DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA HAS SET NO TIME LIMIT FOR U.S. BASES IN CENTRAL ASIA...
Speaking in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii in Russia's Far East on 28 July, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that Russia has not put any pressure on Central Asian states over how long the U.S. military will maintain bases in Central Asia, RIA-Novosti reported. The request for the United States to set a time frame for its withdrawal from bases in Central Asia by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at its 5 July summit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 2005) was the "decision of the Central Asian governments alone," he said. While the United States is sure that China and Russia are pushing the Central Asian states to demand a U.S. withdrawal, Washington recently opened talks with Moscow on this topic, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 30, commented. Washington made clear to Moscow that if the United States is forced to withdraw its troops, it will be unable to help Russia and the Central Asian states in case of an escalation of Islamist extremism in the region, and the antiterrorism coalition could collapse and it would be Moscow's fault, the influential weekly wrote. VY
...SAYS SOLUTION OF KURILE ISLANDS ISSUE IN STALEMATE...
Speaking at a press conference in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii on 28 July, Ivanov said, "It is obvious that the solution of the Kurile Islands problem is at a stalemate, but there is nothing horrible about that," RIA-Novosti reported. Ivanov added that Russia will not change its military presence on the disputed South Kurile Islands. Ivanov also said that "Russia does not care about other countries' concerns over Russian-Chinese military exercises" scheduled for next month He said that the first part of the exercises will start in early August in Russia and the final stage will be held in China on 19-25 August. Finally, Ivanov said that in the next two years Russia will include the Caspian and Barents seas in its GLONASS system of global satellite navigation. According to Ivanov, Russia intends to create a system of surface, underwater, and air control first in the Caspian Flotilla and then in its Northern Fleet. VY
...AND PROMISES MODERNIZATION OF NAVY
Speaking in Vilyuchinsk, the main base of the Pacific Fleet's nuclear submarines, Ivanov said on 29 July that in the next two years the navy will get at least two new nuclear submarines, RIA-Novosti reported. Ivanov said that billions of rubles will be invested in the modernization of Vilyuchinsk's infrastructure, as well as the whole navy. The same day, Ivanov went to Sakhalin to inspect military facilities there. On 30-31 July, Ivanov will attend a naval parade and other ceremonies devoted to the Day of the Navy. VY
RUSSIA, ASEAN AGREE ON FIRST SUMMIT
Speaking on the sidelines of the foreign ministers' session of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Laotian capital Vientiane, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on 28 July that the first Russia-ASEAN summit will be devoted to the problems of transnational crime, strana.ru reported. Meanwhile, Russia still has not received an invitation to the conference of the new regional organization, the East Asian Summit, the first meeting of which is scheduled for December in Kuala Lumpur, RIA-Novosti reported. VY
PROSECUTORS SEIZE DOCUMENTS ON SALE OF ALFA GROUP HEAD'S MANSION...
Prosecutor-General's Office officials visited the tiny magazine "Domashnii advokat" and confiscated the issues of the magazine that were supposed to have the announcement of the auction of the mansion acquired by Alfa Group Chairman Mikhail Fridman. The mansion, Sosnovka-3, is located next to the Sosnovska-1 mansion bought by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. In his inquiry to the Prosecutor-General's Office, investigative journalist and Duma Deputy Aleksandr Khinshtein (Unified Russia) asked prosecutors to investigate the sale of both mansions in the same deal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 15 July 2005). According to "Izvestiya," the prosecutors found no trace of the public announcement of the auction of Sosonovka-3, just as they had previously discovered no announcement of the sale of Sososvka-1. VY
...AS INFLUENTIAL WEEKLY SAYS KASYANOV CASE UNLIKELY TO END UP IN COURT
"Argumenty i fakty," No.30, agreed with political analyst Stanislav Belkovskii, who said that the Kasyanov investigation is more a personal vendetta by President Vladimir Putin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 2005) than a real attempt to harm the interests of those who rule Russia. Too many people would feel uncomfortable if there were a real investigation of Kasyanov, as it could expose the whole financial system of the state, which was formed not only by Kasyanov and the previous administration, but by many people who are loyal to the Kremlin today, the weekly noted. Real scrutiny would instantly expose the origin of many huge palaces belonging to current cabinet ministers, army generals, and governors. VY
COMMUNIST PARTY LOSES AGAIN IN BID TO HOLD REFERENDUM
The appeals collegium of the Russian Supreme Court upheld on 28 July the earlier decision of the Central Election Commission (TsIK) to deny a Communist Party effort to hold a nationwide referendum, Russian news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 2005). The TsIK ruled that 15 out of the 17 questions that the party wanted to pose on the referendum either lend themselves to many interpretations or would require changes in the federal budget, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 28 July. Party representatives said that they will appeal to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. According to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, around 50 party activists picketed the court's building. When the referendum was first turned down, Motherland party leader Dmitrii Rogozin pledged that his party would do everything possible to make the proposed referendum happen and promised a blockade of the government offices. "Soon it will be difficult for [TsIK Chairman Aleksandr] Veshnyakov to get into his working place," he said. No news reports of the picket mentioned Motherland's participation. JAC
RANKS OF THE DISABLED RISE
Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov told fellow cabinet members on 28 July that the number of officially disabled people in Russia has almost tripled over the last few years, RBK-TV reported. Two factors, according to Zurabov, are the aging population and poor environmental conditions and health care. Also at the session, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov announced that the government intends to provide invalids with wheelchairs, manufactured in Russia, as well as providing them with financial assistance, RIA-Novosti reported. JAC
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS KEEP ORGANIZING ALONG POLITICAL THEMES
A new public movement devoted to protecting citizens from police abuse and another calling for the cancellation of compulsory military service have just been established, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 28 July. The League In Favor of Abolishing the Draft held its founding congress in Moscow on 28 July. One of the group's organizers, Aleksandr Podrabinek, told the bureau that opinion polls show that around 70 percent of the population favors canceling the draft. The other group, Battered Russia, has been established to help victims of police brutality. For Human Rights head Lev Ponomarev told the bureau that Battered Russia has evidence that "peaceful citizens are regularly beaten, maimed, and raped in various cities across Russia by officials in law-enforcement agencies, first of all the Interior Ministry" and that prosecutors conceal these crimes. Semen Nateev, president of the Kalmykia Human Rights Center, noted that an event in Elista, Kalmykia's capital, involved the beating of more than 400 people in September 2004, but got very little national coverage compared to the outcry over the police operation in Blagoveshchensk, Bashkortostan. JAC
CHINESE BUILDERS LENDING NEW KNOW-HOW TO RUSSIAN CAPITAL
"Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 28 July that the Chinese population is coming "above ground" in Moscow and two large-scale commercial projects are in the works with Chinese participation. According to the daily, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov signed an order in June to build a Chinese business center and more recently it became known that the Chinese are going to build one of the tallest skyscrapers in Europe, an 87-floor tower called "Federation." Citing an anonymous source in the Moscow city government, representatives of Moscow's Chinese community hope to build a full-fledged Chinatown for their compatriots. However, city authorities, fearing the negative reaction of native Muscovites, each time answer no. Now Chinese representatives are making city officials an offer they can't refuse: large investment and new technology of high-rise construction. First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin told the newspaper: "The Chinese are one of the leaders in tower construction. They are actively building all over the world, and we will be happy to use their experience." JAC
INSPECTORS BELIEVE MILITARY POLLUTERS HAVE SET NEW WORLD RECORD
Inspectors from the Kirov Oblast directorate of the Federal Natural Resources Monitoring Service (MPR) discovered a lake of fuel oil covering more than 45,000 square meters and containing some 18,000 tons of oil at a military base, strana.ru reported on 28 July. In military maps and documents, the body of oil is bluntly referred to as Lake Fuel Oil. It appeared sometime in the 1970s from the leakage of oil storage units and pipelines. MPR specialists believe that it is the largest manmade fuel-oil lake in the world and could be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. According to the service, the leadership of the military unit violated about five articles of the Water and Land codes and will be held responsible for their violations of criminal and administrative law. JAC
RUSSIA HAS NEW MAN IN NAIROBI
President Putin has named Valerii Yegoshkin Russian ambassador to Kenya, replacing Aleksei Ignatev, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 July. Yegoshkin previously worked as ambassador for emergency assignments and participated in negotiations with Ukraine over the Kerch Strait. JAC
IAEA DIRECTOR ENDS VISIT TO ARMENIA...
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei completed a two-day official visit to Armenia on 28 July after reviewing safety conditions at Armenia's light-water nuclear reactor, RFE/RL's Armenian Service and Arminfo reported. Following a series of "constructive and useful" meetings with senior Armenian officials, el-Baradei commended the Armenian government for its "good" cooperation with the United Nations nuclear agency and promised to "continue to work with the Armenian authorities to improve safety" at the country's sole nuclear power plant. The IAEA chief added that his meetings with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian focused on ongoing efforts to strengthen safety standards at the 26-year-old Medzamor nuclear facility. The only nuclear power plant in the region, the Medzamor facility, accounts for almost 40 percent of Armenian energy needs and has been subject to regular IAEA inspections since its reactivation in 1995. RG
...BUT NOTES ARMENIAN PLANS TO OPERATE SOVIET-ERA REACTOR FOR ANOTHER DECADE
In an interview with RFE/RL's Armenian Service, IAEA Director-General el-Baradei revealed that the Armenian government intends to keep the plant running for another decade. Both the United States and the European Union have provided significant funds for plant safety but continue to demand that Armenia close the facility, however, and the EU has offered to provide some 100 million euros ($124 million) in grants to help the Armenian government secure alternative energy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2004). El-Baradei further added that, in meetings with the Armenian leadership, they discussed the IAEA's "active program to protect against illicit trafficking of nuclear material" through Armenia. Russia's RAO Unified Energy Systems (EES) state electricity monopoly assumed management of the Medzamor plant in 2003 in return for the cancellation of $40 million in outstanding Armenian debt for past Russian fuel supplies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2003). RG
ARMENIAN HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN CRITICIZES COUNCIL OF EUROPE ASSESSMENT
Adding to mounting criticism of the Council of Europe's Venice Commission, Armenia's senior official in charge of human rights protection expressed "bewilderment" on 28 July over the commission's positive assessment of the government's draft constitutional amendments, according to RFE/RL's Armenian Service. In a statement released in Yerevan, Armenian Ombudsman Larisa Alaverdian joined several media groups and nongovernmental organizations in criticizing the Council of Europe assessment for accepting inadequate changes to the formation and composition of state bodies empowered to regulate media (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 28 July 2005). Under the current draft amendments, the president and parliament are each allowed to name half of the members of the National Commission on Television and Radio, the body responsible for issuing and revoking broadcasting licenses, but only after current commission members complete their six-year terms. Instead, Alaverdian argued that all commission members should be chosen by the parliament and only subject to presidential confirmation. RG
AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO DEVELOP TOURISM IN NORTHERN REGION
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev toured the northern Gusar region on 28 July and unveiled a new aid package designed to promote economic development and job creation, Turan reported. The president announced plans to construct a new $4 million winter Olympic Center in the region and declared that Gusar will become the "center of tourism" in the country. The development plan also calls for the modernization of the region's infrastructure and roads. Azerbaijani Minister of Youth, Sports, and Tourism Abulfaz Garayev also announced on 28 July that the new Olympic facility planned for Gusar is part of a broader program that includes another 12 winter athletics facilities and added that the government plans to open three new sports centers by the end of the year. RG
AZERBAIJANI INTERIOR MINISTER ACCUSES OPPOSITION OF PLANNING ELECTION VIOLENCE
Azerbaijani Interior Minister Ramil Usubov warned on 27 July that the "radical opposition" is planning an "armed provocation" aimed at disrupting the country's November parliamentary elections, according to the private television station ATV. Usubov added that Azerbaijani security forces have "taken measures" to prevent the "smuggling of weapons into the country" and claimed that "some radical opposition bodies are planning to use violence against the state" in order to "claim human rights violations." RG
RUSSIA SET TO BEGIN MILITARY WITHDRAWAL FROM BASE IN GEORGIA...
The deputy commander of Russian forces in the Transcaucasus, Colonel General Vladimir Kuparadze, said on 28 July that the withdrawal of equipment from the Russian base in Batumi, Adjara will begin on 29 July, ITAR-TASS and Civil Georgia reported. Kuparadze added that the withdrawal was initially scheduled for 28 July but was delayed by one day for "technical reasons." The withdrawal includes the shipment of some 20 tanks and another 40 heavy weapons and equipment from the port of Batumi by Russian warships and the transport of an undetermined number of Russian troops by military convoy to North Ossetia. Russian military officials have also asked their Georgian counterparts to "reinforce a number of bridges along the Akhalkalaki-Akhaltsikhe road" that are too weak to support the weight of tanks and armored vehicles. The Russian withdrawal from its two remaining bases in Georgia stems from a May 2005 agreement calling for a complete and final withdrawal by late 2007 (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 24 June 2005). RG
...BUT GEORGIAN BORDER GUARDS DETAIN RUSSIAN MILITARY CONVOY
Georgian border guards detained a Russian military convoy on 28 July, according to Rustavi-2 TV. The eight-vehicle Russian military convoy, transporting men and equipment from the Russian base at Akhalkalaki, was stopped at the Ninotsminda checkpoint after a routine inspection uncovered several undeclared automatic weapons in an armored personnel carrier. Following a more detailed inspection, Georgian border guards allowed the Russian convoy to proceed later that day, Civil Georgia reported. The convoy is part of a broader effort to transport men and equipment to the Russian base in Armenia. RG
GEORGIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ACCUSES AUTHORITIES OF STAGING GRENADE INCIDENT
Georgian opposition Labor Party Chairman Shalva Natelashvili accused the Georgian authorities on 28 July of staging the incident involving a hand grenade thrown in the direction of visiting U.S. President George Bush and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on 10 May, Rustavi-2 TV and Civil Georgia reported. Speaking at a Tbilisi press conference, Natelashvili charged that the incident "was carried out by Saakashvili's special services" in order to "salvage the bankrupt and disgraced" reputation of the Georgian president. RG
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ARRIVES IN GEORGIA
Arriving in Tbilisi from Azerbaijan, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza met on 28 July with Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli, according to Caucasus Press and Rustavi-2 TV. In comments following a one-hour meeting with the Georgian premier, Bryza expressed U.S. support for "the strengthening of democratic institutions and the peaceful resolution of conflicts" in the region, according to Civil Georgia. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili held a separate closed meeting with the visiting U.S. official on 28 July. Bryza, in Georgia on an official two-day visit, also met with Parliamentary Chairwoman Nino Burjanadze and National Security Council Secretary Gela Bezhuashvili. He is also scheduled to meet with several nongovernmental organizations on 29 July before visiting the Vaziani military air base outside Tbilisi. RG
UZBEK REFUGEES ARRIVE IN ROMANIA...
A group of 439 Uzbek refugees arrived in Romania from Kyrgyzstan on 29 July, the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) announced on 29 July in a press release on the organization's website (http://www.unhcr.ch). The refugees will be housed at an EU-funded center outside Timisoara. Romanian Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu said that the refugees will stay there for up to six months before departing for their final destinations, including Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States, AP reported. The 439 include 425 refugees recently airlifted to Bishkek from a camp in southern Kyrgyzstan and 14 refugees released from detention in Osh, the UNHCR said. One refugee who chose at the last minute not to leave for Romania is still in Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Canadian Immigration Minister Joe Volpe confirmed on 27 July that Canada has agreed to accept 50 refugees, Toronto's "Globe and Mail" reported the next day. DK
...AS 15 REMAIN IN DETENTION IN OSH
Another 15 Uzbeks remain in detention in Osh. Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service on 29 July, "These 15 people are not refugees, they are criminals. Twelve of them were expecting to be tried before the Andijon events. You can't mix them with refugees or even members of Akramiya [a group the Uzbek authorities have accused of being behind Andijon violence]." UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis expressed concern, but noted, "The [Kyrgyz] authorities have assured UNHCR that these 15 will not be deported to Uzbekistan but kept in Kyrgyzstan for further processing," the UNHCR press release reported. International and Kyrgyz rights groups have warned repeatedly against extraditing any of the refugees to Uzbekistan, where they could face torture. DK
TAJIK JOURNALIST SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON
A court in Tajikistan's Sughd Province on 28 July sentenced Jumaboy Tolibov, a journalist and local government official, to two years in prison for hooliganism and abuse of office, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. After serving his sentence, he will be barred from holding government office for one year, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Pascal Bonnamour, head of the European desk at Reporters Without Borders, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that the sentence is a cause for concern and an indication that press freedom is limited in Tajikistan. Tolibov's lawyers have charged that the defendant was targeted after writing articles criticizing corruption in the prosecutor's office in Sughd Province. Tolibov plans to appeal his sentence to the Supreme Court. DK
OSCE SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS UZBEKISTAN
Marc Perrin de Brichambaut met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Tashkent on 28 July to discuss regional security and the fight against terrorism, Uzbek Television reported. In a 29 July press release, the OSCE noted that the two also discussed violence in Andijon on 12-13 May. The press release stated, "[T]he secretary-general raised with the Uzbek authorities the call by the OSCE chairman-in-office -- echoed by numerous participating states - for a fact-finding mission by a group of international experts." Uzbekistan's leadership has consistently refused this demand, a position the president apparently maintained at his meeting with Birchmabaut. On this issue, the OSCE press release merely noted, "The Uzbek leadership pledged to share all the findings of the national investigations, once these have been concluded." Birchambaut also met with Erkin Khalilov, speaker of the lower chamber of Uzbekistan's parliament, Akmal Saidov, chairman of the Committee on Democratic Institutions, NGOs, and Self-Government, and Ombudsman Sayyora Rashidova, UzA reported. Brichambaut was appointed to his post in June. DK
UZBEK SECURITY SERVICE DENIES MEDDLING IN KYRGYZSTAN
Uzbekistan's National Security Service (SNB) has denied reports that it attempted to secure the extradition of Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz official news agency Kabar reported on 28 July. As quoted by Interfax, the SNB statement said, "No unlawful activities were undertaken by officials of Uzbekistan's SNB on the territory of a neighboring state either on 5 June or at any other time." The denial follows reports, most recently on 26 and 27 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 2005), that SNB operatives may have been active in Osh, where 29 Uzbek refugees have been detained. DK
POLAND RECALLS AMBASSADOR FROM MINSK...
Poland has recalled its ambassador to Belarus, Tadeusz Pawlak, for consultations, Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld announced on 28 July. Rotfeld added that Poland has appealed to the European Commission to help defend the rights of the Polish minority in Belarus, PAP news agency reported. The recall follows a police raid on the office of the Union of Belarusian Poles in Hrodna (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 and 28 July 2005). Responding to the recall, Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maryya Vanshyna said, "The step that has been taken by the Polish side is unambiguous proof that it does not have any intention to really look for a way out of the crisis," Belapan reported on 28 July. RK
...SEEKS EU HELP IN DISPUTE WITH BELARUS
Foreign Minister Rotfeld said on 28 July that Poland will send letters to EU High Commissioner for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. "We will point to the fact that this is a problem of the entire EU, not only of Polish-Belarusian relations," PAP quoted him as saying on 28 July. Rotfeld also noted that Warsaw has authorized its diplomats in Belarus to issue visas at a reduced fee or even free of charge at their discretion, Belapan reported. RK
PUTIN REMARK ON RUSSIA, BELARUS AS 'ONE NATION' DISPUTED
The political council of the United Civic Party described Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent remark that the Belarusians and Russians are "one nation" as politically incorrect, Belapan reported on 28 July. "The statement cast doubt on the historic past, cultural heritage, and the language of the Belarusians, as well as on their right to statehood," the council said in a statement. RK
UKRAINIAN SECRET SERVICE INVESTIGATES POSSIBLE ATTACK ON PREMIER
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) announced on 28 July that it received information "from a Western source" that an assassination attempt was being planned against Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko and it is investigating this report, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The same day, journalist Volodymyr Boyko claimed on NTN television that he has heard from sources close to "the Swedish Embassy" that the assassination attempt might be planned by an organized criminal gang in retaliation for Tymoshenko's attempt to change the ownership of the Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant. RK
UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL WELCOMES IRANIAN STATEMENT ON GAS SUPPLIES
National Security and Defense Council Secretary Petro Poroshenko welcomed a statement by Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Hadi Nejad-Husseinian saying that Ukraine has agreed to transit 20 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe. "After some problems with Turkey on exports of Iranian gas to Europe, the agreement will open the doors of Europe to Iranian exports, which is very important for us," Interfax-Ukraine quoted him as saying on 28 July. Ukraine has proposed two routes for a gas pipeline from Iran to Ukraine and on to Europe (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 2005). RK
WIFE OF TOP SERB FUGITIVE IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA TELLS HIM: 'GIVE YOURSELF UP'...
Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic, the wife of war crimes indictee and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, appealed to her husband in a broadcast carried by several regional television stations on 28 July to surrender to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. She stressed that their family can no longer live with the incessant pressure from unnamed international and local authorities seeking his arrest. "Our family is under constant pressures from all sides," she noted. "Our lives and existence are threatened. That is why I have to make a choice between my loyalty to you and toward my children and grandchildren. And I have made it," Zelen-Karadzic said in an emotional appeal. She stressed that "it is painful and difficult for me to plead with you. However, I am pleading with you with all my heart and soul to surrender" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 May and 18 July 2005, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 and 29 July 2005). PM
...IN A SURPRISE MESSAGE...
The 28 July televised appeal of Zelen-Karadzic to her husband came as a surprise to regional political, military, and journalistic communities, Bosnian and international media reported. The couple's daughter, Sonja, told the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA that the interview was authentic, adding, however, that her mother will not make any further statements, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. In Belgrade, Radovan's brother Luka said that his sister-in-law's statement is evidence of the "great pressure" placed on the family by "those who claim to speak in the name of democracy and human rights." In Sarajevo, EUFOR commander British Major General David Leakey told Bosnian television, however, that Zelen-Karadzic's announcement is no surprise considering the pressure that the Bosnian Serb authorities and the family have been under. "Her appeal does not surprise me at all. Radovan Karadzic has deserted his wife, and that is very upsetting for the family," Leakey added. He called Karadzic a "disgrace for his country" because he reportedly fled with large sums of money that could have been used for pensions and other public purposes. PM
...THAT ALSO STUNS BELGRADE...
Serbia and Montenegro's Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic said in Belgrade on 28 July in response to Zelen-Karadzic's appeal that she should have added that not only the family is threatened but also the Serbian state and people, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Serbia and Montenegro's Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic said that her message is probably linked to an unspecified attempt by the international community to negotiate Radovan's surrender in agreement with his family. Rasim Ljajic, who chairs Serbia and Montenegro's National Council for Cooperation with the Hague tribunal, told the private Beta news agency on 29 July that it will greatly demoralize those people hiding and protecting fugitive indictee and former Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic if Karadzic turns himself in. Ljajic added that the decision is Karadzic's alone to make and will not be ordered by any third party. PM
...AND IS WELCOMED BY THE PRESIDENT...
Shortly after Zelen-Karadzic appealed to her husband on 29 July to surrender, Jovan Simic, who is an advisor to Serbian President Boris Tadic, told the private Beta news agency that the situation is "very serious" and that "we will probably know [Karadzic's] answer very soon." The following day, Tadic issued a statement praising Zelen-Karadzic's appeal. Referring to the political problems facing Belgrade and Banja Luka as long as Karadzic and former General Mladic remain at large, Tadic said that "the resolution of this question would contribute to the stabilization of the region and would serve to strengthen the credibility of the Republika Srpska." Tadic used the opportunity to call once again on Mladic to surrender, adding that the Croatian authorities should similarly urge fugitive indictee and former General Ante Gotovina to give himself up to the tribunal. "The resolution of all these cases would significantly increase the chances for the entire region to enter the EU," Tadic stressed. PM
...BUT HAS MIXED REACTIONS FROM NATIONALISTS
Referring to Zelen-Karadzic's appeal of 28 July, a spokesman for former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia said the following day that it is "in the interest of the state and nation" for indictees to surrender to the tribunal voluntarily," adding that the indictees themselves must decide what is right, the private Beta news agency reported. Elsewhere, Gordana Pop Lazic, who is vice president of Vojislav Seselj's Serbian Radical Party, said that Zelen-Karadzic's appeal is fully understandable considering her position "as a mother and wife." Pop Lazic added, however, that she would remind Karadzic and former General Mladic that Seselj, who turned himself into the tribunal and is in prison in The Hague, has advised the two men "not to let themselves be taken alive to the Hague tribunal." Pop Lazic argued that the troubles of the Karadzic family will not cease even if Radovan goes to The Hague because there is no one to protect the family from unspecified threats. PM
NEW YOUTH PARTY TO BE FORMED IN MOLDOVA
An initiative group of young intellectuals, businessmen, and representatives of civil society have announced their intent to create a new political party in Moldova, the European Party, in the fall, BASA reported on 28 July. The group noted in a manifesto that existing democratic parties had failed in the 2001 and 2005 elections and were "concerned more with their own welfare and are capable only of machinations, intrigues, and political games that are incompatible with the interests of the state and Moldovan nation." RK
MOVING BEYOND DAYTON IN BOSNIA
Sadic Ahmetvic is hoping to work himself right out of a job. The Srebrenica native is just one of 10 Muslims serving in the 82-member Republika Srpska parliament, an institution he hopes will someday cease to exist. "I am ready for a political fight to dismantle the Republika Srpska," Ahmetvic, 36, said in a recent interview in a cafe on the outskirts of Sarajevo. "The Republika Srpska only exists due to Radovan Karadzic's policy of genocide. It never existed before."
Ahmetvic's hostility to the Bosnian Serb Republic is rooted in experience -- he is one of a handful of males who managed to escape the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic executed as many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Ahmetvic was working in a Srebrenica hospital when Mladic's forces launched their final assault on the city. After tending to the last wounded on 11 July, Ahmetvic made a run for it by trekking through the surrounding mountains, arriving in Zepa, just as that city too fell to Serb forces. "I thought it was the end," he said. "I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk, I couldn't make any decisions." He then learned that a United Nations helicopter was flying the wounded to Sarajevo. "I wanted to be wounded," Ahmetvic said. "So I shot myself in the leg, put a bandage on the wound, and flew to Sarajevo."
In September 1995, Ahmetvic was united with his wife and infant son in Tuzla. And after the war ended, the family returned to Srebrenica. "This is how I am getting revenge for what they did," Ahmetvic said of his decision to return to Srebrenica. "This is for all the people who wanted me dead," he added.
As Bosnia-Herzegovina marked the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre earlier this month, stories like Ahmetvic's were featured prominently in media reports recalling the massacre. And as the country prepares to commemorate a decade of peace following the 1995 Dayton peace agreement in November, his notion that the Republika Srpska should be abolished is gaining increasing currency among Muslims.
While Dayton ended the war in Bosnia by dividing the country into a Muslim-Croat Federation and a Serb Republic, many Muslims say the creation of the Republika Srpska rewarded genocide and ethnic cleansing. "It would have been pretty nasty if the allies gave part of Germany back to the Nazis," Ahmetvic said.
Additionally, with two "entities" and a weak central government, the accords created a cumbersome administrative and bureaucratic labyrinth with five presidents, three prime ministers, three parliaments, 140 ministers, two separate police forces and -- until recently -- two armies.
But the road beyond Dayton, many analysts say, is fraught with peril and could just as easily lead in directions other than the abolition of the entities and the establishment of a unitary, democratic, and multinational state. Nationalists would likely dominate any constitutional convention, which could lead to either the strengthening of the power of Bosnia's entities, or even the eventual partitioning of the country.
Since taking office in May 2002, High Representative Paddy Ashdown has been pursuing a strategy of peeling away the powers of the entities, both the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Republika Srpska, and transferring them to the central government. A single prosecutorial service, a State Organized Crime Chamber, a State Information and Protection Agency, an Indirect Tax Authority, and a state intelligence agency have all been set up. On 18 July, the country's Defense Reform Commission signed legislation to create a unified army under a single defense minister.
The moves are all part of an effort by the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to prepare Bosnia to join NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, and to sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. In a speech to the Bosnian parliament on 19 July, Ashdown said he hoped to see the country complete the necessary steps to sign the SAA by November -- in time for the 10th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords -- and for the OHR to be replaced by an EU-led mission by October 2006. "Once that threshold is crossed, then the scaffolding of the European Union starts to replace the scaffolding of Dayton, as Bosnia-Herzegovina moves into the next phase of its journey to statehood," Ashdown said.
As one senior international official in Sarajevo, put it, the "push of Dayton will be replaced by the pull of Brussels." But while such a development would give Bosnia a chance for a better future, it is running into strong opposition in the Republika Srpska, where officials stand to lose a lot of power and influence. Ashdown's plans for police reform, which would transfer law-enforcement powers from the entities to the central government, are sparking the strongest opposition, with Bosnian Serb leaders consistently blocking the proposed overhaul. When the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and the Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) failed to show up for talks in Sarajevo on 26 July to discuss the future of police reform, Ashdown accused them of a "lack of seriousness" and said they were jeopardizing Bosnia's chances to integrate with Europe. Reforming Bosnia's police force is one of the EU's conditions for signing an SAA. "Those who decide that playing small opposition politics comes before their country's EU future cannot be a serious opposition party," Ashdown said in a press release posted on the OHR website.
Speaking to the Republika Srpska parliament on 21 April, Ashdown tried to calm fears that police reform was an effort to dismantle the entity. "There is no hidden agenda in police reform. There is no plot to open up, by clandestine means, the question of constitutional reform. This is not an attack on [the] Republika Srpska. This is not an attempt to abolish the entities," Ashdown said.
Nevertheless, analysts and top international officials in Bosnia have pointed out that even if the entities are not formally dismantled, police reform would accelerate the process of gutting, emasculating, and leaving them as essentially empty shells -- with real political power resting in the central government. And with 79 percent of the Republika Srpska's residents favoring eventual membership in the EU, and with 51 percent favoring police reform if it will take Bosnia into Europe, Ashdown appears to have public opinion on his side on the issue. Maybe Sadic Ahmetvic will find himself happily out of a job after all.
EU ESTABLISHES ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION TO AFGHANISTAN
Upon the invitation of the Afghan government the EU has established an Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan to observe the parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for 18 September, a 26 July EU press release indicated. Emma Bonino, an Italian member of the European Parliament and former European commissioner, will lead the mission. The EU considers the upcoming elections to be "a crucial passage in view of establishing a functioning institutional system based on the rule of law in Afghanistan," Bonino said. Key objectives of the EU observation mission are to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process, to offer "an impartial and informed assessment of the elections;" and to seek to strengthen the confidence of voters to participate freely in the election through its presence in the field. AT
NEW U.S. ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN SWORN IN
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 27 July formally swore in Ronald Neumann as the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, a press statement from U.S. State Department indicated. Rice called Afghanistan a "remarkable story" in which since late 2001 the country has managed to transform itself from an "arc of crisis" to a "place of hope and promise." Neumann, whose father also served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in the 1960s, said that he looks forward to helping the Afghan people "work their way to a peaceful and stable future as a unified state." Success in Afghanistan is "pivotal" in the overall success of the global struggle against terrorism, Neumann added. Prior to his appointment, Neumann served in Iraq as the principal interlocutor with the multinational command. He has previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Algeria and Bahrain. AT
AFGHAN ULEMA CALL ON MILITANTS TO ABANDON VIOLENCE
In a statement issued on 28 July, the Ulema Council of Afghanistan has called on all opponents of the Afghan government to stop violence in the country, Pajhwak Afghan News reported. The religious scholars specifically called for a stoppage to the killing of their colleagues. Recently, several high-level pro-government ulema have been killed or attacked mostly in southern and eastern Afghanistan. In their statement, the ulema, without naming any country, called on religious scholars of neighboring countries to help prevent the terrorists from carrying out their plans in Afghanistan. Mawlawi Fazl Ahmad Ma'nawi, a member of the council, said that the statement has been endorsed by representatives of ulema from all of Afghanistan's provinces. AT
CITIZENS IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN STAGE PROTEST
An unspecified number of people in Baghlan Province staged a protest on 28 July, Afghan Voice Agency reported. Baghlan security chief Gol Mohammad Mangal told the news agency that the crowd had gathered to protest against the governor and certain other provincial officials. The demonstrators demanded the removal of the governor and other officials. The protest ended after a five-hour march in which no one was hurt. The report does not identify the grievances of the protestors. AT
BROTHER OF AFGHAN SECOND VICE PRESIDENT INJURED IN BLAST
Hajji Nabi, a brother of Afghan Second Vice President Abdul Karim Khalili, and his driver were wounded on 27 July in a roadside explosion west of Kabul, Pajhwak Afghan News reported on 28 July. Masum Khan, security chief of Wardak Province where the incident occurred, told Pajhwak that the two men have been hospitalized. Masum blamed unidentified "enemies of peace and security," for placing the explosive device on the road. It is not clear whether the explosion was caused by a land mine or if Nabi's vehicle was specifically targeted. AT
NATURAL GAS DISCOVERED IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN
Two citizens of the Qarqin District of Jowzjan Province have discovered a deposit of natural gas in ground close to the Amu River, Sheberghan Aina TV reported on 27 July. Jowzjan Governor Roz Mohammad Nur said that he will send a team of oil and gas experts to study the area thoroughly. Afghanistan has small natural gas fields mostly in Jowzjan. AT
PORTION OF EASTERN IRAN QUARANTINED
The authorities have closed the Nishabur-Mashhad highway until further notice, Iranian state radio reported on 28 July. "Police forces closed the main road between Mashhad and Nishabur in order to maintain calm, following the protest by a number of citizens in Kharveyn, Razavi Khorasan Province." State radio reported that the unrest follows the arrest of two people involved with an earlier protest against the failure to make Kharveyn a "local administrative center." BS
IRAN CAN MAKE SOLID FUEL FOR MISSILES
Iranian Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Ali Shamkhani said on 28 July that Iran has achieved self-sufficiency in producing solid fuel for missiles, Radio Farda reported. This enables ballistic missiles, such as the Shihab-3, to operate with greater accuracy. The missile can go as far as 1,930 kilometers and it can be fitted with a nuclear warhead, according to Radio Farda, and this brings Israel and American military bases in the Middle East within range. Such technological accomplishments, Shamkhani said, contribute to Iran's power of deterrence. BS
SOUTH KOREA LOOKS INTO ALLEGED IRANIAN NUCLEAR DEALINGS
Allegations that Iran purchased items that can be used in nuclear weapons continue to reverberate. "Der Spiegel" reported earlier in the week that in deals between Iran's Partoris company, South Korea's Kung-Do Enterprises, and France's EADS Sodern firm, Iran acquired nickel-63 (Ni-63) and tritium targets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 2005). An unnamed official from the Korean company said, according to "JoongAng Ilbo" (http://www.joins.com) on 27 July, "We sold Ni-63 to an Iranian firm after it said it would use it in detecting gas. We obtained a memorandum from the firm to this effect." He denied the sale of tritium and doing any deals with the French firm. Ministry of Science and Technology official Yi Sun-chong said there could be a problem if the Korean company has sold Ni-63 without a permit. Another Ministry of Science and Technology official, An Sung-chun, said a January investigation of the Korean firm found that tritium exports did not occur. An Iranian nuclear official said in Tehran on 26 June that the original "Der Spiegel" report is the result of a "fantasy fabricated by Zionist circles," Mehr News Agency reported. BS
IRANIAN OFFICIAL CALLS FOR DISSIDENT JOURNALIST'S RELEASE
Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani on 28 July expressed concern about jailed Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji, Radio Farda, ILNA, and IRNA reported. Ganji's hunger strike has gone on for more than 40 days. Hashemi-Rafsanjani said he is sorry about the situation and has discussed it with judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi. Hashemi-Rafsanjani said he made several proposals on resolving the issue. Farhang Naderi, a political associate of Hashemi-Rafsanjani, told Radio Farda that the Expediency Council chairman has the ability to secure Ganji's freedom, and he claimed Hashemi-Rafsanjani was behind Ganji's prison leave in June. Radio Farda correspondent Siavash Ardalan questioned these claims, noting that even the judiciary chief has said he cannot reverse Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi's actions. Ganji was, Ardalan added, very critical of Hashemi-Rafsanjani in a book he wrote about the murders of dissident intellectuals. BS
UNREST IN SOUTHWESTERN IRAN MAY HAVE ETHNIC ROOTS
"Kayhan" newspaper reported on 28 July that 30 people were arrested in the last few days during riots in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, AFP reported. The riot was reportedly the angry reaction of people who paid for goods but failed to receive them. Local official Said Saadi said a local bank was set on fire, adding that efforts are under way to recover the money. Arab separatists cited by the Reuters news agency, however, said the riots mark the 100 days since April protests in Khuzestan (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 18 April 2005). Khuzestan's population is predominantly ethnic Arab, and Arabs make up 3 percent of the Iranian population. BS
IRAQI MINISTER SAYS BORDER 'CRISIS' WITH KUWAIT TO END
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar al-Zebari told reporters in Baghdad on 28 July that the border crisis with Kuwait will soon be resolved, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July 2005). "Our relations are good and strong and this accident will not affect our relations," al-Zebari said. "We are still in touch with our brothers in Kuwait...to end this border issue. Kuwait always stood with the Iraqi people to liberate them from the dictatorship and we are grateful for their aid," he added. "In this issue we don't want to attack anyone and we don't want anyone to attack us, and we have turned the page of the [1991 war] with Kuwait. This issue should pass through a brotherly dialogue and be resolved." Al-Zebari said that the Iraqi government supports the idea of establishing a committee of experts from both sides to reaffirm the international borders demarcated under UN Security Council Resolution 833. Interior Minister Bayn Jabr told reporters in Baghdad on 28 July that Iraqi "elements" fired a mortar across the border at a Kuwaiti police center in recent days, Al-Arabiyah television reported the same day. KR
IRAQI PRESIDENT EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR TRIBUNAL
Jalal Talabani met with Iraqi tribunal judge Ra'id al-Juhi on 28 July and voiced his support for the tribunal's work in trying former members of the Saddam Hussein regime, Al-Arabiyah television reported the same day. "I would like to express my full backing and support to the interrogation panel. I will do my best to ensure that they will be respected by the other parties in the Iraqi government, particularly the de-Ba'athification committee, for the services they are offering," he said. The committee has been working to have several judges, including al-Juhi, removed from the tribunal on allegations that they are former Ba'athists. Entifadh Qanbar, spokesman for committee Chairman Ahmad Chalabi, told RFI on 27 July that the committee will not attempt to have judges removed in the immediate future since such a move will hinder the tribunal's work. "There are investigations, however, and these investigations are in regard to all members of the Iraqi state, including this court. These are not for political purposes or political vendettas as some people [think]," he added. KR
IRAQI PARLIAMENTARIAN ACCUSES U.S. OF PRESSURING CONSTITUTION-DRAFTING PROCESS
Independent parliamentarian Mahmud Uthman told Al-Sharqiyah television in a 28 July interview that the United States is "exerting pressure and interfering" in the constitution-drafting process. "Exerting pressure on the Iraqis to finish the constitution-drafting process as soon as possible is wrong.... Yesterday, [U.S. Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld called on everybody to finish this process. This is none of his business. He, in his capacity as a defense secretary, should not interfere in the drafting of the constitution because he does not know anything about it. This interference does not help us," Uthman said. He said he sees no harm in giving one or two more months to complete the draft document, adding, "It is better to reach a real good result than to have an incomplete and partial constitution as a result of these pressures." KR
AL-ZARQAWI'S GROUP CLAIMS IRAQI TRAIN BOMBING
Fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn claimed responsibility in a 28 July Internet statement for that day's bombing of a train carrying oil derivatives south of Baghdad, international media reported on 29 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 2005). Iraqi police said two people were killed and four wounded in the attack, CNN reported on 28 July. KR
FIVE SUSPECTED SYRIAN INSURGENTS KILLED IN IRAQ
U.S. and Iraqi forces killed nine insurgents, including five identified as Syrian nationals, northwest of Baghdad, a U.S. military statement announced on 29 July, Reuters reported. The statement said the insurgents had attacked a U.S.-Iraqi patrol with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. U.S. forces responded with an air strike that destroyed buildings used by the insurgents as safe houses and firing positions. The statement did not say when the clash occurred. KR