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RFE/RL Newsline, 03-06-11

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] PUTIN DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST 'ROAD MAP' WITH BUSH...
  • [02] ...AND TALKS PEACE WITH ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN LEADERS...
  • [03] ...AND WITH JEWISH REPRESENTATIVES
  • [04] PUTIN PRAYS BEFORE RELICS OF RUSSIA'S PATRON SAINT
  • [05] RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WARNS OF NEW EUROPEAN DIVIDE
  • [06] SPS SUGGESTS ELIMINATING PREMIER'S POST...
  • [07] ...AS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE MAY NOT WIN OPPOSITION MUCH PUBLICITY
  • [08] COMMUNISTS DEMAND TV ACCESS...
  • [09] ...AS REMNANTS OF BORIS JORDAN'S REIGN REMOVED AT RADIO STATION
  • [10] CITY OF MOSCOW CRACKS DOWN AGAIN ON ASIAN MIGRANTS...
  • [11] ...AS PREMIER CALLS FOR IMMIGRATION-CONTROL SYSTEM...
  • [12] ...AND DEMOGRAPHER SAYS MIGRANTS TO FORM BULK OF COUNTRY'S FUTURE
  • [13] NOVGOROD GOVERNOR ON TRACK FOR THIRD TERM...
  • [14] ...AS BASHKORTOSTAN'S PRESIDENT SEEKS YET ANOTHER EXTENSION
  • [15] FEWER REGIONS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT?
  • [16] DUMA CALLS FOR RUSSIAN TO BE DESIGNATED OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
  • [17] CIS DEFENSE MINISTERS FAIL TO AGREE ON BANNING PORTABLE
  • [18] MOSCOW OBLAST GOVERNOR'S TERRORISM WARNING OFFERED, THEN WITHDRAWN
  • [19] FSB HEAD CITES INTELLIGENCE GAPS REGARDING SUICIDE BOMBERS
  • [20] OIL EXECUTIVE SLAIN IN CHECHNYA
  • [21] CHECHEN LEADER'S SON DETAINED IN STAVROPOL
  • [22] DAGHESTAN SCHEDULES DISCUSSION ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
  • [23] ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO WORK OVERTIME REVIEWING ELECTION
  • [24] 15 ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES CEDE MANDATES
  • [25] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON
  • [26] AZERBAIJANI ACTIVIST WARNED AGAINST CAMPAIGNING FOR OPPOSITION
  • [27] AZERBAIJANI MEDICAL WORKERS TO RECEIVE 50 PERCENT PAY RAISE
  • [28] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ORDER MINISTRIES TO ACT ON IMF RECOMMENDATIONS
  • [29] GEORGIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL BLAMES LOCAL CRIMINALS FOR ABDUCTION OF
  • [30] GEORGIAN OPPOSITION STAGES ANOTHER PROTEST
  • [31] GEORGIAN COURT REJECTS MAVERICK PRIEST'S APPEAL
  • [32] KAZAKH PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS
  • [33] KAZAKH COUNCIL FINDS LAND CODE CONSTITUTIONAL
  • [34] KAZAKH NGOS CRITICIZE DRAFT LAW ON NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
  • [35] KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER ASKS FOR ROLE IN IRAQ
  • [36] HIZB UT-TAHRIR MAY HAVE TERRORIST LINKS, SAYS KYRGYZ SECURITY
  • [37] NEW PARTY FORMED IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [38] TAJIK ISLAMIC PARTY LEADER SAYS ARREST OF DEPUTY HEAD WAS MISTAKE
  • [39] TAJIK ISLAMIC PARTY WON'T OPPOSE REFERENDUM
  • [40] UZBEKISTAN RESTRICTS USE OF ALL BORDER CROSSINGS FROM TAJIKISTAN
  • [41] BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WANTS TO MODERNIZE CIVIL AVIATION
  • [42] UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CONFERS WITH PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS ON
  • [43] UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS RESTART CASE AGAINST TYMOSHENKO
  • [44] OSCE COMMISSIONER INTERESTED IN EDUCATION AND INTEGRATION IN
  • [45] ACTING DIRECTOR OF LATVIA'S ANTICORRUPTION BUREAU APPOINTED
  • [46] HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER VISITS LITHUANIA
  • [47] MAJOR POLISH OPPOSITION CAUCUSES SET TO VOTE AGAINST CABINET
  • [48] POLISH OFFICIAL SURPRISED BY RUSSIAN OFFER OF INTELLIGENCE ON IRAQ
  • [49] CZECH FIRMS APOLOGIZE TO PREMIER FOR MISUSE OF HIS NAME IN PRO-EU
  • [50] CZECH PRESIDENT AGAIN DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM EU ACCESSION...
  • [51] ...WHILE PREDECESSOR CALLS FOR 'YES' VOTE ON EU ACCESSION
  • [52] MORE CZECH ASYLUM SEEKERS DEPORTED FROM U.K.
  • [53] SLOVAK RULING COALITION RALLIES IN DEFENSE OF BESIEGED DEPUTY
  • [54] SLOVAK PRESIDENT QUESTIONS RULING COALITION'S UNITY
  • [55] SLOVAK SUPREME COURT ELECTION AT CENTER OF POLITICAL DISPUTE
  • [56] HUNGARIAN NATIONAL BANK RAISES KEY INTEREST RATE
  • [57] HUNGARIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY THREATENS LEGAL ACTION AGAINST
  • [58] IDC SLAMS OBSERVANCE OF CIVIL RIGHTS IN HUNGARY
  • [59] SURVEY SHOWS XENOPHOBIA IN HUNGARY DECREASING
  • [60] U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY THANKS ALBANIA FOR SUPPORT
  • [61] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER SAYS EXTRADITION-IMMUNITY AGREEMENT
  • [62] UN ADMINISTRATION CHIEF CALLS ON EU TO HELP KOSOVA
  • [63] FORMER SERBIAN SECURITY BOSS ARRIVES IN THE HAGUE
  • [64] EU STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR SAYS SERBIA NEEDS ELECTIONS
  • [65] POLITICAL RIVALS SEEK TO OUST SERBIAN NATIONAL BANK CHIEF
  • [66] MONTENEGRIN AUTHORITIES REJECT CRITICISM IN HUMAN-TRAFFICKING CASE
  • [67] CROATIAN LEADERS SAY INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL SHOULD TURN HIMSELF IN
  • [68] BOSNIAN MINERS' STRIKE ENDS
  • [69] MASS GRAVE FOUND IN BOSNIA
  • [70] U.S. CONGRESSMAN SAYS ROMANIA MUST STOP 'SIMULATING REFORMS'
  • [71] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER DISCUSS AMENDING ELECTORAL LAWS,
  • [72] ROMANIAN COMMISSION RECOMMENDS EXTENDING PRESIDENTIAL TERM TO FIVE
  • [73] ROMANIAN PREMIER RECEIVES NEW WORLD BANK REPRESENTATIVE
  • [74] ROMANIAN SENATE SPEAKER MEETS WITH MOLDOVAN BUSINESSMEN
  • [75] BSEC APPROVES JOINT DECLARATION IN CHISINAU ON OCCASION OF 10TH
  • [76] RUSSIAN FEDERATION COUNCIL SPEAKER MAKES OFFER THAT IS DIFFICULT
  • [77] 'VOICE OF BESSARABIA' AGAIN DENIED REGISTRATION IN MOLDOVA
  • [78] OBSERVERS SAY RUNOFF IN MOLDOVAN LOCAL ELECTIONS STILL BESET BY
  • [79] COUNCIL OF EUROPE EXPERTS CRITICIZE BULGARIAN LAW ON RELIGIOUS
  • [80] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT DELAYS ELECTION OF NATIONAL BANK GOVERNOR
  • [81] U.S. FORCES LAUNCH OPERATION PENINSULA STRIKE IN IRAQ...
  • [82] ...AS ARAB PRESS REPORTS AREA UNDER SIEGE
  • [83] U.S. SOLDIER KILLED WHILE OVERSEEING TRASH COLLECTION IN BAGHDAD
  • [84] CPA ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION IN RECONSTRUCTION PROJECTS IN IRAQ
  • [85] TWO MORE 'MOST-WANTED' IRAQIS CAPTURED
  • [86] IRAQIS BUYING EXECUTION VIDEOS IN EFFORT TO LOCATE MISSING
  • [87] PROTESTS ERUPT AT TEHRAN UNIVERSITY
  • [88] IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ACCUSES POWELL OF INTERFERING IN IRAN
  • [89] SECURITY FORCES REPORTEDLY ARREST LEADER OF MASHHAD VIGILANTE
  • [90] IRANIAN PRESIDENT'S SPEECH IN NORTHEASTERN TOWN CANCELED
  • [91] U.S. FORCES KILL FOUR MILITIAMEN IN AFGHANISTAN
  • [92] AFGHAN FOOD AID SOLD IN JALALABAD MARKETS
  • [93] JAPAN TO HELP UPGRADE KABUL TV
  • [94] AFGHANISTAN MIGHT BE ABLE TO COMPETE IN 2004 OLYMPIC GAMES
  • [95] NEW GEORGIAN OPPOSITION ALIGNMENT EMERGES 11 June 2003 RUSSIA

  • [01] PUTIN DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST 'ROAD MAP' WITH BUSH...

    President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush spoke by telephone on 9 June to discuss the "road map" for Middle East peace and agreements reached during Bush's recent meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers, RIA-Novosti and ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian and U.S. leaders stressed their satisfaction at the start of a constructive process and their devotion to realizing the goals set out in the road map, the news agencies reported. Putin and Bush also discussed the agenda for their coming summit in September. VY

    [02] ...AND TALKS PEACE WITH ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN LEADERS...

    In a "follow-up to his discussion with the U.S. president," Putin telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the new Palestinian prime minister, Makhmud Abbas, on 10 June and asked them to refrain from violence, according to the presidential press service website (http://www.president.kremlin.ru). He urged both men to work toward the rapid realization of the latest peace initiatives. Putin also spoke with the head of the Palestinian National Autonomy, Yasser Arafat, on 10 June and told him that Russia, a co-sponsor of the road map for peace, has done its utmost to promote peace in the Middle East, according to RIA-Novosti. Putin urged Arafat to maintain his pledges to combat terrorism and not to hamper the peace process. VY

    [03] ...AND WITH JEWISH REPRESENTATIVES

    President Putin also discussed the road map for Middle East peace in a meeting at the Kremlin on 10 June with leaders of the Jewish community in the United States, newsru.com reported. Participants included Jewish leader and philanthropist Ronald Lauder, American Jewish Congress head Jack Rosen, and "U.S. News and World Report" Editor in Chief and Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Mortimer Zuckerman. Putin reportedly told them that he believes maintaining religious balance and concord in Russia is his "top priority." He also conceded there are "problems in that area," but added that Russia has many Jewish cultural centers and sites "of which it can be proud." VY

    [04] PUTIN PRAYS BEFORE RELICS OF RUSSIA'S PATRON SAINT

    President Putin met in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow with Russian Orthodox Church leaders and the presidential envoy in the Central Federal District, Georgii Poltavchenko, on 9 June, praying before the relics of Saint Andrew the First Called, whose remains were delivered to Moscow the same day, Russian news agencies reported. Saint Andrew, whose relics were transported from an Orthodox monastery in Greece to Russia for St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary, is the Russian Orthodox Church's patron saint of Russia. Saint Andrew's relics will tour the Russian Republic, including stops in Vladivostok, Murmansk, Baltiisk, and Sevastopol, where Russian naval forces are headquartered. VY

    [05] RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WARNS OF NEW EUROPEAN DIVIDE

    Igor Ivanov said on 11 June that Russia, EU member states, and EU candidate countries share an interest in preventing the disruption of traditional contacts between Russia and countries that join the EU, ITAR-TASS reported. Speaking at a ministerial session of the Council of Baltic Sea States in Pori, Ivanov said Russia, along with current and future EU states, must reject the creation of new dividing lines in Europe. "If we fail to disentangle a knot of serious problems by [the expected accession of EU candidate states on] 1 May 2004, all sides will suffer a loss," Ivanov reportedly said. AH

    [06] SPS SUGGESTS ELIMINATING PREMIER'S POST...

    State Duma Deputy Speaker Irina Khakamada of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) announced on 10 June that the SPS is proposing that the post of prime minister be abolished, NTV reported. The proposal calls for the president to head the executive branch and appoint his own cabinet. According to Khakamada, the SPS faction will not vote when the Duma holds its vote of no confidence in the government on 18 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). JAC

    [07] ...AS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE MAY NOT WIN OPPOSITION MUCH PUBLICITY

    Meanwhile, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 10 June that the vote is scheduled for 5 p.m. on 18 June -- two days before the Duma's last plenary session before the summer recess. This suggests that while Yabloko and the Communists managed to get the vote on the Duma's agenda, there will be little time for discussion of the anti-government initiative, according to the bureau. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 11 June, the Duma Council originally wanted to schedule the debate for 6 p.m. and pushed it up one hour only after pressure from Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev. JAC

    [08] COMMUNISTS DEMAND TV ACCESS...

    Communist Party activists held a picket outside the Ostankino TV towers in Moscow on 9 June, and on 10 June they were planning to hold protests outside TV stations across Russia, "Gazeta" reported on 9 June. Communist deputy Aleksandr Kuvaev told the daily that the Communists are demanding "equal access to the airwaves for all political parties." He continued, "For some reason the representatives of Unified Russia hang out on the airwaves all day long, but the left-patriotic opposition is neither seen nor heard from." Picketers carried signs that read: "Journalists, you are not slaves!" and "No to free advertising for Unified Russia!" One demonstrator yelled through a megaphone, "[ORT General Director Konstantin] Ernst -- aren't you sick of receiving orders from the Kremlin?" "Zavtra" newspaper editor Aleksandr Prokhanov told "Gazeta" that his sources have reported that the "leadership of the federal TV channels, with the exception of TVS and TV-Tsentr, has received a secret order not to allow the Communists on the air." JAC

    [09] ...AS REMNANTS OF BORIS JORDAN'S REIGN REMOVED AT RADIO STATION

    Shareholders in Ekho Moskvy voted on 10 June to elect a new board of directors, the station reported, while the powers of former Gazprom-Media head Boris Jordan and three other board members were terminated. Those three had been part of Jordan's team. They will be replaced by Gazprom-Media General Director Aleksandr Dybal and three other top managers. The five other members of the board were re-elected. Gazprom owns 66 percent of the shares in Ekho Moskvy, while the journalists and radio station management own 34 percent. Jordan was dismissed as head of Gazprom-Media last January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January 2003). JAC

    [10] CITY OF MOSCOW CRACKS DOWN AGAIN ON ASIAN MIGRANTS...

    Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov announced on 10 June that city authorities have closed down about 19 dormitories occupied by citizens of China and Vietnam following a health inspection, newsru.com reported. According to Luzhkov, several of the apartment buildings were genuine incubators of infection. Luzhkov noted that efforts to prevent the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have led to the expulsion of 600 illegal immigrants from Vietnam and China. Earlier in the month, the head of the Moscow police, Vladimir Pronin, reported that some 500 citizens of China and Vietnam have been deported from the capital in order to prevent the spread of SARS (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2003). JAC

    [11] ...AS PREMIER CALLS FOR IMMIGRATION-CONTROL SYSTEM...

    At a 10 June cabinet session, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov called for the creation of a uniform immigration-control system in Russia, RIA-Novosti reported. Russian authorities must be fair, rather than tough, when dealing with immigrants, but fair treatment must be combined with strict control over their movements, he said. According to Kasyanov, the government endorsed an immigration policy concept about six months ago, and now is the time to create an immigration-control system. According to an Interior Ministry report cited by ITAR-TASS on 9 June, some 3.5 million foreign citizens were illegally employed in Russia last year. JAC

    [12] ...AND DEMOGRAPHER SAYS MIGRANTS TO FORM BULK OF COUNTRY'S FUTURE LABOR FORCE

    On 9 June, the Strategic Research Center for the Volga Federal District presented in Kazan a report on Russia's migration flows and demographic trends, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Zhanna Zayonchkovskaya, one of the report's authors, said that by 2016, Russia's population is expected to fall by 20 million and -- if the trend is not halted -- the country's population will total some 70 million people in 2050. She emphasized that Russian society has to be more welcoming to migrants from CIS countries, as they will "make up the bulk of the country's industrial labor force." Migration levels are currently falling, according to Zayonchkovskaya, because of strict legislation and the unfriendly attitude of native residents to newcomers. JAC

    [13] NOVGOROD GOVERNOR ON TRACK FOR THIRD TERM...

    Legislators in Novgorod Oblast voted on 10 June to confirm 7 September as the date for the region's next gubernatorial elections, RosBalt reported. Incumbent Governor Mikhail Prusak, who was first appointed by then-President Boris Yeltsin in 1991, is expected to seek a third term. Prusak is the only person so far to declare an interest in running, the agency reported on 9 June. JAC

    [14] ...AS BASHKORTOSTAN'S PRESIDENT SEEKS YET ANOTHER EXTENSION

    Also on 10 June, an unidentified source in Bashkortostan's presidential administration told RosBalt that the republic's next presidential election could be postponed another six months. The administration is currently examining the possibility of holding the republican presidential election at the same time as the national presidential election in March 2004. In March of this year, the republican legislature voted to extend Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov's term in office by six months so that the presidential election could be held at the same time as State Duma elections in December (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 March 2003). Rakhimov, 69, was elected to his second term in 1998. JAC

    [15] FEWER REGIONS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT?

    Pskov Oblast legislative speaker Yurii Shmakov said on 10 June that the number of regions in Russia will be reduced sooner or later; however, historical experience from the Soviet period shows that enlargement proceeds according to the wishes of the center, not the regions, regions.ru reported. He also noted that the question of enlargement is necessary from the point of view of Russian national security. According to Shmakov, Moscow should be interested in having a strong region on its border with future NATO members such as Latvia and Estonia. Also on 10 June, Dmitrii Kozak, head of the presidential commission delineating the responsibilities of various levels of government, said that the federal authorities cannot in principle influence the process of enlarging Russian regions, RIA-Novosti reported. Kozak noted that the Komi-Permak Autonomous Okrug itself had suggested the pending merger with Perm Oblast (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 4 June 2003). JAC

    [16] DUMA CALLS FOR RUSSIAN TO BE DESIGNATED OFFICIAL LANGUAGE THROUGHOUT CIS

    Duma deputies called on 10 June for expediting the drafting of a bill that would grant Russian the status of an official language throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States, "Izvestiya" reported on 11 June. The law would grant citizens of those states the right to address state, regional, or local agencies using either Russian or the national language. Deputies also advocated developing a CIS interstate program to promote the knowledge and use of the Russian language. On 9 June, ITAR-TASS quoted Anatolii Chekhoev, deputy chairman of the Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, as saying that only Belarus and Kyrgyzstan have accorded Russian the status of an official language. LF

    [17] CIS DEFENSE MINISTERS FAIL TO AGREE ON BANNING PORTABLE ANTIAIRCRAFT WEAPONS

    At a 9 June meeting in Almaty of CIS defense ministers or their deputies, the Azerbaijani, Georgian, Uzbek, and Ukrainian representatives declined to endorse a proposed ban on sales of portable antiaircraft missile launchers, Russian news agencies reported. It is not clear why those four countries, all members of the unofficial GUUAM alignment, rejected the ban, which was proposed by Russia. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov explained the proposed ban is intended to prevent international terrorists from obtaining such weapons. LF

    [18] MOSCOW OBLAST GOVERNOR'S TERRORISM WARNING OFFERED, THEN WITHDRAWN

    Boris Gromov said on 10 June that he has "serious" information suggesting that unspecified individuals are planning major acts of terrorism during Russian Independence Day celebrations and the following weekend, according to Russian news agencies, but his office backpedaled later the same day to downplay the warning. Gromov, a retired general, reportedly said the attacks might target celebrations in schools and other places where youngsters are gathered. Lenta.ru reported later in the day that his office staff effectively withdrew the warning, adding that Gromov never made the information public. But a TV Tsentr news report clearly showed Gromov issuing such a warning, adding that federal officials should be alerted if such information exists. If not, TV Tsentr commented, Gromov should have found a way to encourage vigilance from local law enforcement behind closed doors. VY

    [19] FSB HEAD CITES INTELLIGENCE GAPS REGARDING SUICIDE BOMBERS

    Speaking during joint Russian-Ukrainian antiterrorism exercises in Kerch, Ukraine, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev complained on 10 June of a failure by foreign security services to provide adequate "preemptive information" that might help thwart suicide bombings in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. "Suicide bombers are not trained on the territory of Russia," he said, "and for this reason, interaction with security services of other states becomes very important for the FSB. We will fight this evil together." He added that "there are difficulties for us just in receiving...preemptive data, as analysis of terrorist acts that are being investigated or have been prevented shows those suicide bombers are trained abroad," according to ITAR-TASS. Patrushev, who heads Moscow's "antiterrorism operations" in Chechnya, said the use of suicide attackers "is an exceptionally dangerous and very urgent problem." Patrushev rejected the possibility of a "Palestinian scenario" in Chechnya, saying the Russian secret services "will not allow it." He added that Moscow will work to improve the socioeconomic situation in Chechnya to usher in a general normalization, the agency reported. VY

    [20] OIL EXECUTIVE SLAIN IN CHECHNYA

    Abdula Arsanukaev, deputy director of the Chechen state oil company Grozneft, died early on 9 June when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his home in Katyr-Yurt, Achkhoi-Martan Raion, Russian news agencies reported. The killers escaped. LF

    [21] CHECHEN LEADER'S SON DETAINED IN STAVROPOL

    Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov's son Zelimkhan was detained by police in Kislovodsk on 6 June while trying to prevent a brawl in which his bodyguards were involved, Interfax reported on 10 June, citing a member of the Stavropol branch of the FSB. That officer denied Russian television reports that Zelimkhan Kadyrov might face charges of disorderly conduct, hooliganism, and illegal possession of weapons. Chechen Security Council Secretary Rudnik Dudaev told Interfax on 10 June that Zelimkhan Kadyrov was arrested by persons seeking to discredit his father. LF

    [22] DAGHESTAN SCHEDULES DISCUSSION ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

    Daghestan's parliament on 10 June approved holding a Constitutional Assembly session on 10 July to discuss constitutional amendments that would replace the present bicameral parliament with a unicameral one and reduce the number of parliament deputies from 121 to 60, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition, it is proposed that beginning in 2007 the republic's head is to be elected in a republic-wide ballot. At present, the State Council head is elected by the Constitutional Assembly, which comprises 120 members of the People's Council and 122 representatives from Daghestan's various towns and raions. LF

    TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [23] ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO WORK OVERTIME REVIEWING ELECTION COMPLAINTS

    The Constitutional Court has received 19 complaints from 24 candidates challenging the official results of the 25 May parliamentary elections in single-mandate constituencies, Noyan Tapan reported on 10 June. Those candidates include former Interior Minister and Yerevan Mayor Suren Abrahamian. In addition, the opposition Artarutiun election bloc has appealed the results in the proportional voting (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 2003). The court will work on Saturdays in order to review all those appeals within the legally required time frame. Meanwhile, the Democratic Liberal Union of Armenia has decided against appealing the vote result to the Constitutional Court, Noyan Tapan reported on 9 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2003). A party spokesman said it would be impossible to recheck the votes cast in every single constituency. LF

    [24] 15 ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES CEDE MANDATES

    Fifteen people, mostly government ministers and other senior officials, who were elected to the new parliament under the proportional system have notified the Central Election Commission that they will cede their mandates to the person whose name is next on the relevant party list, Noyan Tapan reported on 10 June. The persons in question include Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, who both ran on the Republican Party of Armenia list together with 10 others who will not take up their mandates; presidential administration head Artashes Tumanian, who ran on the Armenian Revolutionary Federation- Dashnaktsutiun list; and Albert Bazeyan, a leading member of the opposition Hanrapetutiun party, who announced on 31 May his intention to "yield my seat to a woman" rather than participate in the work of a parliament he considers illegal, Noyan Tapan reported on 2 June. LF

    [25] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON ELECTION-COMMISSION REPRESENTATION

    During two successive rounds of talks in Baku on 10 June, senior members of the Musavat, Democratic (DPA), Liberal (LPA), and Azerbaijan National Independence parties failed to reach agreement on selecting three persons to represent those four parties on the Central Election Commission (CEC), according to Turan on 10 June and zerkalo.az on 11 June. LPA Deputy Chairman Ekhan Abbasov said at the outset that his party insists on one of the three seats, and refused to discuss the alternative proposed by the other three parties; namely, that they should draw lots to determine which parties should nominate representatives. Abbasov argued that if the other three parties decide to support a common presidential candidate, the LPA will have no one to defend its interests in the CEC if those three parties are all represented on that body. The four parties are to hold further talks on 11 June. LF

    [26] AZERBAIJANI ACTIVIST WARNED AGAINST CAMPAIGNING FOR OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

    Local police have warned Mamedgulu Aliev, who heads the Shahbuz (Nakhichevan) branch of the opposition Musavat Party, against collecting signatures in support of the registration of Musavat's candidate in the 17 October presidential election, Turan reported on 10 June. Musavat has nominated its chairman, Isa Gambar, as its presidential candidate. LF

    [27] AZERBAIJANI MEDICAL WORKERS TO RECEIVE 50 PERCENT PAY RAISE

    President Heidar Aliev has signed a decree raising the salaries of medical-sector workers by 50 percent, effective 1 July, Turan reported on 10 June. Aliev issued a similar decree last month raising teachers' wages by 50 percent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May 2003). LF

    [28] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ORDER MINISTRIES TO ACT ON IMF RECOMMENDATIONS

    Eduard Shevardnadze warned ministers on 10 June that failure to implement the conditions laid down by International Monetary Fund (IMF) experts who visited Tbilisi last month could result in the fund withdrawing its support for Georgia in talks with the Paris Club on rescheduling its foreign debt, which stands at almost $2 billion, Caucasus Press reported. The IMF team reportedly recommended that the Georgian government make its debt payments to the Paris Club on time; reach agreement with the Adjar Autonomous Republic on that region's transfers to the central budget; adopt a law on money laundering; and cut budget expenditures for this year in order to reduce the budget deficit, which according to Caucasus Press on 10 June has already reached 113 million laris ($52.9 million). Parliament passed the required law on money laundering last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2003).

    [29] GEORGIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL BLAMES LOCAL CRIMINALS FOR ABDUCTION OF UN OBSERVERS

    Kodori Gorge Governor Emzar Kvitsiani told the independent television station Rustavi-2 on 11 June that he knows the identity of the persons who kidnapped three UN observers and their Georgian interpreter in the gorge last week, but has given his word not to divulge it. Under an agreement reached with Kvitsiani, the kidnappers released the four men on 10 June after they were surrounded by Georgian troops and local home-guard detachments. The four men have been helicoptered to Tbilisi. Georgian Intelligence Service head Lieutenant General Avtandil Ioseliani told Caucasus Press on 11 June that the kidnappers were "local criminals" and the abduction was "organized by Georgians." He rejected as unfounded rumors that Chechen gunmen who escaped in April from a jail in Sukhum were involved in the kidnapping (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 2003). LF

    [30] GEORGIAN OPPOSITION STAGES ANOTHER PROTEST

    The five Georgian opposition parties that aligned last week in the United Resistance Front (see "End Note" below) staged an unsanctioned demonstration in Gori on 10 June, Caucasus Press and the website of the independent television station Rustavi-2 reported. Several hundred people attended the protest to demand the adoption of a new Election Code and free and fair elections. LF

    [31] GEORGIAN COURT REJECTS MAVERICK PRIEST'S APPEAL

    A Tbilisi district court rejected on 10 June an appeal by lawyers for defrocked priest Basil Mkalavishvili against its earlier ruling that he should be remanded in pretrial custody for three months, Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2003). Mkalavishvili faces trial on charges of violence and destroying literature belonging to Jehovah's Witnesses. He has not yet been taken into custody, having sought sanctuary in a Tbilisi church. LF

    [32] KAZAKH PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS

    Imanghali Tasmaghambetov announced his resignation at an emergency cabinet session on 11 June, and President Nursultan Nazarbaev accepted it later the same day, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Tasmaghambetov said the outcome of the 19 May no-confidence vote in his government was falsified by deputies of Mazhilis (the lower chamber) whom he did not name, and that he has "no right to continue to cover the whole thing up," RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Tasmaghambetov called for the no-confidence vote because of his dissatisfaction with the sweeping amendments made by the Mazhilis to the Land Code drafted by his government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 19 May 2003). Tasmaghambetov has served as prime minister since January 2002. LF

    [33] KAZAKH COUNCIL FINDS LAND CODE CONSTITUTIONAL

    The chairman of Kazakhstan's Constitutional Council, Yurii Khitrin, announced on 10 June that neither the new Land Code nor the procedure by which it was adopted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 2003) violates the country's constitution, khabar.kz, Interfax-Kazakhstan, and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported the same day. The code has generated considerable controversy because of the way it introduces private ownership of agricultural land (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May 2003), and many politicians have called for a nationwide referendum on it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2003). According to the code, citizens of Kazakhstan and domestic legal entities may own land, but they have to acquire it by purchase. Opponents of the code as written say that many farmers cannot afford to buy their land. President Nursultan Nazarbaev had referred the code to the Constitutional Council for a ruling on its constitutionality and said he would sign it if the council found that it did not violate the constitution. BB

    [34] KAZAKH NGOS CRITICIZE DRAFT LAW ON NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

    Members of nongovernmental organizations pointed out flaws in a government-drafted law on NGOs during an OSCE-sponsored discussion in Almaty, khabar.kz reported on 10 June. In addition to the NGO activists, government officials and foreign experts on NGO legislation took part in the discussion. According to khabar.kz, the NGO participants noted that the law does not contain a sufficiently specific definition of the term "nongovernmental organization." They also said that the role of the state in the activity of both domestic and foreign NGOs was unclear, and this lack of clarity could result in NGO activities being declared illegal. The international experts argued that any legislation on NGOs should assist the development of nongovernmental organizations. According to data circulated during the discussion, there are around 3,000 NGOs in Kazakhstan, half of which are not functioning. Discussion participants drew up recommendations on the draft law for parliament, which is scheduled to start debate on the law in the near future. BB

    [35] KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER ASKS FOR ROLE IN IRAQ

    Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Askar Aitmatov, currently in the United States on a working visit, has asked for U.S. help in ensuring that Kyrgyzstan participates in the reconstruction of Iraq, akipress.org reported on 10 June. Aitmatov's request was made during talks with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Aitmatov was reported to have said that Kyrgyzstan has specialists who could play a useful role in Iraq. According to akipress.org, Aitmatov received a promise that his request will be considered. Aitmatov also expressed concern about the worsening of the security situation in Afghanistan and about indications that extremist groups are becoming more active in the Central Asian region. BB

    [36] HIZB UT-TAHRIR MAY HAVE TERRORIST LINKS, SAYS KYRGYZ SECURITY OFFICIAL

    Kyrgyzstan's National Security Service suspects that the banned Islamic extremist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir has ties to international terrorist groups, an unnamed spokesman for the security service told ITAR-TASS on 10 June. The specific evidence cited was the fact that Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflets had been found together with caches of weapons uncovered by the security service in southern Kyrgyzstan. The security official acknowledged that no explicit evidence of Hizb ut-Tahrir involvement in terrorist acts has been discovered. The movement's ideology calls for creation of an Islamic state in Central Asia but specifically rejects violence. According to the Kyrgyz security service, there are as many as 2,000 supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Kyrgyzstan; law enforcement authorities purportedly know about most of them but have no legal grounds for arresting them. The ITAR-TASS report noted that only six Hizb sympathizers were convicted in 2002, on charges of inciting ethnic and religious hatred. Investigations of 193 cases against Hizb sympathizers are reportedly under way at present. BB

    [37] NEW PARTY FORMED IN KYRGYZSTAN

    Former Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev has established a new political party under the name of Party of Justice and Progress with himself as chairman, akipress.org reported on 10 June. The constituent conference, a legal requirement for registration of a new party, was held at the end of March. Imanaliev was quoted as saying that the party has 1,000 members, adding that its main objective is the development and strengthening of the country and ensuring that Kyrgyzstan becomes a land of free, prosperous, and educated people. The party has a membership fee of 3 soms (about $.07) a month and expects to publish its own newspaper. A presidential election is scheduled for 2005; some Kyrgyz government officials have commented that the election is already causing a surge in political activity. BB

    [38] TAJIK ISLAMIC PARTY LEADER SAYS ARREST OF DEPUTY HEAD WAS MISTAKE

    The head of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), Said Abdullo Nuri, told journalists on 9 June that the recent arrest of the party's deputy chairman, Shamsiddin Shamsiddinov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2003), was a mistake, Asia-Plus Blitz reported the following day. According to Nuri, the warrant used to arrest Shamsiddinov carried the name of another person. Nuri also asserted that a lawyer hired by Shamsiddinov's relatives had not been allowed to meet with his client, and that there are unconfirmed reports that Shamsiddinov has twice been beaten in custody. The leadership of the IRPT intends to demand that the authorities clarify the situation, Nuri added. BB

    [39] TAJIK ISLAMIC PARTY WON'T OPPOSE REFERENDUM

    IRPT Chairman Said Abdullo Nuri told journalists on 9 June (see above item) that he will not support any statement opposing the planned 22 June referendum, Asia-Plus Blitz reported the following day. The referendum seeks popular approval of a series of constitutional amendments intended to update the country's constitution. The proposed amendment that has generated the most controversy would drop the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as president. Since the beginning of the debate over the amendments, the IRPT's position has been that it sees no need for the amendments, which it believes could destabilize political life in Tajikistan, or for a referendum. Nuri was quoted by Asia-Plus as saying that the immediate task of the Tajik government is to reduce poverty in the country, adding that the referendum would not solve Tajikistan's problems. BB

    [40] UZBEKISTAN RESTRICTS USE OF ALL BORDER CROSSINGS FROM TAJIKISTAN

    Uzbekistan has sharply reduced travel from Tajikistan through all 16 border crossings with that country but failed to inform Tajik authorities officially of its action, the head of the border control department of the Tajik Border Protection Committee, Boris Sarikaev, told Asia-Plus Blitz on 10 June. The restrictions are ostensibly intended to prevent the spread of SARS, although no cases of the disease have been registered in Tajikistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). According to Sarikaev, the Tajik authorities learned of the restrictions from unofficial sources. He noted that hundreds of Tajik citizens travel to Uzbekistan to work or shop; now they have to walk 2-3 kilometers between the border posts of the two countries and find further transport on the Uzbek side. Uzbek border guards are refusing to allow most Tajik vehicles to enter Uzbekistan. Sarikaev added that the Uzbek guards are also demanding that Tajiks crossing into Uzbekistan produce a new Tajik passport issued in 2003, although not all Tajik citizens have them yet. BB

    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

    [41] BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WANTS TO MODERNIZE CIVIL AVIATION

    President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 10 June that Belarus's civil-aviation sector should be upgraded to international standards in three to five years, Belarusian Television reported. A modernization plan provides for the purchase by Belarus of four Boeings and two Embrayer aircraft "in the next few years," the network added. Belarus currently has only two airliners that meet the EU's noise and pollution standards and are thus allowed to fly to EU countries. Lukashenka reportedly has allocated money for the purchase of one Boeing, at the same time advising the State Aviation Committee to seek funds for further purchases on its own. JM

    [42] UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CONFERS WITH PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS ON POLITICAL REFORM

    President Leonid Kuchma met with leaders of parliamentary groups on 10 June to exchange opinions about the constitutional-reform bill he submitted to the Verkhovna Rada in March (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 11 March and 15 April 2003), Interfax and the "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported. Kuchma reportedly suggested that he is prepared to back down on his proposals to introduce a bicameral legislature, reduce the number of legislators, and adopt laws directly via referendums. Yuliya Tymoshenko, who heads the eponymous political bloc, told journalists after the meeting that Kuchma failed to respond to her questions whether he will support a fully proportional parliamentary-election law and withdraw his proposal to hold presidential, parliamentary, and local elections in the same year, as well as whether he will run for a third term as president. Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz and Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko spoke against the idea of holding presidential, parliamentary, and local elections in the same year. "I want to declare that the next presidential election will take place on the last Sunday in October 2004," Kuchma said in summing up the meeting. JM

    [43] UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS RESTART CASE AGAINST TYMOSHENKO

    The Prosecutor-General's Office resumed its investigation on 10 June into a criminal case involving opposition leader Tymoshenko and four former executives of Unified Energy Systems (EES) of Ukraine, which Tymoshenko headed in 1995-97, Interfax reported. In May, the Kyiv Appeals Court ruled to close all criminal cases launched by the Prosecutor-General's Office against the five, but the Supreme Court annulled this ruling on 10 June. Prosecutors accuse Tymoshenko, her husband, father-in-law, and two other EES colleagues of misappropriating state funds. JM

    [44] OSCE COMMISSIONER INTERESTED IN EDUCATION AND INTEGRATION IN ESTONIA

    OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Rolf Ekeus told Prime Minister Juhan Parts in Tallinn on 10 June that his three-day visit to Estonia will primarily focus on education and integration, BNS reported. Parts informed him about his government's education policy and the current naturalization situation. The number of naturalized citizens has been growing every year and he said he expected Estonia's membership in the EU to further motivate noncitizens to naturalize. Ekeus also met that day with Population Minister Paul-Eerik Rummo and Foreign Ministry Deputy Chancellor Tiina Intelmann. Rummo noted that the success of the ongoing integration policy was indicated by the failure of the Russian parties to win any seats in the March parliament elections. Ekeus is scheduled to visit the mostly Russian-populated northeastern cities of Johvi and Kohtla-Jarve on 11 and 12 June. SG

    [45] ACTING DIRECTOR OF LATVIA'S ANTICORRUPTION BUREAU APPOINTED

    Prime Minister Einars Repse appointed Alvis Vilks, a department head in the Corruption Prevention Bureau, as acting director of the bureau on 10 June, LETA reported. The bureau's director, Guntis Rutkis, resigned for health reasons in May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 2003). Repse initially appointed Deputy Director Rudolfs Kalnins as acting director, but the Constitutional Protection Bureau refused to issue him a permit for access to classified information. To increase the range of possible candidates for director, Repse proposed amending the law to remove the requirement that the director must have a law degree, but this was thwarted by the opposition and the coalition Union of Greens and Farmers, which asked for the creation of a supervisory council over the bureau. The parliamentary Legal Committee decided on 10 June that the director should have a university (but not necessarily a law) degree. SG

    [46] HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER VISITS LITHUANIA

    A delegation from the Hungarian National Assembly, headed by its speaker, Katalin Szili, completed a tour of the Baltic states in Vilnius on 10 June, ELTA reported. In an address to the parliament that day, Szili emphasized the need for national parliaments to play an important role in the expanding European Union, whose new constitution is to be signed after the 10 candidate countries become full members. The delegation arrived in Lithuania on 8 June and visited the northern city of Sauliai the following morning. Szili placed a cross on the famous Mount of Crosses near the city on behalf of the Hungarian parliament. Later that day she held separate talks with Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and parliament Chairman Arturas Paulauskas. Szili noted that the good relations between their countries should become even stronger once they are both members of the EU and NATO. She confirmed that Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy will visit Lithuania in the fall. SG

    [47] MAJOR POLISH OPPOSITION CAUCUSES SET TO VOTE AGAINST CABINET

    The leaders of five major parliamentary opposition groups -- the Civic Platform, Law and Justice, Self-Defense, the Peasant Party, and the League of Polish Families -- have said their lawmakers will vote against Premier Leszek Miller's cabinet in a vote of confidence that is expected to take place in the Sejm on 13 June, Polish media reported on 11 June. The vote of confidence was proposed by Premier Miller in an apparent effort to reinforce his minority cabinet's position following the "yes" vote in the EU referendum on 7-8 June (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 10 June 2003). Those five opposition parties control a combined 205 votes in the 460-seat Sejm, while the ruling Democratic Left Alliance-Labor Union bloc has 209 votes. The fate of Miller's cabinet thus appears to hinge on the 46 votes held among six smaller groups and 15 independent deputies in the parliament. JM

    [48] POLISH OFFICIAL SURPRISED BY RUSSIAN OFFER OF INTELLIGENCE ON IRAQ

    During his visit to Warsaw on 10 June, Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo offered Moscow's assistance to Poland's stabilization mission in Iraq, including the exchange of intelligence, expert opinions, and analysis between the two countries' military institutions and special services, Polish Radio reported. "From what we hear, the Russians have pretty good intelligence and knowledge about various Iraqi intelligence materials," Polish Deputy Defense Minister Janusz Zemke said. "I must say that I was somewhat taken aback by this proposal, since the Russians had not previously indicated that they would be prepared to help Poland or other states in a mission of this kind." JM

    [49] CZECH FIRMS APOLOGIZE TO PREMIER FOR MISUSE OF HIS NAME IN PRO-EU CAMPAIGN

    Seznam.cz and the TTV promotion agency apologized to Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla on 10 June for having used his name in e-mails sent to users of the seznam.cz mail server, CTK reported. The messages carried a letter purportedly written by Spidla and calling on recipients to participate in the 13-14 June referendum on EU membership. "I wrote no such letter, and I gave no order [to anyone else] to formulate it and deliver it," Spidla said. TTV is one of the companies commissioned by the Czech government to promote EU accession. Government spokeswoman Anna Starkova said TTV's apology has been accepted. Jan Herzmann, director of market-research firm TNS Factum, said this type of campaign can be counterproductive, because Internet users are sensitive about receiving unsolicited mail. MS

    [50] CZECH PRESIDENT AGAIN DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM EU ACCESSION...

    In an interview with the daily "Lidove noviny" of 11 June, President Vaclav Klaus said Czechs should have benefited from a longer period of "enjoying our independence" before joining the EU, CTK reported. Klaus said that is now impossible, however, due to the pace of "European developments," which would not wait for "our small country." Klaus once again warned against the dangers of European centralism and stressed that this peril is heightened by the current debate over a European constitution within the European Convention. Klaus declined to tell the daily how he intends to vote in the 13-14 June referendum, saying it would be improper for the country's president to say how he is voting or to advise others on how they should cast their ballots. MS

    [51] ...WHILE PREDECESSOR CALLS FOR 'YES' VOTE ON EU ACCESSION

    Former President Vaclav Havel on 10 June called on Czech citizens to vote "yes" in this weekend's EU referendum, CTK reported. Havel made the appeal at a concert on Prague's Wenceslas Square organized by supporters of EU accession. In an obvious allusion to his successor Klaus, Havel said that fears of a loss of sovereignty are groundless. Havel recalled a speech he made in 1990, in which he expressed apprehension at growing economic crime: "I was not mistaken. Incredible economic fraud and political cover-up have spread in this country. Saying 'yes' to the EU is saying 'no' to such fraud." MS

    [52] MORE CZECH ASYLUM SEEKERS DEPORTED FROM U.K.

    British authorities deported 61 Czechs on 10 June whose applications for asylum were rejected, CTK reported. The chartered plane marked the 11th such transport of unsuccessful asylum seekers by the United Kingdom, many of whom are Roma basing their applications on alleged rights violations in the Czech Republic. According to the British Embassy in Prague, nearly 700 Czech citizens have been returned to the Czech Republic since September. MS

    [53] SLOVAK RULING COALITION RALLIES IN DEFENSE OF BESIEGED DEPUTY PREMIER

    Leaders of the four-party, center-right coalition headed by Mikulas Dzurinda voiced support on 10 June for Deputy Premier Pal Csaky, CTK reported. Csaky has come under heavy criticism by the opposition and the media for alleged mishandling of EU funds and of preparations for last month's referendum on EU accession. Dzurinda said in Bratislava that Csaky "is aware of the fact that he [still] has a chance, but he must use it and he holds everything in his own hands." Dzurinda emphasized that Csaky remains the cabinet's only coordinator in charge of EU funding. MS

    [54] SLOVAK PRESIDENT QUESTIONS RULING COALITION'S UNITY

    President Rudolf Schuster said on 10 June that he is concerned over coalition unity in view of an ongoing dispute over abortion legislation, TASR reported. Schuster said he knows very well the Christian Democratic Movement's (KDH) position on the issue, which he described as "very consistent." The coalition Alliance for a New Citizen (ANO) has threatened to seek opposition support for its proposal to extend the legal period for terminating pregnancies in certain cases (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). Schuster declined to say whether he might veto the ANO bill if it is approved by parliament, saying such a decision would depend on whether the legislation observed "certain criteria." The president said he shares neither the ANO nor the KDH position, adding that he believes the only solution rests in seeking a compromise that addresses the interests of all those affected, including women. MS

    [55] SLOVAK SUPREME COURT ELECTION AT CENTER OF POLITICAL DISPUTE

    The Union of Anticommunist Resistance (ZPKO) said on 10 June that the candidacy of Judge Stefan Minarik for the post of president of the Slovak Supreme Court shows disdain for the suffering endured by former political prisoners in Slovakia, TASR reported. Minarik's candidacy, along with those of Ida Hanzelova and Harald Stiffel, was cleared earlier this week by the Judicial Council. The ZPKO claims that as a judge under the communist regime, Minarik sentenced political prisoners and otherwise did the regime's bidding. Minarik countered that the ZPKO allegations represent "the start of a campaign against me." He said he always gave the most lenient sentences possible under the law and that no judge could refuse cases at that time. The election of a Supreme Court president is due to take place on 23 June. MS

    [56] HUNGARIAN NATIONAL BANK RAISES KEY INTEREST RATE

    The Monetary Council of the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) announced on 10 June a decision to increase its base interest rate from 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent, effective on 11 June, Hungarian media reported. The MNB said the move is intended to keep inflation below the 4.5 percent inflation target for 2003 and below the 3.5 percent target set for 2004. The MNB has said it would like to see the exchange rate stabilize at roughly 250 forints to the euro. MNB Governor Zsigmond Jarai told reporters that the market overreacted to the recent devaluation of the forint (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 6 June 2003). He said an exchange rate of 260-265 forints to the euro would endanger inflation targets. Jarai warned that the National Bank is prepared to raise interest rates further if the currency does not stabilize at 250 forints to the euro. MSZ

    [57] HUNGARIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY THREATENS LEGAL ACTION AGAINST OPPOSITION DAILY

    The Education Ministry released a statement on 10 June in which it insists that there has been no report based on a government inquiry alleging wrongdoing by the Education Ministry's Fund Management Directorate, as "Magyar Nemzet" reported on 7 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003), "Magyar Hirlap" reported the next day. The statement says that while cooperation between the ministry and the directorate and the work of the directorate have been examined in a number of external and internal probes, none contained the findings cited in the "Magyar Nemzet" article. The ministry adds that the state secretary of public administration has officially asked the daily for a copy of the alleged documents, but no documents have been produced. The ministry states flatly that if the newspaper cannot prove its findings or support the authenticity of the report, it will take legal action. MSZ

    [58] IDC SLAMS OBSERVANCE OF CIVIL RIGHTS IN HUNGARY

    The International Democratic Center (IDC), formerly the Christian Democratic International, criticized the state of civil rights and political freedoms in Hungary on 10 June. "Nepszabadsag" reported on 11 June that -- at the initiative of opposition FIDESZ Chairman and former Prime Minister Viktor Orban -- the IDC leadership in Lisbon passed a resolution suggesting that the situation in Hungary has deteriorated considerably since parliamentary elections in 2002 -- including through violations of fundamental civil rights and political freedoms. The resolution claims widespread political pressure on the police since the Socialist Party-Free Democrat coalition took power, and that the right to assembly for citizens and social organizations has been restricted. Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs countered that it is unprecedented for a political party to insist on the condemnation of its own homeland at an international forum. He expressed shock that, at FIDESZ's initiative, Hungary was mentioned at the IDC meeting in Lisbon together with Cuba and Burma (Myanmar). MSZ

    [59] SURVEY SHOWS XENOPHOBIA IN HUNGARY DECREASING

    A recent survey by Tarki pollster indicates that 68 percent of Hungary's adult population does not object to Hungary receiving asylum seekers, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 10 June. Survey leader Endre Sik told reporters that 7 percent of respondents were expressly in favor of giving asylum to all refugees. On the other hand, 25 percent of respondents, down from 34 percent in March 2002, felt that asylum seekers should not be allowed to enter Hungary, regardless of their country of origin. MSZ

    SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [60] U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY THANKS ALBANIA FOR SUPPORT

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in Tirana on 10 June that he values "the relationship the United States has with Albania. It's important to us, and this gave me an opportunity to come here and meet with the senior officials. I expressed my appreciation and our country's appreciation for their full cooperation in so many activities," RFE/RL reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2003). Among his hosts were President Alfred Moisiu, Prime Minister Fatos Nano, and Defense Minister Pandeli Majko. Albania has 70 peacekeepers in Mosul and recently signed a bilateral extradition-immunity agreement with the United Sates prohibiting the handover of each other's citizens to the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite pressure from the EU not to do so. Referring to that agreement, Rumsfeld said, "The decision to do that was something that the people in the United States, the government of the United States, and certainly men and women in the armed forces of the United States, appreciate a great deal." He expressed support for Albania's desire to join NATO and promote military cooperation with the United States but did not say whether the Pentagon will establish a base in Albania, as the Albanian leadership would like. PM

    [61] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER SAYS EXTRADITION-IMMUNITY AGREEMENT IS A POLITICAL ISSUE

    Parliamentary speaker Nikola Popovski of the governing Social Democratic Union (SDSM) told the "Southeast European Times" of 10 June that there is no proposal or initiative before the parliament over a bilateral extradition-immunity agreement with the United States prohibiting the handover of each others' citizens to the ICC (see item above). "It is still too early to discuss the issue because we expect a debate in the Foreign Ministry over whether to sign such an agreement," Popovski said. "There is no contradiction between our previous ratification of the Rome Statute [setting up the ICC] and a bilateral agreement with the United States. The problem is that this issue has become political rather than legal in nature." SDSM lawmaker Tito Petkovski recently argued that signing such an agreement would mean running afoul of international and domestic legislation (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 June 2003 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2003). UB

    [62] UN ADMINISTRATION CHIEF CALLS ON EU TO HELP KOSOVA

    Michael Steiner, who is the outgoing head of the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK), appealed to the EU in Brussels on 10 June to follow through on its financial pledges to help Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). In New York, UN officials told the Security Council that much progress has been made in Kosova since Resolution 1244 was passed four years ago, adding, however, that much work remains to be done. And in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro's President Svetozar Marovic told Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije, who is the chief Serbian cleric in Kosova, that the Belgrade authorities "completely support" the Serbs in that province. PM

    [63] FORMER SERBIAN SECURITY BOSS ARRIVES IN THE HAGUE

    Jovica Stanisic, a former Serbian state-security chief, arrived in The Hague on 11 June on a flight from Belgrade, international and regional media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2003). The tribunal indicted him on 1 May on five counts of crimes against humanity during the 1991-95 conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia in conjunction with his alleged planning of ethnic-cleansing campaigns. Indicted with him was former special forces chief Franko Simatovic "Frenki," who arrived in The Hague on 30 May and has since pleaded "not guilty" to the charges (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 30 May, and 3 June 2003). PM

    [64] EU STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR SAYS SERBIA NEEDS ELECTIONS

    Speaking on the Berlin-based RBB Inforadio on 10 June, EU-led Stability Pact Coordinator Erhard Busek said that early elections should be held soon in Serbia because the consensus on reforms among the political parties following the 12 March assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic is crumbling. Busek argued that some politicians are now trying to benefit from political uncertainties by playing up the Kosova question or the issue of refugee returns (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). He added that early elections would help clarify the real distribution of power among the parties. A government legitimized by elections would also be in a better position to help resolve the Kosova question, provided that the international community has a clear concept for the future of the province. In Busek's opinion, it is still too early to talk about Kosovar independence. UB

    [65] POLITICAL RIVALS SEEK TO OUST SERBIAN NATIONAL BANK CHIEF

    Unspecified members of the governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition are secretly preparing a new banking law designed specifically to oust Serbian National Bank Governor Mladjan Dinkic, who heads the G-17 Plus political party, dpa reported from Belgrade on 10 June. The law is reportedly being drafted without the participation of officials from the National Bank or Finance Ministry. Speaking on condition of anonymity, IMF officials told the news agency that claims by DOS that Dinkic has mismanaged large sums of money are groundless. There are few differences in ideology between DOS and G-17 Plus, but both groups are competing for the same constituency of pro-reform voters. Dinkic recently sought to expand his power base by calling for Serbian independence and appealing to popular feelings of disappointment with the EU, which pressured Belgrade and Podgorica in 2002 into setting up the joint state. DOS, by contrast, emphasizes good ties between Brussels and Belgrade. PM

    [66] MONTENEGRIN AUTHORITIES REJECT CRITICISM IN HUMAN-TRAFFICKING CASE

    On 10 June, Prosecutor Zoran Radonjic dismissed criticism by the OSCE and the EU-led Balkan Stability Pact of his handling of a human-trafficking case, dpa reported from Podgorica (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2003). He said the Moldovan woman who claims she was victimized should file a private lawsuit, and he questioned whether Helga Conrad of the Vienna-based Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings had any business commenting on the case. She recently told RFE/RL that "there is a case involving the trade of women, but obviously the prosecutor doesn't know it is a part of organized crime." PM

    [67] CROATIAN LEADERS SAY INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL SHOULD TURN HIMSELF IN

    Ivo Pukanic, who recently interviewed indicted war criminal General Ante Gotovina for the weekly "Nacional," said in Zagreb on 10 June that the Information Law ensures his right to protect his sources and not disclose where or when Gotovina gave him the interview, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). Elsewhere, Prime Minister Ivica Racan called on Gotovina to "make the first step" with regard to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, promising that the government will give him its "full support" if he does. President Stipe Mesic said Gotovina could tell the tribunal that the previous government prevented him from cooperating with the tribunal, which ultimately led to his indictment. And in The Hague, Florence Hartmann, spokeswoman for chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, said there is nothing for Gotovina to discuss with the tribunal because he has already been indicted. Hartmann called on him to come to The Hague, where he will enjoy due process of law. PM

    [68] BOSNIAN MINERS' STRIKE ENDS

    Some 200 Zenica miners ended their hunger strike and left the mineshafts on 10 June after union leaders and management signed a document guaranteeing that April wages will be paid within seven days, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). PM

    [69] MASS GRAVE FOUND IN BOSNIA

    Bosnia's Commission on Missing Persons announced in Sarajevo on 9 June that it has discovered a mass grave of at least 30 people at Koprivna near Modrica in the northeastern part of Bosnian Serb territory, dpa reported. The dead are believed to be mental patients killed by Serbian forces in late 1992 or early 1993. PM

    [70] U.S. CONGRESSMAN SAYS ROMANIA MUST STOP 'SIMULATING REFORMS'

    Several Romanian dailies ("Evenimetul zilei," "National," and "Cotidianul") published on 10 June large excerpts from an interview U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith (Republican, New Jersey) gave to RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service on 8 June in which he said Romania must stop "simulating reforms" and start implementing them. Smith, who is co-chairman of the U.S. Congressional Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the United States Helsinki Commission) and vice chairman of the House of Representative's International Relations Committee, said Romania has repeatedly promised to amend its Penal Code to eliminate all restrictions on the freedom of the press. However, he said that despite several amendments the restrictions keep reemerging one way or another. He said he might initiate a debate in the Helsinki Commission or International Relations Committee. Smith said he believes the decision to invite Romania to join NATO was correct, but Bucharest must improve in some areas in which it lags behind. He mentioned anticorruption efforts, freedom of the press and religion, property restitution, and Romany rights as areas for improvement. MS

    [71] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER DISCUSS AMENDING ELECTORAL LAWS, RESHUFFLING CABINET

    President Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Adrian Nastase discussed on 10 June the possibility of amending the current legislation on elections and the possible reshuffling of the cabinet, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Iliescu told journalists after the meeting that he wants the cabinet to draft precise proposals on how the current electoral legislation should be amended, including the possibility of changing the electoral system for the upper house from proportional to single constituency representation. Iliescu also said the government should propose concrete dates for the forthcoming local, parliamentary, and presidential elections. All these proposals, Iliescu added, would then be discussed with representatives of parliamentary parties. Nastase said that now that the cabinet is two years into its term, it must think about how to improve its efficiency. This, Iliescu said, would require a "small restructuring of the government" by "reducing the number of ministries." MS

    [72] ROMANIAN COMMISSION RECOMMENDS EXTENDING PRESIDENTIAL TERM TO FIVE YEARS

    The ad hoc parliamentary commission that examined proposals for amending the Romanian Constitution announced on 10 June that it has ended its work and has submitted its recommendations to the Chamber of Deputies, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Valer Dorneanu, the speaker of the lower house, said that among the commission's recommendations is extending the presidential term from the current four years to five. Dorneanu also said parliamentary parties will be able to submit to the chamber those amendments that were rejected by the ad hoc commission. He also said he hopes the Chamber of Deputies will debate the proposed constitutional changes in extended sessions in order to end the debates by the end of July. A special extraordinary session will be called for this purpose if necessary, he said. A two-thirds quorum of the chamber is required to hold a debate. MS

    [73] ROMANIAN PREMIER RECEIVES NEW WORLD BANK REPRESENTATIVE

    Premier Nastase on 10 June received Owaise Saadat, the new World Bank representative in Romania, according to an official government communique. They discussed cooperation and Romania's efforts to attain EU membership by 2007, in particular. Saadat was quoted as telling the premier that this goal "is like running a marathon," and expressed the hope that "reaching the end in 2007" is something the bank will help Romania achieve. MS

    [74] ROMANIAN SENATE SPEAKER MEETS WITH MOLDOVAN BUSINESSMEN

    Romanian Senate speaker Nicolae Vacaroiu met in Chisinau on 10 June with Moldovan businessmen, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Vacaroiu is attending a meeting of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC) in the Moldovan capital (see below). He said political relations between Moldova and Romania have improved following a two-year period of tension, and added that this is bound to lead to an improvement in economic relations. The Moldovan businessmen urged the nullification by Romania of several import restrictions, particularly on meat products. Romania last year stated that the restrictions were the result of Romania's implementation of EU standards. MS

    [75] BSEC APPROVES JOINT DECLARATION IN CHISINAU ON OCCASION OF 10TH ANNIVERSARY

    The speakers of 11 parliaments of member countries in the BSEC approved a joint declaration in Chisinau on 10 June belatedly marking the organization's 10th anniversary, RFE/RL's bureau in the Moldovan capital reported. They stated that the countries of the Black Sea region must continue their efforts to transform it into a zone of democracy, prosperity, stability, peace, tolerance, equality, solidarity, and cultural diversity. The 11 parliamentary speakers said the BSEC must strive to be able to resolve conflicts that emerge in the region. The gathering in the Moldovan capital is to end on 13 June, when Romania will take over Moldova's chairmanship of the BSEC. MS

    [76] RUSSIAN FEDERATION COUNCIL SPEAKER MAKES OFFER THAT IS DIFFICULT TO REFUSE IN CHISINAU

    Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov said in Chisinau on 10 June that his country is prepared to retain its "peacekeepers" in the Transdniester if the Moldovan government asks Moscow to do so, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Mironov, who is in the Moldovan capital for the BSEC meeting (see item above), said his talks on 9 June with President Vladimir Voronin and Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev focused mainly on the Transdniester. He said Moscow backs Voronin's initiative on elaborating a new constitution for a federal state. Mironov said the future federal state should be based on Moldova's sovereignty, while granting the Transdniester "special status." He also said Russia is ready to "share with Moldova" its own experience as a federal state. MS

    [77] 'VOICE OF BESSARABIA' AGAIN DENIED REGISTRATION IN MOLDOVA

    The Audiovisual Coordinating Council (CCA) refused on 10 June to register the private Voice of Bessarabia radio station, Flux reported. This is the second time in less than one year that the station has been denied registration by the council. CCA Chairman Ion Mihailo said the refusal was prompted by "forgery of documents and the illegal broadcasts by the station over two years." CCA member Arhip Ciubotaru said the Voice of Bessarabia is "merely a smoke screen" and that, despite calling itself a national station, the radio begins its broadcasts with retransmissions of foreign stations such as RFE/RL or the BBC. Last year, the CCA also denied registration to the Voice of Bessarabia on similar grounds, but the decision was later rescinded (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November and 17 December 2002, and 26 March 2003). Voice of Bessarabia Director Valeriu Saharneanu, who is also chairman of the Union of Moldovan Journalists, claimed the CCA's decision resulted from "political commands" received from the authorities and said the station will sue the council. MS

    [78] OBSERVERS SAY RUNOFF IN MOLDOVAN LOCAL ELECTIONS STILL BESET BY SHORTCOMINGS

    The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) said in a 9 June press release that Moldova's local-elections runoff held on 8 June was "conducted mostly in line with international standards," but "shortcomings observed during the campaign remain a source of concern." Ambassador Michael Wygant, head of the ODIHR's team of observers, said that although "balloting proceeded smoothly, and a decrease in tensions compared to the first round was noted,... the campaign was again marred by media bias, misuse of administrative resources, and aggressive rhetoric, notably in the mayoral runoffs in Chisinau and Comrat." MS

    [79] COUNCIL OF EUROPE EXPERTS CRITICIZE BULGARIAN LAW ON RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES

    Two legal experts commissioned by the Council of Europe have concluded that the Law on Religious Communities (which the council calls the Confessions Act) could undermine religious pluralism in Bulgaria, mediapool.bg reported on 10 June. In their expert opinion, Rick Lawson of the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, and Malcolm Evans of Bristol University in Great Britain stated that the law grants privileges to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church; that the Directorate for Religious Communities can exert pressure on the courts that register religious communities; and that the directorate can punish religious leaders. Also on 10 June, Domenico Contestabile, an Italian member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, arrived in Sofia for a three-day fact-finding mission to prepare a report on the law, according to mediapool.bg. Contestabile's visit was prompted by a 13 February motion by a group of assembly members who fear that the law does not conform to the European Convention of Human Rights. UB

    [80] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT DELAYS ELECTION OF NATIONAL BANK GOVERNOR

    Due to disagreements between the governing National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) and its coalition partner, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the parliament on 10 June postponed the election of a new National Bank governor, bnn reported. The DPS did not support Ivan Iskrov, who was nominated by the NDSV, saying both incumbent Governor Svetoslav Gavriyski and Iskrov should submit a written concept for the National Bank before the parliament makes a decision (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 9 June 2003). UB

    SOUTHWESTERN ASIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

    [81] U.S. FORCES LAUNCH OPERATION PENINSULA STRIKE IN IRAQ...

    Task Force Ironhorse soldiers launched Operation Peninsula Strike in Iraq on 9 June, according to a U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) press release (http://www.centcom.mil). The operation consists of a series of raids aimed at eradicating "Ba'ath Party loyalists, paramilitary groups, and other subversive elements located on a peninsula along the Tigris River, northeast of Balad," a town situated some 65 kilometers north of Baghdad. Air, land, and sea raids were launched to "capture or destroy subversive elements." The task force comprises U.S. Army infantry, armor, artillery, aviation, and engineers, and U.S. Air Force personnel. According to CENTCOM, Operation Peninsula Strike's efforts have thus far led to the capture of 397 suspects, and a curfew has been imposed on the peninsula. CENTCOM noted that "specially trained soldiers" are screening detainees and processing information "which can be used in the apprehension of hostile groups who continue to try to harm coalition forces and innocent Iraqi people." KR

    [82] ...AS ARAB PRESS REPORTS AREA UNDER SIEGE

    Al-Jazeera reported on Operation Peninsula Strike on 10 June, calling it a "large-scale mopping-up and arrest campaign." According to an Al-Jazeera reporter located in Yathrib (Salah al-Din Governorate), the campaign had been under way for three days on 10 June. He confirmed that a curfew has been imposed on the area, which he identified as "Al-Dulu'iyah," and claimed that U.S. forces "destroyed furniture and assailed citizens" during the operation, in which three Iraqis were allegedly killed. "Some of them were hit with rifle butts and could not survive the severe blows they received," he claimed. Residents claimed U.S. troops stole money and private property and are "occupying" some homes. The reporter on the scene said U.S. soldiers carried CENTCOM lists of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis of the deposed Hussein regime, and questioned residents of Al-Dulu'iyah about Ali Hassan al-Majid (a.k.a. "Chemical Ali") and a person called Rakan, who according to some press reports is the nephew of al-Majid. Both were reportedly killed in the 5 April bombing of al-Majid's home in Al-Basrah, but U.S. officials have said that they no longer believe al-Majid was killed in that bombing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2003). KR

    [83] U.S. SOLDIER KILLED WHILE OVERSEEING TRASH COLLECTION IN BAGHDAD

    One U.S. paratrooper was killed and a second injured on 10 June when rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) were fired at them while they manned a trash-collection point in southwest Baghdad, CENTCOM reported in a press release dated the same day. The incident occurred when a van carrying four passengers stopped in a nearby alley some 250 meters from the soldiers. "Two attackers exited the van and each fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the squad," according to CENTCOM. "One RPG struck a vehicle and the other landed short of the soldiers' location." Eyewitnesses reported seeing the attackers flee down the alley. KR

    [84] CPA ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION IN RECONSTRUCTION PROJECTS IN IRAQ

    The head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, has announced that $100 million in Iraqi funds will be used to jumpstart the economy, including the employment sector, by initiating reconstruction projects, Reuters reported on 10 June. "This will pay for much-needed investment in Iraq's infrastructure.... Modernizing the infrastructure is essential to modernizing the economy," Bremer told reporters. "At the same time, this fund will create jobs for thousands of Iraqi workers on important projects across the country," he added. Bremer said the funds will go to Iraqi-owned construction companies. Reuters reported that the three administrative regions set up by the United States -- the north, south-central, and south -- will each receive $15 million for urgent reconstruction projects. Another $20 million will go to repairing ministry buildings damaged during the recent conflict, while $35 million will be set aside to complete unfinished public-works projects. "The $100 million will come from Iraqi funds," Bremer said. "We have a number of sources of Iraqi funds -- vested funds, seized funds, and of course funds in the central bank." KR

    [85] TWO MORE 'MOST-WANTED' IRAQIS CAPTURED

    Two Iraqis on CENTCOM's list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime have been captured, according to a 10 June CENTCOM press release. Latif Nusayyif al-Jasim al-Dulaymi, a former member of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) and deputy secretary of the Ba'ath Party's Military Bureau, is 18th on the list. Brigadier General Husayn al-Awadi (previously listed by CENTCOM as al-Awawi) was the Ba'ath Party's regional chairman for the Ninawa Governorate and a brigadier general in the Chemical Corps. He is 53rd on the CENTCOM list. No further details were given on the capture of the two men. KR

    [86] IRAQIS BUYING EXECUTION VIDEOS IN EFFORT TO LOCATE MISSING

    Iraqis are buying up videotaped executions carried out by the deposed Hussein regime in an effort to locate missing loved ones, BBC reported on 9 June. Many of the tapes reportedly contain footage of executions carried out after the 1991 Shi'a uprising that followed the Gulf War the same year. The BBC reported that some of the videotapes show a man, who appears to be al-Majid (see above), killing people. Al-Majid is a cousin of former President Hussein and a lieutenant general who earned his nickname "Chemical Ali" for his leading role in the Hussein regime's 1988 poison-gas attacks on Kurds. An Iraqi vendor told the BBC's Arabic Service that Iraqis want to see for themselves what happened during the Hussein regime. "This is normal. People have suffered a lot of tragedies from Saddam Hussein. I don't know whether people believe these things or not. I don't know," he said. KR

    [87] PROTESTS ERUPT AT TEHRAN UNIVERSITY

    Some 3,000 Iranians shouted antigovernment slogans on 10 and 11 June after police surrounded a Tehran University student dormitory, Reuters reported. The protests originated against privatizing some of Iran's universities, AP reported, but eventually became directed against Iran's ruling clerics. "The clerical regime is nearing its end," AP reported some protestors as chanting, while others called on President Mohammad Khatami to step down. After student protests started on the Tehran campus on 10 June, people gathered at a square near the campus after hearing calls to do so by Los Angeles-based Iranian-exile satellite-television channels, Reuters reported. In the early hours of 11 June, riot police armed with batons, members of the Basij militia, and plainclothes security men dispersed the demonstrators, AFP reported. The tensions follow Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's call to university students on 8 June to "maintain their calm" in order to foil what he said was a "devilish" U.S. plot to destabilize the Islamic Republic, according to Reuters. "Another way is to make riots in the universities," he said, calling on Iranians to "preserve our unity and do the jobs that we are supposed to, and by keeping calm in different environments -- especially in the universities." SF

    [88] IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ACCUSES POWELL OF INTERFERING IN IRAN

    Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on 10 June 10 characterized statements U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made on Fox News on 8 June as interference in Iranian affairs and disrespectful of the Iranian people, IRNA reported. In his remarks, Powell said that "a lot of churning" is taking place inside Iran, where there is "a very young population that realizes that its political and religious leaders are not pointing it in the right direction toward a better future." Powell urged Iran's youth to "put pressure on your political leaders and your religious leaders to allow more innovation within the Iranian society, within the Iranian economy, to start changing the policies of the past." In response, Kharrazi said, "If the United States desires friendship with Iran, it would naturally be expected not to interfere in Iranian domestic affairs." He said Washington should be aware that Iranian history has shown that the people become united whenever exposed to foreign interference. SF

    [89] SECURITY FORCES REPORTEDLY ARREST LEADER OF MASHHAD VIGILANTE GROUP

    Security and law enforcement forces on 10 June arrested Hamid Ostad, leader of the hard-line vigilante group Ansar-i Hizbullah, and three other members of the group in Mashhad, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported. They were arrested for giving "verbal warnings" to protesters at Khorasan Province's Governorate-General Building. ISNA did not indicate what the original protests were about, but Ansar-i Hizbullah issued a statement saying the offending protestors were "seeking to question Islam, the law, and revolution, by way of chanting insulting slogans." The Ansar members were outraged that "the innocent seminarian, Hamid Ostad, and several other propagators of virtue and prohibitors of vice, who were merely carrying out their religious duty" were arrested, "while those who engage in unlawful and offensive acts run free." The group demanded the release of their "brothers" and the arrest of "those who perpetrated the vice -- and not only the perpetrators but also their leaders." SF

    [90] IRANIAN PRESIDENT'S SPEECH IN NORTHEASTERN TOWN CANCELED

    President Khatami's 9 June speech in the Khorasan Province town of Jajarm was canceled due to fears that ethnic tension could erupt among local Turkomans, the Baztab website reported. It is notable that during a speech in Bojnurd, another Khorasan Province town, Khatami called on the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the judiciary, the law-enforcement forces, and the provincial security council to stop agitators and rioters, ISNA reported. Khatami said this is a particularly sensitive time for Iran because "a foreign enemy covets our resources and we are facing countless problems." Khatami called for unity, and he expressed the need for freedom of expression. BS

    [91] U.S. FORCES KILL FOUR MILITIAMEN IN AFGHANISTAN

    Four Afghan militiamen were killed on 10 June during a three-hour gun battle between U.S. and militia forces in the border town of Shkin, Paktika Province, Radio Afghanistan reported. The militiamen are suspected of belonging to the ousted Taliban regime, according to "The New York Times." No U.S. casualties were reported. Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai has stated his belief that the Taliban are finished in Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2003). If that is the case, the attacks against the U.S.-led antiterrorism coalition must be seen as being carried out by terrorists or by a combination of forces that are disenchanted with the current administration. AT

    [92] AFGHAN FOOD AID SOLD IN JALALABAD MARKETS

    Biscuits donated by India for schoolchildren in Afghanistan are being sold on the streets of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province, according to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) on 9 June. Pounani Forbes, regional director for the World Food Program in Jalalabad, said 9,500 tons of biscuits were distributed to 150,000 schoolchildren through local Afghan NGOs. However, when the UN agency "discovered the fraud and theft" it immediately suspended distribution to those NGOs, which Forbes refused to name. Shopkeepers selling the donated biscuits claimed that "teachers and the workers of the NGOs are selling them," according to IWPR. Abdul Ghani Hedayat, regional education director of Nangarhar Province, said his department was not invited by the UN to distribute the biscuits. Forbes said the province's education department was not used because it lacks "staff and transportation facilities." Afghans have complained that international aid agencies rely on NGOs to carry out tasks instead of empowering the Afghan government to do so. AT

    [93] JAPAN TO HELP UPGRADE KABUL TV

    Japan's Foreign Ministry announced on 10 June that the country will provide 794 million yen ($6.7 million) to Afghanistan to upgrade Kabul Television, the "Japan Times" reported on 11 June. The upgrade is designed to provide more Kabul residents with access to television and information about health care and social welfare. The grant is part of the $500 million in assistance Japan pledged to Afghanistan in January 2002, the report added. In a country where more than 80 percent of the population is illiterate, radio and television are often the only effective means to inform the public. AT

    [94] AFGHANISTAN MIGHT BE ABLE TO COMPETE IN 2004 OLYMPIC GAMES

    An International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation visited Kabul on 10 June to examine the possibility of allowing Afghanistan to compete in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, AFP reported. Afghan Olympic Committee President Mohammad Anwar Jiglalig said the IOC banned Afghanistan from participating in the Games when the Taliban were in power from 1996-2001. If the IOC reverses the ban, Afghanistan would be able to participate in the Games for the first time since 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Afghanistan has had some success in wrestling in the past. AT

    END NOTE

    [95] NEW GEORGIAN OPPOSITION ALIGNMENT EMERGES

    By Liz Fuller

    On 3 June, five Georgian opposition parties organized a mass demonstration outside the parliament building in Tbilisi. The initial objective was to wrest concessions from the Georgian leadership on the composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) in a bid to thwart anticipated attempts by the authorities to rig the outcome of the 2 November parliamentary elections. But the estimated 7,000 protesters spontaneously expanded their demands to encompass the resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze. Moreover, the five political parties that organized the protest -- the United Democrats, the New National Movement, the New Rightists, the Union of Traditionalists, and the People's Party of Georgia -- also announced the creation of a new United Resistance Front whose stated objective is to pressure the country's present leadership, by peaceful means, to step down.

    As Georgian media broadcast coverage of the Tbilisi protest, people took to the streets in up to a dozen towns across Georgia, from Poti and Zugdidi in the west to Akhaltsikhe in the south and Gurdjaani in the east, to air their grievances. In Tbilisi, CEC Chairman Djumber Lominadze and four more members of that 18-person body announced they had submitted their resignations. After that, a hard core of a few hundred protesters accompanied United Democrats leader Zurab Zhvania and National Movement leader Mikhail Saakashvili to the state chancellery on the evening of 3 June to demand that Shevardnadze resign. Even though Zhvania had vowed earlier in the day that the protest would continue until the participants' demands were met, the hard core dispersed after talks with State Security Minister Valeri Khaburzania.

    Marina Molodini, a member of the United Democrats parliamentary faction, was quoted on 5 June by the independent newspaper "Akhali taoba" as saying that the 3 June protest was intended as "a warning" to the government, and that the organizers were "satisfied" with the outcome. They had, indeed, not only managed to demonstrate the support they could muster within the capital and the extent of popular resentment in the provinces, but also concluded a tactical alliance that unites five political groupings with disparate ideologies and which in last year's local elections were competing for the "protest" vote. What's more, despite their differences, four of the five party leaders traveled to Kutaisi, Georgia's second city, on 5 June to establish a regional headquarters there. They also intend to set up similar regional offices in other Georgian towns to coordinate the campaign to force the present leadership to resign.

    What is unclear, however, is whether the members of the new front are willing and able to transform it into an election bloc. Their differences are not confined to ideology, but also extend to tactics. Zhvania, for example, is quoted in a 6 June "Eurasia View" analysis as condemning what he termed Saakashvili's "redundant populism." While Zhvania brought his young children with him to the protest to show that the participants had no intention of risking clashes with security forces, and New Rightists leader David Gamkrelidze similarly stressed that the Tbilisi protest would be nonviolent, Saakashvili appealed to participants to break into the parliament building by force and evict deputies from the former ruling Union of Citizens of Georgia. And while other opposition politicians abjure violence, some apparently do not rule out such "radical tactics" as blocking railroads and major highways, according to Akaki Bobokhidze of the National Movement.

    Addressing the weekly government session on 4 June, President Shevardnadze played down the challenge to his authority posed by the previous day's protests. But at the same time he warned again that he will not permit the opposition to promote "organized chaos." Some might construe that warning as an indication that Shevardnadze is planning to ensure that his supporters retain power at any price, especially in conjunction with statements he made in a recent interview with "Moskovskie novosti." That publication quoted him as accusing unnamed opposition leaders of acting "irresponsibly" and predicting that "if they come to power, they will lead the country to ruin." Shevardnadze added, however, that "if we do not win a majority in parliament this autumn, we shall definitely think of something [to prevent that happening]."

    On 7 June, the website of the independent television station Rustavi-2 reported that Shevardnadze might convene a special parliamentary session to resume discussions on the optimum composition of the CEC. In the absence of parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze -- who on 3 June affirmed her support for the opposition, and who left Tbilisi on 7 June for a weeklong visit to the United States -- that session will presumably be chaired by one of the six deputy speakers.


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