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Newsline - November 8, 2007

The State Duma voted 418-0 on November 7 to suspend implementation of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), which was amended in 1999, because Russia considers it outdated and no longer corresponding to its interests, Russian and international media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," September 19, October 29 and 31, and November 5, 2007). The Federation Council and President Vladimir Putin must approve the measure before it takes effect, but their endorsement is considered a foregone conclusion. On April 26, Putin announced a "moratorium" on Russian observance of the agreement until the Baltic states and Slovenia sign it. On July 14, he signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in the pact, which would take effect in 150 days. The United States and other NATO members insist that the Baltic states and Slovenia may not accede to the treaty until all existing signatories ratify it, which they will do only after Russia makes good on commitments it gave at the 1999 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul on withdrawing its forces from Transdniester and Georgia. Addressing the Duma on November 7, General Yury Baluyevsky, who heads the armed forces' General Staff, argued that "the current treaty fully suits the United States and NATO. The treaty allows, practically without any limits, the realization of a strategy for NATO to move eastwards, carrying out a reconfiguration of the U.S. military presence in Europe and for constant monitoring of the composition and state of Russia's military in the European theater." He said that NATO has deployed far more conventional military equipment than it should under the terms of the treaty. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said that "the time has come that we should not tolerate this any longer. We have exhausted every negotiating possibility to express the degree of our concern. When it became clear that there was no progress, we made the decision to take action." Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that "we are only suspending our participation in a treaty that is hopelessly out of date. And we are waiting for all other participants of the CFE Treaty to ratify its amended version so it can be implemented and modernized with the consideration of new realities." Baluyevsky told the Duma that Russia has no immediate plans to station more forces in the west and south but reserves the right to do so. PM

NATO spokesman James Appathurai said in Brussels on November 7 that "NATO would not like Russia to withdraw from the treaty," Reuters reported. He added that "the CFE is a cornerstone of security, and the updated treaty should be ratified and implemented as soon as possible.... To see large amounts of what is now treaty-limited equipment suddenly moving, in particular to areas called the flanks, would be of concern to NATO countries." In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "we have troubles and problems with the idea of suspending the treaty. That said, we are working closely with other treaty members to try to address some of the concerns that have been detailed by the Russian government." The "International Herald Tribune" noted on November 8 that "U.S. and Russian diplomats [are] holding crucial talks in Geneva to try to rescue" the pact. Germany previously called the CFE agreement an essential component of European security architecture and wants to hold a conference to focus on it. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on November 8 that it should not be too difficult for all concerned to work out a new agreement, if arms control issues are the only ones involved and no party has a hidden agenda. Britain's "Financial Times" noted on November 8 that "a pact crucial to relations between Russia and NATO is in danger because of posturing on both sides," which allegedly see it as part of a package of issues involving Kosova, the Iranian nuclear program, and other arms control matters. PM

The daily "Trud" wrote on November 8 that Russia wants "NATO countries to ratify the CFE Treaty as well. In [Foreign Minister] Lavrov's view, once the NATO countries have ratified it, the treaty can be maintained and updated normally, taking current realities into account. Unless this is done, why should we comply with restrictions that only restrict Russia?" The paper argued that "meanwhile, the United States is calmly building up its military presence along Russia's European borders." The government daily "Rossiiskaya gazeta" quoted German Russia expert Alexander Rahr as saying on November 8 that Russia's suspension of the treaty could "shake Europe's security architecture." Rahr argued, however, that U.S. President George W. Bush "provoked" this development by promoting his missile-defense program in disregard "of the interests of Russia and the EU. Moscow has only now begun to react" to Bush's policies. Rahr sees the future of the CFE as being most likely linked to developments surrounding Kosova, Iran, and other outstanding issues. The daily "Nezavisimaya gazeta" suggested on November 7 that "the United States and NATO will consider ratifying the modified treaty on the condition that Russia [complies] with the Istanbul accords." The daily "Kommersant" wrote on November 7 that the Duma vote showed that "Moscow isn't joking" on the future of the CFE. The paper suggested that "it's almost impossible for the United States to comply with Moscow's demands in regards to the treaty. But Washington could make some concessions to the Kremlin in another area: changing its stance on the upcoming Duma election in Russia and recognizing it as democratic." The daily argued that "this deal would be hard for Washington to refuse." The paper "Novyye izvestia" wrote on November 7 that this "delayed-action" measure approved by the Duma will take effect on December 12, which is obviously linked to other upcoming key dates affecting the Kosova and Iranian imbroglios. PM

A group of legislators from the Labor (PvdA) party, which is the second-largest coalition partner, and the left-liberal D'66 party said in the Dutch parliament on November 7 that they are "not pleased" that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende focused primarily on business ties during his recent visit to Russia, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 6 and 7, 2007). The highlight of that visit was the signing of a deal between Holland's Gasunie and Russia's Gazprom granting the Dutch firm a 9 percent state in the controversial Russian-German Nord Stream pipeline project. The legislators said, however, that Balkenende should have addressed Russia's poor human rights situation more forcefully. They also drew attention to the lack of freedoms of expression and assembly and the absence of an independent legal system in Russia. But Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen of Balkenende's Christian Democratic Alliance said the prime minister did raise such topics in his talks with President Putin and Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov. Verhagen added that it is "extremely rare" for any foreign prime minister to bring up such issues with Putin. PM

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has said through a spokeswoman that she did not make the statement attributed to her by some in Russia that Siberia has too many natural resources for any one country to own, "The Moscow Times" reported on November 7 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 19 and November 5, 2007). Albright said, "I did not make that statement, nor did I ever think it." The daily pointed out that nobody has been able to provide evidence of her ever having called for a breakup of Russia. PM

In a nationally televised ceremony on November 7, President Putin honored five Russian towns as "cities of military glory," "Izvestia" and other Russian media reported on November 8. Vladikavkaz, Yelnya, Yelets, Malgobek, and Rzhev were the honorees. The ceremony, however, was marked by lavish praise of Putin himself. "Respected Vladimir Vladimirovich," Vladikavkaz Mayor Kazbek Pagiyev said, "during the time of your leadership of the country, much has been done. The main thing is that Russia has regained its former power and glory, that our young people feel confident about the future." Yelnya Mayor Nikolai Mishchenkov added: "I would like to express my sincere gratitude and say a big thank you first of all to the president of our country, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin." Rzhev Mayor Aleksandr Kharchenko told Putin that he recently met with local veterans who asked him to convey to the president that "they connect their future, the future of Russia, only with you." The mayor of Yelets said the people of his town are grateful to Putin "today, now, and forever." RC

The Public Chamber on November 6 announced the results of its competition to distribute some 1.25 billion rubles ($51 million) in grants to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), "Gazeta" reported on November 7. The so-called presidential grants were awarded to some 1,225 NGOs in sums ranging from less than 100,000 rubles to several million. The largest grant was given to the pro-Putin youth organization Nashi, which was given 10.28 million rubles to hold its annual summer camp at Lake Seliger in 2008 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," July 19 and 23, 2007, and "Russia: No Idle Summer Days For Political Youth,", July 20, 2007). The Upper School of Management, which specializes in training Nashi commissars, also was awarded 7.7 million rubles. "Gazeta" noted that one Nashi commissar, Yulia Gorodnicheva, and two Unified Russia Duma deputies were on the jury that awarded the grants. Three local branches of the Unified Russia youth group Young Guard were awarded a total of 3.6 million. Some independent NGOs, including the Moscow Helsinki Group and Memorial, were also awarded grants. Some 1.5 billion rubles has been included in the 2008 budget for the next round of presidential grants. RC

A group of nationalist independent Duma deputies has introduced a bill calling for the convening of a Constitutional Assembly with the authority to alter the country's constitution, RBK reported on November 8. Analysts believe it is unlikely the bill will be adopted. The authors of the bill, including Deputies Sergei Baburin, Viktor Alksnis, and Irina Savelyova, say the move is not intended to pave the way for President Putin to serve a third term, but to create a new constitution that reflects the changes the country has undergone since the current constitution was adopted in 1993. Those changes include a radical shift in the balance of power among branches of government, the abolition of the direct election of regional heads, and others. Alksnis was quoted as saying the current constitution was adopted "in an emergency situation, after the disbanding of the Supreme Soviet in [October] 1993. It is bad in itself and does not fulfill its function." Earlier, a leading figure of the Unified Russia party called for convening a Public Assembly that would create "a new configuration of power" and anoint Putin as the country's "national leader" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 7, 2007). RC

The Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) has charged that authorities are carrying out a national plan to prevent the party from distributing campaign materials for the December Duma elections, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on November 8. According to the party, more than 10 million copies of its campaign newspaper have been seized and another 4 million are being held by the printing houses where they were produced. The papers were reportedly seized in Krasnoyarsk, Izhevsk, and Moscow. "Lawlessness has begun in Russia," SPS leader Nikita Belykh told RFE/RL. "The election law is not being observed. The authorities are blatantly violating it. They understand that there are no legal means to hinder us in our work. Therefore they are resorting to violating the law." Party Political Council member Boris Nemtsov told RFE/RL that other campaign materials, including leaflets and calendars, have been seized without any explanation. RC

The legislature of Krasnodar Krai has voted to disband itself and hold new elections on December 2 instead of in March 2008 as previously scheduled, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on November 7. The official reason was to save money by holding the elections simultaneously with the national legislative elections, but the old date had already been scheduled to correspond with the March presidential election. Local analysts say that moving up the election will give Unified Russia, which is already waging a massive campaign in the region, a significant advantage over its smaller and less-well-organized competitors. Communist Party lawmakers voted together with Unified Russia legislators to disband the local parliament. Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Tkachev will head both Unified Russia's regional list for the national Duma elections and its list for the krai legislature. RC

Saratov Mayor Nikolai Romanov, who is a member of Unified Russia, resigned on November 6, "Vedomosti" reported on November 7. Although no official reason for the resignation was given, the daily cited sources as saying Romanov quit because he had been ordered to make sure that Unified Russia secured at least 50 percent of the vote in the December 2 Duma elections. A local Unified Russia official told the daily the party did not make any such demands of Romanov. The party polled 45 percent in local legislative elections 18 months ago. RC

Chechen First Deputy Interior Minister Alambek Yasayev has been dismissed from his post and is currently in Moscow, the website reported on November 8, citing an unidentified Interior Ministry source. "Novaya gazeta" for its part cited unconfirmed reports of video footage shot in mid-October in which a man who resembles Yasayev harshly criticizes a detachment of police deployed in the village of Khosi-Yurt in Kurchaloi Raion for harassing and beating up his own men. The speaker advocates informing the republic's authorities of the abuses. Kadyrov reportedly summoned Yasayev and had him beaten, confiscated his property, and constrained him to "resign voluntarily" from his post. LF

Accompanied by presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Grigory Rapota, Sergei Ivanov arrived in Grozny late on November 6 and the following day toured the city amid unprecedented security precautions, and the Chechen government website reported on November 7. Ivanov then traveled to Gudermes to meet with Chechen Republic head Kadyrov. Ivanov praised the "colossal work" undertaken by the Chechen leadership, claiming to be astounded at the infrastructure improvement over the past year, especially in the city center. Kadyrov for his part thanked Ivanov for his support, and pledged to do all in his power to ensure that over the next 12-18 months Chechnya becomes "one of the three best regions" in Russia. He also solicited Ivanov's backing for his efforts to secure the opening of a customs office and a regional branch of the Russian Central Bank in Chechnya and for granting Grozny's airport the status of an international one, reported. Rapota told journalists that his first visit to Chechnya left "positive impressions," and he too noted the "huge amount" of reconstruction work undertaken by the republic's leadership. LF

Several hundred people congregated in Nazran on November 7 to honor the memory of those killed during the fighting 15 years ago in neighboring North Ossetia's disputed Prigorodny Raion between Ingush and Ossetians backed by Russian Interior Ministry troops, reported on November 8. Participants addressed two separate appeals to President Putin, one calling for the return to their abandoned homes of those Ingush forced to flee during that fighting, and a second calling for the creation of an independent commission to probe the recent spate of mostly drive-by killings perpetrated by unidentified armed men. Many Ingush suspect the involvement in those murders of security personnel from North Ossetia (see "North Caucasus: Who Is Behind the Spiraling Violence in Ingushetia?", September 21, 2007). LF

One week after announcing his plans to run in the presidential election due in early 2008, Levon Ter-Petrossian met on November 3 with some 1,700 young Armenians, the independent daily "Aravot" reported on November 6. Among the issues Ter-Petrossian touched upon in his address were the unresolved Karabakh conflict and the current political situation in Armenia, Noyan Tapan reported on November 7. Ter-Petrossian said his primary objective is to secure the participation, to which Azerbaijan objects, of the leadership of the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in ongoing talks on how to resolve the conflict. Repeating harsh criticisms he voiced publicly on September 21 and October 26, Ter-Petrossian again described the current Armenian leadership as "robber barons" in competition with one another for control over key sectors of the economy. Meanwhile, the Armenian Prosecutor-General's Office has confirmed that files pertaining to a criminal investigation launched in 1988 into the activities of the Karabakh Committee, of which Ter-Petrossian was a leading member, have disappeared from its archives, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported on November 5 and 7, respectively. LF

Abdullah Gul met on November 6 in Baku with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev to discuss bilateral relations; economic cooperation, especially in the export of oil and gas; the Karabakh conflict, in which Turkey unequivocally supports Azerbaijan's position; and the international situation, including the anticipated regional impact of any U.S. strike against Iran and the presence of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq, Azerbaijani media reported. On November 7, Gul attended a Turkish-Azerbaijani business forum in Baku at which he positively assessed the opportunities for Turkish companies to invest in Azerbaijan and praised the economic growth Azerbaijan has registered over the past three years. He also held separate meetings with parliament speaker Oktai Asadov and with Sheikh-ul-Islam Allakh-shukur Pashazade, chairman of the Board of Muslims of the Caucasus, reported. Gul was scheduled to travel on November 8 to Ganca, Azerbaijan's second-largest city, before flying back to Ankara. LF

The independent television station ANS has quoted owners of newspaper kiosks and book-sellers in Baku as saying that police have ordered them to stop selling Islamic literature and confiscated any such literature they found, including copies of the Koran, and reported on November 7 and 8, respectively. Hajji Akif, the press spokesman for the Board of Muslims of the Caucasus, told that he was unaware of any such ban, and that "no one can forbid the sale of the Koran." Meanwhile, on November 7 quoted a spokesman for the national Academy of Sciences' Oriental Institute as saying the institute is currently compiling, and hopes to have ready for publication by 2009, an encyclopedia of Islam. LF

. Riot police used force on November 7 to disperse protesters in Tbilisi who sought to reassemble on the city's main thoroughfare from which they were driven earlier that day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 7, 2007). Agency reports estimated the number of persons injured by police at between 250 and 500; 94 people were hospitalized, including three leading members of the opposition Republican Party and 24 policemen, reported. The Russian daily "Nezavisimaya gazeta" observed on November 8 that the number of casualties was the highest since Soviet troops attacked peaceful demonstrators in Tbilisi on April 9, 1989, killing over 20 people. In a televised address on November 7, President Mikheil Saakashvili praised the police for their handling of the situation, saying they acted within the framework of the law, Caucasus Press reported. But Human Rights Watch issued a statement on November 7 condemning the excessive use of violence, and the U.S. State Department and international bodies, including the EU, the OSCE, all expressed concern and called on both the Georgian authorities and the opposition to remain calm and avoid further violence. Saakashvili on November 7 again called for dialogue with the opposition, saying "we should defend the principles of democracy in Georgia." But later that day he declared a state of emergency in Tbilisi, which entails a ban on all meetings and rallies; Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli said that move was necessary "because we have witnessed an attempted coup d'etat today," Caucasus Press reported. Early on November 8, Economy Minister Giorgi Arveladze said the state of emergency has been extended throughout the country and will last for 15 days, during which all news broadcasting by non-state-owned television stations is banned. The independent television channel Imedi ceased broadcasting late on November 7 after special forces troops occupied its premises. LF

In his televised address on November 7, President Saakashvili said the demonstrations and protests that began on November 2 were masterminded by Russia and implemented with the help of "radical opposition parties," reported. He mentioned by name in that context parliamentarian Levan Berdzenishvili (Republican Party); former Minister of Conflict Resolution Giorgi Khaindrava; Tavisupleba (Liberty) party leader Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, son of the late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia; and Labor Party Chairman Shalva Natelashvili, all of whom Saakashvili claimed cooperated with Russian special services. Saakashvili also said that there is "incontrovertible evidence" that three Russian diplomats stationed at the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi "played a major role" in organizing the protests. The Georgian Foreign Ministry has declared the three men persona non grata and demanded they leave the country immediately. The Georgian ambassador in Moscow has been recalled to Tbilisi for consultations, Caucasus Press reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to Saakashvili's accusations in a statement posted on its website ( later on November 7, condemning the actions of the Georgian leadership as "a politically irresponsible provocation" intended to disguise the failure of its social and economic policies. The statement urged those unnamed persons or states capable of exerting direct influence on Tbilisi "to warn the Georgian leadership against further destructive steps that could have unforeseeable consequences." Speaking to journalists in Moscow on November 8, Russian State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov implied that the Georgian leadership's policy of blaming Russia for all adverse developments is dictated by U.S. intelligence services, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported. LF

Caucasus Press on November 8 quoted unnamed opposition party leaders as saying they will not undertake further protest action for the duration of the 15-day state of emergency proclaimed by President Saakashvili. They called on supporters not to participate in demonstrations or to resist the police. Caucasus Press on November 8 quoted Education Minister Aleksandre Lomaya as saying unspecified "constructively disposed" opposition leaders were meeting with parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze, who warned on November 7 against "the language of ultimatums" and called for a resumption of dialogue. She also implied that the Georgian leadership might be prepared to compromise on three of the four demands to Saakashvili the opposition unveiled at its initial protest demonstration on November 2 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 5, 2007). LF

Defense Minister Daniyal Akhmetov met on November 7 in Astana with the head of the U.S. Central Command, Admiral William Fallon, to discuss a new five-year program of bilateral military cooperation, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. According to an official statement issued by the Kazakh Ministry of Defense, Fallon presented a cooperation plan for 2008-12 that was first formulated during bilateral defense consultations in January 2007. The statement noted that Akhmetov "told the U.S. military delegation that in parallel with a project to introduce an automated control system (ACS) into Kazakhstan's armed forces, work to set up a center for training ACS specialists is under way." According to the terms of a current bilateral cooperation agreement, more than 50 joint training seminars and exercises are scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan and another 30 such events are planned to be held in the United States in the coming five years. Fallon arrived in Kazakhstan after similar meetings in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, during which he reviewed bilateral military cooperation programs and discussed issues of regional security (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 6 and 7, 2007). Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has described the evolving military relationship between Kazakhstan and the United States as a key part of planned military reforms and his goal of making Kazakhstan an "advanced military power" within five years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," June 22 and October 25, 2007). RG

Kazakh police on November 5 concluded a week-long operation targeting human trafficking, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported, citing a report released by the Kazakh Interior Ministry on November 7. The "Stop Traffic" operation uncovered six cases of human trafficking, freed several victims, and led to the arrest of 30 suspected traffickers. Police also targeted prostitution in the operation, closing down 22 brothels and arresting 339 people "suspected of engaging in prostitution," including 35 foreigners. The launch of the antitrafficking operation followed a meeting in October between Kazakh Deputy Interior Minister Alik Shpekbaev and a U.S. State Department official to review the Kazakh government's strategy to curb trafficking (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 23, 2007). Local police in northern Kazakhstan also launched a similar operation two months ago that resulted in the arrests of several locals on charges of trafficking minors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," September 24, 2007). RG

Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Nurlan Yermekbaev and Senate Chairman Qasymzhomart Toqaev met on November 7 with visiting Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Religious Endowments, Call and Guidance Salih bin Abd al-Aziz bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Shaykh, Khabar TV reported. The Kazakh officials and the Saudi minister, who is on an official visit to Kazakhstan, discussed bilateral relations and reviewed plans for "interreligious dialogue," as well as measures aimed at expanding parliamentary cooperation. The religious dialogue is related to President Nazarbaev's initiative to hold a "congress of leaders of world and traditional religions." Also on November 7, Nazarbaev arrived in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) after concluding a state visit to Syria (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 6, 2007). He met with U.A.E. President Shaykh Khalifah bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan and discussed possible U.A.E. investment in the Kazakh gas sector, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. Nazarbaev is also seeking assistance from the U.A.E. in "creating an oil and gas infrastructure in Kazakhstan," according to a press release issued by the Kazakh presidential press service. After signing a bilateral agreement in 2006, the United Arab Emirates financed two major projects in Kazakhstan: the Aqtau City development on the Kazakh coast of the Caspian Sea and the multipurpose Abu Dhabi Plaza complex in Astana. RG

A district court in Kazakhstan's Karaganda region on November 6 imposed four-year and five-year prison sentences on two policemen convicted of assaulting a suspect, Interfax-Kazakhstan reporters. Speaking to reporters the day after the ruling, presiding Judge Kairbek Baygazkin explained that the sentence was motivated by the severity of the crime, in which the two policemen detained a 21-year-old suspect and beat him so badly that he was left disabled. The case is seen as part of a broader effort in Kazakhstan to combat abuse within the law-enforcement and security sectors. RG

A new civic rights group has been established in Kazakhstan to "protect the constitutional rights of citizens," Kazakh Television reported on November 6. The group, called Zan zhane Adildik (Law and Justice), also aims to combat corruption among state officials, and, in cooperation with the Kazakh police, help to "solve problems that impede the work of legal entities." A leader of the group, whose name was not reported, said the organization has over 900 members and that offices will be opened in eight Kazakh cities. RG

At a party congress in Bishkek on November 7, the Kyrgyz opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party finalized its list of candidates for the December 16 parliamentary elections, AKIpress reported. The party list includes prominent opposition figures Omurbek Tekebaev, Kubatbek Baibolov, Temir Sariev, Tatyana Ponomareva, and Duyshon Chotonov. Under the terms of the amended Electoral Code, political parties are allowed a total of 100 candidates on their party lists. But Central Electoral Commission member Bolot Malabaev explained on November 7 that the party lists will be limited to showing only the first five names, arguing that the election ballots "will not have enough room for all 100 candidates" from each party. The Ata-Meken party, led by Tekebaev, was only recently registered by the Central Election Commission, and recently formed a new alliance with the opposition Ak-Shumkar party in an effort to conduct a united campaign for the approaching elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 25 and 26, 2007). RG

On the last day of a three-day official visit to Brussels, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on November 7 met with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and European Parliament head Hans-Gert Pottering, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service and Turkmen Television reported. Although the EU officials reminded Berdymukhammedov that Turkmenistan must do more to improve human rights if it wants to unblock a trade agreement and expand cooperation with the bloc (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 6, 2007), Pottering also pledged to expand programs providing parliamentary cooperation and technical assistance in order to forge "a full-scale and equal political dialogue" and to intensify "economic, scientific, and cultural links between the EU and Turkmenistan." In a separate meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on November 7, Berdymukhammedov discussed regional security and the need to combat the narcotics trade originating in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported. RG

The Uzbek Liberal Democratic Party on November 6 formally nominated incumbent President Islam Karimov as the party's candidate for president, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported. Although Karimov reportedly accepted the nomination, his candidacy is in doubt, as he is currently serving his second seven-year presidential term, which should be his last, according to the terms of the Uzbek Constitution. Karimov has already extended his term in office twice through national referenda in 1995 and 2002. The Liberal Democratic Party, formed in 2003 as a "movement of businessmen and entrepreneurs," is the largest party represented in the Uzbek parliament, holding 41 seats, and claims some 150,000 members, according to AKIpress. RG

Speaking on November 7, celebrated as the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that the events of 1917 led to an independent Belarus, Belapan reported. "Thanks to the triumph of the Great October, the dream of many generations of Belarusians has come true -- we have acquired an independent state open to friends," Lukashenka said in his address to the country. Belarusian leftist forces commemorated the anniversary by laying flowers by a statue of Vladimir Lenin in Minsk. The commemoration was held on behalf of both Belarusian communist parties -- the government-supported Communist Party of Belarus (KPB) and the opposition Belarusian Party of Communists (PKB), which has been suspended for six months by a Supreme Court ruling. PKB leader Syarhey Kalyakin said that the ideals of the October Revolution were "generally correct," but "what really existed in the Soviet Union differed greatly from the goals declared in October 1917." AM

More than 1,000 people on November 7 attended a march in Kyiv organized by the Communist Party of Ukraine to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution, Interfax reported. The march took place in spite of the Kyiv district court's decision the day before, in keeping with a motion by the city administration, to ban any rallies on November 7 in downtown Kyiv. Police officers who escorted the march reportedly arrested two members of the Svoboda Party, which had planned to hold counterdemonstrations. Supporters of the Svoboda Party held an anticommunist demonstration in Lviv and clashed with police there, leading to the arrests of five people. AM

A committee preparing the opening session of the new Verkhovna Rada announced on November 7 that they were suspending their activities until November 8, having been unable to gather a quorum, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. Oleksandr Moroz, the speaker of the outgoing parliament, said that the representatives of the Party of Regions, the Communist Party, and the Lytvyn Bloc did not attend the November 7 meeting. Delays in the committee's preparations could mean the inaugural session of the Verkhovna Rada is delayed. The group consists of 30 representatives in numbers proportional to the number of seats won by the blocs in the new parliament. The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) and the Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc, which have initialed a coalition deal, have 15 representatives in the group. Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, the head of the NUNS political council, has said that the NUNS and the BYuT intend to convene the new Verkhovna Rada by November 20. AM

Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of the eponymous bloc, said on November 7 that the new ruling coalition and its government will work out a new state budget for 2008, UNIAN reported. Tymoshenko said that the new government will not consider the budget submitted to the Verkhovna Rada by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Tymoshenko described the draft budget as a "shadowy balance sheet of the division of state funds among corporations owned by the Party of Regions." The new budget will have nothing to do with "corruption or the shadow economy," she added. AM

Macedonian law enforcers on November 7 killed "at least" eight members of an "armed criminal gang" during an operation to capture a convicted terrorist suspected to have taken refuge in hills close to the Kosova border, AFP reported, citing Macedonia's Interior Ministry. Macedonian television's evening news on November 7 put the number killed at six. In any case, this already appears to be the most violent incident in Macedonia since 2001, when ethnic-Albanian separatists put down their arms. "No police officers have been killed," Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski said, and the Macedonian authorities have denied reports by the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosova that a Macedonian helicopter crashed. The operation, which was supported from the air by armed helicopters, began in villages near the town of Tetovo -- Brodec, Vejce, and Vesala -- but then moved into open country. There have been reports that the operation left four houses on fire and damaged a mosque, but Kotevski told the news agency MIA that no civilians were injured. Five people have been arrested, some of them in the capital, Skopje. There has been no indication that the man being sought, Lirim Jakupi, is among the dead or captured. Jakupi, who is one of seven men who escaped from the high-security Dubrava prison in neighboring Kosova in August, is a former member of an ethnic-Albanian militia who is also wanted in Serbia and in Macedonia, where he is accused of involvement in a shoot-out that left three police officers injured (see "RFE/RL Newsline," August 20, 22, 23, and 31, and September 5, 2007). Two of the seven fugitives from Dubrava have since been recaptured and a third, Xhavid Morina, was shot dead -- again near Tetovo -- on November 1 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 3 and 9, and November 5, 2007). The operation to apprehend Jakupi was conducted in an area in which the ethnic-Albanian separatist campaign began in 2001, and where there has been a spate of violent incidents. In recent days, there have also been reports of armed, uniformed men setting up checkpoints on roads in the region (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 25, and November 1, 2007). The news service Balkan Insight quoted villagers as saying that men wearing uniforms of a disbanded ethnic-Albanian militia, the National Liberation Army (UCK), were seen in the area on November 6. AG

A day after saying it believes Serbia is ready to take the first step towards EU membership, the European Commission signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia on November 7, local media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 7, 2007). The agreement, which was signed in Belgrade by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic, now needs to ratified by the EU's 27 member-states, a process that is not expected to be completed until next year. Rehn described the SAA as "the first stepping stone toward European integration and the gateway to candidate status in the European Union," AP reported. The EU's decision to tighten ties with Serbia even though Serbia has failed to honor what was for a long time the key requirement -- the capture of Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic -- elicited criticism from Human Rights Watch. "Commissioner Rehn is rewarding Serbia even as it harbors a general accused of genocide," Human Rights Watch's Lotte Leicht said. "This sends the message that the EU is prepared to let those who commit horrific crimes wait out justice." Reuters and the BBC reported on November 6 that the capture of Mladic remains a precondition for the SAA to be fully endorsed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 7, 2007). An EU enlargement report published on November 6 said that only Croatia is expected to join the EU by 2012. Other states in the region are not expected to join until 2012-15 or later (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 7, 2007). In the region, only Bosnia-Herzegovina lags behind Serbia in its efforts to establish closer ties with the EU. AG

Serbia's parliament on November 7 ratified two agreements with the EU, one of which eases the process for Serbs to gain EU visas, local media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," September 5, 2007). Under the agreement, a number of groups -- primarily frequent travelers, such as businesspeople, and those involved in government, educational, and cultural affairs -- will be able to obtain visas valid for five years at a reduced rate (35 euros, or $51) and through a simplified and swifter process. The other agreement covers the repatriation to Serbia of illegal immigrants who entered the EU from Serbia. Serbia will be obliged to provide them with accommodation and assume responsibility for returning them to their home countries. AG

Vojislav Seselj, the leader of Serbia's largest political party, went on trial at The Hague on November 7, international media reported. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have charged Seselj with six counts of war crimes and three of crimes against humanity, all of them related to his role in stirring up ethnic hatred. In the words of prosecutor Christine Dahl, Seselj "adopted the role of a paramilitary commander who raised his own army of volunteers," who then went "to the front lines...where they and others committed unspeakable crimes." This is the first case in the ICTY that is based primarily on the defendant's role in fomenting ethnic hatred, but there have been several similar cases heard relating to the genocide in Rwanda. Serbia's national broadcaster on November 5 decided that it will air some of the hearings live. They are expected to draw a large number of viewers, as 700,000 people petitioned for the hearings to be broadcast and Seselj was the founder and remains the nominal leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), which emerged as the strongest party in parliamentary elections in January, with 28.6 percent of the vote. Seselj will be conducting his own defense, a concession that he wrung from the ICTY after going on hunger strike for 28 days (see "RFE/RL Newsline," December 12, 2006). That and other demands resulted in the starting date of the trial being set back from November 27, 2006. AG

One of the men believed to be responsible for one of the most notorious incidents in Bosnia-Herzegovina's civil war has been arrested, the Bosnian authorities announced on November 7. Novak Djukic is believed to have been involved in an artillery attack on the town of Tuzla in May 1995 in which 71 people were killed by a single shell. Most of those killed were young people. Estimates suggest as many as 150 people were injured. Djukic, who was a major at the time, later rose to the rank of general. He was arrested near Banja Luka, the capital of Bosnia's ethnic-Serb-dominated autonomous region, the Republika Srpska. He will be tried by Bosnia's War Crimes Chamber, which has assumed responsibility for most trials of those recently arrested for crimes committed during the war. AG

A senior official in the Montenegrin Navy wanted by Croatia for alleged war crimes has been arrested in Italy, Montenegrin officials said on November 6. Ilija Brcic was detained at Croatia's request after he flew into Rome on November 4 as a member of a Montenegrin delegation taking part in a NATO-led military exercise, the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry told local media. Croatia's Justice Ministry says it will now ask Italy to extradite Brcic. Brcic was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison by a Croatian court in 1993, but that trial would be held again. Brcic was a captain in the Yugoslav Navy, which included Montenegrins as well as Serbs, and is accused of ordering the bombardment of the town of Split and the islands of Brac and Solta. Two people were killed in the shelling, and many historic buildings were damaged. Since the end of the 1991-95 war in Croatia, Brcic has risen to the post of head of the Montenegrin General Staff's department for development. The Montenegrin government has apologized for the involvement of Montenegrins in the war in Croatia and there has been discussion this year of Montenegro paying reparations to Croatia in the form of equity in companies owned by the Montenegrin state. AG

Russia has its own path to democracy, one that is determined by the country's long history, President Vladimir Putin and his entourage frequently assert. To understand their vision of Russia's future, one must pay attention to their use of the past and to the national myths they create and promote.

Russia is engaged in a political transition now that, even Kremlin insiders admit, is virtually a "crisis." The celebration of People's Unity Day on November 4 and the 90th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution on November 7 have brought to the forefront crises of the past and models for emerging from them. The pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party and the state media have labored overtime in recent weeks to reduce these historical events to easily understood elements -- chaos, disunity, internal and external enemies, violence, and famine -- and to emphasize that Russia survived them only by rallying around a strong, authoritarian leader-for-life.

People's Unity Day is a three-year-old holiday that marks the liberation in 1612 of Moscow from Polish occupation and the end of a decade and a half of discord known by the ominous Russian phrase "Smutnoye vremya," the Time of Troubles. The "smuta," or trouble, was set off when the royal line of Ivan the Terrible came to an end and the country's political elites began a ruthless battle among themselves for power. The period was characterized by factional infighting, famine, and foreign occupation, nearly leading to the collapse of the Russian state. It came to an end only in 1613, when the nobility chose one of their own, Mikhail Romanov, at a Grand National Assembly, founding the dynasty that would rule Russia until 1917. Before the 17th century was out, Mikhail Romanov's grandson, Peter the Great, was in power and the country that had been on its knees was on the verge of becoming a global power.

The new People's Unity Day holiday has developed in two directions in its short history. On the one hand, it is a cause for annual semi-sanctioned "Russia-for-the-Russians" actions, events that serve to remind the public that the country's unity is fragile and that violent confrontation is lurking close beneath the surface. On the other hand, the holiday is marked by widespread demonstrations in support of the Kremlin and the strong central government. The Unified Russia party has begun the practice of sending representatives into schools and other institutions to make sure that the horrors of the Time of Troubles remain vivid and the lessons of unity and authoritarianism are not forgotten.

November 7 -- the anniversary of what was once called the Great October Socialist Revolution, but which is now generally referred to as "the Bolshevik coup" -- is no longer an official holiday. The rump Communist Party marks the date with smaller and smaller events each year, while the state draws parallels between the Time of Troubles and the decades of revolution and civil war that Russia endured in the early 20th century. Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin has decidedly lost his luster and it seems only a matter of time before his body is removed from its mausoleum on Red Square and buried.

The logic of the analogy between the Bolshevik Revolution and the Time of Troubles leads to the conclusion that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was the strong, authoritarian leader-for-life who pulled the country out of chaos and, through a far-sighted program of industrialization and collectivization, created a country that was capable of withstanding the onslaught of Nazi Germany and of competing in the Cold War for decades. The Kremlin, of course, is wary about direct praise of Stalin, largely because of how such statements are seen in the West. In addition, the means by which Stalin came to power -- infighting, betrayal, show trials, and persecution -- are clearly less savory than the image of the Grand National Assembly that elevated Mikhail Romanov on a wave of national unity.

However, Putin has made enough overtly pro-Stalin statements over the years to have lured away virtually all the Stalinists from the Communist Party. He has restored Stalin-era state symbols and has stated directly that the country has no need to feel guilty about its past. During Putin's years in power, Stalin's reputation has grown steadily, with more and more Russians stating that he played "a positive role" in Russian history. State television commentator Mikhail Leontyev wrote in "Profil" this month: "What Stalin inherited from the Bolsheviks as an object of state -- in fact, imperial -- restoration was an absolutely Asiatic formation that could only be managed by Asiatic methods -- literally those of Genghis Khan. That is, by using 'the masses' as raw material, fuel for the historical process. There were no other means for managing that country, for saving it, for securing it in the midst of an aggressively oriented environment."

But the analogy between the revolutionary period and the Time of Troubles is emphasized in Putin's Russia. Both were times of internal division, chaos, famine, foreign intervention, and widespread suffering that presented an existential crisis to the country.

All of this attention to history is designed to create a backdrop for the current political transition. The 1990s are constantly presented as a new smuta, one where internal divisions and foreign interference came perilously close to ending Russian sovereignty. In July, "Literaturnaya gazeta" published an article titled, "No Longer Ashamed Of Our Country." "We need to show everyone that the era of humiliation and collapse associated with [the 1990s] is gone and won't come back," retired Major General Aleksandr Vladimirov was quoted as saying.

The state media have played up these themes in both subtle and obvious ways. In his official remarks on People's Unity Day, Putin himself said, "Some people are constantly insisting on the necessity of dividing up our country and are trying to spread this theory." State television has accused the CIA and Western governments of fomenting revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. The current unrest in Georgia is being actively contrasted with images of orderly stability and progress in Russia.

The Kremlin has manipulated the process of transition as Putin's second term comes to an end in such a way as to keep many possible scenarios available -- as long as they all result in Putin retaining supreme power. However, as the Duma election campaign season heats up, one scenario -- which could be called the Mikhail Romanov variant -- is increasingly coming to the fore.

On October 1, Putin agreed to head the Unified Russia list of candidates for the Duma elections, effectively signaling the end of the Kremlin's half-hearted stab at creating a managed two-party system. Since then, Unified Russia has devoted all its considerable resources to turning the December 2 elections into a national plebiscite on Putin himself. The entire vote has been reduced to one huge endorsement of Putin.

At the same time, in recent weeks, a wave of "spontaneous" demonstrations and meetings has swept over the country, the simulation of a groundswell of popular support for Putin to remain as "national leader." Across the country, small pro-Putin organizations are springing up. According to media reports, these groups intend to hold a national congress in Moscow around the time of the elections to call for Putin to remain in power.

On November 6, Unified Russia posted on its website an article that further lays out the Mikhail Romanov scenario. The piece argues for the calling of a Public Assembly shortly after the Duma elections, at which representatives of grassroots organizations would anoint Putin as the country's "national leader." According to the piece, the public has no confidence in the political process or political parties, and only such a Public Assembly would have the legitimacy to effect the radical political change the country needs. Unified Russia is in the process of drafting a "Pact of Civil Unity" that could be adopted at such an assembly. That pact will "formulate the institution of the national leader as the basic element of a new configuration of power."

If the Kremlin's plan (whichever one is finally put into action in March 2008) succeeds and Putin is installed as the country's leader for the foreseeable future, the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution will likely be treated entirely differently. In 2012, Russia will mark the 400th anniversary of the end of the Time of Troubles, presumably in the 12th year of Putin's reign. In 2017, when the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution rolls around, there will likely not be even any rump communist enthusiasts around to mark it.

With the problem of political succession solved, the state's need to play up the possibility of "troubles" will disappear; the need increasingly to celebrate the regime that ended the troubles and lifted the country off its knees will grow stronger. A system that derives its legitimacy from a trumped-up groundswell of popular support and a stage-managed Public Assembly will have a hard time resisting maintaining its grip on power by a combination of fear and a stultifying cult of personality. Russian history offers models for this as well.

At a news conference in Kabul on November 7, President Hamid Karzai announced three days of national mourning to honor the victims of the suicide bombing in Baghlan Province on November 6 that killed dozens of people, including six members of parliament, schoolchildren, teachers, and other civilians, the Bakhtar News Agency reported. Karzai said the Afghan flag will fly at half-mast and called the attack "the handiwork of Afghanistan's foes, who knew full well the proud country could not be cowed by cowardly acts of terror." He promised that the incident will be thoroughly investigated by a government team. In response to a query, Karzai said that even though the Taliban has denied involvement in the attack, the government will investigate the attack "from all possible angles." He also noted that the tragedy will not affect the Afghan government's plans for peace talks with insurgents. MM

As often happens after suicide attacks, many ordinary Afghans blamed the government for failing to prevent the latest bloodshed in Baghlan Province on November 6, Reuters reported. The blast, in the relatively peaceful north, has shaken public confidence in the ability of the government and the international security forces in the country to provide security more than six years after the fall of the Taliban regime. "I lost my cousin in this attack," said a local shopkeeper Sakhi Ahmad. "He was a school student and had gone to the ceremony. We will never forget this tragedy and we ask the government to find the culprits instead of announcing days of mourning." Additionally, some local residents charged that the Afghan police began shooting wildly after the blast and were probably responsible for the large number of casualties, as evidence emerged that a number of the wounded and dead suffered bullet wounds. "This attack was carried out by the Taliban, but only 10 people were killed by the blast. The rest of the victims are from gunfire from the security forces," said Abdul Qadir, a local resident, pointing to a bullet hole in his dead son's body. The insurgents' strategy is aimed at convincing Afghans that the Karzai government and its Western backers are unable to bring security to the country. MM

Brigadier General Marek Tomaszycki, who until recently commanded Poland's 1,200 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led forces, said on November 7 in Brussels that the Taliban insurgents are better trained and embedded with foreign fighters in Afghanistan, AP reported. He told reporters at NATO headquarters that the insurgents are "better prepared" than a year ago, despite incurring heavy casualties as a result of NATO and Afghan National Army counterinsurgency operations . He observed that the situation is improving in favor of NATO and Afghan forces, but cautioned that "we have more and more examples of tactics which are used in Iraq and imported to Afghanistan," making the enemy more dangerous. Reporting to NATO headquarters, Tomaszycki said that among the most important lessons he learned are the need to send more civilian specialists to boost development in Afghanistan, to improve training for the Afghan National Army and police, and to ensure NATO troops have sufficient air support. Reflecting on his experiences working with the Afghan security forces, he said, "The Afghan Army is brave and is very willing to fight," but he described the local police as riddled with corruption and poorly trained. MM

A delegation of Iranian lawmakers headed by the chief of the parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaeddin Borujerdi, met with Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema in Rome on November 7, IRNA reported. Borujerdi told D'Alema that Italy is playing a constructive role in the Middle East. He declared that Iran will continue its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to clear up Western governments' suspicions about Tehran's nuclear program, but added that "Iran's rights must be realized in line with Article 4" of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. "Iran's interaction and cooperation with the international community depends on [foreign countries'] full respect for Iran's rights," Borujerdi said. Iran insists that it has a right to produce nuclear fuel, but Western powers fear that it may use that technology to develop nuclear weapons. D'Alema told Borujerdi the international community's concerns must be resolved, and that this could be accomplished through talks, IRNA reported. VS

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on November 7 told recent graduates of a police academy in Tehran to be kind to the public and tough on crime and criminals, news agencies reported. He said police officers must be vigilant in the midst of efforts by unspecified enemies to halt Iran's technological advances and provoke insecurity. Khamenei later told police officers to avoid "temporary" initiatives and continue with their public security drive until "its aims are institutionalized in society," Fars news agency reported. The security campaign in Tehran has led to hundreds of arrests and prosecutions in recent months for crimes such as armed extortion and robbery, as well as for minor offenses like indecent attire among young people. Some critics have questioned the scope of the drive and the methods used by the police. Khamenei said the police should get on with their work and ignore "certain provocations and opposition," Fars reported. VS

The head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Ali Jafari, said in Tehran on November 6 that Iran is threatened from outside, but the "readiness" of its armed forces deters enemies, ISNA reported. He told a parade ceremony that the IRGC is equipped not only with modern weaponry, but also with "faith, spiritual wisdom, and a revolutionary drive," which together "build a power that prevents even the greatest army from carrying out its threats." He said the IRGC is "one of the world's immense defensive and security organizations and even one of the world's most powerful armies." Jafari said the resolve of Iranian officials and the readiness of Iran's armed forces dissuade the great powers from even "entertaining the thought" of attacking Iran. Regular army chief Ataollah Salehi told a gathering in Tehran on November 6 that unspecified foreign forces have crossed Iran's borders, sometimes by mistake, but "fearfully" withdrew when ordered to do so by Iranian troops, Fars reported. Salehi predicted that U.S. forces will "flee" Iraq, just as he said British troops are ready to flee Al-Basrah, in Iraq's south. Iran's army, he said, is ready but not on high alert, and is observing all movements on the country's borders. VS

Iranian legislators have expressed grave concerns over the government's proposed budget for the Persian year to March 20, 2009, describing the projected spending plans as unrealistic, Radio Farda reported on November 7, citing Iranian reports. Legislators met with officials of the executive branch on November 6 to discuss the structure and contents of the budget, Radio Farda observed. The lawmakers also raised concerns that the government is intent on using new budgeting methods to minimize parliamentary supervision over spending. The budget under consideration was drafted for the first time by the presidential office; in the past, a now-disbanded state economic planning body drew up the national budget. Legislators have estimated that the government would spend about $31 billion next year in hard currency earned from crude oil sales on construction and development projects and other expenditures. They called the budget unrealistic, observing that the current government has spent about $120 billion since it took power in 2005. Tehran legislator Morteza Tamaddon said the spending projections are "closer to a joke," Radio Farda reported. VS

Two offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) were targeted in suicide bomb attacks in Kirkuk and Mosul on November 7 and 8, Iraqi media reported. The first attack, in Kirkuk, left at least 17 wounded. One woman was killed and five people wounded in the attack on the party's Mosul office. The KDP's Mosul office was targeted in a similar attack in April, which left 10 people dead and at least 20 wounded (see "RFE/RL Newsline," April 24, 2007). The KDP is the party of Kurdistan regional President Mas'ud Barzani. KR

Judge Munir Haddad has been removed as spokesman for the Iraqi Supreme Criminal Court following comments he made regarding former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to the London-based "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" newspaper earlier this week, Voices of Iraq reported on November 8. Haddad reportedly said in the interview: "I cannot say Saddam was disparate or cowardly. Nor can I say he was brave and provoke public opinion." Haddad also told the daily that Hussein clashed verbally with Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i. A court source told Voices of Iraq that the decision to remove Haddad was made on November 6, though no formal announcement was made. The judge will retain his position as head of the Court of Cassation and will continue to sit on the Supreme Criminal Court. KR

On November 7, Al-Basrah police chief Major General Jalil Khalaf survived a second assassination attempt in a week, Iraqi media reported. Khalaf's convoy was targeted in a roadside bomb attack that left at least three of his guards wounded. Khalaf and Lieutenant General Muhan al-Firayji, who heads the Al-Basrah police's operations center, were targeted in a similar attack on November 3, which left two of their guards injured. A roadside bomb also targeted Qahtan al-Musawi, director-general of the Al-Basrah Education Department, on November 8. The explosion injured two of al-Musawi's guards and two civilians. Al-Musawi is a member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. Press reports suggest that the attacks may have been committed by a rival Shi'ite militia. KR