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RFE/RL Newsline, 02-09-03

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] RUSSIA READY TO RATIFY KYOTO PROTOCOL...
  • [02] ...AND SEEKING TO HELP DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
  • [03] IRAQ SEEKS RUSSIA'S POLITICAL SUPPORT...
  • [04] ...AS MOSCOW OFFERS BAGHDAD NO PROMISES
  • [05] ISRAEL TRIES TO BLOCK SALE OF RUSSIAN ANTIAIRCRAFT MISSILES TO
  • [06] SENIOR POLITICAL OFFICERS RETURN TO ARMY
  • [07] IN ALL, 36 HELICOPTERS DOWNED IN CHECHNYA
  • [08] FSB DEPUTY DIRECTOR JOINS LEADING WESTERN AUDITOR
  • [09] HAVE PUTIN'S POLICIES TRIGGERED OPPOSITION AMONG RUSSIA'S ELITES?
  • [10] HISTORIAN 'CERTAIN' OF YELTSIN-PUTIN DEAL
  • [11] FOREIGN MINISTRY REACHES OUT TO THE ONLINE MASSES
  • [12] UPPER CHAMBER TO PUSH FOR RECONSIDERATION OF BERING SEA BORDER
  • [13] LOCAL DEPUTIES BAN THEMSELVES FROM SEEKING RE-ELECTION
  • [14] STREET FIGHTING MARS CITY DAY
  • [15] U.S. EMBASSY EMPLOYEE VICTIM OF ASSAULT
  • [16] KASPIISK BOMBING SUSPECT ESCAPES
  • [17] CHECHEN ADMINISTRATION HEAD BACKTRACKS OVER ELECTION SCHEDULE
  • [18] ARMENIAN MINISTER DENIES CAMPAIGN UNDER WAY TO REPLACE PREMIER
  • [19] ARMENIAN SCHOOLS ORDERED TO DISPLAY PORTRAITS OF PRESIDENT,
  • [20] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT VISITS NAGORNO-KARABAKH
  • [21] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES CALL FOR ANNULMENT OF REFERENDUM
  • [22] AZERBAIJANI VILLAGERS STAGE NEW PROTEST
  • [23] JOURNALISTIC ORGANIZATIONS CRITICIZE AZERBAIJANI DECREE ON STATE
  • [24] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS SITUATION IN PANKISI UNDER CONTROL
  • [25] GEORGIAN OFFICIALS AGAIN SAY THEY HAVE EVIDENCE OF RUSSIAN AIR
  • [26] GEORGIAN COURT REMANDS ARAB IN PRETRIAL CUSTODY
  • [27] GEORGIAN GUERRILLAS KILLED IN ABKHAZ CLASH
  • [28] RUSSIA'S ENVOY FOR ABKHAZ CONFLICT MEETS WITH SOUTH OSSETIAN
  • [29] KAZAKH PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT
  • [30] KAZAKH INTERIOR MINISTER IMPLICATES JAILED OPPOSITIONISTS IN
  • [31] INVESTIGATORS SAY USE OF FORCE AGAINST KYRGYZ PROTESTERS WAS
  • [32] ...AS PARTICIPANTS SCHEDULE PROTEST MARCH TO BISHKEK
  • [33] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PROPOSES AMENDING COMPOSITION OF CONSTITUTIONAL
  • [34] UZBEKISTAN MARKS INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY
  • [35] BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WANTS SCHOOLS TO DEFEND STATEHOOD...
  • [36] ...WHILE SOME MAY DISAGREE
  • [37] PUTIN SENDS BIRTHDAY GREETINGS TO BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT
  • [38] BELARUSIAN TRADERS STRIKE OVER FISCAL PRESSURE
  • [39] UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROTESTS TO OUST PRESIDENT...
  • [40] ...AS KUCHMA CONTINUES TO URGE POLITICAL REFORM...
  • [41] ...AND YUSHCHENKO WANTS TO FORM COALITION GOVERNMENT
  • [42] GONGADZE'S BODY IDENTIFIED AT LAST
  • [43] CURRENT LINEUP IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT
  • [44] NEW ESTONIAN CULTURE MINISTER APPOINTED
  • [45] RUSSIAN PARTIES TO RUN ON A JOINT LIST OF CANDIDATES IN ESTONIA'S
  • [46] LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL SAYS EU, NATO ACCESSION WOULD
  • [47] RUSSIA CONCERNED OVER U.S. RADAR IN LATVIA
  • [48] CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER POLAND'S EU CAMPAIGN CHIEF
  • [49] POLISH PARLIAMENT PASSES DEBT-RELIEF LAW...
  • [50] ...SHORTENS MILITARY SERVICE FOR UNIVERSITY GRADUATES
  • [51] IS FORMER CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER INVOLVED IN SRBA ILLEGALITIES?
  • [52] CZECH COALITION AGREES ON TAX INCREASES
  • [53] MORE FLOODING HITS SOUTHERN CZECH REPUBLIC
  • [54] VERHEUGEN WELCOMES CHANGES IN SLOVAK ELECTORAL POLLS
  • [55] DEPUTY PREMIER SAYS SLOVAK PRESIDENT UNLIKELY TO SEEK RE-ELECTION
  • [56] SLOVAKIA WANTS HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW TO BE RADICALLY AMENDED
  • [57] HUNGARIAN MINISTERS SUSPECTED OF COLLABORATING WITH COMMUNIST
  • [58] ...WHILE DISPUTE EMERGES IN RULING COALITION OVER REPORT
  • [59] HUNGARY'S FIDESZ PROTESTS GOVERNMENT'S CONTROL OF MEDIA
  • [60] PEST COUNTY WANTS ADMINISTRATIVE SEPARATION FROM BUDAPEST
  • [61] NGO CALLS ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO PRESSURE BELGRADE
  • [62] SERBIAN JUSTICE MINISTER MAY BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL VOTE
  • [63] SERBIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION RULES AGAINST KOSTUNICA
  • [64] STEINER: INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOT IN KOSOVA FOR THE LONG HAUL
  • [65] AUTHORITIES FILE KOSOVA'S FIRST TAX-EVASION INDICTMENTS
  • [66] U.S. SLAMS ATTACKS IN KOSOVA
  • [67] MACEDONIA CALM AFTER INCIDENTS...
  • [68] ...AS HOSTAGES ARE RELEASED
  • [69] FERHADIJA TRIAL OPENS IN BANJA LUKA
  • [70] BOSNIAN SERBS DENY SREBRENICA MASSACRE...
  • [71] ...WHICH OUTRAGES HAGUE TRIBUNAL
  • [72] MEETINGS PLANNED IN BAY OF PIRAN DISPUTE
  • [73] FRANCE, ROMANIA, TACKLE ILLEGAL EMIGRATION PROBLEM
  • [74] ROMANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY RULES OUT COOPERATION WITH PSD...
  • [75] ...WHICH DRAWS CRITICISM FROM FORMER PREMIER
  • [76] PRO-PPCD RALLY CALLS ON MOLDOVAN AUTHORITIES TO FREE MEMBERS OF
  • [77] ...DEMANDS MOLDOVA LEAVE CIS...
  • [78] ...AND POLICIES OF COUNTRY'S RUSSIFICATION BE STOPPED
  • [79] MOLDOVAN LEADERSHIP IGNORES NATIONAL HOLIDAY
  • [80] SMIRNOV REJECTS OSCE PROPOSALS...
  • [81] ...WHILE TIRASPOL MARKS INDEPENDENCE DAY
  • [82] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS PACE RESOLUTION FULFILLED
  • [83] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT, SETS AGENDA FOR THE
  • [84] ...WHILE PRIME MINISTER SAYS 'BULGARIA IS NOT A PRESIDENTIAL
  • [85] BULGARIA TAKES OVER UN SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY
  • [86] There is no End Note today. 3 September 2002 RUSSIA

  • [01] RUSSIA READY TO RATIFY KYOTO PROTOCOL...

    Speaking to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg on 3 September, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said that Russia is ready to sign the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, RTR and other Russian news agencies reported. Kasyanov also told delegates that Russia has reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions by one-third in recent years and that, at President Vladimir Putin's initiative, the International Conference on Climate Change will be held in Moscow next year. Meanwhile, Putin told reporters in Moscow on 3 September following talks with German President Johannes Rau that Russia will ratify the Kyoto Protocol, most likely during the fall session of the State Duma, dpa reported. RC

    [02] ...AND SEEKING TO HELP DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

    Kasyanov also said that Russia "is ready to provide technological help to developing countries in solving drinking-water problems," RosBalt and other news agencies reported on 3 September. Earlier, Kasyanov told journalists that Russia has written off $35 billion in debts owed by African countries to the former Soviet Union, about half of the total African debt written off so far by the world's creditor countries. He added that Russia is ready to assist in training African medical and educational specialists. Finally, Kasyanov said that trade barriers must be eliminated and that Russia is gradually reducing import tariffs on African goods, RosBalt reported. RC

    [03] IRAQ SEEKS RUSSIA'S POLITICAL SUPPORT...

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri arrived in Moscow on 2 September seeking Russian diplomatic and political backing, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Sabri did not discuss a proposed long-term trade agreement between Moscow and Baghdad that is believed to be worth $40 billion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 26 August 2002). Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told journalists after his talks with Sabri that Russia will insist that Iraq allow UN weapons inspectors to resume their work as part of any resolution of the situation. Ivanov reiterated Moscow's opposition to U.S. military intervention in Iraq, saying it would only exacerbate the situation in the Middle East. VY

    [04] ...AS MOSCOW OFFERS BAGHDAD NO PROMISES

    Foreign Minister Ivanov rejected speculation that Russia would use its UN Security Council veto if the United States seeks UN approval for military action against Iraq, polit.ru reported on 2 September. "I hope that there will be no such situation, that there will be no Security Council meeting on military action against Iraq," Ivanov was quoted as saying. Russia made no promises to Iraq during Ivanov's talks with Sabri, "Kommersant-Daily" wrote on 2 September. VY

    [05] ISRAEL TRIES TO BLOCK SALE OF RUSSIAN ANTIAIRCRAFT MISSILES TO SYRIA

    The Israeli government is making efforts to prevent Russia from supplying Igla (SA-18) shoulder-launched antiaircraft missiles to Syria, lenta.ru reported on 1 September, citing the Israeli daily "Ha'aretz." According to the report, Syria has offered to purchase the missiles from Russia, but a deal has not yet been sealed. Israel fears that the Iglas could end up in the hands of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and could be used against Israeli helicopters. The SA-18 was designed in the 1980s on the basis of the U.S. Stinger missile. VY

    [06] SENIOR POLITICAL OFFICERS RETURN TO ARMY

    Chief of the General Staff General Anatolii Kvashnin issued a directive to reinstate in the Russian Army the positions of political officers at the level of army and corps commanders, "Vremya novostei" reported on 3 September. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the institution of political officers in the army was abolished and replaced with division-level "educational" officers with limited functions. Valentin Varennikov, a former commander of the Soviet infantry and a leader of the August 1991 coup attempt against former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, told the newspaper that he welcomes all steps leading to the restoration of the educational system that existed in the Soviet Army. VY

    [07] IN ALL, 36 HELICOPTERS DOWNED IN CHECHNYA

    Russian forces in Chechnya announced that an Mi-24 helicopter was shot down by enemy fire near Nozhai-Yurt on 31 August, Russian news agencies reported. Both crewmembers were killed. On 18 August, an Mi-26 military transport helicopter was shot down by a shoulder-launched missile, killing 119 people (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2002). The latest loss was the 36th military helicopter lost since the beginning of the second Chechnya campaign in September 1999, strana.ru reported on 2 September. Although the Chechen fighters have virtually no air-defense weapons, Russia has been losing about one helicopter per month, a rate that is far too high, the website editorialized. VY

    [08] FSB DEPUTY DIRECTOR JOINS LEADING WESTERN AUDITOR

    Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Lieutenant General Yevgenii Lovyrev is leaving that agency to take a senior position in the human-resources department of auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers, "Versiya," No. 33, reported. At the FSB, Lovyrev headed the Organizational-Personnel Department. Prior to that, he worked in the personnel department of former President Boris Yeltsin's administration, at a time when Putin also worked there. "Versiya" noted that PricewaterhouseCoopers audits companies such as Gazprom, LUKoil, and Alfa-Group, as well as the Central Bank. At a time when auditing firms are experiencing a severe crisis of public confidence, the weekly argued, the addition of a seasoned intelligence officer such as Lovyrev can only bolster the company. VY

    [09] HAVE PUTIN'S POLICIES TRIGGERED OPPOSITION AMONG RUSSIA'S ELITES?

    In an article in "Vedomosti" on 2 September, political public-relations specialist Aleksei Koshmarov argues that despite his strong ratings in public-opinion polls as parliamentary and presidential elections loom, President Putin is vulnerable because of a conflict within Russia's elite. Koshmarov argues that the process of consolidating public support for his policies has caused a significant decrease in the independence of Russia's "old" elites. For example, the party-political elite has been stripped of any opportunity to pursue an independent political stance and is instead "given simply the opportunity to serve those in power." In addition, Putin's perceived pro-Western foreign policies contradict the interests of a considerable part of the Russian establishment, including members of the business elite, security officials, and some governors. Putin's administrative-reform initiative directly infringes on the interests of the bureaucratic elite, whose resistance could contribute to political instability on the eve of parliamentary elections. "The conflicts within these elites have become a part of public political life and are impeding inter-elite stabilization, which is hazardous under the circumstances of the elections," concludes Koshmarov. Members of these elites face fewer opportunities, which in turn could create "difficulties" for the president's electoral prospects. JAC

    [10] HISTORIAN 'CERTAIN' OF YELTSIN-PUTIN DEAL

    In an interview with "Vremya novostei" on 3 September connected with his book "Vladimir Putin: The Current President," historian Roy Medvedev said that he believes President Putin made some sort of deal with former President Yeltsin in order to become president. "Yeltsin put [Putin] on such a trampoline from which he 'jumped' into his post with such a big advantage over the other presidential candidates. But most likely a bunch of conditions were presented for this. Neither Yeltsin nor Putin has ever spoken about this, but I am absolutely certain that Putin took on a number of obligations that he, as a man of his word, feels obligated to fulfill. Several of Putin's steps are connected precisely with this," Medvedev said. Characterizing Putin, Medvedev said, "He is a very capable person who will yet surprise us more than once." RC

    [11] FOREIGN MINISTRY REACHES OUT TO THE ONLINE MASSES

    Speaking to students of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Foreign Minister Ivanov announced that his ministry has launched an Internet page devoted to Russian foreign policy in cooperation with the Interfax news agency, lenta.ru reported on 2 September. Ivanov said that any citizen can receive an answer to his or her questions about Russian foreign policy through the interactive website (http://www.interfax.ru/pressmidnewv.html). VY

    [12] UPPER CHAMBER TO PUSH FOR RECONSIDERATION OF BERING SEA BORDER

    A group of Federation Council senators will put forward an initiative calling for reconsideration of a 1990 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union delimiting the border between the countries in the Bering and Chukchi seas, RosBalt reported on 3 September, citing the chairman of the council's Committee for the North and Numerically Small Peoples, Aleksandr Nazarov. On 14 June, the Duma passed a resolution urging the government to renegotiate the treaty (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002). Nazarov has created a working group -- which includes Committee for International Affairs Chairman Mikhail Margelov and a representative of the U.S. Embassy -- to discuss the treaty, and that group held its first meeting on 3 September. According to Nazarov, the treaty shifted the 1867 border to the advantage of the United States, costing Russia some $200 million per year in lost fishing revenues. "In 1990, the treaty was seen as a breakthrough in Soviet-American relations. It was an unconsidered measure designed to bolster a dialogue that was just starting. Today, under different political circumstances, we can return to this problem...," Nazarov was quoted as saying. RC

    [13] LOCAL DEPUTIES BAN THEMSELVES FROM SEEKING RE-ELECTION

    Deputies of the Novgorod Oblast legislature have amended the oblast charter to forbid municipal heads from serving as legislative deputies as of 2006, izvestia.ru reported on 3 September. In doing so, the legislature brought the charter into accord with federal legislation. The move, however, was unprecedented because municipal heads currently compose more than half of the legislature meaning that, in effect, they banned themselves from seeking re-election. The changes must now be approved by Novgorod Oblast Governor Mikhail Prusak. RC

    [14] STREET FIGHTING MARS CITY DAY

    One person was killed and one injured during a massive street brawl during the celebration of Moscow's City Day on 31 August, Russian news agencies reported on 1 September. Sixteen-year-old Valerii Panikhin was killed by a knife wound to the neck in the fight, which involved several hundred people, according to polit.ru. Fifteen people were arrested during the incident, according to polit.ru, although Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov was quoted by Interfax as saying that 30 people were detained. Interfax reported that the fight broke out between skinheads and fans of rap music. RC

    [15] U.S. EMBASSY EMPLOYEE VICTIM OF ASSAULT

    A 23-year-old employee of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow was attacked in the Moscow metro on the evening of 31 August, "The Moscow Times" and polit.ru reported. Murdoch Lucas, an African-American who works as an embassy librarian, was reportedly attacked by two unidentified men while riding a train. The men allegedly struck Lucas in the face several times and fled when the train stopped. Lucas was treated at a local clinic. The embassy has declined to comment. RC

    [16] KASPIISK BOMBING SUSPECT ESCAPES

    Akhmed Magomedov managed to free himself from his handcuffs and escape on 2 September from the Prosecutor-General's Office in Makhachkala, where he had been taken to answer questions about his alleged role in the 9 May Kaspiisk bombing that killed 45 people, Interfax reported. He is one of 16 people arrested to date in connection with that attack. A state of emergency has been declared in Makhachkala and a search is under way. LF

    [17] CHECHEN ADMINISTRATION HEAD BACKTRACKS OVER ELECTION SCHEDULE

    Addressing Chechnya's Constitutional Commission on 2 September, administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov said that a minimum of two years must elapse between the end of the antiterrorism operation in Chechnya and the setting of the date for new elections, Interfax reported. Kadyrov also noted that President Putin approves of that timeframe. "The republic will fall into chaos if the election race starts today," Kadyrov said. Last month, addressing a government session that endorsed the new Chechen draft constitution, Kadyrov said that elections could be held in the spring or summer of 2003 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August 2002). LF

    TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [18] ARMENIAN MINISTER DENIES CAMPAIGN UNDER WAY TO REPLACE PREMIER

    Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian denied on 31 August that the harsh criticism of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian expressed at a congress of local-government heads on 27 August is part of a campaign to discredit and replace Markarian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 2002). Abrahamian, who is close to President Robert Kocharian and is regarded as an unofficial deputy premier, also denied that he is being groomed as a counterweight to Markarian within the Republican Party of Armenia, which Markarian heads. LF

    [19] ARMENIAN SCHOOLS ORDERED TO DISPLAY PORTRAITS OF PRESIDENT, CATHOLICOS

    Education Minister Levon Mkrtchian has issued a decree requiring all secondary schools to display portraits of President Robert Kocharian and Catholicos Garegin II, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 2 September. They must also permanently display the state flag and coat of arms. Deputy Education Minister Aida Topuzian, a former Armenian Komsomol first secretary, said the move is intended to boost civic consciousness and patriotism. LF

    [20] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT VISITS NAGORNO-KARABAKH

    President Kocharian made an unannounced visit to the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 2 September, the 11th anniversary of the enclave's official declaration of independence from Azerbaijan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. In a written address to mark the anniversary, newly re-elected Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasian reaffirmed his commitment to seeking a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict and warned Azerbaijan not to resort to a new military offensive to restore its control over the region. LF

    [21] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES CALL FOR ANNULMENT OF REFERENDUM RESULTS

    Twenty-six Azerbaijani opposition parties adopted a statement in Baku on 30 August affirming their joint refusal to recognize the validity of the results of the 24 August referendum on constitutional amendments, Turan reported. They said that despite pressure from police and the authorities, no more than 10-15 percent of the electorate participated in the vote. The Central Election Commission (CEC) gave participation as 88 percent. The opposition said they will contest the referendum outcome in both Azerbaijani and international courts. On 2 September, the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan duly lodged a suit with Baku's Sabail district court challenging the CEC's endorsement of the referendum results the previous day. The opposition announced separately on 30 September that it will convene a demonstration in Baku on 14 September to demand the annulment of the referendum outcome. LF

    [22] AZERBAIJANI VILLAGERS STAGE NEW PROTEST

    Residents of the village of Nardaran on the outskirts of Baku staged a demonstration on 30 August to protest the authorities' failure to fulfill their earlier demands for improved facilities, employment opportunities, and the release of 14 people detained after a violent clash between police and villagers on 3 June, Turan and Interfax reported. Some protesters reportedly demanded the death sentence for those who opened fire on villagers during that clash. The demonstrators included some 300 children who have vowed to boycott school until the villagers' demands are met. They also complained that their parents cannot afford to buy them textbooks or school uniforms. LF

    [23] JOURNALISTIC ORGANIZATIONS CRITICIZE AZERBAIJANI DECREE ON STATE SECRETS

    In a statement released on 2 September, the journalists' union Yeni Nesil criticized President Heidar Aliev's 28 August decree on preventing the publication in the media of information containing state secrets, Turan reported. Yeni Nesil pointed out that the decree fails to define the concept of state secret, and that the relevant legislation should be revised. The international human rights watchdog Article 19 issued a statement on 30 August expressing concern that Aliev's decree places the responsibility for ensuring that such sensitive information is not published on individual media outlets. In order to do so, editors and journalists must consult a special presidential commission that is empowered to demand that journalists divulge the source of the information in question. LF

    [24] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS SITUATION IN PANKISI UNDER CONTROL

    Eduard Shevardnadze said on 2 September during his traditional Monday radio address that the situation in the Pankisi Gorge is under control, Caucasus Press reported. He added that all but a "few dozen" armed Chechen and Arab militants previously encamped there have already left. Some 1,000 Georgian Interior Ministry troops entered the gorge on 25 August to launch an anticrime and antiterrorist operation, which has already yielded several arrests. On 31 August, Interior Minister Koba Narchemashvili warned that the operation could last for some time and that casualties are unavoidable, Caucasus Press reported. On 2 September, the Georgian authorities restricted journalists' access to the gorge. LF

    [25] GEORGIAN OFFICIALS AGAIN SAY THEY HAVE EVIDENCE OF RUSSIAN AIR RAID

    Fragments of the bombs dropped on the Pankisi Gorge on 23 August bear Russian markings, Georgian Deputy National Security Minister Lasha Natsvlishvili said in Tbilisi on 30 August. Georgian Intelligence Service head Avtandil Ioseliani for his part said the same day that Tbilisi will make that evidence available to any interested party, according to Interfax. He also said he believes the Russian aircraft that flew the air raid took off from Armavir or Mozdok. Also on 30 August, Caucasus Press reported that both Russia and the OSCE object to the participation of the other in a joint investigation to establish which country's aircraft dropped the bombs. Georgia proposed a joint Georgian-Russian-OSCE investigation on 28 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 2002). LF

    [26] GEORGIAN COURT REMANDS ARAB IN PRETRIAL CUSTODY

    Georgia's Supreme Court ruled on 1 September that the Arab detained in the Pankisi Gorge on 29 August be held in pretrial custody for three months, Caucasus Press and Russian news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 2002). The man, who is Moroccan and carried a fake French passport, has been charged with illegally crossing the Georgian frontier and with membership in a international terrorist organization. On 2 September, Caucasus Press cited a Japanese news agency as reporting that the Japanese national apprehended in similar circumstances has told his lawyers he did not fight with the Chechen resistance against the Russian Army in Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August 2002). LF

    [27] GEORGIAN GUERRILLAS KILLED IN ABKHAZ CLASH

    Several members of the White Legion Georgian guerrilla group were killed in a clash with Abkhaz security forces in the village of Khumushkuri in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion on 31 August, Interfax reported on 1 and 2 September. LF

    [28] RUSSIA'S ENVOY FOR ABKHAZ CONFLICT MEETS WITH SOUTH OSSETIAN PRESIDENT

    Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin, who is President Vladimir Putin's envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, has held talks in Moscow with Eduard Kokoyty, president of the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported on 31 August. The talks focused on ways to resolve the conflict between the breakaway republic and Georgia. It is not clear whether the recent OSCE proposal for resolving the analogous conflict between Moldova and the unrecognized Transdniester Republic was discussed. Kokoyty said he wants the Russian peacekeeping troops serving in South Ossetia (together with Ossetian and Georgian troops) to remain there. LF

    [29] KAZAKH PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT

    Nursultan Nazarbaev addressed the opening session of both chambers of the legislature on 2 September, Interfax reported. For the first time since Kazakhstan became an independent state in late 1991, he delivered that address in Kazakh rather than in Russian; simultaneous translation was provided for legislators who do not speak the state language. Nazarbaev criticized deputies for failing during their last session to discuss seven of a total of 15 draft bills he had singled out as of particular importance. They included bills on joint-stock companies, obligatory social security, the stock market, and amendments to the existing pension and antimonopoly legislation. At the same time, Nazarbaev commended the government's "painstaking" work and expressed approval of the main parameters of the draft budget for 2003. LF

    [30] KAZAKH INTERIOR MINISTER IMPLICATES JAILED OPPOSITIONISTS IN ATTACK ON JOURNALIST

    Speaking at a press conference on 29 August, Interior Minister Qayirbek Suleymanov suggested that the assault the previous day on independent journalist Sergei Duvanov may have been masterminded by the criminal associates of two well-known oligarchs recently sentenced to prison terms, but refrained from naming former Economy, Industry, and Trade Minister Mukhtar Abliyazov and former Pavlodar Oblast Governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Alternatively, Suleymanov said, the attacks may have been the work of the Kazakh opposition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 2002). LF

    [31] INVESTIGATORS SAY USE OF FORCE AGAINST KYRGYZ PROTESTERS WAS LEGAL...

    Deputy Prosecutor-General Kurmantai Abdiev and a senior official from the Prosecutor-General's Office said in Bishkek on 30 August that video recordings confirm that police acted legally when they opened fire on demonstrators in Aksy on 17-18 March, Interfax and RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. They said the investigation into the standoff in which five demonstrators were shot dead is continuing, and that six local officials have been charged with abuse of their official position. LF

    [32] ...AS PARTICIPANTS SCHEDULE PROTEST MARCH TO BISHKEK

    Some 300 participants of the Aksy protest gathered on 31 August in the southern village of Bozpiek and decided to embark on a march to Bishkek on 4 September to protest the authorities' failure to punish those responsible for the police violence, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. On 2 September, some 3,000 people attended two similar meetings in Djalalabad Oblast to support the protest march. LF

    [33] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PROPOSES AMENDING COMPOSITION OF CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL

    The opposition Movement for the Resignation of President Askar Akaev released a statement in Bishkek on 2 September protesting that the opposition was not consulted over the composition of the 38-man Constitutional Council named by President Akaev last week, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 and 28 August 2002). They proposed that half the council's members should be opposition representatives, and that it should be co-chaired by President Akaev and an opposition politician. LF

    [34] UZBEKISTAN MARKS INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY

    Amid tight security precautions, President Islam Karimov addressed a ceremony in Tashkent on 31 August to mark the 11th anniversary of Uzbekistan's Declaration of Independence, Interfax and uza.uz reported. Karimov in his address hailed the progress he said the country has registered in abandoning totalitarianism and embracing democratization. But at the same time he warned that changing international circumstances are fraught with new dangers that necessitate increased vigilance and farsightedness on the part of the entire population. LF

    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

    [35] BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WANTS SCHOOLS TO DEFEND STATEHOOD...

    President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 2 September, the first day of the new school year, that schools must promote not only knowledge and culture but also the policies pursued by the state, Belapan reported, quoting the presidential press service. Lukashenka was attending the opening ceremony of a secondary school in Maladzechna (northwestern Belarus). Lukashenka presented the school with several volleyballs and some tennis equipment and left the following message in the guest book: "I will be very glad if our school becomes a bastion of statehood." JM

    [36] ...WHILE SOME MAY DISAGREE

    In a poll conducted by Belapan last week among 500 Minsk residents, 49 percent of respondents welcomed the idea of a single Belarusian-Russian state, 38 percent opposed it, and 13 percent found it difficult to decide on the issue. In a similar poll conducted by Belapan in December 2001, the single-state idea was welcomed by 42 percent and rejected by 29 percent of respondents. Asked whom they would like to be the president of a single Belarusian-Russian state, 38 percent chose Russian President Vladimir Putin (26 percent in December 2001) and 12 percent checked Lukashenka (12 percent in December 2001). JM

    [37] PUTIN SENDS BIRTHDAY GREETINGS TO BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT

    Russian President Putin congratulated President Lukashenka on his 48th birthday on 30 August, Belapan reported. "The course toward unity of Russia and Belarus will stand political and historical tests and, by joint efforts, we will manage to accomplish the ambitious tasks of ensuring decent living conditions for the present and future generations of the Russian and Belarusian peoples," Putin said in his telegram. "In Russia, you will always meet with understanding and broad support of concrete steps aimed at the strengthening of interaction between our nations, and at effective use of the potential of bilateral cooperation for the purpose of creating a democratic and prosperous union state," Putin added. Last month, Putin offered Belarus incorporation into the Russian Federation, provoking abusive responses from Lukashenka (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 2002). JM

    [38] BELARUSIAN TRADERS STRIKE OVER FISCAL PRESSURE

    Thousands of Belarusian small traders went on strike on 1 September to protest increased taxes and rules aimed at increasing government revenues, Reuters reported. The protesters want to roll back higher taxes for social programs and on employers as well as the obligation that traders have cash registers in an effort to tighten control over transactions. "The authorities simply lobby in favor of big businesses, which build large shops and wipe us out as a class," the agency quoted one protester as saying. Belapan reported on 2 September that Premier Henadz Navitski has instructed Economy Minister Andrey Kabyakou to organize "constructive talks" with protesting vendors. JM

    [39] UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROTESTS TO OUST PRESIDENT...

    At a joint news conference in Kyiv on 2 September, the leaders of the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party appealed to Ukrainians to take part on a massive scale in the open-ended nationwide protest campaign that is planned to begin on 16 September, the second anniversary of the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Ukrainian media reported. Yuliya Tymoshenko, Petro Symonenko, and Oleksandr Moroz told journalists that the protest campaign will be continued until President Leonid Kuchma and "other representatives of Ukraine's top authorities" resign their posts, UNIAN reported. The three leaders also called for an early presidential election. "We cannot wait for another 2 1/2 years [for the regular presidential election in 2004] because then we will get Kuchma or his successor," Reuters quoted Tymoshenko as saying. JM

    [40] ...AS KUCHMA CONTINUES TO URGE POLITICAL REFORM...

    President Kuchma has addressed a letter to the Verkhovna Rada, which opened its autumn session on 3 September, asking the parliament to back his proposal last month to introduce constitutional amendments in order to move Ukraine toward a parliamentary-presidential republic. "My proposal is not a joke or a test of loyalty, but a considered choice. I hope that after the initial shock, political leaders will understand the seriousness of the president's intention and start work on changing the constitution," Reuters quoted from Kuchma's letter. Meanwhile, parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn in his opening address to the session warned deputies against "drawing the parliament into debates on early presidential and parliamentary elections," UNIAN reported. "A dynamic transformation of the feeble Ukrainian political process into an outburst of political emotions, multiplied by the president's political initiatives and innovations, is fraud, apart from everything else, with pushing to the background all the remaining urgent problems connected with the country's vital functions," Lytvyn said. JM

    [41] ...AND YUSHCHENKO WANTS TO FORM COALITION GOVERNMENT

    Addressing the parliamentary session on 3 September, Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko called on deputies not to yield to pressure from the presidential administration while constructing a democratic parliamentary majority, UNIAN reported. According to Yushchenko, the most urgent tasks facing the Verkhovna Rada are forming a coalition government and signing a political accord on harmonious cooperation between the prime minister, the president, and the parliament. "There is no other way, all the rest is fuss," Yushchenko stressed. Leonid Kravchuk from the Social Democratic Party-united responded to Yushchenko by saying that a coalition cabinet cannot be formed without introducing relevant amendments to the constitution. Meanwhile, Tymoshenko, Symonenko, and Moroz appealed to deputies to take part in the opposition protest campaign scheduled to begin on 16 September. According to Symonenko and Moroz, the primary task of the current parliamentary session is to adopt a fully proportional election law. JM

    [42] GONGADZE'S BODY IDENTIFIED AT LAST

    Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun told journalists on 3 September that forensic and medical experts have officially established that the headless body stored for almost two years in Kyiv is that of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze who disappeared in September 2000, UNIAN reported. Piskun added that Gongadze's family will finally be able to bury him. JM

    [43] CURRENT LINEUP IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT

    Parliamentary speaker Lytvyn told deputies on 3 August that the current numerical strength of caucuses and groups in the 449-member Verkhovna Rada is as follows: Our Ukraine (109 deputies), Communists (63), Party of Entrepreneurs-Labor Ukraine (40), Ukraine's Regions (37), Social Democratic Party-united (35), Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (23), Socialists (21), European Choice (18), Democratic Initiatives (18), Popular Democratic Party (17), Power of the People (17), Ukraine's Agrarians (16), People's Choice (15), United Ukraine (nine), and 11 independent deputies. JM

    [44] NEW ESTONIAN CULTURE MINISTER APPOINTED

    President Arnold Ruutel appointed Culture Ministry Chancellor Margus Allikmaa as the new culture minister on 30 August, BNS reported the next day. Former Culture Minister Signe Kivi submitted her resignation earlier in August after it was discovered that Avo Viiol, the managing director of Kultuurkapital (Fund for Promoting Culture), which she supervised, embezzled 8 million kroons ($533,000) from the fund's account and gambled it away (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2002). The 41-year-old Allikmaa worked as the director of the Estonian Drama Theater and as manager of the media company Trio LSL before becoming chancellor in 1999. SG

    [45] RUSSIAN PARTIES TO RUN ON A JOINT LIST OF CANDIDATES IN ESTONIA'S CAPITAL

    The leaders of four Russian parties -- the Estonian United People's Party (EURP), the Unity of Estonia Party, the Russian Party in Estonia, and the Russian Unity Party -- have agreed to form a joint list under the name of the EURP for the local-council elections in Tallinn in October, ETA reported on 31 August. Although the four parties signed a cooperation agreement in March for the elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 March 2002), they have not yet decided under what name they will eventually merge. SG

    [46] LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL SAYS EU, NATO ACCESSION WOULD IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

    In talks in Riga on 30 August, Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins told Aleksandr Udaltsov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second Political Department, that Latvia's membership in the European Union and NATO would provide a positive contribution to the development of Latvian-Russian relations, BNS reported. Riekstins expressed Latvia's readiness to promote an active dialogue between Russia and the European Union as well between Russia and NATO. Riekstins noted that practical cooperation between the two countries has intensified lately both between specific institutions and in such spheres as interior affairs, migration, customs issues, and culture. The two officials emphasized the need to promote the preparation of draft bilateral treaties that are still in the coordination process, with Riekstins calling on Russia to sign the border agreement. SG

    [47] RUSSIA CONCERNED OVER U.S. RADAR IN LATVIA

    The Russian Defense Ministry is alarmed by the potentially destabilizing effects of a proposed U.S. radar installation near Daugavpils in eastern Latvia, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 September. The radar system is being built by Lockheed Martin and will be deployed at a former Soviet facility and connected to the Menvis Hill intelligence center in Great Britain, an unidentified Russian Defense Ministry source told the news agency. The system is capable of detecting small, high-speed targets and calculating trajectories of ballistic missiles. The source told ITAR-TASS that at least one-half of the staff at the facility will be Americans. RC

    [48] CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER POLAND'S EU CAMPAIGN CHIEF

    Premier Leszek Miller told journalists on 1 September that he will not yield to opposition demands that he dismiss Slawomir Wiatr -- the government's commissioner for promoting European Union membership -- who has admitted that he collaborated with the communist-era secret services (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 2002), PAP reported. Miller added that Brussels is not interested in Poland's lustration process. Ombudsman Andrzej Zoll said the following day that Wiatr's appointment was "very dubious," adding that the EU promotion campaign supervised by Wiatr will be less efficient following his revelation. Meanwhile, the Law and Justice group has prepared an appeal requesting that Miller sack Wiatr. Wiatr commented on 2 September that he "resolutely" dismisses the idea of resigning his post. JM

    [49] POLISH PARLIAMENT PASSES DEBT-RELIEF LAW...

    The Sejm on 30 August passed a debt-relief law providing for special aid for indebted firms, in line with an anticrisis package proposed by Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 30 July 2002), PAP reported. Under the law, indebted firms will be able to file for the writing-off of their obligations in return for a so-called restructuring fee equal to 1.5 percent or 15 percent of their debts. JM

    [50] ...SHORTENS MILITARY SERVICE FOR UNIVERSITY GRADUATES

    The Sejm also cut the length of compulsory military service for university graduates from six months to three, PAP reported. However, the bill simultaneously provides for the reintroduction of defense-training courses for students. Upon completion of these courses, students will be obliged to pass exams. Within 18 months after graduation they will be eligible to be called up for three-month service. Another provision of the bill allows farmers and people running their own businesses to serve in the armed forces -- normal compulsory military service lasts 12 months -- for shorter periods spread over three years. JM

    [51] IS FORMER CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER INVOLVED IN SRBA ILLEGALITIES?

    Czech Foreign Ministry official Vladimir Zavzal on 2 September confirmed that hundreds of thousands of crowns were found in a safe near former Foreign Minister Jan Kavan's office in 2000, CTK reported. He added that the money was given to the ministry's former secretary-general, Karel Srba, in Kavan's absence from the country, the agency reported. Zavzal, who on the same day was appointed the ministry's new secretary-general, thus confirmed a report first published by the weekly "Euro." Zavzal said he does not see any connection between that incident and the current investigation of Srba for the alleged contracting of a journalist's murder and corruption (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July and 27 August 2002). Kavan told CTK that the 250,000 crowns ($8,090 at the current exchange rate) involved was to be mostly used for financing a senate-election campaign. He said the rest was either his own money or money received from the ministry as allowance for his foreign visits. Kavan said Srba gave him the money after he returned to Prague and that he cannot see why the issue should surface now as a problem, the agency reported. MS

    [52] CZECH COALITION AGREES ON TAX INCREASES

    Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla on 2 September told BBC that the coalition partners have agreed on increasing taxes to meet the costs of reconstruction in the wake of the recent floods, CTK reported. Spidla said the government will submit a bill providing for raising the income tax to 37 percent for those with an annual income of 900,000 crowns ($29,126) or more -- five percentage points higher than at present. The government is also planning to raise levies on tobacco and alcohol, increase value-added taxes, and reduce the corporate income-tax rate. On 30 August, AP reported that the Czech government and trade-union representatives reached a compromise on a smaller rise in wages in 2003 due to restraints imposed on the budget by the flooding. Under the agreement, firefighters, teachers, police, doctors, and other state workers will get a 7 percent pay rise in 2003 -- six percentage points less than what they were originally promised. Premier Spidla on the same day told Czech Radio that he intends to freeze the salaries of cabinet ministers and will propose that the same apply for members of parliament. MS

    [53] MORE FLOODING HITS SOUTHERN CZECH REPUBLIC

    Heavy rains on 1 September caused new flooding in southern Czech Republic, dpa reported. Meteorologists said that up to 96 millimeters of rain fell in areas still recovering from last month's floods. A few houses had to be evacuated in the historic town of Cesky Krumlov. In Trebon, southern Bohemia, a 47-year-old man died on 31 August after he was overcome by fumes from a gas-powered pump in his flooded cellar. Police said he fell into the water and drowned. The man thus became the 17th victim of the floods. President Vaclav Havel on 2 September visited four flood-stricken localities, including the southwestern town of Svihov, and discussed flood protection with local officials. MS

    [54] VERHEUGEN WELCOMES CHANGES IN SLOVAK ELECTORAL POLLS

    Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner for enlargement, on 30 August welcomed the recent trends in Slovak opinion polls showing that former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia has lost support, TASR and AFP reported. Speaking in Elsinroe, Denmark, Verheugen said he believes that "the Slovaks are probably aware that this is the most important election in the history of the country, and according to my information, the situation now looks much better than it did before the summer break," AFP quoted him as saying. "Slovakia needs a government that is trusted in Europe and is able to lead Slovakia into the EU, while guaranteeing the continuation of the process of political, economic, and social change." MS

    [55] DEPUTY PREMIER SAYS SLOVAK PRESIDENT UNLIKELY TO SEEK RE-ELECTION

    Deputy Premier Pal Csaky said on 1 September on the private Joj TV channel that, in view of his deteriorating health, Slovak President Rudolf Schuster is unlikely to seek re-election in 2004, TASR reported. Csaky added, however, that Schuster alone will decide whether to seek a second mandate. Presidential spokesman Jan Fuele said on 2 September that tests established that Schuster is suffering from an infection and he has been prescribed antibiotics. On the same day, Schuster hosted a banquet marking the 10th anniversary of the Slovak constitution at Bratislava Caste. MS

    [56] SLOVAKIA WANTS HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW TO BE RADICALLY AMENDED

    Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jaroslav Chlebo said in Bratislava on 2 September that Slovakia wants radical amendments to Hungary's Status Law and will not content itself with mere cosmetic changes, TASR and "Magyar Nemzet" reported. Chlebo noted that all of Hungary's neighbors are critical of the law, and particularly of those provisions that can be viewed as discriminatory and as an infringement on the sovereignty of neighbors. He was speaking ahead of a bilateral consultation on the issue that was to take place on 3 September. MS

    [57] HUNGARIAN MINISTERS SUSPECTED OF COLLABORATING WITH COMMUNIST SECRET SERVICES NAMED...

    Free Democrat deputy Imre Mecs, the chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating government officials' secret-service pasts, on 30 August released a list of 10 politicians who might have been informers for the communist-era secret services, Hungarian dailies reported. The 10 are: Laszlo Bogar, Imre Boros, Szabolcs Fazakas, Bela Kadar, Janos Martonyi, Peter Medgyessy, Laszlo Nogradi, Erno Raffay, Laszlo Sarossy, and the late Ferenc Rabar. The list corresponds with the one published by "Magyar Hirlap" on 24 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 2002), with the exception of former Finance Minister Zsigmond Jarai. Mecs said that Kadar and Nogradi have since been cleared of suspicion and the remaining eight will be given the opportunity to comment on the commission's findings. MSZ

    [58] ...WHILE DISPUTE EMERGES IN RULING COALITION OVER REPORT

    Mecs said on 2 September that he wants to submit an independent report on the findings of the parliamentary commission despite objections from deputies from the Socialist Party, the Free Democrats' coalition partner, "Nepszabadsag" reported. Mecs told reporters that the commission will draft a report and submit it to parliament by mid-September. However, "Nepszabadsag" commented that a commission report is out of the question, as the commission has no quorum because deputies from the opposition FIDESZ and Hungarian Democratic Forum have been boycotting it. According to parliamentary rules, Mecs can only submit a report through an independent motion of his own. Karoly Toth, a Socialist member of the commission, argued that without the cooperation of the opposition no legal conditions exist for the commission to draft a report. Instead, he said, a summary to be submitted to parliament should state merely that the opposition managed to stop the committee from drafting a report. MSZ

    [59] HUNGARY'S FIDESZ PROTESTS GOVERNMENT'S CONTROL OF MEDIA

    Tens of thousands of supporters of former Prime Minister Viktor Orban gathered outside state-run MTV television's headquarters on 30 August to protest what they claim is the control over public media exercised by the ruling Socialist-Free Democrat coalition, Hungarian media reported. Orban told the crowd that "it is no longer enough to have a Socialist channel, we also need one based on civic and national values." He said that if parliament fails to pass such a bill the right-wing opposition must initiate a referendum on the matter. Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy told reporters on 31 August that one genuine public-service television network is enough and that "Those who need a television of their own should buy one." He also said that "a good, stable, predictable, and constructive opposition is needed in parliament," but dismissed Orban's proposal to set up right- and left-wing state-television channels as "legally and democratically absurd." Socialist Party Chairman Laszlo Kovacs and Free Democrat executive Ivan Peto also rejected Orban's proposal, stressing that FIDESZ has "occupied" MTV driven it to bankruptcy. MSZ

    [60] PEST COUNTY WANTS ADMINISTRATIVE SEPARATION FROM BUDAPEST

    The Pest County Council on 30 August decided to hold a referendum on whether the county should secede from the Central Hungary Region it forms with Budapest, Hungarian media reported. The council argued that the county will be ineligible for subsidies from the European Union as long as it is paired with the wealthier Budapest. The referendum is to be held simultaneously with statewide local elections on 20 October. Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky told reporters on 2 September that even if the county were to secede from the Central Hungary Region, it would not be granted any more EU funds. He said the secession plan only serves the interests of a handful of county politicians. Pest County Council Chairman Andras Meszaros (FIDESZ) said Demszky's comment misinformed the public. Socialist members of the council said they will challenge the referendum decision in court, claiming that FIDESZ intends to use the referendum as an opportunity to divert funds from the local government for its upcoming local-election campaign. MSZ

    SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [61] NGO CALLS ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO PRESSURE BELGRADE

    The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch said in a statement on 31 August that the Council of Europe should make maximum use of its leverage on Belgrade, which seeks admission to that body, to force Yugoslavia to improve its respect for human rights. The statement added that "the Council of Europe should seek stronger commitments on police abuse, war crimes accountability, and Roma rights in connection with admission" to the council. The NGO notes that recently "the Belgrade authorities accepted a list of accession demands from the Council of Europe, but Human Rights Watch said the list omits important commitments in areas where Yugoslavia's record remains poor." The statement added that the list of demands "remains silent on the issue of domestic trials of war criminals not sought" by The Hague-based tribunal. Human Rights Watch has been at the forefront of efforts to remind the international community that the post-Milosevic Belgrade leadership should be expected to prove its commitment to democracy with deeds as well as words (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August, and "End Note," 26 August 2002). PM

    [62] SERBIAN JUSTICE MINISTER MAY BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL VOTE

    Vladan Batic said in Valjevo on 31 August that he is unhappy with the current candidates in Serbia's 29 September presidential election because none of them supports Serbian independence from Montenegro, "Vesti" reported. He stressed that he finds Miroljub Labus, who is the candidate backed by most of Batic's political allies, particularly unacceptable. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, who supports the union of Serbia and Montenegro, has also said he may boycott the vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2002). PM

    [63] SERBIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION RULES AGAINST KOSTUNICA

    In the latest installment of what is known as the Pavkovic affair, the Serbian parliament's investigating commission ruled on 30 August that close aides of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica demanded that the army enter the offices of the Serbian government's communications department in June 2001, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2002). The commission also ruled that Kostunica has tried to "obstruct efforts to investigate details" of the incident. Kostunica and his supporters have denied the charges and consider the parliament's commission a political tool of their rivals. Dragan Marsicanin, who is a leading official of Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), said that the commission's findings amount to "political campaigning." PM

    [64] STEINER: INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOT IN KOSOVA FOR THE LONG HAUL

    Michael Steiner, who heads the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK), told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service on 1 September that the international community will not remain present in Kosova for 10 to 12 years as it originally planned. He stressed that the international community has rethought the nature and duration of its missions following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Steiner added that he wants to be sure that any project begun in Kosova is carried to completion. PM

    [65] AUTHORITIES FILE KOSOVA'S FIRST TAX-EVASION INDICTMENTS

    UNMIK spokeswoman Andrea Angeli said in Prishtina on 2 September that the District Court of Prishtina has formally accused five Kosova businessmen of fraud and tax evasion, dpa reported. After a long investigation, the authorities accused the five of falsifying and doctoring receipts and other documents for importing oil and oil products from Macedonia worth about $1 million. Two of the accused are in prison, and the other three are awaiting trial without being arrested. Angeli added that an international prosecutor in Prizren recently accused Alush Shala, who is an official of the civilian Kosova Protection Corps (TMK), of tax evasion and abuse of office. KFOR arrested him in January and turned him over to the police in May. Early in 2002, Steiner proclaimed a policy of "zero tolerance for crime." PM

    [66] U.S. SLAMS ATTACKS IN KOSOVA

    State Department spokeswoman Brenda Greenberg said in Washington on 30 August that a recent attack by gunmen on Serbian woodcutters and KFOR peacekeepers "represents an unacceptable challenge to the authority of the UN mission in Kosovo and the stabilization forces in Kosovo, and will not be tolerated," Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 2002). She noted that the circumstances of the incident are still being investigated. PM

    [67] MACEDONIA CALM AFTER INCIDENTS...

    Relative calm has returned to Macedonia following a series of mysterious incidents in the run-up to the 15 September parliamentary elections, international news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 2002). On 2 September, unidentified persons in the Kale district of Skopje threw a hand grenade at the offices former guerrilla leader Ali Ahmeti's Union for Democratic Integration (BDI). No one was injured, and damage was minimal in the third such incident against the BDI's offices in recent days. During the weekend of 31 August-1 September, unidentified persons "demolished" the offices of the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) in Tetovo, dpa reported. PM

    [68] ...AS HOSTAGES ARE RELEASED

    On 31 August, ethnic Albanian gunmen freed five ethnic Macedonian hostages in Gorna Lesnica after "tense negotiations," Reuters reported. The five were unharmed, and the hostage takers remain at large. Envoys of the United States, European Union, the OSCE said in a joint statement that "the government and all parties acted with restraint. We appreciate their efforts and the efforts of the local Albanian leaders and population, who worked diligently in helping to resolve the issue. We look forward to a peaceful campaign." But Arben Xhaferi, who heads the governing Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH), told a Prishtina radio station on 31 August that the recent violence could continue and threaten the survival of the state, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. PM

    [69] FERHADIJA TRIAL OPENS IN BANJA LUKA

    In Banja Luka on 2 September, the trial began of four Bosnian Serbs for their role in the 2001 riots aimed at preventing reconstruction work on the 16th-century Ferhadija Mosque, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 May 2001, and 29 April and 14 June 2002). All four pleaded not guilty. A total of 16 Serbs have been charged in conjunction with the violence. Ferhadija is one of 16 mosques in Banja Luka and 618 throughout Bosnia that Serbian nationalists destroyed during the 1992-95 war. Ferhadija and another Banja Luka mosque were both listed as UNESCO-protected cultural sites prior to the conflict. PM

    [70] BOSNIAN SERBS DENY SREBRENICA MASSACRE...

    Three Bosnian Serb officials have released a report denying that a massacre of 8,000 Muslim male civilians took place at Srebrenica in July 1995, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 3 September. The report alleges that some 1,800-1,900 Muslim soldiers died in combat. Women whose male relatives were killed told Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service that they are furious over the report. PM

    [71] ...WHICH OUTRAGES HAGUE TRIBUNAL

    Jim Landale, who is a spokesman for the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service on 3 September that "any claim that the number of victims after the fall of the Srebrenica enclave was around the 2,000 mark, and most of those killed in battle, is an absolutely outrageous claim. It's utterly false, and it flies in the face of all of the evidence painstakingly collected in the investigation into the tragedy." He stressed that "any claim contrary to that, trying to minimize the number of victims, is, frankly, disgusting." Jean-Jacques Joris, who is legal adviser to the chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, called the report "a saddening example of revisionism and an element which certainly stands in the way of reconciliation in the region." He noted that "approximately 3,000 [bodies] have been exhumed by or under supervision of [the tribunal], 3,000 bodies which are related to Srebrenica, to the fall of Srebrenica, to the aftermath of the fall of Srebrenica, many of them with clear evidence...of having been severely executed." PM

    [72] MEETINGS PLANNED IN BAY OF PIRAN DISPUTE

    Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan is expected to host his Slovenian counterpart, Janez Drnovsek, in Zagreb on 6 September to discuss the recent tensions between their two countries, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 2 September (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 30 August 2002 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 2002). Fishermen from both countries are expected to meet in the course of 3 September to discuss recent incidents in the Bay of Piran. PM

    [73] FRANCE, ROMANIA, TACKLE ILLEGAL EMIGRATION PROBLEM

    Visiting French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy met in Bucharest on 30 August with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, President Ion Iliescu, and with his Romanian counterpart Ioan Rus, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Sarkozy said after meeting with Nastase that the premier has agreed that Romanians who commit crimes in France could have their assets confiscated in Romania. A draft law that would allow this will be submitted to parliament and an agreement is to be signed during a visit by Nastase to Paris in October. Sarkozy also said France will help Romania improve border controls and will support a social-integration program for the Romany minority. Dominique Versini, the French minister for combating poverty and exclusion, who accompanied Sarkozy, is to work with Romanian officials to set up a system of French and Romanian nongovernmental organizations that would prepare young Romanian Roma in France for voluntary return home. Sarkozy and Iliescu signed three agreements on fighting organized crime and illegal immigration. MS

    [74] ROMANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY RULES OUT COOPERATION WITH PSD...

    The National Coordination Council of the Democratic Party on 30 August approved new party statutes and an addendum to the party's list of political aims, RFE/RL's Bucharest Bureau reported. The addendum states that the Democrats will aim to oust the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) from power by democratic means and that the party will under no conditions cooperate with the PSD after the 2004 elections. The status amendment co-opts into the party's Standing National Bureau all former ministers who represented the party in previous governments. Both changes were approved the next day by the party's annual conference. MS

    [75] ...WHICH DRAWS CRITICISM FROM FORMER PREMIER

    Former Prime Minister Petre Roman on 30 August criticized the resolution to exclude any cooperation with the PDS, saying the decision is "more courageous than wise," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Roman said the Democrats would do better to explain to the electorate why they distance themselves from the policies of the PSD and to present alternative policies. On 31 August, the former premier boycotted the annual conference, failing to take the seat he regained in the Standing National Bureau. Roman said in an interview with the daily "Evenimentul zilei" on 2 September that he has no intention of returning to the party's leadership bodies "through the back door." He also rejected Democratic Party Chairman Traian Basescu's statement of 30 August that all former ministers are indebted to the party they represented in the government. Roman said one should not forget that "this party was set up by me and did not even exist when I was premier [1990-91]." In an interview with the daily "Jurnalul national" on 3 September, Roman reiterated his readiness to renew collaboration with President Ion Iliescu. MS

    [76] PRO-PPCD RALLY CALLS ON MOLDOVAN AUTHORITIES TO FREE MEMBERS OF 'ILASCU GROUP'...

    A resolution approved at a rally organized in Chisinau by the Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) on 1 September called on Moldovan authorities to "take all necessary measures" leading to the liberation of the three members of the Ilie Ilascu group still being detained in Tiraspol, RFE/RL's bureau in the Moldovan capital reported. The resolution asserts that the "tragic situation" of the three members of the group, who have been imprisoned for 10 years, "once again attests to the inhuman and illegal character of the separatist group headed by [Igor Smirnov], a citizen of the Russian Federation." The rally also approved a resolution demanding the unconditional and full withdrawal of Russian forces from the separatist region and the disarming and dissolution of the paramilitary forces subordinated to the regime in Tiraspol. MS

    [77] ...DEMANDS MOLDOVA LEAVE CIS...

    The 1 September rally participants also approved a resolution saying it is "vitally necessary" for Moldova to break away from the CIS in order to attain integration in Europe, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The resolution says the 11 years' experience garnered since independence shows that Moldova's foreign policy was "duplicitous." It adds that while the Baltic states and other former communist countries had a consistent policy of integration into the EU, Moldova has remained a hostage of the Russian Federation within the CIS and does nothing more than have its leaders deliver occasional pro-Western speeches that are backed by neither concrete diplomatic, legislative, nor economic action. In a separate resolution, the rally's participants called for Moldova to join NATO. MS

    [78] ...AND POLICIES OF COUNTRY'S RUSSIFICATION BE STOPPED

    Participants at the 1 September rally also approved a resolution calling on the ruling Party of Moldovan Communists to put an end to the policies of Russification of both the Romanian majority and of non-Russian national minorities, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The resolution also denounced the destruction of the country's democratic institutions, infringements on the independence of the judiciary and on local autonomy, censorship at national radio and television broadcasters, the alleged persecution of the opposition, and the attempt to impose the communist ideology on society as a whole. Estimates of participation in the rally ranged from 4,000-15,000. PPCD Chairman Iurie Rosca accused authorities of having prevented people from reaching Chisinau to participate in the rally. Rosca also said another rally of PPCD supporters will take place on 6 October. MS

    [79] MOLDOVAN LEADERSHIP IGNORES NATIONAL HOLIDAY

    No Moldovan officials participated on 31 August in any of the events organized by the Chisinau mayoralty to mark the official Language Day, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Romanian Radio said several politicians and intellectuals from Romania participated in the celebrations. MS

    [80] SMIRNOV REJECTS OSCE PROPOSALS...

    Separatist leader Igor Smirnov told journalists on 31 August that Transdniester will not accept the proposals of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as they are "anonymous." Smirnov said no one has accepted authorship of the proposals. He added that Transdniester has only agreed to start negotiating, but it has not agreed to the document itself, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported. (On the same day, the OSCE officially approved the proposals and distributed them as an official document of the organization.) Smirnov said the only conceivable agreement is one based on recognition of the existence of two independent states forming what he called a "contractual federation." MS

    [81] ...WHILE TIRASPOL MARKS INDEPENDENCE DAY

    The unrecognized Transdniester Republic on 2 September marked "Independence Day" with a military parade in the capital, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported. Defense Minister Stanislav Hajeev, who delivered the main speech at the festivities, deplored the fact that Russia is no longer backing Transdniester as it did in the past but said the separatists are grateful for the growing "political, economic, and humanitarian aid" from Ukraine. The military parade was attended by representatives from the Gagauz-Yeri Autonomous Region and from the unrecognized republics of Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. MS

    [82] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS PACE RESOLUTION FULFILLED

    In a message to the Council of Europe, President Vladimir Voronin on 2 September said all recommendations of the 24 April Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have been implemented, ITAR-TASS reported. Voronin also said Moldova is ready to take over the rotating chairmanship of the council's Council of Ministers. MS

    [83] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT, SETS AGENDA FOR THE COMING MONTHS...

    In his first official address to the nation after seven months in office, President Georgi Parvanov on 30 August openly criticized the government's work, mediapool.bg reported. Parvanov said the government must step up its efforts to resolve the country's most pressing problems -- organized crime and corruption, poverty and unemployment, and NATO and EU integration. Parvanov expressed his disappointment with the low attendance at the first session of the newly formed Crime Coordination Council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 2002). He urged the government to adopt a more consistent policy toward the European Union regarding Bulgaria's nuclear-power plant in Kozloduy. Parvanov also demanded that the government bolster state institutions in order to achieve real stability, which he said would make Bulgaria a reliable NATO and EU member. UB

    [84] ...WHILE PRIME MINISTER SAYS 'BULGARIA IS NOT A PRESIDENTIAL DEMOCRACY'

    Upon his return from vacation in Madrid, Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski said on 1 September that President Parvanov told him prior to his address that he would criticize the government, BTA reported. Saxecoburggotski said he focused on "the constructive implications in the president's statement, not the negative ones." However, he added that "The president's view is one thing, and the responsibilities and the work of the executive are another. Bulgaria is not a presidential republic." Saxecoburggotski refuted speculation that a change in the government is imminent. "This cabinet is functioning, which is obvious in every respect, provided that one wishes to be objective. Those who focus solely on the negative can, of course, find various faults, shortcomings, or evidence of incompetence," Saxecoburggotski said. UB

    [85] BULGARIA TAKES OVER UN SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY

    Bulgaria took over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council on 1 September, BTA reported. In a press release, the Foreign Ministry stated that among the highlights of Bulgaria's presidency will be a meeting in commemoration of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. The meeting will be chaired by President Parvanov. The Security Council's agenda during Bulgaria's presidency includes discussions on Kosova and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. UB

    END NOTE

    [86] There is no End Note today.


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