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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 181, 01-09-24

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 5, No. 181, 24 September 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] WORLD CHRISTIAN LEADERS CONGREGATE FOR ARMENIAN ANNIVERSARY
  • [02] TWO AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS SENTENCED
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTY THREATENED WITH EVICTION FROM ITS HEADQUARTERS
  • [04] GEORGIA PROTESTS RUSSIAN TV'S ALLEGATIONS...
  • [05] ...REJECTS CHIEF OF STAFF'S PREDICTION
  • [06] JAPANESE JOURNALIST MISSING AFTER LEAVING GEORGIA FOR CHECHNYA
  • [07] CASPIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTERS POSTPONE WORK ON DRAFT AGREEMENT
  • [08] POPE VISITS KAZAKHSTAN
  • [09] KAZAKH SPECIAL BATTALION TO UNDERGO TRAINING IN TURKEY
  • [10] RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY MEETS WITH TURKMEN, KYRGYZ PRESIDENTS
  • [11] HAVE U.S. TROOPS ALREADY LANDED IN TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN?

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] GERMANY TO LEAD NEW NATO MISSION IN MACEDONIA?
  • [13] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENTARY DISCUSSION DRAGS ON...
  • [14] ...AS UNCERTAINTIES LOOM
  • [15] UKRAINE CONFIRMS TANK SHIPMENT TO MACEDONIA
  • [16] SERBIAN VOTER REGISTRATION IN KOSOVA ENDS
  • [17] BOSNIAN MUSLIM EX-GENERAL TO TURN SELF IN TO HAGUE
  • [18] EXHUMATIONS CONTINUE AT BOSNIAN MASS GRAVES
  • [19] CROATIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES SOCIAL CUTS
  • [20] MONTENEGRIN, SERBIAN WAR OF WORDS CONTINUES
  • [21] ROMANIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES 'INDOCTRINATION' IN HUNGARIAN-LANGUAGE MEDIA
  • [22] ROMANIA, HUNGARY ENGAGE IN 'DIALOGUE OF DEAF'...
  • [23] ...AND BUCHAREST ACCUSES BUDAPEST OF FINANCING 'REVISIONIST CD'
  • [24] ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER 'SUSPENDS' PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY...
  • [25] ...WHILE PRESIDENT SINGLES OUT OTHER 'TENDENTIOUS' ALLEGATIONS ON TERRORISM
  • [26] RESITA WORKERS STOP LABOR SANCTIONS
  • [27] RUSSIA WANTS MOLDOVA TO BE 'MORE ACTIVE' IN CIS ANTITERRORISM CENTER
  • [28] FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT REMINISCES
  • [29] MOLDOVAN PARTIES POSTPONE MERGER
  • [30] LIBYA POSTPONES VERDICT IN TRIAL OF BULGARIANS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [31] There is no End Note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] WORLD CHRISTIAN LEADERS CONGREGATE FOR ARMENIAN ANNIVERSARY

    Representatives of the world's Christian churches conducted a joint ecumenical service at Echmiadzin on 22 September as part of the celebrations marking the 1,700th anniversary of Armenia's adoption of Christianity as its state religion, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Among those attending were Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow and All Russia, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist. Aleksii also met on 22 September with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and with Armenian Catholicos Garegin II, who affirmed that "there is no closer friendship than that between the Russian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches," according to ITAR-TASS. Aleksii also attended the consecration of a new cathedral in Yerevan on 23 September. LF

    [02] TWO AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS SENTENCED

    A Baku district court on 21 September sentenced Elmar Huseinov, founder of the now defunct newspaper "Bakinskii bulvard," to six months in a prison camp on charges of insulting the honor and dignity of Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalibov, Turan reported. The paper's editor, Bella Zakirova, received a six-month suspended sentence. The charges were based on an article by a second journalist with the paper, Irada Huseynova, that accused Abutalibov of corruption. Huseynova is currently in Warsaw attending an OSCE sponsored conference and has reportedly asked the German embassy there for political asylum. In a separate case, the same court had fined Huseinov, Zakirova, and Huseynova 18 million manats ($17,090) each earlier this month for insulting Abutalibov and ordered the paper's closure (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 5 September 2001). On 22 September, fellow editors met in Baku to found a committee to defend Huseinov's rights. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTY THREATENED WITH EVICTION FROM ITS HEADQUARTERS

    Police demanded on 22 September that the Civic Unity Party, which supports ousted President Ayaz Mutalibov, vacate the offices it currently occupies in Baku because the party is not formally registered with the Justice Ministry, Turan reported. All efforts by party leaders over the past two years to obtain such registration have failed. The Azerbaijan National Independence Party was recently evicted from a building in the outskirts of Baku that it had used for almost a decade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 2001). LF

    [04] GEORGIA PROTESTS RUSSIAN TV'S ALLEGATIONS...

    Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze told journalists in Tbilisi on 21 September that his ministry would send a protest note to Moscow later that day expressing "outrage" over "unsubstantiated" and "libelous" Russian TV broadcasts on 20 September that accused Georgia of abetting Chechen terrorists, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. He denied that Georgia harbors any "terrorists." In his traditional Monday radio broadcast, President Eduard Shevardnadze on 24 September said the Russian allegations reflect double standards, Caucasus Press reported. He specifically condemned the appearance in one of the Russian TV programs of former Georgian National Security Minister Igor Giorgadze, for whom an international arrest warrant has been issued in connection with his alleged role in the August 1995 attempt on Shevardnadze's life. Shevardnadze on 24 September also accused Giorgadze of three other murders, including those of his close associate Soliko Khabeishvili and opposition National Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Gia Chanturia in 1993. Shevardnadze nonetheless conceded the possibility that some of the Chechens currently in Georgia may have taken part in fighting against the Russians, but pointed out that it is extremely difficult to establish which of them have done so. He affirmed that Russia has "no legal right, nor any grounds" to launch an attack on Georgian territory. LF

    [05] ...REJECTS CHIEF OF STAFF'S PREDICTION

    Russian army Chief of Staff General Anatolii Kvashnin's prediction that Georgia will have to resign itself to the transformation of the Russian military base in Gudauta, Abkhazia into a logistics and recreation center for the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under the CIS aegis on the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia is not a foregone conclusion, Sikharulidze told journalists in Tbilisi on 21 September, Caucasus Press reported. Russian officials proposed that option late last year and have since failed to comply with the 1 July deadline for withdrawing from the Gudauta base (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 2001). Sikharulidze said the decision on the future use of the Gudauta base does not fall within Kvashnin's competence. LF

    [06] JAPANESE JOURNALIST MISSING AFTER LEAVING GEORGIA FOR CHECHNYA

    Both the Russian government and the Georgian Interior Ministry said on 21 September that they do not know the whereabouts of Japanese journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka, who left Georgia in June intending to travel to Chechnya, Russian media reported. He is said not to have applied for accreditation to work as a journalist either in Georgia or the North Caucasus. On 22 September, Georgian border guards detained one Sudanese and one Jordanian citizen trying to enter Georgia illegally from Azerbaijan, Caucasus Press reported. And on 23 September police rounded up one Indian and five Pakistani citizens illegally residing in Tbilisi, who may now face deportation. LF

    [07] CASPIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTERS POSTPONE WORK ON DRAFT AGREEMENT

    Deputy foreign ministers from the five Caspian littoral states ended a three-day meeting in Astana on 21 September without initialing a draft document on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, Interfax and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. That document was to have been signed by the presidents of the five states at the Caspian summit most recently scheduled for November or December 2001. But Kazakh First Deputy Foreign Minister Nurtai Abyqaev told journalists that the deputy foreign ministers will probably meet again in December in Moscow to resume work on the draft, implying that it is unlikely that the summit will take place before then. LF

    [08] POPE VISITS KAZAKHSTAN

    Pope John Paul II flew to Kazakhstan on 22 September and celebrated a mass in Astana the following day on for some 50,000 pilgrims from Kazakhstan's estimated 350,000 Roman Catholic community. Referring to the 11 September terrorist attacks in the U.S., the pontiff warned on 23 September against a "deepening of divisions" between Christians and Muslims, and called on followers of all faiths to work together "to build a world without violence, " AP reported. He also met the same day with President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who again affirmed his country's rejection of international terrorism and readiness to join a coalition of states to combat it, Reuters reported. LF

    [09] KAZAKH SPECIAL BATTALION TO UNDERGO TRAINING IN TURKEY

    During talks in Astana on 21 September, visiting Turkish Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu and Kazakh First Deputy Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov agreed that a Kazakh special battalion will urgently undergo additional training in Turkey, Interfax reported. The two men agreed on the need to revise and expand earlier agreements on bilateral defense cooperation. LF

    [10] RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY MEETS WITH TURKMEN, KYRGYZ PRESIDENTS

    Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo told journalists in Ashgabat on 21 September following his talks with Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurat Niyazov, that the two countries have drawn up a plan for cooperation in fighting terrorism, Interfax reported. That plan includes the exchange of information and unspecified prompt joint actions in response to terrorist acts. Rushailo said Russia and Turkmenistan agree that any U.S. retaliatory action must be carried out in accordance with international law and, in Niyazov's opinion, with the sanction of the UN. Rushailo then flew to Bishkek for talks with Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev on the situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Rushailo was to have met the following day with Kyrgyz security officials, but left the Kyrgyz capital without doing so. LF

    [11] HAVE U.S. TROOPS ALREADY LANDED IN TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN?

    Neither the U.S. Defense Department nor government officials in Dushanbe or Tashkent have confirmed media reports that the first U.S. military aircraft and ground forces landed on 21 and 22 September at Tashkent and Dushanbe. "The Washington Post" reported on 23 September, quoting Interfax, that two C-130 cargo planes with some 100 U.S. military personnel had landed in Tashkent. The paper quoted unnamed Defense Department officials as saying that while the U.S. deployment to Uzbekistan would be publicly acknowledged, in Tajikistan it would not be. On 22 September, Tajikistan's president, Imomali Rakhmonov, again affirmed his readiness to cooperate with the U.S. and the international community in combating terrorism, but failed to specify what forms that cooperation might take, AP reported. In an internet interview carried by Asia Plus-Blitz on 24 September, Tajik air force Commander Colonel Akbar Qayumov denied either that U.S. forces have already landed at Kulob in southern Tajikistan, or that the possibility of their doing so has been discussed between the U.S. and Tajik leaderships. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] GERMANY TO LEAD NEW NATO MISSION IN MACEDONIA?

    NATO's policymaking council of ambassadors was expected to approve on 24 September a new force up to 600-strong to protect unarmed OSCE monitors, Reuters reported from Brussels (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2001). The previous day, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" reported that cash-strapped Germany is willing to lead the mission, which will consist primarily of German, French, and Italian forces. PM

    [13] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENTARY DISCUSSION DRAGS ON...

    The parliament passed the first three of a package of 15 constitutional amendments on 21 September with a bare majority of 62 out of 120 possible votes, AFP reported. Speaker Stojan Andov abruptly adjourned the session when the fourth amendment, which deals with the legal status of the Orthodox Church, received only 60 votes. The "debate" over the amendments has been described as a show or theatrical performance by some observers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2001). As part of the overall political settlement, the parliament must pass the entire package, which is to be followed by a "period of public debate" and then by the formal passage of all 15 amendments once again by the legislature (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 17 and 21 August 2001). The entire process is overshadowed by the campaign for the January 2002 elections. PM

    [14] ...AS UNCERTAINTIES LOOM

    Despite the delaying tactics by Macedonian nationalist deputies in the legislature, the ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (UCK) are continuing their pledge to disarm on schedule, Reuters reported from Skopje on 23 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2001). In addition to the amendments, however, parliament has yet to pass a planned amnesty for all UCK fighters except those who committed war crimes. Failure to pass the amnesty could thwart the entire process. A further uncertainty is the nature and outcome of the scheduled "public debate" among ethnic Macedonians, many of whom feel that the amendments threaten their country's and people's identity. Nor has much of the commentary in the press been conducive to confidence building and reconciliation. Meanwhile in the night of 22-23 September, one of the capital's frequent and mysterious explosions marred a peace concert featuring musicians from Albania, Serbia, and Macedonia, AFP reported. PM

    [15] UKRAINE CONFIRMS TANK SHIPMENT TO MACEDONIA

    Interfax reported from Kyiv on 21 September that Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko told reporters that Ukraine has delivered 31 T-72 tanks to Macedonia. He said: "We, as a party to a treaty with Macedonia, have made certain commitments and, as a predictable and reliable partner, must meet them and are meeting them." He stressed that shipping tanks to the cash- strapped Balkan country does "not run against anybody's interests" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2001). Zlenko added that his government had "held the necessary consultations with NATO and the American side about these shipments." U.S. officials have previously urged Ukraine not to sell weapons to Skopje, which tries to fight its domestic insurgency primarily by shelling villages with tanks and artillery. PM

    [16] SERBIAN VOTER REGISTRATION IN KOSOVA ENDS

    Registration of voters for the 17 November election in Kosova ended across Serbia on 22 September, with a total of 150,000 persons, mostly ethnic Serbs, having signed up, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 20 September 2001). It is not clear which Serbian leaders in Belgrade will encourage Serbs to vote. A spokeswoman for the OSCE, which is supervising the elections, said in Prishtina on 22 September that four Serbian parties agreed to form an electoral coalition but did not specify which ones, AP reported. PM

    [17] BOSNIAN MUSLIM EX-GENERAL TO TURN SELF IN TO HAGUE

    Sefer Halilovic, a Muslim military commander in the 1992-1995 war, will soon surrender voluntarily to The Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Justice Minister Zvonko Mijan said in Sarajevo on 24 September, AP reported. Mijan added that the matter is linked to Halilovic's responsibility as a commander for the actions of his subordinates. Halilovic is believed to be on a secret list of indicted Croatian and Muslim commanders who committed atrocities against each other's people. Halilovic, who was the first commander of the Bosnian army in 1992, was minister for refugees in the current Bosnian non-nationalist government until he was voted out of that post during a government meeting on 24 September. PM

    [18] EXHUMATIONS CONTINUE AT BOSNIAN MASS GRAVES

    The State Commission for Missing Persons said in a statement in Sarajevo on 22 September that more than 200 bodies were exhumed from several sites during the previous 10-day period, dpa reported. The largest group was 162 Muslim civilians from Srebrenica, whose remains were found in a mass grave near Zvornik, which experts believe may contain up to 200 victims. Some 75 bodies were exhumed from the former Ljubija mining pit in western Bosnia. These are believed to be the remains of victims killed at Serbian concentration camps in the area. PM

    [19] CROATIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES SOCIAL CUTS

    The legislature voted on 21 September to approve the state budget and a package of measures aimed at cutting back expenditures on social programs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2001). The social legislation will take effect in October. PM

    [20] MONTENEGRIN, SERBIAN WAR OF WORDS CONTINUES

    Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said in Belgrade on 21 September that any independence referendum in Montenegro will have to be approved by at least 60 percent of the citizens of that republic to be valid, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He stressed that such an important issue as the future of a state cannot be left to "a handful of votes." Meanwhile in Podgorica, the governing Democratic Party of Socialists said that Kostunica is trying to manipulate political life in Serbia through intrigues, moral self-righteousness, anti-Western campaigns, and cooperation with "clericalist and nationalist" forces. PM

    [21] ROMANIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES 'INDOCTRINATION' IN HUNGARIAN-LANGUAGE MEDIA

    Adrian Nastase on 21 September said he is "dissatisfied" with the "distorted reports" in the Hungarian-language media in Transylvania on his visit last week to schools in Harghita and Covasna counties, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Nastase said the media in the language of that minority indulges in "indoctrination," and that "the time has come" for the cabinet to address the population there "without mitigation" and to "break the cartel" of that media. Nastase also said that schools teaching in languages of the national minorities must use only textbooks produced in Romania and that this is "particularly important for history and geography" in order to avoid inculcating "other visions" to students. He said principals of schools that use textbooks produced abroad will be dismissed. The leadership of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania said that it is "worried" by the premier's "insulting" statements. MS

    [22] ROMANIA, HUNGARY ENGAGE IN 'DIALOGUE OF DEAF'...

    The Romanian Foreign Ministry on 21 September said it was "surprised" by the summoning of Romanian Ambassador to Budapest Petru Cordos one day earlier, and by the statement of Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Horvath said Romanian President Ion Iliescu's statement that Hungary has become "somewhat arrogant" following its NATO membership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2001) is in contradiction with Hungary's support of Romania's quest to gain NATO membership. Horvath also said Hungary expects a "clarification" from Romania, and added that such a clarification should come via diplomatic channels and "not through statements to the media." The Romanian Foreign Ministry replied that Budapest relies on media reports and "deliberately ignores President Iliescu's actual message." Presidential spokeswoman Corina Cretu said on 21 September that Iliescu had only reiterated his position that "it would have been more productive" for regional stability if NATO had accepted both Hungary and Romania among its members in 1997. MS

    [23] ...AND BUCHAREST ACCUSES BUDAPEST OF FINANCING 'REVISIONIST CD'

    Public Information Minister Vasile Dancu on 23 September said a Hungarian parliamentary commission financed the production of a CD with "revisionist music," Mediafax reported on 23 September. The CD was produced by the Young Hungarians Association and financed by the Hungarian parliament's Commission on Nongovernmental Organizations, Dancu said. The move was criticized by the opposition Socialist Party, but commission members said that financial assistance went to the association and not for the production of the disc. Elod Attila Novak, chairman of the association, said the CD is aimed at "breaking the wall of silence" around the 1921 Trianon Treaty. Mediafax cited commission head Laszlo Bognar of the extremist Justice and Life Party as saying his party welcomes the production of the CD and intends to back similar actions in the future. Dancu said the Hungarian authorities "must act more resolutely to stop irredentist postures and the reawakening of collective memories contradicting European and international standards." MS

    [24] ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER 'SUSPENDS' PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY...

    Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor on 21 September announced he is "suspending" for 30 days his parliamentary activity, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Tudor said he will not attend Senate sessions and will forego his parliamentary wages in protest against disciplinary sanctions imposed on radio journalist Paul Grigoriu for having allowed Tudor to make allegations on the air about Romania's alleged training of Hamas members (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2001). The same day, presidential spokeswoman Cretu said the president's office is considering a lawsuit against Tudor for making the allegations. MS

    [25] ...WHILE PRESIDENT SINGLES OUT OTHER 'TENDENTIOUS' ALLEGATIONS ON TERRORISM

    Cretu also said other reports in the media on alleged terrorist activities in Romania are "just as tendentious" as those published in the PRM weekly "Romania mare." She singled out an article in the daily "Romania libera" on 20 September, in which Marius Oprea wrote that Romania provides a "fiscal paradise" for terrorist organizations. Oprea was a presidential adviser in former President Emil Constantinescu's administration and Cretu said he had "illegally used classified information" to which he had access in the past. She said the Prosecutor-General's Office should consider opening an investigation against Oprea. MS

    [26] RESITA WORKERS STOP LABOR SANCTIONS

    The Resita trade union of the local CSR steel-producer on 21 September voted to accept the package offered by the government and end demonstrations and hunger strikes, Romanian radio reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 21 September 2001). The union said it will not oppose the laying off of workers if the government provides an 18 billion lei ($600,000) emergency loan, but that sanctions will be resumed if the loan fails to materialize. MS

    [27] RUSSIA WANTS MOLDOVA TO BE 'MORE ACTIVE' IN CIS ANTITERRORISM CENTER

    A Russian embassy official in Chisinau on 21 September told journalists that Moldova's membership of the CIS Antiterrorism center is "passive" and "purely formal." Yurii Shestak said Moldova does not participate in the CIS Collective Security Treaty either and this had prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to refrain from having telephone conversations with President Vladimir Voronin following the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. MS

    [28] FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT REMINISCES

    Former President Mircea Snegur on 21 September said conditions in August 1991, when Moldova proclaimed its independence, were not ripe for reunification with Romania. In an interview with the Internet journal "Moldova Azi," Snegur said the Moldovan population was not "ready" at that time for the reunification and the step might have "triggered serious consequences for the still-fragile Moldovan democracy." Snegur also said that separatist leader Igor Smirnov was detained in 1991 in Kyiv by "collaborators of the Moldovan Interior Ministry." The "pretext" was the participation of a group from Tiraspol in the putsch attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Snegur said Smirnov was later freed because Russian women and children in Transdniester had protested by blocking rail links between Tiraspol and Varnita. Moldova, Snegur said, "was about to have its energy resources cut" just ahead of the winter. As a result, it was decided that "Smirnov is not worth as much as a whole country" and he was set free. MS

    [29] MOLDOVAN PARTIES POSTPONE MERGER

    National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) leader Valeriu Muravschi on 21 September told Flux that the merger of the PNTCD with other extraparliamentary formations has been postponed from 23 September to 7 October. The merger was to encompass the six parties that set up in May the Democratic Forum, namely the PNTCD, the Party of Democratic Forces, the Civic Dignity Party, the New Moldovan National Party, the National Liberal Party (PNL), and the Party of Order and Social Justice (PODS). The PNL and the PODS have since decided to merge separately, and Muravschi said he hopes that formation will form an alliance with the envisaged unified party. Also on 21 September, the Democratic Party and the Party of Progressive Forces announced they will form an electoral bloc for the next local elections and that they envisage an eventual merger. MS

    [30] LIBYA POSTPONES VERDICT IN TRIAL OF BULGARIANS

    A Libyan court on 22 September postponed passing verdicts on the six Bulgarians accused of having willfully infected children with the HIV virus, AP and Reuters reported. Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Elena Poptodorova said the postponement "gives us reason to be optimistic, as it would give the court more time to consider the evidence presented by the defense." She said the verdict is now expected on 22 December. Parliamentary Chairman Ognyan Gerdzhikov said that the postponement "and the presence of Western diplomats" at the court's session "could mean a new chance for our compatriots." MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [31] There is no End Note today.

    24-09-01

    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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