PUTIN, MEXICAN PRESIDENT AGREE RUSSIAN GAS SUPPLIES TO NORTH AMERICA...
President Vladimir Putin and visiting Mexican President Vicente Fox agreed on 21 June to a plan to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Russian Far East to North America via Mexico, Russian and international media reported. "I am pleased to note that our liquefied gas will be delivered to the Mexican coast from Sakhalin [Island], and part of it will remain in your country," Putin said at a joint press conference, according to kremlin.ru. A Sakhalin Energy and Royal Dutch/Shell-led consortium is expected to operate the project, according to "The Moscow Times." The United States is expected to be another major consumer of the Russian LNG. The deal is expected to translate into some 37 million tons of LNG over 20 years, the paper reported. The two men also discussed other ways to boost bilateral trade. Fox told the news conference that Russia "is interested in deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico," according to RIA-Novosti. Putin said Moscow is also interested in hydroelectric- and nuclear-power projects in Mexico, RIA-Novosti reported. VY
...AS RUSSIA SEEKS TO BOOST ENERGY EXPORTS TO ASIAN POWERS
Speaking at an investment conference in Moscow on 21 June, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia wants to pursue energy trade with some of Asia's primary consumers, including China, India, Japan, and Korea, India's "Financial Express" reported. Lavrov said Russia is particularly interested in investment from those countries into the construction and modernization of its energy infrastructure. "The Moscow Times" reported on 21 June that Japan is looking to purchase at least 3.4 million tons of liquefied natural gas a year. VY
PUTIN WARNS OF DANGERS OF PETRODOLLARS TO RUSSIAN ECONOMY
Speaking at the joint news conference with Mexican President Fox on 21 June, Putin said the heavy inflow of petrodollars contributes to inflation and leads to an overly strong ruble that hinders exporters, RIA-Novosti and Interfax reported. High oil revenues help fight poverty but do more harm than good, Putin asserted. TV-Tsentr commented on 20 June that high oil prices led to the collapse of the Soviet Union: Because state oil revenues in the 1970s allowed the Soviet leadership to maintain spending levels, it balked at reforms. When oil prices fell in 1986, TV-Tsentr argued, the Soviet Union's resources dried up and the economic collapse of the USSR followed soon after. Russia could repeat some of those mistakes, the station warned. VY
UNIFIED RUSSIA WANTS TO ELIMINATE 'AGAINST ALL' FROM BALLOTS
The pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party has proposed amending election legislation so that voters no longer have the option of voting against all candidates, gazeta.ru reported on 20 June and "Vedomosti" reported on 21 June. The proposal has been included in a package of amendments to election legislation that the party's presidium approved at the end of last week, gazeta.ru reported. The option would be removed from ballots for municipal and regional elections, but not for the State Duma or presidential elections. According to "Vedomosti," Central Election Commission (TsIK) Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov favors eliminating "against all," while members of opposition parties do not. Yelena Dubrovina, a member of the TsIK and Yabloko, said that if you remove the "against all" option, then "people will simply stop going to the polls, since they will not be able to express their dissatisfaction." Aleksei Grashdankin of the Levada Analytical Center agreed, noting that this is especially true when authorities seek to coerce the electorate to vote for a specific candidate. The package of amendments is scheduled for debate in the Duma on 29 June. JAC
POLITICAL ANALYST CASTS DOUBT ON SENIOR KREMLIN OFFICIAL'S MOTIVES...
Stanislav Belkovskii, the former head of the National Strategy Institute and onetime Kremlin consultant, accused deputy presidential-administration head Vladislav Surkov of being "one of the organizers of the PR campaign against [convicted former Yukos CEO] Mikhail Khodorkovskii," apn.ru reported on 21 June. Belkovskii said Surkov was "insincere" when he declined to discuss the Yukos case for ethical reasons in his extensive 21 June interview with "Der Spiegel" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2005). "It is well known that precisely Vladislav Yurievich [Surkov] was a supporter of a maximum sentence for Khodorkovskii," Belkovskii said. He added that he does not believe Putin cleared the "Der Spiegel" interview. Belkovskii said he believes Surkov was sending a signal to the West: "'I am a Westernizer and a fair liberal. I have nothing to do with chekist misdeeds. Please do not touch me when I move to the West.'" VY
...AS KREMLIN POLITICAL MASTERMIND CLARIFIES RECORD...
In an interview with "Der Spiegel" on 21 June, deputy presidential-administration head Surkov refuted various rumors connected with his current activities. For example, he denied that there is a project to create a liberal party that would be loyal to the Kremlin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February 2005). He also denied that he used text messaging before important votes on the Duma floor to sway the outcome. And he rejected stories that he was involved in the decision to arrest and convict former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii. "I find it difficult to take a position on the case, since I was on Khodorkovskii's payroll myself for 10 years," Surkov said. "I'm biased because I still respect him." Surkov did not deny founding the new youth organization Nashi. He commented that Russia "is seeing a growing desire among young people to become involved in politics -- and this is something we must address." Surkov also characterized the recent colored revolutions in the former Soviet Union as uprisings rather than revolutions, nothing that Russia will not experience either. JAC
...AND COURTS FAVORABLE WESTERN OPINION
A variety of Russian media have commented on Surkov's "Der Spiegel" interview of 21 June. Both Radio Mayak analyst Yegor Kholmogorov and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" noted the dramatic difference in tone between this interview and Surkov's interview with "Komsomolskaya pravda" in September after the Beslan tragedy. According to Kholmogorov, Surkov seemed to wish to convey that all is normal in Russia and that there is no danger for Western investors. With regard to Chechnya, Kholmogorov noted that Surkov made the "extremely risky assertion" that his own father is Chechen and that he himself spent the first five years of his life in Chechnya. JAC
HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN TO COOPERATE WITH DEFENSE MINISTRY...
The office of human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and the Defense Ministry have signed a cooperation agreement to ensure the protection of the rights of soldiers, former soldiers, and their families, Russian news agencies reported on 21 June. According to gazeta.ru, the ombudsman and the Defense Ministry will jointly inspect military units to clarify whether the rights of soldiers or officers are being violated. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov also pledged to publish available information about the deaths of military personnel on the ministry's official website. Ivanov has been in the hot seat lately for a rash of noncombat-related deaths (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2005). JAC
...AS SOLDIERS' NGO IS UNIMPRESSED
The reaction of the Soldiers' Mothers Committee to the agreement announced on 21 June between the ombudsman and the Defense Ministry was not enthusiastic. Valentina Melnikova, secretary of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committee, told "Kommersant-Daily," "How is the soldier whose rights are being violated going to get to a telephone to call the ombudsman? Does [ombudsman] Lukin think we all have mobile phones? Let [the soldier] call from the chancellery or headquarters of the military unit?... It's obvious that the suffering soldier will simply be afraid to say his name. It's a pity that a politician from Yabloko could behave so naively." JAC
RUSSIAN DAILY ACCUSES PENSION FUND OF MISUSING ASSETS
"Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 21 June that the Russian Pension Fund had built or has built or is building luxury offices for its officials all over the country at a time when pensioners had no money for food and medication. Moreover, the fund continuously asks the Russian president, government, and State Duma for additional budget money as it will not have enough funds to pay next year's pensions, the newspaper continued. "Komsomolskaya pravda" carried out its own investigation and discovered that in the last several years the fund had built up "palaces comparable to the mansions of the Russian oligarchs" in such cities as Smolensk, Ryazan, Kazan, Vladivostok, Nizhnii Novgorod, and other cities. Newspapers published pictures (http://www.kp.ru/daily/23530/41107/) of what they called luxury offices and reported that, last year alone, the fund spent more than 1 billion rubles ($36 million) on these new real-estate projects. This money would be enough to pay 478,000 average pensions, the paper reported. Meanwhile, the fund spent 22.8 billion rubles in 2003 on its own management and officials and 35.2 billion rubles for the same purpose in 2004, according to "Komsomolskaya pravda." VY
MOSCOW CONSIDERS POINT SYSTEM FOR EVALUATING REGIONAL LEADERS
The presidential administration has opened a competition to create a computer program that will analyze the performance of regional leaders, "Vedomosti" reported on 21 June. The description of the tender was listed on kremlin.ru on 20 June. According to the daily, a year ago the government tried to create a system of criteria by which the effectiveness of federal ministries and departments could be judged; however, this project has not yet been realized. Pavel Kydyukin, former director of the Center for the Problem of State Rule, is still confident that a system for evaluating governors could be created quickly enough. However, political consultants believe that such a system would only be used as a tool for dismissing undesirable governors. Dmitrii Oreshkin of the Merkator Group predicted that the most important criterion will be how many votes the governor delivered for Unified Russia in the latest election. He said he believes the objective data will only prove useful for the Kremlin in cases where they want to get rid of a governor. JAC
HAS COMMISSION ON IMPORTING NUCLEAR WASTE BECOME MORE PLIABLE?
Nobel Prize-winning physicist and Duma Deputy Zhores Alferov (Communist) will no longer head the commission for the import of spent nuclear fuel, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 21 June. His successor, Nikolai Laverov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the daily that Alferov asked to resign three months ago because of his heavy workload. However, Russian environmentalists, such as Aleksei Yablokov, chairman of the Union of Greens of Russia, have claimed that Alferov gave up his post because he had already fulfilled his role as a "buffer" between the authorities and the public over the last four years. Yablokov has said he believes that Laverov is a real specialist but has "too close ties" to the nuclear industry to express a protest when it is necessary. Yablokov also complained that other new members of the commission do not fully represent the view of the political opposition. There had been a member of Yabloko's State Duma faction; now, according to Yablokov, there are only members of Unified Russia and one Communist. JAC
FIRE DESTROYS CHECHEN JUSTICE MINISTRY RECORDS
A fire seriously damaged the Justice Ministry building in Grozny early on 21 June, Russian media reported. The blaze was apparently caused by faulty wiring, and there are no grounds to suspect arson, ITAR-TASS reported. All written records in the building were destroyed. Gunmen opened fire on the burned-out premises later on 21 June, but no injuries were reported. LF
CHECHEN RESISTANCE LEADER VOWS RETRIBUTION
In a video address to the Chechen people posted on the Kavkaz-tsentr website, Abdul-Khalim Sadullaev affirmed that the current war will not end with the expulsion of Russian forces from Chechnya, but that the resistance will then "punish" the "unbelievers" for the crimes they committed on Chechen soil, chechenpress.com reported on 20 June. Sadullaev recalled that "for many years" the Chechens offered the Russians a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and "we no longer have the right" to continue making that mistake. LF
DAGHESTAN BLAMES BOROZDINOVSKAYA SWEEP ON RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY FORCES
Daghestan National Security Council Secretary Akhmednabi Magdigadjiev told journalists in Makhachkala on 21 June that the sweep operation on 4 June in the predominantly Avar-populated Chechen village of Borozdinovskaya was carried out by a Russian Defense Ministry special unit whose personnel are mainly "residents of Chechnya," Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13, 17, 20, and 21 June 2005). On 20 June, "Vremya novostei" quoted Borozdinovskaya residents as saying the troops in question spoke Chechen, from which they inferred that they belonged to the Eastern Battalion of the 42nd Division of the Russian Army, which is reportedly directly subordinate to the GRU (Russian military intelligence). The Eastern Battalion is commanded by Sulim Yamadaev and based in the Chechen town of Gudermes. LF
ARMENIAN OPPOSITIONIST HAILS 'DEMOCRATIC' KARABAKH POLL
Judging by international monitors' assessments, the 19 June parliamentary ballot in the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was "more democratic" than elections in Armenia, Viktor Dallakian, who is chairman of the opposition Artarutiun Armenian parliamentary faction, told Noyan Tapan on 21 June. Dallakian said the unrecognized enclave's reputation for conducting democratic elections could help it achieve formal international recognition. Also on 21 June, Pavel Manukian, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun)-Movement 88 alliance that has rejected the official results of the 19 June ballot as fabricated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2005), was hospitalized in Stepanakert with concussion after being abducted and severely beaten, Noyan Tapan reported. LF
JOURNALIST VANISHES IN AZERBAIJAN
Agil Makhmudov, a former regional correspondent for the newspaper "Azadlyg," has not been seen since the morning of 17 June, when a car drew level with the taxi in which Makhmudov and his family were traveling in Baku and the passengers asked Makhmudov to get into that car, which he did, zerkalo.az reported on 22 June. Makhmudov and his family traveled to Baku from Geychay on 15 June to collect his salary from the head office of "Azadlyg." On 16 June, he gave a news conference at which he made "unflattering" remarks about Ali Kerimli, chairman of the progressive wing of the divided Azerbaijan Popular Front Party. Makhmudov subsequently told his family that he did so only because unknown people had threatened to murder his family. Makhmudov's wife received a similar death threat on 21 June after she alerted Press Council Chairman Aflatun Amashev to her husband's disappearance and agreed to hold a news conference to make public details of the events that preceded it. LF
AZERBAIJANI RULING PARTY CALLS FOR BAN ON OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATIONS IN BAKU
The Azerbaijani parliament discussed on 21 June the opposition demonstration held in Baku three days earlier, Turan and day.az reported. Mubariz Gurbanli of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party (YAP) argued that the participation of underage children at opposition rallies and the public display of "antigovernment" slogans constitute a violation of the law, and he called on the Baku municipal authorities to ban any future opposition demonstrations. A second YAP deputy, Ali Akhmedov, accused unnamed foreign organizations that he claimed provide funding for opposition parties in Azerbaijan of interfering in the country's domestic political affairs with the aim of destabilization. Speaker Murtuz Alesqerov decried the display during the demonstration of foreign flags; some participants reportedly carried U.S. flags and portraits of U.S. President George W. Bush. LF
GEORGIA DENIES OFFERING U.S. USE OF MILITARY AIRFIELD
Petre Tsiskarishvili, who is President Mikheil Saakashvili's representative in the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti, and Georgian National Security Council Secretary Gela Bezhuashvili have both denied that Tbilisi has offered to make the Shirak military airfield available to the U.S. Air Force, Caucasus Press reported on 21 June. On 18 June, the daily "Akhali taoba" quoted oppositionist Vakhtang Talakhadze as saying that following U.S. President Bush's visit to Tbilisi in early May, local authorities have begun offering residents of villages near the airfield $50,000 to vacate their homes and move elsewhere in Georgia. Talakhadze concluded from those offers that the Georgian government plans to offer Washington the use of the airfield but admitted that he has not obtained confirmation of that hypothesis from the Georgian government. LF
FORMER ADJAR LEADER'S SPOKESMAN JAILED
The Batumi City Court handed down a six-year jail sentence on 21 June to Tamaz Bakuridze, who served as spokesman to former Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze until the latter's enforced exile to Moscow in May 2004, Caucasus Press reported. The court found Bakuridze guilty of embezzlement and abuse of office. He denied those charges and plans to appeal the sentence to the Adjar Supreme Court. LF
GEORGIAN MOUNTAIN BRIGADE REFUSES TO SURRENDER WEAPONS
Revaz Kordzaya, district administrator for the Georgian-controlled upper reaches of the Kodori Gorge, told a 21 June news conference at the Georgian ombudsman's office that the predominantly Svan residents of the gorge refuse to comply with a demand by the Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in the Abkhaz conflict zone to surrender their arms, Caucasus Press reported. Kordzaya said that since the local Monadire (Hunter) battalion was disarmed at the orders of Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2005), Russian and Abkhaz helicopters overfly the gorge daily, and local residents fear a joint Russian-Abkhaz operation to take control of the district. Abkhazia has no intention of trying to bring the upper reaches of Kodori under its control, Caucasus Press on 22 June quoted Lieutenant General Anatolii Zaitsev, chief of General Staff of the armed forces of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia, as saying. LF
KAZAKHSTAN TO HOLD EXPERIMENTAL REGIONAL ELECTIONS
Onalsyn Zhumabekov, the head of Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission, announced on 21 June that Kazakhstan will hold experimental elections of four district heads on 12 August, "Kazakhstan Today" reported. Commission Secretary Vladimir Foos said that the elections will be indirect, with the deputies of district assemblies electing the regional heads. The experimental elections will take place under a December 2004 presidential decree intended to pave the way for an expansion of electoral democracy in the country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 December 2004). DK
REPORT SAYS KAZAKH BROADCASTER BOUGHT KYRGYZ TELEVISION CHANNEL
Kazakhstan's Channel 31 has bought Kyrgyzstan's Independent Bishkek TV, "Kazakhstan Today" reported on 21 June, quoting a source at Internews-Kazakhstan. The source said the deal came after six years of talks, adding that Channel 31 has appointed Nazym Mollaudov the new director of Independent Bishkek TV. DK
FORMER PRESIDENT REFUSES TO MEET WITH KYRGYZ INVESTIGATORS IN MOSCOW...
Former Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has refused to meet with a group of Kyrgyz investigators who traveled to Moscow on 21 June to speak with him, akipress.org reported. Kyrgyz Deputy Prosecutor-General Nurlan Jeenaliev said that Akaev's refusal is his "constitutional right." But acting Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov warned that investigators will merely step up their inquiry into corruption allegations against the former president. "If he doesn't testify, we'll be forced to appeal to parliament to strip Akaev of his immunity," Regnum quoted Beknazarov as saying. "With the cooperation of Russian prosecutors, we have the opportunity to freeze the Akaev family's bank accounts," he added, according to gazeta.ru. For his part, Akaev angrily denied accusations that he was behind recent unrest in Kyrgyzstan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2005). He called the allegations a "pathetic political farce with an ominous tinge," RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. DK
...AS PROSECUTORS FILE CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST HIS SON
Kyrgyz prosecutors have opened two criminal cases against Aidar Akaev, the son of former President Akaev, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. "The first [case] is connected with the illegal redistribution of private property, and the second with money-laundering," acting Prosecutor-General Beknazarov said, according to Interfax. Beknazarov said his office has requested that parliament strip Aidar Akaev, who was formerly an adviser to the Finance Ministry and the head of Kyrgyzstan's Olympic Committee, of his immunity from prosecution, which Akaev gained when he won a seat in parliamentary elections in the spring. DK
KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT BLASTS GOVERNMENT 'INACTION'
Deputies in Kyrgyzstan's parliament on 21 June blasted the country's government for failing to take effective measures to stabilize the country, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Acting Deputy Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov earlier briefed deputies on recent government measures to promote stability. Deputy Kambaraly Kongantiev lambasted the government for "inaction," a position supported by a majority of legislators who took the floor. But Usenov hit back, charging that the criticism came from deputies who gained their seats with the support of former President Akaev. DK
KYRGYZSTAN TO BOOST BORDER, INTERIOR MINISTRY TROOPS
Addressing parliament on 21 June, acting Deputy Prime Minister Usenov said the Kyrgyz government plans to boost border forces and Interior Ministry troops, Interfax reported. Usenov said the plans call for an increase of 400-500 troops in border forces and up to 2,500 more Interior Ministry troops. He linked the need for increases to unrest in Andijon, Uzbekistan on 13 May and rioting in Bishkek on 17 June. DK
KYRGYZ MINISTRY SEEKS COMPENSATION FROM ALLEGED RIOT ORGANIZER
Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry has sued Urmat Baryktabasov, whom Kyrgyz authorities have charged with fomenting recent unrest in Bishkek (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 20 June 2005), for 24 million soms ($600,000), RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 21 June. The Interior Ministry said that additional expenses were incurred as law-enforcement authorities reestablished order after Baryktabasov's supporters rioted in Bishkek on 17 June. Fifty policemen were injured in the disturbances, and police subsequently were placed on heightened alert. DK
WORLD BANK PLANS $50 MILLION IN NEW PROJECTS IN TAJIKISTAN
Dennis de Tray, World Bank country director for Central Asia, met with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov in Dushanbe on 21 June and subsequently announced $50 million in World Bank projects in Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. Tajik Finance Minister Safarali Najmuddinov said the World Bank will give a $10 million grant to develop and reform the country's agricultural sector, Avesta reported. Another $10 million grant will go to developing water resources in the Ferghana Valley, Avesta and RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. A $30 million loan will go to managing losses in the electrical power and gas sectors, Avesta reported. The latter sum includes an $8 million grant from Switzerland. DK
BELARUSIAN PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE IN HOSPITAL AFTER HUNGER STRIKE
Valery Levaneuski, the imprisoned leader of Belarusian small traders and vendors, is recovering in a prison hospital in Damanava, Brest Oblast, following a hunger strike, Belapan reported on 21 June, quoting Levaneuski's son Uladzimir. Levaneuski began his strike on 1 June, protesting what he said was the prison administration's reluctance to review his complaints. Levaneuski and his associate, Alyaksandr Vasilyeu, were sentenced to two years in prison each in September on charges of libeling President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. A district court in Hrodna ruled that the phrase in a leaflet publicizing a May Day protest they organized, "Come and say 'no' to someone's holidaying in Austria, skiing there and living well at your expense," defamed the head of state. Lukashenka is known to have secretly vacationed in Austria. Amnesty International has declared Levaneuski and Vasilyeu prisoners of conscience. JM
UKRAINE SLAMS COUNCIL OF EUROPE DRAFT ON PERSECUTION OF OPPOSITION
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said in Kyiv on 21 June that a draft resolution calling on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to investigate persecution of the opposition in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan is a "provocative" document, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and Interfax reported. The draft resolution was submitted to the PACE by a small group of Russian parliamentarians. "Why did the Russian parliamentarians, members of the Parliamentary Assembly, keep silent when Kuchma's authoritarian regime ruled in Ukraine?" Tarasyuk said. "Why did they keep silent when the authorities used administrative resources for the election campaign? Why did they keep silent when political assassinations were carried out in Ukraine? Why did they keep silent when in fact two attempts were made on the life of the opposition presidential candidate [Viktor Yushchenko]?" Tarasyuk said that only 12 of the some 600 members of the European Parliament signed the resolution, adding that not even all members of the Russian PACE delegation put their signatures on it. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT URGES INTERNATIONAL MEDIA MAGNATE TO INVEST IN UKRAINE
Viktor Yushchenko met with international media magnate Rupert Murdoch in Kyiv on 21 June and urged him to invest in Ukrainian media, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Murdoch's Kyiv visit coincided with rumors that two Ukrainian television channels, Inter and 1+1, may be offered for sale. Both channels are reportedly controlled by opposition Social Democratic party-united leader Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of former President Leonid Kuchma's administration. JM
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT SUED IN STRASBOURG OVER CONTROVERSIAL PRIVATIZATION
The Investment-Metallurgical Union, which won a controversial Kryvorizhstal privatization tender last year, has filed a lawsuit with the European Court for Human Rights, accusing the Ukrainian government of violating the union's rights in the government's recent efforts to reprivatize the steel mill (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2005), Ukrainian and international news agencies reported on 21 June. A press release by the union says its stockholders do not hope for a fair consideration of the case in Ukraine and have to appeal for justice in Europe. Earlier this year, two economic courts in Kyiv ruled that the Kryvorizhstal privatization was illegal and ordered the owner to return the purchased 93.02 percent of Kryvorizhstal's shares to the State Property Fund. JM
UKRAINIAN PREMIER URGES PARLIAMENT TO ADOPT PACKAGE OF BILLS FOR WTO MEMBERSHIP
Yuliya Tymoshenko on 21 June appealed to leaders of Ukrainian parliamentary groups to pass 14 bills needed for Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organization in a single package, Ukrainian news agencies reported. She explained that voting in a package would allow the Verkhovna Rada to enact these bills before the coming summer recess. JM
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA'S PRIME MINISTER TELLS EU NOT TO ABANDON ENLARGEMENT
Adnan Terzic has warned the European Union against abandoning plans for enlargement because of the rejection by French and Dutch voters of the union's proposed constitution, dpa reported on 21 June. Speaking before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Terzic said 80 percent of his country's population wants a future in the EU, although he did not provide a timetable. "Bosnia-Herzegovina has traveled from Dayton to Brussels -- and not by the decision of a few politicians, but because it is the will of the general public," Terzic said. BW
REPUBLIKA SRPSKA TO PREPARE ITS OWN POLICE-REFORM PROPOSAL
Republika Srpska will present its own concept of police reform for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the autumn, republican Prime Minister Pero Bukejlovic told RTRS Radio on 22 June, the BBC reported. Bukejlovic stressed that Bosnia's two entities, Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation, should remain in charge of public security. "So far, we have been trying to ensure that the Bosnia-Herzegovina entities have competence over the public security," Bukejlovic said. "I do not know why we are so much against that orientation when that is the practice in Europe, in European Union member states -- especially in countries with a complex state organization. I think that we should be looking for a solution along these lines at the moment." BW
COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS ON SERBIA AND KOSOVA TO NEGOTIATE PROVINCE'S FINAL STATUS
The Council of Europe has called upon Serbia and Kosova to start talks on the future status of Kosova, the BETA news agency reported, according to BBC Monitoring. The council's Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the two sides to find a peaceful solution to the dispute over the province's status, noting that the unsettled situation is adversely influencing the political stability of the region and could thwart the desire of countries in the western Balkans to eventually join the European Union. BW
HUNDREDS OF SREBRENICA VICTIMS TO BE BURIED AT JULY CEREMONY
The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) said that it hopes to finish identifying 550 victims of the Srebrenica massacre in time for a collective burial on the 10th anniversary of the killings in July, dpa reported on 21 June. Experts are "working hard to identify as many victims as possible as quickly as possible so they can be buried at the 10th anniversary ceremony," ICMP spokeswoman Doune Porter told reporters in Sarajevo. "There will be approximately 550 bodies identified and ready for burial at the Potocari Memorial Cemetery on July 11," she added. The Sarajevo-based organization identified the 2,000th Srebrenica victim earlier this month. Approximately 5,800 victims are unaccounted for from the 11 July 1995 massacre in which Serbian paramilitaries executed up to 8,000 mostly Muslim men and boys. BW
ICTY PRESIDENT WILL ATTEND SREBRENICA CEREMONIES
Theodor Meron, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), will attend the ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, Hina reported on 21 June. ICTY's Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has said she will not attend the 11 July ceremony unless Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb wartime leaders who have been indicted for the massacre, are arrested by then. Meron said he wants to show solidarity with the victims and sympathy for those who lost relatives in the massacre, Hina reported, citing a statement from the Hague-based court. BW
CROATIAN COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION LODGES PROTEST AGAINST SERBIAN REPRESENTATIVE
The Croatian delegation to the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg has lodged a protest against the presence of a Serbian delegate they say is guilty of killing elderly civilians, Hina reported on 21 June. Tomislav Nikolic, a member of Serbia and Montenegro's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly, has been accused by a human rights group of killing 13 elderly residents of the eastern Croatian village of Antin. Frano Matusic, the head of Croatia's delegation, threatened a walkout of the entire Croatian delegation every time Nikolic is present. Serbia's government said the Military Security Agency has informed Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica that it has no knowledge of any participation by Nikolic in war crimes in Antin, B92 reported on 20 June on its website. BW
MOLDOVA DEPLORES VISIT BY KREMLIN OFFICIAL TO TRANSDNIESTER
The Moldovan Foreign Ministry on 21 June issued a statement expressing its "regret that high-ranking Russian officials visit the Transdniester region without coordination with the Moldovan authorities," ITAR-TASS and dpa reported. The statement referred to last week's visit to Tiraspol of Modest Kolerov, head of the Department for Interregional and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries in the Russian presidential administration. Russian legislators have repeatedly traveled to Transdniester in recent months without notifying Chisinau, but Kolerov's is the first surreptitious trip of a Russian executive official to Moldova's secessionist region. According to the Foreign Ministry, the incident "calls in question Moscow's wish to promote a peaceful and lasting solution of the Transdniester conflict." Chisinau demanded explanations from Russian Ambassador to Moldova Nikolai Ryabov. Flux reported that Kolerov urged the newly created Transdniester youth organization "Proryv" (Breakthrough), whose declared goal is "to overthrow the [Moldovan President Vladimir] Voronin regime and export democracy from Transdniester to Russia," to "influence" political life in Russia, in particular, by sharing experiences with Nashi, the Russian youth movement that supports President Vladimir Putin. JM
RUSSIA SAID TO BE WORKING ON NEW 'KOZAK MEMORANDUM' FOR MOLDOVA
Grigorii Marakuta, head of Transdniester's Supreme Soviet, said on 21 June that Russia is going to propose its own plan for the Transdniester conflict settlement in the following months, Flux reported. The plan, according to Marakuta, is to be based on the so-called Kozak Memorandum that was agreed upon by Tiraspol and Chisinau in 2003 but later that year renounced by Moldovan President Voronin. The Kozak Memorandum, worked out by Russian official Dmitrii Kozak, called for turning Moldova into a "federalized" state. JM
POLICE BRUTALITY REMINISCENT OF CHECHNYA
Stavropol Krai's human rights ombudsman Aleksei Selyukov last week sent a complaint to the krai prosecutor about alleged massive violations of human rights in the town of Ivanovskoe in the Kochygbeevskii Raion on the night of 11 June, when Interior Ministry troops reportedly rounded up more than 30 local youths at the town's disco, yufo.ru and Regnum reported on 17 June.
The police, armed with rubber truncheons and submachine guns, loaded the youths -- most of whom were between the ages of 14 and 23 -- onto a police bus and took them to a local police station, gazeta.ru reported. There they were forced to face the wall with their hands in the air without speaking. They were searched, their mobile phones taken away, and their passport information was taken down.
According to some of those detained, the police intimidated them, shoving them and striking them in such a way that they wouldn't leave bruises, gazeta.ru reported. The police then allegedly illegally photographed and fingerprinted the young men. Then after about two hours, they were released into dead of the night to walk home or hitch rides back to their village more than 15 kilometers away.
Local residents believe the event was an act of revenge by the police. According to gazeta.ru, a 29-year-old police officer was knifed to death in the neighboring town of Nevinnomysskoe in May. Local residents believe the police officers thought a raid on the Ivanovskoe disco would send a message to all the young people in the area.
Nearly a year has elapsed since Russia experienced the terrorist takeover by Chechen fighters of a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, that left more than 300 people dead. At a 9 June RFE/RL briefing, Tanya Lokshina, chairwoman of the Moscow-based Demos Center for Information and Research, and Yuri Dzhibladze, president of the Moscow-based Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, argued that Beslan has become Russia's analogue to 11 September 2001, and federal and local authorities, at the initiative of President Vladimir Putin, have described Russia as a "fortress under siege." The dominant message to the public is that Russian society must consolidate in the face of the terrorist enemy. In this environment, opposition and criticism are labeled "traitorous."
Russian human rights groups, which frequently receive financial support from abroad, have been subjected to increasing scrutiny by the authorities, particularly those groups that deal with sensitive issues such as torture and other forms of abuse by police and the security services. As a result, the attention of such groups is being diverted away from such monitoring and toward defending themselves.
According to a survey conducted by the Levada Analytical Center in May, approximately 70 percent of respondents said they think they or their relatives could fall victim to illegal actions by law enforcement officers. In the same study, 73 percent of physicians and nurses providing primary medical assistance to victims of accidents or assaults said they believe the problem of police violence against detainees is quite serious.
The recent police raid in Ivanovskoe appears to replicate in miniature similar police raids in other parts of Russia. In February and March, the Tver Oblast town of Bezhetsk experienced two police raids in which police allegedly beat large numbers of people. One of the Bezhetsk raids was also carried out in a local disco and was rumored to have been motivated by revenge after some local young men reportedly tried to free an acquaintance who had earlier been taken into custody for "hooliganism."
In December, there were massive police raids in Blagoveshchensk, Bashkortostan, where local police have been accused of illegally detaining and assaulting hundreds of local residents. Similarly, in Blagoveshchensk, an initial theory about the raids in that city was that they were conducted to punish city residents after three police officers were beaten up shortly before the raids began.
According to a report published in March by Demos and Public Verdict on the law enforcement system, one of the primary reasons why police officers violate human rights is to protect the interests and the status of their colleagues. According to the report, "most frequently law enforcement officers use their authority and means of coercion to penalize individuals who have acted against other law enforcement officers, as well as to help their colleagues avoid liability for violations that they have committed."
Speaking at the RFE/RL briefing, Lokshina commented that the only reason the Russian public came to hear about Bezhetsk was because the raids occurred so close in time to the media storm about the raids in Blagoveshchensk. "We investigated the situation in Bezhetsk quite carefully," Lokshina said. "The only reason we know about Bezhetsk is because Blagoveshchensk was so bad, so scandalous, and attracted so much media attention that because of it small-scale events such as Bezhetsk became known. I am quite sure that events like Bezhetsk -- not a thousand people, but a couple dozen -- are actually quite common in Russia."
While investigations into the incidents in Bezhetsk and Blagoveshchensk are still under way, Dzhibladze concluded that the roots of such occurrences can be found not in Tver Oblast or Bashkortostan, but in Chechnya. "One of the clear roots of police violence is Chechnya," Dzhibladze said. "[Police] troops and officers are rotating there every half a year. They go back home and bring the experience of violence with impunity. The government is promoting such impunity -- there have been just a few cases where officers have been punished for crimes against civilians in Chechnya, out of -- you can imagine -- hundreds of cases in two wars. This gives a powerful, powerful signal to state agencies and forces that they are immune from prosecution whatever they do."
To support their comparison between the recent police raids and the conflict in Chechnya, Lokshina noted that a human rights lawyer working in Blagoveshchensk recently uncovered an internal Interior Ministry (MVD) document that described how police in "emergency circumstances" should organize "filtration centers" for the detention of suspects and their associates. "The lawyer found a certain MVD document stamped 'DSP,' or 'for internal use,' in which it is described how law enforcement should handle emergency circumstances -- not emergency situations as is already stipulated in the relevant law -- but some mysterious emergency circumstances. Within these mysterious emergency circumstances, the police have to organize filtration centers. It's there on paper. It's exactly what has been going on in Chechnya for years and now we suddenly find out that in any Russian city there can be a filtration center."
KABUL TO ISLAMABAD: STOP THE MILITANTS
Afghanistan called on neighboring Pakistan on 21 June to rein in militants operating on Pakistani territory, AFP reported the same day. The appeal came a day after Afghan authorities arrested three Pakistani militants they said were trying to kill departing U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad. "There are elements on Pakistani soil who train terrorist elements, equip them, and send them to Afghanistan," said Jawed Ludin, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "As long as they exist, terrorism and insecurity will continue." Ludin repeated allegations by Kabul that neo-Taliban leaders are hiding in Pakistan. "The leaders of the Taliban regime, especially those who are notorious for manslaughter and terrorism, they are now in Pakistan," Ludin said. Pakistan rejected the criticism. "Such an irresponsible statement runs counter to the sincerity and efforts by the government of Pakistan to fight terrorism and support the people and the government of Afghanistan," Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid said. "Instead of making unfounded allegations, they should take effective steps to curb subversive elements inside Afghanistan." MR
MORE REBELS KILLED IN FURTHER FIGHTING
Afghan security forces said they killed 32 neo-Taliban insurgents in continued fighting in southern Afghanistan on 21 June, AFP reported the same day. "So far we've killed some 32 Taliban," said Mohammad Salem, the security commander in the Kandahar area who led attacks against insurgents in the province. Salem said his men killed 11 rebels early on 21 June, while later that day U.S. warplanes backing the ground operation killed 21 guerillas in an airstrike. "Only coalition air forces are helping us in the operation," said Salem, who put the number of Afghan police involved in the fighting at 400. For three days, Afghan security forces have battled neo-Taliban insurgents around Mian Nisheen, a town some 85 kilometers northwest of Kandahar. A U.S. military official said: "There is an ongoing operation, but I cannot discuss the details because of the security concerns for Afghan and coalition forces." MR
FLOODS LEAVE DOZENS DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN
Afghan officials said on 21 June that flooding in 12 provinces has left 51 people dead, dpa reported the same day. "Four thousand families have been affected; 51 people have died. More than 4,000 [head of livestock] have died, and 2,000 houses have been damaged," said Afghan Rural and Rehabilitation Minister Anif Atmar. Atmar said the affected provinces stretched across the central, northeastern, and eastern areas of Afghanistan. A report by the World Food Program said Badakhshan Province was the hardest hit by floodwaters. "Badakhshan is among the most remote and poverty stricken provinces in Afghanistan. The floods will have a devastating effect on people who already live with a great deal of food insecurity," said WFP Afghanistan representative Charles Vincent. "WFP is working closely with the governor of Badakhshan, regional authorities, other UN agencies and NGOs to ensure that the community will be rebuilt." MR
BOMB BLASTS WOUND THREE U.S. TROOPS, AFGHAN SOLDIER
Separate bomb blasts in eastern Afghanistan wounded three U.S. troops and one Afghan soldier on 20 June, AP reported. The explosions occurred in the restive Khost Province, along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. A U.S. military statement said all four injured men were treated and released. The three Americans were wounded when their patrol was struck by a bomb. The Afghan was wounded while guarding a convoy. MR
IRANIAN STUDENTS ORGANIZATION CRITICIZE ELECTION
Iran's most well-known student organization, the Office for Strengthening Unity, has condemned the 17 June presidential election, Radio Farda reported on 21 June. Reza Delbari, a member of the organization's central council, told Radio Farda that in the first hours of vote-counting at least 3.3 percent of the ballots were spoiled. But when the count went from 20 million ballots to 22 million, zero spoiled ballots were counted. At the 23 million mark, he said, the count of spoiled ballots suddenly went to 15.3 percent. When the vote count reached 27 million, suddenly there were just one million spoiled ballots, he claimed. Delbari did not say where he got this information. Less enamored of the losing candidates' claims of fraud is Tehran University Professor Sadegh Zibakalam, although in an interview with Radio Farda he conceded that there could have been problems in remote parts of the country. Zibakalam said fraud is more difficult in Tehran, where second-place finisher Mahmud Ahmadinejad received about 1.5 million votes. BS
HASHEMI-RAFSANJANI BACKED BY FIVE DEFEATED CANDIDATES
Five of the first-round losers in Iran's 17 June presidential election on 21 June threw their support behind Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani for the second round on 24 June, the Mehr News Agency reported. The five are Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karrubi, Ali Larijani, Mohsen Mehralizadeh, Mustafa Moin, and Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, according to Hashemi-Rafsanjani campaign manager Mahmud Vaezi, the agency reported. A directive from Vaezi to campaign headquarters throughout the country encourages cooperation. The head of Moin's campaign, Ali Shakurirad, confirmed on 21 June that it will back Hashemi-Rafsanjani, ILNA reported. This means that none of the losing candidates are backing the other candidate in the race, Ahmadinejad. Shakurirad also said that all the parties that backed Moin, including the nationalist-religious forces, now back Hashemi-Rafsanjani. BS
RIGHT-WING CANDIDATE GETS SOME IRANIAN TRIBAL SUPPORT
Mohsen Ahmadi, who previously handled tribal and rural affairs for the presidential campaign of Ali Larijani, said on 21 June that the Bakhtiari, Qashqai, Kohkiluyeh, and Khamseh tribes have vowed to back Mahmud Ahmadinejad in the runoff election on 24 June, Fars News Agency. Ahmadi said this decision was reached at a meeting of 60 tribal elders that day. A 21 June statement from 132 parliamentarians expressed support for Ahmadinejad, Mehr News Agency reported. Ahmadinejad is a member of the Islamic Revolution Devotees' Society's (Jamiyat-i Isargaran-i Inqilab-i Islami) central council, and it has backed him, as have a number of conservative student organizations and some seminarians from Qom. BS
HASHEMI-RAFSANJANI CALLS FOR AMERICAN GOODWILL
"We have no major problem with any country, apart from Israel, which is not a legitimate country," Hashemi-Rafsanjani noted on a 21 June state television program. He said Iran and the United States worked closely in the past and added that Iran still uses many American aircraft and other types of equipment. He went on to say that he tried to restore Iran-U.S. relations during his presidency. He expressed the belief that if the U.S. ends what he sees as its hostility and if it shows goodwill, the relationship can be restored. "If America released our assets which they have blocked for no reason at all...then, we would see that [the Americans] want to work with us and we would enter negotiations," he said. "We are still waiting for that sign of goodwill." BS
HASHEMI-RAFSANJANI DISCUSSES HIS PLANS
In the same 21 June program on state television, Hashemi-Rafsanjani outlined his election plans. As president, he said, he would focus on, among other things, poverty eradication, economic development, and job creation. Those living below the poverty line should get government help with food, housing, education, and health care. He mentioned targeted subsidies and housing that young people can afford. He expressed the belief that the unemployment can be reduced to less than 10 percent in five years. Unemployment is estimated today to be in excess of 20 percent. On the same day, Hashemi-Rafsanjani, a Shi'ite, met with Sunni parliamentarians and said there should be no discrimination in Iran, Mehr News Agency reported. The Iranian Constitution stipulates that the president must be shi'a. BS
IRANIAN PRESIDENT ENCOURAGES VOTERS
President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami on 21 June urged people to vote in the 24 June presidential runoff even if they did not do so in the 17 June first-round election, state television reported. He called on his compatriots to show their "resolve to rebuild the homeland, strengthen the foundations of democracy, defend the nation's rights and freedom," and also to contribute to stability, national security, development, and dignity. BS
LEBANESE SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT VISITS IRAN
Nabih Berri, the Lebanese parliament speaker, arrived in Tehran on 18 June for a three-day visit. On 18 June, Berri met with his counterpart Gholamali Haddad-Adel, IRNA and the Lebanese National News Agency (LNNA) reported. Haddad-Adel told his guest that the United States is using democracy as a pretext to try and dominate the Islamic world. Haddad-Adel congratulated his counterpart on Lebanon's recent elections. Berri responded: "[The] Iranian nation...[with its] wide participation in this election nullified [the] negative propaganda of the Western media concerning a lack of democracy in Iran," IRNA reported. Haddad-Adel added: "Iran stands alongside the unity of the Lebanese people and their support of the Lebanese resistance in confronting the Israeli enemy," LNNA reported. Berri met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on 19 June, IRNA reported. Khamenei congratulated Lebanon, saying that by resisting Israel it succeeded in expelling Israeli, Western, and U.S. troops from Lebanon. Khamenei praised the extension of Lebanese President Emil Lahud's term in office, because it angered the U.S., he said. Khamenei also criticized U.S. regional peace plans. Berri met with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on 20 June, IRNA reported. BS
IRAQI DONOR CONFERENCE OPENS IN BRUSSELS
Representatives from some 80 countries and international organizations met in Brussels for a donors conference on Iraq co-sponsored by the United States and European Union on 22 June, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported. The conference is aimed at persuading donors to follow through with earlier financial commitments while allowing the Iraqi transitional government to present its priorities and strategies for the transitional period, including a plan to combat the insurgency. "On the security front, efforts are being intensified to raise the efficiency of the Iraqi forces so as to limit the terrorist threats with the aim of arriving at self-sufficiency, where it would be possible to do without the presence of the multinational forces. The Iraqi forces have made qualitative strides toward security and stability. Hence, the security situation in the capital, Baghdad, and the rest of Iraqi cities has improved at tangible rates," Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari said in his opening remarks to the conference. "The elected interim Iraqi government insists on walking the path of political and economic reconstruction and achieving security with all seriousness and courage. It appeals to you to support the security, political, and economic process," he added. KR
U.S., IRAQI FORCES PULL BACK FROM KARABILAH
U.S. and Iraqi forces taking part in Operation Spear have reportedly pulled out of the town of Karabilah on the Iraqi-Syrian border, international media reported on 21 June. The operation, aimed at driving insurgents from the town, was launched on 17 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2005). A 21 June U.S. military statement called the operation a success, saying 47 insurgents were killed during the operation and one was detained. Kirkuk city councilman Walid Karbuli said that 16 houses were destroyed in the fighting and 71 damaged, as were three mosques, two schools, and a medical clinic, the washingtonpost.com reported. The Syrian Foreign Ministry took journalists and some 30 Western diplomats to the border area to review Syrian security measures aimed at preventing border infiltration into Iraq, the Al-Jazeera TV station reported on 21 June. U.S. diplomats did not take part in the trip. One Syrian border guard told Al-Jazeera that there are 547 police centers operating on the Syrian side of the border, each manned by about six officers. Two border guards complained to the news channel about a lack of cooperation across the border, claiming the Iraqi side has not complied with security agreements. KR
AL-ZARQAWI ANNOUNCES NEW MARTYRDOM BRIGADE
A 21 June Internet statement attributed to Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn (http://www.Islamic-f.net/vb) claims that the group has established a new martyrdom brigade called the Al-Bara bin Malik Martyrdom Brigade, which is apparently composed of Iraqi fighters willing to die for al-Zarqawi's cause. "Scores have rushed to register their names in a race to meet their Lord," the statement claimed. The statement said the group will continue its "fight and jihad against the enemies of God." A second statement attributed to the group and posted on another jihadist website (http://www.tajdeed.org.uk) denied media reports that 18 fighters were captured by multinational forces in the Karabilah region, adding: "No one was killed and no one was captured." "We received news of our brothers in Al-Qa'im and in the Karabilah region [telling us] that our [mujahedin] brothers are safe, victorious, holding [their] positions, and firm," the statement said. KR
U.S. GENERAL SAYS NO TROOP REDUCTION LIKELY THIS YEAR
Army Lieutenant General John Vines, commander of Multinational Corps, Iraq, told reporters at the Pentagon via videoconference from Baghdad on 21 June that the U.S. is not likely to draw down troops this year, but that some four or five brigades could begin pulling out as early as March. "The decision ultimately over whether or not and when to draw down will not be made at my level. I will be a part of that recommendation. At this point, I would not be prepared to recommend a draw-down prior to the [December] election, certainly not any significant numbers," Vines said, adding that there are currently about 135,000 U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq. Vines described foreign fighters as "terrorist cruise missiles" who can "target a specific element without having to worry about their own survival." "And because in reality, the insurgency is not very broad; you're not seeing large numbers of armed groups, you're seeing one- and two-person cells that are attacking a large group by driving into a crowded market and detonating themselves," he added. Vines said terrorist tactics have improved with "some outside advice" and technical expertise "that was resident in the [former] Iraqi army." KR
CIA REPORT SAYS IRAQ AN EFFECTIVE TRAINING GROUND FOR INSURGENTS
U.S. congressional and intelligence officials who have read a classified Central Intelligence Agency report on the insurgency in Iraq told nytimes.com that the report concluded that the war in Iraq will likely produce a dangerous legacy as Iraqi and foreign fighters are dispersed to other countries in the region, the website reported on 22 June. Officials said that the assessment, completed in May, argues that Iraq has assumed the role played by Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s in the training of jihadist fighters, acting as a proving ground for fighters. The urban nature of warfare has helped combatants learn techniques in kidnappings, assassinations, and car bombings that were not generally used in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Officials expressed concern that countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan will soon have to deal with the experienced fighters who return home from Iraq. KR