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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 200, 01-10-22

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. 200, 22 October 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ANTHRAX SCARES REPORTED IN ARMENIA, KAZAKHSTAN
  • [02] ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES ITS FORMER BOSS IS IN ARMENIA
  • [03] UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO ARMENIA
  • [04] ARMENIA TO RECEIVE DELAYED WORLD BANK LOAN TRANCHE
  • [05] JUDGES OF NEW ARMENIAN ECONOMIC COURT SWORN IN
  • [06] TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN
  • [07] DEFENSE MINISTER CONFIRMS U.S. IS USING AZERBAIJAN'S AIRSPACE
  • [08] AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION RALLY PROCEEDS WITHOUT VIOLENT INCIDENTS
  • [09] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT AMENDS ELECTION LEGISLATION
  • [10] VIOLATIONS REPORTED DURING GEORGIAN BY-ELECTION
  • [11] GEORGIAN INSURGENTS TO APPEAL SENTENCES
  • [12] GEORGIAN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE REVIEWS ABKHAZ SITUATION
  • [13] ICRC VISITS PRISONERS IN ABKHAZIA
  • [14] KAZAKH ECOLOGY OFFICIAL SLAMS PROPOSAL TO STORE NUCLEAR WASTE
  • [15] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT AMENDS CONSTITUTION TO GIVE RUSSIAN STATUS OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
  • [16] UZBEKISTAN RESUMES GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN
  • [17] RUSSIAN PRESIDENT AFFIRMS SUPPORT IN DUSHANBE FOR AFGHAN OPPOSITION LEADERSHIP
  • [18] IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES AFGHAN SITUATION WITH TAJIK LEADERSHIP
  • [19] GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES HUMANITARIAN AID FOR AFGHANISTAN WITH TAJIK PRESIDENT
  • [20] RUSSIAN, TAJIK, KAZAKH, KYRGYZ EMERGENCY MINISTERS PLAN TO COORDINATE RELIEF FOR AFGHANISTAN
  • [21] TURKMEN PRESIDENT RECEIVES YET ANOTHER AWARD
  • [22] PRACTICING MUSLIM TORTURED TO DEATH IN POLICE CUSTODY IN UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [23] MACEDONIAN ETHNICALLY MIXED POLICE ENTER EX-REBEL AREAS
  • [24] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT TO FINALLY APPROVE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES?
  • [25] FIVE DETAINED IN BOSNIA OVER TERRORIST LINKS
  • [26] FORMER YUGOSLAV GENERAL TURNS HIMSELF IN TO HAGUE
  • [27] MONTENEGRO SAYS 'NO' TO KOSTUNICA
  • [28] HAGUE PROSECUTOR IN SERBIAN CAPITAL
  • [29] KOSOVAR JOURNALIST KILLED
  • [30] CROATIAN HARD-LINE VETERANS PROTEST
  • [31] ROMANIA HAILS 'VICTORY' OVER VENICE COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS
  • [32] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER MEETS RUSSIAN PREMIER
  • [33] GREATER ROMANIA PARTY TO BOYCOTT DEBATES ON LIFTING PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY
  • [34] MOLDOVAN METROPOLITAN CHURCH WANTS 'CONCORDAT' WITH STATE
  • [35] UKRAINIAN PREMIER ENDS MOLDOVAN VISIT
  • [36] SMIRNOV OFFICIALLY REGISTERED AS 'PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE'
  • [37] BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS SS-23 MISSILES DO NOT FIT INTO COUNTRY'S DEFENSE DOCTRINE
  • [38] IMF SAYS BULGARIAN ECONOMY AFFECTED BY EUROPEAN SLOWDOWN

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [39] There is no end note.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ANTHRAX SCARES REPORTED IN ARMENIA, KAZAKHSTAN

    Armenian Deputy Interior Minister Ararat Makhtesian confirmed on 19 October that the Ministry of Culture, Youth Affairs, and Sport received a letter earlier that day containing a suspicious white powder, Noyan Tapan reported. Makhtesian said tests were being conducted and it was not clear at that juncture whether the powder contained anthrax spores. Also on 19 October, the Almaty office of the National Bank of Kazakhstan was evacuated and eight employees were placed under medical supervision after the delivery of a letter containing a white powder, Interfax reported. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES ITS FORMER BOSS IS IN ARMENIA

    Makhtesian also said on 19 October that his ministry doubts claims by two residents of the village of Voskepar in Tavush Raion to have sighted former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian, Noyan Tapan reported. Siradeghian is widely believed to have fled Armenia after parliament deputies voted in April 2000 to lift his immunity to allow him to be taken into custody for the duration of his trial on charges of commissioning several political murders (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April 2000). Makhtesian said his ministry is working with the authorities of an unspecified country to clarify information that Siradeghian is in hiding abroad. LF

    [03] UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO ARMENIA

    Visiting Yerevan on 18-19 October, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko discussed expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Bilateral trade turnover doubled during the first six months of this year to reach $14.6 million, according to Noyan Tapan. Zlenko also reaffirmed Kyiv's interest in participation in construction of the planned Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. Zlenko's talks with his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian and with Armenian President Robert Kocharian focused on the Karabakh conflict. Zlenko, who visited Azerbaijan and Georgia before arriving in Armenia, told Oskanian that "despite bellicose statements," Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev is committed to seeking a peaceful solution of the conflict. Oskanian said Ukraine is ready to contribute to seeking such a solution and that Armenia will work with Kyiv in the coming months to that end. LF

    [04] ARMENIA TO RECEIVE DELAYED WORLD BANK LOAN TRANCHE

    A World Bank representative in Yerevan announced on 19 October that the bank will release next month the second tranche, worth approximately $15 million, of an SAC loan intended to cover almost half of Armenia's anticipated budget deficit for this year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The tranche was originally scheduled to be made available in September, but was delayed because of the shortfall in tax revenues that totaled 17 percent over the first nine months of the year. The third and final tranche of the loan is contingent on the "transparent and open" privatization of four energy distribution networks. LF

    [05] JUDGES OF NEW ARMENIAN ECONOMIC COURT SWORN IN

    The chairman and six remaining members of Armenia's economic arbitration court were sworn in at the presidential palace in Yerevan on 20 October, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The court was established by parliament earlier this year and will resolve commercial disputes between private businesses, government agencies, and individual citizens. LF

    [06] TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN

    Ismail Cem held talks in Baku on 21 October with Azerbaijani President Aliev, Turan reported. Discussing the international situation following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, Aliev again argued that both Azerbaijan and Turkey have repeatedly been the target of Armenian terrorism. He agreed to Cem's proposal that the Turcophone former Soviet republics should provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. The two also discussed the planned Baku-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum export pipelines for oil and gas respectively, and the situation in Georgia. LF

    [07] DEFENSE MINISTER CONFIRMS U.S. IS USING AZERBAIJAN'S AIRSPACE

    The U.S. has been making use of Azerbaijan's airspace since the beginning of the ongoing antiterrorist strikes against targets in Afghanistan, Colonel General Safar Abiev told journalists in Baku on 20 October, according to Interfax. Turan quoted presidential administration official Novruz Mamedov as saying the same day that the aircraft in question are transporting humanitarian aid and unspecified equipment needed for the antiterrorist operation. LF

    [08] AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION RALLY PROCEEDS WITHOUT VIOLENT INCIDENTS

    Several thousand people attended a demonstration in Baku on 20 October organized by the opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA), Turan reported. The participants called on political parties to "unite in the struggle" against the present Azerbaijani leadership, according to AP. They demanded that the government end human rights abuses, take measures to reduce unemployment, release political prisoners, close the criminal cases against DPA Chairman Rasul Quliev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April and 14 December 1998), and abandon its "defeatist" policy with regard to resolving the Karabakh conflict. Several hundred police observed the proceedings but did not intervene. LF

    [09] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT AMENDS ELECTION LEGISLATION

    Parliament deputies voted on 19 October overwhelmingly in favor of amending the law on the Central Election Commission to empower that body to conduct referenda, Turan and RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported. It is not clear whether that move was made in anticipation that any proposed political settlement of the Karabakh conflict be submitted to a nationwide referendum. LF

    [10] VIOLATIONS REPORTED DURING GEORGIAN BY-ELECTION

    According to preliminary returns, former Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili defeated 10 rival candidates to win election in the Tbilisi district of Vake in a by-election on 21 October, winning 64.4 percent of the vote, Caucasus Press reported. Three other candidates withdrew from the race on 19 October. Saakashvili's closest rival, National Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia, polled 9.7 percent. It is not clear whether the Central Electoral Commission will recognize the validity of the ballot as the ballot box was stolen from one of the 48 polling stations shortly before the close of polling. Sarishvili-Chanturia on 22 October accused Tbilisi Mayor Vano Zodelava of falsifying the poll outcome and demanded that he resign. As anticipated, former Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze garnered up to 80 percent of the vote in the west Georgian constituency of Baghdadi (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 26, 13 July 2001). LF

    [11] GEORGIAN INSURGENTS TO APPEAL SENTENCES

    Two members of the military formation headed by Colonel Akaki Eliava intend to appeal the sentences handed down to them on 18 October by Georgia's Supreme Court, lawyer Sevdia Ugrekhelidze told Caucasus Press the following day. One of the men was jailed for two and the other for four years for their role in a hostage-taking at a police station in the west Georgian town of Zestafoni in July 2000 during which Eliava was killed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July 2000). LF

    [12] GEORGIAN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE REVIEWS ABKHAZ SITUATION

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze chaired a session on 20 October of Georgia's National Security Council, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. Participants discussed the implementation of measures outlined in the Georgian parliament's resolution on Abkhazia, which calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under the CIS aegis along the border between Abkhazia the rest of Georgia (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 12 October 2001). LF

    [13] ICRC VISITS PRISONERS IN ABKHAZIA

    The International Committee of the Red Cross on 15 October visited nine men taken prisoner during the recent fighting in Abkhazia's Kodori gorge, according to a press release of 19 October. The men's nationality was not specified. LF

    [14] KAZAKH ECOLOGY OFFICIAL SLAMS PROPOSAL TO STORE NUCLEAR WASTE

    Kairat Aitekenov, the chairman of the Environment Protection Committee of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, told a conference in Almaty on 19 October on storing nuclear waste that his ministry opposes recent proposals by other Kazakh officials that the country should import and store nuclear waste, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July and 19 October 2001). He said doing so would be tantamount to "solving economic problems while ignoring environmental ones." LF

    [15] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT AMENDS CONSTITUTION TO GIVE RUSSIAN STATUS OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

    The People's Assembly (the upper chamber of Kyrgyzstan's bicameral parliament) voted in the first reading on 19 October to amend the constitution to formally designate Russian as an official language, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Both parliament chambers endorsed legislation last year granting Russian such status (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 2001). LF

    [16] UZBEKISTAN RESUMES GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN

    Uzbekistan resumed gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan on 20 October after a hiatus of several days, a senior energy official told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15, 16, and 19 October 2001). Under an agreement signed during a visit to Tashkent last week by the first deputy director of the Kyrgyz state-owned Kyrgyzenergo, Ilyas Davydov, Kyrgyzenergo will receive 300 million cubic meters of gas from Uzbekistan and purchase 532 million kilowatt-hours of electricity between now and 31 March 2002. Uzbekistan will also supply Kyrgyzstan with heating oil and gasoline. But Tashkent will resume supplies of gas to the state-owned company Kyrgyzgas only after that company pays back debts amounting to $500,000. It is not clear whether Kyrgyzstan agreed in return to rescind measures on charging Uzbekistan for the use of water from Kyrgyz reservoirs that prompted the gas cutoff. LF

    [17] RUSSIAN PRESIDENT AFFIRMS SUPPORT IN DUSHANBE FOR AFGHAN OPPOSITION LEADERSHIP

    At the invitation of Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov, Vladimir Putin made a three-hour stopover in Dushanbe early on 22 October on his way back to Moscow from the APEC summit in Shanghai for a summit with Rakhmonov and with Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Putin assured Rabbani of Moscow 's support of and recognition for "the internationally recognized government [which has] long been fighting to free its people," AP reported. He also ruled out participation of the Taliban in any future Afghan government, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Dushanbe. In a statement issued after the meeting, the signatories called for the "unconditional fulfillment of the terms of the antiterrorist coalition," the ouster of the Taliban government and the disbanding and disarmament of its armed units, for speeding up measures aimed at a political solution of the civil war in Afghanistan, and for the creation of a new Afghan government "with the maximum representation of various sections of the population, including all nations and ethnic groups," according to ITAR- TASS. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Federal Security Service head Nikolai Patrushev, who arrived in Dushanbe on 21 October, said they had discussed with Rakhmonov prior to Putin's arrival the military- political situation in Central Asia, while Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said they focused specifically on upgrading Russian-Tajik security cooperation. LF

    [18] IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES AFGHAN SITUATION WITH TAJIK LEADERSHIP

    Kamal Kharrazi met in Dushanbe on 19 October with President Rakhmonov and with his Tajik counterpart Talbak Nazarov, Reuters reported. Kharrazi said an ethnically mixed coalition government is the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, but rejected as "unacceptable" U.S. proposals that "moderate" Taliban elements be included in such a coalition, AP reported. He also condemned the ongoing U.S.-led military strikes against Afghanistan on the grounds that they are compounding the sufferings of the civilian population. LF

    [19] GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES HUMANITARIAN AID FOR AFGHANISTAN WITH TAJIK PRESIDENT

    Joschka Fischer arrived in Dushanbe on 20 October for talks with President Rakhmonov on improving the infrastructure of the border regions of Tajikistan in order to enable humanitarian aid from Germany to be delivered via Tajikistan to Afghanistan, AP reported. At present only one ferry operates between Tajikistan and the region of northern Afghanistan controlled by the opposition Northern Alliance. Fischer also discussed the military and political situation in Afghanistan with Rakhmonov, Tajik Premier Oqil Oqilov and Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullo. Like Kharrazi, Fischer too distanced himself from the U.S. proposal to include "moderate" Taliban representatives in a new Afghan government, Reuters reported. "What is a moderate Taliban?" Fischer asked, adding "This question has not yet been answered on my journey." LF

    [20] RUSSIAN, TAJIK, KAZAKH, KYRGYZ EMERGENCY MINISTERS PLAN TO COORDINATE RELIEF FOR AFGHANISTAN

    Meeting in Dushanbe on 19 October, the Russian, Tajik, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz senior government officials responsible for dealing with emergency situations pledged long-term cooperation in coordinating shipments of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Russian agencies reported. Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu warned after the consultations that only the swift dispatch of that humanitarian aid can prevent an exodus from Afghanistan of the estimated 252,000 displaced persons now congregated in the north of the country, Interfax reported. Shoigu told journalists that three routes will be used to transport relief aid: one from the southern Kyrgyz town of Osh via Tajikistan to Faizabad and Ishkashim, one from the town of Kulyab in southern Tajikistan to the Panjsher valley, and one from Uzbekistan that must still be finalized with his Uzbek counterpart. LF

    [21] TURKMEN PRESIDENT RECEIVES YET ANOTHER AWARD

    Turkmenistan's People's Council voted on 19 October to bestow a fifth Hero of Turkmenistan title on President Saparmurat Niyazov in acknowledgment of his contribution to "creating political harmony, social peace and harmony," and of his authorship of the spiritual guide "Rukhname," AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). LF

    [22] PRACTICING MUSLIM TORTURED TO DEATH IN POLICE CUSTODY IN UZBEKISTAN

    Ravshan Haidov, aged 32, who with his younger brother Rasul (25) was arrested in Tashkent on 17 October on suspicion of belonging to the banned religious organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, died as a result of torture in custody, Human Rights Watch reported in a press release datelined 20 October. Police claimed he died of a heart attack; his family say his neck and one leg were broken and his body was covered in bruises. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [23] MACEDONIAN ETHNICALLY MIXED POLICE ENTER EX-REBEL AREAS

    Ethnically-mixed Macedonian and Albanian patrols of up to 10 police -- accompanied by monitors from the EU and the OSCE and NATO guards -- began on 22 October to deploy into several villages deemed "low risk," Western news agencies reported. The villages in the Kumanovo and Tetovo areas were formerly occupied by the insurgents of the National Liberation Army (UCK). In Tearce, police entered only Macedonian areas. The key principles guiding the operation are flexibility and the need to build mutual confidence. Officials of the Macedonian government secured the agreement of EU and NATO negotiators over the 20-21 October weekend for police to carry machine guns in areas deemed particularly tense. The original plan was for the police to carry only handguns. Macedonian hard-liners, including Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, want a more robust police presence in order to reaffirm Skopje's control in the formerly UCK-held villages. International representatives and ethnic Albanian leaders fear that any sign of a crackdown by Skopje could lead to a renewal of the insurgency. The police will patrol only during daylight and in regular police cars. They will not have normal powers of arrest. PM

    [24] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT TO FINALLY APPROVE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES?

    Under a recent agreement between Macedonian political leaders and representatives of the EU and NATO, the Macedonian parliament's constitutional committee is scheduled to meet on 22 October to deal with the package of 15 constitutional amendments outlined in the 13 August Ohrid peace agreement, Western news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 2001). The parliament is slated to debate the amendments individually on 24 October. The process of amending the constitution to grant more equality to the large Albanian minority is several weeks behind the schedule outlined in the Ohrid agreement. Some ethnic Macedonian leaders have sought to revise key provisions of the constitutional changes and have engaged in obstructionist tactics in the legislature. A scheduled amnesty for UCK fighters, belatedly decreed by President Boris Trajkovski on 8 October, has been watered down so as to make it nearly meaningless. Parliament has yet to approve an amnesty. Elections are slated for January 2002, and many Macedonian legislators have taken a hard line toward the Albanians in order to appeal to voters in this ethnically polarized society. PM

    [25] FIVE DETAINED IN BOSNIA OVER TERRORIST LINKS

    Prime Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija said in Sarajevo on 21 October that five unspecified individuals have been detained recently in conjunction with threats made against the safety of the American and British embassies, dpa reported. He added that he hopes that the matter will be cleared up soon. The embassies reopened on 22 October after being closed for several days, AP reported. The Sarajevo daily "Dnevni avaz" said that the five men are all Algerians. PM

    [26] FORMER YUGOSLAV GENERAL TURNS HIMSELF IN TO HAGUE

    Retired General Pavle Strugar voluntarily flew from Podgorica to The Hague on 21 October to face charges in conjunction with the 1991 shelling of Dubrovnik by the Yugoslav military, "Vijesti" reported. Strugar, who suffers from kidney problems, was taken immediately for a medical examination upon his arrival at The Hague. Strugar has said that he is innocent and wants to clear his name, arguing that the tribunal "is as honorable a court as any court in Yugoslavia." Three other commanders were also indicted but remain at large, presumably in Serbia. They are Admiral Milan Zec, Admiral Miodrag Jokic, and Captain Vladimir Kovacevic, AP reported. The shelling killed 43 civilians and left 563 buildings destroyed or damaged. PM

    [27] MONTENEGRO SAYS 'NO' TO KOSTUNICA

    Miodrag Vukovic, a leader of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and adviser to President Milo Djukanovic, said in Podgorica on 21 October that Montenegro will not take part in talks on the future of Serbian-Montenegrin ties announced by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica for 26 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Podgorica objects to Kostunica's inclusion of pro-Belgrade Montenegrins from the federal government in the talks. Podgorica does not recognize the federal government, which it considers illegitimate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2001). PM

    [28] HAGUE PROSECUTOR IN SERBIAN CAPITAL

    Carla Del Ponte, The Hague-based war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor, was scheduled to arrive in Belgrade on 22 October, "Danas" reported. She will meet with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic, Justice Minster Vladan Batic, and Yugoslav Justice Minister Savo Markovic to ask for further extraditions of indicted war criminals. Del Ponte seeks the extradition of men involved in attacks on Dubrovnik and Vukovar in 1991. She will then travel to Podgorica. On 19 October, Reuters reported from The Hague that Del Ponte plans to expand the current charges against former President Slobodan Milosevic. Some of the new charges include that of genocide for war crimes in Bosnia. Other additional charges stem from the recent discovery of bodies of Kosovars in a mass grave near Belgrade and include sexual assault. Del Ponte's spokeswoman, Florence Hartmann, said that the new charges will be filed on 29 October. PM

    [29] KOSOVAR JOURNALIST KILLED

    Unidentified persons killed "Bota Sot" journalist Bekim Kastrati in a drive- by shooting in Lausha, west of Prishtina, on 19 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Kastrati was politically close to moderate Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). Also killed was Besim Dajaku, a former bodyguard of Rugova. Rugova said in a statement that the killing of Dajaku was an attack on the LDK, AP reported. A third man in the same car was wounded. UN police said that they do not know the motive for the killing. PM

    [30] CROATIAN HARD-LINE VETERANS PROTEST

    Some 15,000 war veterans demonstrated in Zagreb on 20 October against the government's policy of cooperation with The Hague, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Retired General Janko Bobetko told the veterans that the government seeks to "humiliate" them by reducing their privileges and pensions. After the protest, Prime Minister Ivica Racan said that the organizers' aims were political and that the turnout showed that they do not have much support. Zlatko Tomcic, the speaker of the parliament and president of the Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS),told reporters that the demonstration was a "big fiasco." President Stipe Mesic said that he is glad that the rally passed without any incidents. PM

    [31] ROMANIA HAILS 'VICTORY' OVER VENICE COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

    Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana on 19 and 20 October said the recommendations of the Venice Commission of EU experts have vindicated the Romanian position over the Status Law passed by the Hungarian parliament earlier this year. The nonbinding recommendations said that, while legislation encouraging ties with kinfolk in neighboring countries and intended to preserve their national identity is "positive," no state can "transfer jurisdiction" over a part of its territory to another state, nor can legislation affecting national minorities living abroad be implemented without the acquiescence of the state in question. It also said that a state whose citizens are members of national minorities must assume responsibility for those minorities' welfare. The commission also said that minority organizations in neighboring countries cannot fulfill tasks that are the prerogative of the state by definition, such as issuing identification documents. It said such documents can be issued by consulates in the neighboring country, but in order to avoid discrimination must not specify ethnic origin. MS

    [32] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER MEETS RUSSIAN PREMIER

    Chamber of Deputies Chairman Valer Dorneanu met in Moscow with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on 19 October to discuss ways to boost trade between the two countries and reduce the Romania's trade deficit with Russia, Romanian radio reported. The sides said "flexibility and realism" are required to advance discussions on the pending bilateral treaty between the two countries. Dorneanu, using terminology reminiscent of communist jargon, said the talks were "sincere, friendly, and constructive." Upon his return to Bucharest on 20 October, Dorneanu said his visit, which also included talks with Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev, was a "pleasant surprise" because Russia is just as interested as Romania in " giving a new dimension to our commercial and political relations." MS

    [33] GREATER ROMANIA PARTY TO BOYCOTT DEBATES ON LIFTING PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY

    Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor told journalists on 19 October that the PRM will boycott debates in the Senate and in the Chamber of Deputies on lifting his own parliamentary immunity and that of PRM deputy Danut Saulea, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Both Tudor and Saulea are charged with disseminating false information. Tudor said that the boycott will "put an end to the circus organized by the [ruling] Social Democratic Party." He said the PRM "does not recognize the moral authority of [Justice Minister] Rodica Stanoiu and [Prosecutor-General] Joita Tanase" to launch proceedings against "the largest opposition party." Tudor also said the PRM is demanding the immediate dismissal and trial of Tanase, whom he accused of "complicity with a genuine terrorist," who, he said, was an Iranian citizen resident of Craiova. MS

    [34] MOLDOVAN METROPOLITAN CHURCH WANTS 'CONCORDAT' WITH STATE

    A first-ever "Great Assembly" of the Moscow-subordinate Moldovan Metropolitan Church on 19 October called on the Moldovan authorities to sign a "concordat" with the church, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Observers in Chisinau and abroad said such an agreement would contradict Orthodox canonical law and tradition, being "a Catholic import into the Orthodox dogma." The gathering was attended by some 1,000 priests who signed the appeal, which also demands that ownership of all Orthodox churches in Moldova be transferred from parishes to the Metropolitan Church. The appeal also demands that the state refuse registration of a parish unless it proves that at least 30 percent of the population belongs to it. The assembly was obviously convoked ahead of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on the government's refusal to register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church. Addressing the gathering, President Vladimir Voronin said his administration will "never register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church" because it does not agree to creating divisions in the Orthodox Church. MS

    [35] UKRAINIAN PREMIER ENDS MOLDOVAN VISIT

    Anatoliy Kinakh and his Moldovan counterpart Vasile Tarlev signed protocols in Chisinau on 19 October attesting to the earlier ratification by their parliaments of a number of important agreements, including the demarcation of the border and the mutual recognition of property owned by each side on the other side's territory, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Contrary to Moldovan expectations, no agreement was signed on the joint custom checkpoints on Ukrainian territory and Kinakh said negotiations on this Moldovan request will continue. Tarlev described the visit as "historic" and pointed out that Moldovan-Ukrainian trade has grown by 47 percent over last year. An agreement on cultural collaboration was also signed on 19 October, after which Kinakh visited the village of his birth, which is in Moldova. MS

    [36] SMIRNOV OFFICIALLY REGISTERED AS 'PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE'

    The Electoral Commission in Tiraspol on 19 October officially registered the candidacy of Igor Smirnov as "presidential candidate" in the elections scheduled for 9 December, Infotag reported the same day. His running mate is Sergei Leontiev, the chief of the Tiraspol "presidential administration." The deadline for submitting the 8,500 signatures in support of a candidacy runs out on 10 November, and observers are doubtful that any of Smirnov's four rivals for the post will be able to meet this requirement. MS

    [37] BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS SS-23 MISSILES DO NOT FIT INTO COUNTRY'S DEFENSE DOCTRINE

    Speaking in the parliament on 19 October, Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov said Soviet-made SS-23 tactical missiles "do not fit" in the broadly defensive character of Bulgaria's military doctrine, BTA reported. Svinarov said that Bulgaria was "the last country in Europe" to have such weapons and that they "do not help boost the confidence of the international community in Bulgaria." He added that dismantling the missiles requires a government proposal and its approval by the parliament, as part of the military reform under way by Bulgaria's army. MS

    [38] IMF SAYS BULGARIAN ECONOMY AFFECTED BY EUROPEAN SLOWDOWN

    Bulgarian exports are suffering as a result of the European economic slowdown triggered by the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, the IMF resident representative in Bulgaria, Piritta Sorsa, told BTA on 21 October. She spoke ahead of the arrival in Sofia on 22 October of a fund delegation for talks with members of the Bulgarian government. "We are concerned with the current account deficit," Sorsa said, adding that the IMF recommends "tightening fiscal policy" and keeping the budget deficit at 4 to 5 percent of GDP. She also said that she doubts the government's envisaged zero taxation on reinvested profits -- which has been postponed for a later stage -- could attract foreign investors. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [39] There is no end note.

    22-10-01

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


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