|Thursday, 28 May 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, 06-11-02
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
 RUSSIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL HAS 'NO INFORMATION' ON IRANIAN NUKESSecurity Council Secretary Igor Ivanov said in Moscow on October 31 that he considers Iran's nuclear program to be peaceful and that Russia continues to oppose any sanctions on Iran, news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 17, 19, and 23, 2006). He stressed that "we do not have information that would suggest Iran is carrying out a nonpeaceful [nuclear] program.... We believe that the possibilities for continuing political discussion around this [Iranian nuclear] problem have not been exhausted." He added that "sanctions should not be adopted for their own sake." Russia opposes serious sanctions on Iran and North Korea while maintaining tough sanctions, including a blockade, on Georgia. Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Mahmud Ahmadinejad spoke by telephone on October 30, kremlin.ru reported. Putin repeated "the principled position of Russia in favor of continuing the negotiating process." On November 1, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in Oslo, Norway, that "we don't want another nuclear state on our southern borders," ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov stressed that "any Iranian nuclear program should be implemented under strict and tough international control." He defended Russian arms sales to Iran, saying that they are for defensive purposes and that Iran is not one of Russia's major arms customers. PM
 RUSSIA WINS TENDER FOR BULGARIAN NUCLEAR REACTORBulgarian power company officials announced on October 31 that the Russian construction firm Atomstroieksport has won a contract worth almost $5 billion to build Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant, which will be located at Belene on the Danube, dpa reported. The Russian firm will enlist the help of Germany's Siemens and France's Areva, RIA Novosti reported. The Russian bid beat one by the Czech firm Skoda by about $1.26 billion, as well as a bid by Westinghouse. Bulgaria is obliged to decommission its Soviet-era plant at Kozloduy on the Danube when it joins the EU, which it expects to do on January 1, 2007. Atomstroieksport is currently building nuclear power plants in Iran, China, and India. PM
 U.S., RUSSIA SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENTU.S. Marine Corps General Peter Pace, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Russian counterpart General Yury Baluyevsky signed a military cooperation agreement for 2007 in Moscow on October 30, but the details have not been made public, news agencies reported. Pace, who is on his first visit to Moscow as chairman, said that he "came to listen and learn about ways we can do good military-to-military for both Russia and the United States." Baluyevsky noted that the two sides' positions are "very close" on some issues and that there are other matters on which "we must find solutions and adopt these solutions as quickly as possible." Pace stressed that "together we can find proper solutions." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that the two former Cold War adversaries have a "unique responsibility" in promoting international security. PM
 RUSSIA HAILS PLANNED RESUMPTION OF SIX-PARTY KOREAN TALKSDeputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Alekseyev said in Moscow on October 31 that the recent informal agreement between Chinese, North Korean, and U.S. representatives in Beijing on relaunching the long-stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program is "exceedingly positive," Interfax reported. Alekseyev, who will represent Russia in the discussions that will also include Japan and South Korea, added that "the talks have been given a chance." Meanwhile in Oslo, Defense Minister Ivanov said that he expects the negotiations to start before the end of 2006, news.ru reported. PM
 ARMENIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS MEETRobert Kocharian met with his Russian counterpart President Putin on October 30 during an official visit to Moscow, RFE/RL's Armenian Service and Russian media reported the following day. The two men discussed regional issues, including the Karabakh conflict, cooperation within the CIS, the CIS Collective Security Treaty, and the Eurasian Economic Community, and various aspects of bilateral cooperation, including economic and trade ties. Putin was quoted as expressing regret that Russia occupies only third place in terms of foreign investment in Armenia. Kocharian for his part confirmed that the joint venture ArmRosGazprom will acquire for $118.8 million a further 13 percent stake in Armenia's natural-gas distribution network, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The daily "Kommersant" reported on October 31 that ArmRosGazprom will thus acquire control of the gas pipeline through which Armenia receives Iranian natural gas to fuel the Hrazdan thermal power plant, a deal it dubbed the Kremlin's "sole geopolitical victory" in the South Caucasus in recent years. But ArmRosGazprom Director-General Karen Karapetian said the same day that even though Gazprom has signaled its interest in acquiring that pipeline, the Armenian government has not yet made a firm decision to sell it. LF
 MOSCOW MAYOR BANS FASCIST MARCHMayor Yury Luzhkov announced in a televised broadcast on October 31 that he has prohibited a planned march by rightists on November 4, which is celebrated in Russia as National Unity Day, Russian media reported. He stressed that he objects to the use of Nazi symbols by such groups and added that "if we allow our state to be split on ethnic or confessional grounds, if we allow religious wars, then I am afraid this will be the end of Russia." Critics charge, however, that Moscow authorities, including the police, have recently conducted a crackdown on Georgians living and doing business in the city. PM
 ARKHANGELSK MAYOR SAYS HE WILL RUN FOR PRESIDENTIndependent Mayor Aleksandr Donskoi announced on October 31 his intention to run for president of Russia in 2008, Russian media reported. He is the third candidate do so, after Mikhail Kasyanov of the People's Democratic Union and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. Donskoi was elected mayor of his native Arkhangelsk, where he has lived all his life, in 2005. He believes in conducting a war on poverty, but would scrap President Putin's "national projects" for agriculture, education, health, and housing as a "waste of time," the daily "Vremya novostei" reported on October 31. Donskoi says that people should not stay in politics for very long, adding that "any politician who hangs around on television for more than six or eight years is a political corpse." He stresses that "democracy means bread, butter, and sausages.... Stalin was a better democrat than our [Boris] Nemtsovs and [Irina] Khakamadas will ever be. He fed the country by the early 1950s." Donskoi told RFE/RL's Russian Service that his unconventional approach to politics makes him a good choice for president. PM
 DEFENSE MINISTER DECLINES COMMENT ON 2008 ELECTIONDefense Minister Ivanov said in Oslo on October 31 that he is too preoccupied with the "many complex tasks in modernizing the armed forces" to have time to "think about the Russian presidential elections" scheduled for 2008, news.ru reported. Ivanov was on a visit to Sweden and Norway to discuss security issues regarding northern Europe. As a former KGB officer, Ivanov studied Swedish as part of his "work," but was recently quoted by Interfax as denying ever having acted "against the interests of Sweden and its citizens." PM
 AIRPORT MANAGERS CHARGED WITH FRAUDFederal prosecutors charged two top officials of Moscow's SB-120 Sheremetyevo Airport on October 31 with fraud, document forgery, and violating safety rules, news.ru and the daily "Kommersant" reported. Airport General Director Aleksei Surikov and Chief Engineer Viktor Gamayunov have been taken into custody on charges stemming from recent airplane crashes that are believed to have been caused at least in part by the use of faulty spare parts. Both men strongly deny any guilt. PM
 OLIGARCH SAYS HE WON'T BE EXTRADITED TO RUSSIASelf-exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky was quoted by the daily "Izvestia" on November 1 as saying that he will not be extradited from Britain to Russia despite claims by the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office that he has called for the violent overthrow of the state, which would be a violation of the terms under which he received British asylum in 2003 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 27, 2006). Berezovsky stressed that he wants to end President Putin's rule in a manner similar to the "color revolutions" of Georgia and Ukraine, adding that "no authoritarian regime has ever surrendered power to a democratic regime voluntarily." PM
 CHECHEN FORUM OPENS IN GROZNYThe first congress of the Assembly of Peoples of Chechnya opened in Grozny on October 31, Russian media reported. Addressing the approximately 300 delegates, who included representatives of other North Caucasus republics, pro-Moscow administration head Alu Alkhanov stressed Chechnya's economic achievements over the past two years, adding that the situation in the North Caucasus as a whole is no longer "complicated." Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov did not attend the congress as he was summoned urgently to Moscow, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on November 1. Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, speaker of the lower chamber of the Chechen parliament, told RIA Novosti before the congress opened that participants would not propose Kadyrov's candidacy to replace Alkhanov as republic head, as many observers had anticipated. At the same time, he added that "in the hearts of the population, Kadyrov is already" republic head. LF
 INGUSH ACTIVISTS SENTENCED FOR HONORING POLITKOVSKAYAMagomed Mutsolgov, head of the NGO Mashr that unites relatives of people who have been abducted and vanished without trace, and Albert Khantygov of the human rights center Memorial were tried and sentenced in Nazran on October 31 in connection with their efforts to stage a picket on October 16 in memory of slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the independent website ingushetiya.ru reported, citing the "Kavkazsky uzel" website. Police intervened to prevent the picket, injuring Memorial staffer Yekaterina Sokiryanskaya and detaining several participants and two passersby (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 17, 2006). Mutsolgov was fined for violating legislation on organizing pickets, even though he had informed the city authorities in writing beforehand of his intention to stage the demonstration. LF
 DAGHESTAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY SURVIVES ATTACKShamil Chartayev escaped unscathed late on October 30 when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car, regnum.ru reported on October 31 citing Daghestan Interior Ministry sources. LF
 KABARDINO-BALKARIA INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES MILITANTS SURRENDEREDRussian media reports that 12 participants of the October 2005 multiple attacks on police and security targets in Nazran recently turned themselves in and were granted amnesty are untrue, kavkaz.memo.ru reported on October 31, quoting Kabardino-Balkaria Interior Ministry official Aslan Kazdokhov. Several young militants arrested on suspicion of participating in those attacks have recently been released (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 30, 2006). LF
Transcaucasia And Central Asia
 EU CONTINUES TO INSIST ON CLOSURE OF ARMENIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANTCloser ties between Armenia and the EU within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy are contingent on the decommissioning of the Medzamor nuclear power station, Economic Development and Trade Minister Karen Chshmaritian announced in Yerevan on October 31, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The EU considers the plant, which produces up to 40 percent of Armenia's electricity, a major security risk, but the Armenian government believes it is safe and could function for another 10 years. Prime Minister Andranik Markarian said in May 2006 that Medzamor will not be shut down until an alternative plant has been built. To date, neither U.S. nor European investors have offered to finance the costs of building a new nuclear power station. LF
 FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER SENTENCEDAzerbaijan's Court for Grave Crimes sentenced former presidential-administration official Akif Muradverdiyev on October 31 to six years' imprisonment on charges of large-scale embezzlement of state property, abuse of his official position, and receiving a bribe, day.az and zerkalo.az reported on October 31 and November 1, respectively. Muradverdiyev pled partially guilty to those charges, and his lawyer plans to appeal the sentence. He was arrested one year ago in connection with an alleged planned coup d'etat; the investigation into that conspiracy continues (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 26, 2005, and "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," October 31, 2005). LF
 SOUTH OSSETIAN LEADER SOLICITS SUPPORT IN NORTH CAUCASUSVisiting Nalchik on October 31, Eduard Kokoity appealed to the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic parliament to support South Ossetia's appeal to the Russian State Duma to condemn Georgia's alleged genocide of Ossetians on its territory, regnum.ru reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 30, 2006). Kokoity argued that the conflict between the central Georgian government and his breakaway republic is not interethnic but legal-political, given that Georgia, having espoused an unequivocally pro-Western orientation, seeks to impose "Western-style democracy" on South Ossetia. He said that new democracy will never prove more powerful than "our Caucasian traditions." LF
 DETAILS OF INCURSION INTO SOUTH OSSETIA REMAIN UNCLEARThe Georgian Interior Ministry denied on October 31 that the four armed men whom South Ossetian security forces claimed to have killed earlier that day were either Kists (Georgian Chechens from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge) or among the surviving members of the Chechen militant group headed until his death in early 2004 by Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelayev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 31, 2006). Kokoity on October 31 accused Georgia of "state terrorism" that precludes his accepting Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's recent offer of a face-to-face meeting. Speaking in Tbilisi the same day, outgoing EU representative Torben Holtze said a meeting between Saakashvili and Kokoity could expedite a solution to the South Ossetian conflict, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian parliament deputy Givi Targamadze said on October 31 that Georgia will not sign a memorandum on the nonresumption of hostilities with South Ossetia as it fears that South Ossetia would take advantage of any such pact to step up "provocations," Caucasus Press reported. Kokoity earlier said he would be prepared to met with Saakashivili to sign such a memorandum LF
 GEORGIAN COUP SUSPECTS' PRETRIAL DETENTION PROLONGEDA Tbilisi court ruled on October 31 that 12 people arrested two months ago on suspicion of plotting with fugitive former National Security chief Igor Giorgadze to overthrow the present Georgian leadership and bring Giorgadze to power are to remain in pretrial detention for a further month, Caucasus Press reported the following day (see End Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," September 7, 2006). The court also appointed new defense lawyers for the detainees without their consent, a move that they plan to appeal, Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia, who heads the pro-Giorgadze party Imedi, told journalists in Tbilisi on November 1, Caucasus Press reported. LF
 GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS KAZAKHSTANGerman Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Kazakhstan on October 31 and issued a call for faster reforms even as he praised the country's economic progress, news agencies reported. Steinmeier noted that greater economic openness and a stronger rule of law would draw more German investment, Deutschlandfunk reported. Steinmeier met with Kazakh Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov and Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev in Astana, presenting the blueprint of a new EU strategy for relations with Central Asia that "prioritizes stability and security in the region, the economy, energy policy, and the further implementation of economic reforms," Interfax-Kazakhstan reported, citing a Kazakh Foreign Minister press release. Toqaev noted that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev plans to visit Germany in January. Akhmetov stated that Germany supports Kazakhstan's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and said that Kazakhstan has encountered "the understanding and support of the German side on Kazakhstan's chairmanship of the OSCE in 2009," Khabar reported. Germany is the fifth-largest investor in the Kazakh economy, with $1.8 billion invested as of June, according to Interfax-Kazakhstan. Bilateral trade volume in January-August was $1.54 billion. DK
 KYRGYZ PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADERSTalks between Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev and opposition leaders in Bishkek on October 31 failed to produce an immediate compromise on opposition reform demands, ferghana.ru reported. Opposition lawmaker Temir Sariev described the talks as "very difficult," but a Bakiev spokesman said that the sides agreed to set up a joint task force on constitutional reform, RFE/RL reported. Edil Baisalov, a member of the For Reforms opposition movement, said that the sides agreed to meet again to "settle all outstanding questions," ITAR-TASS reported. Opposition leaders stressed that they plan to go ahead with a scheduled November 2 rally, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Commenting on the meeting, Omurbek Tekebaev, a former speaker of parliament, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service: "We did not achieve any results. The current government is not ready to carry out most of the demands put forward by the For Reforms movement." DK
 KYRGYZ INDEPENDENT TV RESUMES BROADCASTSThe independent Kyrgyz television station Piramida resumed broadcasting on October 30, akipress.org reported the next day. Opposition member of parliament Kabai Karabekov told the news agency: "The authorities aren't asking why Piramida didn't broadcast for three months. They're asking why it's resumed broadcasting." The station recently suffered an break-in (see "RFE/RL Newsline," September 29, 2006), and station managers and civil-society activists have charged that the authorities have attempted to keep it off the air. DK
 TAJIK OFFICIAL SAYS BUNKERS BELONGED TO IMUColonel Eminjon Jalolov, deputy chief of police in Tajikistan's Soghd Province, told a news conference on October 31 that recently discovered bunkers in the northern province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 26, 2006) belonged to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Varorud reported. "Media reports about the existence of some Islamist terrorist group called Bayat are baseless," Jalolov stated. He said that police have arrested 13 suspected IMU members, including a man named Anvar Boboyev from Isfara who was identified as their leader. Another 13 are being sought. Jalolov said that recent arrests point to heightened IMU activity in northern Tajikistan's Isfara district, which is close to neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. DK
 CSTO SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS UZBEKISTANNikolai Bordyuzha, secretary-general of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), visited Tashkent on October 31, meeting with Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov and Defense Minister Ruslan Mirzoev, press-uz.info reported. An Uzbek Foreign Ministry source told the news agency that the talks focused on the CSTO's general responsibilities and specific tasks in Central Asia. DK
 SOURCE SAYS UZBEK GOVERNMENT WILL TAKE OVER MINING JOINT VENTUREThe Uzbek government may take control of Zarafshan-Newmont, a recently bankrupted gold-mining joint venture that was previously half-owned by U.S. company Newmont Mining, Reuters reported on October 31, citing an unidentified source involved in the proceedings. According to the source, the government will either sell Newmont's stake to a local investor or make the company 100 percent state-owned. Newmont pulled out of Uzbekistan after an Uzbek court declared the joint venture bankrupt in light of a $49 million claim for back taxes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," August 4 and October 3, 2006). Britain's Oxus Gold, which also owns a joint venture in Uzbekistan, recently received a $224 million claim for back taxes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 27, 2006). DK
 BELARUS CUSTOMS CLAIMS TO FIND DRUGS ON LEADER OF ETHNIC POLESBelarusian customs officers said on October 31 that they found heroin in a car in which Anzhelika Borys, a leader of the Polish ethnic community in Belarus, was driving from Poland to Belarus on October 29, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, according to Belapan, Andrzej Poczobut, an activist of the Polish ethnic community in Belarus, quoted one customs officer in Hrodna as saying that the powder found in Borys's car was amphetamine. The Belarusian customs have reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the incident. Borys said she believes the powder package was planted in her car to compromise her. "The border inspection took 10 hours. That's a long time spent looking for something. I am sure the package was planted," Borys told Reuters on October 31. "This incident, which bore all the signs of a setup, is clearly a continuation of actions aimed at limiting the freedom of action of members of the Polish Union in Belarus," Poland's Foreign Ministry said in a statement the same day. The Belarusian authorities ousted Borys from the post of head of the Union of Poles in Belarus in 2005, triggering a diplomatic row with Warsaw. Warsaw continues to recognize Borys as the legal head of the organization. JM
 HUNGER-STRIKING BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST SAID TO BE HOSPITALIZEDBelarusian Prosecutor-General Pyotr Miklashevich told journalists in Minsk on October 31 that opposition politician Alyaksandr Kazulin, who is serving his prison term of 5 1/2 years in a correctional institution near Vitsebsk, was transferred to the facility's medical unit the previous day, Belapan reported. However, Vital Ahnistsikau, chief of the correctional institution, told Belapan that Kazulin is staying together with other inmates in his barrack, having been exempted from work because of his hunger strike. Kazulin, who was imprisoned for his role in street protests following the March presidential election in Belarus, went on a hunger strike on October 20, protesting against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's third term in power. His protest has been joined by another inmate of the correctional facility, former lawmaker Syarhey Skrabets. Ihar Rynkevich, Kazulin's lawyer, said on October 31 that Ahnistsikau has banned him from visiting his client. JM
 UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BOGGED DOWN IN PROCEDURAL ISSUESThe Verkhovna Rada on November 1 discussed the removal of four ministers designated to the cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych by the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc but failed to reach any conclusion during its morning sitting on how to do it, Ukrainian media reported. Justice Minister Roman Zvarych, Family and Sports Minister Yuriy Pavlenko, Culture Minister Ihor Likhovyy, and Health Minister Yuriy Polyachenko tendered their resignations two weeks ago, after Our Ukraine announced that it was switching to the opposition to the ruling coalition led by the Party of Regions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 19, 2006). Our Ukraine leader Roman Bezsmertnyy proposed to lawmakers to adopt a procedure for the dismissal of cabinet members by parliament before tacking the resignation of the four ministers. Additionally, the Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus has demanded that the prime minister be present in the session hall during a parliamentary debate on the resignations. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yanukovych reportedly announced that he is currently ready to replace just Zvarych and Likhovyy. JM
 SERBIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NO COMPROMISE ON ELECTIONS...Boris Tadic said on October 31 that he will not compromise on an election date and insisted that the parliamentary and presidential elections take place simultaneously, B92 reported the same day. Tadic said the elections should be held on December 23. "Elections as soon as possible, by the end of the year, presidential and parliamentary, there is no talk of a compromise," he said. Tadic also dismissed Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Tomislav Nikolic's suggestion that he resign as president before new elections. "I am not resigning because I have no reason to resign," he said. "I want presidential elections, to check my mandate; I want to hear what the citizens say about how I am doing my job. I am not concerned with what Nikolic thinks about my presidency. I am only concerned with the citizens." On October 5, Tadic called for both presidential and parliamentary elections to be held by the end of the year, but his proposal has met with opposition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 6, 19 and 25, 2006). BW
 ...AND ACCUSES OPPONENTS OF BLACKMAILAlso on October 31, Tadic said that threats by the SRS and the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) to hold up parliament's implementation of the new constitution in order to get their way on an election date amount to "blackmail," B92 reported the same day. A two-thirds majority in parliament is required to adopt Serbia's new constitution, and the SRS and SPS -- both of whom want elections to take place next year -- have suggested they might hold up the vote. "We will see how they will behave. If it is a continuation of this political methodology [it would constitute] blackmailing," Tadic said. BW
 KARADZIC'S BROTHER DETAINED OVER MONTENEGRO BAR BRAWLPolice in Montenegro have arrested Radislav Karadzic, the brother of war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic, for his alleged involvement in a bar fight in which a man was killed, B92 reported on October 31. Radislav Karadzic is suspected of involvement in the murder of Zlatko Bulatovic, who was stabbed to death in the Kula Karadzic Cafe. According to B92, a fight broke out in the cafe over a singer who was entertaining a group sitting in the cafe with Bulatovic. BW
 RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS ATTACKED IN MACEDONIARussia has sent a formal protest note to Macedonia asking Skopje to conduct an investigation into an attack on four Russian diplomats, B92 and Reuters reported on October 31. According to a Russian television report, the diplomats were just about to leave a cafe in downtown Skopje late on October 28 when an unknown man approached them. "Soon afterwards, between 10 and 12 people were taking part in the attack on the four diplomats," Russia's Channel One reported. "The attackers used glass bottles and brass knuckles." Macedonian media speculated that the fight was over a young woman, while the Interior Ministry said it is doing all it can "to find and apprehend the attackers." Police spokesman Borce Pesevski said that "there was an argument between a dozen people at a bar, an argument that continued outside on the pavement. Then six to seven still unknown assailants physically attacked four others, all employees in the Russian Embassy. They were beaten up, sustained injuries, and after receiving medical treatment they were released home." BW
 BOSNIAN SERB PRIME MINISTER SAYS NO TO POLICE REFORMRepublika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said the Bosnian Serbs will not give up their own police force even if it means jeopardizing Bosnia-Herzegovina's potential membership in the European Union, AP reported on October 31. "If we have to choose between the European Union and the police of Republika Srpska, we will choose the police of Republika Srpska," Dodik, told the Sarajevo-based daily "Oslobodjenje." The EU is pushing Bosnia to unite its ethnically divided police force as a one of the conditions for signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement. High Representative Christian Schwarz-Schilling has urged Bosnia's politicians to move faster on police reform in order to present a new structure to EU officials in Brussels by November 20 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 23, 2006). BW
 MOLDOVA'S UN REPRESENTATIVE COMPLAINS OF RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN TRANSDNIESTERIn a speech on October 30, Alexei Tulbure, Moldova's permanent representative to the United Nations, called on the international community to fight human rights abuses in frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union, Moldpres reported the next day. Speaking at a session of the UN General Assembly on human rights, Tulbure said numerous violations are taking place in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region. He singled out the case of two members of the "Ilascu group," Andrei Ivantoc and Tudor Petrov-Popa, who were sentenced in Transdniester in 1993 on terrorism charges (see "RFE/RL Newsline," January 14, 2005). In 2004, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the two should be released (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 19, 2004). Tulbure further stressed what he called "Russia's direct responsibility for the nonfulfillment of the ECHR decision in its capacity of a country that offers political, military, and financial support to the Tiraspol separatist regime." BW
Southwestern Asia And The Middle East
 TWO ISAF SOLDIERS KILLED IN NORTHEASTERN AFGHANISTAN...Two soldiers serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed and two others were wounded in a roadside blast in the Waygal district of Nuristan Province on October 31, an ISAF press release reported. According to the standing policy of ISAF, the nationalities of dead soldiers are not revealed until the relevant national authority does so. AT
 ...AS 'ISLAMIC EMIRATE' TAKES RESPONSIBILITYA website purporting to represent the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan -- the name of the country under the Taliban -- in a posting on October 31 claimed that "heroic mujahedin of the Islamic Emirate" destroyed a main battle tank belonging to the "occupier American forces" using a remote-controlled mine, killing three soldiers. AT
 SUICIDE ATTACK LEAVES POLICEMAN DEAD IN SOUTH-CENTRAL AFGHANISTANOne Afghan policeman was killed and another sustained injuries when a suicide bomber detonated explosives attached to his body near a police station in the Andar district of Ghazni Province on October 31, the official Bakhtar News Agency reported. Two coalition soldiers also sustained minor injuries. A website purporting to represent the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan claimed in an Internet posting the same day that "a heroic mujahed of the Islamic Emirate" named Mohammad Yusof, in a "martyrdom-seeking" operation in Ghazni, killed 11 "foreign occupiers" and injured eight soldiers. The website carried a picture of the purported suicide bomber reading from a sheet of paper. AT
 RESIDENTS OF EASTERN AFGHAN PROVINCE THREATEN TO RESUME POPPY CULTIVATIONElders in the Marakekhayl area of Nangarhar Province's Sherzad district have threatened to resume opium-poppy cultivation unless aid promised to them is delivered, Peshawar-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported on October 31. Malik Rahmatullah, a local chief, told AIP that the Afghan government has not fulfilled "its promise" to the people of Sherzad. The aid money that foreign donors have provided to Afghanistan "for poor people is not distributed to them," he said. Rahamatullah also claimed that one in three local farmers has "already cultivated poppy plants and others are getting their land ready for poppy cultivation." While opium-poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has reached record levels, Nangarhar has been regarded as one of the success stories in the past two years. AT
 RUSSIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL HAS 'NO INFORMATION' ON IRANIAN NUKESSecurity Council Secretary Igor Ivanov said in Moscow on October 31 that he considers Iran's nuclear program to be peaceful and that Russia continues to oppose any sanctions on Iran, news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 17, 19, and 23, 2006). He stressed that "we do not have information that would suggest Iran is carrying out a non-peaceful [nuclear] program" and added, "We believe that the possibilities for continuing political discussion around this [Iranian nuclear] problem have not been exhausted." Ivanov warned that "sanctions should not be adopted for their own sake." Russia opposes serious sanctions on Iran and North Korea while maintaining tough sanctions, including a blockade, on Georgia. In related news, President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Mahmud Ahmadinejad spoke by telephone on October 30, kremlin.ru reported. Putin repeated "the principled position of Russia in favor of continuing the negotiating process." Finally, on November 1, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in Oslo, Norway, that "we don't want another nuclear state on our southern borders," ITAR-TASS reported. He stressed that "any Iranian nuclear program should be implemented under strict and tough international control." He defended Russian arms sales to Iran, saying that they are for defensive purposes and that Iran is not one of Russia's major arms customers. PM
 IRANIAN EX-PRESIDENT SAYS 'GROUND PREPARED' FOR IRAN-U.S. TALKS ON IRAQDuring a visit to the United Kingdom, former Iranian President (1997-2005) Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami said the "ground is prepared" for his country and the United States to hold direct talks about Iraq, AFP reported, citing the U.K.'s Channel 4. Khatami said such talks could take place under the auspices of the United Nations. Washington called for direct talks on Iraqi affairs in October 2005, and Tehran initially agreed to this in March before Iranian officials subsequently said there is no need to hold the talks. Khatami went on to say that he doubts Iran is militarily active in Iraq. "The security of Iraq is quite important to us, because anything that would contribute to security in Iraq or add to the violence among the Shi'a and Sunnis and instability, the first one that would lose would be Iran, of course," he added. BS
 IRANIAN OFFICIALS ENCOURAGE MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN ELECTIONSHojatoleslam Saidi, identified as the Iranian supreme leader's representative in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), told Basij officials recently that they and their families, as well as IRGC personnel and their families, are duty-bound to vote in December's Assembly of Experts and municipal-council elections, "Kayhan" reported on October 31. Saidi encouraged the officials to familiarize themselves with the candidates and the issues. He added that the IRGC and Basij have a duty to advise people on election-related issues, but "disparaging candidates or supporting individuals or organizations and presenting lists, in the sense of specifying who to vote for, are not permitted at all." The supreme leader's representative at the East Azerbaijan Province Basij unit, identified as Hojatoleslam Jalilzadeh, said on October 30 that "the IRGC and Basij forces must do their utmost to facilitate the participation of the majority of the population in the Assembly of Experts and municipal-council elections," ILNA reported. Jalilzadeh said military personnel should inform voters but not be involved with political movements themselves. BS
 GUARDS CORPS ACTIVE IN IRAN'S NORTHWESTAt an October 31 ceremony at the Imam Ali Center in Maku, Hojatoleslam Arsalan Bordfar was introduced as the supreme leader's new representative in the IRGC's Hazrat-i Abolfazl Al-Abbas First Brigade, Urumiyeh television reported. Bordfar succeeds Hojatoleslam Akbar Mohammadi. The IRGC's Payqambar-i Azam (Great Prophet) war games got under way the same day in Urumiyeh, provincial television reported. The four-day exercises will focus on maneuver warfare. Colonel Rahim Aqa-Mohammadpur, the chief commander of the IRGC's Shahid Amini Tactical Military Base, said the exercises will evaluate the effectiveness of training, determine the Ashura Battalions' abilities, and improve existing war-fighting capabilities. Some 2,500 members of Ashura and al-Zahra Battalions are participating, Urumiyeh television added. BS
 TEHRAN DENIES VIOLATING LEBANESE ARMS EMBARGOIranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Husseini denied on October 31 that his country has violated an arms embargo on Lebanon, ISNA and IRNA reported. John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, charged on October 30 that Syria and Iran are violating the arms embargo in order to undermine the Lebanese government, AP reported. "We continue to be concerned that Syria and Iran are actively trying to destabilize the democratically elected government of Lebanon," Bolton was quoted as saying. "We call on Syria and Iran to abide by their obligations to respect Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence." UN special rapporteur Terje Roed-Larsen said Lebanese officials told him and also said in public statements that arms are entering their country across the border, AP reported. However, he cautioned that the UN has been unable to confirm those claims. Bolton quoted Roed-Larsen as saying the Lebanese government does not provide details because it fears retaliation. Iranian spokesman Husseini said such comments are a diversion from Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace, and added that Bolton is trying to undermine Lebanese solidarity. BS
 IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS IRANIAN AMBASSADORForeign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met with Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi-Qomi in Baghdad on October 31, according to a ministry press release. The diplomats discussed the political and security situation in Iraq and the need to strengthen bilateral relations, as well as the prospects for a normalization of Syrian-Iraqi relations. Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Mu'allim, is expected to visit Baghdad in November, according to the press release. KR
 KURDISH WITNESS DESCRIBES KILLINGS AT MASS GRAVE SITE IN IRAQA Kurdish witness testifying at the October 31 session of the Anfal trial told the court in testimony aired on state-run Al-Iraqiyah television that Iraqi soldiers lined up Kurdish men alongside a mass grave and shot them dead in spring 1988. The unidentified witness said he surrendered to an Iraqi national-defense unit near his village of Qadir Karam in April 1988. Another army unit called the Bariq Army photographed and recorded the names of detainees in Ali Awah, a camp housing between 3,000 and 4,000 detainees near Irbil, before transporting them to Chamchamal and later Tubzawah. From there, detainees were transported by bus to another location farther south. Detainees were offloaded, bound, and blindfolded and then told to lay down. Soldiers confiscated their money and identification cards and then opened fire on the detainees. The witness said he pretended to be dead as the soldiers threw his and other bodies into an open pit where he stayed until night fell. He walked until morning and said the first city he came to was Al-Ramadi. Four other Kurdish witnesses testified at the October 31 session about chemical bomb attacks on their villages. The trial then adjourned until November 7. KR
 FINAL PREPARATORY MEETING HELD FOR INTERNATIONAL COMPACT WITH IRAQRepresentatives from 14 countries and seven international organizations attended the fifth and final preparatory meeting for the International Compact with Iraq in Kuwait on October 31, KUNA reported the same day. The compact aims to raise support for the rebuilding of Iraq among the international community and multilateral organizations, with participating members pledging to provide Iraq with financial, technical, and political support. The meeting was hosted by Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Muhammad Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and UN special representative to Iraq Ashraf Qazi attended the one-day session. The formal adoption of the compact is expected to be held in the next six weeks, according to the meeting's final communique. The preparatory group includes representatives from the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, as well as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Union, Arab Development Fund, and Islamic Development Bank. KR
 IRAQI POLITICIAN SAYS NEW POLITICAL FRONT TO BE FORMEDAbd al-Sattar al-Jumayli, secretary-general of the Nasirite Vanguard Socialist Party, told Amman-based "Al-Ghadd" that Iraqi pan-Arab, Nasirist, national, and Islamic forces will soon announce the formation of a new political front, the daily reported on October 31. Al-Jumayli said the front will be formed in light of the progress made during talks between members of the resistance and Iraqi and U.S. officials in Amman, Jordan, this week. Members of the front believe in "the Arabism and independence of Iraq, reject sectarianism and ethnic distribution, and support the unity of Iraq's territory and people," he added. The daily quoted sources as saying the front is backed by the Islamic Army in Iraq and other resistance groups. "Al-Ghadd" quoted Islamic Army leader Abd al-Rahman al-Ansari as telling Iraq's government-sponsored "Al-Sabah" that 12 armed groups took part in talks with the United States in Amman this week. KR
 RUSSIAN PRESIDENT YIELDS TO NATIONALISTS OVER GEORGIA CONFLICTBy Dmitry Shlapentokh
In just the first week of October, more than 500 Georgians were deported from Russia. Many Georgian outlets shops, restaurants, and businesses were closed because of alleged tax violations. Even ethnic Georgians who are Russian citizens, such as the sculptor Zurab Tsereteli and the writer Boris Akunin, were reportedly harassed by the authorities.
Most observers related these events to Russia's conflict with Georgia and the efforts by the two enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to break away from Georgia. The Kremlin is also upset by Georgia's bid to join NATO, and by the fact that it has become a major route for oil pipelines that bypass Russia. All this certainly plays an important role in the Russian authorities' drive against Georgians.
But there is another -- possibly more important -- reason for Russia's harsh treatment of Georgians: the rising tide of Russian nationalism.
At the beginning of the post-Soviet period, the authorities dubbed all residents of the Russian Federation "rossiiane," as distinct from ethnic Russians or "russkiye." The notion of rossiiane evokes the spirit of Eurasianism, a quasi-political doctrine born among Russian emigres in the 1920s which has become quite popular in present-day Russia. Eurasianists hold that Russia is a unique blend of Russian people and various other ethnic groups.
Now, however, the assumption that citizens of post-Soviet Russia can blend into a new nation has apparently become unworkable. And one of the manifestations of this is the rise of Russian nationalism. This phenomenon is not so much a manifestation of the strength of Russia under President Vladimir Putin or of the assertiveness of the country's emerging middle class as it is a product of deep social divisions and rampant corruption.
The philosophy "Russia for Russians" has increasingly been used to assault what ethnic Russians call "people of Caucasian nationality," that is, people who come from the Caucasus region, both the Russian republics of the North Caucasus and the independent South Caucasus countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Here, ethnic Russians see no difference between people who are citizens of the Russian Federation and those who are not.
Russian extremists have created problems for Putin in the past, but he has not been overly concerned with them. The September violence in the northern city of Kondopoga, however, might be seen as a watershed. Although targeting Caucasians is nothing new, the scale of the events -- involving several hundred, mostly ethnic Russians -- and the level of their political organization distinguishes this rioting.
Later, several thousand Kondopoga residents participated in a meeting in which there was an attempt to create an independent militia (druzhina) to defend ethnic Russian residents, and an independent committee was created as a parallel organ of power.
There is evidence that Kondopoga residents have a deep distrust of the regime and see Putin as concerned for minorities -- including Caucasians -- but not for Russians. The supposed anti-Russian nature of the regime is underlined by the belief that Putin does not trust the Russian Army to resolve the conflict in Chechnya, but is instead relying on forces controlled by Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov.
Russian nationalism could be transformed into a viable political force that could exploit social grievances by wrapping them in a cloak of ethnic animus. Putin seems to think the conflict with Georgia has created an opportunity to incorporate ethnic nationalism into government policy and thereby control it. In a speech about the Georgian deportations, Putin said that Kondopoga residents had legitimate grievances and that the state should devote particular attention to the problems of the "korennoi" (native) population of the Russian Federation.
This statement can be interpreted as a necessity for the state to pay special attention to citizens of the Russian Federation as opposed to foreigners, but it can also be read as a call to support ethnic Russians. And this is how it has been taken by the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, one of the most influential Russian nationalist parties. The movement has tried to use Kondopoga as a springboard for broad political action, with the ultimate goal of creating a society based on the principle "Russia for Russians."
Appeals to Russian nationalism are not, of course, a Putin invention. Soviet dictator Josef Stalin made such appeals, but Stalin enjoyed absolute power and was a charismatic leader. Putin's situation is entirely different, so playing with nationalism in a multiethnic state could be a dangerous enterprise. Such passions could easily get out of control. Putin understands this. However, the fact that he is engaging in such policies under the guise of the conflict with Georgia could mean that he is yielding to public pressure. That in itself could be an indication that Putin's system of managed democracy is not as stable or in control as many observers have come to believe.
Dmitry Shlapentokh is currently associate professor of history at the University of Indiana.