RUSSIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR DESTRUCTION OF ROOTS OF TERRORISM IN CAUCASUS...
Presenting his program for the reorganization of the political system in Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 13 September 2004), President Vladimir Putin said on 13 September that the "North Caucasus is a vital strategic region of Russia. It is currently a victim of bloody terror, but at the same time it is also its breeding ground," strana.ru and other Russian media reported. The roots of terrorism in the Caucasus are the "miserable socioeconomic situation," mass unemployment and the low level of education, even a lack of access to education, he noted. "Suffice it to say that unemployment here is several times greater than the Russian average. Republics like Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Daghestan have truly mass unemployment. In the Southern Federal District the average income per person per month is two-thirds of the average for the country as a whole. In Ingushetia, for example, it is almost one-quarter of [the national average]. Virtually every republic in the North Caucasus has extremely high child-mortality figures," Putin said. These problems create grounds for "ideologues of international terrorism," who are very active in the region, he said. The newly created Federal Commission on the North Caucasus, headed by new presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Dmitrii Kozak, will address these problems, Putin said. VY
...AND CREATION OF SYSTEM FOR PREVENTING TERRORISM...
In the same speech, President Putin said that Russia needs a new system of national security that will allow it not only to confront terrorist activity, but prevent it, strana.ru and other Russian media reported. Russia needs a system that is "capable of carrying out preventive action and destroying criminals in their den and, if the situation requires, reaching them abroad," Putin said. He also called for depriving terrorists of "their channels of financial support, creating a political and financial vacuum around their emissaries and lobbyists." Finally, Putin called for increasing penalties for criminal acts by officials, especially those who facilitate the commission of terrorist acts. VY
...WHILE DECREEING MEASURES FOR STRENGTHENING ENTRY-VISA CONTROL
President Putin decreed on 13 September that the Foreign Ministry, the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Foreign Intelligence Service, and the Interior Ministry should increase control over issuing Russian entry visas in order to prevent potential terrorists from entering Russia, strana.ru and other Russian media reported. With two other degrees, Putin asked the government and the security agencies to elaborate in the next month a state system of crisis management and a system of early warning and prevention of terrorist activity, including possible terrorist acts involving weapons of mass destruction. VY
KREMLIN INSIDER SKEPTICAL ABOUT PUTIN REFORM...
Kremlin insider and National Strategy Institute head Stanislav Belkovskii said in reference to Putin's proposed political reform that the Russian president has "practically abolished federalism as the principle of national state origination" and has taken upon himself and the federal bureaucracy responsibility for the situation in the country, apn.ru reported. Because the federal bureaucracy has already demonstrated its complete inability to solve crucial issues, the result of the reforms will increase the weakness, not the strength of the state vertical power. As for the governors now being appointed rather than elected, the choices will be based on "mediocrity, cynicism, and lack of talent," Belkovskii said. At least in cases where the Kremlin already practically appointed its candidates as governor (as in Ingushetia and Chechnya), they showed themselves completely incapable in critical situations or promoted the total criminalization of their regions, Belkovskii said. "The appointment of Dmitrii Kozak as the presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District looks even more comical. Kozak distinguished himself as an official who is ready to solve any problem without understanding its essence. That is why two of his basic projects -- the peace settlement in Transdniester and administrative reform in Russia -- have failed," Belkovskii concluded. VY
...AS ARE OTHERS...
Maksim Dianov, the director of the Institute of Regional Problems, said that if President Putin's analysis of the war on terrorism and threats linked to it is correct, then he is doing right in trying to lead the country out of crisis, APN reported on 13 September. However, there is another point of view that there is no threat of the country's disintegration, no threat to the system of power, and that the economy is as stable as it's been in the last 40 years. Then there are serious doubts that the steps proposed by Putin are justified. "In fact, Putin has given the people a choice: political freedoms or personal security. But as a philosopher said, those who choose personal security over freedom, deserve neither security nor freedom," Dianov said. Igor Bunin, the director of the Center Of Political Technologies, said the reforms proposed by Putin have nothing to do with national security or the fight against terrorism, TV-Tsentr reported on 13 September. These reforms have been prepared within the presidential administration for a long time now, and now the Beslan hostage drama has been used to introduce them. VY
...BUT NOT ALL
Also speaking on TV-Tsentr, noted political analyst and journalist Vitalii Tretyakov said that terrorism is indeed the No.1 danger to Russia and that the terrorist attacks in August and September began to threaten Russia's survival as a state. Moreover, the crisis in national security coincided with another long-standing crisis: the crisis of the country's governance. In search of a solution for these two crises, Putin rejects "the superficially more democratic Western forms in favor of the benefits of a more traditional Russian way of government." These Russian ways of government may be less democratic, but in Russia's past they proved their efficiency, Tretyakov concluded. VY
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS PRIORITY FOR NEW PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY IN SOUTHERN FEDERAL DISTRICT
Deputy government-apparatus head Sergei Naryshkin has been named head of the government apparatus, replacing Dmitrii Kozak, who on 13 September was named presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, RosBalt and other Russian media reported. Before being named deputy government-apparatus head in March, Naryshkin was deputy director of the presidential administration's economy department. "Izvestiya" on 14 September commented that Kozak is best known for his enormous capacity for work and for his lack of personal political ambitions. He was described as a sort "Emergency Situations Ministry" within Putin's government, regularly "being shifted from one front to another." The daily said that Kozak's priority will be the economic development of the North Caucasus region. In an interview with "Sedmaya stolitsa," a local newspaper in Rostov-na-Donu, on 9 September, then presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Vladimir Yakovlev emphasized the economic problems of the region. "Things are going on in a chaotic fashion," Yakovlev said. "This is especially true in Daghestan and Ingushetia. In these republics, hit by sweeping unemployment, a $100 bill will clear a passage for anyone and anything. We cannot disarm terrorists without placing an emphasis on socioeconomic programs." RC
GOVERNORS COMMENT ON PROPOSED ELIMINATION OF DIRECT ELECTION OF REGIONAL HEADS
A bill that would eliminate the direct election of the executive-branch heads of the constituents of the Russian Federation will be submitted to the Duma not later than November, an unidentified Kremlin source told ITAR-TASS on 13 September. The source and Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov emphasized that the measure will not be retroactive and all current governors will complete their elected terms. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told "Izvestiya" on 14 September that he endorses the change, which was announced by President Putin on 13 September as a measure intended to bolster the fight against terrorism. Luzhkov said that governors must first of all be good managers, not politicians. The newspaper noted that if the measure is adopted, Luzhkov might very well be appointed to a fifth term as mayor of the capital. Republic of Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev noted that his republic already works according to such a system, in which the republican president appoints the executive-branch heads of cities and towns. Ivanovo Oblast Governor Vladimir Tikhonov said, "I am convinced that the struggle against terrorism and the method for choosing governors are not connected in any way." RC
COMMUNIST LEADER PESSIMISTIC ABOUT PUTIN REFORMS
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said on 13 September that he is very negative about President Putin's plans to change the electoral system in the Duma and other reforms, polit.ru reported. The crisis of governance that Putin has admitted is a consequence of a policy under which there is no dialogue among the government, society, political parties, and the media, Zyuganov said. "All law enforcement and security ministries are now subordinate to the president, but we have still not heard why none of them function properly and why nobody has been held responsible for their complete helplessness in fighting terrorism. Now we have again been invited to set up one more ministry -- for ethnic relations. But if the old ministries don't function properly, it would be naive to think that a new one will," he said. VY
RUSSIA ASKS LITHUANIA TO CLOSE CHECHEN WEBSITE
Lithuanian Ambassador to Moscow Rimantas Sidlauskas was summoned on 13 September to the Russian Foreign Ministry, where he was informed that failure to close down the website kavkazcenter.com would be regarded as an unfriendly act that will impinge on bilateral relations, Interfax reported. The website supports radical field commander Shamil Basaev; it, Basaev's personal website (http://www.shamilonline.com), and the website of President Aslan Maskhadov's government (http://www.chechenpress.info) are currently blocked. LF
MOSCOW HIT BY SPAM ATTACK WARNING OF FURTHER TERRORISM
A wave of anonymous e-mail messages purporting to warn of terrorist attacks has been sweeping Moscow in recent days, "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 11 September. The messages cite "reliable sources" or "a relative in the Federal Security Service [FSB]" and warn of such things as "a minimum of 20 suicide terrorists in Moscow" or a plot to "poison the drinking water." They request that the recipient forward the message to all their acquaintances. An unidentified psychologist was quoted by the daily as saying that the goal of the messages is to set off a "chain reaction of fear" and "to trigger the mechanism of mass hysteria." RC
AUDIT CHAMBER FINDS MISUSE OF FUNDS AT TAX AGENCY
The Audit Chamber has prepared a report accusing the tax authorities of misusing nearly 10 million rubles ($333,000) in federal funds in 2003, RBK reported on 13 September. In addition, the chamber alleged that 12 million rubles were spent buying government cars for employees of the Federal Tax Service, while 800 million rubles was spent purchasing state insurance for 5,000 tax officers who do not have civil-service status. RC
SIBERIAN OBLAST STILL LIVING WITH CONSEQUENCES OF 1954 NUCLEAR TEST
14 September marked the 50th anniversary of a controversial 1954 nuclear test at the Totsk Testing Ground in Orenburg Oblast, "Moskovskii komsomolets," newsru.com, and strana.ru reported on 14 September. During the test, approximately 45,000 soldiers and officers were exposed to the fallout from a nuclear-bomb blast, in order "to experience the realistic conditions of the use of a nuclear bomb," one participant told the daily. A bomber dropped a bomb with an explosive force of at least 40 kilotons, which detonated about 350 meters above the ground, strana.ru reported. During the Soviet era, information about the test was a closely guarded secret and, according to the daily, the archives of the local hospital covering the period from 1954 to 1980 have been destroyed. Experts cited by the daily estimate that fewer than 2,000 of the troops who participated in the test remain alive today, and about one-half of the survivors are officially considered Category 1 or Category 2 invalids. Orenburg Medical Academy Professor Mikhail Skachkov said that his institute has studied the grandchildren of people who were residents of the area at the time of the test and have found severe immune-system problems that lead to "a predisposition toward cancer." RC
ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT DECLINES TO EXPEL ABSENT DEPUTIES
On 13 September, the first day of the fall parliament session, deputies voted to postpone indefinitely a debate on whether to strip of their mandates 24 opposition lawmakers who have not attended parliament sessions since early February, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The opposition deputies staged a walkout to protest the majority's refusal to debate proposed constitutional amendments that would pave the way for a vote of confidence in President Robert Kocharian (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 4 February 2004). Although the parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs ruled on 10 September that the ongoing boycott is "unjustified," parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarain declared on 13 September that he has no interest in stripping the absent deputies of their mandates. LF
NATO CANCELS PLANNED WAR GAMES IN AZERBAIJAN
NATO issued a statement on 13 September announcing that the NATO Cooperative Best Effort-2004 exercises scheduled to take place in Azerbaijan between 14-27 September have been cancelled, Turan and RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. A NATO spokesman explained that the cancellation was the direct consequence of Azerbaijan's refusal to issue visas to five Armenian military officers invited to participate in the exercises along with hundreds of troops from some 20 countries. Azerbaijan's Karabakh Liberation Organization, which spearheaded a mounting public protest against the participation of Armenian officers, lauded the NATO decision as "a small step towards the liberation of Azerbaijani territories" currently controlled by Armenian forces, Turan reported (see also End Note). LF
AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT TO MISS ECO SUMMIT
Ilham Aliyev will not attend the 14 September summit in Dushanbe of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Turan reported on 13 September. meeting in Baku on 6 May with ECO Secretary-General Askhat Orazbay, Aliyev said he would attend that summit, according to Turan on 7 May. LF
ARE THERE STILL CHECHEN MILITANTS IN GEORGIA'S PANKISI GORGE?
Georgian media on 13 September quoted U.S. Ambassador Richard Miles as saying that in his personal opinion, there are still "a few international terrorists in the vicinity of the Pankisi Gorge," but that their number has declined by at least two-thirds since the Georgian authorities began restoring order in the region two years ago, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 14 February 2002 and 27 January 2003). Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze questioned Miles's statement, suggesting he was mistranslated, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili categorically denied any terrorist presence in Pankisi, while Defense Minister Giorgi Baramidze said neither his ministry nor the State Security Ministry has any information about a terrorist presence in Pankisi. LF
RUSSIA THREATENS TO CLOSE AIRSPACE TO INDEBTED GEORGIAN CARRIERS
The Russian Transport Ministry warned all other CIS member states on 3 September that as of 1 October Russian airspace will be closed to aircraft from companies that have outstanding debts for Russian air-navigation services, Russian media reported. Georgian companies were reported to have unpaid debts to Russia totaling $3.6 million. Georgian Civil Aviation Administration Chairman Giorgi Mzhavanadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 13 September that the Georgian companies named in the Russian missive do not exist. He added that bilateral agreements signed by Russia and Georgia do not make provision for sanctions, Caucasus Press reported. LF
KAZAKH PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARTY BEFORE ELECTIONS
President Nursultan Nazarbaev addressed the Otan party, which he heads, at a party forum in Astana on 13 September, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. Urging voters not to be swayed by populist slogans, he affirmed that Kazakhstan's natural resources are already working to pay for social programs. He added, "Let me remind you that the mineral riches and resources remain in state ownership and that the land is also Kazakhstan's sovereign territory." Nazarbaev also said that he will not allow any review of 1990s privatizations. He concluded, "Kazakhstan today is among the fastest-developing countries in the world," Kazinform reported. The forum was attended by 7,000 people, including members of Russia's pro-presidential Unified Russia party, "Kazakhstan Today" reported. According to an Otan press release, the forum was the "culminating event" in the party's campaign before the 19 September parliamentary elections. DK
KAZAKH INFORMATION MINISTER SLAMS UNFAIR MEDIA...
Information Minister Altynbek Sarsenbaev, who is also the co-chairman of the moderate opposition party Ak Zhol, told Channel 31 in a 13 September interview that media coverage of the parliamentary election campaign has been unfair. He said, "The current authorities, who own media outlets...do not really wish to provide equal access to air time." He presented monitoring data for Khabar TV covering the period between 19 August and 7 September. Sarsenbaev noted that the Asar party, which is headed by the president's daughter, Darigha Nazarbaeva, was mentioned 217 times; her father's Otan party 170 times; and Ak Zhol 68 times, 30 of them negative. Darigha Nazarbaeva is also the director of Khabar Agency, although she has recused herself from the post for the duration of elections. Sarsenbaev said that the draft law on media he has proposed will help to preclude unbalanced coverage in future elections. DK
...AS POLL SHOWS SLIM FAITH IN FAIR ELECTIONS
Forty-one percent of respondents in a poll conducted by the Kazakh Socioeconomic Information and Forecasting Institute believed that the 19 September parliamentary elections will not be fair, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported on 13 September. Thirty-seven percent felt that elections will be fair. Institute president Sabit Zhusupov told a 13 September news conference in Almaty that 28.1 percent of respondents said they would vote for the pro-presidential Otan party, 24.6 percent for pro-presidential Asar, and 22.9 percent for moderate opposition party Ak Zhol, with other parties scoring less than 10 percent each. Zhusupov predicted that voter turnout will be around 60 percent. He also said that the Institute plans to conduct exit polls encompassing 400,000 voters. DK
KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTIES AIR CONCERNS
The opposition bloc of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) held a small, unauthorized demonstration in Almaty on 13 September to demand a review of 1993-95 privatizations, Khabar TV reported. The same day, leaders of DVK, the Communist Party, and Ak Zhol held a news conference in Astana to protest the exclusion of opposition figures from local election commissions and unfair media coverage, Kazakh TV reported. Representatives of the same three parties told a news conference on 12 September in Almaty that Imangali Tasmagambetov, the head of the presidential administration, should resign because of allegations that he embezzled state funds, "Kazakhstan Today" reported. Ak Zhol co-Chairman Bulat Abilov told the newspaper: "[Tasmagambetov] is involved in such major scandals and, at the same time, continues to head the presidential administration. As far as we know, he also rules the elections." DK
CZECH, UZBEK PRESIDENTS MEET IN TASHKENT...
Czech President Vaclav Klaus met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Tashkent on 13 September, UzA reported. The two discussed bilateral relations and international issues. Klaus lauded his Uzbek counterpart's policy on terrorism, saying, "We highly praise Uzbekistan's approach, namely President Karimov's personal approach, to the question of international terrorism," Uzbek radio reported. DK
...AS UZBEK PRESIDENT BLASTS HIZB UT-TAHRIR
Speaking at a joint press conference with Klaus, Karimov lashed out at countries that harbor Hizb ut-Tahrir, banned as an extremist movement in Uzbekistan and the Arab world. He said, "In Europe, Germany has banned Hizb ut-Tahrir. But at the same time, London hosts their headquarters, where they openly proclaim their inhuman demands and promote their ideology without interference," RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported. Karimov also criticized neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. "The majority of those who committed crimes in 1999, setting off explosions and engaging in anticonstitutional activities in Uzbekistan fled...to southern Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan," Uzbek television reported. The president asked, "How can it be...that Kazakhstan is only preparing [to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir] and in Kyrgyzstan's parliament voices call out for the legalization of Hizb ut-Tahrir?" RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported. DK
UN CONDEMNS UZBEK EXECUTIONS
Theo van Boven, the UN special rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on torture, said on 13 September that Uzbekistan has executed nine prisoners since late 2002 despite requests by the UN Human Rights Committee to postpone punishment until a review, the UN News Center reported. Van Boven also condemned the Uzbek government's reported execution of prisoners tortured into confessing. The UN report noted that van Boven "deeply regrets that he continues to receive [such] information." He said that the two most recent executions -- of Azizbek Karimov and Yusuf Zhumaev -- reportedly took place on 10 August despite UN Human Rights Committee objections. DK
UZBEK COURT SHUTTERS MEDIA SUPPORT GROUP FOR SIX MONTHS
A Tashkent court ruled on 13 September that Internews NGO, a local branch of the independent media-support network Internews, must shut down for six months for violating regulations on the activities of NGOs, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported. Kholida Anorboeva, head of the Internews-Uzbekistan office, told IRIN, "The court ruling was baseless and a pretext to continue the pressure on NGOs working with foreign donors ahead of parliamentary elections due in December." Anorboeva said that the violations, such as failing to register the organization's logo, were minor and had already been corrected. The court ignored documentary proof of the corrections, Anorboeva told IRIN. The head of an NGO in Tashkent told IRIN on condition of anonymity that the Uzbek government is exploiting legal loopholes and antiterrorism legislation to harass NGOs. DK
RUSSIAN-U.S.-UZBEK MISSION RETURNS URANIUM TO RUSSIA
A secret Russian-U.S.-Uzbek mission airlifted 11 kilograms of enriched uranium from Tashkent to a secure facility in Dmitrovgrad, Russia, on 9 September, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced on 13 September, according to an Energy Department press release the same day. The shipment included highly enriched uranium that can be used to produce nuclear weapons. Abraham said, "The recovery, return, and eventual elimination of this highly enriched uranium are an important milestone in our campaign to reduce this dangerous material worldwide." He thanked the Russian and Uzbek governments for their cooperation. DK
EU DOUBTS FAIRNESS OF UPCOMING BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM, PARLIAMENTARY POLL
The Council of the European Union said in a statement on 13 September that it has "serious and well-grounded doubts as to whether the necessary conditions for holding a free and fair referendum in Belarus are fulfilled," international news agencies reported. The statement was referring to a 17 October referendum -- to be held simultaneously with parliamentary elections -- on whether President Alyaksandr Lukashenka should be allowed to run for a third term. "[If] the parliamentary elections and the announced referendum do not take place under free and fair conditions, this cannot remain without its consequences for the relations [between Brussels and Minsk]," the council's statement added. Moreover, Peter Schieder, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said on 14 September that the assembly will "draw the necessary consequences" if the 17 October referendum is not held in conformity with PACE standards. JM
BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION TO CAMPAIGN UNDER MOTTO 'SAY NO TO LUKASHENKA'
Parliamentary candidates fielded by the opposition coalitions Five Plus, Free Belarus, and Young Belarus, as well as members of the Respublika group in the Chamber of Representatives, will campaign for the 17 October elections under the common slogan "Say No to Lukashenka," Belapan reported on 13 September. The opposition forces are also planning to stage joint demonstrations on 10 and 18 October to protest Lukashenka's intention to run for reelection in 2006. JM
CRIMEAN TATARS WARN OF PROSELYTIZING BY BANNED MUSLIM PARTY
The secular National Assembly of Crimean Tatars issued a statement on 13 September expressing concern at the recent arrival in Crimea of activists from the banned Islamic Hizb ut-Tahrir party, Interfax reported. The statement claimed that Hizb activists are attempting to spread among local Muslims "false teachings and objectives rejected by Islam." Hizb ut-Tahrir is known to be active in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, where hundreds of its activists have been arrested and sentenced for seeking to overthrow the constitutional order. The party's proclaimed objective is to bring about the downfall of the present secular leaderships in Central Asia and create an Islamic caliphate in their place. LF
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF ORDERING SPYING ON FOREIGN ELECTION OBSERVERS
Lawmaker Valeriy Asadchev, head of Viktor Yushchenko's campaign headquarters in Poltava, said on 13 September that he has obtained a document from the Poltava Oblast State Administration ordering that foreign observers of the presidential elections to be placed under surveillance, UNIAN reported. The document reportedly tells regional authorities to collect information on visits and meetings of foreign election monitors in the regions as well as on their comments and assessments of the election campaign. According to Asadchev, the instruction refers to the entire executive structure in the country and originates from relevant decisions made within the Cabinet of Ministers in July and August. "The election headquarters of Prime Minister [Viktor Yanukovych] is in the Cabinet of Ministers, which is against the law," Asadchev said. JM
OUR UKRAINE LEADER REPORTEDLY RECOVERS AFTER 'ACUTE POISONING'
Our Ukraine head and presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko will resume touring Ukrainian regions later this week, UNIAN reported on 13 September, quoting Yushchenko's spokeswoman Iryna Herashchenko. According to Herashchenko, Yushchenko recently fell ill because of what doctors said was "acute poisoning." Herashchenko added that Yushchenko is now in a good physical shape and ready to continue his election campaign trips. JM
NATO TO ADD 2,000 TROOPS FOR KOSOVA VOTE
French General Yves de Kermabon, who commands NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers, said in Prishtina on 13 September that approximately 2,000 additional troops will arrive soon from France, Germany, and Italy to provide extra security for the 23 October parliamentary elections in an operation called "Determined Commitment," Reuters reported. "This shows the international community is willing to support this democratic process," he said (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 August and 10 September 2004). PM
BOSNIA INDICTS IRAQI MILITANT FOR WAR CRIMES
Bosnia-Herzegovina's special prosecutor's office dealing with war crimes filed charges with the State Court on 13 September against Abduladhim Maktouf, who has dual Iraqi and Bosnian citizenship, the Sarajevo daily "Dnevni avaz" and dpa reported. Maktouf belonged to the Mujahedin unit of foreign and Bosnian Islamic fighters during the 1992-95 conflict, and is charged in connection with the detention in 1993 of five Serbs and Croats in Mehurici camp near Travnik, including the beheading of one Serb. Maktouf is already in police custody on charges of money laundering, customs fraud, and tax evasion related to his Travnik electronics business. He has been linked to drug dealing as well as to former Taliban leader Sheik Abu Abdul Aziz, whom Saudi authorities arrested in 1996 in connection with the killing of 19 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in 1996, the German news agency added. Bosnian Prosecutor John McNair said that Maktouf's case is the first war crimes case to be presented to the State Court, which expects to try additional cases at the recommendation of the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. This is also the first Bosnian war crimes case involving foreign Mujahedin. PM
MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW INTELLIGENCE CHIEF
Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski has named Lazar Kitanovski as new director of the Intelligence Agency, A1 TV reported on 13 September. Kitanovski, who was a professor at Skopje University's law school, served as defense minister in Crvenkovski's government between 1996-98. Until 2002, he was a member of the parliament for the Social Democratic Union (SDSM). Kitanovski replaces Dragi Grozdanovski, who recently stepped down from his position without giving any reason. Grozdanovski was named director of the Intelligence Agency by late President Boris Trajkovski. UB
MACEDONIAN POLICE ARREST ALLEGED HUMAN TRAFFICKERS
Macedonian police arrested one ethnic Albanian and two ethnic Macedonians near Bitola on 14 September for their alleged involvement in a large human-trafficking ring, dpa reported. Police also detained eight illegal immigrants from China and Albania during the raid on the house used by the three suspects. Police told reporters that the traffickers charged the illegal migrants $1,460 each to take them from Albania to Greece via Macedonia. Meanwhile, Macedonian police launched a manhunt for an unidentified suspect believed to be a serial rapist who has abused about 20 women in Skopje over the past year. PM
TENSIONS BETWEEN SERBIA AND HUNGARY EASING?
Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs told his EU counterparts in Brussels on 13 September that recent incidents against the Hungarian minority in Serbia's Vojvodina province "are a question of law and order," Reuters reported. "I am absolutely certain that the Serbian authorities do not stand behind these incidents. Their task is to put an end to them," he added. Kovacs had previously referred to the incidents as "atrocities," but now said: "I use the word incidents.... Ethnic tension, if it results in incidents, can deteriorate, and this is what we want to avoid" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 September 2004). Speaking in Belgrade later on 13 September, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said that the Serbian authorities also seek to protect the rights of the Hungarian minority, adding that Kovacs's latest remarks will help promote good bilateral relations, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Ethnic Hungarians make up about 15 percent of Vojvodina's 2 million people. PM
ROMANIA, UKRAINE CONTINUE FEUDING OVER DANUBE CANAL PROJECT...
Romanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Catalin Ionita on 13 September again called on Ukraine to respect its international commitments and supply relevant information on the construction of a controversial deep-water shipping canal in the Danube Delta, Mediafax reported. Ionita added that a field trip Ukraine organized for diplomats and journalists to visit the canal cannot replace an environmental-impact study on the issue. Ionita's comments came following statements made the same day in Bucharest by Ukrainian Ambassador to Romania Teofil Bauer, who argued that Ukraine is no less interested than Romania in preserving the Danube Delta's ecological diversity. Bauer said he participated in the recent field trip, and claimed that most of the ambassadors and journalists on the trip agreed that "there were no serious reasons to worry about possible negative effects the canal would have on the Ukrainian section [of the delta], let alone cross-border impact." The greater part of the delta lies in Romania. The EU and the United States have both asked Ukraine to halt construction until a more comprehensive environmental-impact assessment can be completed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 and 31 August 2004). ZsM
...AS VISITING NORWEGIAN PREMIER CALLS ON UKRAINE TO HALT CONSTRUCTION
After discussions with his Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase on 13 September in Bucharest, Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said the construction of the deep-water canal should be halted until an extensive environmental-impact study can be conducted, Mediafax reported. He said that Norway "fully understands" Romania's concern over the issue. Bondevik and Nastase also discussed bilateral relations and cooperation within NATO. Bondevik said Romania is considered an important military partner, and that beginning in 2005 the Norwegian Embassy in Bucharest will have a permanent military attache. ZsM
TRANSDNIESTER AUTHORITIES RELEASE MOLDOVAN CAMERAMAN
Transdniester authorities on 13 September released Dinu Mija, a cameraman for Moldova-1 TV, who on 7 September was sentenced to 15 days in prison for assault and illegally entering the region, BASA-Press reported, citing Ion Leahu, Moldova's representative in the Joint Control Commission. Transdniestrian police arrested Mija on 6 September when he attempted to videotape the takeover of the Tighina railway station (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 September 2004). According to Leahu, there were no explanations as to why Mija was released before his sentence was completed. Several international media organizations had protested Mija's arrest and urged that he be released. ZsM
NATO CANCELS PLANNED MANEUVERS IN AZERBAIJAN
NATO's Cooperative Best Effort-2004 exercises, scheduled to take place in Azerbaijan on 14-27 September, have been canceled, according to a NATO press release of 13 September.
"We regret that the principle of inclusiveness could not be upheld in this case," the press release stated, without elaborating. But Lieutenant-Colonel Ludger Terbrueggen, who is a spokesman for NATO military command, told RFE/RL's Armenian Service the same day that "the reason...is that Azerbaijan did not grant visas to soldiers and officers of Armenia."
Since January, Baku has sought repeatedly to thwart the planned Armenian presence at this year's Cooperative Best Effort maneuvers. Three Armenian military officers who tried to travel to Baku in early January first from Turkey and then from Georgia to attend a planning conference for the maneuvers were prevented from doing so. In June, members of the radical Karabakh Liberation Organization (QAT) picketed, and then forced their way into, a Baku hotel where two Armenian officers were attending a second planning conference in preparation for the exercises. Five of those QAT activists were arrested and sentenced in late August to between three and five years' imprisonment on charges of hooliganism, violating public order, and obstructing government officials. Those verdicts triggered protests from across the political spectrum, fueling public opposition to the Armenians' anticipated arrival.
In April, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev assured Deputy Commander of the U.S. European Command General Charles Wald that there were no obstacles to the Armenian participation in the September war games. Other visiting U.S. officials also sought to impress on Azerbaijan the importance of allowing the Armenian contingent to attend. But in recent weeks, the Azerbaijani government has made increasingly clear its hostility to the planned Armenian participation. On 27 July, the independent ANS TV quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov as saying that Baku has stipulated that only noncombat personnel -- military journalists, public-relations officials, and military doctors -- would be permitted to attend, and that the number of Armenian participants would be limited to three. (On 4 September, however, Armenian Deputy Defense Minister Major General Artur Aghabekian said seven Armenian officers would take part in the exercises, while the number denied visas by the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tbilisi was given as five.)
The opposition daily "Azadlig" on 10 September quoted Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov as saying that Azerbaijan would not grant visas to the Armenians. And on 10 September, the Azerbaijani parliament adopted an appeal to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to retract the invitation extended to the Armenian side, citing what it termed Armenia's aggression and policy of ethnic cleansing. The parliamentarians argued that the presence in Baku of Armenian military personnel could aggravate tensions in the region. President Aliyev stated while visiting the Barda region on 11 September, "I do not want the Armenians to come to Azerbaijan."
In an apparent last-ditch effort to persuade Baku to abandon its obstructionist approach, de Hoop Scheffer met with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Mammadyarov and his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian in Brussels on 13 September for talks. Oskanian subsequently praised the NATO decision to call off the exercises, adding at the same time that he regrets the "lost opportunity for regional cooperation."
Armenia hosted the NATO Cooperative Best Effort-2003 exercises, in which some 400 troops from 19 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Georgia, and Turkey practiced routine peacekeeping exercises. Azerbaijan declined to participate. In February 2004, a junior Azerbaijani officer attending a NATO-sponsored English language course in Budapest hacked a sleeping Armenian fellow student to death with an axe.
The full impact of Azerbaijan's violation of NATO's "principle of inclusiveness" and of NATO's ensuing decision to cancel the planned exercises is difficult to predict. The move is likely to corroborate many Azerbaijanis' conviction that NATO is guilty of double standards and bias toward Armenia. It may also give rise to a certain coolness between Brussels and Washington, in light of persistent rumors that the United States is considering Azerbaijan as a possible location for a rapid-reaction force. Certainly the prediction by one Western analyst that "Azerbaijan will enter NATO by 2005," which made headlines in the Azerbaijani press in July 2002, now seems overly optimistic.
NGO AND UN EMPLOYEES LEAVE HERAT
UN personnel and dozens of aid workers from nongovernmental organizations left Herat on 13 September after two days of violent demonstrations in the city, AFP reported. According to AFP, 61 people, including foreign nationals and Afghans, were relocated from Herat to Kabul after demonstrators attacked UN buildings and the offices of nongovernmental organizations. "Oh my God, what have they done to our office?" said Abdul Karim, an employee of the International Organization for Migration, whose compound was burned. "I've seen in my life many destroyed UN premises but I have hardly seen the type of destruction that I saw at the UNAMA offices," said Filippo Grande, a spokesman for the UN's special representative in Afghanistan. "The office is in ashes, everything is burned -- they spilt gasoline and threw matches and the whole office does not exist anymore." The demonstrators were protesting the 11 September ouster of Herat Province Governor Mohammad Ismail Khan by Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai. MR
PRIVATE-PRISON TRIAL BRIEFLY RESUMED IN AFGHANISTAN
An Afghan court on 13 September briefly resumed the trial of three Americans and four Afghans accused of running a private prison in Afghanistan, AFP reported. But the proceedings were quickly adjourned amid defense protests over lack of media access. Four journalists were present at the court's closed session, which was held in a different location from previous hearings. Around 20 members of the media have attended previous hearings. "I...object to those proceedings going forward," said John Tiffany, the defense attorney for the group's alleged ringleader, Jonathan Idema. "I respectfully request to have the trial on Wednesday [15 September] in a normal court for the international press to be here." The courtroom exchange marked another strange turn in the case. Idema claims he was conducting counterterrorism operations with U.S.-led forces in the Kabul area. But coalition forces have denied any relationship with Idema. The trial is to resume on 15 September. MR
U.S. FORCES KILL 22 MILITANTS IN SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN
U.S. forces killed 22 neo-Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan in the night of 12-13 September, AP reported on 13 September, citing U.S. military spokesman Major Scott Nelson. A 12-hour battle broke out in the restive Zabul Province when some 40 militants attacked coalition soldiers conducting a search operation, Nelson said. Two Apache helicopters came to the aid of the ground forces during the firefight. "Skirmishes continued throughout the night, and the final battle damage assessment from the incident, from our soldiers on the ground, was 22," Nelson said. Three Arabs were among the dead rebels, according to Nelson, and another Arab was among three people arrested. None of the coalition troops were hurt, he said. The U.S. troops found a global positioning system, a video camera with tapes, four grenades, and two assault rifles, Nelson added, although he refused to identify the nationality of the alleged Arab fighters or disclose what was on the tapes. MR
AFGHAN RECONSTRUCTION MINISTER CRITICIZES PRTS
Afghanistan's reconstruction minister, Amin Farhang, has said that the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) fielded by U.S.-led coalition forces have failed to instill security, AFP reported. In an interview to be published on 14 September in the German business daily "Handelsblatt," Farhang said the PRTs are not dealing aggressively enough with insurgent activity. "I criticize the concept of the PRTs fundamentally," Farhang said. "For me, the PRTs were from the beginning for a combination of security and reconstruction. You can do reconstruction when you have security. But when the PRTs do not intervene when something happens, that is wrong." Farhang said that German-led PRT teams are ignoring the drug trade and failing to take military action when needed, such as in the case of recent clashes in the northern town of Faizabad. "Drugs and reconstruction cannot be separated from each other," Farhang said. "Otherwise it is a waste of money." There are currently 14 coalition PRTs in Afghanistan, and Germany has offered to set up an additional team this month to speed reconstruction efforts ahead of presidential elections scheduled for October. MR
TEHRAN DENIES REPORTS OF NEW IAEA REQUEST TO INSPECT MILITARY SITE
Hussein Musavian, spokesman for the Iranian delegation at the current International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors meeting in Vienna, on 13 September rejected news reports that the IAEA has asked to visit the Parchin military site, IRNA reported. Unidentified diplomats said on 10 September that the IAEA has asked to inspect the military site at Parchin, located about 30 kilometers southwest of Tehran (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 2004). BS
IAEA REVIEWS IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM
IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei discussed the implementation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement in Iran on the opening day of the board of governors meeting, according to the agency's website (http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Statements/2004/ebsp2004n006.html#iran). He said on 13 September that understanding of the Iranian nuclear program is increasing, Iran has fulfilled all requests for access, and it has responded to IAEA information requests, "although in certain instances the process needs to be accelerated." El-Baradei said there are two issues that need to be resolved. The first is the source of and reason for uranium contamination found at certain locations and on some domestically produced equipment. Investigations of Iranian statements attesting to the country's lack of testing activities on P2 centrifuges between 1995, when it first obtained such technology, and 2002 are necessary, el-Baradei added. He also expressed his concern about Tehran's reversal of its decision to suspend some enrichment-related activities, and he urged Iran "to continue to accelerate its cooperation, pursuing a policy of maximum transparency and confidence building, so that we can bring the remaining outstanding issues to resolution within the next few months and provide assurance to the international community." BS
EUROPEANS EXPRESS LOSS OF CONFIDENCE IN IRAN'S WORD...
France, Germany, and Great Britain warned Iran on 13 September that its reversal of its pledge to suspend uranium enrichment is undermining their confidence, international news agencies reported. "What Iran has to understand is that it cannot turn the issue of confidence on and off like a tap," the "Financial Times" quoted British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as saying on 13 September. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said: "There is the risk of Tehran making a miscalculation. I hope that it sees and understands that. If not, we could be in a serious situation," Reuters reported on 14 September. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said that negotiations with the Iranians remain difficult almost a year after their promise to suspend enrichment activities, Radio France International reported on 13 September. The Europeans' draft resolution at the IAEA meeting would set a November deadline for Iran to suspend its enrichment activities and reassure the IAEA about its nuclear program, while the U.S. wants a "trigger mechanism" that would lead to UN Security Council sanctions. BS
...AS IRAN TAKES TOUGH STANCE ON ENRICHMENT SUSPENSION
Hussein Musavian, spokesman for the Iranian delegation at the current IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna, stressed on 13 September that the suspension of uranium enrichment would last for "just for a short, temporary period," Reuters reported. Iran reportedly is growing frustrated by continuing inspections of its nuclear facilities. In a critique of the situation in which Iran finds itself, Tabriz parliamentary representative Akbar Alami told ISNA on 13 September that some Iranian officials were complacent and inordinately optimistic about Europe. Rather than dealing with European states, Alami said, the issue should have been handled normally, through the legislature, the Foreign Ministry, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, and the IAEA. The nuclear issue is secondary to the Europeans' and the United States' real concern, Alami said, which he defined as the nature and power of a state that has interests that conflict with their own. As long as this situation prevails, he said, they will not allow Iran to become an independent nuclear power. BS
IRANIAN LEADER WARNS OF WAR AGAINST ISLAM
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a 13 September speech to state officials -- on the occasion of Mab'ath, the anniversary of Muhammad's appointment as Prophet -- that there is a war against the Islamic world because of its resources, state radio reported. The global arrogance proclaims democracy and freedom, he said, but it is trying to destroy the Islamic nation. "The arrogant power of America, this absolute manifestation of depravity, is spreading wickedness from all its fingers in the Islamic region today," Khamenei said. "The Islamic world should unanimously stand against America's arrogant aggression anywhere and in whatever form. They should know that apart from resistance, there is no way to repel the wicked nature of the evil which has manifested in the arrogant America." Khamenei continued, "No leniency, flexibility or retreat will reduce the unquenchable thirst of the arrogant. They will not accept anything less than absolute domination over the Islamic world, especially the Middle East region." BS
IRAQI POLICE STATION TARGETED IN CAR-BOMB ATTACK
At least 47 Iraqis were killed and 114 wounded on 14 September in an attack on Baghdad's Karkh police directorate, Al-Arabiyah reported, citing Health Ministry figures. The directorate is located on Haifa Street, which was the scene of violence the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 2004). Reuters reported that Iraqi police recruits were lined up outside the directorate when the blast took place. CNN reported that militants fired mortar rounds at the directorate earlier in the morning. The news channel also reported that possibly two car bombs had detonated outside the directorate. Many shops, cafes, and a girls' school are located along Haifa Street, and media reports indicated that the street was crowded with passersby when the attack took place. KR
GUNMEN ATTACK POLICE IN CENTRAL IRAQI CITY
Three policemen were killed on 14 September in an attack in Bahraz, located some five kilometers south of Ba'qubah, Al-Arabiyah reported. The incident occurred when a bomb exploded outside a building formerly used as police headquarters in the town, the satellite channel reported. Reuters reported that gunmen also opened fire on a minibus transporting policemen in Ba'qubah on 14 September. Ba'qubah Police Chief Walid al-Azawi said that eight policemen were killed and two wounded in the attack. KR
ISLAMIC ARMY IN IRAQ CLAIMS TO HAVE ABDUCTED TWO AUSTRALIANS, TWO ASIANS
The militant group Islamic Army in Iraq-Samarra Battalions released a statement on 13 August claiming to have abducted two Australian nationals and two Asians, Al-Arabiyah television reported. The group threatened to kill the Australians within 24 hours unless Australia vowed to remove its troops from Iraq. The Australian Foreign Ministry said it is looking into the purported kidnapping. The statement did not identify the four hostages by name, and provided no other evidence that they had been captured, Reuters reported on 14 September. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said on 14 September that he will not bow to the terrorists' demands. "Our position remains that we will not alter our foreign policy, our defense policy, our security policy in response to any threat of terrorist organizations," Reuters quoted Howard as telling reporters. Meanwhile, there is no word on the fate of two Italian aid workers kidnapped in Iraq on 7 September. Their captors had threatened to kill them if Italy refused to withdraw its troops from Iraq. KR
MILITANTS ATTACK PIPELINE IN NORTHERN IRAQ
Militants blew up a domestic oil pipeline in northern Iraq on 14 September, AP reported. The attack took place near Bayji, located about 250 kilometers north of Baghdad. The pipeline transports crude oil from fields outside Kirkuk to a refinery in Bayji. An unnamed official from the Northern Oil Company said that the attack is not expected to affect exports, AP reported. The pipeline has been temporarily shut down. KR
IRAQI PREMIER CALLS ON MILITANTS IN AL-FALLUJAH TO LAY DOWN THEIR ARMS
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told Al-Arabiyah television in a 13 September interview that his government will not enter into negotiations with militants in Al-Fallujah. "I met with several groups from Al-Fallujah several times [in the past]," he said. "In fact, we are not ready to engage in negotiations. We have one important question; namely, laying down any illegal arms, dissolving militias because all militias are illegal, respecting the supremacy of law, and acting as part of the Iraqi society." The prime minister predicted that the security situation will improve in mid-October, and said that his government has requested that the United States, Russia, and Ukraine supply it with additional weapons and security-related equipment. KR
AL-SADR RELOCATES OFFICE IN AL-NAJAF
The Al-Najaf News Network (http://www.alnajafnews.net) reported on 13 September that Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has relocated to a new office in the Iraqi holy city of Al-Najaf. Al-Sadr's new office is described as being located in one of the alleyways off Al-Sadiq Street. Both the website and Al-Sharqiyah television reported on 13 September that Iraqi security forces stormed the cleric's previous office last week and uncovered a weapons cache hidden behind a newly built wall in the office. Al-Sharqiyah reported that 10 mortar cannon tubes were confiscated, along with rockets, antitank weapons, heavy mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, automatic weapons, mines, explosives, an antiaircraft cannon, and communications equipment. KR