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Newsline - May 5, 2005

Ahead of his departure on 6 May for Europe to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, U.S. President George W. Bush said in a letter to Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga that he condemned the Soviet occupation of the Baltic and other East and Central European states after the war, ABC and other international media reported on 4 May. "In Western Europe, the end of World War II meant liberation. In Central and Eastern Europe, the war also marked the Soviet occupation and annexation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and the imposition of communism." Bush said. And at a White House press briefing, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said on 4 May that Russia should renounce the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, reported. Hadley mentioned that the USSR Supreme Soviet condemned the agreement in 1989 and added: "it would be an appropriate thing for Russia, now having emerged out of the Soviet Union, to do the same thing." VY

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in an interview with "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 4 May that the Soviet Union's role in the defeat of Nazi Germany far outweighs its occupation of Eastern Europe. "When they discuss if we occupied this country or that, it makes you wonder what would have happened to them had we not broken fascism's back?" he said. And the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press release on its website ( on 4 May that "Neither the introduction of additional Red Army units nor the accession of the Baltic states to the Soviet Union contradicted the provisions of international law that were in effect at the time." In addition, to question the legitimacy of incorporating these states into the Soviet Union means putting into question their present independence, because it was proclaimed in 1990 by the same institutions that were installed by the Soviet Union after 1945. VY

Irina Kobrinskaya, a senior analyst at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of World Economy and International Relations, criticized on 4 May articles in the Polish media that call on Russia to condemn the Soviet Union's occupation of Eastern Europe, reported She said that the Poles' problem in dealing with Moscow is that they don't distinguish between the Soviet Union and modern Russia. They think that Putin invited world leaders to Moscow to glorify the Soviet past and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, while, in fact he wants to promote Russia's image today. Kobrinskaya said that Poles tried to blame Putin for the massacre of thousands of Polish officers at Katyn or the Yalta agreements that divided Europe, but "Putin has no responsibility for Stalin's crimes." She added that for Russians, with the large scale of their problems, it is difficult to accept the Poles' more narrow range of thinking. "We understand their pain for Katyn. But we lost far more members of the intelligentsia than they did." VY

Effective Politics Foundation head and political consultant Gleb Pavlovskii told on 3 May that the goal of President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy as well as that of his successors in coming decades will be to transform Russia from its current status as a weak regional power into a global power of the 21st century. In this context, the Kremlin has now revised and dropped the concept of "near-abroad countries" because it failed to fulfill Russian national interests and security. Russia's new policy toward its neighbors will be based on purely pragmatic interests, and Russia will deal not only with their governments, but also with the opposition. VY

In the same article, Pavlovskii said that the Baltic states "were and will be in the zone of Russian interests" and that the situation has not changed with their joining NATO and the European Union. Moreover, Russia will use their membership in international alliances to promote and fortify its interests, he said. In a paradoxical way, the Baltic states' joining of the EU does not decrease but rather increases Russia's influence on the situation there, he said, and the Kremlin realizes that very well. VY

. Former Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov, who was arrested on 3 May in Switzerland on U.S. money-laundering charges (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 2005), has refused voluntary extradition to the United States, international media reported. According to Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman Folco Galli, Adamov will remain in custody until Switzerland gets an official U.S. request for his extradition. Meanwhile, RTR reported on 4 May that in 2001 the State Duma's anticorruption commission presented its allegations against Adamov to President Putin and the Prosecutor-General's Office ( Putin dismissed Adamov in March 2001 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 27 March and 10 August 2001), but prosecutors did not find enough grounds for a criminal case, despite repeated requests from the commission and the Audit Chamber (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 February 2002). VY

Valerii Yazev, the head of the Duma Energy, Transport, and Communications Committee, told journalists on 4 May that Adamov must be immediately returned to Moscow, because he knows top Russian secrets concerning the national nuclear arsenal, reported. Yazev said that the Russian government should take the "most energetic measures" to get Adamov back, because an information leak from him could pose very serious risks to national security. Also, General Nikolai Kovalev, a former director of the Federal Security Service and the chairman of the Duma's Veterans Committee (Unified Russia), said on 5 May that with his knowledge of state secrets, Adamov had no right to leave the country without permission, Ekho Moskvy reported. VY

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has signed an instruction amending Russia's privatization plan for 2005 to include the privatization of 100 percent of Rosneft's shares, RIA-Novosti and Prime-TASS reported. A government press-service official said the government had instructed the Federal Agency for the Management of Federal Property in December of last year to "privatize Rosneft shares owned by the federal government by contributing them to the authorized capital of Rosneftegaz". However, the new resolution does not mention Rosneftegaz and therefore "creates a legal framework for a merger of Rosneft and Gazprom," ITAR-TASS reported, citing the press service. According to "Gazeta," while the document creates the legal possibility for Gazprom and Rosneft to be merged, experts doubt that this order necessarily represents the government's final position on the unification of Rosneft and Gazprom. JAC

Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov proposed on 4 May that the Russian government enter into international agreements with countries whose citizens adopt Russian children in order to establish control over the children's well-being, RIA-Novosti reported. Lack of such agreements, according to a statement from Ustinov's office, prevents efficient control over the well-being of adopted children and does not make it possible to take action to stop violence against them. Ustinov's suggestion occurred the same day as the announcement of a 12-year prison sentence for a Chicago woman, Irma Pavlis, for the involuntary manslaughter of her adopted son from Russia, AP reported. Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergei Fridinskii told reporters that the prosecutor's office "should receive regular reports on the welfare of these children and, probably, be given an opportunity to carry out on-site inspections," ORT reported. RosBalt noted that of the 13 adopted children killed overseas in recent years, 12 of the killings occurred in the United States. JAC

Mikhail Rostovskii, writing in "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 4 May, suggested that former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has at least two reasons for declaring himself a presidential candidate in 2008 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 February 2005). According to unidentified sources in Kasyanov's "inner circle," presidential-administration head Dmitrii Medvedev allegedly threatened Kasyanov with criminal prosecution, and becoming a political rival is one way to stave off official harassment. Two, the Yeltsin clan has declared its claims to reassume supreme power in the country via Kasyanov. According to Rostovskii, Aleksandr Mamut, "one of the less prominent members of the Yeltsin Family," is "among the unofficial coordinators of Kasyanov's 'election campaign.'" Rostovskii also reported that Kasyanov was seriously offended at the way in which he was dismissed as prime minister in 2004 and at President Putin's failure to back Kasyanov's proposal to create a new mega-bank. JAC

On 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists included Russia for the first time among the five countries with the highest rate of job-related deaths among reporters, "Novye izvestiya" reported the next day. The report noted that most of the journalists killed in Russia worked for print media and were investigating organized crime or government corruption. Electronic media journalists were killed for exposing "influential politicians in Russian regions." Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with the family of slain journalist Paul Khlebnikov on 4 May, reported. Khlebnikov, the editor of the Russian edition of "Forbes," was killed on 9 July 2004. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters that Rice confirmed the United States' interest in the case and her intention to raise the issue with Russian officials. JAC

Moscow authorities have rejected plans by human rights groups and pro-democracy youth organizations, to hold an antifascist march on 9 May, Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 May. Members of a new youth organization, Da (Yes), which was one of the groups planning the march, encountered officials from the Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry when they tried to register the rally at a Moscow prefect's office. The officials asked what kind of antifascists they are, and what is their attitude toward the pro-Putin youth movements, Walking Together and Nashi. The leader of a different group, the Youth Human Rights Movement, told the radio station that police in Vladimir tried to persecute the organizers of an authorized antifascist rally there and attempted to close down the organizations that took part. JAC

Moscow police detained two members of the National Bolshevik Party on 4 May after they unfurled a large black cloth bearing the words "Putin, Leave Voluntarily" from the 11th floor of the Rossiya Hotel, reported. After hanging the banner, Olga Kudrina and Yevgenii Logovskii, who are between the ages of 19-21, suspended themselves with ropes outside of the building to make arrest difficult. The hotel is located near the Kremlin. JAC

In an extended live interview broadcast on 4 May, Ingush parliamentarian and opposition leader Musa Ozdoev told the radio station Ekho Moskvy details of his detention on 30 April during a protest demonstration to demand the resignation of Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov. Ozdoev stressed that the meeting was conducted in accordance with the Russian Constitution and local legislation, and did not serve as the rationale for his subsequent sentencing to 72 hours' administrative arrest on charges of hooliganism. Ozdoev admitted that only some 100 of his supporters attended the 30 April protest, but explained that most of Ingushetia's population is afraid to demand Zyazivov's dismissal lest the Kremlin name a Russian to replace him and that appointment triggers a civil war. Ozdoev also said that he spoke to other detainees in the Interior Ministry headquarters in Nazran who have been subjected to "unspeakable tortures," including having their fingernails pulled out and their kneecaps smashed. LF

Armenian National Security Service spokesman Artsvin Baghdasarian rejected on 4 May as untrue the recent claim by former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Litvinenko that Russian military intelligence was behind the October 1999 attack on the Armenian parliament building in which eight senior officials died, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Litvinenko, who defected to the West in 2000 and currently lives in London, claimed Moscow sought to torpedo the planned signing in December 1999 by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents of a formal agreement resolving the Karabakh conflict. Baghdasarian said that the trial of the five gunmen responsible for the shootings did not produce a shred of evidence to support Litvinenko's allegations, which presidential national-security adviser Garnik Isagulian dismissed as the product of a sick imagination. LF

Senior members of Azerbaijan's ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party (YAP), two other pro-government parties and four opposition parties met at YAP headquarters in Baku on 4 May to discuss the political situation in the run-up to parliamentary elections due in November, the Azerbaijani online dailies and reported on 5 May. Participants declined to specify precisely what issues were discussed, but assessed the talks as frank and constructive. Senior YAP functionary Ali Akhmedov said the two sides reached "a general consensus on some issues and raised specific questions" that will be discussed at the next meeting, for which no date has yet been set (see "Azerbaijan Ruling Party, Opposition To Continue Talks,", 5 May 2005). Addressing a 4 May conference on preparations for the parliamentary elections, President Ilham Aliyev said "the government will do its utmost to ensure that the election results reflect the people's will" and that the ballot is free and transparent, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

President Aliyev met on 4 May in Baku with the president and vice president of the independent ANS television station, praising its broadcasting, reported on 5 May. Aliyev apologized for remarks by his uncle, parliament deputy Djalal Aliyev, during a parliamentary debate the previous day. Angered by an article in the journal "Hesabat," which is also published by ANS, naming him as one of the wealthiest men in Azerbaijan, Djalal Aliyev reportedly accused the owners and management of ANS of engaging in trafficking in drugs and women. LF

Twelve ethnic Armenian servicemen left their unit in Akhaltsikhe on 2 May, saying they can no longer tolerate ethnic abuse meted out by Georgian NCOs, Caucasus Press reported on 5 May. They have asked to be transferred to units serving in nearby Akhalkalaki. Representatives from the Georgian Defense Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's Office failed to persuade the soldiers to return to their base in Akhaltsikhe. LF

Echoing recent statements by President Mikheil Saakashvili (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2005), Irakli Alasania, chairman of the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz government-in-exile, has told the UN Security Council that Tbilisi will not try to resolve the Abkhaz conflict by military force, Caucasus Press reported on 5 May. In his most recent (25 April) letter to the Security Council assessing the situation in Abkhazia, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the willingness of both Georgians and Abkhaz, as expressed during UN-mediated talks in Geneva last month, to resume talks on security issues in the conflict zone, the repatriation to Abkhazia of Georgian displaced persons, and economic cooperation. LF

Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, chairman of the bloc For a Just Kazakhstan, appealed in a 4 May statement to President Nursultan Nazarbaev to ensure a thorough investigation into an attack on Tuyakbai that took place in Shymkent on 2 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 2005), Navigator reported. Noting that the 2 May assault marked the second time he has come under attack in the last 20 days, Tuyakbai said that he and his supporters have given the authorities testimony, photographs, and video materials on the 2 May attack. Stressing that he once held the post of prosecutor-general, Tuyakbai said that the evidence allows for the easy identification of the perpetrators and organizers of the attack. He also emphasized that some of those who "inspired" the attack are high-ranking officials. In closing, Tuyakbai said that "terror and intimidation" will not frighten him or other democratic forces. A bloc of Kazakh opposition forces recently selected Tuyakbai as the single opposition candidate in upcoming presidential elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 March 2005). DK

Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik and national oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz head Uzakbai Karabalin signed an agreement in Astana on 4 May finalizing KazMunaiGaz's acquisition of an 8.33 percent stake in the Kashagan oil field from BG Group, Kazinform reported. The acquisition of the stake, which Shkolnik valued at $1.23 billion, makes KazMunaiGaz a full-fledged participant in the project. Describing the project, Shkolnik said, "Over the 40-year-long period that the Kashagan oil field will be developed, Kazakhstan will earn over $60 billion," ITAR-TASS reported. The Agip KCO consortium, which is developing Kashagan, includes KazMunaiGaz, ExxonMobil, Inpex, ConocoPhillips, Shell, and Total. DK

Kyrgyzstan's constitutional council on 4 May approved a proposal to recommend electing the president for a five-year term and limiting service to a single term, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. The council is charged with presenting proposals for constitutional reform in the lead-up to the 10 July presidential election. DK

Demonstrators calling for the removal of Supreme Court head Kurmanbek Osmonov announced on 4 May that they want parliament to make a decision on their demands by 12 May, reported. Supporters of former parliamentary candidates Sharipa Sadybakasova, Toktosun Madiyarov, and Turatbek Andashev seized the court on 22 April; they want a review of their candidates' election losses. Five of the protesters are still on a hunger strike, Kyrgyz Radio 1 reported. Osmonov has submitted his resignation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 2005), but acting President Kurmanbek Bakiev has not yet accepted it. Also on 4 May, staff members of the Supreme Court appealed to Bakiev, warning that the blockade of the court has prevented judges from examining more than 300 cases, reported. DK

The Islamic Renaissance Party announced on 4 May that it is suspending its membership in Tajikistan's Public Council to protest the government's lax reaction to allegations of fraud in the recent parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. Spokesman Hikmatullo Sayfullozoda said: "One of the demands [of some members of the council] was for an investigation of election irregularities and new elections in the city of Dushanbe. Otherwise, the [Islamic Renaissance] Party would leave the council. As a result, the party has decided to suspend its membership in the Public Council." The move follows a similar decision by the Democratic Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 May 2005). Formed in 1994 and headed by President Imomali Rakhmonov, the Public Council brings together a number of social and cultural organizations; before the Democratic Party and Islamic Renaissance Party suspended their membership, it had also included five of the country's six officially registered political parties. DK

President Rakhmonov observed exercises by Tajikistan's Interior Ministry at a firing range outside Dushanbe on 4 May, Avesta reported. Riot police and forces charged with fighting organized crime took part in the exercises, which focused on combating terrorism and organized crime. Larger-scale exercises are slated to be held later in May. DK

Reports by RFE/RL's Uzbek Service and on 4 May detailed the violent breakup of a protest in Tashkent on the night of 3 May, as 100 police forced 70 protesters into buses and removed them from the city. The demonstrators, who included many women and children, had gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent earlier on 3 May. They had demanded the return of property they said was unlawfully seized and the resignation of Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoev, RFE/RL reported. Riot police descended on them after 11 p.m. An RFE/RL correspondent reported that police beat protesters, including women and children, as they herded them into buses. A correspondent for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting said that the attackers included camouflaged riot police and men in civilian clothes. By morning, the tents the protesters had erected and all traces of the clash had been eliminated. A local resident told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that the authorities paved over a nearby walkway to conceal traces of blood. An Interior Ministry spokesperson told RFE/RL that the demonstrators were detained after attacking police and returned to their homes in Kashkadarya Province. DK

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent issued a statement on 4 May expressing regret over the Uzbek authorities' decision to use force the previous day against antigovernment protesters who gathered near the embassy, reported. Protesters had told that they massed outside the U.S. Embassy to draw the attention of the U.S. State Department and the international community to their plight. As quoted by, the embassy statement said: "The demonstrators who set up their tents across from the U.S. Embassy on 3 May were exercising their right to expression and assembly as recognized in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They did not present any threat to the embassy's security, nor did they in any way hinder the embassy's work. We regret that the authorities removed them last night and used force to do so." DK

Shoira Muhamedova, a lawyer representing jailed Uzbek journalist Sobirjon Yoqubov, said that he has been moved from the Interior Ministry in Tashkent to a special prison under the jurisdiction of the National Security Service, reported on 4 May. Muhamedova said that the move may be intended to hold Yoqubov incommunicado. Yoqubov's arrest on 11 April on charges of attempting to overthrow Uzbekistan's constitutional system has sparked international statements of concern and a petition drive to free him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 2005). DK

The Supreme Court of Belarus has accepted complaints by five Ukrainian citizens who are serving jail sentences in Minsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 2005), Belapan reported on 4 May, quoting Leonid Yasinskyy, spokesman for the Ukrainian Embassy in Belarus. "The Supreme Court may consider the complaints within 10 days. It is likely that all the jailed Ukrainian citizens will have been released by the time the court hands down its judgment, but we should go through with it, as this is a matter of principle," Yasinskyy said. The Ukrainians were arrested during an antipresidential demonstration in Minsk on 26 April, along with 10 Belarusians and 14 Russians. The Russians were granted early release by the Minsk City Court on 30 April; the same court on 3 May dismissed an appeal for early release of the Ukrainians. JM

President Viktor Yushchenko, who is vacationing in Crimea, told journalists in Simferopol on 4 May that he is going to discuss the arrest of five Ukrainians in Minsk last month with his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, during their meeting in Moscow on 8 May, Belarusian and Ukrainian news agencies reported. "I wouldn't want the incident to give rise to some typical differences of opinion in our relations with the brotherly Belarusian people, but the fact of applying double standards to peaceful demonstrators -- citizens of Ukraine, of Russia, and of other states -- testifies to the Belarusian leadership's particular approach to this episode," Yushchenko said. The National Alliance youth organization on 4 May put up dummy antitank hedgehogs in front of the Belarusian Embassy in Kyiv and twisted barbed wire around them, in protest against the arrest of their colleagues in Minsk. JM

A district housing authority in Minsk has notified the Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) that it needs to vacate its headquarters by 15 May, Belapan reported on 4 May. Authorities justified the decision to terminate the rent contract with the BNF, which has occupied its office at 8 Varvasheni Street since 1992, by saying governmental agencies needed the property. Authorities are threatening to file a suit seeking the party's eviction if BNF refuses to vacate the office by the deadline. "This is a blow not only to the party but to a large part of the pro-democracy movement," BNF Deputy Chairman Viktar Ivashkevich told journalists. "Our office is not only the BNF headquarters, but also a venue for various cultural and political events, including international ones. Since the office has long been bugged, we thought that we would be allowed to stay so that the authorities would be able to find out about our plans." He added the request to leave "is evidence that the authorities are no longer interested in listening; they have opted for an increasingly open conflict and crackdown, ignoring respect for any formal attributes of civilized practices." JM

President Viktor Yushchenko said in Simferopol on 4 May that he has proposed to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that they settle all problems regarding the delimitation of the Ukrainian-Russian border by the end of this year, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. According to Yushchenko, Moscow must recognize the Soviet-era administrative border separating the Ukrainian SSR and the Russian SFSR in the Kerch Strait as the new state border between independent Ukraine and Russia. "We are ready to compromise on the border line across the Azov Sea in exchange for a clear-cut position from Russia regarding the border in the Kerch Strait," Yushchenko said. JM

President Yushchenko also said in Simferopol on 4 May that the deployment of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol until 2017 is regulated by a "big agreement" between Ukraine and Russia, and that his government does not intend to review this accord, Interfax reported. At the same time, Yushchenko noted that Russia has not yet met some commitments laid out by the "big agreement." "Until today, Russia has not transferred the navigation-system infrastructure in the Crimean Peninsula to the Ukrainian side," Yushchenko said, adding that this concerns 170 navigation-system facilities. JM

President Yushchenko has posthumously awarded Atamurat Niyazov, the father of Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov, with the Yaroslav the Wise Order of the Fifth Degree to mark the coming 60th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, Ukrainian media reported on 4 May. Atamurat Niyazov was a veteran of World War II and has been declared a hero of Turkmenistan. "Ukraine honors the combat services of Atamurat Niyazov, whose immortal image personifies the heroism of the 740,000 Turkmen heroes who sacrificed their lives on the battlefields of the Great Patriotic War," Naftohaz Ukrayiny head Oleksiy Ivchenko reportedly said while presenting the award to the Turkmen president on Yushchenko's behalf. JM

Following a court ruling, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry has put Ihor Bakay, former head of the presidential property-management department, on Interpol's wanted list, Ukrainian media reported on 4 May. Simultaneously, ministry officials appealed to their Russian colleagues for help in discovering the whereabouts of former Central Election Commission head Serhiy Kivalov, former Interior Minister Mykola Bilokin, former Sumy Oblast Governor Volodymyr Shcherban, and former Odesa Mayor Ruslan Bodelan, against all of whom Ukrainian prosecutors have launched criminal proceedings. JM

The Communist Party of Ukraine has decided to set up a "headquarters to counteract the mockery of the heroism and memory of our grandfathers and fathers" in protest against plans to invite veterans of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) to a march in Kyiv on 9 May to mark the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 March 2005), Interfax reported. The Communists are threatening to use "the most radical measures" to prevent "traitors of the Ukrainian people from stepping onto the festive Khreshchatyk," Kyiv's main boulevard, where veterans are to march on 9 May. The nationalist OUN-UPA fought for Ukraine's independence against Nazi Germany, the Soviet Army, and Polish anti-Nazi guerillas during World War II. JM

Unnamed NATO officials told Serbia and Montenegro's Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic in Brussels on 4 May that the Belgrade authorities must arrest leading war crimes indictee and former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic as a precondition for joining NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The alliance officials nonetheless praised the progress that Serbia and Montenegro has already made in qualifying for PfP. The remarks about a precondition appear to be a response to a recent demand by Serbia and Montenegro's Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic for "full membership" in PfP "immediately and without preconditions" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 May 2005 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 28 May 2004). PM

Miodrag Vukovic, who is an official of Montenegro's governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), said in Podgorica on 4 May that the time has come for a rotation of officials in the Foreign Ministry of Serbia and Montenegro, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. He said that Deputy Foreign Minister Predrag Boskovic, who is from Montenegro, should replace Draskovic, who allegedly represents only Serbian interests. Vukovic also accused Draskovic of taking stands in public without having first cleared them with Podgorica, adding that Draskovic's call for immediate membership in PfP is tantamount to an attempt to strengthen the joint state by enrolling it in a leading international institution. The Montenegrin authorities want to dissolve the joint state and establish separate diplomatic relations abroad for each republic, as well as separate memberships in international organizations. PM

In a joint statement with Larry Rossin, who is the deputy head of the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK), Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski said in Skopje on 4 May that the public has been misled by incorrect information in the media about the introduction of a so-called visa requirement by UNMIK, the private A1 TV reported. Rossin and Buckovski discussed a recent UNMIK regulation on the work of the border police, which some people in Macedonia interpreted as introducing a visa requirement for Macedonian citizens entering Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 and 29 April and 3 May 2005). But Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski insisted after speaking with Rossin that the UNMIK regulation does amount in practice to the introduction of a visa requirement, adding that Macedonia should respond in kind, Makfax news agency reported. UB

Rada Trajkovic, who is vice president of the Serbian National Council for Northern Kosovo, said in Podgorica on 4 May that the best constitutional model for the final status of the province is that of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which provides for two distinct entities, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. She said the Bosnian model would enable the province's frontiers to remain unaltered and provide the degree of decentralization necessary for the Serbs to be able to remain there. In Bosnia itself, the constitution set down by the 1995 Dayton peace agreements is widely seen as unworkable or having outlived its usefulness (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 22 October 2004, and 25 March and 1 April 2005). PM

Two Croatian police officers joined the UNMIK force on 4 May, which is the first time that Croatian police have taken part in a UN mission in former Yugoslavia, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Croatian police are involved in UN missions in East Timor and on Cyprus, where Croatia is the only country with both military and civilian personnel. Former Yugoslavia was frequently active in the UN's international missions. PM

Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev said on 4 May that Moldovan cabinet ministers will be assisted by a maximum of two deputies, not three as before, BASA reported. Tarlev specified that ministers will generally have to be satisfied with just one deputy and will be allowed to hire another one only in "exceptional cases." Tarlev made his comments while handing out appointments to 17 new deputy ministers: Ion Coropcean (Defense); Pavel Buceatchi (Telecommunications); Victor Postolachi (Reintegration); Tatiana Lapicus (Culture and Tourism); Nicolae Esnu (Justice); Eugenia Chistruga (Foreign Affairs); Vladimir Botnari and Iurie Cozma (Internal Affairs); Boris Golovin (Health); Valentin Dragan (Transport); Anatol Spivacenco (Agriculture); Feodosia Furculita and Mihail Pop (Finance); Vasile Mamaliga (Industry); Sergiu Sainciuc (Economy); Petru Silvestru (Environment); Aurelia Moldovan-Batrinac (Education). JM

A former top German administrator in Bosnia-Herzegovina argued recently that most of the western Balkan states have a long way to go before qualifying for EU membership. He said he believes that regional integration is a necessary first step.

"Europe" is a word with connotations that border on magic in Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosova, Montenegro, and Serbia. For most people there, it simply means a better life and has few of the anti-American or grand international political connotations one can find in some other parts of the continent. In the western Balkans, EU membership means development funds and subsidies, a seat at the table where important decisions are made, and the prestige of belonging to "the rich man's club."

This psychological factor of prestige and of belonging is particularly important in much of former Yugoslavia. Many people there saw themselves through the late 1980s as having the best of both capitalism and socialism. Theirs was the only passport in Europe that required no visas for travel to the East or the West. Then suddenly, they found themselves regarded in most European countries as virtual pariahs from war-torn republics whose passports required visas for travel to just about anywhere.

Hans Koschnick is a former mayor of Bremen, Germany, who served as the EU's administrator in Mostar from July 1994 until March 1996. He then acted as the German government's point man for Bosnia-Herzegovina until that post was abolished in late 1999. As such, he is one of the European "internationals" in the former Yugoslavia with a good deal of practical experience on the ground. His proposals on bringing the western Balkans into the EU via a path of regional integration are hardly new, but they come with a special authority derived from his direct personal involvement in the region.

The former mayor outlined his views on the future of the western Balkans in an interview with "Spiegel Online" on 3 May (,1518,348586,00.html). Like Austria's Erhard Busek, who heads the EU-led Stability Pact for Southeast Europe, and many German politicians, Koschnick speaks of the need to "Europeanize" the Balkans by bringing the region into European structures. He would start with regional cooperation and integration, possibly without Croatia, which seems likely to qualify for EU membership sooner than the others. The regional approach is not without controversy in much of the western Balkans itself, where many suspect it is a devious ploy by Brussels to recreate a new Yugoslavia "minus Slovenia but including Albania." Anything that smacks of an attempt to set up a new Yugoslav state is particularly abhorrent to most Croats but not only to them, since Bosnian Muslims, Montenegrins, and Kosovars tend to suspect that any such polity would be dominated by Belgrade again.

Koschnick presented his opinions by discussing each country separately. He noted that Slovenia has lost no time in identifying itself with its Austrian and Italian neighbors rather than with Croatia and other former Yugoslav republics. He might have mentioned that this is ironic in a historical context, because Yugoslavia was attractive to Slovenes in 1918 and 1945 precisely because it offered them a guarantee against being dominated and assimilated by the Austrians and Italians. In any event, Slovenia is now the only former Yugoslav republic that belongs to the EU and NATO; none of the other republics has yet to qualify for membership in either organization, although they all want to.

Turning to Croatia, Koschnick said he believes that the Croatian leadership takes seriously the fact that their path to European integration is blocked as long as fugitive war crimes indictee and former General Ante Gotovina remains on the loose and not in The Hague. The leadership's problem, Koschnick added, is that some of the government's political supporters still regard Gotovina as a war hero and do not accept the idea that "whoever wants to join Europe must also accept European values" and not just its economic benefits.

Asked whether Croatia is ready for EU membership, Koschnick argued that some regions are more prepared than others. He said he feels that western Croatia and the Zagreb areas are ready, but not the regions bordering Serbia or Bosnia. He charged that Dalmatia is interested in Europe when it comes to hosting tourists or signing economic agreements but not "in adopting the European identity."

The German government's former point man for Bosnia noted that many of the results of "ethnic cleansing" from the 1992-95 conflict there appear to have become permanent. Many people -- especially but not only Muslims -- have chosen not to return permanently to their prewar homes, and many who want to are prevented from doing so by the hostility of their former neighbors.

He seemed to accept this reality, even if he did not say so explicitly: "The Europeanization of the Balkans will depend on whether we succeed of making a stable state out of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in which the three [main ethnic] groups can completely preserve their cultural and regional identities but are nonetheless ready to serve a joint state." He added, however, that unless the leaders of the Serbs, Muslims, and Croats are ready to make a joint state where all enjoy the same rights truly function, nobody from outside will be willing to invest in Bosnia.

Koschnick argued that foreign troops will be able to leave Bosnia in the foreseeable future once a sufficiently unified army is created, without the presence of ethnically-based fighting units that potentially could attack each other. He nonetheless said he feels that "the Europeans" have a long task ahead of them in Bosnia in building up the administration, the economy, and the rule of law. Discussing the future of Mostar, he said he believes that the different ethnic groups are willing to live together peacefully. He added, however, that "Mostar is still a problem because the Croats would like to make it their [own] regional center."

Turning to Serbia, Koschnick stressed that the key issue is overcoming nationalist extremism. He said he believes the Serbs will "always be nationally oriented," but it will be necessary to overcome nationalism's more extreme aspects there. He said he feels that Montenegro is too small to be economically viable and that the most realistic solution for its future is in a looser state union with Serbia, with which many Montenegrins have close personal and cultural ties. A problem that an independent Montenegro would pose for "the Europeans," he argued, is that it might become more of a smugglers' haven than a center of economic development.

In contrast to many politicians in Montenegro and Kosova, Koschnick said he regards the futures of those two areas as interconnected. He stressed that Montenegro's long-term status will not be clarified until that of Kosova is. In a view that is close to some political leaders in Belgrade, he argued that the UN Security Council will not agree to Kosovar demands for full independence lest that lead to similar "secessionist tendencies" elsewhere in the world. The key task for "the international community, and certainly the EU," is to find a way to grant the ethnic Albanian majority a form of self-determination or autonomy while preserving international guarantees for the minorities. This will not be easy, and international peacekeepers will have to remain in Kosova for a long time to come, as they have in Cyprus.

Macedonia, by contrast, Koschnick finds much more stable than could have been imagined "four or five years ago." Nonetheless, he said he believes it is not yet economically ready for EU membership, which its political leadership has actively sought. Instead, he said, he feels that all the states of the western Balkans, probably excluding Croatia, should be brought together in an "open area, like we have in the EU," with legal and cultural boundaries but constituting an economic unit.

"The Economist" noted on 29 April that the countries of the western Balkans were promised in 2003 that they might have EU membership once they qualified, but there was no timetable provided for any of them. Most of the countries there, the weekly added, are "still a mess." In reading the ideas of Koschnick, Busek, and others who have discussed a "European" future for the region, it might seem that the problem is not so much a lack of ideas but the absence of the political will to put them into practice.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has appointed Enayatullah Enayat as the new governor of Badghis Province, the Peshawar-based Afghan Islamic Press reported on 4 May. Enayat served as governor of Faryab Province, east of Badghis, until supporters of General Abdul Rashid Dostum, currently the chief of staff of the high command of the Afghan armed forces, drove him out of his office in April 2004 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 April 2004). At the time, Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali had accused Dostum of misusing the Afghan National Army by ordering it to intervene in Faryab. Enyat's appointment as the governor of Badghis may be a sign that Dostum, who is now in Kabul, is compromising with the central government. AT

In a commentary on 1 May, the daily "Kabul Times" welcomed the decision to privatize Afghanistan's national radio and television stations. The stations, which the daily said were "trumpeting...government propaganda" since their inception, were privatized due to the efforts of Information and Culture Minister Sayyed Makhdum Rahin with the support of President Karzai, the commentary added. The radio and television stations are to be removed from government control and placed under the supervision of a five-member board of trustees. According to the "Kabul Times," with state supervision, the stations were unable to compete with radios stations such as Arman and Kelid and Aina and Tolu television stations. "What the government and people" now expect from the board of trustees is that the news be "rewritten commensurate with the level of comprehension of public at large" while striving to "enhance the enlightenment aspect." It is not clear from the commentary who will appoint the board of trustees, what their exact mandate will be, or who finances the stations. AT

According to recent reports, 36 known cases of AIDS exist in Afghanistan, the "Baztab" daily, based in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, wrote on 4 May. While the number of people with AIDS is very small in Afghanistan compared to other countries, "Baztab" writes that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is "concerned" that relevant departments in Afghanistan "have forgotten" to take fighting AIDS seriously. According to the daily, a UNDP staff member believes the relatively small number of AIDS cases means it is possible for Afghanistan to eliminate the disease before it spreads. Moreover, the UNDP, according to "Baztab" is concerned that most Afghans know nothing about the HIV virus and AIDS. While most of the AIDS cases in Afghanistan involve drug addicts, there are reports that sexually transmitted AIDS cases have been recorded as well. In Afghan society, open discussions about sex are still a taboo, and because AIDS is still regarded primarily as a sexually transmitted disease, there is little discussion of the issue. AT

U.S. Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry assumed command of Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan (CFC-A) on 3 May in Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, according to a 4 May U.S. Central Command press release ( "I give a pledge to this command to follow in General Barno's footsteps," Eikenberry said, referring to his predecessor, Lieutenant General David Barno. The CFC-A comprises more than 18,000 troops -- 16,700 U.S. personnel, and 1,600 personnel from 22 other countries who conduct full-spectrum operations -- from combat to humanitarian activities -- in order to defeat terrorism and establish enduring security in the country. AT

Iranian Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Admiral Ali Shamkhani and visiting Senegalese Minister of Armed Forces Becaye Diop signed a memorandum of understanding on 4 May, IRNA reported. The memorandum addresses cooperation in technical and military areas, and it also calls for personnel exchanges. Diop and his entourage left after a four-day visit to Iran. BS

Government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh spoke out against prospective presidential candidate Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf at a 3 May meeting of provincial deputy governors and the governors-general in charge of women's affairs, "Etemad" reported on 4 May. In July 1999, Qalibaf was among the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commanders who sent a letter to President Mohammad Khatami in which they threatened to take action against demonstrators if the president did not act first. Ramezanzadeh noted that the same people who signed the letter are now presenting themselves as reformers. Qalibaf responded on 4 May, while at a press conference in Zanjan, that Ramezanzadeh's comments do not merit a response, ISNA reported. He added, "The presence of these same radical people in some places was why Mr. Khatami's government came under question at some points in time and the reformists' situation today is the result of their conduct yesterday." BS

French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere is investigating two Iranians who are suspected of collecting funds on behalf of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, aka the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), AFP reported on 3 May. The investigation of Ali Mohammad Momen for "criminal conspiracy linked to a terrorist enterprise" and "financing terrorism" began on 29 March, anonymous sources told AFP, and an investigation of Sima Ahmadi on similar charges began in February. Momen is reportedly connected with a fictitious humanitarian organization called the Iran Aid Association. The organization claimed to collect money for Iranian children but is believed to have sent the money to the MKO instead. Between October 2001 and March 2003 it reportedly collected 580,000 euros ($753,000) for the MKO. In an interview with AFP, Momen denied the charges but acknowledged that he sympathizes with the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). According to the U.S. State Department's most recent report on terrorist organizations, NCRI is another name for the MKO, and the MKO uses front organizations to solicit contributions. BS

An unnamed official with the Ministry of Education and Training has announced that all teaching candidates must have at least a bachelor's degree, Radio Farda reported on 4 May. He added that they must be trained as teachers. The Paris-based professor Said Peyvandi, who is a pedagogical specialist, told Radio Farda this is an important development. Right now, he said, some two-thirds of educators only have a high school diploma or associate's degree. He explained that in the 1980s and early 1990s there was a rush to recruit new teachers, and many of them secured their jobs through Islamic associations and were poorly educated. BS

Insurgents killed at least 24 people in separate attacks in Baghdad on 5 May, international media reported. A suicide bomber blew himself up at an army recruitment center in western Baghdad, killing at least 13 people and wounding 15, police told Reuters. That attack mirrored the 4 May bombing of an army recruitment center in Irbil (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 2005). Also in western Baghdad, insurgents ambushed a police convoy, shooting dead 10 policemen and setting their vehicles on fire. A second police convoy was attacked about the same time; there is no word on casualties from that incident. Meanwhile a car bomb targeted a convoy transporting the deputy interior minister, killing one of his bodyguards and wounding six others. The minister was not hurt in the attack. KR

The military commission of the militant group Ansar Al-Sunnah Army claimed responsibility on a jihadist website ( for the 4 May Irbil attack on a police recruitment center that left some 60 dead and 150 wounded. Addressing Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) head Mas'ud Barzani, the statement said the attack was in retaliation "on behalf of our brothers who are suffering day and night in your prisons, and in retaliation against the apostates of the peshmerga forces who surrendered to the Crusaders, and raised their weapons against the Muslims, when they fought on the side of the U.S. against our people in Al-Fallujah, Mosul, Baghdad and other Muslim lands." The statement warned of further attacks against the Kurds, saying: "Let it be known to you [Barzani]...that we are preparing more for you, and you should expect it, sooner or later." KR

U.S. Central Command ( released on 3 May the text of a letter found during a 28 April Baghdad raid that it says was written by an insurgent loyal to fugitive terrorist leader Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. The letter, dated 27 April and written by Abu Asim al-Qusaymi al-Yemeni, said morale has been weakened among the jihadists. It added that there is internal friction between some Al-Qaeda cell leaders and the men under them. Al-Yemeni complained that al-Zarqawi has not visited the fighters, as he used to do in Al-Fallujah. He advised al-Zarqawi: "Do not hear from just one side, even if that person was close to you. But hear from all sides...We have leaders that are not capable of being good leaders...please test those who are underneath you." Al-Yemeni said that he no longer trusts anyone purporting to represent al-Zarqawi, adding, "We [fighters] have suffered a lot." KR

The U.S. military is investigating reports that al-Zarqawi was in a hospital in the Al-Anbar governorate last week, saying that the insurgent leader may be injured or ill, reported on 5 May. U.S. officials did not say why they suspect the leader is ill, but U.S. military officials reported earlier this month that al-Zarqawi stored medical information about himself on a laptop computer that was seized following a 20 February car chase from which al-Zarqawi escaped on foot (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 2005). Al-Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda wing, Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn, claimed in a website posting last week that al-Zarqawi had escaped U.S. capture at a hospital in Al-Ramadi, in the Al-Anbar Governorate, reported. U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Steven Boylan confirmed on 4 May that the military had received a tip that terrorists were in and around the hospital. U.S. and Iraqi forces raided the hospital, but no arrests were made. Riyadh Abu Dhiba of the Muhammad's Army militant group reportedly said that al-Zarqawi was in the hospital to visit a top aide who was injured in a battle, the website reported. KR

Colonel James L. Pohl ordered a mistrial in the court-martial of Private First Class Lynndie England who was charged with abusing detainees at the Abu Ghurayb Prison in Baghdad, reported on 5 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 2004). England had pleaded guilty to seven out of nine counts of conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment, and indecent acts. The mistrial came after the ringleader in the abuse case, Private Charles A. Graner, Jr. testified on behalf of England, saying their actions in the leashing of a detainee were legitimate. "It was going to be a planned extraction" of a detainee, Graner said, adding that he took the pictures for documentation. "If Private Graner is to be believed, he was not violating any law, so you could not be violating any law," Pohl told England. "If you don't believe you were guilty, doing what Graner told you, you can't plead guilty," he added, before declaring a mistrial. The case will now go back to army commander Lieutenant General Thomas Metz for reexamination, the website reported. The plea agreement reached between England and the army has also been thrown out. KR