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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 43, 00-03-01

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

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

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 43, 1 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ANOTHER ARREST IN CONNECTION WITH ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT
  • [02] COMMUNISTS THREATEN TO PULL OUT OF NEW ARMENIAN CABINET
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT CONFIRMS CHECHENS ARE BEING TREATED IN
  • [04] RUSSIA AGAIN ACCUSES GEORGIA OF HARBORING CHECHEN MILITANTS
  • [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CONSULTS WITH HEAD OF TURKMEN GAS PIPELINE
  • [06] ...AS TURKMENISTAN ACCUSES U.S., AZERBAIJAN
  • [07] TWELVE CANDIDATES QUALIFY FOR GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL...
  • [08] ...AS GEORGIAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE ANNOUNCES BOYCOTT
  • [09] GEORGIAN COURT REJECTS PLEA TO BAN JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
  • [10] RUSSIA WANTS KAZAKHSTAN TO EXTRADITE ALLEGED SEPARATISTS
  • [11] SOME OPPOSITION PARTIES IN KAZAKHSTAN ADVOCATE JOINING

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] U.S. WARNS BELGRADE OVER MONTENEGRIN-ALBANIAN BORDER...
  • [13] ...WHILE THAT FRONTIER IS RE-OPENED
  • [14] RUSSIAN PARATROOPER WOUNDED IN KOSOVA...
  • [15] ...AS IS UN EMPLOYEE IN BUJANOVAC
  • [16] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS ABOUT SOUTHWESTERN SERBIA
  • [17] U.S. TROOPS TO STAY IN OWN SECTOR?
  • [18] WORKERS RALLY IN SKOPJE
  • [19] FRANCE TO TAKE STEPS AGAINST KARADZIC?
  • [20] U.S. OPENS BUSINESS OFFICE IN CROATIA
  • [21] HDZ OFFICIAL QUITS TO WORK FOR MESIC
  • [22] SERBIAN REFUGEES READY TO GO HOME
  • [23] CROATIAN SECRET SERVICE AGENT ARRESTED
  • [24] ROMANIAN ELECTIONS GENERATE CONSPIRACY THEORIES
  • [25] ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY APPEALS TO COALITION PARTNERS
  • [26] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT BUREAU CRITICIZES PRESIDENT LUCINSCHI
  • [27] BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OUTLAWS MACEDONIAN PARTY

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [28] PUTIN'S UNITY PARTY REACHES FOR POWER

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ANOTHER ARREST IN CONNECTION WITH ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT

    SHOOTINGS

    Armenian Interior Ministry official Armen

    Harutiunian was arrested late on 28 February on suspicion of

    having failed to inform his superiors that the killings of a

    number of senior parliamentary and government figures were

    being plotted, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 February, quoting a

    spokesman for the Armenian Prosecutor-General's Office.

    Fifteen people have been detained to date in connection with

    the 27 October shootings, including the five gunmen who

    committed the killings. LF

    [02] COMMUNISTS THREATEN TO PULL OUT OF NEW ARMENIAN CABINET

    Senior Armenian Communist Party member Frunze Kharatian

    warned on 29 February that his party will recall its newly

    appointed cabinet minister, Leonid Hakobian, if the new

    government rejects the party's demands for a state monopoly

    on the import of gasoline and grain, Armenpress reported.

    Observers believe that gasoline imports are controlled by a

    cartel of some seven or eight individuals close to the

    Yerkrapah union of veterans of the Karabakh war. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT CONFIRMS CHECHENS ARE BEING TREATED IN

    BAKU

    On his return to Baku on 28 February following a visit

    to the U.S., Heidar Aliev told journalists that a 24 February

    Russian Foreign Ministry statement that wounded Chechens are

    undergoing hospital treatment in Baku is correct, Turan

    reported on 29 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 February

    2000). But Aliev stressed that those Chechens are civilians,

    not fighters, and that during his last visit to Moscow he had

    informed acting Russian President Vladimir Putin of their

    presence in the Azerbaijani capital. Aliev said that it would

    be "inhuman" to deny the injured Chechens medical care. LF

    [04] RUSSIA AGAIN ACCUSES GEORGIA OF HARBORING CHECHEN MILITANTS

    Colonel General Yevgenii Bolkhovitin, who commands the North

    Caucasus detachment of the Russian Border Guard Force,

    charged on 29 February that an unspecified number of Chechen

    militants are hiding in the Chechen-populated areas of

    Georgia's Akhmeta Raion, which borders on Chechnya, Caucasus

    Press reported. Georgian National Security Ministry spokesman

    Gela Suladze told Caucasus Press later the same day that he

    cannot confirm Bolkhovitin's allegations and what his sources

    are. LF

    [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CONSULTS WITH HEAD OF TURKMEN GAS PIPELINE

    CONSORTIUM...

    In Tbilisi on 29 February, Eduard Shevardnadze

    met with Edward G. Smith, head of the U.S. consortium PSG,

    which is negotiating with the Turkmen government to build the

    planned Trans-Caspian gas export pipeline, Caucasus Press

    reported. Shevardnadze assured Smith that Georgia will not

    create obstacles to implementation of the project, and he

    expressed the hope that disagreements between Azerbaijan and

    Turkmenistan over the use of the planned pipeline will not

    prevent the project going ahead. Azerbaijan wants the use of

    50 percent of the planned pipeline's throughput capacity of

    16 billion cubic meters per year, while Ashgabat is prepared

    to allow Azerbaijan to transport only 5 billion cubic meters.

    LF

    [06] ...AS TURKMENISTAN ACCUSES U.S., AZERBAIJAN

    Speaking in

    Ashgabat on 29 February, Turkmenistan's Oil and Gas Minister

    Reidjepbai Orazov said that Azerbaijan's demand to use 50

    percent of the planned pipeline's throughput capacity

    constitutes a violation of the Declaration of Intent signed

    last November by the governments of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan,

    Georgia and Turkey, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    19 November 1999). Azerbaijan's claim is supported by the

    U.S. Orazov said that by adding what he termed "a political

    dimension" to the pipeline negotiations, Azerbaijan and

    Georgia risk thwarting the entire project and thus losing out

    on transit tariffs. He added that Ashgabat had suggested that

    Baku and Tbilisi use those tariffs to repay their respective

    debts to Turkmenistan for supplies of natural gas for

    domestic consumption. The combined debts of the two countries

    since 1995 amount to some $400 million. LF

    [07] TWELVE CANDIDATES QUALIFY FOR GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL...

    Twelve of the 16 people whose applications to contest the 9

    April Georgian presidential election have been approved by

    the Central Electoral Commission met the 29 February deadline

    to submit at least 50,000 signatures supporting their

    candidacy, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. They are

    incumbent President Eduard Shevardnadze, Adjar Supreme

    Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze, parliamentary deputy

    Djumber Patiashvili, Mdzleveli Political Association member

    Avtandil Djoglidze, Progressive Party Chairman Vazha Zhgenti,

    National Ideology Party Chairman Zurab Gagnidze, former

    Finance Minister Guram Absandze, David Aghmashenebeli Party

    chairman Roin Liparteliani, independent candidate Tengiz

    Asanidze, Unity of Georgian Nationalists leader Gia

    Mamaladze, Georgian Corporation of Lawyers chairman Kartlos

    Gharibashvili, and Independent Association of the Unemployed

    representative Gela Gelashvili. Ushangi Dondzhashvili, acting

    head of the St. Ilia the Righteous Society Gia Chkhikvadze,

    and Georgian Communist Party Central Committee chairman Ivane

    Tsiklauri failed to collect the required number of

    signatures. LF.

    [08] ...AS GEORGIAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE ANNOUNCES BOYCOTT

    National Independence Party of Georgia Irakli Tsereteli told

    journalists in Tbilisi on 29 February that 14 of the 25

    opposition parties aligned in the recently formed Georgian

    Center for Democracy and Freedom will do their best to

    prevent the holding of the presidential poll, Caucasus Press

    reported. Those parties include the Labor Party, the United

    Republican Party, and the Greens. Tamara Chkheidze of the

    Ilia Chavchavadze Society told RFE/RL's Georgian Service on 9

    February that the center hoped to pressure the Georgian

    leadership to postpone the presidential poll until November,

    five years after the previous poll, as stipulated by the

    constitution. That delay, Chkheidze said, is needed in order

    to revise the election law to create more or less equal

    conditions for all candidates and to conduct a population

    census that would serve as the basis for new voter lists and

    thus help to prevent widespread falsification of the vote. LF

    [09] GEORGIAN COURT REJECTS PLEA TO BAN JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

    A

    Tbilisi district court on 29 February rejected an appeal by

    Georgian parliamentary deputy Guram Sharadze to revoke the

    legal registration of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Caucasus Press

    reported. Sharadze had argued that the sect is anti-national

    and directed against the Orthodox Church. A group of experts

    appointed by the court rejected that argument. Sharadze said

    on 29 February that he will appeal the court ruling, adding

    that the legal registration of religious sects in Georgia is

    impossible, given that no law on religion exists. LF

    [10] RUSSIA WANTS KAZAKHSTAN TO EXTRADITE ALLEGED SEPARATISTS

    Russia's Minister for CIS Affairs Leonid Drachevskii has

    asked the Prosecutor-General's Office to make a formal

    request to Kazakhstan to hand over an unspecified number of

    the 12 Russian citizens arrested last year for planning to

    declare an independent Russian Altai Republic on the

    territory of eastern Kazakhstan, Interfax reported on 29

    February. A spokesman for Kazakhstan's National Security

    Committee said in December that the men would not be handed

    over to Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 November and 6

    December 1999). LF

    [11] SOME OPPOSITION PARTIES IN KAZAKHSTAN ADVOCATE JOINING


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] U.S. WARNS BELGRADE OVER MONTENEGRIN-ALBANIAN BORDER...

    State

    Department spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 29

    February that "the United States is concerned by the Yugoslav

    Army setting up a checkpoint last weekend and again today

    near the border crossing on Montenegro's border with Albania.

    We are watching the situation closely and remain in close

    contact with the Montenegrin authorities.... We call on

    Belgrade to dismantle the Yugoslav Army checkpoint and to

    join the Montenegrin and Albania governments in efforts to

    build peace and prosperity in Southeast Europe," an RFE/RL

    correspondent reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 February

    2000). The spokesman also praised the Montenegrin authorities

    "for their show of restraint and their efforts to prevent the

    situation from escalating." PM

    [13] ...WHILE THAT FRONTIER IS RE-OPENED

    On 29 February, Yugoslav

    Army troops manned two checkpoints just inside the

    Montenegrin-Albanian frontier at Bozaj, an RFE/RL

    correspondent reported from Podgorica. The soldiers wrote

    down the license plate numbers of vehicles crossing the

    frontier but made no attempt to halt traffic. The border post

    is staffed by Montenegrin police. Some 50 vehicles and 300

    people pass through the recently reopened crossing daily,

    Reuters reported. The Yugoslav Army does not recognize the

    Montenegrin-Albanian agreement to reopen the crossing, which

    has been closed to all but local traffic since 1997.

    Elsewhere, "Vesti" reported on 1 March that the atmosphere at

    Bozaj is "peaceful" but that the Montenegrin authorities are

    concerned about the army's "increased military activity" at

    several places in the mountainous republic. PM

    [14] RUSSIAN PARATROOPER WOUNDED IN KOSOVA...

    In Moscow on 1

    March, a Defense Ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS that

    unknown persons shot and wounded a Russian paratrooper in

    Skenderaj while he was on duty. Doctors operated on him and

    described his condition as "medium grave." French KFOR

    spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Chanliau told Reuters:

    "We know nothing of the identity of the assailant nor the

    motive." Chanliau noted that the soldier was shot in an area

    that Russian troops do not usually patrol. Peacekeepers are

    investigating the shooting. This is the second time since the

    beginning of the year that a Russian peacekeeper has been

    shot, the Russian news agency added. Skenderaj is a

    stronghold of the former Kosova Liberation Army. PM

    [15] ...AS IS UN EMPLOYEE IN BUJANOVAC

    A UN spokesman said in New

    York on 29 February that unidentified men stopped a clearly

    marked UN vehicle near Bujanovac in southwestern Serbia and

    shot Marcel Grogan in the leg. He then underwent successful

    surgery at the U.S. Camp Bondsteel in nearby Kosova. Grogan

    is Irish and an employee of the UN's humanitarian affairs

    office in Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 29 February

    2000). PM

    [16] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS ABOUT SOUTHWESTERN SERBIA

    Vladan Batic of the opposition Alliance for Change said in

    Belgrade on 29 February that "violence has escalated again"

    in the Presevo-Bujanovac-Medvedja region, Reuters reported.

    He stressed that "it is high time that the international

    community put an end to Albanian terrorism and protect

    innocent victims instead of making threats against the

    Yugoslav Army." In Presevo, ethnic Albanian Mayor Riza Halimi

    described local inter-ethnic relations as good. He blamed the

    Serbian paramilitary police for causing a series of incidents

    in December. PM

    [17] U.S. TROOPS TO STAY IN OWN SECTOR?

    Defense Department

    spokesman Kenneth Bacon said in Washington on 29 February

    that General Henry Shelton, who heads the Joint Chiefs of

    Staff, wants U.S. troops in Kosova to concentrate on their

    assignments in the U.S. sector. Bacon stressed that U.S.

    peacekeepers should not take part in "out-of-sector" missions

    on a regular basis, AP reported. His remarks come in the wake

    of recent U.S. participation in a French-led search for

    illegal weapons in Mitrovica. Also in Washington, NATO's

    Supreme Commander in Europe General Wesley Clark defended

    U.S. participation in missions in all five sectors of Kosova.

    He said that the sectors are not "zones of occupation as in

    post-World War II Berlin. These are just tactical boundary

    areas that we'd have in any military operation." PM

    [18] WORKERS RALLY IN SKOPJE

    Some 15,000 workers took part in a

    trade-union rally on 29 February to protest the economic

    policies of the center-right government, the World Bank, and

    the IMF. Union leader Zivko Tolevski demanded that the

    government not close down loss-making large communist-era

    companies. He also condemned Western sanctions against

    Serbia. PM

    [19] FRANCE TO TAKE STEPS AGAINST KARADZIC?

    French President

    Jacques Chirac said in The Hague on 29 February: "I want to

    stress France's determination to [provide] support in the

    arrests...notably of those who represent ethnic cleansing in

    its worst aspects, that is to say [former Bosnian Serb leader

    Radovan] Karadzic," Reuters reported. His remarks come in

    apparent reply to remarks by former war crimes tribunal Chief

    Prosecutor Louise Arbour and others to the effect that

    indicted war criminals roam freely in the French sector of

    Bosnia. Meanwhile in New York, the UN's Jacques Klein said

    that "Karadzic is still as far as I know from sources

    wandering around the eastern part of [Bosnia]." He also

    suggested that there is perhaps a lack of "national will,

    political will that is," to arrest him and send him to The

    Hague, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. PM

    [20] U.S. OPENS BUSINESS OFFICE IN CROATIA

    The U.S. government's

    Overseas Private Investment Corporation opened an office in

    Zagreb on 29 February to assist U.S. businesses in investing

    in Croatia. PM

    [21] HDZ OFFICIAL QUITS TO WORK FOR MESIC

    Vesna Skare-Ozbolt, who

    is a prominent politician in the moderate wing of the

    Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), resigned her post as

    party deputy vice president on 29 February. Her move comes in

    response to criticism from some party officials of her

    decision to work as an aide to President Stipe Mesic. She is

    the most prominent former aide to the late President Franjo

    Tudjman whom Mesic has asked to stay on. PM

    [22] SERBIAN REFUGEES READY TO GO HOME

    Veljko Dzakula, who heads

    Croatia's Serbian Democratic Forum, said in Zagreb on 29

    February that some 16,500 Serbs want to go back to their

    homes in Croatia. He noted that some Croatian officials have

    discouraged the refugees from returning. He said that this is

    the case especially in the Knin, Gracac, and Pakrac regions.

    PM

    [23] CROATIAN SECRET SERVICE AGENT ARRESTED

    Police in Zagreb

    arrested an unidentified agent of the Croatian Intelligence

    Service on 29 February. He was in possession of 18 kilograms

    of explosives. Croatia's new government has pledged to

    uncover links between the intelligence services and the

    criminal underworld. PM

    [24] ROMANIAN ELECTIONS GENERATE CONSPIRACY THEORIES

    In an open

    letter to President Emil Constantinescu, Party of Social

    Democracy in Romania (PDSR) Chairman Ion Iliescu has

    demanded that the president respond to an "anonymous

    letter" that Iliescu claims to have received. The 29

    February letter outlines alleged plans by the presidential

    office to obstruct Iliescu's candidacy for a third term as

    president; those plans supposedly range from character

    assassination to actual assassination, the latter to be

    achieved either by shooting Iliescu or infecting him with a

    virus that causes heart failure, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau

    reported. Responding to the allegations, presidential

    spokesman Razvan Popescu said the PDSR has "made a habit"

    of attributing "false documents" to Constantinescu that are

    becoming "more and more puerile." "If now Mr. Iliescu is

    launching scenarios of bacterial assassination, one wonders

    what will he do when the electoral campaign really begins,"

    Popescu commented. MS

    [25] ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY APPEALS TO COALITION PARTNERS

    The Democratic Party leadership on 29 February appealed to

    its partners in the ruling coalition to help "overcome the

    political impasse" created by Victor Babiuc's resignation

    from the party and "make it possible" for the premier to

    appoint a new defense minister to replace Babiuc as soon as

    possible. In an apparent attempt to avoid the apology that

    the National Liberal Party (PNL) has demanded from

    Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Traian Basescu for having

    said the PNL "stole the Senate chairmanship" from his

    party, the Democrats said they regret if "some

    formulations" used by their representatives "affected the

    public image of the PNL." PNL Chairman Mircea Ionescu-

    Quintus responded that he will meet with his party's

    leadership to discuss the Democrats' appeal, RFE/RL's

    Bucharest bureau reported. MS

    [26] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT BUREAU CRITICIZES PRESIDENT LUCINSCHI

    The Standing Bureau of Moldova's parliament said on 29

    February that President Petru Lucinschi is attempting to

    "discredit and destabilize" the legislature, RFE/RL's

    Chisinau bureau reported. Responding to Lucinschi's 25

    February statement that "a few parliamentarians have

    usurped power," the bureau said the parliament is a forum

    that represents different political forces and whose

    decisions are "collective by their very nature." The bureau

    said it is "significant" that the president's statement

    came shortly after the parliamentary bureau changed its

    line-up--a move that "caused Lucinschi's discontent." MS

    [27] BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OUTLAWS MACEDONIAN PARTY

    The

    Constitutional Court on 29 February ruled by a vote of nine

    to three to outlaw OMO-Ilinden-PIRIN, a party that advocates

    autonomy for the Pirin region and regards the region's

    inhabitants as of Macedonian, rather than Bulgarian,

    nationality, BTA reported. The party's full name is United

    Macedonian Organization-Ilinden-Party of Economic Development

    and Integration of the Population (the last part was chosen

    to produce the acronym PIRIN). It was set up in February 1998

    and registered following a Sofia tribunal ruling one year

    later. The party won three seats on municipal councils in

    last year's local elections. The decision to register the

    party was appealed by 61 deputies from various political

    formations. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [28] PUTIN'S UNITY PARTY REACHES FOR POWER

    By Sophie Lambroschini

    At a constituent congress of more than 1,000 delegates

    in Moscow on 27 February, Unity leaders said the movement

    should become a powerful, national party that could rival the

    country's only successfully organized national party--the

    Communists.

    They also said Unity should play a role similar to that

    of the Rally for the Republic party, which was Charles de

    Gaulle's chief political support during his transformation of

    France into a presidential republic in the 1950s.

    Similarly, acting President Vladimir Putin sees the

    future of Unity, created as a pro-Putin movement not long

    before the December 1999 State Duma elections, as a party

    supporting his leadership. Unity fared well in last December,

    gaining some 23 percent of the vote to come in a very close

    second to the Communists. Its success apparently encouraged

    the Kremlin to have yet another go at an enterprise that has

    so far failed in independent Russia--the construction of a

    political party directly backing the executive.

    In his address to the congress, Putin named the

    Communist Party as a good example of the kind of organization

    Unity should become. "There are a lot of untapped [political]

    forces among the people and the state institutes," he said.

    "It's wrong to wait for the situation to change by itself. We

    have to create conditions where several national parties

    function with ideas based on a modern model. You can think

    what you like about communist ideology, you can criticize or

    support it. But you cannot not admit that there already is

    such a party. I hope that Unity will become a real

    representative of a powerful political force."

    Putin admitted that previous attempts at creating a

    party of power were failures. He said that was because

    earlier, such parties had counted on the state's

    administrative resources instead of seeking popular support:

    "We have already made attempts to create parties strongly

    supporting those in power. But their success depended mainly

    on the presence of their representatives in the executive. As

    a result, the parties of power became parties of civil

    servants."

    Two previous "parties of power"--former Prime Minister

    Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Choice and former Prime Minister

    Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia--enjoyed some

    success in parliamentary elections and served to dilute the

    anti-Kremlin opposition in the parliament. But once their

    legislative duties were over, the popularity of both parties

    waned.

    For the moment, Unity's delegates seem to differ little

    from the Our Home Is Russia bureaucrats. Almost half of

    Unity's delegates hold office in either government or

    legislative structures at the federal or local levels. They

    are links in the political web the movement is weaving across

    Russia. Today, Unity boasts members in 88 regions--only one

    fewer than the Communists, who are represented in all 89

    regions.

    Unity's 27 February congress was conducted in a familiar

    atmosphere of sober speeches, unanimous votes, and solemn

    pledges to defend Russia's interests. Despite promising

    political and spiritual renewal, the movement's leaders

    appeared to have a hard time shedding their Soviet-era

    habits.

    The first throwback to tradition was the venue for the

    congress--the Kremlin State Palace, where Communist Party

    congresses took place until 1991. A long drop-cloth bore

    Unity's symbol, a Russian brown bear, and the list of regions

    where Unity is already established.

    There were, however, subtle differences: while Soviet

    rhetoric called the Communist Party the "party of the

    people," Unity has given itself a more staid moniker: "party

    of the citizens."

    In a recent analysis, political scientist Andrei

    Piontkovskii said that the similarities between Unity and the

    Communists are understandable. He said Russia's entire

    political and business elite is made up of the people who

    formed the Soviet political class.

    Piontkovskii also noted that Unity members are virtually

    interchangeable with Communist Party members, having the same

    background, social status, political instincts, and even

    physical appearance. He pointed out that the new party of

    power has adopted some classic Communist ideas, notably the

    consolidation of society around common enemies: namely,

    "traitors," the West, and the Chechens

    The author is a Moscow-based RFE/RL correspondent.

    01-03-00


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


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