range of issues, noting that the popularity of the leftist parties is increasing. He repeated his call for a "unified platform of the democratic forces" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2002). SPS advocated calling a "Democratic Congress" following next year's Duma elections, with delegates to the congress being apportioned according to the proportion of votes each party garners during those elections. The congress would then nominate a presidential candidate, who would be supported by all the parties. RC
NEW FACE FOR THE DUMA SELECTED
The mayor of Urai in Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug, Aleksandr Safonov, was elected to the State Duma in by-elections held on 20 October, strana.ru reported. Safonov received 54.6 percent of the vote against 27 percent for independent candidate Lyudmila Anaikina. Some 13 percent of voters voted against all candidates, RIA-Novosti reported. Safonov, 39, will replace Aleksandr Lotarev, who was named head of the State Duma's apparatus (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 9 April 2002). JAC
DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS INDICATE STALIN PROPOSED ALLIANCE WITH HITLER AGAINST U.S., BRITAIN
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin secretly offered Adolf Hitler a separate peace in February 1942 and proposed that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany join forces against the United States and the United Kingdom, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 17 October, citing recently declassified Soviet intelligence documents published in a new book by veteran military-intelligence officer Vladimir Karpov. In a document dated 19 February 1942, which was one of the lowest points of the war for the Soviet Union, Stalin offered a complete truce on the eastern front. Further, he offered to undertake a joint military offensive against the other Allies "to restructure the world" by the end of 1943 under the pretext of accusing "world Jewry of war-mongering." In a second document, dated 27 February 1942, Vsevolod Merkulov, a chief of the Soviet security apparatus, reported on a meeting with a high-ranking Nazi figure, SS General Karl Wolf, in Mtsensk, in Belarusian territory that was occupied by German forces. Merkulov reported that Wolf elaborated German counterproposals under which Stalin should "solve the Jewish question" in the Soviet Union before Germany would agree to an alliance against the Allies. Wolf reportedly said that Berlin would be willing to make territorial concessions to the Soviet Union in Europe and to change the color of the swastika on the Nazi flag from black to red. Merkulov also reported that Berlin was insisting on "unacceptable" demands, including German control over Latin America, the Arab world, and North Africa and Japanese control over China. Despite these revelations, Karpov's book, "Generalissimo," comes across as a panegyric to Stalin, as the author refrains from criticism and ignores the victims of Stalin's repression, "Komsomolskaya pravda" commented. VY
MAYOR THROWS DOWN GAUNTLET TO GOVERNOR
Ulyanovsk Mayor Pavel Romanenko has expressed his intention to run for governor of the oblast in 2004, regions.ru reported on 21 October. When asked whether he would support the re-election of Governor Vladimir Shamanov, Romanenko said, "In the event that Vladimir Shamanov officially puts forward his candidacy for the post, then I will become his competitor." JAC
WOMEN IN ROSTOV CALL FOR GENDER QUOTAS IN PARTY LISTS
The Rostov-based women's group Soglasie has called for setting a gender quota of 70 percent on the party lists for regional and national elections, regions.ru reported on 21 October, citing Ekho Rostova. According to the site, group activists say their secret weapon in the struggle for women's rights is that the fact about 53 percent of the Russian electorate is female. JAC
SPOKESMAN AGAIN RULES OUT TALKS WITH MASKHADOV...
Presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii told Interfax on 21 October that Moscow's position on possible peace talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov remains unchanged and that such talks may be held between Maskhadov's representative and presidential envoy for the South Russia Federal District Viktor Kazantsev. Yastrzhembskii added that recent peace initiatives -- by which he presumably meant the planned meeting next month in Switzerland of former Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, Chechnya's State Duma Deputy Aslanbek Aslakhanov, and Maskahdov's envoy Akhmed Zakaev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2002) -- constitute "a private initiative" that "does not reflect the position of the federal center." "Vremya novostei" on 21 October suggested the Chechen leadership is so alarmed at the prospect that Moscow will agree to peace talks with Maskhadov that both administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov and Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov traveled to Moscow late last week to try to persuade the Kremlin not to embark on such talks. LF
...AS GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE WILL NOT MEDIATE IN CHECHEN CONFLICT
In his traditional Monday radio address, Eduard Shevardnadze said on 21 October that media reports he will meet with Maskhadov before the end of this year are untrue, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze stressed that Russia would consider any mediation effort he undertook unacceptable. Rybkin met with Shevardnadze last month to brief him on his new Chechen peace proposal and said afterward that he considers the Georgian president a possible mediator (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002). Maskhadov asked Shevardnadze to mediate with Russia in early October 1999 at the time of the second Russian incursion into Chechnya, and Shevardnadze agreed to do so. However, the Russian leadership at the time ruled that no such outside involvement was necessary (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 5 October 1999). LF
ALLEGED ABDUCTOR OF U.S. AID WORKER IN CHECHNYA APPREHENDED
Security forces have arrested a man in connection with the abduction of Doctors Without Borders staffer Kenny Gluck in Chechnya in January 2001, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 October. The suspect's name was not divulged, but he is said to belong to a guerrilla formation headed by field commander Abubakar Djumaev, AP reported. Gluck was snatched from his car by unidentified men in the Chechen village of Starye Atagi, south of Grozny, on 9 January, and freed by federal forces one month later (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January and 5 February 2001). LF
INTERIOR MINISTRY TO ASSUME COMMAND OF MILITARY OPERATIONS IN CHECHNYA?
The Interior Ministry will most probably take over control of the "antiterrorism" operation in Chechnya from the Federal Security Service (FSB) by the summer of 2003, once the "ringleaders" of the Chechen resistance have been eliminated, Russian news agencies quoted Interior Minister Gryzlov as telling journalists in Moscow on 21 October. The FSB assumed command of the war in January 2001 from the Defense Ministry (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001). In related news, Lieutenant General Sergei Makarov has been appointed commander of the Joint Group of Federal Forces in the North Caucasus, replacing Colonel General Vladimir Moltenskoi, who has been named first deputy commander of the Russian ground forces, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 19 October. LF
PREMIER'S PARTY SCORES VICTORY IN ARMENIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS
As widely anticipated, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has won a landslide victory in elections in Armenia's 930 local communities on 20 October, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported the following day. Candidates who were either HHK members or were supported by the HHK won the posts of mayor in 30 of Armenia's 37 towns and cities. The pro-presidential Orinats Yerkir (Law-Based State) won in four towns and 48 villages, while the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun fielded three mayoral candidates in towns -- all of whom were defeated -- but won in dozens of smaller communities. Voter participation was estimated at 46 percent, according to RFE/RL. The former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement, the National Democratic Union, and the Communist Party all alleged numerous violations, including attempts to buy votes in a small town north of Yerevan. Numerous instances were also reported in which voters' names were omitted from voter lists, one prominent omission being Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, according to ITAR-TASS on 21 October. LF
BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN
On a one-day visit to Baku on 21 October, Solomon Pasi met with Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov to discuss regional and international issues, including the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported. Khalafov stressed Azerbaijan's interest in expanding political, economic, and other relations with Sofia. LF
GEORGIAN OFFICIALS ADMIT AS MANY AS 60 GUNMEN REMAIN IN PANKISI
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 21 October that although the recent anticrime and antiterrorism operation has succeeded in expelling the "absolute majority" of the fighters who took refuge in the Pankisi Gorge, some still remain, ITAR-TASS reported. Shevardnadze did not name a specific figure and added that he cannot say whether the remaining fighters are Chechens or Arabs. Caucasus Press on 22 October quoted National Security Minister Valeri Khaburzania as saying that up to 60 militants might still be hiding out in districts of Georgia bordering Russia. Speaking the previous day on the independent television station Rustavi-2, Khaburzania declined to confirm or deny the accuracy of a "Time" magazine report that claimed two Al-Qaeda members were apprehended in Georgia earlier this year and probably taken to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo, Cuba. LF
ABKHAZ OFFICIALS AGAIN CLAIM CHECHENS HAVE TAKEN REFUGE IN KODORI
Some 50 Chechen fighters who were squeezed out of the Pankisi Gorge by the antiterrorism operation have taken refuge in the upper, Georgian-controlled reaches of the Kodori Gorge, Caucasus Press quoted unnamed Abkhaz Interior Ministry officials as saying on 22 October. Tbilisi responded to earlier such claims last month with counter-accusations that Abkhaz and Russian troops were being deployed near the gorge in preparation for an offensive against the local Georgian population. On 21 October, Georgian Minister for Special Assignments Malkhaz Kakabadze met with Russian Ambassador Vladimir Gudev to discuss the situation in Kodori, Caucasus Press reported. LF
WAR VETERANS DEMAND END TO ADJAR LEADER'S ABKHAZ MEDIATION MISSION
At a congress in Tbilisi, some 4,000 members of the Tbilisi-based Union of Veterans of the 1992-93 Abkhaz War have demanded that Shevardnadze fire Adjar State Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze as his personal envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, Caucasus Press reported on 21 October (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 34, 11 October 2002). They also expressed support for the mediation efforts of UN special envoy Heidi Tagliavini. Malkhaz Kakabadze Malkhaz. LF
GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS OPPOSITION THREAT TO IMPEACH MINISTER OF STATE
Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 21 October that plans by the four opposition parties to impeach Minister of State Avtandil Djorbenadze, whom they blame for chronic budget deficits, are likely to prove counterproductive, Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze claimed Djorbenadze and other government ministers are working 24 hours per day to try to ensure that revenue targets are met. Impeaching Djorbenadze would jeopardize the success of those efforts, Shevardnadze argued. LF
FORMER PREMIER ELECTED TO KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT
In a 20 October by-election, Kurmanbek Bakiev -- who resigned as prime minister five months ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May 2002) -- was elected to represent the southern district of Ala-Bukin in the lower chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament, akipress.org reported on 21 October. Bakiev garnered 67.3 percent of the vote, defeating five rival candidates in a ballot that domestic observers termed free of violations. Voter turnout was 59 percent. In a second by-election the same day in another southern constituency, Bakiev's predecessor as premier, Amangeldy Muraliev, placed third after Osh State University Rector Muktar Orozbekov and a senior railways official, Mamasadyk Bakirov, who will participate in a runoff for which no date has yet been set. LF
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS KYRGYZSTAN
Visiting Bishkek on 20-21 October, Kofi Annan met with President Askar Akaev and with the speakers of both chambers of the Kyrgyz parliament to discuss regional security issues and Kyrgyz-UN relations, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Annan also participated on 21 October in the opening of a UN House. Police detained for the duration of that ceremony some 50 supporters of jailed former Vice President Feliks Kulov who tried to stage a protest picket outside the building. In his speech at the opening ceremony, Akaev expressed gratitude for the UN's support for political and economic reforms in Kyrgyzstan and its efforts to reduce poverty and alleviate the plight of refugees. Annan called on the Kyrgyz leadership to continue to demonstrate a commitment to both democratic reforms and human rights, Interfax reported. LF
TAJIK, RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES HOLD JOINT MANEUVERS
Some 5,000 personnel from the Tajik Defense and Interior ministries and two regiments of Russia's 201st Motorized Division, which is permanently stationed in Tajikistan, held joint maneuvers from 14-20 October at the Lyaur training ground near Dushanbe, Russian news agencies reported. Fifty armored vehicles and six warplanes also took part in the war games, which simulated cooperation in repelling an incursion onto Tajik territory by criminal and terrorist groups. Russian General Anatolii Sidyakin, who commanded the maneuvers, stressed that the 201st division will not be withdrawn from Tajikistan. Division commander Yurii Perminov rejected as untrue media reports that junior Afghan army officers and 50 Afghan pilots are being trained in Tajikistan. LF
UZBEKISTAN, POLAND PLEDGE TO EXPAND MILITARY COOPERATION
Following talks in Tashkent on 21 October with his visiting Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski, Uzbek President Islam Karimov told journalists the two countries are planning "serious moves" toward bilateral military cooperation to combat terrorism, joint military training, and information exchanges, AP and Interfax reported. Kwasniewski, for his part, praised Uzbekistan's support for the international antiterrorism coalition, its "stabilizing" role in Central Asia, and the interethnic and inter-confessional harmony that exists in the country. He said that "as a member of NATO and a future member of the European Union, Poland is ready to be a window onto Europe for Uzbekistan," ITAR-TASS reported. LF
U.S. OFFICIAL SLAMS BELARUS'S 'LACK OF RESPECT' FOR OSCE PRINCIPLES
Douglas Davidson, deputy head of the U.S. mission to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, has criticized Belarus for its threat to close the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group (AMG) in Minsk, Belapan reported on 21 October. Davidson said such a move would manifest an "overriding lack of respect" for OSCE principles. "We reject the notion of the Belarusian side that this matter is about respect for the views of a host state," Davidson said, according to Belapan. Belarus has repeatedly charged that the AMG was engaged in political activities for the opposition and demanded a change of the group's mandate. "Belarus advised that it would not entertain negotiations on a future OSCE presence until the Permanent Council adopted a decision formally closing the AMG," Davidson said. He added that this statement contravenes the position conveyed by Belarusian Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastou, who informed OSCE Chairman in Office Antonio Martins da Cruz in New York in September that he will instruct Belarusian Permanent Representative Viktar Haysyonak to negotiate an immediate resolution of the AMG controversy. JM
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY MEETS WITH PRESIDENT
Ukrainian lawmakers from the officially announced 226-strong parliamentary majority (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 2002) met on 21 October with President Leonid Kuchma and Premier Anatoliy Kinakh, UNIAN reported. The meeting took place behind closed doors, and no official news conference was held after it concluded. The gathering was reportedly attended by 211 legislators. "The majority exists only de jure; it does not exist de facto," Social Democratic Party-united caucus member Oleksandr Volkov commented. Answering a question on whether the majority is going to reappoint the heads of parliamentary committees, Volkov said such a move has been postponed in order not to disrupt the dialogue between the majority and Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine. Lawmaker Oleh Bespalov from People's Power faction also confirmed that the continuation of the dialogue with Yushchenko was discussed at the meeting, but he did not elaborate. Our Ukraine's Yuriy Kostenko commented on 22 October that the meeting of the "so-called parliamentary majority" with Kuchma has blocked the process of creating a "democratic parliamentary majority" with the participation of Our Ukraine. JM
TURKEY EXTRADITES FOUR FORMER UKRAINIAN ENERGY EXECUTIVES
Four former executives of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine were extradited from Turkey on 21 October, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. The four, who were jailed in Turkey in June following a request from the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office, include former board Chairman Yevhen Shaho and Hennadiy Tymoshenko, the father-in-law of opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko. They are suspected of hiding hard-currency profits and stealing state assets while working for the energy company. Yuliya Tymoshenko had requested that Turkish authorities grant the four asylum, claiming the arrest warrant is a politically motivated attack against her opposition activities. JM
MORE RESULTS FROM ESTONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS
The Center Party emerged the clear winner of elections to local councils in the largest northwestern cities of Narva and Kohtla-Jarve on 20 October, BNS reported the next day. The party garnered 50.5 percent of the vote and 18 of the 31 seats in Narva, and 42.8 percent and 17 seats of the 35 seats in Kohtla-Jarve. In the western seaside resort of Haapsalu, the centrist Res Publica gained eight of the 21 seats and, by forming a coalition with the right-wing Pro Patria Union, which gained four seats, will supplant the Reform Party (six seats), which has ruled the city since 1996. The Center Party won the other three seats. SG
LATVIAN PARTIES DISCUSS DISTRIBUTION OF CABINET POSTS
Representatives of the New Era, the Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS), Latvia First Party (LPP), and For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (TB/LNNK) discussed in coalition talks on 21 October the distribution of cabinet posts in a new government, LETA reported. The parties agreed that, in a cabinet headed by New Era Chairman Einars Repse, the New Era will have eight ministries, the ZZS and LPP three each, and the TB/LNNK two. The New Era has abandoned previously proposed candidates for the Agriculture and Transportation ministries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2002). Martins Roze of the ZZS will be agriculture minister. Current Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis (TB/LNNK) appears likely to retain his post. The parties will continue talks on the makeup of the cabinet on 23 October -- when parliamentary posts might also play a factor. Parliamentary functions have not been discussed because the official election results and list of elected representatives is to be announced on 22 October. SG
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT STUMPS FOR NEW HIGH-TECH INSTITUTION
President Valdas Adamkus told an information-technology (IT) conference on 21 October that while he is glad computer literacy in Lithuania is improving, there is a clear need to establish an institution to coordinate IT activities among state institutions, ELTA reported. Petras Austrevicius, Lithuania's chief negotiator with the EU, noted that EU membership would open new opportunities to attract IT investments to Lithuania. The head of the European Commission's delegation in Lithuania, Michael Graham, told the conference that Lithuania still has problems organizing EU-funded projects, and that although the state has accomplished much in the IT field, nontransparent services-procurement tenders have raised doubts about the effective use of EU funds. SG
POLISH PREMIER HOPES NETHERLANDS WILL FOLLOW IRISH EXAMPLE ON EU EXPANSION
Commenting on the Irish referendum approving the Treaty of Nice on 19 October, Prime Minister Leszek Miller expressed his hope on 21 October that the Dutch will not oppose EU enlargement, PAP reported. The Dutch government recently collapsed amid doubts expressed by Dutch politicians that all the aspiring countries will be ready for EU membership. "I think that such an approach reflects their disinclination to enlargement and [their] conviction that the current EU is so rich that it should not share this wealth with 10 other countries," Miller commented, according to PAP. According to a poll conducted by CBOS on 11-14 October among 1,231 adult Poles, 71 percent of those declaring their willingness to take part in the EU membership referendum said they will vote "yes." JM
MAJORITY OF CZECHS SAY THEY ARE UNHAPPY WITH POLITICAL SCENE...
A recent poll by the Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM) suggests a majority of Czech citizens are unhappy with the current political situation in the country, Czech media reported on 21 October. Some 58 percent of Czechs said they are dissatisfied with the political situation, while 37 percent said they are happy. The figures signal a slight increase in political dissatisfaction over the summer, but the number of those unhappy is well below the record high of 80 percent recorded in 1990. BW
...AS PRESIDENT'S POPULARITY SINKS TO AN ALL-TIME LOW
According to other recent polls, President Vaclav Havel's popularity is at the lowest level of his 13-year presidency, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 21 October. According to the daily, just 45 percent of Czechs trust Havel. Public trust in Havel has declined to 40 percent from 47 percent in April, according to a CVVM poll released on 17 October and cited by CTK. The president's popularity dropped sharply in the wake of August flooding due to his failure to return immediately from a vacation in Portugal. BW
CZECH PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN REJECTS 'NY TIMES' REPORT AS 'FABRICATION'
A spokesman for the Czech president meanwhile has dismissed a report in "The New York Times" claiming Havel told U.S. officials there is no evidence that suspected 11 September hijacker Mohammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague, CTK reported on 22 October. The 21 October report cited unidentified Czech officials as saying Havel discreetly called White House officials to cast doubt on the alleged meeting (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2002). "It is a fabrication. Nothing like this has occurred," Havel's spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, said of the alleged phone conversation. BW
CZECH POLICE: YOU AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' DURING NATO SUMMIT
Czech law enforcement officials urged people planning to be in Prague during the 21-22 November NATO summit to obey all police orders without question, CTK reported on 21 October. The Interior Ministry has published instructions on how to behave during the summit on its website (http://www.mvcr.cz). All individuals are advised to carry passports or other valid identification documents at all times. Police also say citizens should avoid situations that attract the attention of the police and quickly leave gatherings that could turn violent. Police also advised Prague residents to be vigilant and to inform police of any weapons that demonstrators might possess. BW
SLOVAK PUBLIC ENRAGED OVER DRUNKEN POLICE INCIDENTS
Police in Slovakia have come under fire from an angry public due to a surge of drunk-driving accidents involving law enforcement officers, AP reported on 21 October. So far this year, 27 police officers have been involved in accidents in which alcohol was allegedly involved. Six people, including a mother and her 14-month-old baby, have been killed. All of the officers involved were fired, Slovak police officials said. "When policemen who should be watchdogs of laws break them and drive like this in public,... it's viewed very sensitively," ministry spokesman Jozef Sitar told AP. Police are now subject to random breath tests for alcohol. BW
SLOVAK POLITICIANS TARGETED BY REPORT ON COMMUNIST-ERA COLLABORATION
Nine members of the newly elected Slovak parliament, including two cabinet members, appear on a list of people accused of collaborating with Czechoslovakia's communist-era secret police (StB), the daily "Sme" reported on 21 October. The so-called "Cibulka List," named after Petr Cibulka, the dissident-activist who published the unconfirmed list, purports to identify 180,000 people who collaborated knowingly or unknowingly with the StB. Eight of those mentioned by "Sme" were listed as StB informants and one as an agent. Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan is one of those named, and he has already issued a denial. "My past is the way it is. I cannot change it. Everyone knows it. But allegations of collaboration with the StB are untrue," he said, according to the daily. Health Minister Rudolf Zajac was also listed as an informant. Three names from Vladimir Meciar's opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) appear on the list, including former Prime Minister and party Chairman Meciar, party Deputy Chairman Vojtech Tkac, and parliamentary deputy speaker Viliam Veteska. Marian Gula, director of the Slovak Office for Documenting Communist Crimes, told the daily that he considers the list a reliable source of information. BW
COMMISSION DECLARES HUNGARIAN ELECTIONS 'CLEAN AND SUCCESSFUL'
Lajos Ficzere, chairman of the National Election Commission, on 21 October declared Hungary's local elections "clean and successful and untainted by any major incidents," Hungarian media reported. He said local and regional electoral commissions had to determine the election results by late afternoon on 21 October. Formal protests must be filed on 22 October, and once those objections have been addressed, the election results will become final. However, Ficzere emphasized that several provisions of the electoral law, including those pertaining to equal opportunity and fairness, must be made unequivocal. Ficzere also said regulations governing the election of minority groups' representatives need to be changed, adding that the government will address the matter. MSZ
LEFT-WING MAYORS DOMINATE BUDAPEST DISTRICTS
As a result of the 20 October local elections, allegiances in seven of Budapest's 23 districts shifted from a right-wing mayor to a left-wing candidate representing the Socialist-Free Democrat alliance, Budapest dailies reported on 22 October. Mayors representing those two parties -- which also compose the Hungarian government coalition -- will govern in 17 districts, with right-wing mayors in four others and two districts run by independent mayors. The 52.67 percent voter turnout in Budapest represents a record high for local elections. The allocation of seats on the Budapest City Council was adjusted slightly since preliminary results were publicized on 21 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2002). Instead of 25 seats, the Socialists (MSZP) obtained 24, while the Hungarian Justice and Life Party now has five seats, rather than the four initially reported. The FIDESZ-Democratic Forum-Christian Democrat alliance won 21 seats, and the Free Democrats garnered 16. MSZ
HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS CELEBRATE VICTORY OF THE 'CIVIC LEFT'...
MSZP Chairman Laszlo Kovacs on 21 October told reporters in Budapest that the "civic left wing" won the 20 October municipal elections, adding that voters "gave an affirmative answer to the union of Socialist and Free Democrat forces," Hungarian media reported. Kovacs asserted that left-wing candidates attracted three times as many votes as FIDESZ representatives, as approximately 2,700,000 people backed the MSZP and only 900,000 voted for FIDESZ. Kovacs said there is no question of "punishing opposition-run towns," adding that "peace and calm will prevail in the country." MSZ
...WHILE RIGHT-WING PARTY ASSESSES THE DAMAGE
FIDESZ Executive Chairman Janos Ader on 21 October acknowledged that FIDESZ lost the local elections, noting that the MSZP scored a bigger victory than his party did four years ago, Budapest dailies reported. Ader admitted he discouraged former Prime Minister Viktor Orban from appearing at party headquarters on the night of elections. Ader said that "despite the defeat, FIDESZ's voter base remains stable." He vowed that the "appropriate conclusions will be drawn" and that there will be political consequences. MSZ
HUNGARY THANKS IRELAND FOR 'YES' VOTE
Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy on 21 October sent a letter of congratulations to his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern, expressing satisfaction on behalf of all Hungarians with the Irish government and voters who "displayed wisdom and historic generosity" on 20 October in voting in favor of the Treaty of Nice, and thus for enlargement of the EU, "Magyar Hirlap" reported. MSZ
BOSNIAN SERB FIRMS DEALING WITH IRAQ VIA BELGRADE?
The Belgrade daily "Blic" wrote on 22 October that SFOR peacekeepers recently found evidence that the Orao and Obarska companies in Bijeljina have been involved in illegal arms sales to Iraq through the Jugoimport company in Belgrade, Fena news agency reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9, 10, 11, 13, and 16 September and 15 October 2002). "Blic" did not identify its sources. The article added that evidence found in Bijeljina shows that Yugoslav experts are in Iraq to install the unspecified equipment and train Iraqis in its use. Other documents indicate that Jugoimport wants the Iraqis to destroy or return all evidence of its involvement in the sales, according to the daily. The results of the findings have reportedly been made known to top Yugoslav and Serbian officials, including Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, and Dusan Mihajlovic, who is both Serbian police chief and head of Jugoimport's board of directors. "Blic" also claimed that some of the money from the sales went to fund the recent presidential campaign of Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj and the activities of some other politicians. The report in "Blic" has not been independently confirmed. PM
HAGUE PROSECUTOR BRINGS TWO SREBRENICA INDICTMENTS TO SERBIA
In Belgrade on 21 October, Carla Del Ponte, who is the chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, gave Serbian and Yugoslav officials indictments of three Bosnian Serbs for their role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, a statement from the tribunal said. The three are Drago Nikolic, Vujadin Popovic, and Ljubisa Beara. Each of the three has been indicted on one count of genocide and at least three counts of crimes against humanity. Del Ponte also said she intends to complain again to the UN Security Council that Belgrade authorities are obstructing her work, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2002). She noted Belgrade's failure to arrest war crimes suspects and open its military archives to the tribunal. PM
BOSNIAN SERBS SENTENCED FOR ROLE IN MOSQUE RIOT
On 21 October, judges in Banja Luka sentenced 14 men to prison terms ranging from two to 13 months for their roles in the 2001 riots aimed at preventing reconstruction work on the 16th-century Ferhadija mosque, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 May 2001 and 29 April, 14 June, and 3 September 2002). Two additional men were sent for psychiatric examination. PM
INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE SACKS BOSNIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF...
Paddy Ashdown, who is the international community's high representative in Bosnia, sacked Munir Alibabic as head of the Muslim-Croat Federation Intelligence Service (FOSS) on 21 October, dpa reported from Sarajevo. Ashdown's office said in a statement that sensitive documents "have found their way into the public domain and have been used for party political purposes, on all sides" in the run-up to the 5 October general elections. The statement added that such a practice "has undermined the integrity, reputation, and professionalism of the service, and therefore its ability to perform its duties. Alibabic, as the head of FOSS, must take ultimate responsibility for this." The statement nonetheless added that Alibabic "has served his country well in working closely with other international counterterrorist agencies and with the [war crimes tribunal in The Hague] and in the fight against organized crime and corruption." Alibabic frequently spoke out against the politicization of the intelligence service (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August and 9 September 2002). PM
...AND ISSUES NEW RULES IN WAKE OF NATIONALIST VICTORY
Ashdown also issued a series of decrees in Sarajevo on 21 October aimed at improving the business climate but also at strengthening his own powers following the victory of nationalist parties in the recent general elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. His approval will now be required for the appointment of joint ministers dealing with refugees as well as with the treasury and foreign trade and economic relations. He will also have to approve the ministers in charge of finance in each of the two entities and education ministers in the two entities and all cantons. Furthermore, Ashdown issued decrees on the formation of governments in keeping with recent constitutional changes. In the Muslim-Croat federation, there will be one prime minister and two deputy prime ministers as well as 16 ministers. There will be eight Muslims, five Croats, and three Serbs in the cabinet. Ashdown abolished the position of deputy minister in both entities and in the cantonal governments. PM
MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT CONFIRMS COMMITMENT TO INDEPENDENCE
Speaking in Podgorica on the day after his victory in the 20 October parliamentary elections, President Milo Djukanovic reaffirmed his hope that Montenegro will eventually become independent, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2002). "My negotiating position is stronger today than it was yesterday," he said, apparently referring to attempts by the EU to influence upcoming talks between Belgrade and Podgorica on a joint Constitutional Charter. "Any attempt to try impose a solution against the will of Montenegro's people...is unacceptable.... I have a clear mandate from the people of Montenegro...to demand respect for Montenegro's statehood," Djukanovic added. The EU is seeking to keep Serbia and Montenegro together in a joint state, which is even less popular in Serbia than it is in Montenegro, according to many polls. As part of a deal reached under pressure from EU envoy Javier Solana in March, Montenegro agreed to a loose confederation but reserves the right to hold a referendum on independence after three years. The derisive nickname for the new state in Montenegro is "Solania." PM
MONTENEGRIN ELECTIONS LARGELY FOLLOW PREDICTABLE PATTERN...
The results of the 20 October parliamentary elections show that the pro-Belgrade and pro-independence forces generally held on to their traditional strongholds, "Vesti" reported on 22 October. The pro-Belgrade coalition won in the Pljevlja, Pluzine, Zabljak, Savnik, Mojkovac, Kolasin, Andrijevica, and Herceg Novi districts. The coalition led by Djukanovic took the Bijelo Polje, Berane, Rozaje, Plav, Podgorica, Danilovgrad, Cetinje, Niksic, Tivat, Budva, and Bar districts. An ethnic Albanian coalition won in Ulcinj. Djukanovic's coalition won a majority in local elections in Podgorica and took first place but not a majority in Tivat. PM
...BUT AN ALBANIAN LEADER IS UNHAPPY WITH THE TURNOUT
Leading ethnic Albanian politician Fuad Nimani told Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service on 21 October that he is disappointed by the low turnout of ethnic Albanian voters. He noted that the Albanian parties are small and unable to offer their voters anything real incentive to vote for them. Nimani nonetheless urged those parties to pay more attention to the voters. Some ethnic Albanian politicians prefer to work in parties without an ethnic basis. PM
EU TO BEGIN STABILIZATION AND ASSOCIATION TALKS WITH ALBANIA?
EU foreign ministers agreed in Luxembourg on 21 October to call on the European Commission to start talks with Albania regarding a stabilization and association agreement, Reuters reported. Chris Patten, who is the EU's commissioner for foreign affairs and responsible for countries not considered to be applicants for EU membership, said: "We hope this will contribute to development and reforms in Albania.... We will be looking at the Albanians...to make clear without any doubt that the reform process that was interrupted earlier this year has been resumed effectively." He stressed that the EU expects Albania to display a clear commitment to reform, adding that the proposed agreement "is not something which can be accomplished through a series of political fixes." In Tirana, Prime Minister Fatos Nano said: "This is only the start of...fundamental transformations and long-term reforms in all spheres," AP reported. PM
NEW MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT TO BE CONFIRMED BY END OF OCTOBER
The cabinet led by Branko Crvenkovski includes seven ministers from the Social Democratic Union (SDSM), three from the Liberal Democrats (LDP), and four from the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (BDI), "Utrinski vesnik" reported on 21 October. In addition, there will be three ministers without portfolio. Crvenkovski's proposal envisions the SDSM's taking over the power ministries -- the Defense, Interior, and Foreign ministries. The BDI will be in charge of the Justice, Transport and Communications, Education, and Health ministries. Liberal Democrats will head the Finance, Agriculture, and Labor and Social Affairs ministries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 21 October 2002). UB
ROMANIAN RULING PARTY EXPELS ARRESTED ADVISER TO SECRETARY-GENERAL'S OFFICE
The ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) on 21 October expelled Fanel Pavalache from the party after Pavalache, an adviser to the government's Secretary-General's Office was arrested on 19 October on charges of abuse of office, Romanian media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 2001). PSD Secretary-General Cosmin Gusa said the party "does not need such people," adding that Premier Adrian Nastase has asked government members to carefully investigate all staff members who could take advantage of their position. The same day, Nastase said Pavalache's arrest could have "extremely positive" implications and has revealed the need for a National Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office. ZsM
ROMANIAN LIBERALS SET UP SHADOW GOVERNMENT
The 19 October meeting of the National Liberal Party's (PNL) National Representatives Delegation set up 25 specialist commissions aimed at monitoring the government's activity and drafting the party's political and election strategies, Mediafax reported. The meeting elected former PNL Chairman Mircea Ionescu Quintus as honorary chairman. Deputy Chairman Paul Pacuraru told a press conference that prior to the 2004 local elections the party will sign a cooperation agreement with the Democratic Party. Also on 19 October, the PNL's permanent delegation adopted a resolution criticizing the government's proposed 2003 budget. PNL Chairman Theodor Stolojan said the proposed budget, in effect, promotes "the waste of public money and corruption in Romania" and "maintains an underground economy at high levels." Government spokesman Claudiu Lucaci dismissed Stolojan's charges On 20 October, according to Mediafax. ZsM
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR PATCHING UP ROMANIAN-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS
Meeting in Beirut on 20 October with his Moldovan counterpart Vladimir Voronin, Romanian President Ion Iliescu expressed his surprise over the negative attitude some Moldovan officials have recently shown toward Romania, Mediafax reported. The two countries have been engaged in a dispute over the certification of Romanian universities in Moldova and scholarships for Moldovan students to attend Romanian universities, among other things (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 2002). Presidential spokeswoman Corina Cretu said Iliescu believes that this situation should be resolved through normal bilateral negotiations. The two agreed to set up a working group composed of presidential representatives that would analyze the current situation and propose solutions to problematical bilateral issues. Iliescu, who is heading the Romanian delegation participating in a meeting of French-speaking countries' leaders, also met on 20 October with French President Jacques Chirac and discussed Iliescu's planned visit to France next spring. ZsM
MOLDOVA AVOIDS DEBT DEFAULT
In Chisinau on 18 October, the parliament ratified a loan-restructuring deal signed with foreign creditors extending the repayment of debts owed on Eurobonds by seven years, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported. Moldova thus succeeded in restructuring $40 million of its foreign debt that was due this summer and avoided default. Moldova still must deal with a some $120 million in foreign-debt payments due this year, which is equal to approximately half of the country's budget revenues. ZsM
MOLDOVA EXPECTS POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS IN RELATIONS WITH EU
Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Dudau said on 21 October after meeting with Norbert Jousten, the head of the European Commission's delegation to Moldova, that his country expects a "qualitative advancement" in relations with the European Union, Flux reported. Dudau added that Moldovan authorities are "aware of the current difficulties [in the country] but want to resolve them" with the help of the EU. Dudau said European Commission Chairman Romano Prodi's recent statement that EU expansion will stop at the borders of Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2002) does not reflect the essence of bilateral relations. Jousten said those three countries could become EU members in the future and invited Moldova to make use of the European Commission's willingness to strengthen bilateral relations. ZsM
MOLDOVAN AUTHORITIES OPPOSE RUSSIAN CONSULATE IN TIRASPOL
Meeting with Russian Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev in Chisinau on 21 October, Moldovan parliamentary Chairwoman Eugenia Ostapciuc said that, as long as Moldovan authorities do not control the breakaway Transdniester region, opening a Russian Consulate in Tiraspol is out of the question, Flux reported. Parliament Deputy Chairman Vadim Misin added that when consulates are established "the host country should guarantee the [consulate's] security" but that Moldovan authorities cannot guarantee that to Russia at present. The Russian Duma recently adopted a resolution that provides for the opening of a consulate in Tiraspol. Upon his arrival in Chisinau on 20 October, Seleznev said he is confident the two foreign ministries will be able to reach an agreement on the consulate issue. ZsM
COMMUNIST CANDIDATE TABUNSHIK ELECTED GOVERNOR OF GAGAUZ-YERI
Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) candidate George Tabunshik took 51 percent of the vote in the second round of the Gagauz-Yeri gubernatorial elections on 20 October, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported the next day. Ciadir-Lunga incumbent Mayor Mihail Formuzal finished second with 47 percent. The first round of elections on 6 October was declared invalid due to low voter turnout. Tabunshik was governor of Gagauz-Yeri from 1995-99. Local analysts speculated that the gubernatorial elections revealed a possible drop in support for the PCM, as during the parliamentary elections last year in which the PCM took more than 80 percent of the vote in the region. ZsM
BULGARIA'S CONSERVATIVE OPPOSITION DEMANDS CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES
In Sofia on 21 October, Conservative Opposition Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairwoman Nadezhda Mihailova told a joint forum of the Democracy Foundation and the Germany-based Konrad Adenauer Foundation that her party is demanding constitutional reform, BTA reported. According to Mihailova, the SDS will soon initiate a parliamentary debate on its proposed constitutional amendments aimed at strengthening state institutions and bringing Bulgarian legislation into line with the EU's legal framework. She added that the SDS will also ask the Constitutional Court to define the possible scope of constitutional reform. Justice Minister Anton Stankov of the ruling National Movement Simeon II said at the forum that he fully supports the SDS's proposed reforms of the legal system. President Georgi Parvanov said on 18 October that the constitution, election legislation, and laws on local self-government should be amended prior to local elections in 2003. UB
FORMER BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ACCUSES SOCIALISTS OF ORDERING MURDER OF FORMER PREMIER
Former President Zhelyu Zhelev said on 21 October that members of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) ordered the 1996 murder of former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov, bnn news agency reported. Zhelev made the accusation to reporters following his testimony as a witness in the closed trial of two Ukrainians and three Bulgarians charged with carrying out Lukanov's murder. Lukanov, who was prime minister between February and December 1990, was shot dead in Sofia on 2 October 1996. "People from the circle around former Socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov ordered Lukanov's assassination," Zhelev said. Lukanov reportedly came into conflict with the Orion business group that allegedly had close ties to Videnov, spurring widespread speculation that Videnov might have had a role in Lukanov's death. UB
BULGARIAN ROMANY COMMUNITY PROTESTS ELECTRICITY CUT-OFF
Hundreds of Roma gathered in the northern Bulgarian town of Lom on 21 October to protest the local electricity provider's decision to cut electricity supplies to their neighborhood because of unpaid bills, bnn news agency reported. The neighborhood is home to approximately 3,000 Romany families and owes some $120,000 to the company. Similar protests took place earlier this year in Plovdiv (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 February 2002 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 March 2002). UB
THE BUSINESS OF POLITICS IN MAGADAN
Within hours of the 18 October assassination of Magadan Oblast Governor Valentin Tsvetkov, several competing theories as to the motive had already emerged. The first, suggested by the Russian government, was that the killing was politically motivated and connected to Tsvetkov's attempts to regulate Magadan's lucrative mining, fisheries, and alcohol industries. Others -- most notably State Duma Deputy Vladimir Butkeev (Russian Regions), a challenger in Magadan's 2000 gubernatorial elections -- argued that the murder resulted from a clash over Tsvetkov's numerous business interests. Cryptically, Yabloko head Grigorii Yavlinskii suggested that anyone outside the victim's immediate family could potentially be a suspect.
To suggest that activities in Magadan's political and business spheres can be easily separated, however, fails to recognize their deep interconnections. Tsvetkov -- who rose during the Soviet period to become the manager of one of the oblast's largest gold mines -- and his family and close associates were ideally positioned to gain control of the mine through one of post-Soviet Russia's tainted privatization schemes in the early 1990s. Once he dominated a large share of the region's gold-extraction industry -- which was the only sector of the oblast's economy to survive the post-Soviet collapse -- Tsvetkov was in turn ideally positioned to pursue his political ambitions.
Running on populist rhetoric, Tsvetkov won Magadan's first free elections in 1996. Despite his narrow margin of victory, Tsvetkov's achievement was considerable because the federal center and the region's political and academic elites backed incumbent Governor Viktor Mikhailov. Tsvetkov, however, countered the opposition through a simple but effective campaign strategy: He asked the electorate why, given the region's vast natural-resource wealth, they were among the poorest people in the Russian Federation. Magadan is one of Russia's most marginalized regions with unemployment, alcoholism, suicide, and divorce rates among the highest in the country. Furthermore, due to the region's remoteness and extreme climate, food prices are up to three times the national average, putting even the most basic of goods out of reach of many citizens. In short, in 1996 the region was on the verge of social collapse, so a candidate implying that the region's wealth would be redistributed was sure to find support.
Upon gaining office, Tsvetkov moved quickly to marginalize his opponents. For example, Magadan State University, which supported Mikhailov, soon found itself starved of funding, and Tsvetkov's business associates quickly filled key administrative posts. Because the region is sparsely populated and its administration apparatus is one of the oblast's largest employers, this process was relatively easy. Furthermore, in May 1999 Magadan was granted the status of a free economic zone, which made political control of the region's enterprises even easier as new layers of regulation were introduced. Returning to his campaign strategy, Tsvetkov designated the region "our home" -- and argued that the region's wealth should benefit its people. Because the local population felt so cut off from the rest of the country, this rhetoric resonated strongly.
However, it remains highly debatable whether any of the changes ushered in under the guise of "our home" actually benefited the population. Living standards remain painfully low to this day, and economic growth has proven difficult to achieve. Although the mining sector has been able to meet federally set production figures, the oblast's mines are becoming increasingly inefficient, and investment is desperately needed as the most easily extracted gold reserves are depleted.
For a time, it seemed this investment would come, in part, from a Canadian company called Pan American Silver, which paid $35 million in January 1998 for a license to mine in the region. However, it transpired that the license did not include the mines' infrastructure, although the company was assured of success in a closed auction for it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, it later that year lost the auction by $1 to a Moscow-based firm. This meant the company was unable to begin mining before the date, September 2001, required by the license. Thus, Pan American Silver has effectively lost its investment. The details of this are not essential here, but two clear outcomes do seem evident. First, the affair curtailed any interest in the region on the part of foreign investors; and second, it paradoxically cemented Tsvetkov's reputation as a defender of Magadan against outsiders trying to exploit its resources.
Tsvetkov's re-election in November 2000 was -- for all intents and purposes -- uncontested, and he was returned to power with over 62 percent of the vote. What opposition there was argued that there needs to be a separation of political and business interests in the region, with one candidate describing the incumbent elite as "feudal lords." While only 42 percent of the electorate showed up to vote, suggesting fairly strong apathy, the winning margin was surprising given that living standards in the region had hardly budged during Tsvetkov's first term.
However, given the region's extremely narrow political base and the control Tsvetkov wielded over it, it is understandable why a credible challenger failed to emerge. Several potential candidates privately admitted that the risks inherent in challenging the entrenched incumbent elite made it inadvisable to launch a campaign. Furthermore, a common phrase heard among voters during this time was "better the devil you know...." Although living standards were not improving, people worried that if an "outsider" came in, the situation could get worse. This shows how deeply rooted the notion of "our home" has become among the people of Magadan.
Following his re-election, Tsvetkov presided over reforms that were mainly aimed at increasing state control of the fisheries and gold-mining sectors and the region's port. Contracts were signed with the English company Enothera Ltd. to further the development of Magadan's oil industry. Any of these actions could potentially have created new enemies for Tsvetkov. Considering the above, it is clear Tsvetkov's death will create a considerable power vacuum in the region, particularly as there is no obvious successor.
With the federal government looking to rein in the regions, it would not be surprising if an outsider is placed in power in Magadan, one with much closer and more direct ties to the Kremlin than Tsvetkov enjoyed. Another open question is whether Chukotka Autonomous Okrug will be re-incorporated into Magadan's sphere of influence. Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich, an oligarch who is reportedly close to President Vladimir Putin and who was named to the Presidium of the State Council last month, has indicated he will step down as governor after just one term in office, and Tsvetkov's murder would seem to make a merger more likely.
The oblast's population would likely not oppose increased central control of the region, despite the lingering allure of the "our home" motif. It should not be difficult for a new administration to convince the public that improving living standards depends on increased investment in the crucial mining and fisheries sectors. Given the present context, it might well be that only some form of informal "central administration" for the oblast can prevent Tsvetkov's murder from signaling the beginning of a new wave of regional crime and corruption.
John Round is a lecturer in geography at the University of Leicester.