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RFE/RL Newsline, 02-11-05

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] PROSECUTOR DETAILS ACCUSATIONS AGAINST ZAKAEV
  • [02] NEWSPAPER SAYS FSB INTERROGATING HOSTAGE TAKERS WITH LIE
  • [03] ...WHILE PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SAYS NO HOSTAGE TAKERS SURVIVED
  • [04] FSB DIRECTOR CALLS FOR 'NEUTRALIZATION' OF CHECHEN LEADERS
  • [05] MEDIA MINISTRY UNVEILS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COVERING CRISES
  • [06] DEFENSE MINISTER TO PREPARE ARMY FOR WAR AGAINST TERRORISM...
  • [07] ...AS EXPERTS URGE MOVING BEYOND COLD WAR DOCTRINES
  • [08] PUTIN TO ATTEND RUSSIA-EU SUMMIT
  • [09] DUMA MIGHT ALLOCATE ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO FIGHTING TERRORISM
  • [10] COLLECTIVE SECURITY TREATY COUNTRIES DISCUSS IRAQ
  • [11] AIRLINE GOES AFTER U.S. COMPANY
  • [12] RUSSIAN VETERINARIANS CHECKING 'BUSH LEGS'
  • [13] NOVGOROD MAYORAL CANDIDATES SUBMIT DOCUMENTS...
  • [14] ...AS HOPEFULS START LINING UP TO BECOME TAIMYR GOVERNOR
  • [15] MURMANSK DUMA DEPUTY DIES
  • [16] STAROVOITOVA HONORED
  • [17] CHECHEN OFFICIALS QUESTION RATIONALE FOR SUSPENDING TROOP
  • [18] ...AND FOR NEW SWEEP OPERATIONS
  • [19] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION DRAFTS ELECTION-LAW AMENDMENTS
  • [20] NEW MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMAN MEETS WITH AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS
  • [21] AZERBAIJANI POLITICIANS ASSESS TURKISH ELECTION OUTCOME
  • [22] AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL SUES OPPOSITION PAPER FOR LIBEL
  • [23] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT NOT IMPRESSED BY PROPOSAL TO RESOLVE ABKHAZ
  • [24] ...PREDICTS DURATION OF PANKISI ANTITERRORISM OPERATION
  • [25] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER'S FATHER DENIES FINANCING CHECHEN
  • [26] POLICE OFFICIAL DISMISSED FOR ATTACK ON INDEPENDENT GEORGIAN TV
  • [27] NEW ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER
  • [28] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT FORMS COMMISSION TO MONITOR SITUATION IN SOUTH
  • [29] DEPUTY ADVOCATES AMENDING KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT STATUTES
  • [30] TAJIKISTAN SOLICITS WORLD BANK FUNDING TO COMPLETE HYDROELECTRIC
  • [31] OSCE SECRETARY-GENERAL MULLS FURTHER COOPERATION WITH BELARUS
  • [32] GAZPROM TO HALT GAS SUPPLIES TO BELARUS?
  • [33] UKRAINE PLEDGES NOT TO WAVER ON ROAD TO NATO
  • [34] WILL OUR UKRAINE LAWMAKERS SUPPORT YANUKOVYCH FOR PREMIER?
  • [35] ESTONIA, RUSSIA FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON KEY ISSUES
  • [36] LATVIAN PARTIES AGREE ON MAKEUP OF NEW CABINET
  • [37] RUSSIA DELAYS HANDLING OF LITHUANIAN TRANSIT ISSUE
  • [38] POLISH PARLIAMENTARY LEADER CALLS FOR PRO-EUROPE COALITION ON
  • [39] POLISH DEFENSE MINISTRY EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR ARMORED-CARRIER
  • [40] CZECH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ALLEGED TO HAVE HARMED POLITICAL
  • [41] OPPOSITION PARTY TO SEEK CZECH SENATE CHAIRMANSHIP
  • [42] ITALIAN FIRM TO REVAMP CZECH TRAIN STATIONS
  • [43] SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES FOUR-YEAR PROGRAM
  • [44] POLLSTER PREDICTS HIGH TURNOUT IN SLOVAK LOCAL ELECTIONS
  • [45] SLOVAK POLICE DETAIN 11 SKINHEADS
  • [46] DOUBTS PERSIST OVER FATE OF HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS
  • [47] FORMER HUNGARIAN PREMIER READY TO WORK FOR EU ACCESSION
  • [48] HUNGARY COMMEMORATES QUASHING OF 1956 UPRISING
  • [49] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT TO BECOME PRIME MINISTER
  • [50] BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY TO PRESS YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT ON ARMS
  • [51] ...AS A BIGGER PICTURE UNFOLDS...
  • [52] ...IN BOSNIA AS WELL...
  • [53] ...AMID WARNINGS FROM INTERNATIONAL HIGH REPRESENTATIVE
  • [54] RUSSIA CALLS FOR FAIRNESS TO SERBS
  • [55] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS YUGOSLAVIA
  • [56] YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT'S PARTY RETURNS TO SERBIAN PARLIAMENT
  • [57] HAGUE TRIAL OF FORMER SERBIAN LEADER POSTPONED AGAIN
  • [58] SERBIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP WANTS TO VISIT JAILED GENERAL
  • [59] MONTENEGRIN ALBANIAN LEADER QUITS YUGOSLAV CONSTITUTIONAL BODY...
  • [60] ...WITH SUPPORT FROM KOSOVAR ALBANIANS
  • [61] ETHNIC ALBANIAN PARTIES WIN BIG IN KOSOVA LOCAL VOTE
  • [62] MACEDONIAN POLICE RELEASE ETHNIC ALBANIAN POLITICIAN
  • [63] FORMER TITO-ERA LEADER DIES IN CROATIA
  • [64] DRNOVSEK LEADS IN SLOVENIAN OPINION POLLS
  • [65] POLICE BREAK UP DRUG RING IN ALBANIA
  • [66] PSD FLOATING EARLY ELECTIONS IDEA AGAIN
  • [67] ROMANIAN MEDIA WATCHDOG SAYS PRESS FREEDOM UNDER THREAT
  • [68] MOLDOVAN TV CHANGES DENOMINATION
  • [69] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES EU
  • [70] BULGARIAN MAYORS SAY MINISTER'S RETIREMENT WILL HAMPER REFORM
  • [71] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS TURKISH ELECTION RESULTS WON'T
  • [72] FORMER AFGHAN KING INAUGURATES CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION...
  • [73] ...AS WOMEN WANT THEIR RIGHTS TO BE ENSHRINED IN THE NEW
  • [74] AFGHAN GOVERNMENT CLEANS HOUSE
  • [75] HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHDOG CRITICIZES HERAT GOVERNOR'S RECORD...
  • [76] ...WHILE INTERETHNIC CLASHES CONTINUE IN THE REGION
  • [77] IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER PARDONS FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER...
  • [78] ...AND CALLS FOR END TO CORRUPTION
  • [79] IRAN SEEKS INCREASED GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY...
  • [80] ...AS GOVERNMENT-OWNED COMPANIES VIOLATE LAWS
  • [81] TEHRAN, ISLAMABAD DISCUSS ARAB ARRESTS
  • [82] IRANIAN GOVERNMENT ADDRESSES WATER CONSUMPTION
  • [83] PRESIDENT HUSSEIN HINTS IRAQ WILL COOPERATE...
  • [84] ...AND SAYS THE U.S. GOAL IS TO DESTROY IRAQ
  • [85] RUSSIA TOUGHENS STANCE ON IRAQ
  • [86] ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER WARNS OF COUNTERATTACK IF IRAQ ATTACKS
  • [87] There is no End Note today. 5 November 2002 NOTE TO READERS:&nbsp;We are proud to announce the launch of "RFE/RL Newsline Part III," providing daily news and analysis on events concerning Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. To subscribe, send an e-mail to: newsline3-subscribe@list.rferl.org. Also, see all of the RFE/RL Regional Analysis in-depth coverage and analysis at our website (http://www.regionalanalysis.org). RUSSIA

  • [01] PROSECUTOR DETAILS ACCUSATIONS AGAINST ZAKAEV

    The Prosecutor-General's Office has presented to the Justice Ministry of Denmark a dossier accusing Chechen Vice Premier Akhmed Zakaev of specific criminal acts, RIA-Novosti reported on 5 November. According to Deputy Prosecutor-General for the Southern Federal District Sergei Fridinskii, Zakaev stands accused of complicity in a string of crimes committed between 1995-99 and that list might yet be expanded. The dossier alleges that Zakaev formed an illegal armed formation of 200-1,500 fighters. In 1995, the band allegedly kidnapped two workers from the Prosecutor-General's Office in Urus-Martan, and Zakaev allegedly sentenced the two to death, although they were eventually freed. In the same village in December 1995, Zakaev's band allegedly captured several administration buildings and killed 10 civilians. In January 1996, Zakaev's band allegedly murdered two priests. In August 1996, the band allegedly captured the main railroad station in Grozny, killing or wounding more than 300 Interior Ministry troops. The government file also accused Zakaev of active participation in the 1999 incursion into Daghestan. Fridinskii also said a total of almost 100 warrants for Chechen fighters have been issued. Denmark is expected to make a decision regarding Zakaev's extradition to Russia by 30 November. RC

    [02] NEWSPAPER SAYS FSB INTERROGATING HOSTAGE TAKERS WITH LIE DETECTORS...

    The Federal Security Service (FSB) continues to interrogate two men and one woman captured during the 26 October storming of a Moscow theater where Chechen fighters were holding more than 800 hostages, "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie," No. 43, reported. The FSB is using domestically produced Delta lie detectors, which are reportedly able to assess the veracity of testimonies based on six biometric parameters. The FSB is also using the Delta machine to screen Interior Ministry personnel in its effort to identify anyone assisting the Chechens. The FSB reportedly believes that Chechen moles have thoroughly penetrated the Interior Ministry. VY

    [03] ...WHILE PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SAYS NO HOSTAGE TAKERS SURVIVED

    None of the Chechen fighters who participated in the 23-26 October hostage taking survived the special-forces operation to liberate the theater, RIA-Novosti reported on 5 November, citing the Prosecutor-General's Office. There were 41 hostage takers, 22 men and 19 women, and all of them were killed during the operation. Authorities are currently checking the authenticity of identification documents found on their bodies. Investigators also reported that at least one person is being held on suspicion of "complicity with the terrorists" and the hunt for additional collaborators is continuing. VY

    [04] FSB DIRECTOR CALLS FOR 'NEUTRALIZATION' OF CHECHEN LEADERS

    Speaking at a joint meeting of the government commission on the Chechen economy and the operational staff controlling the "counterterrorism operation" in the republic, Nikolai Patrushev said his agency knows which Chechen leaders were behind the 23-26 October Moscow hostage drama, RTR reported on 4 November. "We know them. They have been named, and we will correct our efforts to neutralize them," Patrushev said. He also noted that "the low level of the local economy, unemployment, and the criminalization of social relations help to replenish the ranks of the bandit formations and illegal business." Patrushev, who is in overall charge of the military operation in Chechnya, called for more aggressive work with the local population and improving the educational level of Chechen youth. VY

    [05] MEDIA MINISTRY UNVEILS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COVERING CRISES

    The Media Ministry on 4 November released its recommendations for media covering situations in which people's lives are threatened, RTR and other Russian news agencies reported. In addition to a general reminder to observe the laws on the mass media and on terrorism, the ministry's recommendations call on journalists not to initiate interviews with terrorists, offer terrorists live air time without consulting law enforcement agencies, publicize details about rescue operations, transmit unconfirmed information, or serve as intermediaries. The Media Ministry recommends that journalists not seek access to secret information from the special services. "Saving lives is more important than society's right to information," the recommendations state. The document has been posted on the ministry's website at http://www.mptr.ru. LB/RC

    [06] DEFENSE MINISTER TO PREPARE ARMY FOR WAR AGAINST TERRORISM...

    The reforms planned for the Russian Army are intended to enable the country to respond effectively to the challenges of international terrorism, Sergei Ivanov told journalists on 5 November during a visit to the Far East Federal District, Russian news agencies reported. Ivanov said the military will develop operational plans and train personnel to secure important objects and to storm them if they are captured by terrorists, Ivanov added. He said he believes Russia needs an army of 1 million soldiers, rather than the 1.173 million it currently maintains. He said the army must be mobile, professional, efficient, and equipped with the most modern weaponry. VY

    [07] ...AS EXPERTS URGE MOVING BEYOND COLD WAR DOCTRINES

    Russia and the United States should eliminate the portions of their respective national-security doctrines that depict one another as potential enemies, Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mikhail Margelov said on the ORT political talk show "Vremeni" on 3 November. Margelov said the current ongoing cooperation between the CIA and Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) in the battle against international terrorism contradicts Cold War-era legislation that both countries adopted to protect state secrets. Ivan Safronchuk, a Moscow-based analyst with Washington's Defense Information Center, said on the same show that the two countries have endorsed the concept of preventative strikes against international terrorism. However, he noted that although the United States and Russia face many common threats, preventative strikes could have very different ramifications for them because of their distinct geopolitical situations and varying political influence. VY

    [08] PUTIN TO ATTEND RUSSIA-EU SUMMIT

    President Vladimir Putin will head the Russian delegation to the Russia-EU summit in Brussels on 11 November, polit.ru reported on 5 November. After the Brussels meeting, Putin will make a state visit to Norway, the presidential press service reported. VY

    [09] DUMA MIGHT ALLOCATE ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO FIGHTING TERRORISM

    The State Duma might alter next year's budget to appropriate more money for combating terrorism in wake of last month's hostage crisis, Duma Security Committee Deputy Chairman Mikhail Grishankov (People's Deputy) announced on 4 November. The additional funds would be earmarked for three purposes: better information gathering to gain advance warning of terrorist plans, better equipment for law enforcement agencies, and training for special-services personnel, Ekho Moskvy reported. So far, no specific amount of funding has been determined, but the figure might be released following a closed session of the Security Committee scheduled for later this month. LB

    [10] COLLECTIVE SECURITY TREATY COUNTRIES DISCUSS IRAQ

    The foreign ministers of the six signatory countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization met in Moscow on 5 November to discuss the Iraq situation, ITAR-TASS and other Russian news agencies reported. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov called on the countries -- Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan -- to "demonstrate the efficiency of the organization" by showing they "are not indifferent to what is going on along the CIS borders and in the region in general." He stressed that the organization should "act within the framework of the single UN strategy" concerning Iraq. Ivanov also said that the six countries should cooperate more closely with other CIS countries and with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. RC

    [11] AIRLINE GOES AFTER U.S. COMPANY

    Bashkir Airlines has filed suit against the U.S. company Honeywell in connection with a 1 July air disaster in which 71 people -- most of them children -- were killed, regions.ru reported on 5 November. Honeywell produces the automatic warning system that was aboard the Bashkir Airlines Tu-154 that collided in midair with a Boeing 757 cargo jet over southwest Germany (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 2002). No details about the suit were released. On 3 November, the airline filed a $20 million suit against the Swiss government, which owns and operates the air-traffic-control system that was controlling the two planes at the time of the collision. According to regions.ru, the airline has also said it intends to file a $15 million suit against the manufacturer of the Skyguide air-traffic-control system. RC

    [12] RUSSIAN VETERINARIANS CHECKING 'BUSH LEGS'

    A group of Russian veterinary specialists that flew to the United States on 2 November has begun a three-week inspection of some 336 poultry-processing facilities, NTV reported on 4 November. Trade in so-called "Bush legs," as they have been popularly known since the Gorbachev era, has been a contentious issue between the United States and Russia this year. Russia banned poultry imports from the United States in March, and although that ban was lifted the following month, negotiations between Russian and U.S. officials over food quality concerns such as salmonella and chicken influenza have continued. According to NTV, some 450 U.S. poultry processors export to Russia, and Russian domestic producers are seeking import quotas. Turkey and chicken meat was the leading U.S. export to Russia in 2001, with $640 million in sales (see "RFE/RL Business Watch," 9 April and 16 April 2002). LB

    [13] NOVGOROD MAYORAL CANDIDATES SUBMIT DOCUMENTS...

    Three candidates have submitted to election officials the necessary signatures to participate in the 8 December mayoral election in Novgorod, RosBalt reported on 5 November. The candidates are Novgorod Oblast Deputy Governor Nikolai Grazhdankin, oblast Communist Party leader Valerii Gaidym, and acting Mayor Sergei Lobach. The local election commission must certify or reject the applications within five days. Grazhdankin is supported by the Democratic Party of Russia; Lobach is backed by the Unified Russia party; and Gaidym is running on the Communist ticket. The deadline for applications is 6 November. The election is being held to replace Aleksandr Korsunov, who was killed in an automobile accident on 8 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 September 2002). RC

    [14] ...AS HOPEFULS START LINING UP TO BECOME TAIMYR GOVERNOR

    Gennadii Subbotkin, a deputy with the municipal legislature in the town of Dudinki, has become the first person to declare his intention to run for governor of Taimyr Autonomous Okrug, regions.ru reported on 5 November, citing the Yenisei-Inform news agency. The election will be held on 26 November and was called to replace former Governor Aleksandr Khloponin, who was elected governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai on 22 September. Norilsk Mayor Oleg Budargin is reportedly considering running for the post, regions.ru reported. Although no specific announcements have been made, a spokesman for Budargin's office was quoted as saying, "One thing can be said for sure -- Norilsk will not just stand by and watch the election in Taimyr." Yenisei-Inform also reported on 31 October that a nongovernmental organization called Taimyr Youth will support okrug Duma Speaker Viktor Sitnov in the race. According to a statement by the organization, Sitnov is the only potential candidate capable of "continuing the reforms that Aleksandr Khloponin initiated in Taimyr." RC

    [15] MURMANSK DUMA DEPUTY DIES

    State Duma Deputy Vladimir Gusenkov (Fatherland-All Russia) died on 5 November after a long illness, RosBalt reported, citing his faction's press service. Gusenkov, 57, represented a single-mandate district in Murmansk and served as deputy chairman of the Duma's Agricultural Committee. RC

    [16] STAROVOITOVA HONORED

    A memorial plaque has been installed in St. Petersburg near the site where Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova was murdered on 20 November 1998, RosBalt reported on 5 November. The modest tribute was erected on the initiative of the Petersburg chapter of the Democratic Russia party and its chairman, Ruslan Linkov, who was Starovoitova's aide at the time of the murder and who was seriously injured in the same incident. Linkov told RosBalt that the plaque was unveiled "quietly and without pathos." Police continue to investigate Starovoitova's murder. RC

    [17] CHECHEN OFFICIALS QUESTION RATIONALE FOR SUSPENDING TROOP WITHDRAWAL...

    Chechnya's State Duma Deputy Aslanbek Aslakhanov (OVR) told journalists on 4 November that he has asked Defense Minister Ivanov to explain his announcement of the previous day that the withdrawal of extraneous Russian forces from Chechnya has been suspended, Interfax reported. Aslakhanov recalled that Ivanov and other Russian officials have repeatedly declared the war in Chechnya is over. LF

    [18] ...AND FOR NEW SWEEP OPERATIONS

    Speaking in Grozny on 4 November, Chechen Security Council Secretary Rudnik Dudaev said that while he welcomes "targeted" Russian operations to locate and destroy the remaining groups of Chechen fighters, he considers the ongoing "sweep" operations in Chechen villages unnecessary, Russian news agencies reported. Such sweeps also delay the repatriation of displaced persons who fled from Chechnya to Ingushetia to avoid ongoing hostilities, Dudaev said. He noted that orders issued earlier this year by Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov and former Russian troop commander in Chechnya Colonel General Vladimir Moltenskoi, which were intended to preclude human rights violations during such search operations, are routinely ignored. Dudaev further pointed out that Russian forces have blocked almost all routes militants could take to enter and leave Grozny or cross the Chechen border. LF

    TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [19] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION DRAFTS ELECTION-LAW AMENDMENTS

    A group of 28 parliament deputies representing the 16 opposition parties that have aligned to contest presidential and parliamentary elections in 2003 have authored new amendments to the election law that are intended to preclude vote-rigging, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 4 November. The amendments, which were submitted to the pro-government parliament factions on 4 November, strengthen the powers of candidates' proxies, authorizing them to ban unauthorized personnel from polling stations. They also forbid local election commission officials to obstruct media coverage of the voting and ballot count. LF

    [20] NEW MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMAN MEETS WITH AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS

    Henri Jacquelin met in Baku on 4 November with Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov, Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev, and President Heidar Aliev to discuss ongoing efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group to mediate a solution to the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported. Jacquelin conveyed to Aliev a personal message from French President Jacques Chirac, who offered to host a further round of talks between Aliev and his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, on ways to resolve the conflict. Chirac hosted two such meetings last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January and 6 March 2001). LF

    [21] AZERBAIJANI POLITICIANS ASSESS TURKISH ELECTION OUTCOME

    Invited by Turan to comment on the outcome of the 4 November elections in Turkey, Mirmakhmud Miralioglu, who heads the conservative wing of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, attributed the victory of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party to "serious policy mistakes" on the part of the outgoing government, while Azerbaijan National Independence Party Chairman Etibar Mamedov similarly said it reflects widespread popular dissatisfaction with the outgoing leadership. Democratic Party of Azerbaijan General Secretary Sardar Djalaloglu, however, blamed the West's reluctance to admit Turkey to the EU and its demands for autonomy for the Kurds. Musavat Party Chairman Isa Gambar and former presidential foreign-policy adviser Vafa Guluzade both predicted the regime change will not negatively impact Turkey's relations with the West. Presidential administration official Novruz Mamedov for his part ruled out any deterioration of Turkish-Azerbaijani relations, which he characterized as permanent and "stable." LF

    [22] AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL SUES OPPOSITION PAPER FOR LIBEL

    Former State Property Committee Chairman Nadir Nasibov and his deputy Barat Nuriev have filed a libel suit against the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," which reported last week that Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny is suing them and other highly placed Azerbaijani officials for alleged abuse of office and demanding bribes in connection with Kozeny's failed bid to privatize Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, Turan reported on 4 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 2002). Nasibov has demanded that Baku's Sabail District Court close down the newspaper for a period of three years and bring criminal charges against the journalists who wrote the series of articles in question. LF

    [23] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT NOT IMPRESSED BY PROPOSAL TO RESOLVE ABKHAZ CONFLICT...

    At his traditional Monday press briefing, Eduard Shevardnadze said on 4 November that he strongly disapproves of several points of the plan for resolving the Abkhaz conflict proposed by Adjar State Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze, Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze named Abashidze his special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict one year ago. As summarized in the Georgian press on 5 November, Abashidze's proposal envisages lifting the economic blockade of Abkhazia imposed by the CIS in 1996; opening rail, road, air, and sea communications between Abkhazia and the CIS; restoration of the Inguri hydroelectric-power station, which is located on Abkhaz territory but provides power for other regions of Georgia; and exporting gas and electricity via Abkhazia to Turkey, according to Caucasus Press. Shevardnadze said he plans to discuss the proposal with Abashidze but has the impression that the latter is not yet ready for such a discussion. Also on 4 November, Shevardnadze met in Tbilisi with UN Special Envoy for Abkhazia Heidi Tagliavini to discuss the UN-drafted alternative formula for resolving the Abkhaz conflict, Caucasus Press reported. LF

    [24] ...PREDICTS DURATION OF PANKISI ANTITERRORISM OPERATION

    Shevardnadze also told journalists on 4 November he anticipates that within two-three weeks the ongoing anticrime and antiterrorism operation in the Pankisi Gorge should result in the exodus or arrest of the last remaining "criminals and militants" still at large there, Russian agencies reported. Georgian State Security Minister Valeri Khaburzania said two weeks ago that an estimated 50-60 Chechen militants remain in districts of Georgia bordering Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 2002). But in Moscow, Federation Council member Yurii Sharandin, who traveled to Pankisi on 31 October with a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe delegation, accused Georgia of failing to take any steps to rid the Pankisi Gorge of Chechen militants, Interfax reported. The agency quoted Sharandin as saying that in their talks with the PACE delegation, senior Georgian law enforcement officials admitted they are incapable of doing so without outside assistance. LF

    [25] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER'S FATHER DENIES FINANCING CHECHEN DIASPORA

    The office of parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze issued a statement on 4 November rejecting as false Russian media allegations that Burdjanadze's father Anzor, who heads the Georgian Bread Production Corporation and has for decades been a close associate of President Shevardnadze, has provided financial assistance and an office on the premises of the corporation's headquarters to the Chechen representation in Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. The statement said such allegations are an obstacle to normalizing bilateral relations. Anzor Burdjanadze has asked the Georgian Prosecutor-General's Office to investigate the Russian media reports. LF

    [26] POLICE OFFICIAL DISMISSED FOR ATTACK ON INDEPENDENT GEORGIAN TV STATION

    A regional deputy police chief in western Georgia has been dismissed for his role in an attack of the staff and premises of an independent television station in Zugdidi, Caucasus Press reported on 4 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2002). LF

    [27] NEW ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER

    Officials from the Prosecutor-General's Office told journalists in Astana on 1 November that Interpol has issued a new arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Deputy Prosecutor-General Onalsyn Zhumabekov said the warrant is based on the outcome of Kazhegeldin's trial in absentia in September 2001, in which he was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on charges of corruption, abuse of office, and illegal possession of weapons (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 2001). Zhumabekov said that at a meeting of Interpol's General Assembly on 21-24 October all but two Interpol member states approved it. Interpol's website, however, made clear that the decision to issue a new arrest warrant was adopted by a vote of 48 -38 with 26 abstentions. The General Assembly decision, which is final, overturns a June 2001 ruling by Interpol's Secretary-General Ronald Noble, who after consultations with Kazhegeldin's lawyers ordered the Executive Committee to remove Kazhegeldin's name from the wanted list on the grounds that Interpol's constitution bans it from intervening in political cases. LF

    [28] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT FORMS COMMISSION TO MONITOR SITUATION IN SOUTH

    The Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament) decided on 4 November to establish a special commission to monitor rising tensions in the south of the country, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Several thousand people participated in protests in southern Kyrgyzstan last week following a 27 October decision by an Osh court barring former Deputy Prime Minister Usen Sadykov from participating in a runoff by-election on 3 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 and 31 October and 1 and 4 November 2002). The by-election has since been postponed indefinitely. Sadykov met on 4 November with supporters in the village of Kara-Kuldja, the constituency where he ran as a parliament candidate, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. LF

    [29] DEPUTY ADVOCATES AMENDING KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT STATUTES

    Meeting on 2 November with activists of his My Country party from Chu and Naryn oblasts, Legislative Assembly deputy Zaynidin Kurmanov argued that the lower chamber's statutes should be amended to lower the quorum required for the passage of legislation, akipress.org reported. He pointed out that only two laws have been passed over the past two months because a vote by two-thirds of the 60 deputies is required. He accused unnamed deputies of sabotaging the passage of legislation. Kurmanov also advocated reducing from 36 to no more than 10 the total number of parliament committees. LF

    [30] TAJIKISTAN SOLICITS WORLD BANK FUNDING TO COMPLETE HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION

    Meeting on 1 November in Dushanbe with Dennis de Trey, who heads the World Bank's office for Central Asia, President Imomali Rakhmonov urged the World Bank to set up an international consortium to finance repairs and completion of construction of the half-finished Rogun hydroelectric-power station, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. The Russian financial group Baltic Construction Company was named last week as general contractor for the project, which will cost an estimated $100 million, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. Construction of the plant was started in 1981 but frozen in 1992 following the demise of the USSR. LF

    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

    [31] OSCE SECRETARY-GENERAL MULLS FURTHER COOPERATION WITH BELARUS

    OSCE Secretary-General Jan Kubis met with Belarusian Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastou in Minsk on 4 November to discuss mutual relations after the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group in the Belarusian capital effectively ceased its operations following the departure of its last international staffer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 2002), Belarusian media reported. Kubis told journalists that the OSCE wants to continue cooperation with Belarus and does not intend to initiate the country's withdrawal from the organization. On his part, Khvastou confirmed that Belarus does not want to pull out of the OSCE either. "I assess today's meeting [with Kubis] positively," Khvastou said, but he did not provide details. JM

    [32] GAZPROM TO HALT GAS SUPPLIES TO BELARUS?

    Gazprom has warned that it might completely halt natural-gas supplies to Belarus if that country does not accept a higher price for consumption beyond the amount contracted for 2002, Belapan reported on 4 November, quoting Gazprom's press service. According to Gazprom, the company has nearly reached its subsidized gas-export target to Belarus at the price of $24 per 1,000 cubic meters. Gazprom wants Minsk to pay $36 per 1,000 cubic meters for any additional supplies. Last week, Gazprom reduced its gas supplies to Belarus by half, prompting Minsk to charge that Moscow is using gas to exert economic pressure on Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002). The Russian state controls 38 percent of Gazprom. JM

    [33] UKRAINE PLEDGES NOT TO WAVER ON ROAD TO NATO

    "Our policy towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration is unchanged. We have made our choice of path and we are not planning to move from that," Reuters quoted presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska as saying in Kyiv on 4 November. "If anyone wants that [change] -- don't hold your breath," Hromnytska added. Hromnytska also said President Leonid Kuchma is considering attending meetings of NATO's Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council during the 21-22 November summit in Prague. "He reserves the right to take part," AP quoted her as saying. Last week, Kuchma told journalists he will go to Prague, effectively challenging NATO's decision not to invite him to separate meetings of the bilateral NATO-Ukraine Commission (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002 and "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 5 November 2002). JM

    [34] WILL OUR UKRAINE LAWMAKERS SUPPORT YANUKOVYCH FOR PREMIER?

    Taras Chornovil, a lawmaker from Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus, has suggested that some Our Ukraine legislators might support Donetsk Oblast Governor Viktor Yanukovych for the post of prime minister, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported on 5 November. Last month, the fragile pro-presidential majority in the Verkhovna Rada proposed four candidates for the post (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002), including Yanukovych, who was put forward by Ukraine's Regions -- a parliamentary representation of the so-called Donetsk group of oligarchs. "I can only say that, most likely, [Our Ukraine] will give its deputies the right to vote freely [on the candidates for premier], but the real threat of the usurpation of all power in Ukraine by [presidential administration chief Viktor] Medvedchuk forces both Viktor Yushchenko and a number of Our Ukraine politicians to endorse someone from the Donetsk group," Chornovil said. JM

    [35] ESTONIA, RUSSIA FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON KEY ISSUES

    Accompanied by Labor and Social Development Minister Aleksandr Pochinok and deputy ministers of culture, education, finance, and economic development and trade, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko arrived in Tallinn on 4 November for a two-day visit, BNS reported. She and Estonian Prime Minister Siim Kallas co-chair the Russian-Estonian intergovernmental commission, which had not met for more than a year and a half. In addition to two expected agreements -- on avoiding double taxation and on pension insurance -- representatives signed a bilateral agreement on the repatriation of prisoners, ETA reported the next day. No decisions were made concerning the pressing issue of a trade and economic-cooperation agreement, which would abolish higher taxes on Estonian exports to Russia, and a border agreement. SG

    [36] LATVIAN PARTIES AGREE ON MAKEUP OF NEW CABINET

    Following a month of negotiations, four right-of-center parties on 4 November reached agreement on the composition of a coalition government led by New Era Chairman Einars Repse, BNS reported. The expected coalition partners -- which control a combined 55 of 100 parliamentary seats -- comprise the New Era party, the Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS), Latvia's First Party (LPP), and For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (TB/LNNK). New Era will control six ministries -- Finance, Interior, Education and Research, Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Culture -- in addition to two special-task portfolios that should later become the ministries of Health and of Regional Development. The LPP will head the Economy Ministry and two special-task portfolios -- Family and Children's Affairs and Social Integration. The ZZS will be at the helm of three ministries -- Agriculture, Environment, and Welfare -- while the TB/LNNK will run two ministries -- Defense and Transportation. The primary dispute concerned the Economy Ministry, as the ZZS demanded that the post not be given to LPP candidates Ainars Slesers or Arnolds Laksa. The LPP finally acceded to that demand in exchange for the deputy prime minister's post. SG

    [37] RUSSIA DELAYS HANDLING OF LITHUANIAN TRANSIT ISSUE

    After a meeting with President Valdas Adamkus, Lithuanian Ambassador to Russia Rimantas Sidlauskas told a press conference in Vilnius on 4 November that Russia has given Lithuania permission neither to open a new consulate in Sovetsk in the Kaliningrad Oblast nor to enlarge its consular facilities in Kaliningrad, ELTA reported. Those offices will become necessary next year when Lithuania abolishes visa-free travel for Kaliningrad residents and requires Russians transiting to and from that exclave to have visas. Those measures are part of Lithuanian pledges to the EU. Sidlauskas said Russia has taken a "peculiar" stance, delaying any decision until an agreement on the transit issue is reached between Russia and the EU. SG

    [38] POLISH PARLIAMENTARY LEADER CALLS FOR PRO-EUROPE COALITION ON LOCAL COUNCILS

    Sejm speaker Marek Borowski of the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) on 5 November called on the opposition Civic Platform (PO) and Law and Justice (PiS) to form "a coalition of pro-European parties" in provincial assemblies, PAP reported. "I think this is the right moment, when all those groupings that have pro-European programs, [or] at least those that are not anti-European,... should forget divisions between parties and aim at forming a coalition that is, I would say, above divisions," Borowski said. "I want to make it clear that if there is such will on the part of PO and PiS, then there is such will on the part of the SLD," he noted, adding that such local coalitions could be created, "of course, with the participation of the Polish Peasant Party." According to unofficial results, the SLD won the 23 October local elections in 13 of Poland's 16 provinces but might be able to rule on its own in one province and together with the PSL, its government-coalition partner, in two others (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 5 November 2002). JM

    [39] POLISH DEFENSE MINISTRY EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR ARMORED-CARRIER TENDER

    Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski announced on 4 November that the tender for a contract for the procurement of 1,000 armored personnel carriers for a total of $1 billion will be prolonged by one week, until 12 November, PAP reported. Szmajdzinski declined to say which, if any, bidder requested the extension but said the move is aimed at "making things easier for the bidders." Likely bidders include Mowag of Switzerland, Steyr of Austria, and Patria of Finland. JM

    [40] CZECH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ALLEGED TO HAVE HARMED POLITICAL PRISONERS UNDER COMMUNISM

    Social Democratic Party (CSSD) Honorary Chairman Slavomir Klaban is alleging that Ombudsman Otakar Motejl, one of the party's potential candidates for president, harmed political prisoners as a member of the Czechoslovak Supreme Court in the 1960s, CTK reported on 5 November, citing the daily "Pravo." Klaban said some of the court's verdicts infringed on human rights and added that, as a member of that court, Motejl participated in the persecution of political prisoners. Klaban made similar allegations eight years ago, but a number of dissidents whom Motejl defended as a lawyer came to his defense at that time. Motejl has rejected the allegations, saying that as a judge on the Supreme Court he was mostly involved in the rehabilitations then under way of people persecuted by the regime in the early 1950s. Rather, Motejl said, he worked to expand the rehabilitation criteria. MS

    [41] OPPOSITION PARTY TO SEEK CZECH SENATE CHAIRMANSHIP

    Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Chairman Vaclav Klaus said on 4 November that his party will seek to get one of its members elected president of the Senate in the wake of the recent elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002), CTK reported. Klaus did not identify his party's candidate for the post, but added that Senate President Petr Pithart has never been acceptable for the ODS. Klaus also said ODS's combined forces in the upper and lower chambers are greater than that of any other party. The ODS controls 26 Senate seats --on par with the ruling Social Democrats. MS

    [42] ITALIAN FIRM TO REVAMP CZECH TRAIN STATIONS

    The Italian firm Grandi Stazioni last week won a tender to rebuild Prague's main railway station and railway stations in the western spa resorts of Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne, dpa reported on 4 November. The terms of the tender have not been disclosed. MS

    [43] SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES FOUR-YEAR PROGRAM

    The center-right cabinet on 4 November approved a four-year program that emphasizes strengthening the democratic process, economic policy, social policy, and state capability, in that order, TASR reported. The latter refers to judiciary reform, bolstering law enforcement, amending the Penal Code, acceding to NATO and the EU, and developing good relations with neighboring countries. The program also pledges that the government will fight intolerance in all its forms and strive to solve problems facing the Romany minority. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda told journalists at the end of a cabinet session that the three "key concepts" of the program are: fighting corruption, the efficient use of EU funding, and the implementation of reforms. Dzurinda also said his government's education and culture policies stipulate the protection of Slovak and national minorities' cultural heritage, adding that his cabinet is committed to establishing a Hungarian-language university in Slovakia. MS

    [44] POLLSTER PREDICTS HIGH TURNOUT IN SLOVAK LOCAL ELECTIONS

    A public opinion poll conducted by the Slovak Statistics Office (UVVM) shows that 54 percent of Slovak voters are "certain" to participate in local elections scheduled for 6-7 December and another 24 percent are "likely" to do so, TASR and CTK reported on 4 November. Eight percent said they are "unlikely" to take part in the ballot, while 4 percent said they are "certain" not to do so. MS

    [45] SLOVAK POLICE DETAIN 11 SKINHEADS

    Slovak police on 4 November said they have detained 11 skinheads on charges of supporting and promoting a movement aimed at suppressing the rights and freedoms of citizens, CTK and AP reported. The 11 were detained during a skinhead rally on 2 November in the northwestern village of Svrcinovec, near Zilina. Three of the detained are Czech nationals, seven are Slovak, and one is a Pole. MS

    [46] DOUBTS PERSIST OVER FATE OF HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS

    The governing parties are determined that parliamentary debate on constitutional amendments required for Hungary's EU accession will begin on 12 November, although consensus with opposition parties on important issues remains elusive, "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 5 November. FIDESZ parliamentary group leader Janos Ader told the daily that further talks are needed and warned that his opposition party and the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) will not support the constitutional changes unless the government reaches an agreement with them. The two opposition parties would like a referendum on EU accession to take place after the treaty is signed, but Social Democratic Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy wants a referendum first. FIDESZ and the MDF insist that EU legislation should not take precedence over the Hungarian Constitution, suggesting that would jeopardize the nation's sovereignty. MSZ

    [47] FORMER HUNGARIAN PREMIER READY TO WORK FOR EU ACCESSION

    Viktor Orban has accepted Prime Minister Medgyessy's request to assist Hungary's accession to the EU in his role as deputy chairman of the European People's Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2002), "Nepszabadsag" reported on 5 November. In a letter dated 30 October, Orban said that -- as in the past -- his party will use its international contacts and pool forces to ensure that accession brings improved living standards and quality of life to Hungarians, rather than disappointment. Orban said his work would be greatly helped by the government making its negotiating position available to him. MSZ

    [48] HUNGARY COMMEMORATES QUASHING OF 1956 UPRISING

    President Ferenc Madl and Constitutional Court head Janos Nemeth on 4 November laid wreaths at a grave for the heroes of 1956 to mark the suppression of the 1956 Uprising, Hungarian media reported. They also attended ceremonies at the penitentiary where political leaders were hanged. Jeno Fonay, head of the Federation of Political Prisoners, said the greatest crime of 1956 was committed not by occupying forces but by those who fought against their Hungarian compatriots. He said the nation can remain united if its members do not point fingers at one another but strive for reconciliation, and if those who helped crush the uprising publicly apologize to the nation. FIDESZ Deputy Chairman Tamas Deutsch commemorated the victims of 1956 at the House of Terror museum in Budapest. He said in his address that 23 October, the beginning of the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising, is a day of freedom and justice, but called 4 November a day of lies and high treason. MSZ

    SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [49] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT TO BECOME PRIME MINISTER

    The steering committee of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) agreed in Podgorica on 4 November that President Milo Djukanovic will become prime minister in the new government to be formed on the basis of the 20 October parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Filip Vujanovic, who is currently prime minister, will become speaker of the parliament. Reuters described the party's decision as a "big surprise." The DPS said in a statement that, "The time before us requires [Djukanovic's] energy, skill, authority, and dedication to goals in the national interest" as head of the government. It is not clear who will be the DPS's presidential candidate in the 22 December presidential elections or whether Djukanovic will resign the presidency before then. One possible candidate might be Professor Ljubisa Stankovic, who is not formally a member of the DPS, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. PM

    [50] BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY TO PRESS YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT ON ARMS SALES...

    Foreign Secretary Jack Straw leaves for Belgrade on 5 November and will meet with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica the following day, "The Guardian" reported. Straw will "press...Kostunica...about the illegal supply of weapons [by Yugoslav firms] to west Africa and Iraq" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 25 October 2002). Unnamed British officials told the daily that details recently uncovered about Yugoslav dealings with Iraq are "the tip of the iceberg." A particular concern of the British government is that its forces in Sierra Leone or Iraq could find themselves under fire from weapons made in Yugoslavia. The daily notes, however, that U.S. diplomats say the Yugoslav firms make much money from their illegal dealings and "have little incentive" to stop. PM

    [51] ...AS A BIGGER PICTURE UNFOLDS...

    "Jane's Defence Weekly" in its 6 November issue will note that Yugoslav sanctions-busting was part of a project code-named Zora (Dawn) under the direction of the Yugoimport company and its former director, General Jovan Cekovic. The operation involved one-time Yugoslav military plants in Bosnia and perhaps other countries. The weekly noted that it was unspecified "antiterrorist coalition sources" who tipped off Croatian authorities to the presence of the "Boka Star," a former Yugoslav military munitions supply ship that was carrying what appears to be 200 tons of missile fuel, probably destined for Iraq's Scud missiles. The ship "sailed from [the Montenegrin port of] Bar on 29 September and spent 10 days anchored in the Bay of Bigova next to a [Yugoslav naval] base before entering Croatian waters, officially on a towing mission," before Croatian authorities seized it on 22 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25, 29, and 31 October and 4 November 2002). PM

    [52] ...IN BOSNIA AS WELL...

    Republika Srpska Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic told a news conference in Banja Luka on 4 November that Bosnian Serb officials were negotiating arms sales to Burma when the scandal over illegal weapons trading broke in October, Reuters reported. The Bosnian Serbs ended the talks when they realized that Burma is under political and economic sanctions from the EU and the United States because of its human rights record. The negotiations were headed by Defense Minister Slobodan Bilic and General Novica Simic, the head of the General Staff. Both men have since resigned in conjunction with the scandal over the recent sale of military equipment to Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002). An unnamed Western source told the news agency that it is "hard to believe that Bosnian Serb officials were unaware Burma's military rulers are ostracized by the West." PM

    [53] ...AMID WARNINGS FROM INTERNATIONAL HIGH REPRESENTATIVE

    Speaking in Banja Luka on 4 November, Paddy Ashdown, the international community's high representative in Bosnia, called on Bosnian Serb officials to take political responsibility and continue their investigations of the arms scandal. He added, "If they don't, I am prepared to use my power to make sure that happens." He did not elaborate but recently told Bosnian Serbs they must choose "between Brussels and Baghdad" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2002). In related news, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported from New York that U.S. officials say they have evidence only about the Bosnian Serb Orao firm being involved in illicit arms deals and not about any companies in the Muslim-Croat federation. There have been recent reports in the Bosnian Serb media suggesting that companies in the federation are also involved. PM

    [54] RUSSIA CALLS FOR FAIRNESS TO SERBS

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko told Russian journalists on 2 November that the ministry "believes that an investigation into this issue [Serbian arms sales to Iraq] will not be used as a pretext for the demonstrative punishment of Belgrade and Bosnian Serbs, or for building up political pressure on the leaders of Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska," Interfax news agency reported from Moscow two days later. He said any such pressure "would entail negative consequences, including in the context of the postelection situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the situation in Yugoslavia and Serbia." Yakovenko noted, however, that, "Russia is concerned by all actions violating UN Security Council resolutions and supports an early investigation and measures to prevent such actions in the future." The spokesman added that, "Judging by all accounts, all necessary measures are being taken in Yugoslavia, in the Republika Srpska, and by the central Bosnian authorities" to clear up the matter. In related news, Yakovenko hailed a recent decision by Albanian authorities to prevent Chechen representatives from attending a conference of radical parties in Tirana. PM

    [55] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS YUGOSLAVIA

    Kostunica and Romanian President Ion Iliescu signed an agreement in Belgrade on 4 November regarding the rights and protection of ethnic minorities, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Iliescu told Romanian Radio that it is in Bucharest's interest to ensure the integration of all former Yugoslav republics in regional and European structures. He noted that political relations between Romania and Yugoslavia are very good but that economic ties could be stronger. PM

    [56] YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT'S PARTY RETURNS TO SERBIAN PARLIAMENT

    Dragan Marsicanin, a leader of Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), told reporters in Belgrade on 5 November that the Yugoslav president and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic reached an agreement the previous night on the return of Kostunica's deputies to the Serbian parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002). The details are unclear. Marsicanin said, "Some sort of compromise has been reached, we are going to take part in the [legislative] session and in the voting on the new law" on presidential elections. PM

    [57] HAGUE TRIAL OF FORMER SERBIAN LEADER POSTPONED AGAIN

    The trial of Slobodan Milosevic was postponed on 1 and 4 November for at least one week because of concerns about his health, Reuters reported. On 1 November, Milosevic's legal advisers said he is suffering from "exhaustion" as well as blood-pressure and other problems. Presiding Judge Richard May said, "In the light of the state of the accused's health and the length and complexity of the case, the trial chamber is concerned about completion of the trial." Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale added, "The judges are not intimating that the trial itself is in jeopardy. What they are concerned about is that there are stresses on all participants in a trial of this scope and this length." In related news, officials from the tribunal are scheduled to have talks with Slovenian President Milan Kucan in Ljubljana on 5 November, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. He recently said he is willing to appear as a witness against Milosevic. PM

    [58] SERBIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP WANTS TO VISIT JAILED GENERAL

    Bishop Lavrentije of Sabac said on 2 November that he wants to go to The Hague to see General Dragoljub Ojdanic, who has been denied bail by the war crimes tribunal, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2002). Lavrentije added that the Serbian Orthodox Church will now pay more attention to the Serbs in The Hague prison and to their families. Ojdanic turned himself in voluntarily in April following the passage of Yugoslav legislation on cooperation with The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 and 26 April 2002). He did so on the understanding that he would be allowed to await his trial in Serbia rather than in the Netherlands. PM

    [59] MONTENEGRIN ALBANIAN LEADER QUITS YUGOSLAV CONSTITUTIONAL BODY...

    Ferhat Dinosha has quit his post on the Serbian-Montenegrin commission to draft the Constitutional Charter for the new joint state, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported on 4 November. He said he considers illegal the inclusion in the preamble of a reference to Kosova being one of two autonomous provinces of Serbia (the other being Vojvodina). Dinosha argued that this formulation is in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. He stressed that only the Albanian majority of Kosova can decide on the province's future. But Kosova Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic told SRNA news agency on 3 November that Dinosha's move revealed his "openly separatist ambitions." Ivanovic charged that Dinosha and other ethnic "Albanian separatists," including those in Macedonia, are pursuing a policy "that is conducted out of a single center." He did not elaborate. In related news, Esad Dzudzevic, who represents Sandzak on the Constitutional Charter commission, quit that body to protest Sandzak's continued division between Serbia and Montenegro. PM

    [60] ...WITH SUPPORT FROM KOSOVAR ALBANIANS

    Virtually all Kosovar Albanian political parties and institutions have strongly condemned the reference to Kosova in the preamble of the Constitutional Charter, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Prishtina on 5 November. The Albanian leaders argued that only the Albanian majority may decide on Kosova's future. PM

    [61] ETHNIC ALBANIAN PARTIES WIN BIG IN KOSOVA LOCAL VOTE

    The Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) of President Ibrahim Rugova won in 19 of 30 municipalities in the recent local elections, the Kosovar news agency Qik reported on 4 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002). The LDK took 11 municipalities outright and has the largest number of votes in eight more. Supporters of former guerrilla leader Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosova (PDK) finished second, winning four municipalities. A coalition of five Serbian parties took five municipalities. PM

    [62] MACEDONIAN POLICE RELEASE ETHNIC ALBANIAN POLITICIAN

    Police freed Xhevat Ademi on 4 November, dpa reported from Skopje (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002). He said after his release that his arrest was a "provocation" and an example of "Balkan stupidity." That same day, Social Affairs Minister Jovan Manasievski said the new government has already begun to change personnel in the security services. He added that the previous holders of the positions of state secretary for the interior, head of public security, and chief of the country's bureau for security and counterintelligence have been sacked and will be replaced shortly. PM

    [63] FORMER TITO-ERA LEADER DIES IN CROATIA

    Jakov Sirotkovic died at the age of 80 on 1 November, AP reported from Zagreb. He was a prominent communist official in the late 1960s and early 1970s, specializing in economic issues. He left politics for university teaching in 1978 and retired in 1991. Born on the island of Rab, Sirotkovic served in Josip Broz Tito's Partisan movement during World War II. PM

    [64] DRNOVSEK LEADS IN SLOVENIAN OPINION POLLS

    Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek has a comfortable lead in three recent polls for the 10 November presidential race, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 2 November (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 20 September and 25 October 2002). Incumbent President Milan Kucan is constitutionally barred from seeking another term. Both he and Drnovsek are former communist-era officials who played important roles in steering Slovenia to independence in 1991. PM

    [65] POLICE BREAK UP DRUG RING IN ALBANIA

    Police arrested an unspecified number of Albanians and Italians in a Durres hotel on 31 October, AP reported the next day. The police confiscated 8 kilograms of heroin, their biggest single drug haul in three months. PM

    [66] PSD FLOATING EARLY ELECTIONS IDEA AGAIN

    Alexandru Athanasiu, chairman of the National Council of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), said on 4 November that early elections could produce a "unified parliamentary majority" that would make it easier to "finalize the process of Romania's integration into the EU," Romanian Radio reported. Athanasiu added that current constitutional provisions for early elections make the process cumbersome and that the best way to bring about an early ballot is to end the process of amending the constitution by the summer of 2003. MS

    [67] ROMANIAN MEDIA WATCHDOG SAYS PRESS FREEDOM UNDER THREAT

    The Romanian media watchdog organization FreeEx (whose name is a play on the words "Free Expression") stated in a 4 November report that freedom of the press in Romania is under threat, AP reported. The group said many newspapers and private television stations rely on government assistance and goodwill to survive and that this dependence curbs critical reporting about the government. The group cited the case of the country's largest private television, Pro TV, which allegedly owes the government the equivalent of $50 million in unpaid taxes. FreeEx also noted an increase in the number of attempts by local officials to intimidate journalists. MS

    [68] MOLDOVAN TV CHANGES DENOMINATION

    As of 4 November, Moldovan Television, hitherto called TVM, has been renamed Moldova 1, or M1, Flux reported the same day. Teleradio Moldova Chairman Ion Gonta said the initiative came from employees of the station and that the change in no way affects the current audiovisual law. MS

    [69] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES EU

    In an interview with the German weekly "Spiegel," No. 45, President Georgi Parvanov criticized the European Union for not supporting Bulgaria enough, mediapool.bg reported on 4 November. Parvanov denied that the country's reform policies have failed, but he added that he expected more financial support from Brussels and the European Union's Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. He also dismissed the idea promoted by the Stability Pact's coordinator, Erhard Busek, to form a Balkan European Union. "Bulgaria does not want to join any branch of the EU, nor does it want to join countries that are economically more backward than itself. For us, there is no alternative to full European integration," Parvanov said, adding that during his official visit to Germany on 5-8 November he will ask German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to support Bulgarian accession to the EU in 2007. UB

    [70] BULGARIAN MAYORS SAY MINISTER'S RETIREMENT WILL HAMPER REFORM

    In a statement released on 4 November, the Association of Mayors expressed its concern over the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Development Minister Kostadin Paskalev, novinite.com reported. According to the statement, the mayors fear that financial decentralization will be hampered by the provisions of the 2003 state budget, which was also criticized by Paskalev. The association lauded Paskalev's efforts to support the financial autonomy of the municipalities. "Mr. Paskalev was the engine of reform in the local governance. We fear that after his dismissal, the financial decentralization will turn into the next unaccomplished reform," the statement said. UB

    [71] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS TURKISH ELECTION RESULTS WON'T HARM BILATERAL RELATIONS

    Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi said on 4 November that the Justice and Development Party's victory in the 3 November Turkish elections will not negatively affect Turkish-Bulgarian relations, BTA reported. "Turkey is a democratic country and bilateral relations do not depend on domestic changes there. It was the choice of the Turkish people and it could be no reason for concern for us, as the choice of the Bulgarian people could not be a reason for concern for Turkey," Pasi said. The Justice and Development Party is widely regarded as an Islamist party and some observers fear that its victory could harm Turkey's relations with neighboring countries. UB

    SOUTHWESTERN ASIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

    [72] FORMER AFGHAN KING INAUGURATES CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION...

    Former Afghan King Muhammad Zahir inaugurated the Constitutional Commission in Kabul on 3 November, Radio Free Afghanistan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002). The former Afghan king said no community can exist without regulations and expressed his hope that the Constitutional Commission, with the consideration of democracy and Islamic traditions, will set a standard that will bring success and prosperity to the Afghan nation. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, most of his cabinet, and Nematullah Shahrani, one of Karzai's deputies and the head of the Constitutional Commission, accompanied Muhammad Zahir. Karzai said the commencement of the Constitutional Commission's work has opened a new page in Afghanistan's history. According to the report, the commission will take one year to draft a new constitution for Afghanistan, after which the document will be submitted to a special constitutional loya jirga (grand assembly) for approval. AT

    [73] ...AS WOMEN WANT THEIR RIGHTS TO BE ENSHRINED IN THE NEW CONSTITUTION

    Female prosecutors from the Kabul Attorney-General's Office on 3 November voiced their opinions on the formation of the Constitutional Commission, Radio Free Afghanistan reported. One of the prosecutors, who gave her name as Storay, said Afghan women's rights should be equal to those of men. Her colleague, Zarghuna, added that the future constitution should be sensitive to the Islamic nature of Afghan society, but she explained that Islam grants women specific rights that have not been respected in Afghanistan in the past. Zarghuna elaborated on the issue in a separate interview with Radio Free Afghanistan in which she said Afghan women do not have the right to seek education in rural areas or to attend institutions of higher education. She said women should have rights to inheritance and the freedom to choose their spouses. Zarghuna concluded her interview by saying that, even if the new constitution guarantees women's rights, the real test will be its implementation in society. AT

    [74] AFGHAN GOVERNMENT CLEANS HOUSE

    After an emergency session of the Afghan cabinet on 3 November, President Karzai ordered the dismissal or transfer to other posts of approximately 20 military and civilian officials from various parts of Afghanistan, Radio Free Afghanistan reported. According to presidential spokesman Sayed Fazel Akbar, following the loya jirga of June 2002 it was agreed that the officials in the provinces would be held accountable for their actions and Karzai announced two weeks ago that he would be forced to remove those officials who continued to abuse their authority. Investigative bodies were reportedly sent to the southeastern, southwestern, northern, and northeastern provinces and the dismissals came as a result. The "Chicago Tribune" commented on 4 November that, while none of those dismissed was particularly powerful, the action sent a signal "to the biggest warlords that Karzai, who became transitional president in June, is serious about bringing them under control." AT

    [75] HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHDOG CRITICIZES HERAT GOVERNOR'S RECORD...

    A Human Rights Watch report released on 5 November documents widespread abuses by the military, police, and intelligence services under the command of Ismail Khan, the governor of Herat Province in western Afghanistan. The 51-page report entitled "All Our Hopes Are Crushed: Violence and Repression in Western Afghanistan," lists abuses including arbitrary and politically motivated arrests, intimidation, extortion, and torture, as well as serious violations of the rights to free expression and association. Human Rights Watch contends that Ismail Khan personally ordered some of the politically motivated arrests and beatings that have taken place throughout 2002. Pashtuns -- who constitute a minority in Herat -- have been specially targeted for abuse, the report adds. In response to the allegations, U.S. Army General Dan McNeill told the "Los Angeles Times" of 4 November, "For the near term, these regional leaders -- while they appear unsavory to some, and some accuse them of having sordid pasts -- they are providing a degree of security and stability out and away from Kabul." AT

    [76] ...WHILE INTERETHNIC CLASHES CONTINUE IN THE REGION

    Amanullah Khan, the Pashtun commander in Shindand in Farah Province south of Herat Province who is opposed to Herat Province Governor Ismail Khan, said in an interview with the Pakistan-based "Afghan Islamic Press" of November 4 that "I call on the central government to send forces from the center [Kabul] to Shindand to completely end fighting in the region." He added, "Disagreements between us and commander Ismail Khan are noting new and they date back 10-12 years -- that is why the central government should send forces to the region to remove the possibility of clashes." Commander Amanullah Khan said an 18-man delegation he sent to Kabul is currently trying to discuss these issues with President Karzai. Amanullah Khan added: "Ismail Khan is treating Pashtuns in Herat very cruelly. He sees every Pashtun as a Taliban or Al-Qaeda member." AT

    [77] IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER PARDONS FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER...

    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on 4 November pardoned former Interior Minister and Tehran Municipal Council member Hojatoleslam Abdullah Nuri, IRNA reported. Nuri was sentenced to prison in November 1999 on charges of publishing reports that insult officials and institutions of the system, reporting lies and waging propaganda against the system, insulting Father of the Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his views, publishing reports contrary to religious principles, and insulting religious sanctities. Other charges included supporting ties with the United States, promoting dissident cleric Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri's political views, and urging recognition of Israel (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 29 November 1999). Khamenei sent a letter to Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi in which he said his pardon of Nuri is based on requests from members of parliament. BS

    [78] ...AND CALLS FOR END TO CORRUPTION

    In a 4 November speech to an audience of students and youthful supporters, Supreme Leader Khamenei called for public mobilization to fight economic corruption, according to IRNA and state radio. Khamenei said the three branches of government should meet public demands and officials should avoid involvement in partisan politics. He said differences among officials would be harmful to the national interest and officials' duties are defined in the constitution. Khamenei told officials not to fear the "enemy" (presumably the United States), and he said the United States supports some and criticizes others in order to create splits. Khamenei claimed the United States is trying to prevent officials from meeting unspecified public demands in an attempt to undermine public confidence in the leadership. BS

    [79] IRAN SEEKS INCREASED GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY...

    Executive branch agencies must inform the parliament's Plan and Budget Committee and its Economic Committee prior to concluding any contracts that are worth more than $20 million in cash or the equivalent in loans or any other form of payment, "Iran Daily" reported on 29 October. Moreover, the Economic Affairs and Finance Ministry must report the signing of any foreign contracts to these committees within one year of doing so. Anonymous parliamentary sources were cited as saying on 20 October that institutions under the supervision of Supreme Leader Khamenei have about a year's time to prepare performance reports and submit them to the Assembly of Experts, which is tasked with supervising the supreme leader's performance, "Iran" reported on 21 October. BS

    [80] ...AS GOVERNMENT-OWNED COMPANIES VIOLATE LAWS

    Valiollah Khebreh of the state inspectorate (National Control and Inspection Organization) said that out of 190 government-owned companies that were observed in the year 1379 (March 2000-01), 92 acted in a detrimental fashion, "Hambastegi" reported on 2 October. Khebreh did not say to whom the companies' actions were detrimental. In 82 cases board members acted illegally, and in 21 cases board members received illegal payments or bonuses from loss-making companies. In 28 cases the companies did not pay dividends to shareholders on time or they did not determine how much profit to pay the shareholders. Thirty-eight companies did not obey trade regulations. BS

    [81] TEHRAN, ISLAMABAD DISCUSS ARAB ARRESTS

    Tehran and Islamabad continue to reject reports that Osama bin Laden's son and 200 other Al-Qaeda members were detained in Iran and then sent to either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. In Tehran on 4 November, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said, according to Iranian state television, "Dozens of people were arrested in recent weeks when trying to enter Iran. Most of them were of Arabic extraction. They were arrested because they did not have any legal document to enter Iran. They were returned to their respective countries." Pakistani government spokesman Anwar Mahmud said that he had no knowledge of the matter, Rawalpindi's "Jang" daily reported on 4 November. And Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider said on 4 November that he knew nothing about Iran turning over one of the bin Laden boys to Islamabad two months ago, Islamabad's "The News" reported on 5 November. BS

    [82] IRANIAN GOVERNMENT ADDRESSES WATER CONSUMPTION

    Deputy Energy Minister Reza Amrollahi said at the 4 November conclusion of the Second International Exhibition of Water, Water Installations, and Sewage that per capita water consumption in Iran is twice the global average (150 liters per day vs. 75 liters per day), according to IRNA. Amrollahi said that water is scarce in Iran. Another 4 November IRNA report said there is no need for water rationing in Iran this year due to satisfactory levels of rainfall. Meanwhile, Deputy Energy Minister for Water Affairs Reza Ardakanian told IRNA that his ministry has submitted a comprehensive water-management plan to the legislature. BS

    [83] PRESIDENT HUSSEIN HINTS IRAQ WILL COOPERATE...

    Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said on 4 November that if the UN Security Council issues a new resolution on Iraq that does not provide a cover for "bad U.S. intentions," then Iraq will "deal with" it, Iraq TV reported. Hussein made the comments during a meeting in Baghdad with the leader of Austria's Freedom Party, Joerg Haider. During the meeting, Hussein said the United States is looking for an excuse to attack Iraq, as it did in 1991 and 1998. He pointed out that once Iraq gave in to U.S. demands for the return of weapons inspectors, the U.S. changed its demands and sought a new UN resolution on Iraq. Hussein said, "The U.S. aims to pressure the UN Security Council...in order to issue resolutions that are not within the framework of the UN Charter and international law." He added, "However, if the Security Council issues a resolution that respects the UN Charter, international law, and Iraq's sovereignty, security, and independence, and that does not provide a cover for the bad U.S. intentions, we will look into it with a view that would enable us to deal with it, despite our belief that there is nothing that would make the Security Council issue a new resolution." KR

    [84] ...AND SAYS THE U.S. GOAL IS TO DESTROY IRAQ

    In a meeting on 4 November with South Africa's Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad, President Hussein said Zionist and colonialist intentions are influencing the U.S. stand on Iraq, Iraq TV reported. He accused Western states and their oil companies of historically exploiting the resources of Iraq, while preventing the development of Iraq's economy (even agriculture) and hence, keeping the people poor. He implied that the "colonialist" and "Zionist" war against Iraq is linked to Israel's fear of a strong Iraq, which is opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. He added, "This [current U.S. and British] campaign claimed that Iraq managed to do so [produce biological and chemical weapons] during the four-year period when weapons inspectors left Iraq. As it is well known, the inspectors did not leave Iraq on our request but at the United States' request, so as to launch its attack on Iraq in 1998." KR

    [85] RUSSIA TOUGHENS STANCE ON IRAQ

    On the eve of a meeting of Collective Security Treaty Organization foreign ministers in Moscow on 5 November (see Russia, "RFE/RL Newsline," Part I), the Russian Foreign Ministry said Iraq's consent to the return of weapons inspectors makes the U.S. demand for a new UN Security Council resolution unnecessary, RIA-Novosti reported on 4 November. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko told the news agency that "the Iraqi leadership's unconditional consent to a return of UN inspectors to that country to monitor the non-resumption of national programs for weapons of mass destruction, and Iraq's readiness to show flexibility on the issues of improving the modalities of inspections, make the adoption of a new resolution on Iraq by the UN Security Council hardly necessary." He added that if other members of the UN Security Council deem a new resolution necessary, then the resolution should seek to "assist the effective monitoring of Iraq's non-resumption of its potential of weapons of mass destruction and should not contain provisions for the automatic use of force against Baghdad." KR

    [86] ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER WARNS OF COUNTERATTACK IF IRAQ ATTACKS

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told "The Times" of 5 November that Israel would counterattack Iraq, should the Arab state launch missiles against Israel as it did in the 1991 Gulf War. Sharon said Israel would "make every effort not to interfere" in a U.S. war with Iraq, but he added, "If Israel, and I made it very clear, is attacked by weapons of mass destruction...Israel will react. Is it clear? I believe that they understand that Israel will not be able to defend itself." Sharon called Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "insane" and said U.S. forces would first target western Iraq, should an attack be launched. KR

    END NOTE

    [87] There is no End Note today.


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