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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 223, 01-11-27

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. 223, 27 November 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] EU OFFICIAL URGES CONCESSIONS TO END KARABAKH CONFLICT...
  • [02] ...BUT ARMENIAN MINISTER PESSIMISTIC ON EVE OF PRESIDENTS' TALKS
  • [03] GEORGIA HINTS AT FLEXIBILITY OVER TIME FRAME FOR CLOSURE OF RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES
  • [04] HAS A NEW ARMED CONTINGENT INFILTRATED ABKHAZIA?
  • [05] GEORGIAN GUERRILLAS REJECT PROPOSED SUSPENSION OF OPERATIONS IN ABKHAZIA
  • [06] KYRGYZSTAN CONSIDERS FRENCH REQUEST FOR USE OF AIR BASES
  • [07] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT BEGINS DEBATING UZBEK AIR RAIDS
  • [08] KYRGYZ OFFICIALS DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH XINJIANG
  • [09] KYRGYZSTAN PROPOSES TALKS ON WATER RESOURCES
  • [10] TAJIKISTAN TO OPEN EMBASSY IN KABUL
  • [11] TAJIK PRESIDENT DEMANDS MAXIMUM TRANSPARENCY IN USE OF INTERNATIONAL LOANS...
  • [12] ...DECREES INCREASE IN PUBLIC-SECTOR WAGES, PENSIONS
  • [13] UZBEKISTAN WANTS CONFIRMATION OF NAMANGANI'S DEATH

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [14] MACEDONIAN LEGISLATORS BACK ELECTION DELAY...
  • [15] ...AS NOW SEEMS ASSURED
  • [16] MACEDONIAN JUSTICE MINISTER SUBMITS LIST OF AMNESTY CANDIDATES
  • [17] U.S. MILITARY EQUIPMENT FOR MACEDONIA
  • [18] KOSOVAR EX-GUERRILLA LEADER HELD
  • [19] UN POLICE TO ENSURE SAFETY FOR LEGISLATORS IN KOSOVA
  • [20] U.S. ANNOUNCES TRAINING EXERCISE IN KOSOVA
  • [21] IS CROATIA DRAGGING HEELS ON WAR CRIMES?
  • [22] CROATIAN-SLOVENIAN BORDER ISSUE UNDER DISCUSSION -- AGAIN
  • [23] EU PRESSURES MONTENEGRO AGAINST INDEPENDENCE
  • [24] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER SAYS MILOSEVIC INDICTMENT THREATENS REPUBLIKA SRPSKA
  • [25] UN SACKS THREE MORE BOSNIAN SERB POLICE
  • [26] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION...
  • [27] ...IN VOTING THAT SIGNIFIES A WARNING SIGNAL
  • [28] ROMANIAN SENATE CHAIRMAN DISMISSES ALLEGATIONS OF MISCONDUCT
  • [29] VORONIN SAYS MOLDOVA 'OWES NO EXPLANATION' TO ROMANIA...
  • [30] ...STEPS INTO MARK TWAIN'S SHOES...
  • [31] ...AND SAYS HE WILL BACK UKRAINIAN COMRADES IN THE NEXT ELECTIONS
  • [32] TRANSDNIESTER BLOCKS CRITICAL RTR REPORT
  • [33] BULGARIA TO ACCELERATE MILITARY REFORMS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [34] There is no End Note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] EU OFFICIAL URGES CONCESSIONS TO END KARABAKH CONFLICT...

    EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana told Mediamax on 24 November that he believes a solution to the Karabakh conflict depends on the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan demonstrating the courage to make "painful concessions," and on the acceptance of those concessions by the populations of both countries. Solana affirmed the EU's support for the ongoing mediation conducted by the OSCE Minsk Group. He also advocated regional cooperation between the South Caucasus states as an effective means of confidence building. Azerbaijan has consistently rejected Armenian proposals to embark on such economic cooperation. He affirmed the EU's commitment to promoting a normalization of Armenian- Turkish relations, and warned that unresolved conflicts in the South Caucasus constitute an obstacle to the countries of the region joining the EU. LF

    [02] ...BUT ARMENIAN MINISTER PESSIMISTIC ON EVE OF PRESIDENTS' TALKS

    Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told parliament deputies on 26 November that he doubts the upcoming meeting in Moscow between Armenian President Robert Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev will give new impetus to the Karabakh peace process, according to Arminfo, as cited by Groong. The two presidents are scheduled to meet on 30 November on the sidelines of the CIS summit. Oskanian added that meetings between the two presidents contribute only slightly to the peace process. He characterized as extremely optimistic predictions that there will be progress in negotiations during the first six months of 2002. LF

    [03] GEORGIA HINTS AT FLEXIBILITY OVER TIME FRAME FOR CLOSURE OF RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES

    Georgia will continue to insist on the closure of the Russian military bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, and talks on doing so should be resumed as soon as possible, Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Gela Bezhuashvili told Interfax on 26 November. At the same time, Bezhuashvili hinted that Georgia may show greater flexibility over the time frame for doing so. Tbilisi earlier insisted that the bases should be closed within two to three years, while Moscow argued that it would take up to 14 years, given the need to build new barracks in Russia for the servicemen withdrawn from Georgia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May and 25 June 2001). LF

    [04] HAS A NEW ARMED CONTINGENT INFILTRATED ABKHAZIA?

    A group of some 1,500 armed men, whom the Abkhaz government believes are Ukrainians, has been spotted in Abkhazia, Caucasus Press reported on 26 November, quoting "reliable sources." LF

    [05] GEORGIAN GUERRILLAS REJECT PROPOSED SUSPENSION OF OPERATIONS IN ABKHAZIA

    David Shengelia, commander of the Forest Brothers guerrilla formation, has rejected the 26 November proposal by Abkhaz Supreme Council in exile Chairman Tamaz Nadareishvili to suspend guerrilla activities in Abkhazia until May 2002 in order to allow the Georgian leadership one last chance of resolving the conflict peacefully, Caucasus Press reported on 27 November. At a conference in Kutaisi several days earlier, Imereti Governor Temur Shashiashvili proposed that Georgia should issue an ultimatum to the Abkhaz leadership to agree to a settlement within six months. If Sukhum fails to do so, Shashiashvili said, the Georgian leadership should render "active support" to the guerrilla formations. The Georgian government has repeatedly insisted it has no influence over those formations. LF

    [06] KYRGYZSTAN CONSIDERS FRENCH REQUEST FOR USE OF AIR BASES

    The Kyrgyz government is considering how to respond to a French request for permission to base military aircraft in Kyrgyzstan for the duration of the antiterrorist operations in Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001), Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Lira Sabyrova told Reuters on 26 November. She said France did not specify the number of aircraft involved, but ITAR-TASS the same day gave the number as eight. The Russian agency further quoted a source within the Kyrgyz presidential administration as saying that a meeting of the Kyrgyz Security Council concluded that Kyrgyzstan's air bases are unsuitable for use by French air force planes. Interfax on 26 November quoted an unnamed Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry official as denying that France offered to help Kyrgyzstan secure the restructuring of its debts to the Paris Club countries in return for the use of the Kyrgyz air bases. LF

    [07] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT BEGINS DEBATING UZBEK AIR RAIDS

    The Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of Kyrgyzstan's bicameral parliament) on 23 November began a debate on the bombardment by Uzbek military planes of a Kyrgyz village in August 1999 in which three civilians were killed and 28 wounded, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1999). The Kyrgyz government failed to demand compensation from Uzbekistan for that raid, which was directed against militants from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who had entered Kyrgyz territory. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ OFFICIALS DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH XINJIANG

    Visiting China's Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region on 19-22 November, Kyrgyz First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev discussed with local officials the possibility of easing restrictions on border crossings, the sale of Kyrgyz coal to the region, plans for the joint exploitation of Kyrgyzstan's Savai-Ordo gold deposit, and beginning regular flights between Osh and Kashgar, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. LF

    [09] KYRGYZSTAN PROPOSES TALKS ON WATER RESOURCES

    Kyrgyz Premier Kurmanbek Bakiev has written to his Kazakh and Uzbek counterparts to propose trilateral talks in Bishkek next month on the equitable use of Central Asia's water resources, Bakiev's adviser Andrei Iordan told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 26 November. The presidents of both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have harshly criticized the law passed by the Kyrgyz parliament in June on the sale of water to neighboring countries. LF

    [10] TAJIKISTAN TO OPEN EMBASSY IN KABUL

    Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov on 26 November issued a decree on the opening as soon as possible of a Tajik embassy in Kabul, Interfax and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. LF

    [11] TAJIK PRESIDENT DEMANDS MAXIMUM TRANSPARENCY IN USE OF INTERNATIONAL LOANS...

    President Rakhmonov warned ministers and government officials at a meeting on 24 November that international organizations are increasingly complaining of the embezzlement or misuse of funds provided for infrastructure development, Interfax and Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 26 November. Rakhmonov dismissed the head of the government agency for dealing with the aftereffects of natural disasters, Nurullo Ashurov, in connection with the disappearance of $60,000 assigned for repair work. LF

    [12] ...DECREES INCREASE IN PUBLIC-SECTOR WAGES, PENSIONS

    President Rakhmonov has also issued a decree raising the minimum wage, pensions, and the salaries of public sector employees, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 26 November. As of 1 January 2002, the minimum wage will be 4 somonis ($1.60). The decree also introduces regional coefficients for employees in mountainous and desert regions, including the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. LF

    [13] UZBEKISTAN WANTS CONFIRMATION OF NAMANGANI'S DEATH

    The Uzbek authorities would like to see concrete evidence to substantiate reports that the country's most wanted man, outlawed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Djuma Namangani, was indeed killed while fighting on the Taliban side in Afghanistan, Reuters reported on 26 November, quoting an unnamed Uzbek government official. Interfax last week quoted Tajik officials as confirming that Namangani was killed during fighting in Kunduz on 18 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 November 2001). LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [14] MACEDONIAN LEGISLATORS BACK ELECTION DELAY...

    Leaders of the four largest political parties have endorsed postponing the parliamentary elections slated for 27 January 2002 to a later date, as proposed by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE), RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 26 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 26 November 2001). The VMRO favors postponement on the grounds that a campaign should not take place until peace has been consolidated. The constitution requires that the parliament dissolve itself two months before an election, which would mean an immediate dissolution if the January deadline is to be kept. The two largest ethnic Albanian parties favor the postponement so that parliament can pass a law on local self-government and enact legislation on the use of the Albanian language by deputies, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 27 November 2001). The ethnic Macedonian Social Democrats (SDSM) agree to the postponement, but not to a date beyond 27 April. The Social Democrats lead the VMRO-DPMNE in opinion polls, but much of the electorate is undecided. PM

    [15] ...AS NOW SEEMS ASSURED

    On 27 November, parliament speaker Stojan Andov cancelled a planned vote on dissolving the legislature so the campaign for the January vote could begin, Reuters reported. This means the election will have to take place at some later date. The SDSM deputies failed in an attempt to set a relatively early date for the vote in order to exploit their lead in the polls over the VMRO-DPMNE. PM

    [16] MACEDONIAN JUSTICE MINISTER SUBMITS LIST OF AMNESTY CANDIDATES

    Idzet Mehmeti, an ethnic Albanian, gave President Boris Trajkovski on 26 November a list of 88 imprisoned ethnic Albanians whom Mehmeti considers candidates for the amnesty that Trajkovski recently decreed, dpa reported from Skopje. Some 80 inmates are fighters of the National Liberation Army (UCK) who were imprisoned on charges related to "terrorism." The remaining eight belong to an underground Albanian militia. All were jailed before 26 August. The constitution recognizes as valid only an amnesty approved by the parliament, but Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski has refused to enact such a measure. Most observers regard an amnesty of all UCK fighters not accused of war crimes by The Hague as an essential step toward peace. An amnesty was promised in the Ohrid peace agreement of 13 August. PM

    [17] U.S. MILITARY EQUIPMENT FOR MACEDONIA

    Acting U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Eleanor Nagy and State Secretary in the Defense Ministry Vladimir Gjoreski officiated at the handover of 19 vehicles and mine-removing equipment from the U.S. to Macedonia in Skopje on 26 November, dpa reported. The equipment, which includes communications hardware, office equipment, and computers, is valued at $500,000. Nagy said the gift will enable Macedonians to clear land mines without foreign help. Gjoreski noted that "this donation continues the good cooperation between Macedonia and the U.S.," adding that Washington has given Skopje military aid worth more than $10 million in recent years. PM

    [18] KOSOVAR EX-GUERRILLA LEADER HELD

    Former Kosovar guerrilla chief Gani Ymeri appeared before a panel of international judges in the Mitrovica district court on 26 November on charges of "serious crimes committed in Kosova in June 1999" against Serbian civilians, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001). The judges ruled that he should be held pending investigation of his case. Prosecutor Matti Hynynen told dpa that it is not excluded that the case could be sent to The Hague. This is the first time that a Kosovar Albanian insurgent leader has been arrested and sent to court on charges related to crimes against Serbs. PM

    [19] UN POLICE TO ENSURE SAFETY FOR LEGISLATORS IN KOSOVA

    A special unit of 200 police is undergoing training in Prishtina to protect the 120 legislators elected in the recent parliamentary elections, dpa reported on 26 November. The 22 Serbian deputies will be guarded while traveling from their homes in largely Serbian regions to the parliament and back. Security arrangements for ethnic Albanian deputies will be dealt with on an individual basis. Weapons will be banned from the parliament building and all deputies will be searched upon entering. PM

    [20] U.S. ANNOUNCES TRAINING EXERCISE IN KOSOVA

    Reaffirming the U.S. commitment to security in the region, U.S. KFOR announced in a press release from Camp Bondsteel on 27 November that "the United States Army Europe will conduct operations in Kosovo from November 28, 2001 to December 15, 2001 to demonstrate the U.S. and NATO commitment to maintaining peace in the region and the capability to rapidly reinforce NATO forces. United States forces will conduct combined patrols, as well as airborne and joint exercises with United States Armed Forces Europe. U.S. soldiers and airmen from Germany and Italy will deploy to Kosovo as part of an operational deployment rehearsal named Rapid Guardian III. This will exercise the rapid deployment of a U.S. component of the NATO Balkan Strategic Reserve Force." PM

    [21] IS CROATIA DRAGGING HEELS ON WAR CRIMES?

    Amid wrangling by lawyers, a judge in the Rijeka county court postponed for the fifth time the trial of General Mirko Norac and four other men indicted for war crimes against Serbian civilians in the Gospic area in 1991, Reuters reported on 26 November. This is the first trial of Croats for crimes against Serbs, and the first time that The Hague has allowed Croatia to try an indicted person on Croatian soil. It is not excluded that the war crimes tribunal might demand Norac's extradition if it concludes that the Croatian authorities are dragging their heels on bringing war criminals to justice. The government has opened a number of other cases in which Serbs were the victims, but no one has yet been brought to trial. Public opinion polls suggest that Norac and other indicted war criminals have a solid base of support, but also that most Croats want to put war-related issues behind them and promote their country's social and economic development. PM

    [22] CROATIAN-SLOVENIAN BORDER ISSUE UNDER DISCUSSION -- AGAIN

    The border dispute that has bedeviled relations between Zagreb and Ljubljana for a decade overshadows the visit of President Milan Kucan of Slovenia to Croatia, which began on 27 November, Hina reported. Croatian President Stipe Mesic urged both sides to reach an agreement based on the draft worked out by Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek in July lest the case be submitted to international arbitration (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 3 August 2001). Mesic suggested that the impasse might be broken by separating the question of Slovenia's access to the Adriatic from that of Croatian ownership of the seabed. PM

    [23] EU PRESSURES MONTENEGRO AGAINST INDEPENDENCE

    In the latest effort by Brussels to discourage independence aspirations by Montenegro, EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana said in Belgrade on 27 November that "the best solution would be a continuation of the federation" of Serbia and Montenegro, AP reported. He warned Montenegrin leaders that "it is a mistake to think that separation would be a faster way to become a part of the EU." PM

    [24] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER SAYS MILOSEVIC INDICTMENT THREATENS REPUBLIKA SRPSKA

    Republika Srpska Deputy Prime Minister Sinisa Djordjevic told Belgrade Radio B92 on 25 November that The Hague's recent indictment of former President Slobodan Milosevic threatens to undermine the legitimacy of the Republika Srpska, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. Djordjevic noted that the indictment will strengthen Muslim and Croatian claims that the Bosnian Serb entity was established on the foundations of ethnic cleansing. He stressed that it is in Belgrade's and Banja Luka's own interests to dispel "the myth of genocide" in the Bosnian conflict. PM

    [25] UN SACKS THREE MORE BOSNIAN SERB POLICE

    Stefo Lehmann, who is a spokesman for the UN police administration in Bosnia (IPTF), said in Sarajevo on 27 November that Foca police officers Brane Cosovic, Miodrag Koprivica, and Zoran Vladicic "can no longer participate in any aspect of police work, either now or in the future, anywhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina," AP reported. This is the latest in a series of sackings by the IPTF of persons linked to wartime atrocities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 16 November 2001). PM

    [26] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION...

    By a vote of 128 against and 102 in favor, the Chamber of Deputies on 26 November rejected the motion by the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Party to debate the situation in the health care system, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001). The two parties' motion was supported not only by the Greater Romania Party, but also by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), which supports in parliament the ruling Social Democratic Party under an agreement between the two formations. MS

    [27] ...IN VOTING THAT SIGNIFIES A WARNING SIGNAL

    The support of the motion by UDMR deputies is considered by observers to be a "warning signal" that the UDMR is sending to the PSD in the wake of recent allegations of the "loss of state control" over Harghita and Covasna counties (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001). Public Administration Minister Octav Cozmanca, in an apparent attempt to soothe the UDMR, the same day rejected the PNL's demand that Prime Minister Adrian Nastase report to the parliament on the alleged "loss of state control," which was mentioned in the latest report of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). Cozmanca said there is no constitutional provision that would justify the PNL's demand. Cozmanca said the government has "no evidence" of the SRI's claims, and that it will ask the SRI to provide such evidence to the Prosecutor-General's Office or to the Supreme Council on National Defense. Serban Mihailescu, the secretary-general of the government, told the Senate the same day that if the allegations are confirmed the cabinet will immediately take "necessary measures," but if they are not proved "those responsible for making them will be held accountable." MS

    [28] ROMANIAN SENATE CHAIRMAN DISMISSES ALLEGATIONS OF MISCONDUCT

    Senate Chairman Nicolae Vacaroiu, a former premier (1992-1996), on 26 November dismissed as inaccurate a report in the daily "Romania libera" according to which he received $708,000 from businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu for services provided to obtain a license for Vantu's Bank of Investment and Development, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Vacaroiu admitted that he signed a contract with Vantu to facilitate the bank's launching, but added that at his own request the contract was canceled and "I did not receive a cent." In response to a question, he said he canceled the contract after its details were leaked to the press and that he has no documentation that can prove the cancellation. He said he received "an excellent salary" as chairman of the board of the bank for over one year prior to the 2000 elections, but added that even that salary was "below my real value." Vantu is alleged in Romanian media reports to have masterminded and benefited from the collapse of the National Investment Fund. MS

    [29] VORONIN SAYS MOLDOVA 'OWES NO EXPLANATION' TO ROMANIA...

    Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin told journalists on 26 November that Moldova "owes no explanation" to Romania over the speech made in Strasbourg in early October by Justice Minister Ion Morei, Mediafax reported. Morei told the European Court on Human Rights, which is examining the complaint of the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church that Romania's "expansionist policies" are one of the reasons for that church's revival. Following the speech, Romanian Premier Nastase canceled a scheduled visit to Moldova. Voronin said Morei is a Moldovan official who "owes explanations to his hierarchical superiors alone." Voronin also announced that Romanian President Ion Iliescu will pay an official visit to Chisinau in December, Infotag reported. MS

    [30] ...STEPS INTO MARK TWAIN'S SHOES...

    "Predictions about the imminent collapse of the CIS have turned out to be slightly exaggerated," Voronin said at the same press conference, adding that "over 10 years the CIS has demonstrated its ability to survive and develop," ITAR-TASS reported. He also said he wants the upcoming CIS summit in Moscow, scheduled for 29-30 November, to decide that the following summit will be held on 31 May 2002 in Chisinau. Voronin also confirmed his intention to grant semi-official status to the Russian language, saying a bill is under preparation that would give the Russian language special status. "I am for a real bilingualism," Infotag quoted him as saying. He explained that while 99 percent of Moldovans know Russian, only 10-12 percent of non-Moldovans speak the country's official language. "I am in favor of citizens being able to speak both languages," he said. MS

    [31] ...AND SAYS HE WILL BACK UKRAINIAN COMRADES IN THE NEXT ELECTIONS

    Voronin also said he will back in the next parliamentary elections in Ukraine "communist comrades" who may help in bringing about a solution of the conflict with the Transdniester. He explained that each time he meets his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma they agree on setting up the joint custom posts that Chisinau wants in place, but that later "our Ukrainian colleagues dial back, claiming this is an economic blockade against the Transdniester." The Ukrainian authorities, he said, "behave as if the problem is more important for Ukraine than for Moldova," and by so doing they condone smuggling by the Transdniester authorities, Infotag reported. He said that unlike Russia, the Ukrainians have not yet learned "what is by now clear to everybody," namely that the Transdniester is ruled by "a criminal group" and that "the Smirnov regime seeks to immortalize itself" under the guise of the "presidential elections" scheduled for 9 December. MS

    [32] TRANSDNIESTER BLOCKS CRITICAL RTR REPORT

    A critical report on the Transdniester aired on Russian RTR television was blocked on 26 November, ITAR-TASS and Moldovan media reported. The report was broadcast on the "Vesti nedeli" ("News of the week") program and the station's relays in the separatist region were shut down right after the report began. Among other things, the report revealed the involvement of the leadership in Tiraspol in arms trading, smuggling, and its connections to organized crime. It also insisted on the personal involvement of separatist leader Igor Smirnov's son Vladimir in the illicit affairs and said arms are being illegally produced in the Transdniester despite the leadership's refutation of such reports. Transdniester "Information Minister" Boris Akulov said the program was switched off because of a "technical failure" that affected all other Russian-language broadcasts. Akulov said the report will be shown on the local television "in full" but added that "we will [also] provide our comments" and "explain who ordered the report [and] how it was financed." Akulov said two main "beneficiaries" of the report are Moldovan President Voronin and Tom Zenovich, who is running against Smirnov in the "presidential" elections on 9 December. MS

    [33] BULGARIA TO ACCELERATE MILITARY REFORMS

    Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov told AFP on 26 November that the Bulgarian armed forces will be cut by 20,000 men over the next 2-1/2 years as part of the reforms to prepare the country for joining NATO. "The most difficult part of the reform has still to come," he said, adding that reductions carried out since 1999 have hitherto been limited to "retiring people, getting rid of unfilled posts and cutting the number of young recruits." However, in the next phase "20,000 military personnel will have to go...to bring the numbers down to 45,000." Svinarov also said the army will have to wait until 2003 before financial resources can be freed-up to modernize its arsenal and bring it up to NATO standards. He explained that the defense budget has swelled to cope with compensation payments for officers made redundant and the maintenance of the armed forces, and that in 2002 it will absorb 3 percent of the GDP. But he added that the army's communication system will be compatible with those used by NATO members by the time the organization holds its 2002 Prague summit. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [34] There is no End Note today.

    27-11-01

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


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