Thursday 19th of April 2018, 21:32 CET
Ukraine and Turkey to establish free-trade zone
April 5, 2004

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Ukraine plans to sign an agreement with Turkey this year on the establishment of a free-trade zone, according to the press office of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers. As reported by a Rosbalt correspondent, the agreement was reached during a meeting between Ukrainian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Trade double
The Turkish prime minister said his government is currently working on a proposed agreement, and both sides expressed the hope that following the signing of the document, bilateral trade between Turkey and Ukraine will double. 'For that to happen, the most important thing is to remove the barriers standing in the way of business,' said Yanukovich.
Yanukovich, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
National Movement wins Georgian elections
March 31, 2004
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

National Movement
Results of the March 28 parliamentary elections suggest that President Saakashvili's National Movement-Democrats party would be just short of two-thirds of seats in the new legislative body. Only around 30 mandates will go to the opposition.

Only one other
With 1,518,000 votes counted out of approximately 1,532,521 vites cast, the ruling National Movement-Democrats party garnered 67,02% and the moderate the Rightist Opposition coalition - a coalition of the New Rights and the Industrialists - 7,62% of the votes. None of the other parties cleared 7% threshold necessary to secure seats in the Parliament.

135 Seats
If these figures will receive the final approval by the Central Election Commission (CEC)President Saakashvili's party would get 135 MP seats, and the Rightist Opposition - 15 seats, among those 150 MPs that are elected by party lists.

74 remain seated
March 28 elections did not affect 74 MPs elected in the single-mandate constituencies in November 2 elections, who keep their seats. Run-off elections are scheduled in one - Tchiatura single-mandate district. Remaining ten seats are occupied by the representatives of the Tbilisi-based Abkhazia government-in-exile.

Abashidze: 6 seats
17 MPs out of 74 elected in the single-mandate constituencies ('majoritarian' MPs) are the members of the ruling party; the Rightist Opposition has 8 MPs (4 from the New Rights; 4 from Industrialists); the opposition Labor Party - 4 and Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze-backed Revival Union - 6.
19 of these 'majoritarian' deputies were endorsed by then-ruling ex-President Shevardnadze's party. It is expected that most of them would be loyal to the new authorities. 20 'majoritarian' MPs were non-partisan, independent candidates.

Not enough for constitutional changes
Hence the ruling party will have 152 seats in the parliament - five votes short of 157 required for passing the constitutional changes. The biggest opposition faction - the Rightist Opposition will count on 23 votes.

Not final
However, these figures might change. CEC Chairman Zurab Tchiaberashvili said at a news briefing on March 31 that the elections can be cancelled on several precincts of Adjara and Kvemo Kartli. Cancellation of Kvemo Kartli precincts would hit hard the Rightist Opposition.

Already appointed
On the other hand, a part of the majoritiarian MPs, elected in the single-mandate constituencies have already been appointed to executive government and will have to give up their MP credentials. Among them are the Prosecutor General Irakli Okruashvili, Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze, Healthcare Minister Gigi Tsereteli, President's Representative in the Imereti region Davit Mumladze, Adjarian Interior Minister Jemal Gogitidze. If they are to retain their executive positions, the repeat elections should be held in the corresponding constituencies.

No single-party parliament
President Saakashvili said on March 24, that he would not like to see "confrontational opposition" in the legislative body. After the elections he said that speculations over the threat of single-party parliament are "groundless."

"Do not forget that 75 MPs have already been elected in the single-mandate constituencies. According to my calculations at least 40-45 of them represent the opposition parties, or the political forces, which backed ex-President Shevardnadze," President Saakashvili said.
However, as the political analysts say President Saakashvili exaggerates the opposition stance of the single-mandate MPs, counting former supporters of Shevardnadze and independents as opposition. Traditionally in Georigan politics, majoritarian MPs preferred to cooperate with the government.

Saakashvili is correct in reminding that "the ruling party itself represents a coalition of several parties and we have witnessed for several times already that there are disagreements between them".
The National Movement-Democrats is a bloc of two coalitions - Saakashvili's National Movement and Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania's United Democrats. These two coalitions include the Republican Party, supporters of Georgia's late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia and supporters of Chairperson of the outgoing Parliament Nino Burjanadze. Some political analysts already speculate that the ruling coalition might split in the Parliament, but not in the near future.
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Zhvania, Zurab (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Bulgaria, Romania "among US closest allies"
March 30, 2004

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Backing Bush
Bulgaria and Romania, two former communist countries that joined NATO are among US closest allies in the war in Iraq and are still behind Washington despite all doubts concerning that war.
That was written in an analysis published by AFP news agency. Unlike the other US allies, Bulgaria and Romania backed US President George Bush reasons for the war, the analysis reads on.

Right position
Bulgaria's Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Ivanov said that in his opinion the country's position was the right one. He also pointed out that Bulgaria has made considerable efforts to find a compromise, but Saddam Hussein's regime was reluctant to cooperate.

Logical reaction
Romanian political expert Kornel Kodica thinks that the pro American position of the two neighbouring countries was "a logical reaction", as for years they have been in a geographical isolation from Western Europe. In his words Bulgaria and Romania are positive that they were invited to NATO due to US and are especially grateful for that.
Bulgaria and Romania now will keep their peacekeeping units in Iraq intact, despite Spain's decision to withdraw from the country.

Hosting US bases
The two Balkan countries are anxious to host US bases if Washington decides to relocate its European structures, AFP article goes on. Bulgaria's Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Ivanov pointed out that if US bases were deployed in Bulgaria it would increase the region's security and would speed up the modernization of the Bulgarian army.
Ivanov, Igor (M) Politician Russia
Related topic(s):
IMF approves USD 600 mio. for Ukraine
March 30, 2004

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The Board of Directors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a stand-by arrangement for Ukraine in an amount equivalent to US$605 million for a period of 12 months ending on March 28, 2005.

In case of need
This arrangement suggests a certain amount of funds will be transferred to Ukrainian accounts at the request of Ukraine in case of need.

Improved performance
Ukraine's macroeconomic performance has improved substantially, the government reported. The government has a leeway to raise funds by issuing Eurobonds and the World Bank may approve a $175m loan to Ukraine.
Russia launches naval maneuvers in the Black Sea
March 29, 2004
The Star Online

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The Russian navy on Monday launched a large-scale naval exercise in the Black Sea involving dozens of ships.
The maneuvers, conducted in the central and eastern parts of the Black Sea, involved 17 warships, 36 support vessels and 12 aircraft, the Black Sea Fleet said in a statement carried by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Planned exercise
The fleet's chief, Adm. Vladimir Masorin, reported on the planned exercise during a weekend meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at his residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The Black Sea Fleet is based at Ukraine's port of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. After several years of tense arguments following the 1991 Soviet collapse, Russia and Ukraine divided the former Soviet fleet of ships and agreed to jointly operate the Sevastopol base.

Masorin reported to Putin that in September the Black Sea Fleet ships will sail to the Mediterranean for joint maneuvers with the Italian navy, the Interfax-Military News Agency said.
The post-Soviet funding shortage has stranded most navy ships in their harbors, but the economic revival of recent years has allowed the military to resume combat training and send its ships on longer cruises
Sochi (Russia) City
Masorin, Vladimir (M) Military person Russia
Related topic(s):
Romania and Bulgaria join NATO
March 29, 2004

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Seven countries
Romania, Bulgaria and five other former communist nations join NATO today, sealing the military alliance's shift from defending the West against the Soviet empire to fighting global terrorism.

Prime ministers of Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania meet in Washington today to mark the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's biggest expansion ever, to 26 members. A ceremony is scheduled for April 2 at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
"We've been seeking this more than 60 years and preparing at all levels for a decade," said Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, 72, in an interview in Vilnius before leaving for the U.S. "We're ready," he said, adding Lithuanians "realize how much effort fighting terrorism requires."

NATO, created 55 years ago to counter communism during the Cold War, is adding 200,000 military personnel to its existing 2.8 million as it seeks to fight terrorism in places like Afghanistan. New members will spend a combined $4 billion a year to meet NATO standards, boosting sales at companies including Lockheed Martin Corp., the No. 1 U.S. defense contractor, and European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., Europe's biggest aerospace company.

Rapid-reaction force
NATO aims to create a rapid-reaction force, to reach full operational capability by October 2006, that will be able to move 20,000 troops anywhere in the world in as little as a week.
"No other organization has proven as dynamic as NATO, and as capable of adapting to changing circumstances," Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a speech in Warsaw this month. "NATO is already doing its part" to fight terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, "and we will do more."

Closer to Russia
The last expansion occurred in 1999, when NATO added Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, who will join the European Union on May 1. Today's enlargement moves the alliance Eastward to Russia's border near St. Petersburg, making all Eastern European EU entrants also part of the alliance.
Russia opposed the expansion, which leaves its Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea surrounded by NATO countries. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov called the expansion "offensive" and warned it considers the inclusion of former eastern bloc countries a threat, press agency Interfax reported Thursday.

Land link to Turkey
Romania, Bulgaria, two Balkan nations on the Black Sea coast that plan to join the EU in 2007, and Slovakia, which was created in 1993 with the breakup of Czechoslovakia, give NATO a direct land link between European allies and Turkey, something NATO lacked. Turkey is NATO's only predominately Muslim member.

Faster response
That means troops and supplies can be transported to operations in the Middle East and Central Asia not only by air, but also truck and rail, according to Andrew Brookes, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
That's important for the organization's goal of being able to move troops rapidly beyond Europe to battlefields anywhere, in line with its evolving mission, Brookes said.

Broader support
`This enlargement brings in people who are keen to show their credentials and want to cooperate,' he said. `And the alliance's broader support, which now includes essentially all of Europe, means its decisions will carry more weight.'
The new allies already contribute to missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and to the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq.

Money is limited
Still, money is limited. The new members' combined defense budget of about $4 billion a year, including $1.4 billion for Romania, is about the same size as Poland's alone and less than 1 percent of total defense spending by current NATO members.
Romania, the largest of the new NATO countries, has already upgraded 90 Soviet-made fighters to NATO standards under a $500 million contract with Israel's Elbit Industries. It is upgrading dozens of helicopters, and buying used carrier planes from the U.S. Navy and warships from the British navy.
Related topic(s):
Ukraine probes Tartar unrest in Crimea
March 24, 2004
BBC News Europe

Written by Helen Fawkes
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, has sent three top security chiefs to Crimea to investigate ethnic conflict in the region.
Three people have been stabbed in Crimea since Tuesday in fighting between Crimean Tartars and Ukrainians.

Three officials
The incidents sparked a protest involving hundreds of Crimean Tatars.
Ukraine's prosecutor-general, interior minister and the security service's deputy head are due to start their work in the Crimean capital on Thursday.

The trouble flared on Tuesday when a young Crimean Tartar was attacked with a knife by a gang of men in the Crimean capital of Simferopol.
This led to violence between groups of Crimean Tartars and Ukrainians.
Two men were stabbed and a number of people were arrested.
On Wednesday, more than 600 Crimean Tartars protested outside the city's police station.

Deportation anniversary
There has been conflict between Ukrainians and Crimean Tartars in the past.
But it is feared there will be an increase in ethnic tension as the 60th anniversary of the forced deportation of Tartars from the Crimea is in May.

Tartar leaders - who are calling for greater rights, especially over land distribution - are expected to organise a series of protests to mark the anniversary.

Around 200,000 Crimean Tartars were exiled to central Asia; an estimated 40% died in the first few years.
It was only during the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s that they were allowed to return to the Crimea.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Hotels in Simferopol
March 22, 2004
Brama Travel Board

Written by Various
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Ask for room 251-253 in Hotel Ukraina. The hotel is fully renovated and cost approximately 120 hr/night.
The Hotel Ukraina is OK and easy to find. You can walk or take marshrutka up the street which proceeds south from the train station.
The hotel is 1.5 km, on your left.

There is a very small (4 rooms only) hotel "Valensia" right beside the central supermarket (Univermag).
They have one small room for 100 Grivnas and if it will be avaliable, you will enjoy it better then a room in "Ukraine" for the same money.

There is also hotel "Stroitelnaya" where you can get a room for 40 Grivnas. It located behind central market, on Ob'ezdnaya street.
Related topic(s):
Saakashvili and Abashidze strike a Deal
March 18, 2004
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Tensions defused as President Saakashvili and Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze said after talks that deal has been reached and economic sanctions will be lifted. Saakashvili told reporters after the talks "agreement over all main issues has been reached." Aslan Abashidze described talks as "very useful."
"All the disputable issues have been settled," Abashidze said after the talks.

Free election
"We have discussed all the key issues, including holding of free election, free movement of people, free election campaigning by the parties," Mikheil Saakashvili said.
The president also said that the General Prosecutor will dispatch group of investigators to Batumi to jointly reconsider cases of those persons arrested for political reasons.

"One more issue discussed during talks was disarmament of armed groups in Adjara. This means restoration of supremacy of law in Georgia, including on the Adjarian territory," Mikheil Saakashvili added.

Saakashvili also said that the Georgia's President will have a permanent representative to the Autonomous Republic.
"The President's representative, who along with the local authorities will control the situation in the customs and in the port of Batumi in order to provide the central authorities with information about customs operations and ensure transparency of mobilization of taxes," Mikheil Saakashvili said.

Abashidze agreed to:
• disarm paramilitary forces
• secure free and fair elections
• secure free campaigning of the opposition
• release political prisoners
In return Saakashvili pledged to lift
economic sanctions by 24:00 March 18.
"Now the main thing is to fulfill the achieved agreements. I promise that I will lift the economic sanctions from 24:00 tonight," President said.

No personal confrontation
President Saakashvili also made a conciliatory gesture and said he has "no personal confrontation with the Adjarian leader." "I believe we have achieved full mutual understanding," he added.
However, earlier, when Saakashvili was barred from entering Adjarian Autonomy on March 14, described Abashidze as "a middle-aged feudal." The incident triggered crisis, which led to sea, land and air blockade of the defiant region.

Despite an agreement, many political analysts in Tbilisi believe that it is a short-term deal.
"The regime in Batumi is absolutely incompatible to that one in Tbilisi [central government] and it makes a major problem in this standoff and this makes a cornerstone of confrontation between Georgia's new leadership and Adjarian leader [Abashidze, who unilaterally rule the region for past decade]," Ghia Nodia of think-tank Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, says.

No guarantees
Speaking in a live broadcast of the Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 television Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania admitted that the central authorities "have no guarantees that the Adjarian leader will follow agreement and modernize its authority and accept a new rule of the game."
However, he added "I don't think that publicly announced agreement will not be implemented."

Economic sanctions
"When we threatened with economic sanctions, Adjarian leader thought that we could have implemented these sanctions, but after enforcement of the blockade he had to make concessions. Economic sanction did work," Zurab Zhvania said.

On March 16 Georgian General Prosecutor Irakli Okruashvili announced that six Adjarian officials, including security minister and deputy interior minister are wanted by the law enforcers for alleged harassment of journalists and opposition supporters.
But those on the list of wanted represent foothold of Abashidze's power in the Autonomy and it is unlikely that Abashidze will agree on their arrest.
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Zhvania, Zurab (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Adjara suffers blockade
March 16, 2004
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Sea and air blockade
Adjarian leadership as well as residents of the Autonomous Republic already suffers economic sanctions imposed by the central authorities on March 16. President Saakashvili announced on late on March 15 land, sea and air blockade of defiant Adjarian Autonomy, in a bid "to exhaust Adjarian regime's resources in two weeks."

Entry denied
Around ten ships were barred on Tuesday from berthing Batumi port, as vessels of the Georgian coast guard are on round-the-clock patrolling. Banks are also banned from operating in the Adjarian Autonomy.
"The ships willing to berth in the Batumi port were warned that entry is denied and now these ships will berth in the port of Poti [coastal town just north of Adjara]," Badri Bitsadze, chief of Georgian border guard department told reporters.
According to the decree issued by the President Saakashvili on March 16 the ships will be allowed to berth to port of Batumi only after the President's approval. Batumi port declared force majeure and announced it was unable to fulfill contracts.

"Abashidze alarmed"
Adjarian leader, who hosts Moscow's Mayor Yuri Luzhkov in Batumi at the moment, is concerned over cutting sea route to Batumi. Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania said that the Adjarian leader held phone conversation with him twice on March 16. "He seems to be very alarmed by the central authorities' moves. He thought that we would only make statements and would not have enforced our decisions," Zurab Zhvania told reporters in Poti.
"Autonomy is in total isolation due to Abashidze's irresponsible policy," Premier Zurab Zhvania, who chairs Poti-based anti-crisis center to tackle Adjarian tensions, told reporters on March 16.

Banking suspended
Meanwhile, President of the National Bank of Georgia Irakli Managadze announced on March 16, about suspending banking operations in the Adjara Autonomous Republic, as a part of economic sanctions against the region.
The National Bank withdrew license of the Batumi-based Maritime Bank. The Adjarian authorities made all the financial transactions exclusively via the Maritime Bank, which is a powerful financial foothold for the Adjarian leadership.
Irakli Managadze also said that all the branches of the commercial banks operating in Georgia were ordered to stop operating in the Autonomous Region.
The bank accounts of organizations linked to the Adjarian leadership have also been frozen.

President Saakashvili said that the sanctions are only against the Adjarian authorities and not against the Adjarian population. However, it seems that the local also suffer from blockade.
It is not known yet how the pensions and salaries will be distributed in the region, as the banks are banned from operating in Adjara. Reports say prices went up in the capital of Adjara Batumi.
Adjarian authorities imposed an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.

International efforts
International efforts are under way to defuse tensions between Batumi and Tbilisi. Following interventions by Washington, Moscow, Ankara and a visiting chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Georgian President said on March 15 that international community expressed support to Georgia's territorial integrity.
Mikheil Saakashvili held phone conversations with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"He - Secretary Powell urged President Saakashvili not to allow this situation in Adjara to escalate," Adam Ereli, a deputy spokesman of the U.S. Department of Sate said on March 15.

Turkey backs Saakashvili
Turkish Foreign Minister said on March 15 that Turkey supports Georgia's territorial integrity. He said "Adjara is part of Georgia and stability in the Caucasus is in the interest of Turkey and the region."

Russia neutral
Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vladimir Chkhikvishvili told reporters after the meeting with Georgian Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze on March 16, that Moscow "is neutral" in Adjara crisis.
Russian diplomat also said that Russian militaries, deployed at Batumi military base, "are ordered to remain in base and maintain neutrality."

Azerbaijan concerned about oil pipeline
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev also expressed concern over the recent tensions in Adjara and did not rule out developments in Adjara "may negatively influence" construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline (BTC). The U.S.-backed and BP-led strategic BTC pipeline is due to transport Azeri oil to Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan via Georgia. The route of the pipeline stretches around couple of hounded kilometers away from the Adjarian capital Batumi.
Sources in BP Tbilisi office told Civil Georgia that closure of borders with Adjara made it impossible to transport already shipped pipes from Batumi port to the place of construction.
However, as the source said, this will not cause a major delay of construction of the Georgian section of the BTC.
Poti (Georgia) City
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Zhvania, Zurab (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Putin re-elected
March 15, 2004
RFE/RL Russia

Written by Julie A. Corwin and Robert Coalson
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

71.2% for Putin
With 99 percent of the ballots counted, President Vladimir Putin on 14 March won Russia's presidential election, polling 71.2 percent of the vote, Russian media reported on 15 March, citing Central Election Commission (TsIK) Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov.

64.3% turnout
Voter turnout for the poll was 64.3 percent, the TsIK reported, according to
Communist Party candidate and State Duma Deputy Nikolai Kharitonov came in second with 13.7 percent, while State Duma Deputy Sergei Glazev was third with 4.1 percent, Irina Khakamada was fourth with 3.9 percent, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) candidate Oleg Malyshkin was fifth with 2 percent, and Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov was sixth with 0.8 percent of the vote.

2000 elections
In 2000, Putin received 52.9 percent of the vote, according to official results, with Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov coming in second with 29.21 percent. Official results of the 14 March election will be released no later than 25 March.

On the evening of 14 March, presidential candidates Glazev and Khakamada held a joint press conference in Moscow, at which they revealed information about purported election-law violations, reported. Khakamada reported that the Public Center for Control of the Presidential Elections had received 109 complaints.

Some examples of the alleged violations included campaigning for President Putin on the day of the election and the manipulation of voter lists that had not been properly sealed. According to Ekho Moskvy, the center had reports of violations in almost all of the districts of Moscow. There were also reported violations connected with absentee ballots.
The center was organized by Glazev and Khakamada, together with Communist Party candidate Kharitonov.
Glazev, Sergei (M) Politician Russia
Khakamada, Irina (F) Politician Russia
Kharitonov, Nikolai (M) Politician Russia
Malyshkin, Oleg (M) Politician Russia
Mironov, Sergei (M) Politician Russia
Zyuganov, Gennadii (M) Politician Russia
Related topic(s):
Fear in Batumi
March 15, 2004
Civil Georgia News

Written by Giorgi Sepashvili, Tea Gularidze
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Armed men
The mood in Batumi is solemn; people prefer to stay at homes, as armed men are patrolling Georgia's defiant region Adjara's capital.

Anti-crisis center
Georgian authorities set up an anti-crisis center, chaired by Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, based in town of Poti to tackle Adjarian crisis, following after President Saakashvili was barred from entering the region on March 14.

Curfew and empty streets
Meanwhile, defiant Adjarian leadership declared a curfew in the region, deploying paramilitary forces and armored vehicles in the capital Batumi and at its administrative border.
"People are afraid and the situation is very strained. Streets of Batumi are unusually empty. Many armed men are seen, as well as armored vehicles," Aslan Tchanishvili, who works for Batumi branch of human rights advocacy NGO Georgia's Young Lawyers' Association, told Civil Georgia.
Witnesses say that many shops and trading centers in Batumi were closed on Monday.
"Prices went up. Owners of those shops, which still are open decided to increase prices, maybe because the borders with the rest of Georgia are closed," Aslan Tchanishvili added.

People afraid, schools closed
Mzia Amaghlobeli, who is an editor of the local newspaper Batumelebi, says people in Adjara are afraid.
"Several my neighbors have already left Batumi. Who has a chance they prefer to go to Tbilisi, however main part of those people which leave the town go to nearby villages," Mzia Amaghlobeli told Civil Georgia.
Schools in Batumi also have been closed down and the newspapers were not delivered in the town on Monday. "However, Tbilisi-based television, including Rustavi 2 and Imedi continue broadcasting the region," Mzia Amaghlobeli says.

Opposition movements in Adjara, which demand region's unilateral ruler Aslan Abashidze's resignation, claim that intimidation of their activists has been intensified in recent days.
"There were around 40 cases of intimidation of our activists in recent days. Local authorities want them to leave Adjara. Supporters of the local authorities are going door-by-door to our activists and warn them to go away from Adjara," Tamaz Diasamidze of Our Adjara movement, which is a major opposition union in Adjara, told Civil Georgia.

Difficult to leave
However, it becomes more and more difficult to leave the region, as railway and air connection with rest of the country is suspended.
Newly established anti-crisis center would be used, as President Saakashvili said to provide humanitarian aid to Adjara's population as well as to help those intimidated by the Adjarian leadership.
President Saakashvili also said on March 15, that the center would carry out measures in order to "prevent unsanctioned movements."

Borders closed, no oil shipment
"Vessels of the Georgian coast guard will close Batumi port to prevent import of illegal arms in the region," Saakashvili said.
Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania says that the closing borders with Adjara would be a blow for oil shipment via Batumi ; however he added that the central authorities will not let Georgia's disintegration.
There is an oil refinery in Batumi and port in the Adjarian capital is used for shipments of oil and refined products from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan that leaves via port of Batumi.
"10-11 million tone of oil is refined annually in Batumi," Zurab Zhvania added.

The recent crisis between Tbilisi and Batumi also threatens upcoming elections, scheduled for March 28, not only in Adjara, which is notorious for highly-suspicious elections, but in entire country.
Koba Davitashvili was President Saakashvili's closest ally, but decided to go into opposition after controversial constitutional changes.
"It is less possible that the elections will be held in Adjara. I do not expect that the crisis will be overcome very soon," Koba Davitashvili said on March 15.
Some political analysts in Georgia suggest that in case elections are not held in Adjara, the part of opposition parties would cast doubts over the legitimacy of election in entire Georgia.

No fraud
Ghia Nodia of Tbilisi-based think-tank Caucasian Institute of Peace, Democracy and Development says that the recent crisis is caused by the upcoming elections.
"The central authorities do not want to hold elections in Adjara in the way they were held during previous years - with widespread ballot fraud. At the same time, the Adjarian leadership does not wish to hold elections in the way the central authorities demand. Finally, this has triggered confrontation between the sides," Ghia Nodia said.

Not optimistic
Mood is not optimistic in Tbilisi as well. Political circles in the Georgian capital suggest that Aslan Abashidze, who has unilaterally ruled the region for past decade will not give up power easily.
"Aslan Abashidze's recent moves are clear indications that he is ready to fight to end," Koba Davitashvili says.
Poti (Georgia) City
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Zhvania, Zurab (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Saakashvili barred from entering Adjara
March 14, 2004
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Refused entrance
President Saakashvili vowed earlier in March "to take control over Adjara," however he was not even permitted to travel to Georgia's defiant region on March 14. Saakashvili described an incident as "a serous challenge for the Georgian State." Officials in Tbilisi say President Saakashvili was barred from entering Adjara Autonomous Republic as armored vehicles and hundreds of armed men blocked administrative border between the Autonomous Republic and the rest of Georgia.

Negotiations in vain
Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze, who accompanied President Saakashvili, negotiated with the Adjarian side at the administrative border, however tried in vain to convince them not to prevent the President from entering Adjara.

"Saakashvili welcome, troops not"
Adjarian authorities explained that the Georgia's central authorities tried dispatch troops in Adjara under the pretext of Saakashvili's visit.
"We are not against the President's visit. He is the President of Georgia and is free to travel in any part of the country. But they intended to enter into Adjara with the troops. We will not permit this," Mayor of Batumi, Adjarian capital, Giorgi Abashidze, who is son of Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze, told reporters later.
However, President Saakashvili told reporters later that he was "accompanied only by 30 bodyguards." "There were no troops," he added.

After an incident the President's convoy turned back and left for Poti, a town near Adjara. "We will not tolerate the situation, which is in Adjara; however I decided not to carry out radical and strict measures in order to avoid bloodshed. But I am not going to step back. I remain in Poti and I will convene today a cabinet meeting here. I want to tell Adjarian population: do not obey orders of the Adjarian leadership to take arms," Mikheil Saakashvili said.
"Georgia's troops are ready for everything, but we don't want to use them in this case in order to avoid bloodshed," the President added.

Warning to Russia
He also warned Russia, who has a military base in the Adjarian capital Batumi, not to interfere in Georgia's internal affairs. "Not a single Russian tank should move from the military base, because this [Adjara] is our territory," Saakashvili added. "It is a bad signal. Situation is very aggravated. President was foiled to enter Adjara to meet voters, it is absolutely inadmissible," Zurab Zhvania, the Prime Minister, who also arrived in Poti, told reporters.

The tensions extremely tensed between Tbilisi and Batumi on March 13, when the Adjarian police briefly detained Georgia's Finance Minister Zurab Nogaideli, who was visiting Autonomous Republic for election campaigning of the ruling party. "If Abashidze intends to blackmail the Georgian president like a feudal lord, he is making a big mistake," President Saakashvili said on March 13.

Concern for control over Adjara
President Saakashvili has once visited Adjara on January 25, when he was official sworn in as a President of Georgia. Both Abashidze and Saakashvili together observed the military parade in Batumi on the inauguration day.
However, the tensions between Tbilisi and Batumi increased in early March, when Aslan Abashidze expressed concern that the central authorities seek for "total control over Adjara." In a response to this statement Saakashvili said that he will gain "control over Adjara."
Poti (Georgia) City
Baramidze, Giorgi (M) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Zhvania, Zurab (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
EU report: Bulgaria's entry not to be tied down to Romania
March 11, 2004

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Bulgaria's accession to the European Union in 2007 should not be tied down to that of any other EU candidate, reads a report approved by the European Parliament.

The report hailed Bulgaria's progress en route to union. The country received high assessment of the achievements made in the course of EU entry talks.

Integral part of union
It also
said that Bulgaria is already an integral part of union. Bulgaria has to overcome many problems and execute a lot of different tasks, still, most of the MEPs were positive that the country will manage to end the EU entry talks in 2004.

Speed up
Bulgaria should speed up the reforms in its judicial system and the state administration as well as to take better care of its disabled people, the approved report also reads.
Related topic(s):
Attack of the killer jellyfish
March 10, 2004

Written by Fred Pearce
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

A ship-born alien that played havoc with the ecosystem of the Black Sea is now threatening the neighbouring Caspian. The toxic invader is a gelatinous monster that can double its weight in a day.

Ecological terrorist
They call it an ecological terrorist and "the blob that ate the Black Sea". Now the world's most dangerous alien species, a jellyfish about the size of your hand, is invading the Caspian Sea, where the region's scientists last week proposed setting another equally voracious jellyfish to gobble it up. Welcome to the biological equivalent of the war on terror.

Mnemiopsis leidyi is an opaque comb jellyfish. The comb jellyfish is like an ordinary jellyfish, but without the sting. It comes from the backwaters of the US eastern seaboard, all the way from Massachusetts to Florida, where it once lived modestly enough, grazing on plankton, while being kept in check by countless jellyfish-eating species.

But two decades ago it entered the Black Sea, probably hitch-hiking in a ship's ballast water. There it found abundant food and no predators. It munched its way through the eggs and larvae of a wide variety of fish, while consuming the plankton on which other fish fed.

Breeding, eating fast
A self-fertilising hermaphrodite, Mnemiopsis breeds as fast as it eats. It reaches maturity within two weeks and then produces 8,000 eggs daily. Its appetite is so great that it can double its size in a day. By 1990, its total biomass in the Black Sea had reached an estimate 900 million tonnes, 10 times the annual fish catch from all the world's oceans.

500 in a cubic metre
One snorkelling marine biologist from the Ukraine, Yu Zaitsev, calculated that there were 500 of the beasts in a single cubic metre of water in Odessa Bay. There was almost more jellyfish than water. Meanwhile, fish catches across the Black Sea had declined by 90 per cent. The valuable anchovy virtually disappeared.

Jelly eats jelly
It was like a plague of locusts on the land. But unlike locusts, the jellyfish did not seem to eat itself out. Its population stayed steady, until another comb jellyfish showed up - again, probably in ballast water from the US. Beroe ovata has a rather more strict diet than its cousin Mnemiopsis. It likes eating its cousin. A sac-like creature, it simply opens itself up to its full extent and gobbles its close relative in one go. Beroe ovata arrived in 1997. Almost immediately, the Mnemiopsis population in the Black Sea began to decline.

Caspian Sea
Crisis over? Not exactly. For Mnemiopsis went on its travels again. In 1999, the gelatinous monster showed up further east again, in the Caspian Sea. Just a few arrived at first, around where the Volga-Don canal, which links the two seas, enters the Caspian. They either swam up the canal or, more likely, hitch-hiked again in the bilges of ships on the canal.

Fishing stocks collapse
And once again, the jellyfish found it had plenty of food and no predators. The waters of the Caspian Sea are shared between Iran, on its southern shore, Russia and three former Soviet states: Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. And in the past five years, each nation has seen its fishing stocks collapse by 50 per cent or more as the alien has spread. Whole fishing communities along the shores of the world's largest inland sea have been devastated.

Hardest hit are stocks of the anchovy-like kilka fish. But that's not all. For the kilka, besides being the staple of local fishermen, is also the preferred food of the sea's indigenous seal, as well as of the famed beluga sturgeon, source of most of the world's caviar. Both species are "under significant threat" from the invader, says Hossein Negarestan, the head of marine ecology at the Iranian Fisheries Research Organisation in Teheran. The seals are already reeling from repeated epidemics of distemper in the past decade, and the sturgeon have been hit by a mafia-sponsored orgy of illegal fishing. According to Negarestan, "the impact of Mnemiopsis on the Caspian Sea ecosystem may be much worse than in the Black Sea." And any threat to the local caviar trade is a threat to the entire regional economy.

Breeding predators
But during five-nation talks on the future of the Caspian region, held at the end of last month in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, ministers heard the results of a meeting of their fisheries scientists in Teheran a few days earlier, which had proposed breeding and releasing Beroe ovata in an attempt to control the invader. According to Negarestan, his researchers have been experimenting for more than two years with breeding the predator and acclimatising it to the less salty waters of the landlocked Caspian Sea. The trick, they say, is to breed it in salty water and then move the offspring into tanks containing ever less salty water over a period of a few weeks, until they are used to their new environment. Then the offspring can be released into the Caspian Sea, ready to be deployed as a "bioweapon".

"Beroe ovata only preys on comb jellyfish, and the only comb jellyfish in the Black Sea are the invading Mnemiopsis," Negarestan says. "It would be an ideal biological control agent. And we have established that there is no risk of transfer of bacteria or parasites to the Caspian with Beroe ovata." Once Mnemiopsis has gone, be believes, Beroe will simply die out.

The spread of Mnemiopsis is one of the most startling cases of the global spread of alien species - most of which hitch-hike one way or another with travelling humans. Taken out of their natural environment, many aliens swiftly die off, consumed by predators against which they have no defence. But some find greener pastures. And without predators, there is nothing except a limit on their food supply to prevent their proliferation.

There are famous cases of alien species being deliberately released by humans. Fish such as the Nile perch and trees such as the Australian eucalyptus are ubiquitous. Australia is also famous for being populated by other peoples' species, not least the humble rabbit. Many of the most voracious aliens were introduced to combat other aliens. The poisonous cane toad, currently proliferating in the wilderness of northern Australia, was introduced 70 years ago to eat the grubs of the cane beetle, then infesting sugar-cane crops.

Botanists and gardeners took the water hyacinth, a pretty but voracious water-weed native of Brazil, across the world for display. But it escaped, and today is choking canals, lakes and harbours in 50 countries. East Africa's giant Lake Victoria has been all but covered by the weed in some years. In South Africa, they are currently clearing huge areas of non-native trees that are soaking up the country's scarce underground water supplies. Hundreds of tropical islands have been stripped of their ground-nesting birds, thanks to rats that jumped ship during colonial times. The brown tree snake has wrecked ecosystems, terrorised human beings and eaten its way through countless power lines in Guam since the reptile hopped to the islands aboard US military aircraft in the 1950s. And 18 months ago, just before the Gulf War, US troops halted military preparations on their Indian Ocean base at Diego Garcia to erect a snake-proof fence round the airfield, after fears that a brown tree snake had hitched a ride there from Guam.

And Britain has not escaped the alien invasion, either. We have suffered from an influx of Japanese knotweed, the Colorado beetle, the ruddy duck and the grey squirrel. The spread of the hedgehog through the Outer Hebrides in the past 30 years has triggered a succession of crises for its island bird populations.

Some scientists call the invasion of alien species a bigger threat to the planet's biodiversity than any human activity. But not everyone is quite so opposed to the aliens in our midst. Where would Britain be without them? asks the naturalist Richard Mabey. He says that we should welcome the diversity that they bring to our landscape. According to the Wildflower Society, two thirds of our wild flowering plants are aliens, many of them semi-tropical imports that hopped over the fence from suburban gardens and are now establishing themselves in the wild.

And some people don't even like the term "aliens". The US social scientist Betsy Hartmann of the Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, says: "The ideas of ecologists about aliens sound so similar to anti-immigration rhetoric. Green themes such as scarcity and purity and invasion all have right-wing echoes. Hitler's ideas about environmentalism came out of the idea of purity, after all."

It may be little consolation to the fishermen of the Caspian Sea. But perhaps we should spare a thought for the aliens, after all.

* Mnemiopsis leidyi was first recorded in the Black Sea in the 1980s, where it has no native predators. It radically affected the pelagic ecosystem, achieving enormous biomass levels (up to 1.5 to 2kg m-2 in the summer of 1989).
* The jellyfish has had a huge impact on populations of anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) and kilka (Clupeonella spp.), which provide food for the beluga sturgeon. Beluga caviar is crucial to the health of the local economy.
* Mnemiopsis was first reported in the Caspian Sea in 1999, having migrated through the Don-Volga canal in ships' ballast water.
* To control the problem, scientists propose introducing another comb jellyfish, Beroe ovata, which has a very specific diet: Mnemiopsis.
Opposition rallies as Tymoshenko calls for civil disobedience
March 9, 2004

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Freedom of press
Some 10,000 supporters of the Our Ukraine, the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc and the Socialist Party held a rally by the Taras Shevchenko Monument in Kyiv in support of freedom of speech in Ukraine. The Opposition is rallying in the capital against the power's onslaught on freedom of press.

Headed by three
The rally has blocked road traffic in the downtown Kyiv moving towards Taras Shevchenko monument. Protesters are carrying banners of the Batkivshchyna, Socialist Party, UNA-UNSO, and signs saying Yushchenko-Yes! Viktor Yushchenko, Oleksandr Moroz, and Yulia Tymoshenko are heading the marchers.

A group of Ukrainian journalists is waving signs reading "Free Speech", and logos of media outlets Radio Liberty, Radio Kontynent, Channel Five, Silski Visty. A band of drummers loudly chanting Kuchma - Out! Is accompanying the protesters.

Civil disobedience
At the rally, Yulia Tymoshenko urged Ukrainians to hold actions of civil disobedience. "We have to go over to serious civil revolts," Tymoshenko called noting that the majority of Ukrainians have nothing to fear and to lose.

In Tymoshenko's words, today the opposition is a minority within the parliament, and the only way to power is to rise in rebellion against the authorities in power. To this effect, the coalition leader called on all opposition leaders to unite.
Kyiv (Ukraine) Capital
Moroz, Oleksandr (M) Politician Ukraine
Tymoshenko, Yulia (F) Politician Ukraine
Yushenko, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
EU warns Romania on implementing reforms for entry
February 26, 2004

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

The European Union increased pressure on Romania to implement a long list of still-needed economic and political reforms if it wants to meet the target of joining the E.U. in 2007, reports Dow Jones news wire.
It said Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase's visit to Brussels came a week after the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee adopted a report citing "serious difficulties" with Romania's application.

Many to be done
"It's quite clear that there are still many things to be done in Romania," Nastase acknowledged after meeting with European Commission President Romano Prodi.
Prodi said the E.U. Commission, which is conducting the accession talks, "shared many of the parliament's...assessments and objections...

"I urged the prime minister to tackle with energy the problem of administrative and judicial reform and the problem of corruption," he said. "I told the prime minister to work harder to increase the speed."
Nastase presented Prodi and E.U. Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen with a four-page "list of priority actions" his government will aim to complete by the end of June.

...and reforms
The list includes implementing reforms of Romania's penal and civil code as well as strengthening the powers of the national prosecutor's office to combat corruption. Also contained were commitments to push through other judicial reform measures like stronger child protection laws to govern international adoptions and strengthening freedom of the press.

Test of credibility
"This to-do in a way a test of credibility of our team when responding to some of the criticism," Nastase said. "Perhaps the speed (of reforms) has not always been the best one. We have to hurry up."
He said Romania "was very determined" to wrap up entry talks with the E.U. by the end of this year.
Romania hopes to join the E.U. in 2007 along with neighboring Bulgaria.
Nastase, Adrian (M) Politician Romania
Verheugen, Günther (M) Politician
Related topic(s):
Bulgarian and Romanian economies grow faster than other CEE
February 26, 2004

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The growth of Bulgarian economy since 2001 has outstripped the average rate achieved by other Central and Eastern European countries, the UN Economic Commission for Europe revealed in its annual economic overview for 2004, presented Thursday in Geneva.

4-5% growth
Bulgaria, along with Romania, has recorded a steady pace of 4-5 % growth over the last years, accompanied with an ever-increasing interest by foreign investors, the UN report said.

5.3% in 2004
Making an overview of the economic development of Central and Eastern European Countries, the UN Economic Commission has pointed out that Bulgaria is in pursuit of a 5.3 % growth in 2004.
Abashidze: "armed aggression" against Adjar
February 26, 2004
RFE/RL Transcaucasia

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

"Armed aggression"
Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze said in Batumi on 25 February that the central Georgian government is planning "armed aggression" against his autonomous republic, Caucasus Press reported on 26 February. Abashidze claimed that 500 Georgian service personnel who graduated from the U.S.-funded Train and Equip Program are on standby to be deployed to Adjaria, together with nine tanks and 23 armored personnel carriers.

Adjaria's permanent representative in Tbilisi, Hamlet Chipashvili, said on 25 February that sending troops to Adjaria would be "a great mistake," Caucasus Press reported. Chipashvili said the tensions between Abashidze and the central government must be resolved peacefully. Georgian National Security Council Secretary Vano Merabishvili denied that troops will be sent to Adjaria, while Deputy State Security Minister Amiran Meskheli told the independent television station Rustavi-2 that while no such deployment is planned at present, "we can send troops to any part of the country if necessary."

Student's arrest
Chipashvili also denounced on 25 February the arrest in Tbilisi the previous day on charges of illegal weapons possession of two students from Adjaria, Merab Mikeladze and Lasha Chakvadze, Georgian media reported. A group of Georgian parliament deputies has similarly dismissed the charges against the two as absurd and called on the president, parliament speaker, interior minister, and prosecutor-general to secure the immediate release of the two men, Caucasus Press reported.

But members of the Georgian student movement Kmara! (Enough!), which is campaigning for Abashidze's ouster, claim that Mikeladze and Chakvadze participated in dispersing opposition meetings in Batumi organized by Kmara!. Mikeladze has declared a hunger strike, according to Caucasus Press on 26 February.
Related topic(s):
Tuzmen wants Black Sea to be free trade zone
February 24, 2004
Turkish Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Ukraine visit
State Minister Kursad Tuzmen said on Tuesday that they aimed to make Black Sea a free trade zone. Tuzmen, who will leave for Ukraine tonight to attend Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meetings, held a press conference. Tuzmen said that he would go to Ukraine with a trade delegation of 160 people.

Trade relation
Noting that relations between Turkey and Ukraine were very important, Tuzmen said that trade volume with Ukraine had increased 30 percent last year and added that this figure has reached 40 percent in the first months of this year.
Tuzmen said that trade volume between two countries reached 1.7 billion dollars and added, 'our aim is to increase trade volume over 2.5 billion dollars this year.'

Black Sea countries
Noting that they would meet with Ukrainian President, ministers and other officials during their visit to Ukraine, Tuzmen said that businessmen in Turkish delegation would meet with Ukrainian businessmen. Tuzmen stressed that Ukraine was very important for Turkey. He said, 'in fact, when we consider Balkan countries, Eastern European and Black Sea countries, we see that we start to take the results of our strategy of developing economic relations with our neighboring and surrounding countries. The amount of export to these countries last year was 51 percent which is more than the general average. The total amount of export to these countries was nearly four billion dollars. We aim to increase this amount to 7.5 billion dollars in a very short time.'
Tuzmen said that the export volume to this region increased 53 percent in the first 1.5 months of this year.

Turkish investments
Noting that Turkish businessmen have made investments worth of 40 million dollars in Ukraine until today and also there were contracts worth of 800 million dollars in contractor field, Tuzmen said, 'we should focus more on this field, we plan to build a business center in Kiev.'

Free trade zone
Tuzmen said that directors of free zones would accompany him to establish a free trade zone and operate them in Ukraine. He added, 'we aim to make Black Sea a free trade zone. Transportation sector will have a very important role here.'
Tuzmen, Kursad (M) Politician Turkey
Related topic(s):
Serpents Island impasse still not broken
February 18, 2004
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Little progress
Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana told journalists on 18 February that Romania and Ukraine have made "little progress" in talks on sharing the oil-rich continental shelf in the Black Sea, AFP and Mediafax reported.

Status change
Geoana spoke after talks with visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko. Geoana said Romania cannot under any circumstances agree to what he called "attempts by Ukraine to change the international judicial status of Serpents Island (Zmiyinyy Ostrov)." Romanian media reported earlier this week that Ukraine is populating the uninhabited island in order to be able to claim an exclusive economic zone around it under international maritime legislation.

About money
Hryshchenko, who also met with President Ion Iliescu, said the dispute is ultimately an "economic one" and "therefore one about money." Geoana said the Ukrainian side has brought new proposals that experts in Bucharest will study, but stressed that considering that no agreement has been reached in 21 meetings over the disputed island, it is likely that Bucharest will have to ask the Hague-based International Court of Justice to rule on the matter.
Geoana, Mircea (M) Politician Romania
Iliescu, Ion (M) Politician Romania
Related topic(s):
Ship sinks in Black Sea storm, 20 missing
February 13, 2004

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Severe winter storm
Turkish rescue workers searched on Friday for 20 people who went missing after their ship sank in the Black Sea during a severe winter storm.

The Cambodian-flagged cargo ship sank some 7.5 miles from Istanbul's Bosphorus strait around 12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT) on Friday, maritime officials said.
They said the name or destination of the vessel, which was carrying a cargo of coal, were not immediately clear.

Only one member rescued
"We have sent out two boats. We know there were 21 crew but we have only spotted one member so far," an official told Reuters.
He said the crew was made up of two Ukrainians and 19 Bulgarians.

A blizzard lashed Istanbul and much of western Turkey on Friday, disrupting air, land and sea traffic. The Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, key shipping channels for Black Sea states, remained closed for a second day on Friday.
Related topic(s):
Kuchma refutes rumors of his own death
January 19, 2004

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Medical treatment
President Leonid Kuchma is returning home from Germany, where he underwent brief medical treatment following an operation in Ukraine last November. Kuchma's press service reported that during his visit Baden Baden, the President met with "several officials" to discuss, among other things, forthcoming top-level bilateral consultations scheduled for February.

Not spoilt by rumors
"Kuchma thanks his hosts for their hospitality," the press service reported. In an interview with Interfax-Ukraine, the President of Ukraine noted that his visit to Germany "wasn't spoiled by rumors that his treatment was tragically unsuccessful". In response, the Ukrainian leader said that he takes such things "philosophically and with a sense of humor".

Stomach operation
Kuchma left for Baden Baden on 26 December 2003 to continue medical treatment following a stomach operation on 17 November. The original diagnosis was a severe intestinal blockage, and he was released from a hospital in Feofania, Kyiv region, on 7 December.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Georgian-Abkhaz talks fail
January 19, 2004

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Today's Georgian-Abkhaz talks on working out security measures to be taken in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict have resulted in nothing, sources in the office of the Georgian Minister Without Portfolio reported.

Removal of customs point
The Georgian side demanded Abkhazia to remove a customs point at the administrative border separating Abkhazia from the rest of Georgia and extradite 9 convicts who escaped from a Georgian prison on September 11, 2003.

According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, the runaways are hiding in Abkhazia, the fact Abkhaz authorities are utterly denying. No information has been provided as to the date for the next talks as yet.

The talks involved Georgian Minister Without Portfolio Malkhaz Kakabadze, Chairman of the Georgian Intelligence Department Avtandil Ioseliani, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba, UN permanent representative in Georgia Heidi Tagliviani as well as representatives of the CIS peacekeeping mission in the region.
Kakabadze, Malkhaz (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Meskhetians want to go back to Georgia
January 18, 2004
Batumi News

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The so - called ethnicity - Turkish - Meskhetians, once deported overnight from Georgia in Uzbekistan, are urging they should be repatriated to Samtskhe- Javakheti, allegedly their historic locality.

They are claiming nascent Georgian authorities should accomplish the obligation assumed by EC 4 years ago. "Watan" - the Turkish - Meskhetians society reports president- elected Mikheil Saakashvili, ex Minister of Justice and Zurba Zhvania, Georgian Speaker by that time, personally were among them who assumed the task. Deputy chairman of the society, Chingiz Neiman Zade said the commitments are due to be fulfilled notwithstanding who is at the state levers.

He noted, of the 11 ethnical groups repressed during the communists, only Turkish - Meskhetians of Akhaltsikhe have remained on underdogs for repatriation. Meanwhile, there are 300 000 Turkish - Meskhetians living in the CIS, of which 80 000 inhabit in Azerbaijan, the rest of them dwelling temporarily in Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan.

Historic residence
"Total 50 000 of Turkish - Meskhetians are seeking return to their historic residence", - Chingiz Neiman Zade said.
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Russia's State duma elections official results
December 19, 2003
RFE/RL Russia

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The Central Electoral Commission announced on 19 December the final results from the State Duma elections:
55.75 percent of all registered voters took part in the election.

37.57% Unified Russia
12.61% KPRF (Communist Party)
11.45% LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia)
9.02% Motherland bloc
4.30% Yabloko
3.97% SPS (Union of Rightist Forces)
3.64% Agrarian Party of Russia
3.09% Russian Pensioners' Party-Party of Social Justice bloc
1.88% Party of Russia's Rebirth-Russian Party of Life bloc
1.18% People's Party

All other parties and electoral blocs received less than 1 percent of the vote.
4.70 percent voted against all lists.

The proportional-representation (party-list) seats in the new Duma were distributed as follows:

120 Unified Russia
40 KPRF (Communist Party)
36 LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia)
29 Motherland bloc
Related topic(s):
Civil protest in Georgia, Shevardnadze to meet opposition
November 9, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Protests continue
Thousands of protesters, fed up with the current regime, were gathered in front of the Parliament yesterday shouting, addressing President Shevardnadze: "Go, Resign."
Despite a rainy evening in the Georgian capital Tbilisi thousands keep protesting against President Shevardnadze. The mass ballot fraud and manipulation of election results sparked the protest marches all around Georgia.

Shevardnadze must resign
"There is only on way out of this standstill: Shevardnadze must resign," Mikheil Saakashvili opposition leader said late on November 8, while addressing crowd of around 20 thousand protesters.
He said that the opposition's only demand is holding of the new parliamentary elections and resignation of Eduard Shevardnadze.
"We will stay here and continue protest rally till our demands are not implemented," Mikheil Saakashvili said.

Police barriers
Mikheil Saakashvili said that thousands of people will arrive in Tbilisi from different regions of Georgia. However it is unclear whether these people will be able to get through the numerous police barriers on the highways to prevent the movement from the regions in direction of Tbilisi.
One woman was injured yesterday morning after the police started to shoot, when the crowd near Sagarejo, eastern Georgia, tried to break-through the police barrier.
All day long the main highways connecting western and eastern parts of Georgia with the capital city Tbilisi were blocked by the interior troops and the police.
The police were stopping all the buses en route to Tbilisi. The opposition says the authorities fear that the people living in the regions would join the protesters in Tbilisi.

"Destabilization attempts"
The Interior Minister Koba Narchemashvili said that everything will be done "to prevent any destabilization attempts in the country." No other official statement has been made by the authorities regarding the situation in the capital city so far.
The state-run media sources permanently reported today that the protest rallies are pre-condition of "civil confrontation in Georgia" accusing the opposition in "destabilization attempts," recalling early 90s civil unrest.

Civil protest
However, participants of the rally claim that fears over "civil confrontation" are groundless. "I do not understand why the government tries to frighten the population with the destabilization. No civil confrontation is possible, as there is no confrontation in society. What is happening now is society v government. This is the civil protest rally," writer Davit Maghradze says.

No aggression
"It is nonsense. I don't feel any aggression among the participants of the rally, so there is no threat of civil confrontation. I am here because I want to be among the people," famous Georgian actor Ramaz Chkhikvadze says.

Still no final results
The Central Election Commission, despite the observers and the U.S. concerns, still delays announcement of the final results of the November 2 parliamentary elections.
With about 90% of votes counted the Revival Union, led by head of Adjara Autonomous Republic Aslan Abashidze and the President Shevardnadze's election bloc For New Georgia lead the election results. The opposition National Movement is on the third place with 18,5%, followed by the Labor Party - 11,7% and the Burjanadze-Democrats - 7,6%. The Central Election Commission delays announcement of the final results of the elections.
However, it seems that the final results of the elections matters less to the opposition parties now. They do not recognize election results at all.

Shevardnadze among shouting protesters
Early this morning, President Shevardnadze unexpectedly appeared among the protesters in front of the Parliamentary building and tried to talk with the crowd demanding Shevardnadze's resignation.
However the protesters met the President with shouting: "Go, Resign."

Shevardnadze meets opposition
Nino Burjanadze, the Parliamentary Chairperson and the opposition leader, who was among the protesters held a short conversation with the President, after that Shevardnadze left the area.
"We agreed that the opposition leaders, including Zurab Zhvania and Mikheil Saakashvili will meet the President to deliver our demands," Nino Burjanadze said.

Shevardnadze was already in the car and leaving the area, when Mikheil Saakashvili tried to talks with him, however the President's bodyguards hindered Saakashvili to approach near the President's car.
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Shooting at protest rally Georgia, Tbilisi blocked
November 8, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

One wounded in Zugdidi rally
Reports say a group of armed men started shooting in the center of Zugdidi, western Georgian city, where Mikheil Saakashvili intended to hold a protest rally, Friday 6th of November. At least one woman is reported wounded.

Background unknown
Some reports say that the armed men were supporters of former Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
While other reports say that the attackers were the members of the special-purpose unit of the Interior Ministry.

Police hinders protesters to enter Tbilisi
Reports say the interior troops and the police blocked all the entrances of the capital city Tbilisi this morning and stop all the buses en route to Tbilisi.

Rally scheduled for 3pm
The opposition says that the police hinder free movement of people who intend to join the protest rally scheduled at 3 pm on November 8.
The police also blocked all the large cities across Georgia and stop all the buses en route to Tbilisi.
Tbilisi (Georgia) Capital
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Turks in Akcakoca fast again after imam's false call
November 7, 2003

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

5 minutes early
A Muslim cleric has mistakenly forced an extra day of fasting for the Ramadan holy month on people in a Turkish town by reading the call to prayer five minutes early, officials say.

Mat, the imam in the Black Sea town of Akcakoca, apparently miscalculated the time of sundown on Thursday and read the prayer early, causing people to break fast five minutes too soon. He read it again after realising his error.
Burjanadze boycotts election results
November 7, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Written by Giorgi Sepashvili
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Confrontation grows
Nino Burjanadze, the Parliamentary Chairperson and the leader of Burjanadze-Democrats opposition alliance said today "we will not recognize results of the November 2 parliamentary elections."

Mass ballot fraud
"The elections were held with mass ballot fraud, results were totally falsified by the authorities and we are not going to cooperate with the people in the Parliament, who rigged the votes. We are not going to be the members of the Parliament, which is not elected by the Georgian people," Nino Burjanadze said at a news briefing today.

Governmental parties lead polls
Confrontation over controversial November 2 parliamentary election results increased, as two governmental parties lead the polls.
With about 90% of votes counted the Revival Union, led by head of Adjara Autonomous Republic Aslan Abashidze and the President Shevardnadze's election bloc For New Georgia lead the election results. The opposition National Movement, led by Mikheil Saakashvili, is downgraded on the third place with 18,5%, followed by the Labor Party - 11,6% and the Burjanadze-Democrats - 7,5%.

Second boycott
The Burjanadze-Democrats is the second opposition alliance, which boycotts the election results. The Unity election bloc, which is led by the former Georgian Communist leader Jumber Patiashvili, refused on November 6 to recognize election results. The National Movement opposition bloc has not made any comments regarding its position over the boycott so far.

The Burjanadze-Democrats' decision follows an unexpected surge by the Revival Union in election results. The success of the Revival comes after the final tally of elections from Adjara was submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) on November 6. In the highly suspicious elections Revival Union received 95% support of the voters living in the Autonomous Republic.
"This result was really surprising even for me," Nana Devdariani, Chairperson of the CEC said on November 6, while commenting on the tally from Adjara.

Adjara violations
The international observation mission's preliminary findings report says that serious violations took place "mostly in Adjara, where ballot stuffing marred the process, and implausible turnout data raises concerns about respect for voters' and candidates' rights."
The opposition National Movement, as well as the Burjanadze-Democrats, demanded cancellation of the Adjara election results. Mikhail Saakashvili accused President Shevardnadze and Revival Union leader Aslan Abashidze of making a deal to split votes.

In vain
"Manipulation of election results means that they [Aslan Abashidze and Eduard Shevardnadze] are abolishing the results of the elections and the elections were just held in vain, with all the violations, the results are not recognized, which we qualify as usurpation of power and as some kind of a coup d'etat committed by the government," Mikheil Saakashvili said a news briefing late on November 6, while commenting on the tally of Adjara results.

Protest rally
On November 6 Mikheil Saakashvili called for the population to rally on November 8 in the center of Tbilisi to protest against the ballot fraud and defend the voter rights.
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Georgia's opposition pledges to overthrow president
November 6, 2003
Yahoo! News

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The opposition in the former Soviet republic of Georgia pledged to take to the streets to overthrow President Eduard Shevardnadze after late results from parliamentary elections gave him a tactical boost.

Abashidze nr. 1
The results meant that a party led by Aslan Abashidze, a regional chieftain, has leapfrogged other blocs to take the lead.

Abashidze is no friend of Shevardnadze's but is accused of forming an alliance with Georgia's president against the mainstream opposition parties.
Those opposition parties reacted furiously to the late results, claiming that Shevardnadze and Abashidze had entered into a conspiracy to rig the result and deprive them of their rightful majority in parliament.

"Battle for Georgia"
They called on their supporters to take to the streets in the capital Tbilisi, and cities across the country Friday in what one opposition leader has billed as the "battle for Georgia."
"Tomorrow, in Tbilisi, Gori, Zugdidi and other towns peaceful demonstrations will begin in order to overthrow Shevardnadze's regime," opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili said at a press conference Thursday evening.
"I call on the population, in peaceful form, to protest and not allow this coup, organized by Shevardnadze and Abashidze to go ahead." Anticipating trouble, riot police and interior ministry troops have been put on high alert.

Running high
Passions have already been running high since Sunday's election, with two days of opposition streets protests earlier this week in Tbilisi over the vote which western observers said was flawed by vote-rigging.
In Georgia, political disputes have a habit of spilling over into violence.

Western worries
The country was wracked by civil war in the early 1990s, and Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister who, along with then Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, oversaw German unification, has twice been the target of assassination attempts.
Georgia's political stability matters to the West because the country lies on the route of a US-backed pipeline which, when completed in 2005, will export Caspian Sea crude to world markets.
The disputed election has already attracted criticism from the US State Department, which said it was concerned about voting violations and about the delay in releasing the final tally.
"I think that President Shevardnadze understands the seriousness of our concerns and will undertake to be responsive," a State Department spokesman said in Washington.

Abashidze: 94% of Adjar votes
Until Thursday evening, Shevardnadze's For a New Georgia bloc was in the lead, followed closely by Saakashvili's National Movement. In all, opposition parties gained about 70 percent of the vote.
However, that tally did not include voting figures from Abashidze's semi-autonomous republic of Adjara on Georgia's Black Sea coast.
When those figures arrived after a four-day delay late Thursday, they showed that 94 percent of Adjara's voters had voted for Abashidze's Revival party, firing it into the lead with 23.5 percent of the vote, followed by For a New Georgia and the National Movement.
Central Election Commission chairwoman Nana Devdariani said the figures were not final as other regions of Georgia had still not submitted their returns.

Political soap
Abashidze, who runs Adjara as a personal fiefdom, is on tetchy terms with Shevardnadze. But he also has poisonous relations with the mainstream opposition parties.
In the byzantine world of Georgian politics, his strong showing is being viewed by the opposition as part of the campaign of ballot-rigging they claim has been orchestrated by Shevardnadze to frustrate the opposition.
"As a result of a conspiracy between Shevardnadze and the feudal regime of Aslan Abashidze, they have shared first place," said Saakashvili.

Uneasy calm
There was an uneasy calm in Georgia as both sides prepared for possible confrontation Friday.
The only violent incident Thursday was when a crowd of Saakashvili's supporters tried to storm into the local election commission headquarters in Gori, the birthplace of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, northwest of the capital. One man was hurt in scuffles and has been hospitalized.
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Revival wins in Adjar, elections covered in violation and fraud
November 6, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Abashidze wins
The Central Election Commission has just received counted votes cast in Adjara Autonomous Republic on November 2 parliamentary elections.
Givi Komakhidze, Deputy Chairman of the Central Election Commission stated the Revival Union, led by the Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze, received 269,854 votes with total number of voters in Adjara - 284.000, thus 95 %.

Violations and fraud
The pro-presidential bloc For New Georgia, the New Rights and the Industrialists parties received the remaining votes in Adjara.
In the preliminary assessments of the November 2 parliamentary elections the international, as well as local observers condemned numerous violations and ballot fraud in Adjara.

As a result of the Adjara votes the Revival Union becomes the becomes the frontrunner in the November 2 elections with 21%, however the votes in several hundred precincts still remain uncounted.

Preliminary results of elections
Revival - 21%
For New Georgia - 20%
National - 19%
Labors - 11%
Burjanadze-Democrats - 7%
New Rights - 6,59%
Industrialists - 5,09%
[2003-11-06 19:08:33]
Related topic(s):
Opposition wants to ignore suspicious Adjara results
November 5, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Written by Giorgi Sepashvili
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Opposition demanded on November 5 to cancel highly suspicious election results in Adjara Autonomous Republic and Kvemo Kartli, both the government-dominated provinces, where international, as well as local observers reported mass irregularities and ballot fraud on November 2 parliamentary elections.

Not recognize
"I set an ultimatum to the Central Election Commission [CEC] and the authorities not to recognize election results in Kvemo Kartli and Adjara, as the most irregularities, violations and ballot fraud were reported from these regions," Mikheil Saakashvili said, while addressing up to 6 thousand protesters gathered in front of the CEC, late on November 5 - the second day of mass protest rally demonstrating against the manipulation of election results.

International observers, including the OSCE monitors, condemned irregularities in the election process in the Adjara Autonomous Republic and Kvemo Kartli, where the observers were hindered to monitor November 2 parliamentary elections.
With more than two-third of votes counted, the CEC announced today that the pro-presidential bloc For New Georgia keeps narrow lead in the polls with 24,7%, while National Movement received 22%.

The National Movement, as well as the Burjanadze-Democrats accuses the authorities in manipulating election results. The opposition's accusations are based on results of parallel vote tabulation, conducted by the election watchdog International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, in which the National Movement leads the polls with 26,6%.
The opposition also protests against the delay of November 2 election results. The United States has also expressed concern over election irregularities and called for an honest, timely count of votes.
The opposition fears that the manipulated results of elections in Adjara and Kvemo Kartli region will significantly reduce the percentage rates of other parties, as no one daubs that the Revival Union, party led by the Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze, would receive at least 90% of votes in highly suspicious elections in Adjara.

According to the unofficial reports Tbilisi-based influential tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who supports the Shevardnadze's party, visited recently Batumi, Adjarian capital. The report triggered speculations that the pro-presidential alliance and the Revival Union are in the political horse-trading over the Adjarian votes.

Adjar deadline
Deadline of submitting election results from the Adjara Autonomous Republic to the Central Election Commission expires at 6 pm on November 6. Adjara's up to 280,000 votes would shape final results of the crucial November 2 elections.

Security forces
Mikheil Saakashvili called for his supporters to gather in front of the CEC at 3:00 pm on November 7. By that time opposition will know whether its ultimatum over cancellation of results in Adjara and Kvemo Kartli, is met or not by the authorities. Thus the protest rallies are ceased in the capital city before November 7.
In the wake of the opposition's decision, to stop two-day long rallies temporarily, the units of the interior troops and the riot police started to leave the downtown Tbilisi. The security forces were on high alert during the recent days, as the authorities feared of destabilization. However the protest rallies was well-organized and there were no signs of unrest.
The police even stopped several buses heading to demonstrations in Tbilisi and prevented them from entering the city.
Tbilisi (Georgia) Capital
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
82% of Ukrainians: no more Kuchma
November 5, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

No third term
82% of Ukrainians oppose any proposal to allow President Leonid Kuchma to run for presidency in 2004 presidential elections, according to the results of a poll conducted by the Institute of Social Monitoring.

Kuchma less impopular in Crimea
According to the poll, 60% of respondents expressed categorical opposition to the possibility of nomination of Kuchma for a third term while 22% said they would most likely oppose it. The largest numbers of respondents who oppose nomination of Kuchma for a third term are inhabitants of Kyiv (73%), central regions of Ukraine (72%), and western Ukraine (63%). The smallest number is in the Crimea (40%).

The Institute of Social Monitoring polled 2,053 people in 119 villages and cities throughout Ukraine from October 23 to 29. According to earlier reports, a group of parliamentarians asked the Constitutional Court to clarify whether Kuchma can participate in the 2004 presidential elections. The Constitution of Ukraine prohibits one person to hold the presidential office for more than two consecutive presidential terms.

Expiration date: Autumn 2004
The opposition repeatedly accused Kuchma of planning to seek for the third term. Kuchma's second term will expire in autumn, 2004.
Kyiv (Ukraine) Capital
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Georgia: Thousands rallied to protest ballot fraud
November 4, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Written by Giorgi Sepashvili
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Protecting votes
The opposition set an ultimatum to the authorities, demanding to recognize the victory of the opposition parties in the November 2 parliamentary elections by the midday on November 5, otherwise threatened with permanent protest rallies throughout Georgia.
However President Shevardnadze seems to be downplaying opposition's ultimatum saying he is "not afraid of any threats" and called on the opposition to discuss the issue in the normal conditions.

10,000 protesters
Around ten thousand protesters gathered on November 4 in the center of Tbilisi after the opposition leaders appealed the population to defend their votes with the protest rally.

The numerous irregularities during the elections triggered opposition's accusations that the authorities rig the ballots and manipulated election results. According to the official results, with more than 50% of the votes counted, the pro-presidential election alliance For New Georgia leads the polls with 23,7%, followed by opposition National Movement with 23,1% and the Burjanadze-Democrats - 8,5.

Observers: mass ballot fraud
However it is anticipated that these results will change and the opposition parties' percentage will reduce, after the election results in Adjara Autonomous Republic is summarized. Election Observers say that elections in Adjara marred with mass ballot fraud.

Parallel vote
According to the parallel vote tabulation results (PVT), conducted by the election watchdog NGO International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy National Movement is a frontrunner with 26,6%, with the For New Georgia bloc in the second place - 18,9%. The National Movement announced earlier that it trusts the PVT results.
The leaders of the National Movement, Burjanadze-Democrats and the Unity opposition alliances led thousands of people protesting against the ballot fraud. The protest rallies were also held simultaneously in several regions of the country.

"Stop stealing votes"
"I demand from the authorities, particularly from President Shevardnadze, to stop stealing our votes and manipulating election results. We demand cancellation of election results in several election districts, where the ballot was totally falsified. Today we have formed an opposition coalition, which will fight for protecting of our votes," Mikheil Saakashvili said, while addressing the crowd, from the balcony of the Tbilisi Municipality.
"We must demonstrate to the authorities that we no longer want to live under the old regime, that we want a new Georgia. If Shevardnadze wants revolution, he will get it," he added.

To the very end
"We are ready to fight to the very end. It's our last chance. We formed today united opposition alliance - the Resistance Front to protect our votes," Zurab Zhvania, former Parliamentary Chairman and one of the Burjanadze-Democrats said, while appealing the protesters.
"I appeal to you to defend your own votes, the dignity of your country, and the future of our children," Nino Burjanadze, the Parliamentary Chairperson and the leader of Burjanadze-Democrats said at the protest rally.

Opposition talks
The mass protest rallied was followed the talks between Nino Burjanadze, Mikheil Saakashvili and Jumber Patiashvili of the Unity alliance earlier on November 4, which was attended by the representatives of the civil society organizations.
"I am ready to join those forces, which will prevent ballot fraud," leader of the Unity election alliance Jumber Patiashvili said.
After the talks Burjanadze, Saakashvili and Patiashvili called on supporters for staging protest rallies and asked other opposition leaders to join them. After three hours around ten thousand Tbilisites gathered at the Tbilisi Municipality. However other opposition leaders refrained from joining the rallies.

Opposition's opposition
The New Rights opposition party leader Davit Gamkrelidze said at a news briefing later that he will wait before the announcement of the final results. "We intend to defend our votes in the district election commissions and not in the streets yet" he said.
As anticipated the Revival Union, backed by Aslan Abashidze, the head of Adjara Autonomous Republic, condemned the protest rallies in Tbilisi. "This is a provocation that will lead to destabilization," Tsotne Bakuria of Revival Union said.
"They [Burjanadze, Zhvania, Saakashvili] do not rally because they want to protect all the opposition parties' votes. They just want to protect only their votes," Zurab Tkemaladze of the Industrialists party said.

Riot police on high alert
The Interior Ministry deployed riot police rapid reaction units in the center of Tbilisi, as thousands of people launched protest rallies this evening against the mass ballot fraud. But there were no signs of unrest. The units of the interior troops were dispatched to the State Chancellery, near the Tbilisi Municipality, to guard the President's administration.

Another rally
The opposition leaders might stage another protest rally in front of the State Chancellery at 12:00 on November 5, in case the authorities will not recognize the opposition's victory in the elections by that time.
"We [the opposition leaders] have agreed to meet tomorrow at 12:00 in the Philharmonic Hall [in the center of Tbilisi], where the Resistance Front will inform the people regarding the recent development by that time. If the authorities will not stop manipulating election results, we will stage a permanent protest rally in front of the State Chancellery," Zurab Zhvania said, while addressing the protesters.

However it seems that the authorities downplay the opposition's threats. President Shevardnadze condemned the opposition's protest rally, saying that "use of force against the government and mounting pressure on the authorities is inadmissible."
"Nobody should threaten me, that if this or that party does not receive the necessary amount of votes, they will demand Shevardnadze's resignation. I warn everyone, that those who use force against the authorities will be punished by all means. We have to work together in the new Parliament, so we should cooperate, there is no other way. The November 2 parliamentary elections were the most fair and transparent ever held in Georgia," President Shevardnadze told reporters on November 4, while commenting on the opposition's protest rally.

Not afraid
Shevardnadze said he is not afraid of any threats and called on the opposition to discuss the issue in the normal conditions.
Avtandil Jorbenadze, the State Minister and the leader of the pro-presidential election bloc For New Georgia, called the opposition for "a dialogue." He excluded the ballot fraud and warned the opposition that the authorities would eradicate destabilization attempts.

More fair than ever
"Everybody should know, that the elections were much fair than ever," the State Minister said while commenting on the protest rally.
The government's radical stance not to make any compromise further increases protest among the population. "I am really tired of them [authorities]. I was standing in the line to vote on November 2 for couple of hours and after this I will do my best to protect my vote," Tbilisite student Tengiz, 22, told Civil Georgia.

Observers say that the November 4 protest rally was anticipated, as most Georgians are fed up with the current regime, blaming it for widespread poverty and corruption.
This was the first protest rally, stages by around ten thousand people, after November, 2001 mass street protests, which led to resignation of the entire government in Georgia. Exactly two years ago people rallied to protect freedom of speech.
Tbilisi (Georgia) Capital
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Gamkrelidze, Davit (M) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Russia doubts Ukraine's sovereignty over Tuzla
October 31, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Russia has raised doubt about the fact that the Tuzla spit is the territory of Ukraine, according to a statement by Russia's Foreign Minister Ihor Ivanov, Ukrainian News reported.

"There are various documents, which might be interpreted differently," he said hinting to the documents concluded by the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic concerning the ownership of the Tuzla spit.

At this, Ivanov gave to journalists an example from the history of mutual relations between Spain and the United Kingdom, which recognizing the territorial integrity of each other, disputing have been disputing the ownership of Gibraltar for quite a long time.

Integral part
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryscheno, in his turn, stated that at the talks held on Thursday, the Ukrainian side unequivocally stated that it considers the Tuzla spit as an integral part of Ukrainian territory.

According to earlier reports, while commenting on the results of talks with Yanukovych, Russia's prime minister Kasyanov stated at a news conference on Friday last week that Russia had agreed to suspend the construction of the dam in the Kerch Strait until resolution of this issue with the Ukrainian side, while Ukraine had consented to remove its border guards from the Tuzla spit. Later on Viktor Yanukovych clarified before the press that the issue of withdrawing border guards from Tuzla was raised by the Russian side in the course of the talks, and the Ukrainian side merely agreed to examine the proposal.
Ivanov, Igor (M) Politician Russia
Kasyanov, Mikhail (M) Politician Russia
Yanukovich, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Georgia braces for elections
October 31, 2003
BBC News Europe

Written by Robert Parsons
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The tiny Black Sea state of Georgia is basking in a bit of world attention again. No civil war this time and no assassination attempts on the president, but a parliamentary election that really matters.

US Visits
It is serious enough, at any rate, for Washington to despatch a succession of senior politicians to warn the wayward Georgians that they had better get things right.
The visits, by former Secretary of State James Baker and others, underline a US commitment to Georgia that has seen Washington give more than $1bn in aid over the last decade - more per head of the population than to any other country bar Israel.
But the message has been tough: "Make sure these elections are free and fair. If not, the aid will be drastically cut."

Chaotic and corrupt
Georgia is chaotic and corrupt but there is just a whiff of hope - unlike nearly all post-Soviet exercises in democracy, the election on Sunday, is a real contest.
It is almost impossible to predict the outcome and, according to the polls, the pro-government bloc is running in fourth or fifth place.

Shevardnadze: friend of the West
The US message is directed primarily at Eduard Shevardnadze, a friend of the West who Washington appears to believe has outlived his usefulness.
In the last few years of his presidency, Georgia has featured regularly in the lists of the world's most corrupt and criminalised states.

Complex affair
What makes this election so important for Georgia is that Mr Shevardnadze is due to step down at the end of his presidential term in 2005. Whoever wins now will have a good platform for the presidential contest in 18 months.
It is not clear that he has been listening to his US visitors.

The pro-government bloc has launched a smear campaign against one of the opposition frontrunners, Nino Burjanadze, the speaker of parliament, who is widely seen as a credible presidential candidate.
Mr Shevardnadze himself offered some fatherly advice to Ms Burjanadze in his weekly radio interview.
"Politics is a complex affair," he said, "best to leave it to the men."
Georgians though appear to be ignoring this. The Burjanadze-Democrats bloc has consistently been in the top two in the polls.

The election campaign has also been marred by violence, which often seems to involve the outspoken Misha Saakashvili, the leader of the National Movement.
His main electoral slogan is "For A Georgia without Shevardnadze". He is a clever, articulate lawyer, who spent a year studying in Harvard, and he has a knack of getting under the president's skin.
The official response has been crude, and may play into Mr Saakashvili's hands. Campaigning in one strongly pro-government region, his convoy was met by a hail of stones, a massive fist fight ensued and gunshots were fired.

Passive police
Last week, too, the authorities in Ajara region by the Turkish border beat up Mr Saakashvili's supporters in the regional capital, Batumi. One of his party's candidates was hospitalised.

Fraud claims
The run-up to the vote has been dominated though by a long-running dispute over the electoral lists, which have been computerised for the first time.
This was meant to help make the electoral process more transparently fair. Instead there has been chaos.
By the central electoral commission's own admission, between 10% and 15% of voters will be disenfranchised because their names have not appeared on the lists.

Impossible predictions
It is almost impossible to predict the outcome of the polls
The opposition accuses the government of massive electoral fraud.
Ms Burjanadze, for one, says she "is worried that the government will attempt to use the lists to distort the result of the election".
But for all the cynicism about the electoral process, the opposition has been getting its message across.
It has its own newspapers and television stations, its leaders have been on the campaign trail for several weeks and their campaign posters are unavoidable. And the polls are suggesting there will be a big turnout.

Anger at falling living standards, anger at the in-your-face-wealth of the new-rich, anger at the arbitrary powers of the police, anger at the corruption of government officials, anger at the failures of Georgian foreign policy.
The fear must be - not least among US observers concerned about the stability of their growing energy investments in the region - that if a cynical government resorts to widespread fraud to cling on to power, the pent-up fury of the last decade of failure will explode.
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Georgian election blocs for 2-Nov Elections
October 31, 2003
BBC News Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

For a New Georgia
Union for Georgia's Democratic Revival
Industry Will Save Georgia
Labour Party
Saakashvili - National Movement
United Communist Party of Georgia
United Communist Party of Georgia
Georgian national state political association
United Georgia
Motherland [Samshoblo] nongovernmental
National Accord - Iberia Will Shine
Party for the Protection of Constitutional Rights
Party for the Revival of Industry and the Economy
Peaceful Caucasus
Party of People's Capitalism of Georgia
All-Georgian People's Alliance
Union for the Protection of Women
Lawyers of Georgia
Burjanadze, Nino (F) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
"Ukraine in full control of Tuzla dispute"
October 28, 2003
RIA Novosti

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Full control
The Ukrainian government has full control of Kerch Strait developments, and is doing all it can to protect its country and nationals, Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine's Prime Minister, told a government session on the Tuzla controversy and a Russian dam under construction in the disputed strait.

Unsolved issues
Routine work is on to settle the involved issues of Tuzla island, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, said Mr. Yanukovich, as quoted for Novosti at the Cabinet press service.

Construction stopped
Ukraine has hit its principal target at the present stage - Russia has stopped dam construction, and the dispute has come to the negotiating table, stressed the Premier.

Ukraine sticks to its previous opinion: crossing the Kerch Strait is a Ukrainian-Russian frontier determined even in Soviet years, while Tuzla is Ukraine's inalienable part. As for the Sea of Azov, it can receive the status of Ukraine's and Russia's inland water reservoir only if the two countries demarcate their frontier on the water surface not bottom, he pointed out.
The session ordered Ukraine's Ministry of Environment Protection to join hands with Russia for ecological expertise of Tuzla dam blueprints.

Soon to be ready
The Prime Minister ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attract relevant agencies to analyses of issues related to developments round Tuzla, and be ready with the job by October 30, when Igor Ivanov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, debates the issue with the Ukrainian party.

Dam to disbalance Kerch Strait
If Russia finishes its dam, reaching from the Taman peninsula to Tuzla island, it will destroy biological and hydrological balance in the Kerch Strait, deems an expert commission of Ukraine's Ministry of Ecology. The team brought together 15 individual researchers and spokesmen of five research institutes, Ukrainian Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Sergei Polyakov told the media.

Fish migration
The dam will stop fish migration and block off the Sea of Azov from warm currents coming from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait, warn the experts.
A current along Tuzla island has lately been gaining speed to wash off the shore, added the minister.

Team conclusions have no status of expertise, acknowledges Mr. Polyakov. Proper expertise requires a long time and special research. The ministry will insist on setting up a joint Ukrainian-Russian ad hoc team to assess tentative environmental impact of the dam.

Bilateral ecological conclusion
Russia will certainly not resume above-water dam construction before a bilateral ecological conclusion, Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia's Prime Minister, said on an earlier occasion.
Taman (Russia) Village
Yanukovich, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Ukrainians against use of force to resolve Tuzla conflict
October 28, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

75% against force
More than 75% of Ukrainians are against using military force to resolve the Kerch strait conflict, and 14.3% are for the use of force "for the protection of [the country's] territorial integrity" if negotiations prove unsuccessfull.
The Ukrainian center for political and economic research named after Alexander Razumkov conducted a survey on October 15-21 among 2013 respondents over 18 years of age in 118 areas in Ukraine.

"Convince Russia"
In response to the question how should Ukraine react to the breach of the state border, more than half of those surveyed, 56%, said that Russia has to be convinced that its actions are incorrect, 25.6% were for appealing to the UN Security Council and 24.8% were for appealing to an international court.
Of those polled, 26.1% were prepared to personally protect the territorial integrity of the country, and 59.1% were not.

Other help
Almost thirteen percent of respondents were for turning for help in this conflict to nations who will guarantee Ukraine's security in exchange for it giving up nuclear arms, 7.1% were for turning for help to NATO members, 7.4% were for revoking the agreement on stationing the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine and 5% were for severing diplomatic relations with Russia.

14% to unite with Russia
On the other hand, 14.1% of those questioned were for uniting with Russia, and 1.5% were ready to give part of Ukrainian territory to Russia.

37% in "liberal empire"
However, out of those polled, only 36.9% would want to live in a so-called "liberal empire," which could possibly be created by Russia in the post-Soviet space. The first step toward this would be the creation of a single economic space by Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Of the respondents, 43.6% said they would not want to live in such an "empire," and 19.5% were undecided.

46.2% of the respondents were offended by the actions taken by Russia and believe them to be unlawful, 23.4% were calm about the events and believe Russia's actions to be justified, 15.5% of those surveyed "do not care" about the problem of the Russian-Ukrainian border, and 14.9% were undecided.
Related topic(s):
Yuschenko receives bomb threat, still 1st in poll
October 28, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

26% for Yuschenko
As of today, 26.3% of voters are ready to vote at the Presidential elections slated for October 2004 for Victor Yuschenko, leader of the Our Ukraine bloc, according to the results of the poll carried out by the "Image-Control" research center, UNIAN reported.

Other candidates
According to the poll, 17% of the respondents are ready to vote for Communist leader Petro Symonenko, 11% - for current Prime-Minister Victor Yanukovych.
Further, 9.2% of the respondents are ready to vote for head of Presidential Administration Victor Medvedchuk, and 8.8% - for Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the Batkivshchyna (Motherland) party.

Investigate life threats
Leonid Kuchma has directed the Security Service of Ukraine and the police to investigate Our Ukraine coalition's leader Viktor Yuschenko claim last Friday's that he had received threats to his life, the presidential press service disclosed. If necessary, the Security Service of Ukraine and the police are to provide protection for Yuschenko, the President's instruction reads.

Assassination call
Yuschenko announced on Friday that he had learned about plans to assassinate him. On Sunday, a telephone call from a person claiming that an explosive device had been planted on a Yak-40 plane on Sunday which delayed Yuschenko's flight to Kharkiv to participate in the regional forum of democratic forces.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Symonenko, Petro (M) Politician Ukraine
Yanukovich, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Yushenko, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Socialists win local elections Bulgaria
October 27, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

BSP wins third of seats
The opposition Socialist Party (BSP) and its coalition partners won about one-third of the seats in the 26 October municipal elections, reported, citing an exit poll conducted by the Bulgarian branch of the Gallup International opinion research institute.

SDS: 20%
Elections were held for 236 of the country's 237 municipal councils. The conservative opposition Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) fared second best, winning about 20 percent of the seats.

Loss for Simeon
As expected, the governing National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) received only 10 percent of the seats, while its coalition partner, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) had a similar result. The small Union of Liberal Democrats (SSD) took up to 6 percent of the seats, while a total of 3-4 percent went to the coalition of Gergyovden, the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BZNS-NS), and the Democratic Party. First analyses suggest that the BSP received 10 percent more votes compared to the 1999 elections, while the SDS lost about 10 percent. The elections featured a record low voter turnout of about 40 percent.

Prime Minister and NDSV Chairman Simeon Saxecoburggotski commented on the preliminary results of the election by saying on 26 October that one cannot compare local and parliamentary elections, reported. He said he believes the results show that the NDSV has managed to overcome the bipolar political model dominated by the BSP and the SDS.

NDSV failed test
BSP Chairman Sergey Stanishev said his party received about 1 million votes -- more than in the 1999 local and the 2001 parliamentary elections. Former Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov (SDS) said the results show that the NDSV failed to convince the electorate that it is capable of governing the country. He said the BSP remains the SDS's main opponent. Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski (SSD) suggested that his party cooperate with the SDS, its former ally.

Mayor elections go to 2nd round
The mayoral races in Bulgaria's two largest cities are heading to a second round, as no candidates Sofia or Plovdiv won a majority in the 26 October election, reported. In Sofia, incumbent Mayor Sofiyanski (SSD) will most likely run against BSP candidate Stoyan Aleksandrov, according to preliminary results reported by BTA. In Plovdiv, incumbent Mayor Ivan Chomakov (SDS) will face Zahari Georgiev (BSP), BTA reported. In Varna, Ruse, and Razgrad, incumbent Mayors Kiril Yordanov (BSP), Eleonora Nikolova (SDS), and Venelin Uzunov (BSP), respectively, won by large margins.
Dimitrov, Filip (M) Politician Bulgaria
Stanishev, Sergey (M) Politician Bulgaria
Related topic(s):
Prices of Swallows' Nest restaurant
October 27, 2003
Brama Travel Board

Written by Eugene
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

For a good dinner with Crimean wine for two person you would need USD 60-100.
The restaurant is quite expensive by Ukrainian standart, but the service is good,
the view is excellent and you can listen classical music instead "sound pollution" like in the most another restaurants.
They accept Visa and Master cards.
Ukraine withdraws border guards because there is no border
October 24, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Ukraine will withdraw border guards from Tuzla island, Russia will suspends construction of its dam untill the two countries agree on the status of the Azov-Kerch water area, Ukrainian Premier Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kasianov agreed at the talks on resolution of Tuzla crisis in Moscow, according to Ukrayinska Pravda.

"There is no border"
Today there is no border between Russia and Ukraine near the Tuzla spit and everything done based on the presumption that such a border exists is wrong and must be put to a halt, Kasianov said. Theoretically, we can reach an agreement on the border, but we refute any unilateral actions, all action in regard to the whole area of water must be solely bilateral, he said.

Moreover, the Russian prime minister reminded that there would be an environmental examination into whether the Tuzla spit must be restored in full or the current volume of the dam is enough. "If the arguments of the Ukrainian party win, the spit will become the border between our states," he pointed out. Further, Kasianov said he did not understand why an environmental measure had provoked such actions of the Ukrainian authorities.

Ukraine should pay too
"In fact, the construction of the dam must be financed from the national budgets of the two countries because it is a matter of ecological conditions in the Azov Sea," said Kasyanov. Kasyanov also pointed out that Ukraine and Russia are two sister nations that produced a lot of efforts to become closer. "We won't let the results achieved be washed away", he said

Integral part of Ukraine
Viktor Yanukovych, in his turn, claimed the island of Tuzla is an integral part of Ukraine and the actions of the Ukrainian party followed the unilateral decision of the administration of Russia's Krasnodar region. Asked by the agency if the negotiations may be regarded as a final solution of the Tuzla issue, Yanukovych said the decision has enabled creating an expert group to solve the existing problems. "The problems appeared long ago due to imperfect legislation of the two countries. We have stopped the development of events in Tuzla. There can be no other solution." he said. "All issues will be decided at the table of negotiations," Yanukovych added.
Kasyanov, Mikhail (M) Politician Russia
Yanukovich, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Construction of Tuzla Dam suspended as tension grows
October 23, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Kuchma in Tuzla
President Leonid Kuchma today arrived upon the Tuzla spit to study the situation. The President studied the location of the island and the preparation of the frontier troops, Kuchma's press service stated.
Transport Minister Heorhiy Kyrpa, Head of the State Frontier Service Mykola Lytvyn and head of Presidential Administration Viktor Medvedchuk have joined Kuchma on his visit.

According to earlier reports, Kuchma interrupted his visit to Latin America on October 22 due to the Tuzla conflict. On Monday, in a note sent to the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine, Russia demanded explanations on what grounds Ukraine insists on its sovereignty over the Tuzla spit.

Putin promises Kuchma to stop
President Leonid Kuchma had a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin yesterday night to discuss the issue of Russia's building its dam in the Kerch Strait, according to UNIAN.
According to President's press-secretary Olena Hromnytska, the presidents of two countries came to an agreement that Putin will request from the leadership of Krasnodar region of Russia to stop building the dam.

Moscow negotiations
Further, Kuchma and Putin have instructed their governments to carry out the negotiations on the issue of delimitation of Azov Sea and Kerch Strait water areas in Moscow this Friday.
When touching on the question of the dam building, Putin assured his Ukrainian colleague that Russian wasn't intent on violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Construction suspended
Russian construction workers have stopped construction works at the dam stretching from the coast of Russia's Taman peninsula to the vicinity of Ukraine's Tuzla Spit, Serhiy Piddubny of the Azov and Black Sea department of the State Border Service announced.

Meeting expected
According to Crimean Prime Minister Serhiy Kunitsyn, governor of Russia's Krasnodar region Aleksandr Tkachev was expected to hold a meeting at the dam on Thursday.

109 meters
As of Thursday morning, the distance between the dam and the Ukrainian state border was 109 meters. The maritime border between Ukraine and Russia lies 250 meters away from the Tuzla spit.

No state of emergency
President Leonid Kuchma confirms that a state of emergency cannot be introduced in Ukraine owing to the conflict in the Kerch Strait. "That is absurd," Kuchma said at a press conference in Kerch, according to Ukrainian News.
In Kuchma's words, those speaking of the possibility of introduction of state of emergency in Ukraine are simply seeking to feather their nests on the conflict.
Taman (Russia) Village
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Kyrpa, Georgi (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
"Unfriendly act" of Russia temporary suspended
October 23, 2003
BBC News Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

2-3 days break
Authorities in southern Russia have stopped work on a causeway across the Kerch Strait which has raised tension in relations with Ukraine.
Alexei Tkachev, the governor of Krasnodar - the region which is building the causeway - told Russian news agency Itar-Tass that construction would cease for two or three days to allow talks on the issue between the two countries.

Unfriendly act
Meanwhile the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution describing Russia's actions in building the causeway as an "unfriendly act".

Border doubt
Some Russian officials have cast doubt on Ukraine's claim to Tuzla, which the causeway would link to the Russian mainland if completed.
But Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who cut short a tour of Latin America on Wednesday because of the crisis, said there would be no concessions over the maritime border in the area.

He was speaking after visiting the small island of Tuzla, in the middle of the strait, where Ukraine has been reinforcing its border guards.
"I am forced to admit that I have not seen appropriate respect given to Ukraine and its 48 million people," he said.
"But, personally, I am convinced that we will be able to avert, and have practically averted, dramatic developments."

Essential protection
The Russian causeway stretches from the mainland towards Tuzla, and is now about 100 metres from what Kiev considers to be Ukraine's border.
There are reports that some work resumed on the causeway after Mr Kuchma's departure. But this is believed to be an effort to widen and reinforce the existing structure to withstand storms, rather than an attempt to extend it.

PMs meeting
Mr Kasyanov will meet his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych on Friday to discuss the territorial issue.

Border alert
Ukraine has put its border guards on alert, laid tank traps on the island and held air and sea exercises nearby. Reuters news agency also reported that Ukrainian guards were creating a makeshift sea border with pontoons to prevent further construction.

More claims
Correspondents say Ukraine is worried that Russia will try to claim more territory ahead of the talks. The order for work to be suspended was given by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on Wednesday.
Taman (Russia) Village
Ivanov, Igor (M) Politician Russia
Kasyanov, Mikhail (M) Politician Russia
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Yanukovich, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Russia eases border crisis, Kuchma abandons state visit
October 22, 2003
1up Info

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Work suspension
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has called for the suspension for several days of work on a causeway near the sea border with Ukraine, the building of which has caused tension between the two countries.
Mr Kasyanov's spokeswoman Tatyana Razbash said she did not know whether the local authorities in the southern Krasnodar territory had complied with the request.

The dispute has been escalating in recent days, and earlier on Wednesday Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma cut short a foreign trip to address the crisis.
Kiev is angry that Russia is building the causeway towards a Ukrainian island near the Black Sea.
Russia has also asked for proof that the island, Tuzla, is legally part of Ukraine.

100 metres away
Russia says the causeway is essential to protect part of its territory from coastal erosion.
Ukrainian officials said the causeway had already got to within hundreds of metres of Ukrainian territorial waters.
The dispute threatens to derail the new common market agreement the two countries have concluded with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Kuchma state visit abandoned
Mr Kuchma announced in Brazil that the rest of his state visit to Latin American was being abandoned.
"In connection with growing tensions around Tuzla island, President Leonid Kuchma decided to cut his state visit to Latin American countries," said a statement from the presidential press service.

30 october
Officials in Moscow say the issue will be discussed in a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers on 30 October.
The causeway, which was begun on 19 September, is expected to reach Ukrainian territorial waters by 26 October.

Kerch Strait
It is being built in the Kerch Strait, which separates Ukraine's Crimea region from the Taman peninsula and runs between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.
But Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Markian Lubkivsky said on Tuesday that Kiev would never allow it to be finished.

Territorial claims
Ukraine has put its border guards on alert, laid tank traps on the island and held air and sea exercises nearby.
Correspondents say Ukraine is worried that Russia will try to claim more territory ahead of the talks.

Economic and environmental reasons
However, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the causeway was being built purely for economic and environmental reasons. "There are no reasons to fan passions," he said.
The chairman of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee, Dmitry Rogozin, said Ukraine had drawn an arbitrary border line on the waters between Tuzla and the Taman peninsula in an attempt to push Russia out of the Kerch Strait.

Angry Ukrainian headlines
The parliaments of both countries were discussing the issue on Wednesday.
The growing row has sparked an angry response in Ukrainian newspapers, with some accusing Russia of still seeing Ukraine as an "economic colony" within its empire, or of trying trying gain free sea passage rights.
"Only when the neighbour has blatantly extended its hand to grab (Tuzla) have we realized how dear our motherland is to us," said Moloda newspaper.

"Possibility of armed conflict"
Russian papers also saw the situation as very serious.
"In the next few days the Ukrainian-Russian dispute in the Kerch Strait could escalate into an armed conflict. And this is not an exaggeration," says Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
Taman (Russia) Village
Ivanov, Igor (M) Politician Russia
Kasyanov, Mikhail (M) Politician Russia
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Varna hotel in world top 100
October 22, 2003

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Riviera Beach Hotel
Riviera Beach Hotel near the Black Sea town of Varna has been selected among the world's 100 best and most popular resort hotels, which are partners of Neckermann, a tour operating brand of Thomas Cook Group.

Second year
This is the second successive year that the Neckermann Primo Award has been conferred on Riviera Beach (link), the most recently built hotel in the luxurious holiday club, situated some seventeen kilometres from the city of Varna and in close proximity with Sunny Beach hotel.
Riviera Beach was also awarded by Thomas Cook along with 55 other hotels for excellency in partnership and as the most recommendable hotels in the world.

We are proud that Riviera Beach is the only Bulgarian hotel to be conferred the two prestigious awards, Lyudmila Nenkova, Executive Director of Holiday Club Riviera.

The luxurious holiday club Riviera was visited by 19,000 tourists in 2003, which marks an increase by 16%. The number of foreign tourists have gone up by 17%, the majority of them come from Germany (50%), Russia (13%), Great Britain (10%).
US recognizes 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine as mass murder
October 22, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

The US House of Representatives has adopted a resolution recognizing the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine as an act of mass murder, according to Ukrainian News.

Deliberate act of terror
"This man-made famine was designed and implemented by the Soviet regime as a deliberate act of terror and mass murder against the Ukrainian people," the resolution states. Moreover, in line with the resolution, the decision of the Ukrainian government and the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) to give official recognition to the famine and its victims, as well as their efforts to secure greater international awareness and understanding of the famine, should be supported.

National identity
"The official recognition of the famine by the government of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada represents a significant step in the reestablishment of Ukraine's national identity, elimination of the legacy of the Soviet dictatorship, and progress in establising a democratic and free Ukraine fully integrated into the Western community of nations," the resolution further states.

According to earlier reports, the Ukrainian parliament declared the 1932-1933 famine as an act of genocide in mid-May. The parliaments of Canada and Argentina have also condemned the famine. The US Senate intends to recognize the famine as an act of genocide soon.

Russian objections
However, Russia, assignee of the Soviet Union, refuses to acknowledge the famine as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people pretending that the soviet regime annihilated millions of people regardless of their nationality. Between 3 million and 7 million Ukrainians died as a result of artificially-created famine in 1932-1933.
Related topic(s):
"Tuzla dam will stop on Russian territory"
October 21, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Russian territory
Russia's Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that the dam constructed by the Russians in the Kerch Strait will stop on the Russian territory.

State of Tuzle unclear
He said this during a break of the meeting of the interparliamentary cooperation commission of the Russian Duma and Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv Tuesday.
However, Chernomyrdin was evasive when asked whose territory he considers is the Tuzla island.

Dam is Russian
The Ambassador says the disturbances on the dam construction are needless, as the works are held are being carried on the Russian territory.
Chernomyrdin reminded that in Soviet times the borderlines between the former republics in the are of the Azov Sea ran along the coast. Ho noted that now it is necessary to hold delineation on the sea.
Taman (Russia) Village
Related topic(s):
Ukraine-Russia border tension grows
October 20, 2003
BBC News Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has expressed its deep concern to Moscow about developments in a growing row between the two countries over the construction of a Russian dam in the Black Sea's Kerch Strait.

Spokesman Markiyan Lubkinsky said his government was unhappy with a Russian request for copies of the documents which support Ukraine's ownership of the tiny island of Tuzla in the strait.
He said it was unacceptable that Kiev should have to confirm the fact that the island was part of Ukrainian territory. The Kerch Strait links the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov, separating Russia's Taman peninsula from the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine.

The row has now attracted the attention of Nato and the United States.
Washington has urged both sides to find a diplomatic solution to the problem, while Nato's secretary general is discussing the issue with the two countries' leaders during current visits to the former Soviet countries.

Russia says the dam, which is being built between Taman and Tuzla, is essential to protect its peninsula from erosion by the sea.
It also wants to share the area with Ukraine as internal waters - while Ukraine wants to divide both the waters and the seabed.

Anti-tank traps
Russia began building the dam on 19 September. Ukraine fears Moscow will try to claim more territory ahead of border talks.
Ukrainian border guards have put themselves on alert, turned the Tuzla border post into a base, deployed anti-tank traps for the first time since World War II, and held air- and seaborne exercises near the island.

Emergency talks
Ukraine's new Foreign Minister, Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, had to turn a familiarisation trip to Moscow on 6 October into emergency talks about the dam.
He was assured by his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov that the dam would not violate the Ukrainian border, which runs 250 metres off the coast of Tuzla.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma first considered the situation a "misunderstanding rather than politics".
But as the dam advanced, at a pace of over 100 metres a day, he hardened his position. On Friday he condemned it as an "unfriendly act".
The Ukrainian parliament expressed outrage at Russia's behaviour and, in an unusual cross-party show of unity, sent a delegation to Tuzla.

Little sympathy
But correspondents say there is little public sympathy for an escalation of the crisis.
A poll published at the weekend showed most Ukrainians oppose the use of force. There is also general sympathy for Russia's position in Crimea, which has a large Russian population.

Running out of time
The Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers are to discuss the Kerch Straits on 30 October in Kiev.
The only problem is that, if the current pace of construction continues, the dam will reach the Ukrainian border by 26 October.
Taman (Russia) Village
Ivanov, Igor (M) Politician Russia
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Romanians approve constitution, three ministers resign
October 20, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

90% pro votes
Preliminary results of the 18-19 October constitutional referendum released by the Central Electoral Bureau on 20 October show that 55.7 percent of eligible voters participated in the referendum and some 90 percent of them voted in favor of the new constitution, Romanian Radio reported. Only 8.8 percent of the votes were cast against, and 1.5 percent were not valid.

Illiescu: ignore the ignorant
All votes have been counted, but the bureau still has to validate the ballot. Commenting on the low turnout at the referendum, President Ion Iliescu said the authorities should ignore the views of those who do not want to cast their votes. He added that new regulations should be adopted so that referendums and elections would be valid regardless of the participation rate. Currently, Romanian laws require a majority turnout at referendums and in the first round of elections.

Three ministers resign
Premier Adrian Nastase on 20 October announced that European Integration Minister Hildegard Puwak, Health Minister Mircea Beuran, and Serban Mihailescu, the minister in charge of coordinating the cabinet's secretariat, resigned earlier that day, Romanian media reported.

Puwak announced she has personal problems to be solved and does not want these problems to endanger Romania's negotiations with the EU. She has been accused of mishandling EU funds (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 5 September 2003).
Nastase said that Beuran, who has been accused of plagiarism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2, 6 and 14 October 2003), wanted to clear the cabinet from explaining "collateral problems."
Lastly, Mihailescu, who has been accused of corruption several times, has been involved in the so-called "Busteni case," with one of his advisors accused of receiving bribes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 17 October 2003). Nastase said Mihailescu didn't want charges against subordinates to affect the cabinet's credibility.

"Good opportunity"
On 20 October, Nastase said his Social Democratic Party (PSD) decided to accept the resignation of the three ministers as this was a good "opportunity" to improve the cabinet's image, re-launch its activities, and successfully close negotiations with the EU, Mediafax reported. The same day Nastase presented to President Ion Iliescu his proposals for replacing the three. Iliescu accepted those proposals.

EU chief negotiator Vasile Puscas is to temporarily take over the EU integration ministry, Minister of Control Ionel Blanculescu is to temporarily take over the health ministry. Former State Protocol Authority Director Eugen Bejenariu was named minister tasked with coordinating the cabinet's secretariat. Blanculescu said he has declared war on the mafia and corruption in the health system. Opposition parties called for the resignation of Nastase's entire cabinet, arguing it is incapable of combating corruption and that the resignation of the three ministers came too late.
Iliescu, Ion (M) Politician Romania
Nastase, Adrian (M) Politician Romania
Related topic(s):
Who will win the "Tuzla Game"?
October 18, 2003
Zerkalo Nedeli

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

You might think it absurd. Nevertheless, it is precisely after President Kuchma's having signed the SES agreement that Ukraine and Russia have come to the brink of confrontation. The point in contention is an island in the Kerch Strait called Tuzla Spit. The Russians seem intent on connecting with the Taman peninsular by means of a dam that they are now constructing. A further escalation of tension threatens to grow into a military conflict. This possibility is admitted even by some Ukrainian Social Democrats who have always been pro-Russian.

Such a scenario would be catastrophic for both states. However, the Russians seem to be provoking the conflict deliberately. They started constructing the dam in the close vicinity of the Ukrainian border without notifying Kyiv about it as required by the relevant bilateral agreements and international law. Nobody can guarantee that they will stop at the frontier: construction is under way despite Kyiv's strident demands to halt it, and Russian diplomats are silent as to where the builders are going to stop.

The Russian Foreign Ministry assures the Ukrainians that their concerns over the dam construction infringing Ukraine's state sovereignty are groundless. Meanwhile, according to Mykola Lytvyn, Chief of the State Border Guard Service, the dam construction "aims to link Russia's Taman peninsular with the Ukrainian islet". It looks like by 30 October, when Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov comes to Kyiv for negotiations, the construction will have been completed: less than a kilometer is separating the dam and the islet at the moment. Given that the construction advances each day by 100 meters, the work will have been completed prior to the minister's visit.

Moscow is shifting responsibility for the mounting tensions on Kyiv. Commenting on the information about Ukraine's setting up a frontier post on Tuzla Spit, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stated wittily: "At this stage it would be wrong to take any steps likely to complicate the negotiations"!

Most Ukrainian experts believe that the Russian builders will not cross the state border. Yet what is to be done if they do, and stretch the dam to the island? The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine is bringing in more personnel and carrying out exercises aimed at repelling attacks from the sea, while Mykola Lytvyn promises "to perform his duties properly and determinedly and to undertake all necessary measures to secure the inviolability of Ukraine's borders in compliance with valid legislation." The question is whether the country's top officials are prepared to act decisively, protecting Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty? Is the President ready to act?

Leonid Kuchma's behaviour in the wake of the "Tuzla crisis" is incomprehensible: in a situation when Ukrainian parliamentarians are appealing to their Russian colleagues' common sense, border guards are reinforcing the frontier and diplomats are trying to settle the dispute, the head of state has actually abdicated from the managing of problem. The Council for National Security and Defence and the Cabinet have held special meetings to consider the case. Yet over the three weeks of the crisis Ukrainians have not seen any adequate reaction on the part of their President (this passivity of his is in sharp contrast with the way the first Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk handled a similar situation in 1992 and 1993, when he resorted to all available international and national legal instruments to protect the country's territorial integrity).

Only yesterday did Leonid Kuchma say something a propos the crux of the matter. "I cannot help regarding these actions as unfriendly to Ukraine. A good neighbour does not behave like this," - the head of state argued in his interview for the Dnipropetrovsk press. "I have not heard any satisfactory answer so far," - said the President. At the same time he underscored: "I am convinced there will be no formal infringement on Ukraine's border". He reminded reporters that Russia is one of the guarantors of Ukraine's territorial integrity: "You know that Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons. I would put "voluntarily" in inverted commas as this was done under a certain pressure, after all, including on Russia's part. We disposed of our weapons, but they promised to be our guarantors. Russia is a guarantor of Ukraine's territorial integrity. Why should it be acting like this?" - Kuchma asked perplexedly.

The president is positive that the decision to start the dam construction was taken by the Russian central government. "We see how rapidly [the construction progresses] and what costs it entails; therefore the central authorities are behind it, no doubt of that," - Kuchma maintained. If the President realizes it so well, why did he not immediately contact his colleague Putin? According to our sources, the two presidents have not called each other so far, although their offices in Kyiv and Moscow are connected with a direct telephone line.

This conduct of Kuchma's makes many in Ukraine suspicious of a conspiracy. On 17 September, that is a day before the Yalta CIS summit, may we remind you, Leonid Kuchma and Vladimir Putin met on Biriuchiy Island to discuss the Azov-Kerch regional issues. As stated by Krasnodar Territory governor Alexander Tkachiov, it was there that the presidents agreed about the dam construction.

If that is true, experts suggest, the agreement was geared to raising the two presidents' ratings: at the height of the conflict Leonid Kuchma and Vladimir Putin would, purportedly, arrive on the island to attend to the problem in person, and would come out of the quandary shining gloriously as triumphant peace-makers. If this is the case, the President can hardly be expected to display willpower in advocating Ukraine's position. And if this is the case, it testifies to the officials' utmost cynicism.

However, our sources in the Presidential Administration and Foreign Ministry assert unanimously that no such agreement was reached on Biriuchiy Island, and the Russians have "set up" our President. For him, the Kerch Strait events were as unexpected as for any other Ukrainian national. In that case Leonid Kuchma's behaviour is even less fathomable…

The Russians' intentions are also a mystery. Why would they want to instigate the conflict on the eve of the SES agreement ratification in the Supreme Rada? Is Moscow planning to form a common territorial space instead of the common economic one? Or have the Russian authorities got so used to Ukrainian politicians' coming to them for pre-election support that they expected Ukrainians to take easy an impending encroachment on their country's territory?

The dam construction is obviously not a local initiative, as Moscow is attempting to make us believe. Had it been so, the Kremlin would not have reacted so slowly and sluggishly: Putin's Russia is not a country where regions can afford acting a la Fronde. That neither the President nor the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation have voiced concern about the situation is significant in and of itself. Most probably we are witnessing a thoroughly planned large-scale provocation. According to some ZN sources, among those building the dam are Russian reservists called up for training, and the "engineers" behind the scenes had several purposes in mind when they launched this project. Let us discuss some of them.

Of course, gaining control of oil-and-gas deposits and rich fisheries is an ambitious purpose, but it is not the only one. Starting the constructions, the Russians must have considered the military-political importance that Moscow attaches to the region. The issue of ownership of the Kerch Strait canals and waterways is crucial for both Ukraine and Russia. Even partial ownership of the Kerch-Yenikalsky canal enables a country to control navigation, which is increasingly essential for Russia in the light of Ukraine's desire to join NATO.

You might remember that six weeks ago Vladimir Putin characterized the Azov and Black Sea region as a zone of Russia's strategic interest. As a result, a secret Plan of Interagency Cooperation in Attaining Diplomatic and Military Objectives in the Azov and Black Sea Region was developed. Moreover, a session of the Security Council of the Russian Federation was convened on 30 September to discuss the ways and means of "ensuring security of the RF state borders".

According to the Russian press, Vladimir Putin set a clear task to the Russian Foreign Ministry: "In order to facilitate the final resolution of existing problems in this sphere, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and uniformed ministries should intensify the negotiations, and conduct them in a constructive way firmly expediting our national interests". He meant, inter alia, the delimitation of sea borders with Ukraine.

With that, it seems appropriate to quote Vladimir Mukhin's article "Moscow is Sabre-Rattling" published in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Independent Gazette) on 23 September. In the author's opinion, "the most ticklish issue may be that Russia will take over the control of disputed islands, fishing areas and potential deposits of natural resources and hydrocarbons (which it did before, when Russia and Kazakhstan failed to agree about dividing contestable oil fields in the Caspian Sea region)".

The administrative borderline between the Ukrainian SSR and RSFSR was drawn in the Kerch Strait in 1973 in accordance with international law. In April 1993, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation passed a resolution "On Enacting the RF Law "On State Border of the Russian Federation". Paragraph two of the said document reads as follows: "Pending the conclusion of agreements on delimiting the state border of the Russian Federation with neighbouring countries - former USSR republics - the border with whose countries shall be recognized as the state border of the Russian Federation".

And since the status of the administrative borderline between the Crimea and Krasnodar Territory is in no way different from that of the administrative borderline between, say, Briansk and Chernihiv oblasts, it is as valid a state border as elsewhere. The borderline between Taman and Kerch is delineated on maps hanging in Russian high officials' offices. Nonetheless, Moscow refuses to recognize it (of which Moscow has repeatedly informed Kyiv in its diplomatic notes, including after the current dispute erupted) and considers the Kerch Strait to be a disputed area.

The Russians, most probably, hope to use the dam as a lever to pressurize the Ukrainian party into concessions at the talks on delimiting the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone comprising the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov. Should the dam construction be completed, the parties will enter the next negotiation round with a changed geographical configuration, which the Russians will, undoubtedly, want to turn to their advantage.

Prior to the dam construction, the Russian Navy carried out military exercises in Krasnodar Territory, or more accurately, in the areas they treat as disputed. Observers remarked that it was the first time that the Black Sea Fleet units used live cartridges and shells while carrying our coastline offensive and defence exercises, and, unlike last year's "defensive" scenario for the shooting stage of the exercise, this time an offensive scenario was chosen.

Amazingly, contentious matters in Ukrainian-Russian relations have been brought to the fore too often over the last month. In late September, the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Eleonora Mitrofanova announced Russia's intention to get the post-Soviet states to recognize the Russian language as their official language. Earlier this week the SES issues were exacerbated when Russia's Vice Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko stated that development of the SES required the establishment of a currency union between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan as a next step in the process. The impression is that Ukraine is being bombarded with these sensitive problems to make Ukrainians feel fed up with them, to raise their "pain barrier" so that they would be able to endure greater national humiliation. Then the time will come to act.

The dam construction may also have been conceived in Moscow to probe the official Kyiv, test the response of various political groups and individuals, gauge public sentiment, on the one hand, and study the reaction of Ukraine's and Russia's major partners to Moscow's "unconventional activity" in the zone of its strategic interests, on the other. Besides, the "Tuzla crisis" may have been stirred up to create a territorial problem for a Ukraine hoping to join NATO. According to the North Atlantic Alliance criteria, membership is denied to countries with territorial problems.

No matter how the situation develops, Russia will benefit. The history of Russian-Ukrainian relations proves that the Russians have often created a problem in order to win concessions from Ukraine in exchange for the resolution of the problem. Yet one concession leads to another and eventually Kyiv becomes vulnerable as a negotiation partner. So whether Ukraine will be able to minimize losses in today's situation depends, primarily, on Ukraine, on as active and firm stance.

Kyiv should "take stock" of all its capacities, so that if and when the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty are violated, it can use all international law instruments available to it. The first step should be an appeal to the UN Security Council. You might remember July 1993 when the RF Supreme Soviet adopted a resolution "On the Status of the City of Sevastopol" claiming Sevastopol was a Russian federal city. Kyiv urgently filed an appeal to the UN Security Council. As a result, both the Russian President and Foreign Ministry disassociated themselves from the parliamentary resolution a day after it had been passed.

If need be, Ukraine can apply directly to the UN General Assembly that is now in session. Another recourse could be turning to the OSCE, an organization dealing in European security.

A number of states guaranteed Ukraine's security under the "Memorandum of Security Guarantees" with respect to Ukraine's accession to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. It is preposterous, of course, that one of these guarantor-countries should be threatening our territorial integrity. However, Kyiv can initiate respective consultations with Washington, London, Paris and Beijing, as the threat to its national security is imminent. Clause three of the Budapest Declaration explicitly states the guarantor-countries' commitment "to refrain from economic pressure aiming to submit to their own interests Ukraine's exercising of its sovereign rights, and thus, to gain advantage of any kind". The dam construction is, evidently, an instance of exerting "economic pressure" on Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the Budapest Memorandum is a declaration rather than a binding instrument providing for precise mechanisms of guarantee enforcement. Therefore appealing to the guarantor-countries could only be expected to produce a psychological effect on Russia…

Ukraine can also go to the Hague International Court to resolve this dispute with Russia in a civilized manner.

Finally, provided there is sufficient political will in Kyiv, it can, in its current state of despair, do what it has been reluctant to do for the last seven years, namely: unilaterally declare the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait international waters and establish a 12-mile zone of Ukraine's territorial waters, as provided for under international law.

The legality of the latter step is doubtful, though. As a matter of fact, Article 5 of the Agreement on the Ukrainian-Russian State Border stipulates that issues "pertaining to adjacent sea areas shall be regulated by mutual consent of the state-signatories in compliance with international law. No provision of this Agreement shall be detrimental to the position of Ukraine and the Russian Federation vis-a-vis the status of the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait as the two states' inland waters." Having recognized the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait as inland waters, Ukraine cannot now declare them international.

And yet the situation is not as hopeless as it looks: the provisions of the above article are controversial, which gives Kyiv some room for maneuver. At ZN request, an international maritime law expert Anton Buteiko explained the provisions of this agreement: "Article 5 is an example of a legal compromise. Its first part reflects Ukraine's position in respect of the sea area delimitation, whereas its second part sets out Russia's position concerning inland waters. In fact, the article mirrors the conflict between two positions. This enables the parties to stand their respective grounds in the dispute: the first part of the article states unambiguously that Ukraine does not consider these matters settled. Hence the formula about the regulation "by mutual consent of the state-signatories in compliance with international law".

What norms of international law are applicable in this case? First of all, it is the UN Maritime Convention of 1982, according to which a state is free to pass its own legislation establishing its territorial waters, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The Convention envisions that in cases when a country's territorial waters are 12-miles wide and overlap with those of a neighbouring state or its economic zone, the issue should be regulated through international agreements.

This is the case when a state cannot finally and unilaterally establish its sea frontier, since the latter stretches for less than 200 nautical miles. The first part of Article 5 "states unambiguously" that the issue remains unregulated and, thus, it can be resolved unilaterally. If Russia disagrees with Ukraine's ways of ing its sea borders, then the issue should be addressed specifically in a separate agreement.

The formula about the agreement's provisions not being "detrimental to the position of Ukraine and the Russian Federation vis-a-vis the status of the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait as the two states' inland waters" was included at the Russian party's urgent request, and it should be taken into consideration in the course of border delimitation. We cannot ignore it as it is stipulated in the agreement signed by the President.

However, the two countries' parliaments never ratified the agreement, so, in strict legal terms, it is not effective. As per the Convention on International Agreements, the parties undertake to refrain from actions running counter to the purposes of the document. Yet again, it is not a legally binding commitment. Strictly speaking, we have not recognized the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait as inland waters."

Under the circumstances, it would be opportune to appeal to the CIS. Ukraine is not a fully-fledged member, it is true, but its President chairs this regional organization. Leonid Kuchma, Chair of the CIS Heads of States' Council, could call an extraordinary session to discuss the Tuzla situation. In 1992, when the conflict with Russia over the Black Sea Fleet was looming, the then President Leonid Kravchuk sent telegrams to his CIS counterparts seeking their assistance. It worked then.

Alas, unlike his predecessor, Leonid Kuchma seems to lack steadfastness. Yesterday he expressed his hope that Ukraine would not have to apply to international organizations, and the matter would be settled at the bilateral level. "However, this unpleasant incident will stay in the history of our relations with Russia, and I can only regret it," - Kuchma noted.

Among the internally available tools for safeguarding the country's national security, experts would name the use of force against state border trespassers. As for other measures, our interviewees preferred to reserve comment… Yet lately, there is much talk of mines and shells that have remained in the Black Sea and Kerch Strait since WW II…

Ukraine should respond to this provocation with tough countermeasures to secure itself against any similar crises. Appealing to international organizations and state-guarantors will, certainly, be of great political significance for the country. Yet will it yield any practical result should Russia infringe on our territorial integrity after all? In case of such an emergency, the executive authorities will have to resort to extraordinary measures, for example, by raising in the Supreme Rada the issue of denouncing the Black Sea Agreement. Alternatively, it could reconsider Ukraine's stand as regards the former USSR's diamond reserves.

The dam incident reveals Ukraine's vulnerability to greater economic and military powers, and the lack of effective instruments guaranteeing its security. The "Tuzla crisis" sends a signal that Ukraine should redouble its efforts and speed up its accession to the North Atlantic Alliance. Had our county been a NATO member, a third state would have hardly dared to lay territorial claims and incite a frontier conflict for fear of having to face NATO's might.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Russia ignores Ukraine's concerns in border dispute
October 16, 2003

Written by Jeremy Bransten
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Bitter war of words
For the past two weeks, Moscow and Kyiv have fought an increasingly bitter war of words over the construction of a dam in the Kerch Strait, which separates Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula from the southern Russian mainland.

Called to halt
Ukraine has called on Russia to halt construction of the dam immediately, warning that it risks infringing on its territory. Moscow has promised talks on the issue, but officials remain evasive about who ordered the dam's construction and what its exact purpose is. Ukrainian border troops today began military exercises on the tiny island of Tuzla in the Kerch Strait, a day after the Ukrainian legislature adopted a statement warning Moscow that Kyiv intends to protect the country's integrity and the inviolability of its borders.

Vague on details
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has promised talks with Ukrainian officials on 30 October to try to ease bilateral tensions, but so far Moscow has remained vague on the details. At issue is a dam that Russian workers began constructing some two weeks ago from the southern Russian mainland toward an island in the middle of the Kerch Strait that Ukraine considers part of its territory. The Kerch Strait is a narrow channel connecting the Azov and Black seas. On one side lies Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, on the other, the Russian territory of Krasnodar. In the middle of the strait is Tuzla.

New island
Until almost 80 years ago, Tuzla was actually connected to the Russian mainland, but a violent storm in 1925 turned it into an island. Two decades later, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev awarded Crimea to Ukraine, then a Soviet republic. When Ukraine acquired independence in 1991, it took Crimea along with it - as well as Tuzla. The problem is that despite years of talks following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine have been unable to delineate a common sea border in the area. The dam construction has suddenly brought the issue to the fore, with Moscow refusing to issue a clear statement on the status of Tuzla and its surrounding waters and some Ukrainian officials fearing Russia is about to grab what they consider to be their territory.

Larger issue of maritime borders
RFE/RL political analyst Jan Maksymiuk puts the dispute into context: "This dam construction is only an episode in a much bigger political play involving the delimitation of the sea border between Ukraine and Russia. There has been no compromise on this issue. Talks have continued for several years now.
Basically, Russia wants to leave the Azov Sea - as they say - for joint use, and Ukraine wants to make a clear dividing line on the map, and say that this part of the sea belongs to Ukraine and this one to Russia."

Asov resources
The reason for the respective Russian and Ukrainian positions is made clear by looking at the region's geography, as well as the Azov Sea's potential natural resources, as Maksymiuk explains. "The Ukrainian coastline encircles at least 70 percent of the area of the Azov Sea, so Ukrainians are counting that at least a similar part of the sea will become their domestic sea. The problem, of course, involves big future economic profits because there are more than 100 oil and natural gas deposits discovered at the bottom of this sea. So it's no wonder that this problem is very important for both Kyiv and Moscow," Maksymiuk said.

Who needs a dam, anyway?
That much is clear. What remains a mystery is why exactly the dam is being built and who ordered its sudden construction. Aside from calling for calm, officials in Moscow have been largely silent. Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency says the dam is being built to "restore the ecological [balance]" of the area. Other Russian newspaper articles cite the Black Sea's high salt content, which is allegedly polluting the Azov Sea and preventing the breeding of certain types of fish. Ukraine's respected "Zerkalo Nedeli" newspaper says local Russian officials in the Krasnodar region could have come up with the plan in the hope of eventually building a direct road link to Crimea, for smuggling purposes.

"Local initiative"
Maksymiuk says it is likely the dam's construction plans did originate in Krasnodar, as opposed to in Moscow, quickly turning it into an international political confrontation. "I personally believe that the construction may have been begun as a local initiative, but since it has been continuing for two weeks to date, it's become a political issue for both Moscow and Kyiv, of course," Maksymiuk said.

Future concessions
Some analysts believe that by refusing to address Ukraine's increasingly strident demands for Moscow to recognize its territorial borders, Russian President Vladimir Putin may be using the issue to pressure Kyiv into future concessions or just to flex Russia's muscle.

Conspiracy theory
Others take the reverse view, as Maksymiuk explains: "The others say that [Ukrainian President Leonid] Kuchma may benefit a bit, that there is a sort of conspiracy between Kuchma and Putin.
Putin allegedly wants Kuchma to remain for a third presidential term, so Putin wants to give Kuchma a good opportunity to show his toughness in defending Ukrainian political interests." All may become clearer after Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov meets his Ukrainian counterpart Konstyantyn Grishchenko in Kyiv on 30 October. In the meantime, dam construction looks set to continue as tempers rise.

Original Source: RFE/RL
Taman (Russia) Village
Ivanov, Igor (M) Politician Russia
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Film review: Donau, Duna, Dunaj, Dunav, Dunarea
October 14, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Geography and mood fuse into a stately, slow-moving but impressive whole in "Donau, Duna, Dunaj, Dunav, Dunarea," almost entirely set on an aging ship sailing the multi-monikered Danube from Vienna to the Black Sea. Initially hard going but later subtly affecting, Goran Rebic's sophomore feature would have benefited from more background to increase its characters' charm. However, the ambitious project hits its political target of reaffirming a new, more open Europe through an atypical storyline. "Donau" could find berths at Euro fests, but theatrical appeal is limited.

Youngster Bruno (Robert Stadlober), anxious to fulfill his late mother Mara's last wish to be committed to the waves, approaches Franz (Otto Sander), a taciturn, embittered riverboat captain. Initially uncertain, Franz later agrees and an ambiguous father-son relationship develops between the two. Mara was once Franz's lover, and Bruno is convinced the man is his dad.

Full boat
Junkie Mathilda (Annabelle Mandeng) joins the boat, whimsically following a pelican she's seen on the balcony of her apartment. Later, Franz picks up a Romanian illegal immigrant, Mircea (Florin Piersic Jr.), who's jumped into the Danube to avoid deportation. Mircea and Mathilda strike up a relationship.
Other passengers come and go, including four Romanian gypsies who bring welcome liveliness. Eventually, the Danube carries most of the characters to a new beginning.

Flat characters
However, more information about the characters, particularly Mathilde, would increase aud interest. At times, they seem to be little more than cyphers for the scripters' ideas, which makes them pretty unsympathetic. Some of the situations they generate could have been milked for more dramatic effect.
Nonetheless, pic is memorable for its insights into the politics and concerns of a marginalized, rapidly changing area of Europe, and for its river-edge images of war-torn cities.

A morose voiceover occasionally intrudes with dubious river metaphors, which add little. Indeed, the general tone of earnestness, intensified by weather conditions that are rarely other than gloomy, could have done with a little lightening-up. This is particularly true in pic's first half, where everyone looks uncertain and tongue-tied.

Dialogue is around 60% German, with the rest split among several other languages.

Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Open Zone), Sept. 21, 2003.

Donau, Duna, Dunaj, Dunav, Dunarea
A Lotus Film, Wega Film production
Produced by Erich Lackner, Veit Heiduschka.
Directed by Goran Rebic.
Screenplay: Rebic, Heinz Ambrosch.
Camera: Jerzy Palacz
Music: Achim Tang, Boris Kovac, Vlada Divljan
Running time: 90 MIN.

With: Otto Sander, Robert Stadlober, Annabelle Mandeng, Florin Piersic Jr., Svetozar Cvetkovic, Denisa Dir.
Danube (Romania) River
Report says police beat opposition activists in Georgia
October 11, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Police beat about 30 activists of an opposition youth organization in Georgia, a radio station in the former Soviet republic reported Saturday.

Radio Imedi reported that police used force against members of the youth group Kmara in the Black Sea port city of Poti, where President Eduard Shevardnadze was to attend a city anniversary ceremony. Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

The radio station said the activists, who oppose Shevardnadze, said they had been blowing whistles and writing the word 'kmara' - which means 'enough' in Georgian - on a street in the city, but had done nothing illegal.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in the small Caucasus Mountain nation on Nov. 2.
Poti (Georgia) City
Related topic(s):
Russian peacekeeper freed after abduction in Georgia
October 1, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

A Russian peacekeeper who was abducted in neighboring Georgia last week was released Wednesday, officials said.

Common efforts
The soldier, Grigory Derevyannik, was freed through joint efforts by Commonwealth of Independent States peacekeepers and Georgian law enforcement authorities, said Col. Viktor Kondratenko, deputy commander of a Russian peacekeeping unit serving in Georgia under the auspices of the commonwealth, a grouping of former Soviet republics.

Second kidnap
Kondratenko, reached on his cellular phone near Georgia's separatist Abkhazia region, declined to give details but said the release was aided by the father of another man who was abducted in the area last week, Levan Changelia, an election coordinator working for a Georgian opposition party. Changelia's father threatened to commit suicide if Derevyannik was not freed.

Possible link
Kondratenko's comments suggested a link between the two abductions, and Russia's Interfax news agency reported Wednesday that an operation to free Changelia was under way.

Georgian authorities said Sunday that it appeared four armed people seized Derevyannik on Friday in Zugdidi, about 330 kilometers (205 miles) northwest of the capital Tbilisi. The headquarters of the Russian peacekeeping unit has said it suspected Georgian fighters or criminals abducted him in a bid to force the release of their abducted comrades.

Minor injure
Derevyannik's arm was injured when he put up resistance against his abductors, Kondratenko said. He said no exchange was made for his release.
Derevyannik was serving in Abkhazia, a Black Sea province that won de facto independence from Georgia in 1993 after a two-year war that forced 300,000 ethnic Georgians from their homes.

Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the tense region that unofficially divides Georgia and Abkhazia since early 1994, and their presence has been a source of constant friction between Russia and Georgia. Georgian officials have repeatedly accused them of siding with separatists and failing to help ethnic Georgian refugees return to their homes in Abkhazia.
Related topic(s):
Abkhazia's 10th anniversary: Georgia still laments loss
September 30, 2003
RFE/RL Transcaucasia

Written by Jean-Christophe Peuch
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Open wound
The unrecognized Southern Caucasus republic of Abkhazia today marks the 10th anniversary of its military victory over Georgia. Three days ago, Georgians remembered the fall of the Abkhaz capital into the hands of separatist troops. For the majority of Georgians, the loss of Abkhazia remains an open wound and a scapegoat for many of their hardships.

Bloody conflict
Ten years ago today, armed rebels drove the last Georgian soldiers from the Black Sea province of Abkhazia, ending one of the bloodiest conflicts of the post-Soviet era.
A little more than one year later - on 26 November 1994 - the parliament of Abkhazia declared the province's sovereignty.

Formally at war
Despite a ceasefire and international assistance in the effort to agree on a peace treaty, Tbilisi and Sukhumi today remain formally at war.
For Georgia, severance from Abkhazia has meant not only the loss of a popular resort region and one of its most fertile areas but also of a major transport route to Russia.

South Ossetia
A few months before the Abkhaz conflict broke out in August 1992, Georgia had lost another of its provinces - the tiny mountainous republic of South Ossetia, which had seceded in the final years of the Soviet Union. Yet, unlike the South Ossetian conflict, which is also unresolved, the Abkhaz war remains a bleeding wound in Georgia's collective consciousness.

Political impact
Rachel Clogg agrees. She is associate manager of the Caucasus Program at Conciliation Resources, a London-based nongovernmental organization that provides assistance to people and groups in areas of armed conflict and potential violence. She says the South Ossetian conflict does not have the same degree of political impact within Georgia as Abkhazia does:

"I think it does not have the same emotional impact either. Abkhazia - partly because of where it is located and [because of] the fact that it was a big resort area and a key transport link along the [Black Sea] coast - is a bigger issue for Georgia, and it has had more internal impact. [Both conflicts] are perceived similarly, but I think that with [South] Ossetia, there is still a lot more coming and going. It is much easier to cross into [South] Ossetia [from Georgia]. There is not that sense of total divide between the two, and I think that makes some difference," Clogg said.

Military defeat
Svante Cornell is the deputy director of the Johns Hopkins University's Central Asian Caucasus Institute (CACI) in Washington. He believes another factor that explains why the loss of Abkhazia is felt more keenly by most Georgians is that - like the first Chechen war in Russia - it followed a bitter military defeat:

"Among everything that has happened [in the early years of independent Georgia], I think Abksoft on the Abkhaz issue, I think. The potential for political manipulation of the Abkhaz issue is taking place all the time."

Georgia has persistently blamed Russia for preventing any peace deal with Abkhazia.
While denying any involvement in the dispute between Tbilisi and Sukhumi, Moscow provided logistical and direct military support to the separatists during the war. At the same time, the Russian military garrisoned in Transcaucasia handed over a large number of its weapons and equipment to the Georgian side, allowing the conflict to drag on.

Moscow is a member of the group of nations mandated by the UN secretary-general to mediate in the conflict and has 1,800 peacekeepers posted along the Georgian-Abkhaz demarcation line. It recently accelerated steps to meet the demands of all Abkhaz residents who apply for Russian citizenship. The move raised concerns in Tbilisi, which protested at what it said was a gross violation of its sovereignty.

Not only one to blame
Analyst Clogg of Conciliation Resources says that although Russia continues to influence the political situation in the region, it is not the only one to blame for the failure of Georgian-Abkhaz peace talks.

"I do think that although Russia is playing a very destructive role and Russia, obviously, has its own interests in Abkhazia as a lever on Georgia and as a foothold in the South Caucasus as a whole, there is a lot more that could be done -- could have been done and I think could still be done -- by the Georgian government if there were the political will, really, to make the difference," Clogg said.

Main power
Cornell agrees that Russia remains the main power broker in the region. Yet, he says Georgia has largely failed to prevent Abkhazia from drifting further toward Moscow.

"The Georgians have failed to, so to speak, give the Abkhaz an incentive of any form to come back into Georgia, and I think that is one of the main problems on that side. Yes, the Russian problem is there, there is no denying it. But, at the same time, you have to circumvent it somehow, and the only way to circumvent it is to give the Abkhaz an incentive. And the Georgians have not been very good at trying to give the Abkhaz an incentive," Cornell said.

Main obstacle
Many Georgians believe the Abkhaz issue is the main obstacle on their country's road toward economic prosperity and political stability. Official figures put the economic loss caused by the 1992-1993 war at more than $11 billion.
While saying it is difficult to quantify the economic fallout of the war on the national economy, regional experts agree the conflict has had a dramatic impact on Georgia's nation-building process. Clogg believes the small Southern Caucasus country is entangled in what she describes as a "vicious circle."

Difficult tension
"Until Georgia has a stronger democracy and there is more respect for the rule of law and a much more stable economy, it is very difficult to see how Georgia can become more attractive to the Abkhaz and how it can actually take a more strategic approach to conflict resolution," Clogg said. "But at the same time, it is very difficult, while the conflict with Abkhazia remains unresolved, to really focus on building democracy in Georgia and strengthening the economy and all the rest of it. So I think there is a very difficult tension between the two."

While partially agreeing with this assessment, other experts believe that solely blaming the Abkhaz issue for Georgia's economic shortcomings is an exaggeration.
"On the psychological level, yes, it is true that the loss of Abkhazia and the feeling of being a crippled state has affected the Georgians' ability to develop their country," Cornell says. "But I would rather say that Georgia's problems have much more to do with the total absence of government control over its own institutions and the corruption of state [structures]."
Tbilisi (Georgia) Capital
Yushchenko is sure about cooperation with Tymoshenko
September 26, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Viktor Yushchenko is confident that he and Yulia Tymoshenko will put forward a common candidate in the presidential elections.

"We shall be together. This is top priority," Yushchenko told the Lvivska Hazeta, adding he sees no problem which would prevent the two political forces from consolidation

He says Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine are finishing an arrangement on the issue. The dialogue between the two political forces that have been going for four or five weeks is gaining "political quality." "I am absolutely optimistic about that," says Yushchenko.

The leader of the Our Ukraine was undeterred when asked that many of his adherents are attracted by his high personal ratings. He says "Rating is a reward for the position." "Our political conduct, our vision of the key political problems. This is our response to what the voter wants today."

Yushchenko believes his popularity "is adequate to what we did for Ukraine and Ukrainian people. This is our rating, not somebody's else."

The Our Ukraine will help to resolve the problems the Lvivska Hazeta is having with the regional tax administration through the parliamentary committee for liberty of speech, headed by the bloc's member Mykola Tomenko. "We are prepared to initiate and secure the necessary processes," says the political leader.

Yushchenko also promissed to raise the issue during the meeting of the Prosecutor General Piskun with the faction, and even discuss it at the upcoming PACE session.

Journalists presented Yushchenko with a back copy of the newspaper, where a leading article urged the leader to join the opposition and lead the people to massive civil disobedience campaigns. He said "Believe me, should we have acted the way then […] it would be the shortest road to secure Medvedchuk's victory in this country."
Tymoshenko, Yulia (F) Politician Ukraine
Yushenko, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine explore Black Sea bottom
September 24, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

An expedition of 20 researchers from Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine will explore the state of seabottom organisms in the Black Sea, the Bulgarian news agency reported Wednesday.

The expedition will soon start from Varna, eastern Bulgaria, on board the "Akademik" boat of the Bulgarian Institute of Oceanology.

Bottom ecosystem
the course of 20 days the researchers will monitor the recovery of the sea bottom ecosystem along the coast of the three countries, focusing on the deltas of the Danube, Dnepr, Bug and Dnestr rivers.

USD 8 mio.
The research project costs 8 million US dollars, half of which have been provided by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Fund.
Danube (Romania) River
Dnipro (Ukraine) River
Related topic(s):
The forgotten war and an intractable conflict
September 24, 2003
Moscow Times

Written by Peter Rutland
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

10 years ago
Almost exactly 10 years ago, on Sept. 30, 1993, separatist rebels drove Georgian forces from the province of Abkhazia on the east shore of the Black Sea. Thus ended a war that left more than 10,000 dead and caused half the region's 525,00 inhabitants to flee.

Not recognized
A decade later, the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia is not recognized by any state, and peaceful resolution of the conflict is still nowhere in sight.

During my visit to the region last month, one mother described being evacuated with her two babies on a Russian ship on the third day of the war. She watched Georgian helicopters strafing multi-story apartment blocks in Sukhumi, the capital -- where her parents were still living. The current education minister described how one of his students was shot down in front of him.

Hearing such stories it is easy to understand why these people are now distrustful of the Georgian government. And seeing the gutted ruins in Sukhumi and other cities one can appreciate the intensity of the fighting. But the conflict in Abkhazia went virtually unnoticed in the West, which was preoccupied with the war in Bosnia. Also, it was assumed that we could trust Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, who had been helpful as Soviet foreign minister at the end of the Cold War. Western reporting on the conflict, such as it is, almost invariably relies on Georgian sources and reflects the Georgian position.

Abkhaz history
The 100,000 Abkhaz are a distinct ethnic group who speak a language unrelated to Georgian. For much of the past 200 years they have resisted conquest and assimilation by neighboring states. After the Russians crushed their last rebellion, in 1877, half the population was deported to Ottoman Turkey. Subsequent Georgian migration made the Abkhaz a minority in their own province, and Stalin put the region back under Georgian control in 1931.

Shevardnadze became president of Georgia in January 1992, after a coup deposed his predecessor. He faced rebellions in four provinces -- Adzharia, Ossetia, Mingrelia and Abkhazia. On Aug. 14, 1992, he sent 3,000 troops with tanks and aircraft to disband Abkhazia's parliament, which was debating a plan for a federal state.

Guerilla war
The Abkhaz retreated to the mountains and fought a guerrilla war. Atrocities were committed by both sides. A year later, the Georgian forces were driven out and most of the ethnic Georgian population also fled, fearing retribution.

Russian army
It is often assumed that the Abkhaz only won because they were helped by the Russian army. But it was Georgia, not Abkhazia, that received a share of Soviet army weapons when they were divided up in the spring of 1992. The Abkhaz had to beg or buy their arms from local Russian units. And the Abkhaz believe that Yeltsin approved Shevardnadze's invasion plan when the men met two weeks before the attack.

Muslim extremists
The Abkhaz are typically portrayed as Muslim extremists, in contrast to the Christian Georgians. In fact, they blend Muslim practices with Christian and pre-Christian traditions. Muslims and Christians are buried together in the same cemeteries. There is not a single mosque in Abkhazia -- although there are some sixth-century Byzantine churches. I met Muslims who observe Ramadan, but eat pork. Today, there are probably just as many Abkhaz Christians as Muslims. The national flag consists of green and white stripes, symbolizing the two religions.

A second widespread but erroneous view is that the Abkhaz are surrogates for Moscow. The Abkhaz do not want to join the Russian Federation, they want independence and self-rule. Wary of setting a precedent for Chechnya, Moscow opposes secession in principle, and in fact enforced the international blockade of Abkhazia for much of the 1990s. Russian policy became more favorable to Abkhazia under President Vladimir Putin, who saw Georgia as an obstacle to victory in the war with Chechnya.

Out of sheer necessity, Abkhazia uses the Russian ruble as its currency. Average salaries are $25 a month, and the state pension is $1 a month. Many Abkhaz are now taking Russian citizenship, because their Soviet Union passports will finally expire at the end of this year. Travel restrictions have been eased, and this year some 300,000 Russian tourists have taken cut-price vacations on Abkhaz beaches. (The Russian border is still closed to Westerners: The only way they can enter Abkhazia is in a UN convoy from Georgia.)

Georgia also suffers from the current standoff. The blockade hurts the Georgian (and Armenian) economy since Abkhazia sits astride the sole railway line to Russia. Georgia still hosts 200,000 refugees. And although some 50,000 refugees have returned to the Gali district in southern Abkhazia, I did not meet any Abkhaz who were prepared to see Georgians return to central Abkhazia.

Rail links
At a meeting in March, Putin and Shevardnadze agreed to encourage the return of refugees and to re-open the railroad, leaving aside the question of Abkhazia's status. Shevardnadze, who is facing parliamentary elections in November, was immediately attacked by his nationalist opponents, who insist on restoring Georgian control before there is any discussion of refugees or rail links.

The two sides are kept apart by 3,000 Russian peacekeepers and a UN observer mission. Georgia does not allow the peacekeepers to patrol the Kodori valley to the east, which is also a no-go zone for the Abkhaz authorities. In June 2003, four UN observers were kidnapped in Kodori, but released a week later. In 1998 and again 2001, armed groups descended from Kodori and marched on Sukhumi, but were turned back by Abkhaz troops. The 2001 attack was led by Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelayev.

US influence
In spring 2002, the United States started a train and equip program to help the Georgian army expel Chechen rebels from the Pankisi Gorge in eastern Georgia. Some Georgian politicians want to use the newly strengthened army to re-take Abkhazia by force. This idea meets with little enthusiasm among ordinary Georgians, but it could be a last resort for Shevardnadze, whose popularity has plummeted amid rampant corruption, economic decay and electricity blackouts.

Perhaps Shevardnadze hopes that at the upcoming U.S.-Russia summit, President George W. Bush will persuade Putin to end the conflict by returning Abkhazia to Georgian rule. However, neither Washington, nor Moscow, nor the UN should imagine that they can solve this problem without taking into account the fears of the Abkhaz and their determination to resist absorption into Georgia.

But the Abkhaz have painted themselves into a corner. They see an independent nation-state as the only guarantee that they will not be wiped out as a people.
Yet the world community refuses to recognize their independence and views as set in stone the national boundaries drawn by Stalin.

Peter Rutland, a professor of government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, contributed this essay to The Moscow Times. In August he ran a summer school in Abkhazia for the London-based Conciliation Resources Group.
Related topic(s):
Free-trade zone for CIS countries
September 19, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Ex-soviet states
A dozen former Soviet republics endorsed an ambitious plan Friday aimed at recreating the economic structure that collapsed with the breakup of the Soviet Union, a move leaders say is meant to boost sagging economies but not to turn back the clock.

Free-trade zone
The Commonwealth of Independent States agreed to work toward the eventual creation of a free-trade zone stretching from Central Asia to the edge of the European Union.

Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan led the integration efforts, signing a separate agreement to synchronize their legislation on tariffs, customs and transport for the free movement of goods, capital and labor.

Common market
The four nations set a December 1 deadline to outline the main steps needed to create the common market, a zone similar to the European Union.

Kazakh idea
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been credited with proposing the idea, said the other eight CIS nations would be encouraged to move toward membership.

A free-trade zone is considered essential for many of the former Soviet republics facing struggling manufacturing sectors and inadequate market reforms, making them unappealing partners for the more prosperous West.

"Will of the people"
"I believe that in signing this agreement, we aren't merely taking a professional, correct step, but in the clearest sense fulfilling the will of the people of our countries," Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the CIS summit Friday in the Black Sea resort of Yalta.

First progress
Boosting economic cooperation has topped the CIS agenda almost since its founding 12 years ago, yet little progress has been made.
Earlier attempts have been hindered by gaping differences between the sizes of the region's economies and levels of development, as well as fears of domination by Russia, still the region's heavyweight.

"Soviet train has gone"
Putin tried to lessen those fears calling "the Soviet Union a very complicated page in the history of our people" but adding, "That train has left."

"Now we must think about today and about the future of our people, and if we are going to take responsibility for that, we must gather together all the positives that were left for us from the preceding generation," Putin said.
The overall plan endorsed by all 12 members extends through 2010 and calls for synchronizing markets, particularly in the transport and energy sectors.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, whose country has been the most uneasy about an economic union as it tries to balance ties to Russia with efforts to integrate with the West, said ex-Soviet states need a common market.
"The European market is closed for us," Kuchma said. "Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow." Kuchma said the republics accounted for 79 percent of trade with each other during the Soviet era, but only 26 percent last year a "catastrophic" decline.

Other cooperation
The presidents also agreed to boost cooperation in the fight against illegal immigration and drugs, honor the Soviet veterans who fought in World War II and remember the victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
CIS summit adopts special document on Abkhaz settlement
September 19, 2003
RIA Novosti

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Today the CIS summit in Yalta has adopted a special document on the problem of Abkhaz settlement, Vladimir Putin said at a press conference. The document has been adopted on Georgia's initiative and "reminds of the problem and ways for its solution".

In the early 90s, Abkhazia, lying on Georgia's Black Sea coast, proclaimed independence. Now Russian peacekeeping forces are deployed there under the CIS aegis.

Unsettled problems
The Russian president voiced regret that, alongside the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, "there still are many unsettled problems" in the territory of the former USSR.
"We all want them to be settled on the basis of international law," peacefully, said Putin.

Shevardnadze pleased
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze thanked the leaders of other Commonwealth countries for support given to his initiative.
Related topic(s):
Shevardnadze wants to negotiate with Putin
September 19, 2003

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Abkhaz conflict
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze is planning to discuss the soonest settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their tete-a-tete meeting, sources in the Georgian Foreign Ministry told RBC.

Primary attention will be paid to the return of refugees to Abkhazia, security guarantees and the implementation of economic projects in this region.

Sources in the Georgian state chancellery added that Shevardnadze was going to demand reimbursement for Russian military bases in Georgia. According to the Georgian Finance Ministry, the demanded sum might exceed $1bn.

Visa procedures
It is not ruled out that Shevardnadze and Putin will consider liberalization of visa procedures between the two states.
Related topic(s):
British Airways may resume flights to Georgia
September 18, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

In accordance with the agreement between the governments of Georgia and the United Kingdom, British Mediterranean Airways, which is a franchise partner to British Airways, may restore flights between Tbilisi and London.
"We have the right to submit relevant documents to the Civil Aviation Department within 14 days concerning restoration of air flights," the British company's Tbilisi office spokesperson Tamar Shanidze told Civil Georgia today.

Airzena contract
Chairman of the Civil Aviation Department Zurab Chankotadze told Civil Georgia the flights might be restored if the British company concludes a commercial contract with the Georgian flagship company Airzena.

Two flights a week
The Georgian company is ready to launch talks with the British Mediterranean Airways on conducting two flights by each company per week.

Canceled since April 15
The Georgian authorities canceled the flight license to the British Mediterranean Airways and the Turkish Airlines from April 15, explaining decision with unpaid taxes, inadequate legal basis and unsolved disputes with the Georgian flagship company Airzena.
Related topic(s):
Abkhazian hostage released
September 18, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Abkhaz employee of the Enguri hydro power plant, who was abducted on September 16 by unknown gunmen, was released today.

On September 17 the Abkhaz side set ultimatum to the Georgian side, demanding the release of the employee of the Enguri hydro power plant. Otherwise the head of the administration of the Gali district of breakaway Abkhazia Ruslan Kishmaria threatened to stop the plant.
The Abkhaz side accused Georgian guerrillas of abducting Abkhaz employee, while the Georgian side claimed it was a provocation masterminded by the Abkhaz side.

Second kidnap
Reports say Elguja Kvetenadze, head of Zestaponi municipality, in western Georgia, was kidnapped this morning; however the kidnappers abandoned the car and the hostage and escaped after the police started to chase the criminals.
The law enforcers arrested one of the alleged kidnappers, while others remain at large.

"It seems that the kidnappers wanted ransom. I think this was the only reason for abduction," Jemal Gakhokidze, the Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council, told reporters today.
Related topic(s):
Romania's financial ratings upgraded
September 18, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

From BB- to BB
The international rating agency Standards & Poor's on 17 September raised Romania's long-term foreign-currency risk rating from BB- to BB, Mediafax reported. Short-term ratings for foreign currency and local currency remained at B.

Growth and modernization
The agency said the upgrade reflects the stronger competitiveness of the economy and ongoing restructuring and modernization, combined with "continued robust growth driven by exports and investment."
"Ukraine tries to change status Serpents Island"
September 17, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Senate Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Ghiorghi Prisacaru said on 16 September that Ukraine is trying to transform the uninhabited Serpents' Island in the Black Sea into a settled island in order to claim exclusive rights over the oil-and-gas seabed surrounding the island, Mediafax reported.

International Court of Justice
Prisacaru said this is inadmissible and if Kyiv persists in the attempts, Romania will take the dispute over the shelf surrounding the island to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Serpents' Island was ceded by Romania to the Soviet Union in 1946 and Ukraine inherited it after the breakup of the former USSR. In the basic treaty between the two countries that was ratified in 1997, Ukraine pledged to deploy no "aggressive weapons" on it and to consider it "uninhabited," which, under international maritime legislation, means that Kyiv cannot claim an exclusive economic zone around it.
Related topic(s):
Fugitive Georgian ex-minister registered as parliamentary candidate
September 17, 2003
RFE/RL Transcaucasia

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Former State Security Minister Igor Giorgadze has been registered as a candidate to contest the 2 November parliamentary election in a constituency in Samtredia, western Georgia, according to "Mtavari gazeti" on 17 September, as quoted by Caucasus Press.

Interpol warrant
Giorgadze fled Georgia in the fall of 1995 after being accused of masterminding the car-bomb attack on then-parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze. Although Interpol has issued a warrant for his arrest, he has given numerous interviews to Russian media outlets, in which he claims to enjoy popular support in Georgia.

The Central Election Commission has asked the Interior Ministry to clarify whether Giorgadze has been resident in Georgia for the past two years, as required by the Election Law, Caucasus Press reported. Giorgadze was denied registration as a candidate in the 1999 parliamentary and 2000 presidential elections because he did not meet that residence requirement.
Giorgadze, Igor (M) Politician Georgia
Related topic(s):
Employee of power plant abducted in Abkhazia
September 17, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

The Abkhaz side set ultimatum to the Georgian side, demanding the release of the employee of the Enguri hydro power plant. Otherwise the head of the administration of the Gali District of breakaway Abkhazia Ruslan Kishmaria threatens to stop the plant.

Abkhazian hostage
Reports say unknown gunmen abducted on September 16 two employees, one Georgian and the other Abkhazian, of the Enguri hydro power plant. Later the Georgian hostage was released, while the Abkhazian still remains in captivity.

Double control
Since the 1992-93 conflict in Abkhazia the main aggregates of the Enguri hydro power plant are controlled by the Georgian side, while the switchboard, which is located in the Gali district, remains under control of the Abkhaz side.
Related topic(s):
Putin wants to upgrade Black Sea Fleet
September 17, 2003
Moscow Times

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes it is necessary to upgrade the Black Sea Fleet and its naval bases, Rossiya (Russia) television reported.

Joint Russian-Ukrainian
He made this announcement at a meeting on military and diplomatic issues in Yeisk, Russia, today. Putin said that the modernization should equally apply to a joint Russian-Ukrainian naval base.

Ecological safety
The major naval base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is Sevastopol. Speaking about Russian-Ukrainian cooperation in this respect, Putin noted that the sides should work out the rules for operating navigation systems in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov with regard to ecological safety.
Related topic(s):
Putin creates base for Black Sea fleet in Novorossiysk
September 17, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he has signed an order for the creation of a naval base at Novorossiisk, on the Black Sea, and called the region a strategically important area for Russia.

Sevastopol still headquarters
Putin said the plan for a Black Sea Fleet base in Novorossiisk does not mean that Russia will abandon the base in Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, which is the fleet's headquarters, the Interfax news agency reported.

"We must have different variants, and there are various tasks facing the fleet, so the fleet should also be present in Novorossiisk", Interfax quoted Putin as saying in Yeisk, a city on the Azov Sea, which is adjacent to the Black Sea.

Sevastopol is on the Crimean Peninsula, part of Ukraine, which became independent when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine over the Black Sea Fleet and its Sevastopol base have largely eased since the early 1990s, but the countries are arguing over their border in the Azov Sea.

Geopolitical importance
Putin said that the region of the Black and Azov Seas has "special geopolitical importance and is a zone of strategic interests for Russia", Interfax reported. He said it is a hub of "global transport routes, including for energy".

Russia ships oil out of Novorossiisk, through Turkey's Bosporus waterway, and nations are planning pipelines to carry oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea to world markets through Turkey, which dominates the Black Sea's southern coast.

Putin pointed out that there are several conflicts in the region that persist and said the "a real challenge for the region is the activity of terrorist structures, cross-border crime and illegal migration".
Related topic(s):
EU warns Kuchma against oppression of media
September 17, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

The European Union today marked the third anniversary of murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze with a statement deploring lack of progress in investigation into the circumstances of journalist's death, Ukrayinska Pravda reported.

Violent deaths
The statement, approved by the representatives of 15 EU member states and the 10 acceding countries, says that a number of other journalists have met with violent deaths since then and others have been attacked in Ukraine.

Freedom of media
Further, according to the document, wishing to strengthen EU-Ukrainian relations, the EU is incapable of going on, unless Ukraine acts "in conformity with European values and standards." The statement says the freedom of the media and protection of journalists are central to these values.

Yesterday, on September 16, thousands of people across Ukraine commemorated the perished journalist condemning President Leonid Kuchma. Some 3,000 people rallied in the center of Kyiv to mark the anniversary. The country's parliament held a moment of silence in honor of Gongadze.

Kuchma involvement
The opposition has linked Kuchma to disappearance and killing of Heorhiy Gongadze. Kuchma denies involvement in the murder or in any corrupt dealings committed during his reign.
Kyiv (Ukraine) Capital
Gongadze, Georgi (M) Journalist Ukraine
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Georgia, Turkey pledge cooperation
September 15, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, who arrived in Tbilisi on September 15, met with his Georgian counterpart Irakli Menagarishvili today.

The sides discussed the issues of bilateral cooperation and integration into the European structures.

"Turkey attaches great significance to the Caucasus, especially to Georgia. The energy projects, being implemented with the participation of the both sides, are especially interesting. We are ready to assist Georgia almost in all the spheres," Abdullah Gul said.

"The visit will boost relations and strategic cooperation between Turkey and Georgia," Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili said at the news briefing today.
Later today the Turkish Minister and other members of the delegation will meet with President Shevardnadze and State Minister Avtandil Jorbenadze.
Gul, Abdullah (M) Politician Turkey
Mass jailbreak in Georgia
September 11, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

129 escaped
Up to 129 inmates of the Rustavi prison, near Tbilisi, escaped late in the evening on September 10, killing one prison guard. Another guard was badly injured.

The jailbreakers are described by authorities as "particularly dangerous." The law enforcers reported that up to 15 jailbreakers were recaptured.

It was the largest breakout in the country's history.
The Rustavi prison is notorious for overcrowding, with poor conditions and regular escape attempts.

26 recaptured
Georgian Justice Ministry reported this morning that the law enforcers recaptured 26 convicts out of 129, who escaped from Rustavi top security prison.

According to Interior Ministry's spokesman Paata Gomelauri the police blocked all roads in and out of Rustavi, near Tbilisi.
Tbilisi (Georgia) Capital
Related topic(s):
January 19, 2004 [RBC]
Georgian-Abkhaz talks fail
Kuchma named in Gongadze murder
September 10, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Chairman of the parliamentary ad hoc commission for investigation into Gongadze case, MP Hryhoriy Omelchenko disclosed the names of the alleged kidnappers of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, contained in the letters of a former police officer Honcharov, according to Ukrayinska Pravda.

After the meeting of his commission Tuesday, MP Omelchenko quoted fragments of Honcharov's letters to the journalists dropping names appearing therein. Since Honcharov's death in jail, media have refrained from publishing the letters, because there was no proof of authenticity of the documents.

Spy identity
The identities of these persons, as well as of workers of criminal investigation, who have spied on Gongadze, I have disclosed to an SBU officer and to journalist Yeltsov (an acquaintance of Honcharov, who was the first to publish Honcharov's letters, Omelchenko stated. In the words of MP, these crimes were committed on orders of the then Interior Affairs Minister Kravchenko, and Yuriy Smirnov, who replaced him. Top state officials, including President Kuchma and acting Defense Minister Marchuk, are also involved in these kidnappings.

The MP said he decided to make the names, contained in the letters of the former militiaman, public after a recent forensic examination had confirmed authenticity of Honcharov's letters.

Kuchma and 3 other high officials
Omelchenko told the journalists that the commission, headed by him, decided that "organizers of kidnapping of Heorhiy Gongadze, that entailed heavy consequences, are four high-ranking officials of Ukraine, namely, President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, former head of Presidential Administration, now Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, former Interior Minister (presently head of the State Tax Administration) Yuriy Kravchenko and former head of the SBU (now People's Deputy') Leonid Derkach ".

He stressed that according to the Criminal Procedure Code, citizens, organizations, and institutions are authorized to collect evidences in criminal cases. The commission submitted the collected evidences in the Gongadze case to the Prosecutor-General's Office.
Gongadze, Georgi (M) Journalist Ukraine
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
A constitutional coup in Ukraine
September 10, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Written by Yuliya Tymoshenko
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Grip of power
Kuchma has not suddenly converted to the view that parliamentary democracies are better than presidential ones. No, Kuchma wants to change Ukraine's constitution for no other reason than to maintain his grip on power

Risky business
Changing constitutions is always a risky business. But it is a downright dangerous one when undertaken to benefit one man alone. Indeed, when a president volunteers to reduce the powers of his own office, you can be certain that he is up to no good.

That is exactly what is going on in Ukraine, where President Leonid Kuchma proposes to junk our presidential system and replace it with a strange type of parliamentary system he has concocted. Kuchma has not suddenly converted to the view that parliamentary democracies are better than presidential ones. No, Kuchma wants to change Ukraine's constitution for no other reason than to maintain his grip on power.

No limits
Today, Kuchma rules as an all-powerful president. But his term ends next year and he cannot run again. So, instead of retiring gracefully, as presidents from Bill Clinton to Boris Yeltsin routinely do, Kuchma wants to change the constitution in order to become an all-powerful prime minister who will never face a limit on the length of his term.

Of course, constitutions are not meant to protect the status quo if the status quo is rotten. Constitutions can, and should, accommodate reform when necessary.
A powerful president, however, is not necessarily wrong for Ukraine. In our wrenching postcommunist transition, it is essential that a government can act decisively. To change a system that seems best suited to Ukraine's circumstances, you need a good reason.

The Ukraine president is authorised to appoint and sack the prime minister, dissolve parliament if he wishes, and rule by decree if he judges that the country's institutions are in danger. He maintains day-to-day control over every aspect of government. So puissant a Caesar must be above reproach.
Kuchma is not. On the contrary, what is rotten in Ukraine is not its constitution, but its president, who is mired in charges of corruption and orchestrating the murder of journalists, and who is shunned by other world leaders.

As president, Kuchma is grotesquely unpopular. Even Slobodan Milosevic had more support in Yugoslavia before his fall. So Kuchma knows that he cannot rely on handpicking his successor, as Yeltsin did in Russia.
Unable to assure himself of a tame presidential successor, Kuchma wants what he calls a 'parliamentary republic' with a weak president and powerful prime minister. But the parliament he has in mind is a mutant, one where the authoritarian rule of the criminal clans Kuchma controls will continue, unabated, behind the facade of parliamentary procedure.

People too easily forget Ukraine, this big country on the border of the soon-to-be enlarged European Union. But any attempt to prolong Kuchma's rule will create such a political mess that it is not absurd to fear that Ukraine could follow Belarus and the Balkans of the early 1990s into outright dictatorship and chaos.

Indeed, this scenario could worsen, because Russia is unlikely to sit around idly and watch Ukraine unravel. Intervention of some type seems more likely in such circumstances. Only an imperial Russia, however, would dare reabsorb Ukraine. But an imperial Russia cannot be a democratic Russia. So Kuchma endangers freedom and human rights not only in Ukraine, but ultimately threatens Russia's democracy as well.

Luckily, there has never been a better time for the West - particularly the EU - to nudge Ukraine back from the brink. With EU expansion coming next spring, all Ukrainians fear that a new wall will cut their country off from the Union's easternmost border in Poland.

Conditional help
Although the job of maintaining Ukraine's democracy is primarily one for Ukrainians, the EU can help if it takes practical steps to reassure Ukrainians that they won't be cut off from the rest of Europe. A generous visa regime and the use of regional development funds in Ukraine that will benefit impoverished eastern Poland, are two possible inducements. But these should be made conditional on Kuchma leaving the country's constitution and democracy alone.

Domestic affairs
The EU should not fret about interfering in Ukraine's domestic affairs. After all, it hesitated little a few years ago to put a current member state, Austria, on notice that it was watching out for the welfare of that country's democracy. The wayward Kuchma is far more deserving of Europe imposing safeguards to ensure his good behaviour.
Similarly, the US should cast a wary eye at Kuchma's decision to send troops to Iraq. It cannot be the case that America's fidelity to democracy in Ukraine can be so cynically purchased.

Within Ukraine, a government capable of truly governing should seek to adopt EU laws and norms in exactly the manner that the countries poised to join the Union have done, thus helping to clean up the murky system in which Kuchma's criminal cronies flourish. The constitution must be reformed, but not to shift power from one unaccountable leader to another. What is needed are clear checks on arbitrary rule, and transparency in decision-making.

No one should doubt that Kuchma intends to stay in power, no matter what. Less certain is whether he will feel secure enough to hold a presidential election (or any other kind of election) if he cannot change the constitution in a way that guarantees his continued misrule. It is, after all, President Kuchma who is discredited, not Ukraine's constitutional arrangements.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Tymoshenko, Yulia (F) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Black Sea trade benefits from Asia-Mediterranean growth
September 9, 2003

Written by Janet Porter
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Asia trade
Countries bordering the Black Sea stand to benefit from the dramatic growth in trade between Asia and the Mediterranean.
For the first time direct container services from the Far East to Black Sea destinations are being launched in place of feeder links from Mediterranean hubs.

Growing interest
The decision by CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Co to inaugurate similar services almost simultaneously is coincidence but reflects growing interest in this part of the world.

Faster transit times
Customers will have the advantage of considerably faster transit times, says Christine Cabau, CMA CGM's vice-president for Asia, Gulf and Mediterranean services. In some cases the time saving may be as much as five days with ships in CMA CGM's new Bosporus Express between Shanghai and Constantza scheduled to take 25 days.

What prompted the decision to start a direct service was the strength of the Mediterranean trades, said Ms Cabau.
For the first time volume growth on Asia-Mediterranean routes was faster than on services to northern Europe during the opening half of this year. CMA CGM's new service, due to start next weekend with seven 22-knot ships of about 2,300 teu nominal capacity, will also free space on its existing Asia-Mediterranean services.

Bosporus Express
The French line, which has been serving Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean destinations by transhipment from Malta until now, will also take the opportunity to reorganise its Mediterranean feeder network as its Bosporus Express begins.

CMA CGM and MSC, whose Tiger Service will start early next month, will both be calling at Constantza and Illychevsk on the Black Sea as well as Istanbul. CMA CGM also has an Odessa call. The trade will be heavily imbalanced, with very little moving in the eastbound direction which will be used mostly as a repositioning leg, said Ms Cabau.
Related topic(s):
Cheap trabzon hotel
September 9, 2003
LonelyPlanet TT Middle East

Written by Sophia Pugsley
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

In Trabzon, Hotel Yuriyesil (sp.?) on Ataturk Alani (ie. the centre), has quiet rooms off to the side, clean. 15 USD a double. There is hot water although water pressure sometimes is erratic.
Related topic(s):
Russia expands relations with Bulgaria
September 8, 2003
RFE/RL Russia

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Speaking to journalists in Sochi following talks with Bulgarian President Georgii Parvanov, President Putin said that, after a decade of cool relations, the two countries have agreed to expand trade relations and economic cooperation, reported 7 September.

Russia has agreed to help Bulgaria modernize a nuclear-power station and to upgrade its Soviet-produced MiG fighter jets. Bilateral trade is expected to reach $1.4 billion this year, while direct Russian investments in Bulgaria will reach $500 million, including investment in the Western Siberia-Southern Europe strategic oil pipeline.

Oil pipeline
LUKoil head Vagit Alekperov, who participated in the talks and whose company will be the operator of the projected pipeline, told that the pipeline will run from Western Siberian to Novorossiisk, then across the Black Sea to the Bulgarian and Greek terminals of Burgas and Alexandroupoli. From these ports, tankers will ship the oil to the east coast of the United States.
Sochi (Russia) City
Parvanov, Georgi (M) Politician Bulgaria
Nine feared dead in Sochi helicopter crash
September 4, 2003
Associated Press

Written by Sergei Venyavsky
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

A helicopter with up to nine people on board crashed in southern Russia on Thursday, and its burnt-out wreck left little hope that anyone survived, officials said.

Construction site
The Ka-32 helicopter - which its owners said was delivering supplies to a construction site in the mountains - was flying near the Black Sea resort city of Sochi when it went missing in the mountains in deep fog, said Alexander Lemeshev, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry's branch in southern Russia.

Construction workers found the burned and destroyed helicopter near a mountain about 35 miles north of Sochi, said Rudolf Teimurazov, deputy head of the Interstate Aviation Committee in Moscow.

No survivors
Preliminary reports from rescuers who reached the site indicated there were no survivors, Teimurazov said.

Lemeshev said that the helicopter only carried the crew of four, but Nikolai Shustov, the chief of the ministry's office in Sochi, said it had nine people on board, including five passengers.

Ground controllers lost communication with the crew after hearing a bang. Mountaineers in the area told emergency officials in Sochi that they had seen a helicopter flying low over the mountains and then heard an explosion and saw smoke.

More crashes
The crash, which came just as Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Sochi, closely follows two recent helicopter crashes that killed a total of 26 people last month in Russia's Far East.

The Aug. 20 crash of an Mi-8 helicopter in the Kamchatka Peninsula killed all 20 people on board, including a regional governor, after the crew dangerously deviated from the set course and slammed into the ground in low, thick clouds.

On Aug. 26, two military Mi-24 helicopter gunships collided while landing following military exercises in the Russian Far East, killing six crew. Investigators blamed the crash on pilot error and official negligence.
Sochi (Russia) City
The number of suicides in Russia tripled since the 1960s
September 4, 2003

Written by (tr. Dmitry Sudakov)
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Leading position
If someone officially announced about 20 years ago that Russia would take one of the leading positions in the world on the number of suicides, nobody would believe that person. Suicides did not match the country filled with socialistic optimism. The number of mentally unstable Russians grows every year. Sometimes, people bid farewell to their lives because they do not want to live in this country. The statistics is quite frightening: about 60,000 Russian people committed suicide last year. This number equals the population of a small town.

60,000 deaths a year
This situation can be observed not only in Russia, but on the entire post-Soviet territory. Sixty thousand suicides exceed the critical level determined by the World Health Organization. The research conducted by the Russian Center for Social and Judicial Psychiatry shows, there is a certain suicidal differentiation, based on sexual, ethnic and social indications. For example, men commit suicides six times as much as women do. Males of 45-54 years of age commit suicides more frequently than males of another age group. Suicides mainly take place because of alcoholism and depression.

Teenagers of 15-19 years old form another large group of people on the number of suicides - 212 people on 100,000. Russia's Sverdlovsk region is the leading territory in this respect. Losing 2,500 teenagers every year because of suicides, Russia ranks first on the sad list. The second place is taken by the USA: 1,800 teenagers kill themselves every year. Russia ranks third in the world on the number of teenage suicides per capita, following Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan.

Social factors
The research conducted by the mentioned center showed, mental disorders were not the main reason for committing suicides among Russian people. Social factors are not predominant either. In addition, experts point out the growing trend of suicides committed by the people of a higher social status. More than 50 percent of self-murderers make their decision in a state of temporary insanity, especially if it goes about terminally ill people, when no one and nothing can help them.

More numbers
The one-way love issue takes a special place among suicidal motives. This reason makes 42.2 percent of girls and 36.6 percent of young men under 16 years old kill themselves. The situation in the Russian army stands out as well: up to 70 percent of all suicides among military men are committed during the first year of the service. In prisons, 60 percent of all suicides are committed during the first three months after the imprisonment and during the last months before the release. Natural factors play an important role too: suicides become more frequent in spring and during full moon phases. Russian self-murders are not original when it comes to the ways of committing suicides. Most often, people hang themselves, they also use (in decreasing order) poison, knives, fire arms, they jump off high buildings, etc, or drown.

Foreign interest
The issue of suicides in Russia is very serious, it even makes foreign specialists evince interest in it. Murray Feshbach, well-known American specialist on Russia, has recently published a book titled "Russia's Health and Demographic Crisis: Policy Implications and Consequences." The professor believes, 60,000 suicides a year are definitely a reason for a very serious concern. However, it is not known, if the number includes the people, who commit suicide when driving, if the number includes teenagers, who kill themselves over bad family treatment, and so on. According to the information, which has been recently published by the Russian Healthcare Ministry, children between five and nine years old commit suicides too. Feshbach thinks it is a horrible phenomenon, which testifies to serious problems in the Russian society.

According to the report from the WHO, Russia takes the second position in the world on the number of suicides after Lithuania. Russia is followed by Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Ukraine. The situation in Lithuania is probably explained with drug addiction, alcohol beverages, the growth of the HIV-infection statistics. The same can be said about Estonia: the number of HIV-positive people there is larger in comparison with Russia and Ukraine. That is why, people decide to kill themselves, because they will decease anyway. A low living standard, stresses, illnesses, alcoholism, drug addiction are the reasons of high statistics of suicides in other countries of the CIS.

Poor die young
The average age of poor people in Russia is 47 years. A lot of them are highly qualified specialists having a higher education. A lot of people simply gave up fighting everyday problems, which can also be considered a motive to commit suicide. The number of suicides has tripled since the 1960s in Russia: 22,000 in 1960-1965 against 60,000 last year. The critical number, according to the WHO, is 20 suicides per 100,000 people. The figure is a lot larger in Russia. The WHO considers 50 incidents of tuberculosis per 100,000 people as an epidemic. In Russia, the official number of TB-sick people is 87 per 100,000.

To do
Both the American professor and Russian doctors do not know, what should be done to make people reject suicidal ideas. On the other hand, it is not really hard to find an answer: state priorities should be changed.
Related topic(s):
Sulina without drinking water
September 3, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

No water
The residents of the Danube port Sulina have been left without drinking water due to a prolonged drought, an official said Wednesday.

Salty water from the Black Sea has spilled into the Danube River after the level of the river fell to its lowest level in generations, leaving drinking water in Sulina with three times more saline than the accepted levels.

"People are getting brine that is good for making pickles instead of drinking water from the faucet," said Mihai Andrei, the deputy mayor of the town.

Some of the 4,600 people who live in Sulina, a port town some 375 kilometers (235 miles) northeast of the capital, Bucharest, are now traveling by boat five kilometers (three miles) up the river to get drinkable water.

Authorities are also having water shipped in for village residents.
The Danube is at its lowest level since measurements began in 1840.
Danube (Romania) River
Related topic(s):
Georgia, Russia resume military negotiations
September 3, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Georgian and Russian military experts met in Tbilisi on 3 September to resume negotiations over the withdrawal of Russian military forces and the closure of military bases on Georgian territory, according to "The Georgian Times."

No agreement over bases yet
The two sides reached an agreement on the disposition of an ammunition depot in Sagaredzho but failed to make any progress over the status of the Russian military bases at Akhalkalaki and Batumi.

The talks remain hampered by the Russian insistence on an 11-year timetable for the withdrawal of their forces, which Georgia views as unacceptable. Under the terms of an agreement reached at a 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul, Russia pledged to close all of its military bases in Georgia.
Related topic(s):
Ukrainian new SNBO secretary's KGB past
September 3, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Written by Volodymyr Malinkovych
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The appointment of Volodymyr Radchenko to the post of the secretary, i.e. de facto chief, of the Council for National Security and Defence of Ukraine, or SNBO, is an alarming event.

"Expanding powers"
It cannot be excluded at all that the Ukrainian authorities, like their Russian colleagues, who are shaping political regime, already widely referred to as "militiocratia," may decide to essentially expand the powers of the SNBO and transform it into a body for rigid control over all political and public life in the country.

It is very dangerous to the country, and the figure of the new SNBO chief should therefore be regarded with special attention, especially because it is the unwilling to quit President Leonid Kuchma who personally forms the Council and commissions its decisions. He may go to any length to retain power.

No clear biography
Vainly is one of the leaders of the Communists Heorhiy Kriuchkov trying to convince us that new the head SNBO is the person with the clear biography. I dare to say that it not so.

KGB past
The problem is not only that Volodymyr Radchenko have worked in the KGB in the 70-80-ies and defended the all-rotten pseudo-communist regime, actively bullying the dissidents. The dissidents, human rights advocates , who fought for democracy and freedom of Ukraine. Important thing is that he has used absolutely wrongful remedies, even from the point of view of the Soviet, completely inhumane, law.

Dirty methods
I shall remind: at the late seventies, Ukrainian KGB acquired international notoriety for especially dirty methods of persecution of dissident. The Ukrainian KGB style was based on shameless fabrication of criminal (instead of political!) cases against the dissidents, attempt, turning the people with the overdose of decency, honour and self-esteem into rapists, hooligans and drug addicts. Among the victims of Ukrainian KGB methods were Viacheslav Chornovil, Mykola Horbal, Yuriy Lytvyn, who died in the camps, and a lot of those of whom Ukraine is proud of today.

One of most cynical executors of the meanest KGB tasks was Volodymyr Radchenko. I know it from my own experience, and I know that there are quite a few respected people who fell victims of Radchenko's excessive diligence, and who may confirm my words.

Above the ministers
Radchenko's "vigorous activity" in the then KGB dissident directorate indirectly explains his skyrocketing career in the eighties .
In 1994, I have left the president's team after he appointed Volodymyr Radchenko interior minister. That's how Leonid Kuchma's presidency began. Now, when it is drawing to a close, Kuchma seats Radchenko above the power ministers, who are supposed to defend the rights and freedoms of the citizens.

Human rights
I believe I must remind that in the most intricate political situation of change of power one of major in country of structures has de facto headed, at Kuchma's will, by the person who was not above using fraud and provocations to defend totalitarian regime. There is no guaranty that he will respect human rights if he is ordered to defend the regime on the verge great collapse.

The author: Volodymyr Malinkovych, a political scientist, in the 60-70-ies - human rights activist
Romanian senate approves new constitution
September 2, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

By a vote of 103 against 1, the Senate approved on 1 September the constitutional amendments proposed by the all-party parliamentary commission tasked with formulating them, Romanian Radio reported.

Minorities rights
The amendments include the controversial provision granting members of national minorities the right to use their native languages in courts of justice. A compromise was reached between the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) and the amendment's opponents, stipulating that members of national minorities may use their native languages in court if this does not obstruct the proceedings. According to the private Antena 1 television channel, this signifies that minorities will not be able to do so in counties where the ethnic majority is Romanian.

Senators representing the nationalist Greater Romania Party boycotted the vote. The Democratic Party said that it would vote against the constitutional amendments if the Senate-Chamber of Deputies mediation commission approved the lower house's version of the amendments, which did not include the compromise reached in the upper house.
Related topic(s):
Shevardnadze supports Abkhaz government-in-exile
September 2, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Hunger strike
President Shevardnadze expressed support for the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz government-in-exile and called on the members of the Abkhaz War Veterans to cease their hunger strike.

Several members of the Abkhaz War Veterans have been on a hunger strike since August 21. They are demanding the resignation of Tamaz Nadareishvili, head of the Abkhaz government-in-exile.

"Not appropriate"
"The hunger strike and rallies are not an appropriate form of protest. I don't have anything against Nadareishvili," President Shevardnadze said in a live broadcast on the State TV channel on September 1.
Labour union members start hunger strike in Samsun
September 1, 2003
Turkish Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Members of Turkish Public Workers Labour Union (Kamu-Sen) started hunger strike in Eskisehir and Samsun provinces on Monday.

In Eskisehir, 15 members of Kamu-Sen started hunger strike. Holding a news conference prior to the starting of the hunger strike, Kamu-Sen trade union's Eskisehir Representative Ibrahim Dursun said that they decided to go on hunger strike for three days as a warning to the government and they asked employment, reasonable salary and more democracy.

Dursun said that civil servants would not give up searching for their rights, adding that they would also carry out activities like giving up work.

No compromise
Members of the trade union in northern Samsun province also attended the hunger strike which started as no compromise was reached in collective bargaining talks between the government and trade unions. A total of 14 trade union members and one tradesman joined the hunger strike.
Samsun (Turkey) City
Boy (12) kidnapped and released for 2nd time
September 1, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

12-year-old Giorgi Sardanidze was abducted on August 29 from the western Georgian city of Kutaisi for the second time this year.

Parents injured
Giorgi Sardanidze was abducted after four gunmen fired at the car, which was carrying the boy and his parents, who were injured.
Law-enforcement bodies admitted that the same abductors kidnapped the boy.

Released after ransom
On August 31, the kidnappers released Giorgi. The police suppose that the boy was released after his parents paid ransom.

Second time
Giorgi Sardanidze was first abducted six months ago. His family refused to cooperate with the police and paid a ransom for the boy's release. Sardanidze's father is a Kutaisi-based businessman.
Related topic(s):
Almost 30 people hospitalized with food poisoning in Mangalia
August 31, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

More than two dozen people were hospitalized with food poisoning after eating in a restaurant at the Black Sea port of Mangalia, authorities said Sunday.

Out of the 29 victims, 23 were participants in young actors' festival who were forced to miss the awards night Saturday after being sickened, said Dr. Camelia Ciobotaru, chief of the local health department.

Health inspectors discovered the patients had eaten a salad containing mayonnaise. Because mayonnaise goes bad quickly in the heat, restaurants are prohibited from serving it during the summer.

Food hygiene
Authorities were investigating what they called the most serious recent case of food poisoning on the Black Sea Coast.
Food hygiene is a recurring problem in Romania. The media often carry reports of health inspectors discovering violations at markets and restaurants.
Dozens of barges stranded on the Danube river
August 31, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Low water levels
About 150 barges have been stranded for the last two weeks on the Danube River because of low water levels, authorities said Sunday.

The Ukrainian, Serbian and Romanian barges are fully loaded, and the fact that they cannot deliver their cargo has caused significant losses, said Commander Marin Chintoan Uta, Director of the Romanian Naval Authorities.

He did not put a figure on the losses, but said that due to shallow waters, only empty or half-loaded barges can negotiate the Danube.

Another 22 barges and seven ships were stranded on the Danube-Black Sea Channel in southeastern Romania.

With the Danube dropping to a depth of 1.5 meters (5 feet) in the southwestern city of Calafat Friday, authorities stopped operations of the local ferry that normally carries people and cars daily to and from Bulgaria.

No cruises
Chintoan Uta said some 40 international river cruise ships were to have arrived to Romania this summer, but less than 20 came due to the drought.

Lowest flow since 1840
The Danube had its lowest flow of any August in Romania since measurements began in 1840, and a nuclear power plant was shut down a week ago because the drought left insufficient water to cool down the reactor.

Dry weather continues
It remains hot and dry in Romania after months of drought, and weather forecasts predict above average temperatures for the fall.
Danube (Romania) River
Related topic(s):
Tourism experts explore Crimea
August 31, 2003

Written by Noi Mahoney
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

On a mission for the United States government, two Annapolis tourism professionals traveled last week to an Eastern European nation hoping to ignite an economic resurgence.

Melanie Suggs, former president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau, Clare Vanderbeek, marketing director for the CVB, spent a week tutoring locals in the Crimean Tatar region of Ukraine along the Black Sea.

Tourist opportunities
Crimea, crowded with a rich cultural history, as well as cobblestone streets, dusty dirt roads and centuries-old buildings, is a region ripe for tourist opportunities, according to Ms. Suggs.

"The trip was part of a (U.S. State Department) program on how to create a sustainable tourism industry as a method of economic recovery," she said. "(The Crimean Tatars) are building a country, everything from scratch - jobs, schools and democracy."

Tourism and community building
The weeklong consulting trip was part of a program called "Tourism and Community Building in the Ukraine" created by the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe in Washington. The institute is sponsored by the Education and Cultural Exchanges Bureau of the State Department.

"Melanie and Clare met with community leaders in Crimea interested in building tourism as their community center," said Eric Chenowith, co-director of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. "With all of the (Muslim) mosques and the natural beauty of the land, there is a lot of tourism potential."

After a 20-hour plane trip that took them through four airports, Ms. Suggs and Ms. Vanderbeek eventually traveled through Sudak and Yevpatoriya on the Black Sea and the inland town of Bakhchisarai to conduct their tourist and marketing workshops.

Crimean Tatars
The Crimean Tatars they tutored are Turkic people who inhabit the peninsula, a part of Ukraine.

In 1783 Crimea was annexed by Russia. During World War II, the region's inhabitants were accused of being Nazi collaborators by Joseph Stalin and deported en masse to Central Asia and other lands of the Soviet Union.

Today, more than 250,000 Crimean Tatars are back in their homeland, struggling to re-establish themselves culturally and economically, Mr. Chenowith said.

Tourism industry
In contrast to Anne Arundel County's $2.4 billion-a-year tourism industry, parts of Crimea still resemble medieval times.

"There's no big industry," Mr. Chenowith said. "Tourism is the main hope."

"Beautiful but undeveloped"
Ms. Vanderbeek said the country was spectacularly beautiful but almost completely undeveloped in terms of infrastructure, roads, telephone lines and modern plumbing.

"Their strengths are their castles, the Black Sea, their history and culture," she said."Their weaknesses right now are the infrastructure and the language barrier."

Marketing tools
Attended by locals in each of the towns, she and Ms. Suggs shared the marketing tools and organizational methods they've used in promoting Annapolis and the county.

"We taught them how to build a brochure, how to be colleagues in an association, how to put checks and balances in place for that organization," Ms. Suggs said.

Like Annapolis residents, Ms. Suggs said, the Crimean Tatars are also proud of their history and heritage, which includes descendants of Genghis Khan, the famous Mongol warlord of the 13th century.

"They really want to educate people about Crimean culture and explain to us who they are," she said.

Although their schedule was packed with seminars and meetings, Ms. Suggs and Ms. Vanderbeek also found time to travel around Crimea and compare it to Annapolis.

"We always think Annapolis is old, and it is, for an American city," Ms. Suggs said. "But while we were in Yevpatoriya, they were having a celebration to commemorate their 2,500th anniversary as a city."
Related topic(s):
Heat wave leaves crisis behind
August 29, 2003
Hoover's Online

Written by Marian Chiriac
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Worst in 150 years
Bulgaria and Romania are facing a trade and energy crisis following a heat wave described by experts as the worst in 150 years.

Harvest halved
The heat and fires have devastated agriculture. Authorities say they can still not assess the extent of damage.
Most estimates suggest that the harvest this year is likely to be half of normal produce. The agriculture ministry says wheat output would fall to about 3.5 million tonnes from the six million tonnes predicted previously.

Extreme temperatures
"Excessively high temperatures badly hit the crop," says Vasile Stancu from the ministry. "Our estimate means that we'll have the lowest wheat crop in 50 years."
The drought has worsened the situation for farmers already plagued by lack of purchasing power for seeds, fertilizers and herbicides.

Financial support
Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said last week the government has earmarked $27 million (880 billion lei) to pay out insurance claims to drought-stricken farmers. The government will also subsidize wheat seeds for next year's crop and grant other aid to small farmers. Nastase also announced that nine million dollars will be spent on repairing the irrigation network.
"The money is welcome but it is not enough," says farmer Nelu Banta in Maneciu, some 100 km from Bucharest. "We need tractors, good seeds and fertilizers, but do not have money for them. Our principal aim now is just survival."

Bulgaria: no export but import
In neighboring Bulgaria, the government temporarily banned export of wheat and flour. Agriculture Minister Mehmed Dikme said Thursday that Bulgaria plans instead to import 100,000 tonnes of wheat. An extra ten million dollars will be allotted for the autumn sowing.

Breadprice increased
Meanwhile, in Bulgaria wheat prices have been rising for the last couple of months, leading to an increase in the price of bread.

Some of the effects of the continuing drought are only now beginning to show. Days with highs ranging from 35 to 40 degrees Celsius since early June led to a dramatic fall in the level of the Danube River. This hit traffic on the river and forced closure of Romania's sole nuclear plant.
The crisis with the Danube is making the agricultural crisis worse. Traffic on the Danube is virtually paralysed. "We are in danger of losing important quantities of perishable goods which are transiting through Romanian ports," says Nicolae Tutuianu, manager of Shipowners and Traders Association.

Perishable goods
The losses of perishable goods could run into millions of dollars, he says. The effect would be "comparable to the damage caused following the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) attack against Serbia when traffic on the Danube was blocked for years." The drought is also affecting the Danube Delta, Europe's richest wetland. "About ten percent of the delta's surface that is usually covered by water has become dry land, while about 40 percent of the delta water has evaporated," says Virgil Munteanu, Governor of the Danube Delta Reservation in Romania.

Wildfires ravaged dried-up wetlands earlier in the summer. Some 600 hectares of reed went up in smoke near Grindul Rosu in the eastern part of the delta bordering the Black Sea. The fauna and flora in the area are a part of the World Heritage list of the United Nations Scientific Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

"Local government to blame"
One analyst blames local government for failing to cope with the crisis. "The sweltering temperatures, drought, and resulting fires have caused widespread misery and economic loss but they have also exposed shortfalls in crisis management and fire prevention," says economist Ilie Serbanescu.
Serbanescu says the crisis has resulted partly from outdated systems. "This calamitous situation has cast light on ineffective agriculture and energy systems, which continue to produce losses due to the delay in decentralization and privatization."
Danube (Romania) River
Related topic(s):
Romanian seaside tourism rises in 2003
August 28, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

More tourists
The number of tourists which traveled to the Romanian Black Sea resorts rose by 21,000 to 432,663 in the first seven months of this year compared with the 2002 same period, showed a statistic released by the country's Tourism Authority.

More foreigners
The statistic said some 44,000 tourists were foreigners, 9,000 more year-on-year.

Romanians stay longer
The average period spent on the Romania's seaside was 6.2 days for foreigners and 7.2 days for Romanians.
Related topic(s):
HRW again critizes Ukraine: too sexist
August 28, 2003
Moscow Times

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

New York-based Human Rights Watch released a 52-page report Wednesday chastising Ukrainian officials for being complicit in widespread employer discrimination against women.

The report said qualified women jobseekers are being closed out of Ukraine's tight job market because public and private sector employers regularly specify gender in advertising and interviewing, list age and appearance requirements, and use information on a woman's family circumstances to determine her desirability as an employee.

"The job market in Ukraine reflects some highly archaic stereotypes about women's capabilities," said LaShawn Jefferson, executive director of the group's Women's Rights Division.

The report accused Ukraine's government of "routinely denying" that gender discrimination is a problem and of contributing to its continuation by practicing objectionable recruitment techniques and failing to enforce legal protections already on the books.

No comment
Ukraine's Labor Ministry and the State Labor Protection Committee had no immediate comment.
Related topic(s):
Bombs in Krasnodar kill three people
August 25, 2003
New York Times

Written by Steven Lee Myers
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Three bombs
Three bombs exploded nearly simultaneously in a regional capital in southern Russia early today, killing at least 3 and wounding 17, some of them seriously, officials said.

Terrorists or crime?
The coordination of the explosions in Krasnodar, not far from the Black Sea, prompted senior officials to attribute the bombings to a summer-long wave of terrorist acts stemming from the war in Chechnya.
Seven suicide bombings and one botched attempt attributed to Chechen militants have killed more than 165 people in Russia since mid-May, raising fears and heightening security across the country.

Today's bombings, however, did not involved suicide attackers, and some officials quoted by Russian news agencies did not rule out the possibility they were organized as part of a business or criminal dispute.

Locked down
With fear of terrorism rising across Russia, the police and security services virtually locked down Krasnodar after the bombings, closing roads and searching cars at checkpoints that backed up traffic for miles. The Interfax news agency reported that the authorities were screening all telephone calls in or out of the region.

The bombs, described as crudely made devices with bolts, nuts and screws packed inside beer cans, exploded within several minutes of each other in disparate parts of the city. The explosions occurred at a nightclub, a cafe and a trolley-bus stop, a spokesman for the regional government said in a telephone interview.

Krasnodar, a city of 650,000 known historically as the place where Catherine the Great's lover and adviser built what came to be known as Potemkin villages, has largely escaped terrorist attacks despite its relative proximity to the war in Chechnya and other political instability throughout the Caucasus region.

Governor blames chechens
In an interview on the NTV network, the region's governor, Aleksandr N. Tkachyov, said the explosions were carried out by terrorists - "these scoundrels, this scum, these beasts," he called them - but he did not directly attribute the bombings to the violence in Chechnya.
Related topic(s):
Romania shuts down nuclear-power plant due to drought
August 25, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Lack of water
Romanian authorities announced on 23 August that they are shutting down the country's only nuclear-power plant because there is not enough water to cool the reactor, international news agencies and Romanian Radio reported.

Export stopped
Economy and Commerce Minister Dan Ioan Popescu said the closure was caused by the "unprecedented dropping of water levels" in the Danube River. Located in Cernavoda, the plant supplies 10-15 percent of the country's electricity. Romania also announced that, due to the crisis, it has stopped exporting electricity to other countries.

According to a Mediafax report, it is expected the plant will remain closed for four to six weeks, until water levels in the Danube return to normal. The Danube dropped as a result of a prolonged drought and heat wave in Eastern and Central Europe. This is the first time the plant has encountered water-level problems since its inauguration in 1996.
Danube (Romania) River
Related topic(s):
Tourism flourishes in breakaway Abkhazia
August 22, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Pre-war levels
"The umber of tourists that have arrived in Abkhazia this summer has reached pre-war levels [the armed conflict took place from 1992-93]," de facto Tourism Minister of Abkhazia, Astamur Adleiba, told Civil Georgia on August 22.

CIS countries
According to estimates from the Georgian State Department for Statistics, about 202,000 tourists were annually visiting Abkhazia before the conflict.
As the Minister reports, most tourists arrive from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other CIS countries.

Mr. Adlieba reported that over 45,000 tourists arrived in Gagra this summer. However, exact figures concerning the number of tourists will be verified in September, when results for the first nine months of 2003 will be summed up.

Private business
The Abkhaz de facto Minister welcomes the increase of private business in the sphere of tourism, saying that if it were not for the blockade, many more tourists would have come to Abkhazia.

The Georgian State Department for Tourism casts doubts over the data, claiming that the statistics from the Abkhaz side "are extremely exaggerated."
Related topic(s):
Two women caught in landslide Costinesti
August 22, 2003

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Deserted beach
A British woman escaped with a broken pelvis after being caught in a landslide as she sunbathed on a deserted beach in Romania.

Elizabeth Smith, 40, a charity worker in Prahova, and her German friend Ursula Maria Tyetemer, 64, were buried when an overhanging hill collapsed on a small beach near the Black Sea resort of Costinesti.
Locals who rushed to the beach after hearing the landslide used shovels and spades to dig them out.

Both were taken to the nearby Constanta County Hospital for examination. Ms Smith was found to have a broken pelvis and transferred to the Orthopaedic Hospital in Eforie Sud, but Ms Tyetemer was in a coma on arrival and is critical.

Locals in Costinesti have said the area where near the beach where the pair were bathing was known to be dangerous, local media reported.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident.
Russia's population in decline
August 22, 2003
RFE/RL Russia

Written by Julie A. Corwin
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Russia's population dropped by 454,200 during the first half of 2003 to 144.5 million, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August, citing the State Statistics Committee.

Low birth rate
The agency noted that the birthrate lagged behind the death rate. The death rate overall rose by a factor of 1.7, while the number of deaths in some regions jumped by a factor of 2-3. Migration increased by 1.2 percent compared with the first half of 2002.

High death rate
"Politburo," No. 26, argued that Russia's main demographic problem is not the low birthrate -- which is common in modern, developed countries -- but the high adult death rate.

According to the weekly, the leading causes of death in Russia are typical neither of developed nor developing countries. One important factor in the high death rate is alcohol consumption, and there is a close direct correlation between the alcohol consumption per person and the death rate.

After the anti-alcohol campaign launched by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, the death rate fell. According to Aleksandr Nemtsov, director of the information and research department of the Moscow Psychiatric Scientific Research Institute, alcohol consumption correlates not only with the general death-rate dynamics -- when it increases, the death rate increases -- but also with many other leading causes for death -- with the exception of infectious diseases.
Related topic(s):
"Save Vama Veche" starts discussion about future of village
August 21, 2003
Associated Press

Written by Alison Mutler
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Naked men and women sun themselves or play backgammon as peaceful, silvery waves lap at the Black Sea beach.

But the peace is deceptive: Vama Veche has become the setting for a bitter summer dispute.

An influx of post-communist money, entrepreneurs and tourists -- along with noisy jet skis, blaring pop music and flashy hotels -- has irked students and aging hippies at the beach resort.

"Save Vama Veche"
As a result, the purists and longtime visitors have launched an international "Save Vama Veche" campaign to try and preserve their nudist paradise from what they see as uncontrolled tourist development.

So far, the hippies seem to have the upper hand raising opposition to Romania's new capitalists who would see Vama Veche become a moneymaking resort region: This past weekend a concert featuring jazz, classical and rock music that was organized by the hippies to call attention to their fight drew a crowd of 10,000 people.

Oasis of freedom in 1960s
Vama Veche, just a few minutes walk from the border with Bulgaria, became famous in the 1960s as an oasis of freedom far from the prying eyes of what was then a communist state.

"Poets and writers came here and cohabited with the fishermen," said writer Andrei Oisteanu, who has been coming here since 1967. "It became a big colony of intellectual nudists that upset the communists."

Under the communists, writers and intellectuals dozed or sunbathed naked, and discussed philosophy on the sandy beach, sitting under reed umbrellas. Some stayed in tents on the beach, or rented rooms from peasants in the tiny village next to the beach.

Apart from occasional police controls, Vama Veche was a small oasis of tolerance, they say.

"They harassed you from time to time checking your identity papers because it was near the border, but mostly they left you alone," said one die-hard resort-goer Simona Kessler.

End of communism
Kessler and others welcomed the end of communism in 1989. They were less welcoming about what it meant for their surf paradise.

Weekend tourists began flocking to Vama Veche, which was free from the throbbing discos, mass tourism and high-rise hotels built elsewhere under Nicolae Ceausescu, the communist dictator.

Strategic location
Vama Veche's location -- a strategic border point constantly under observation -- saved it from that kind of desecration. Buildings would have blocked the gaze of police keeping people in and out of the country.

Ceausescu's overthrow meant an end to the ban on construction. Now, hotels, motels and discos are cropping up across previously pristine stretches, many exploiting an absence of laws regulating development.

"Wild capitalism"
Oisteanu calls the transformation of the area "wild capitalism."

"There are now 30 pubs on the beach, and this has started to destroy the atmosphere of freedom and tranquility," he says.

The entrepreneurs and the newcomer tourists to Vama Veche say they are a bit baffled by the "Save Vama Veche" campaign.

"This place was an abandoned village, and we have raised the standards here," said Iuliu Neamt, 33, who invested $168,000 in a hotel and a disco modeled on an Inca Temple.

"Save Vama Veche from what?" said Petre Soporean, 45, who hails from the city of Cluj and started coming 15 years ago for annual stays in a peasant's cottage. "It is better than it was before."

At beach bars like "At the Hospital" teenagers dominate and tequila and other nontraditional drinks are the rage. Tables have signs above designating them as different "wards" -- gynecology, pediatrics and so on. The hoards of tourists have driven up prices.

Some purists say that is too much.

"No style"
"Change is normal," said Bogdan Preda, who has coming to Vama Veche for more than 10 years. "But everything has been built without logic, taste and style-- it's too chaotic.

"I'm never going to come here again."
Ceausescu, Nicolae (M) Politician Romania
Abkhazia not to be admitted to Russian Federation
August 21, 2003
RIA Novosti

Written by Marina Kvaratskhelia
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Not admitted
The former Georgian autonomy, Abkhazia, which claimed its independence from Georgia as a result of bloody ethnic armed conflict in the early 90s will not be admitted to the Russian Federation, Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vladimir Chkhikvishvili told the media on Thursday.

No possibility
"Russia admits no possibility of Abkhazia's joining the Russian Federation in any status," Chkhikvishvili said.

Georgia's territorial integrity
"The Abkhaz problem should be solved on the basis of Georgia's territorial integrity with due account taken of Abkhazia's interests," the diplomat said adding that this is Russia's official stance.
Related topic(s):
Georgia suffers electricity blackout
August 19, 2003
Moscow Times

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

All of Georgia was without power Monday, and officials were struggling to determine the cause of the blackout.
Electricity went off at 7 a.m. local time in the entire country of 4.4 million people and was not restored until about 10 p.m.

Periodic blackouts are common, but it was unusual for the whole country to be affected at once.

Cause unknown
"We are trying to figure out what's happening," said Medeya Kakhadze, an aide to Fuel and Energy Minister Mamuka Nikolaishvili. "We know only that an emergency shutdown occurred."
Telasi, the electricity utility in the capital Tbilisi, refused to comment.

First work day
The blackout came on Nikolaishvili's first work day as energy minister and followed the recent sale of a 75 percent stake in Telasi by U.S. company AES to Russia's Unified Energy Systems.

Tbilisi's subway did not open Monday morning because of the blackout and trolleybuses were also unable to run. As a result, regular buses were overflowing with passengers, many of whom hung onto the doors.

Georgia is heavily dependent on Russia for energy, and many politicians, including Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, had spoken strongly against the acquisition, warning it would give Russia a powerful political lever in dealing with Georgia.
UES head Anatoly Chubais this month sought to reassure Shevardnadze, saying the company had no political goals and Georgia's electricity supplies would be safe.

Sporadic supplies
However, Tbilisi has seen sporadic power supplies for the past week. On Sunday, residents of one city district stormed a dispatch unit and forced workers to turn on the power in their neighborhood.
Meanwhile, natural gas supplies have been cut off in the city for the past two weeks. Officials say the gas lines are being repaired.
Related topic(s):
Spider bite kills one person in Constanta, others injured
August 19, 2003

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Unidentified type
One man died and 11 people were sent to hospital after they were bitten by an unidentified type of spider that cropped up on the Romanian seabord during Europe's recent heat wave, a local hospital spokesperson said on Tuesday.

A pensioner, 68, with a heart condition died of complications caused by a spider bite, said the spokesperson for the hospital in Constanta, Romania's major port along the Black Sea.

Out of danger
Most of those taken to hospital after suffering bites these past few weeks were out of danger and have been released, the spokesperson added. He said the bites had triggered headaches, dizziness or muscular spasms.

Black widow?
Medical experts in Constanta are to examine some of the spiders, which first appeared with the scorching temperatures in the area a few weeks ago and are said to look like North and South America's poisonous black widow.
Georgia against Russian - Abkhazian air link
August 19, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Babushera airport
According to the preliminary information of the Georgian Ministry of Transport and Communications Russia assists Abkhaz side to restore the Babushera airport near breakaway Abkhaz capital Sukhumi.

"If this information is confirmed, the Georgian side will voice protest, since under the International Aviation Charter, the closed airdrome is prohibited to be put into operation without the permission of the owner [the Georgian side in this case]," Spokesman for the Ministry of Transport and Communications Goga Korkaia told Civil Georgia on August 19.
Georgia claims that the Abkhaz side has no right to conduct air flights without the permission of the Georgian authorities.

Free plane
Unofficial reports say the Krasnodar District of the Russian Federation is even ready to grant a plane to the Abkhaz side.

Other connections
Despite numerous protests by the Georgian authorities, the sea and railway communications were restored between Russia and Abkhazia recently.
Related topic(s):
An undersea expedition of biblical proportions?
August 17, 2003
Associated Press

Written by Richard C. Lewis
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Searching Civilization
In 1994, archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert rode around northern Turkey in a dirty white Toyota van, looking for evidence of ancient civilizations around the Black Sea.

Every time he and his team would ask locals for the whereabouts of centuries-old ruins, they'd get the same response. "Everyone kept pointing us to the sea," Hiebert recalled.

Ancient ships
Hiebert knows now why they did. After some preliminary trips, the University of Pennsylvania professor and other scientists are now on a first-ever effort to excavate ancient ships and a possible human settlement left mummified in the Black Sea's oxygen-free waters.

Scientists hope what they retrieve will help them understand vastly unknown chapters in human history, covering perhaps the Bronze Age, the Roman and Byzantine empires, and when Christianity first made inroads into Russia.

Great flood
Another goal of the $5 million, two-week expedition that began July 27 is to find evidence of a great flood about 7,500 years ago that inundated the Black Sea, turning the freshwater lake into a saltwater ocean. Some scholars have said the engulfing could be the Biblical flood of Noah. Others say the theory lacks any scientific premise and complain it could overshadow the more noteworthy experiments that will take place.

Being watched
The expedition is being watched live by academics and experts worldwide who may be called upon by those on the ship to comment on any discoveries.

The so-called "telepresence" is the brainchild of Robert Ballard, the underwater explorer who discovered the Titanic. He has established the Black Sea's command center at the University of Rhode Island. There, engineers take satellite feeds from the ship and broadcast them on a separate Internet channel.

Ballard chose Rhode Island as the mission's nerve center because he'll chair a first-ever graduate program in oceanography and archaeology beginning in fall 2004. Ballard got his doctorate in marine geology and geophysics from the school in 1974.

The team is working off the coast of Sinop. Scholars have determined it was a major trade hub for centuries. Scientists believe the locals transported olive oil, honey and iron in carrot-shaped shipping jars called amphorae north to Crimea in exchange for wine and other goods.

Hiebert and other archaeologists had thought the traders hugged the coast on their routes. But Ballard suggested explorers look for north-south trade lanes in the middle of the Black Sea, which would have been a direct, shorter route for the merchants. He knew the deepest waters had no oxygen, meaning any finds would be in immaculate condition.

Searchers have found four shipwreck sites in previous expeditions. One of them, dubbed "Shipwreck D," is so well-preserved in the Black Sea's anoxic waters that its hand-carved mast protruding above the seabed looks as good as new.

On this trip, archaeologists hope to get a better look at ancient shipbuilding, and, if they're lucky, some cargo. The ship could contain burlap bags with grapes, a trader's lunch of lentils, or goods such as silk from Asia, said Cheryl Ward, a nautical archaeologist at Florida State University.

At another location about 330 feet underwater, the explorers think they may have found a settlement that could be more than 7,500 years old. Scientists theorize the rectangular-shaped site was a hunter or fisherman's house on a bluff overlooking the water before the Black Sea flooded, wiping out the homestead.

Ballard and his team of engineers have built a 7-foot-tall robot named Hercules that will gingerly dig around the ruin and gather artifacts, much like an archaeologist would on land.

Scientists also are interested in the ruin, because it could finally clinch the Noah flood theory that has gained the most attention for the trip -- and the most criticism.

There's no dispute that the Black Sea was flooded when rising world sea levels caused the Mediterranean to fill the Black Sea. Prior expeditions show the flood was so monstrous it raised water levels by 511 feet, and submerged as much as 60,000 square miles of land, an area the size of Georgia.

The questions are: When did it happen and how rapidly? Until recently, scholars believed the drowning occurred about 9,000 years ago and was gradual. But marine geologists Walter Pitman and William Ryan wrote in 1997 that the flood was sudden and took place about 7,150 years ago. The scientists' conclusions reinvigorated the Noah flood debate, which the Bible chronicles as a calamitous event spanning 40 days and 40 nights.

Scholars are wary of the revised theory, saying it's virtually impossible to prove an event from an ancient text. Also, some scholars note that the Bible's version has Noah living in a desert in Mesopotamia, while the pre-flood coastline of Turkey was a lush, forested area.

"It bugs me a little bit," Hiebert said, "because I like the Noah story as much as anybody. I think we shouldn't try and peg what we're doing to either prove or disprove it. We're never going to get there."

Nevertheless, even skeptics such as Hiebert acknowledge the debate has given the expedition more attention than it would have gotten otherwise.

"I wish all my classes had a million and a half people in it," he joked.
Sinop (Turkey) Town
Ballard, Robert (M) Scientist
Hiebert, Fredrik (M) Scientist
Related topic(s):
November 3, 2000 [ABC News]
Shipwreck Chemistry
50 richest people of Central and Eastern Europe
August 10, 2003

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The Polish magazine "Wprost" has published a rating of the 50 richest people of Central and Eastern Europe. Here are the results:

(Russia, 39): 8,3 mld USD
(Russia, 36): 7,5 mld USD
3. Michail FRIDMAN
(Russia, 38): 6,7 mld USD
(Poland, 53): 3,3 mld USD
5. Wladimir POTANIN
(Russia, 41): 3,2 mld USD
(Russia, 46): 3,1 mld USD
7. Michail PROCHOROW
(Russia, 38): 2,3 mld USD
(Ukraine): 1,9 mld USD
9. Wladimir BOGDANOW
(Russia, 51): 1,9 mld USD
(Russia, 34): 1,8 mld USD

(Russia, 55): 1,7 mld USD
12. Wiktor PINCZUK
(Ukraine, 43): 1,5 mld USD
(Ukraine): 1,5 mld USD
(Russia, 51): 1,3 mld USD
15. Aleksiej MORDASZOW
(Russia, 38): 1,25 mld USD
16. Milan PANIC
(Serbia): 1,2 mld USD
(Russia, 45): 1,15 mld USD
18. Jewgienij SZWIDLER
(Russia, 38): 1,1 mld USD
19. Leonid NIEWZLIN
(Russia, 44): 1,1 mld USD
20. Wladimir LISIN
(Russia, 47): 1,05 mld USD

21. Iosif Constantin DRAGAN
(Romania, 86): 0,9 mld USD
(Russia, 31): 0,9 mld USD
23. Wladimir KOGAN
(Russia): 0,9 mld USD
24. Oleksandr JAROSLAWSKI
(Ukraine): 0,85 mld USD
25. Iskander MACHMUDOW
(Russia, 40): 0,85 mld USD
26. Platon LEBIEDIEW
(Russia, 46): 0,80 mld USD
27. Wladimir DUBOW
(Russia, 45): 0,8 mld USD
28. Aleksander GUDZOWATY
(Poland, 65): 0,78 mld USD
29. Siergiej PUGACZEW
(Russia, 40): 0,75 mld USD
30. Siergiej POPOW
(Russia, 32): 0,75 mld USD

31. Igor NAJWOLT
(Russia): 0,75 mld USD
32. Aleksandr ABRAMOW
(Russia, 44): 0,75 mld USD
33. Aleksandr LEBIEDIEW
(Russia, 44): 0,75 mld USD
34. Zygmunt SOLORZ-ZAK
(Poland, 48): 0,71 mld USD
35. Ion TIRIAC
(Romania, 63): 0,7 mld USD
36. Siergiej TARUTA
(Ukraine): 0,7 mld USD
37. Ryszard KRAUZE
(Poland, 47): 0,68 mld USD
(Russia, 46): 0,65 mld USD
39. Michail BRUDNO
(Russia, 43): 0,6 mld USD
40. Dmitrij PUMPIANSKI
(Russia, 39): 0,6 mld USD

41. Wiktor RASZNIKOW
(Russia, 55): 0,6 mld USD
42. Ioan i Viorel MICULA
(Romania): 0,57 mld USD
43. Petr KELLNER
(Czech Republic): 0,55 mld USD
44. Igor MAKAROW
(Russia, 41): 0,55 mld USD
45. Siergiej GIENIERALOW
(Russia, 40): 0,55 mld USD
46. George PAUNESCU
(Romania): 0,52 mld USD
47. Wasil BOZKOW
(Bulgaria, 47): 0,5 mld USD
48. Andrej BABIS
(Czech Republic, 48): 0,45 mld USD
49. Sorin Ovidiu VANTU
(Romania): 0,45 mld USD
(Ukraine, 49): 0,4 mld USD

Full article (in Polish) can be found here: link
Bus services from Istanbul to Bulgarian Black Sea coast
August 8, 2003
LonelyPlanet TT Eastern Europe/Caucasus

Written by Fabris
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

There is a bus running every day except Sunday from Istanbul (Turkey) to Varna. Departure time: 4 pm, arrival time: about 8 am you'd reach Michurin. Contact telephone in Istanbul: (+90 212) 658 38 35 (Mahmud Oglu Ltd.).

In Istanbul (Esenler main coach station - otogar, in Turkish) you can find
many companies and ask around, one by one, for a trip to Burgas or Varna or make a comparison about departure hours and fares. Here a list of phone numbers from Esenler coach station to ask around:
(+ 90 212) 658 05 05
(+ 90 212) 658 10 10
(+ 90 212) 333 37 63
(+ 90 212) 310 63 63.
Russia won't apologize for great famine of 1932-1933
August 8, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Denied for decades
Russian Ambassador Viktor Chernomyrdin said Wednesday that Moscow doesn't intend to apologize for the Stalin-era famine that killed millions of people in Ukraine and that was denied by Soviet officials for decades.

Not responsible
Chernomyrdin acknowledged that Russia had assumed the Soviet Union's obligations as successor to the collapsed regime, but denied that its responsibilities included apologizing for the famine, according to news reports.
"We're not going to apologize ... there is nobody to apologize to," the Interfax news agency quoted Chernomyrdin as saying.
He added that Russia deserved praise for taking on Soviet-era debts and other obligations but would not "bear the cross" of the famine, Interfax reported.

Chernomyrdin's statements came on the heels of the Ukrainian government's public acknowledgment of the famine that killed 7 to 10 million people in 1932-33. In June, Ukraine declassified more than 1,000 files documenting the famine.

Historians say Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, a native of Georgia, provoked the famine as part of his campaign to force Ukrainian peasants to give up their land and join collective farms.
"Why not ask Georgia to apologize?" the Ukrayinski Novyny agency quoted Chernomyrdin as saying.

In March, Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma signed a law establishing a day of remembrance for famine victims, and the Foreign Ministry plans to submit a resolution to the United Nations in September seeking recognition of what
Ukrainians call the Great Famine as genocide.
Related topic(s):
Ferry traffic resumes between Abkhazia and Russia
July 31, 2003
RFE/RL Russia

Written by Liz Fuller
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Ten years
For the first time in 10 years, a passenger ferry raised anchor on 26 July en route from the Abkhaz capital, Sukhum, to the Russian port of Sochi, Interfax
reported. The ferry is registered in Panama and sails under the Bolivian flag. The Abkhaz Prime Minister Raul Khadjimba told journalists it will bring Russian tourists to Abkhazia.

Georgia threat
The Georgian newspaper "Tribuna" on 28 July quoted Georgian State Border Department Chairman Valeri Chkheidze as warning that if the Georgian Coast Guard encounters such vessels, it will impound them. Khadjimba also told journalists on 26 July that talks are under way with the Georgian government on the return of a cargo of some 25,000 passports that was being transported by a Turkish merchant ship to Sukhum.

Who's in control?
Valeri Chkheidze, director of Georgia's State Border Guard Service, told Caucasus Press on 29 July that his men fully control the territorial waters of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia. But Abkhaz Defense Minister Vyacheslav Eshba told journalists in Sukhum the same day that Abkhaz frontier guards control Abkhazia's territorial waters, Caucasus Press reported.

Official Protests
On 29 July, the Georgian Foreign Ministry delivered a formal protest note to the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi in connection with the resumption of a ferry service between the Russian Black Sea port of Sochi and the Abkhaz capital, Sukhum, Caucasus Press reported. The note called for "drastic measures to prevent illegal marine communication" between the two ports. On 30 July, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili termed the resumption of ferry communication "an act of piracy," Caucasus Press reported.

Russia rejects criticism
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 30 July rejecting a protest by its Georgian counterpart against the resumption of ferry traffic. The
Russian statement noted that the ferry docked in Sochi in compliance with international procedures and its crew produced the required documentation.
Sochi (Russia) City
Related topic(s):
Ferry from Ukraine to Russia (Black Sea)
July 15, 2003
LonelyPlanet TT Eastern Europe/Caucasus

Written by mvc68
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Car ferry
There is a car ferry about every three hours from Port Krim (Kerch) to Port Kavkaz. Ferries go from Port Krim at 0730 and 1015 to Port Kavkaz.

And beyond
transport from Port Kavkaz is not so easy. No other ferries going. From Yalta and Sevastopol buses, which use the same ferry, go via Feodosia and Kerch to Krasnodar, Rostov, Novorossijsk and Gelendzhik.
Kavkaz (Russia) Town
Related topic(s):
Multinational naval exercise starts on Black Sea
July 14, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Bulgarian command
A multinational naval exercise commanded by Bulgaria started on the Southwestern Black Sea, Bulgarian Navy Captain Marin Kavaldjiev said Monday.

5 days
The 5-day exercise, code-named Breeze 2003, will drew warships from the United States, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria.

The purpose of the exercise is to enhance operational compatibility of the multinational forces in holding peace-keeping and humanitarian operations in crisis regions, said Rear Admiral Emil Lyutskanov, Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Navy.

20 auxiliary fighting ships and boats, a submarine, 2 helicopters and 2 warplanes will participate in the exercise on the Bulgarian part.
The United States are participating with a naval patrol aircraft and the Turkish navy has the most vessels in the exercise.
Related topic(s):
Abkhaz opposition demands Ardzinba's resignation
July 11, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

The Amtsakhara public-political movement, consisting of the 1992-93 Abkhazian war veterans, adopted a resolution at a July 10 congress, urging de facto President of Abkhazia Vladislav Ardzinba for resignation.

The Amtsakhara opposition movement claims that Ardzinba is unable to cope with the grave crime situation in Abkhazia and strengthen Abkhazia's independence.

Moscow treatment
Vladislav Ardzinba, who is undergoing a further course of treatment in Moscow, said he would not step down before his presidential term expires in October 2004.

Vladislav Ardzinba had to dismiss the former Premier Genadi Gagulia and the entire cabinet on April 8 after the categorical demand of the Amtsakhara movement.
Related topic(s):
Bulgaria's tourism revenues rise
July 11, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Bulgaria is becoming an increasingly popular vacation destination among foreign tourists, figures from the country's Ministry of Economy indicate.

1.2 mio tourists
More than 1.2 million foreign tourists visited Bulgaria in the first half of 2003 - an increase with 9.6 percent compared to the same period last year, the ministry said in a news release. Tourism revenues in the first four months of 2003 amounted to US$224 million, 12.5 percent more than in the same period last year.
Most foreign tourists came from neighboring Greece and Germany.

Key revenue source
Tourism is a key revenue source for Bulgaria, a small country at the heart of the Balkans that features the Black Sea and mountains.
The country remains comparatively cheap while the level of service has improved in recent years with the privatization of the tourism industry.
Related topic(s):
Stalin's ghost looms large in his Abkhazian dacha
July 11, 2003
BBC News Europe

Written by Damian Grammaticas
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

It is 10 years since the self-styled Republic of Abkhazia broke away from Georgia and declared independence. Nobody recognises this land, where the Caucasus mountains meet the Black Sea, as a nation.

So a decade on its people live cut off from the rest of the world. Most of their borders are closed, their economy throttled by an international economic embargo designed to force them to reunite with Georgia.

But this forgotten region was once one of the former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's favourite places.

Budget traveller to Stalin's dacha
The engine of our minibus straining, we wound our way uphill, round hairpin bends, through a forest of cypress trees.

Then, finally, a huge wall and imposing gates barred our way.
A soldier emerged, eyeing us suspiciously.

"Is this Stalin's dacha?" we asked. "Yes," he grunted, then vanished.

We had heard that it was possible to rent Stalin's favourite holiday home. It now belongs to the government of Abkhazia.

But Abkhazia is so strapped for cash that, for the bargain sum of $50 a night, you can have his seaside retreat all to yourself.

After 45 minutes, the soldier returned and waved us in.

An impressive two-storey building, painted camouflage green, perched right on the edge of the hill.

Far below, stretching to the horizon, were the waters of the Black Sea. The once lush garden had gone to seed, throttled by rampant grasses.

The soldier introduced an old man, sweeping a garden path.

At night we would all have to leave the dacha while Stalin decided which room to sleep in. We'd return, a guard outside each door, but we never knew which room he'd chosen. He didn't trust anybody

Valentin Arbatski
With watery blue eyes and wearing a white sailor's cap, Valentin Arbatski is almost 80.

He began working as a guard for Stalin, and has spent his life here. He unlocked the dacha and led us in.

Inside it was gloomy and still.

The interior was art deco in style, but deadened by dark, heavy wood everywhere. The walls and ceilings panelled with it.

The old man shuffled slowly through Stalin's rooms. "It's exactly the way it used to be," he said.

At first he was reluctant to tell too much about his former master.

Habits of discretion learnt serving a dictator linger even half a century later. But, egged on by the young soldiers guarding the dacha, he relaxed, slowly, cautiously.

"As guards we were never allowed to look at Stalin, unless he addressed us first," Valentin Arbatski said.

"And at night we would all have to leave the dacha while Stalin decided which room to sleep in. We'd return, a guard outside each door, but we never knew which room he'd chosen. He didn't trust anybody."

At mealtimes, Valentin said, Stalin would get several, identical plates of food prepared.

Only at the very last minute would he choose which to eat in case someone tried to slip some poison into his portion.

Too much love
We walked into a bedroom. The bed was tiny.

"These were made specially for Stalin. He was very short," Valentin explained.

Stalin was enamoured of Abkhazia.

Every summer he spent his holidays here. It had the best climate and the highest living standards in the Soviet Union.

Squeezed between the Caucasus mountains and the sea, the 8,000 sq km territory is a place of warmth, abundance and beauty.

Palm trees grow on its coast.

Its orchards once overflowed with fruits like tangerines.

Snow-capped peaks rise in the distance.

Abkhazia was even part of the empire of ancient Greece.

According to legend it was the land where the ram with a golden fleece could be found.

But ironically Stalin's love of Abkhazia helped destroy its riches.

In 1931 he changed Abkhazia's status.

At the stroke of a pen, as only autocrats can, he incorporated Abkhazia into his native Georgia.

The two had been linked throughout their history. Now tens of thousands of Georgians were resettled in Abkhazia, Abkhaz schools were closed, the Abkhaz language and alphabet suppressed.

Resentments simmered until the Soviet Union collapsed and Abkhazia went to war to split from Georgia.

Some 10,000 people died in the conflict, a quarter of a million were made refugees and Abkhazia was left in ruins.

As we shuffled on through dingy rooms, Valentin said Stalin's dacha only survived the war intact because local people were too afraid to loot it.

He showed me the pool table where Stalin used to play, and always win, his opponents made sure they never beat him.

"And what about the ghost?" added one of the soldiers.

"A woman who stayed here swore she saw Stalin's ghost."

Running scared
That, I am afraid, was the final straw.

The gloom and ghosts were too much for me, even for $50 a night.

At the end of our tour I made my excuses and left. I chickened out of sleeping in Stalin's dacha.

An undersized bed is one thing.

Being visited by an undersized ghost quite another.
Related topic(s):
Georgian and Turkish Airlines start flying again
July 10, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Four flights a week
The Turkish Airlines and the Georgian flagship Airzena companies reached an agreement over operation of air flights on a parity basis. Both the Georgian and the Turkish sides will conduct two flights per week.

Regular flights of Georgian and Turkish Airlines between Tbilisi and Istanbul will start from September 15.

On July 30 the Georgian flagship company will conduct a charter flight to Antalya and on August 6 - to Bodrum. The Turkish side also has the right to conduct similar charter flights.

Suspended since April
The flights of the Turkish Airlines to Georgia, which was operating three flights per week, were suspended on April 15 after the decision of the Civil Aviation Administration and the decree of the Georgian Parliament.

The Georgian side explained cancellation of the flight license to the British and Turkish companies with unpaid taxes, inadequate legal base and unsolved disputes with the Georgian flagship company Airzena.

British Mediterranean Airways
Georgia also suspended flights of the British Mediterranean Airways, which is the franchise partner of the British Airways, which operated flights between Tbilisi and London before this April.
Related topic(s):
Georgian authorities find 25,000 blank Russian passports on Turkish ship
July 9, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Georgian authorities confiscated 25,000 blank Russian passports Wednesday printed in the Russian and Abkhaz languages from a Turkish ship sailing on the Black Sea.

The ship was sailing from the Turkish port of Trabzon to Sochi, Russia when stopped by the Georgian coast guard, the head of the coast guard's border patrol department, Koba Bochorishvili, told Georgia's Rustavi 2 television. The passports were confiscated as illegal cargo and the ship allowed to proceed to Sochi.

Abkhazian separatists
Georgian officials have repeatedly complained to Russia about its practice of issuing passports to Abkhazian separatists. The Georgian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it would investigate whether there was official Russian involvement with the passports and if confirmed, issue a note of protest.
Sochi (Russia) City
Related topic(s):
Water levels fall on Danube River due to drought
July 9, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Dangerously low
The Danube River is at dangerously low levels due to lack of rainfall and high temperatures, increasing the risk of ships running aground, Romanian authorities said Wednesday.

Minimal navigation requirements
In several areas, the river's level is below minimal navigation requirements and all ports have been notified to reduce ship loads, Ovidiu Cristoloveanu, chief engineer of the Lower Danube Administration, told state news agency Rompres.

Authorities were working to deepen channels connecting several Danube ports to the Black Sea to avoid ships becoming grounded.

Danube Delta
The drought also is affecting the Danube Delta, where 10 percent of the surface that is usually covered by water has become dry land.
Danube (Romania) River
Related topic(s):
Ukrainians want Kuchma to go: Yuschenko first in poll
July 9, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Elections in 2004
77% Ukrainians polled by the Social Monitoring center and the Institute of Social Research of Ukrainians support holding presidential and parliamentary elections in 2004, according to the report of the research by the Social Monitoring center and Ukrainian Institute of Social Research.
The presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for autumn of 2004.

New president
At this, a mere 10% believe that elections should be held in 2006. 39% of those polled believe that presently the most important thing for Ukraine is electing a new President to consolidate political forces around his figure. 24% state that authority of the current government should be enhanced, even by means of applying stiff measures.

Polticial reform
Moreover, 14% consider that political reform is necessary to improve the power system on the whole. 9% support larger consolidation of political forces of various directions. 7% support consolidation of the political forces forming opposition to Kuchma's political regime.

Yuschenko keeps highest rating
21% of Ukrainians polled by the Social Monitoring Center and the Institute of Social Studies are determined to support the leader of Our Ukraine bloc of parties Viktor Yuschenko at the presidential elections.

At this, Petro Symonenko came second with 10% of votes. 6% of respondents would vote for Viktor Yanukovych, whereas Yuliya Tymoshenko and Oleksandr Moroz each would 5% of votes.

Further, Viktor Medvedchuk enjoys support of 4% of those polled, whereas Nataliya Vitrenko would be supported by 3% of voters. Serhiy Tyhypko, Anatoliy Kinakh and Heorhiy Kyrpa each would receive 2% of votes. Volodymyr Lytvyn, Yevhen Marchuk and Valeriy Pustovoitenko could enjoy support of 1% of voters each.

At this, 15% of those polled by the Social Monitoring Center doubt as to whom they should elect President. 11% of respondents would vote against all of the candidates on agenda. 11% stated their unwillingness to vote at the presidential elections.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Yushenko, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
BP and Turkish Oil to search for oil in Black Sea
July 8, 2003
Turkish Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Turkish Oil Corp. (TPAO) signed an agreement with British oil firm BP to search for oil in the Black Sea.

A statement of Energy and Natural Resources Ministry said on Tuesday that BP carried out geological and geophysical sea researches in the region and concluded 8,498-kilometer seismic, gravity and magnetic works.

At the end of studies, it was decided to drill two wells in 4 thousand meters depth from the base of the sea, the statement noted.

Exploration ship
The statement said that Norwegian-flagged R/V Ramform Challenger, an oil exploration ship, would come to Istanbul in the following week.

The ship which will anchor off Haydarpasa will later set sail to the Black Sea and determine the places of oil beds and the wells.
Bulgaria passes IMF loan review and gets $37 mln
July 8, 2003

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The International Monetary Fund praised Bulgaria's "strong" macroeconomic policies on Tuesday as it approved the country's latest loan review and released a $37 million tranche.

But the IMF urged Bulgaria to take steps to improve the climate for business and investment.

"Macroeconomic performance continues to be strong in Bulgaria, despite a weak external environment," IMF First Deputy Managing Director Anne Krueger said in a statement.

Good performance
She said strong policies have led to robust growth, low inflation, a strong external position and declines in unemployment.

The IMF official also welcomed the government's "commitment to a prudent fiscal policy" and said fiscal flexibility will help ensure that the 2003 budget deficit ceiling of 0.8 percent of gross domestic product is met.

Third loan so far
The review of Bulgaria's economic performance was the country's third under its $337 million IMF loan. Bulgaria has so far drawn about $191 million from the credit.

In order to balance the budget by 2005, Krueger said the government will have to strengthen the tax administration, rationalize subsidies and cut unproductive spending.

More reform needed
While some progress has been made in structural reform, the IMF said more is needed to encourage investors.

Strengthening the legal system, streamlining business regulations, improving corporate governance and increasing flexibility in the labor market would help draw investors to Bulgaria, the IMF said.

"Completion of the privatization program, including the privatization of the tobacco holding and telecommunications company, in an expeditious and transparent manner will also be important to strengthen investor confidence," Krueger added.
Related topic(s):
Strategic shift US sees new role for Romania as forward military post
July 7, 2003
BBC News Europe

Written by Nick Thorpe
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

New concrete
The Mihail Kogalniceanu civilian-military airport near the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta, is awash with new concrete - flexi-concrete.

The new developments are an indication of the growing American role in the region.

Military exercise
Cornerstone 2003, a military exercise with participants from six countries plus the US, will end in mid-July after two months.

Engineers from Greece and Turkey, Albania and Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania, have been building new helicopter pads, new approach roads, and a parking and servicing apron for huge KC-135 stratotankers, one of the largest and heaviest planes in the US air force.

Close to trouble
"Any deployments or hostilities the US might be involved in are to the east and south of Europe now," explained Lieutenant-Colonel Ira Queen, head of US-Romanian military co-operation.

"So it only makes sense to move troops and training areas to the south-east of Europe. It's the closest jumping off point to the Middle East, Asia, even parts of Africa."

He qualifies his statement carefully.

No official decision
The US and Nato have not actually made any decision yet about closing bases in Germany and opening new bases in Romania and Bulgaria.

But that is clearly the way the wind is blowing in the wake of the war in Iraq.

The airfield has already played a crucial role in one war.

Forging friendships
In March, when Turkey refused at the last minute to allow its territory to be used to open a northern front against Iraq, this base was used to airlift US special forces, as well as senior military and civilian officials, into northern Iraq.

The willingness of the Romanian authorities to provide facilities then has put them at the front of the queue of countries in eastern Europe offering new facilities to Nato, when the organisation expands eastwards again in May 2004.

Bush visit
The new friendship with the US was crystallised by President George Bush's visit to Bucharest last November.

"The US president was the only leader from north, south, east or west who came to Bucharest and said from now on Romania has no fear," Defence Minister Ioan Pascu told the BBC.

"Generation after generation for hundreds of years has been fighting and longing for such a security step, which finally comes! So the relationship with the US is very strong."

Basic training
But anyone who expects new American cities to spring up on the coastal plains of Romania may be disappointed.

The runways, the canteens, and the gyms are being spruced up, but there is no sign of new accommodation for the families of US soldiers.

This will be a lighter operation, of training bases, and facilities for rapid reaction troops, rotating through the region, for tours of duty lasting several months, not years.

In neighbouring Bulgaria too, the air force bases at Graf Ignatievo and Kumanovo near Plovdiv have been completely renovated, with new communications equipment.

Like Romania, the Bulgarian Government is offering not only bases, but enormous training grounds to Nato.

In sparsely populated areas, deep in economic recession, US planners have been told the local population will welcome the Americans as saviours.

The public relations exercise is proceeding almost as fast as the military one.

At Corbu, a village near the Kogalniceanu airbase, the old primary school building has been renovated by engineers taking part in Cornerstone 2003, and a whole new building added.

The first wedding has also taken place, of a US serviceman, deployed to Romania during the Iraqi war, and a Romanian journalist.
Corbu (Romania) Village
Pascu, Ioan Mircea (M) Politician Romania
Related topic(s):
Romania and Russia sign treaty
July 7, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Written by Zsolt-Istvan Mato
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Finally signed
In Moscow on 4 July, Romanian President Ion Iliescu and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed the Romanian-Russian Treaty on Friendly Relations and Cooperation, Romanian Radio reported. Putin noted that the two countries began negotiations on the basic treaty in 1992, and its signing is evidence that bilateral relations have matured. Iliescu said Romania seeks to establish a privileged partnership with Russia.

Romanian gold
The signing of the treaty was preceded by the singing of a common declaration by the countries' foreign ministers that deals with issues unsettled in the treaty, such as the repatriation to Romania of gold and cultural items kept by the Soviet Union after World War I. The two parties agreed to set up a joint commission to resolve the issue. The declaration condemns the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact as well as Romania's participation in World War II on the side of Nazi Germany.

Long-term relationship
President Iliescu ended his three-day visit to Russia on 5 July in St. Petersburg, where he attended the opening of a Romanian Consulate he said will serve both a diplomatic and economic role, Romanian media reported. Following his 3 July meeting with Russian State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev in Moscow, Iliescu said that through their basic treaty, the two countries seek to establish a framework to facilitate long-term relationships among their respective government institutions. Seleznev said the Duma will ratify the treaty next fall.

Economic forum
The same day, 250 leaders of Romanian companies who were part of the visiting Romanian delegation participated in an economic forum focusing on the possibilities offered by bilateral cooperation. Some 300 Russian businessmen also attended the meeting. On 4 July, Iliescu spoke to representatives of Gazprom and other Russian gas companies regarding the possibility of establishing a joint Romanian-Russian company to transport natural gas from Russia to Romania. They also discussed the possibility of building a pipeline for oil and natural gas from Russia to the Romanian port of Constanta.
Iliescu, Ion (M) Politician Romania
Related topic(s):
"Ceausescu asked Soviet help"
July 7, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Written by Zsolt-Istvan Mato
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Iliescu presents book
Romanian President Iliescu on 3 July visited the Institute of International Relations in Moscow to launch the Russian-language version of his book "Romania -- Hope Reborn," Romanian Radio reported.

The book primarily focuses on the events of 1989 that resulted in political transformation in Eastern and Central Europe and on the subsequent transition period. Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov praised Iliescu and his book and spoke about the events of December 1989 that led to the overturn of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's regime.

In a surprise statement, Primakov, who was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in December 1989, said Ceausescu asked then-USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev to send Soviet troops to quell the revolt.
Ceausescu, Nicolae (M) Politician Romania
Iliescu, Ion (M) Politician Romania
Related topic(s):
Ukrainians willing to join EU, not NATO
July 7, 2003

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

EU: 54%
Under a survey held among 1,200 respondents in all regions of Ukraine by Democratic Initiatives Fund and Tailor Nelson Sofrez Ukraina June 2 through 9, 54% of Ukrainians would have supported Ukraine's integration in the EU at a referendum, while only 14% of them would have voted against.

NATO: 28%
However, only 28% support the idea of Ukraine's integration in the NATO, while 35% of them would have voted opposed this idea.

Go west
The results of the survey were publicized in Kyiv Friday by Ilko Kucheriv, director of the Fund. According to him, the idea of Ukraine's integration in the NATO and the European Union is more popular in big cities and in the western regions of the country. The problem concerned here is that Ukrainians are not versed in the policies and activities conducted by the NATO and the EU.
Related topic(s):
Paradise lost (in Abkhazia)
July 6, 2003

Written by Michael Emerson
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Imagine the most beautiful conceivable region of Europe. A coastline bathed by a warm sea, a luxuriant sub-tropical micro-climate yielding every species of exotic fruits, flowers and trees, at the foothills of a majestic mountain range that rises up to 5000 metres. In short, earthly paradise.

Imagine a region that suffered a devastating war ten years ago, in which half of the housing and infrastructure was destroyed, 5,000 people were killed and more than half the population fled for their lives. The remaining population - the victors in the war - are stateless persons, unable to travel, blockaded, unable to finance the post-war reconstruction. In the capital city, noble 19th century buildings remain overgrown ruins, next door to the institutions of the non-recognised entity. In the countryside there are ghost towns and villages, largely destroyed and emptied of people. The once productive farms have reverted to jungle. In the foothills of the mountains criminalised anarchy prevails. The suicide rate among young people is terribly high.

Such is Abkhazia, at the eastern end of the Black Sea, which de facto seceded from Georgia after the 1992-93 war. A CEPS mission goes there to examine the prospects for a civilised European future for this paradise lost. The members wanted to see what had happened over the three years since they were last there selling a Stability Pact for the Caucasus. Our colleagues from Brussels University were keen to see whether some of the magic potion of the Belgian federal compromise can bring peace again to this blighted territory.

Russian army
For the time being the peace is kept by a contingent of the Russian army, supported in the southern frontier Gali district and the Kodori valley by unarmed UN monitors. But seven of the UN peacekeepers lost their lives in the Kodori valley in 2001 when their helicopter was shot down by unidentified bandits (Georgians or Chechens or Abkhazians, or a diabolic team of all three together - nobody knows). Three more of them were taken hostage the week after our visit. The great powers have been discussing how to resolve this conflict for years. The UN Secretary General sponsors the 'Geneva process', at which senior diplomats of the so-called 'Friends of Georgia' (France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US) gather to try to find solutions. The UN Special Representative proposed in 2002 the outline of a federal Georgia in which Abkhazia would have a high degree of autonomy. Abkhazia, however, refuses to negotiate on this basis. Its aim is to keep its de facto independence, protected by Russia.

We drive in from Georgia in a convoy of UN jeeps to make up our own minds. Crossing the bridge over the river into the Gali district, we are waved through a checkpoint guarded by young Russian soldiers. The Georgian refugees who fled this fertile district move to and fro across the frontier to harvest some of their oranges, but there is total insecurity. Nobody is really in charge, not the Russians, nor the UN, nor the Abkhazians, nor the Georgians. Pure anarchy.

Inguri valley
At this point three years ago we made an interesting side-trip up the Inguri valley, the only access by road to the Svaneti mountain district, which has 10 Caucasian peaks of over 4,000 metres and is surely one of the most isolated and magnificent places in Europe. Nowadays, however, I would recommend going up there by helicopter. Hostages were taken on the road to Svaneti the day before we went there. We were re-assured by the Georgian logic of our guide and bodyguard: "Since the hostages were taken yesterday, today is OK, since the militia will have woken up". Now we reach capital town Sukhumi, preparing for a serious session with the Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba, who takes us hostage in the nicest possible way. You must pay $20 for a visa down the corridor, or you won't be able to leave. Is this the critical move towards recognition of the secessionist regime? We leave that for the diplomats to worry about, and settle quietly for the $20 exit visa.

Sukhumi dinner
We have an epic 12-hour session with the minister and his advisers, two long sessions punctuated by a splendid lunch and later a dinner at one of Sukhumi's four restaurants. True Caucasian style, the table is groaning with food and drink covering every inch of the table.

"Mr Minister, what are your objectives for Abkhazia?"
His reply is very clear-headed and remarkably erudite, which is more than can be said of his chaotic and confused counterparts in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.

"Our model in the short run is Taiwan, and in the long run the Marshall Islands. Russia shall protect us from Georgia like the United States protects Taiwan from China. Later we achieve legal recognition, like the Marshall Islands". For the uninitiated, the Marshall Islands are in the Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and Australia, enjoying international recognition of their partial sovereignty, with their defence looked after by the United States.

"We are Europeans"
The Minister continues, aware of our Europeanising missionary zeal for the Belgian/Northern Ireland/Aland Island models for resolving these dyadic ethno-secessionist conflicts. "But we are of course Europeans, and look to a European future. However this has to come with the Europeanisation of Russia, which is happening quite fast. We will need longer. But we will join Europe with Russia."

Soviet sanitorium
After a tough day we retire to the UN compound, which is a former Soviet sanitorium, whose décor and service is a living museum to a bygone age, with some cosmopolitan UN garnishes. The bathrooms have bright blue ceramics, matched with red and green plastic accessories. The canteen for breakfast is presided over by one of those formidable Soviet ladies with whom one does not fool around. She serves us unspeakable meatballs for breakfast and has a heart of gold.

UN Special Representative
We are picked up by Hailu, the Ethiopian soldier who is running the place and who escorts us to the dacha up the hill, where we have a rendez-vous with the UN Special Representative, Roza Atunbaeva, former Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan (the best of careers have their ups and downs). We reminisce over when we last met in 1992, when I accompanied the EU Commissioner to the newly independent states of Central Asia. We kept on crossing over then with President Demiral of Turkey who was opening up the new Pan-Turkic vision much more impressively than we were the European thing. We travelled in the smallest executive jet. Demirel arrived with two large planeloads of businessmen and consumer goods. Back to Roza, she is now working hard with two advisers, from Bulgaria and Poland, on possible solutions for the refugees and security guarantees.

Pitsunda and Gudauta
Then we have to inspect Abkhazia from top to bottom. We negotiate a car for the day at Sukhumi railway station, which remains a total wreck, but nonetheless now runs one train a day to Sochi over the border in Russia. We head north to check out Pitsunda, the pearl of Black Sea resorts, and Gudauta, the remaining Russian military base. Pitsunda in now receiving a trickle of Russian tourists. The military base should have been dismantled already, but has become now a rest and recreation centre for the Russian peacekeepers.

Status quo
What next for this paradise lost? Will the status quo now be changed in the wake of the Iraq war? Might Russia and the US make an agreement together on how to stabilise and clean up the Caucasus, as part of the drive for a new order in the whole of the wider Middle East? Should the EU be more active there? Might Russia, the EU and the US now come together to push seriously for a civilised solution?

For sure the miserable status quo in Abkhazia is going to change. This is already beginning. However the outcome is not yet clear as between two alternatives.

Integration with Russia
The first alternative is for Abkhazia to drift more deeply into increasing integration with Russia, with little or no re-integration with Georgia. The partition of Georgia is confirmed in all but diplomatic form. Already the majority of the population has applied for Russian citizenship, which is likely to be granted with the issue of Russian passports by the end of 2003. The territory is open for Russian tourists and the currency of the region is the Russian rouble. In March 2003, Presidents Putin and Shevarnadze agreed to work cooperatively over Abkhazia, on topics such as re-opening the railway line south into Georgia, helping the return of refugees to the southern Gali district and sharing the hydroelectric complex on the Inguri river. The Sochi agreement means therefore improving the quality of the status quo, without touching the fundamental political issues.

Geneva process
The second alternative is that the Geneva process springs to life, addressing not only technicalities but also the final status issues. This would only happen if there emerged a new understanding between Russia and the US over common security interests in the region in the new geo-political context. But can Abkhazia get onto the threat perception radar screens of the Washington planners of the NSC, CIA and State Department? The continuing de facto secession of Abkhazia might be viewed as impeding the stabilisation and better ordering of the whole of the Caucasus region. If Russia and the US reached this judgement together, which is conceivable but not yet evident, the formula for resolution of the Abkhazia question could be straightforward. There could be a thin common state structure with a Union of Georgia and Abkhazia as a single state in international law, held together in the first instance by hard security guarantees, from Russia for Abkhazia and from the US for Georgia. An explicit security guarantee from Russia is sine qua non for Abkhazia. If this core guarantee agreement were made, the system could be translated into a mandate for the UN or OSCE to keep the peace and monitor the re-opening of borders and a controlled return of refugees.

Ideally an agreement over Abkhazia would be accompanied by a resolution also of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Nagorno Karabakh conflict may actually be unfreezing now, since Turkey has initiated talks with Armenia over possibly re-opening their presently blockaded frontier for trade. I have to confess that this connects with one of my dreams, which came to me three years ago standing on the walls of the monastery of Knor Virap, gazing at the twin peaks of Mount Ararat opposite. Separating the monastery from the mountain is the ugly Berlin Wall-type fence between Armenia and Turkey. Knor Virap is where Grigory the Illuminator spent 13 years in the dungeon, before being let out by the king in the year 800 to save his wife the queen from mortal illness, and so go on to found the Armenian Grigorian Apostolic Church. My dream was of the good citizens of Yerevan, escaping from the sweltering summer heat, driving across to the Mount Ararat Park of Reconciliation to have picnics on the weekend high up on the cool slopes of the sacred mountain. Of course, if both Abkhazia and Nagorno Karabakh could be solved at more or less the same time, this would open up new prospects for the region as a whole, and would become an interesting piece of the jigsaw puzzle for the architects of the new wider Middle East order. While the Washington architects may be already at the drawing board, what is the EU doing, if anything? The EU is in the course of nominating a new special representative for the Caucasus. He has a job to do.
Related topic(s):
Men arrested in Varna counterfeiting travel checks
July 5, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

USD 1.6 mio
Police seized fake travelers' checks valued at US$1.6 million and arrested three suspects in the Black Sea port of Varna, Interior Ministry said Saturday.

Final stage
The checks were found at the final stage of production in a villa in the outskirts of Varna. Subsequent searches of three other houses netted evidence of previous forging operations, including equipment needed for phony check production, the ministry said.

EUR and USD bills
Varna police last year seized some US$1.5 million worth of phony U.S. dollar and euro bills and arrested 17 men on related charges.
Gazprom wants cash from Turkey
July 3, 2003
Moscow Times

Written by Vladimir Todres
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Gazprom may reduce the cost and amount of fuel it sells to Turkey to resolve a dispute that has stalled deliveries through a $3.3 billion Black Sea pipeline that opened in January.

Gazprom offered the reductions on all three of its gas contracts with Ankara, deputy CEO Yury Komarov said. In turn, Turkey must pay for 800 million cubic meters of gas it agreed to take from the new pipeline, known as Blue Stream, by the end of the year.

Pay for less fuel
"A take-or-pay clause has come into force as of July 1," Komarov said. Turkey "must pay for the gas even if it in fact takes less fuel than it had agreed. The sides surely will find a solution and gas supplies through the Blue Stream pipeline will resume."

Gazprom and Italy's Eni built Blue Stream to ship as much as 16 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey annually, more than the country consumed in 2000.

Too expensive
Turkey stopped taking gas from Blue Stream in April, saying the price was too expensive and the agreed deliveries exceeded its needs following a contraction of the country's economy in 2001.

The Turkish Energy Ministry said it is willing to discuss the proposal once it receives notification from Gazprom. Delivery volumes were not discussed during talks last month because no agreement could be reached on price, a spokesman said.

Gazprom exports gas under contracts that link the price to the cost of alternative fuels, such as crude oil. The prices are adjusted once or twice a year. The contracts usually specify how much gas the customer will pay for, regardless of actual use, a so-called take-or-pay clause.

"On one hand, Turkey has overestimated its rate of energy consumption growth; on the other hand, it hasn't developed a sufficient infrastructure for gas," Komarov said.

Gazprom has offered to invest in Turkey's gas distribution network, he said.

Price to pay
Gazprom has said Turkey would pay about $80 per 1,000 cubic meters for gas, valuing this year's scheduled supplies at about $320 million. The price Turkey actually pays for Russian gas will take into account changes in European gas prices.

In February, Gazprom said gas prices reached a high of $116 per 1,000 cubic meters in Western Europe, up from an average of $97 in the first nine months of 2002.

More gas than needed
Turkey's government, elected last November, says the country was locked into expensive gas contracts at volumes that exceed its needs. The contracts with a variety of providers require it to buy 26 bcm of natural gas this year. Turkey estimates 24 billion of that can be used.

Gas from Russia will make up 62 percent of the gas bought by Turkey in 2003 if what was agreed in the Blue Stream contract is actually imported.

Gazprom delivered 11.8 bcm of gas to Turkey last year, and it also buys gas supplies from Iran, Algeria and Nigeria.
Related topic(s):
Romanian journalists protest Ukrainian interdictions
July 3, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Written by Zsolt-Istvan Mato
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Denied entry
The Convention of Romanian Media Organizations released a press release on 1 July protesting the Ukrainian authorities' recent decision to deny entry to two Romanian journalists.

Banned for 5 years
The press release stated that "Ziua" reporter Victor Roncea and "Bucovina Culturala" journalist Ion Beldeanu were recently denied entry to Ukraine without cause and were banned from entering the country for five years.

Human rights
The media organization argued that the measures violate Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which refers to the right to receive and disseminate information regardless of frontiers. The press release calls for Ukraine's Ambassador to Romania Anton Buteyko to rescind the bans imposed on Roncea and Beldeanu. The Romanian Press Club also protested the treatment of two journalists in a 1 July press release.
Related topic(s):
Less Russian middle class than believed
July 1, 2003
RFE/RL Russia

Written by Julie A. Corwin
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

20% middle class
In an interview with "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 30 June, Tatyana Maleva, director of the Independent Institute for Social Policy, said that about 1-2 percent of the Russian population could be considered "rich" and 20 percent could be called "middle class."

Wishful thinking
However, opinion polls indicate that about 40 percent of the population consider themselves middle class. Among those who are actually poor but who consider themselves middle class are the intelligentsia and people with higher education such as doctors, teachers, and low-level state officials.

No gains
Maleva also reported that gains from recent economic growth are generally shared by two groups: the middle class, which is developing businesses that are contributing to the growth, and the poor. However, the most populous group -- which is made up of state-sector workers, low-level businessmen, and wage laborers -- is not sharing in these gains, and the government is doing practically nothing to help them.

New Russians
In the "Vedomosti" article, Kryshtanovskaya asserts that so-called New Russians have created a network of representatives at all levels of power.

Political role
According to Kryshtanovskaya, the New Russians hold 16 percent of the positions in the executive branch, 17 percent of the seats in the State Duma and the Federation Council, and 5 percent of the posts in the federal government. She argued that one must conclude that the New Russians' political role has grown.
Western diplomats urge for fair elections in Georgia
June 30, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Diplomatic pressure
Western ambassadors accredited in Georgia, as well as the representatives of the international organizations, including the OSCE, USAID meet Parliamentary Chairperson and the leaders of the political parties beyond the closed doors today to discuss upcoming Parliamentary elations, scheduled for November 2.

The western diplomats submitted to the Georgian politicians list of recommendations urging for fair and democratic elections. The appeal reads that in case of failure to secure fair elections Georgia would be deprived of not only support from the international community but also economic assistance.

Central Election Commission
The diplomats also urge to solve the problem regarding the composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC), which is the core of the dispute between the opposition and the pro-Presidential political parties.

Today President Shevardnadze said that it would not be "tragedy if the elections are held under the current election code." This statement was met by the opposition as a sign that the government does not intend to make any compromise over the rule of composition of the CEC.

More critics
Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze also criticized President's statement and said that the adoption of the new election code would be vital for securing fair and democratic elections.
Related topic(s):
Georgia visa information
June 29, 2003
Lonely Planet Webpage

Posted by NDE on April 18, 2018

The citizens of Poland, Bulgaria and the other CIS countries can enter Georgia without a visa. Other visitors must get a visa (valid for one month) from a Georgian embassy abroad or when they get to the airport (not recommended).
Turkey visa information
June 28, 2003
Lonely Planet Webpage

Posted by NDE on April 18, 2018

Citizens of New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and most of the countries of Western Europe, need only a valid passport for stays of up to 3 months.

Australian, UK and US citizens,
as well as those from Austria, Canada, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, do need visas, obtainable in advance at a Turkish consulate, or upon entry to Turkey
Romania visa information
June 28, 2003
Lonely Planet Webpage

Posted by NDE on April 18, 2018

EU and US citizens with valid passports can visit Romania visa-free for 30 days. Other visitors need a visa, which can be purchased in advance at a Romanian embassy or upon entry to Romania.

Bulgaria visa information
June 28, 2003
Lonely Planet Webpage

Posted by NDE on April 18, 2018

Citizens of about 30 countries, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and other EU countries can be admitted without a visa for stays of less than 30 days. For stays of more than 30 days, a visa must be purchased. A 90-day visa costs between US$30-60 depending on which country you apply from. Visitors of most other nationalities are issued visas of varying costs depending on the type of visa sought - transit, tourist or business

Kuchma appoints new defense minister
June 25, 2003
Ukrainian News

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Marchuk new defense minister
President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Yevhen Marchuk as a Minister of Defense to replace Volodymyr Shkidchenko.
Presidential press service disclosed this to Ukrainian News.

52-year-old Marchuk occupied post of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council's Secretary since November 1999.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, the preceding Defense Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko submitted a resignation letter during the meeting held on last Friday by President Leonid Kuchma to review military efficiency of armed forces dislocated in the Crimea.

At this meeting Kuchma criticized the reforming of the Armed Forces.

Second time
Shkidchenko occupied post of the Defense Minister since November 2001.

Schkidchenko has submitted a resignation letter for the second time. He tried to resign for the first time after a Su-27 aircraft crash in Lviv in July last year resulting in deaths of 77 people.

Then Kuchma refused to accept the resignation of the Minister.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Marchuk, Yevhen (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Ancient fire dancing survives in Bulgarian mountains
June 24, 2003

Written by Anna Mudeva
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Fire dancing, one of the oldest pagan rituals in the Balkans, has defied the persecutions of both Christianity and communism to survive through the millennia.

In a trance-like state, locals in Bulgaria's tiny mountain village of Bulgari still dance barefoot on burning embers, just as their ancestors did thousands of years ago.

Tourist attraction
But purists say the ancient ritual is turning into a tourist attraction and may finally fall victim to capitalism.

A motley group of tourists, hippies, ethnologists, students and locals flock each June to Bulgari in the southeastern mountain region of Strandzha to watch fire dancing.

Amateurs in hospital
Some of the excited spectators, mainly those who have bolstered their courage with alcohol or marijuana, take their shoes off for a dash of fire walking after the traditional dancers end their performance.

Many amateurs end up in the hospital.

"One cannot be taught to dance over embers unless they were born to be nestinari (fire dancers)," said Vesselina Ilieva, who performs in the folk festival in Bulgari every June 3, the day of Saints Constantine and Helen.

"You should believe that God will keep you safe, you should be very good and wish evil to no one. Then you will not feel the heat," added the 57-year-old retired librarian.

Some 13 years ago, Ilieva had a vision of an elderly woman who told her she would become a fire dancer. Ilieva was skeptical about the prophecy but decided to give it a try.

"I crossed the fire several times and got no scorches at all but thought it was by chance. Only later I realized I was predestined to become a nestinar," she said.

Cold feet
Fire dancers say mental preparation and cold feet, along with the thundering, monotonous music of bagpipes and drum are key.

The performance begins at sunset, when the chief nestinar, a man wearing a white shirt and a red sash around his waist, spreads the embers in a circle in Bulgari's square.

The street lamps go off and the crowd approaches in silence. Only the drum echoes primitively across the mountains.

The nestinars dance around the circle, carrying icons and then suddenly walk through the fire. Their feet sometimes touch lightly and sometimes press down in hard circular motions, crossing the coals until they put down the blaze.

Their faces are pale and their eyes half-closed. Fire dancers say they fall into a spiritual trance during the performance and are believed to foretell the future.

Tracian prophecy
Historian Valeria Fol at Bulgaria's Academy of Science, who has studied fire dancing since 1972, writes in her book "Fire and Music" about a prophecy she heard from a Greek nestinar in 1993, predicting last decade's wars in former Yugoslavia.

Anathematized by the Orthodox Church and banned by Bulgaria's communist government, fire dancing can be traced back to the Tracians, Bulgaria's most ancient inhabitants, who worshiped the sun and believed in immortality.

The fire dancers in Bulgari say they inherited the custom from their grandparents, for whom the ritual was a purely Christian duty. If they observe it, they stay healthy and harvest rich crops; if not, disease and poverty befall the community.

The mysterious rite, also carried out in northern Greece by refugees from Bulgaria, was often performed secretly over the last century for fear of the church and the communist party, which ruled Bulgaria for 45 years until 1989.

Banned by the communists
"The communists banned fire dancing in the 1960s out of concern for Bulgaria's prestige, which they said should not be brought into discredit by savagery," said ethnologist Ruzha Neikova, who studies the custom.

Journalists and researchers had branded fire dancers as "sick, crazy and fakers," while the official church was convinced that the devil was involved.

It was not until 1980s that the communist rulers realized the rite could attract foreign tourists to Bulgaria's Black Sea resorts and allowed its performance in restaurants.

"There's a danger now of going into the opposite direction, turning the ritual into a show," said Fol.

Some of Bulgari's elder residents said they had no respect for contemporary fire dancers because they perform for money.

"The rite is now ridiculous, it's not real fire dancing. The nestinari would just run quickly across the fire and get paid for that by the municipality," said Kostadin Zhelyazkov, 75. Events at Bulgari this year appeared to back his opinion.

By sunset, the village square was fully packed with scores of visitors, queuing up for beer and grilled meatballs.

"We came here by accident. But this place is so mysterious, it's going to change me forever," said Anna, a young hippie, who generously offered dope to reporters.

The fiesta ended with policemen chasing away a hippie and a foreign tourist, who walked through the fire in delirium.

"We are the ones who will have to take them to the hospital, and we don't want to spoil our evening with stoned teenagers and drunkards," said one angry officer.
Bulgarian and Macedonian firms create plan of increased trade
June 23, 2003
Bulgaria Online

Posted by NDE on April 19, 2018

Thirty firms
Company leaders from Bulgaria and Macedonia will gather Monday at a business forum in Bulgarian capital Sofia. Macedonia's Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski and Economy Minister Iliya Filipovski will lead a delegation of thirty Macedonian firm leaders.

Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov and State Administration Minister Dimitar Kalchev will also join the event, reported.

Business cooperation
The forum aims to advance business cooperation between the two countries, Bulgarian coordinators of the meeting said.

Participants will work to increase the pace of trade between Bulgaria and Macedonia and analyse opportunities for foreign investment in both countries. Firm leaders will also be holding individual meetings with each other.
Sofia (Bulgaria) Capital
Parvanov, Georgi (M) Politician Bulgaria
Sister of Abkhaz official in exile killed
June 23, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Family attack
Unidentified persons attacked the family of the sister of Davit Khubua, the Information Minister of the Abkhaz government-in-exile, in the Gali district, as a result of which the Minister’s sister Tinatin Ezugbaia was shot dead. Her son was hospitalized with severe injuries.

"Ethnic cleaning"
Leader of the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz government in exile Tamaz Nadareishvili condemned the fact, saying "this is the continuation of ethnic cleaning of Georgians in Abkhazia."
Ukraine's defense minister resigns: army in chaos
June 20, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Ukraine's defense minister resigned Friday, just two months after President Leonid Kuchma sacked the commander in chief of the former Soviet republic's navy for neglecting his duties.

Combat readiness
Defense Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko submitted his resignation during a hearing headed by President Leonid Kuchma on the results of inspections of military units' combat readiness and the use of state funds, military facilities, buildings and land occupied by the armed forces on the Crimean Peninsula, said Defense Ministry spokesman Kostiantyn Khivrenko.

Kuchma said that there were serious shortcomings in the activities of the ministry and the army's general staff and that the military reform that has been under way in the country for many years is "unsatisfactory, slow, chaotic, and without a precise program", according to s statement by the presidential press service.

Least effective
"We have one of Europe's largest armies, and one of the least effective," he said.

Economic turmoil
Ukraine's military has been battered by economic turmoil since the Soviet collapse. The Defense Ministry is chronically tardy in paying its servicemen. Thousands of officers and retirees lack proper housing. Some military units send servicemen to do construction or agricultural work to supplement their rations.

Deadly accidents
The past several years have seen a string of deadly military accidents that officials have blamed on negligence.

2 years in office
Shkidchenko had served as defense minister since fall 2001, when Kuchma sacked his predecessor Oleksandr Kuzmuk and his aides following the downing of a Russian plane by a Ukrainian missile fired during exercises on the Crimean Peninsula. All 78 people on board were killed.

Deplorable conditions
The naval commander, Admiral Mykhailo Yezhel, was fired after Kuchma noted widespread pilferage of equipment and deplorable staff conditions during a tour of military facilities at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol

More fired
Last year, Kuchma fired Ukraine's top air force commanders after a fighter jet crashed into a crowd at an air show, killing at least 76 people and injuring scores more.
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Kuzmuk, Oleksandr (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Ukraine and Romania make border agreements
June 17, 2003
News from Ukraine

Posted by NDE on April 19, 2018

Ukraine, Romania have endorsed an agreement regarding the Ukrainian-Romanian state frontier. They have also agreed to to collaborate and support each other in finding solutions for near-frontier questions.

The document has been signed by the presidents of the two countries Leonid Kuchma and Ion Iliesku.

The agreement confirms the line of the Soviet-Romanian land frontier. It delineates what land is counted as a part of the Ukrainian-Romanian frontier, and which areas are included as a part of the continental shelf and exclusive sea zone.

The agreement establishes the ways in which near-frontier waters, railways, highways, and other communications may be used.

According to press-secretary Olena Hromnytska, has the agreement has been signed for a 10 years period. In line with the agreement, all the chapters, relating the Ukrainian-Romanian state frontier, must not be adhered to.

After the ratification of the agreement, the question of the Ukrainian-Romanian frontier will pass from the political to technical sphere. A joint Ukrainian-Romanian frontier commission will sort out the technical questions.

The negotiations related to the continental shelf and sea areas delimitation continue.
Iliescu, Ion (M) Politician Romania
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Ukraine and Romania initial long-expected border treaty
June 13, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Officials from Ukraine and Romania initialed a border treaty on Friday after years of disputes over a tiny Black Sea island, but an official said discussions about the island would continue.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Oleksandr Motsyk and his Romanian counterpart Cristian Diakonescu initialed the document during the 19th round of talks on border issues in Kiev, the Foreign Ministry said.

Resolve all
The presidents of Ukraine and Romania agreed last year to resolve all border disputed by this June, and officials drafted the treaty last month in Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

Next week
It is expected to be signed by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Romanian President Ion Iliescu during one-day talks next week in Ukraine. But the Foreign Ministry said talks about Zmeinyi island will continue.

Oil and gas
Disagreements about the island, which is believed to contain valuable reserves of oil and natural gas, have clouded Ukrainian-Romanian relations for decades. Ukraine also seeks to develop fishing facilities on the island.

Romania controlled Zmeinyi before World War II, after which it was incorporated into Soviet Ukraine over Romania's objections. A 1997 treaty signed by Ukraine and Romania recognized Ukraine's control of Zmeinyi, but disputes resumed a year later.

Romania, a formerly communist country that was invited last November to join NATO, has shown interest in settling the island dispute because NATO requires applicant countries to resolve all border issues prior to accession.
Iliescu, Ion (M) Politician Romania
Kuchma, Leonid (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
Yushchenko still leads in presidential poll
June 13, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Yushchenko leads
Victor Yushchenko keeps the lead in the polls over the two years of monitoring, carried out by the A.Razumkov Ukrainian Center for Economical and Political Research. 22.6% of respondents would vote for Victor Yushchenko should presidential elections be held next Sunday.

Head of the think tank's political and law programs Ihor Zhdanov told this to UNIAN, commenting on the data of the recent sociological search.

In the words of I.Zhdanov, over the past few months, the presidential rating of V.Yushchenko was changing within 6%. In the opinion of the expert, the fluctuation depend on level of the Our Ukraine's leader activities. "As soon as we see V.Yushchenko on TV, when he visits regions - his rating grows", the political scientist stressed.

Communist leader Petro Symonenko steadily goes second with 10.7% support. I.Zhdanov says Symonenko has suffered no changes recently.

Thus, as I.Zhdanov has pointed out, should residential elections be held next Sunday, the two opposition leaders would enter the second tour.

At the same time, the pundit says that Prime-Minister Victor Yanukovych closely follows the chief Communist, with 9.5% potentialvoters who would back him for presidency.
Symonenko, Petro (M) Politician Ukraine
Yanukovich, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Yushenko, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
US troops leave Romanian Black Sea base
June 13, 2003
Hoover's Online

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

A temporary U.S. air base near this Black Sea city was closed Friday after it was used for three months as a supply point for the Iraq war.

Back to Germany
Over the past three weeks, some 1,000 troops of the U.S. 458th Air Expeditionary Group who had been stationed at the Mihail Kogalniceanu base were redeployed to bases in Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States.

Some stay
About 150 U.S. Marines will remain at the base in the Black Sea port of Constanta, where they are completing a joint exercise with Romanian troops that consists mainly of infrastructure improvements like fixing airport runways, repairing roads and installing fiberoptic cables.

U.S. forces used the base to deploy troops and supplies to Iraq after Turkey denied the United States permission to enter Iraq from its territory.

Good position
The base was important because it is closer to the Middle East than other European bases, and because it has good road, rail and sea links.

The Kogalniceanu base is one of the Balkan bases considered by the Pentagon to be used for training and rapid deployment of troops to conflict areas in the Middle East.

"We are staying"
"We are leaving but we are staying," said Col. Steven F. Dreyer, the 458th Expeditionary's commander, adding that American planes on their way to the Middle East and Afghanistan will continue to use the air base to refuel.

He thanked Romania for the hospitality showed to American soldiers.

The formerly communist country was invited last November to join NATO.
Related topic(s):
UN Staff Set Free In Georgia
June 11, 2003
Moscow Times

Written by Margarita Antidze
Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Kidnappers on Tuesday released four UN staff abducted last week while monitoring the border between Georgia and the separatist province of Abkhazia, a senior Georgian official said.

Unidentified gunmen abducted three UN military observers, two Germans and a Dane, with their Georgian interpreter Thursday in the remote Kodor Gorge on the border with Abkhazia, which broke away from Georgia in 1993.

No ransom
"We can confirm that the hostages have been released," said Bessarion Kvitsiani, deputy envoy of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in the gorge.

"The ransom has not been paid," he said, adding that no criminal charges would be brought against the kidnappers.

The abductors on Sunday demanded $3 million to release their hostages.

Kvitsiani did not explain how the government had secured the captives' release.

Not the first ones
Several other UN observers have been abducted in the gorge and then freed within a few days -- unconditionally, according to official accounts.

In the last such incident, Polish and Greek observers were held for a few days in December 2000. According to officials, they too were released without conditions.

The United Nations has said it would pay no ransom.

Georgian government officials went by car to a place where they had agreed to pick up the hostages and were expected to return soon, Kvitsiani said.

Good condition
German Defense Minister Peter Struck said in Berlin that three UN observers and their interpreter were in good condition.

The observers were part of a 100-member UN team monitoring the border since 1993, when Abkhaz separatists drove out Georgian troops in a conflict that killed about 10,000 people.

The UN observer mission in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, has named the hostages as Klaus Ott and Herbert Bauer from Germany, Henrik Soerensen from Denmark and Georgian interpreter Lasha Chikashua.
Related topic(s):
Three UN observers kidnapped in Georgia
June 5, 2003

Written by Niko Mchedlishvili
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Two Germans and a Dane
Two Germans and a Dane, monitoring the border between Georgia and separatist Abkhazia for the United Nations, were kidnapped on Thursday in a remote gorge, a senior Georgian official said.

Monitoring contingent
The three were part of a contingent of 100 U.N. observers monitoring a truce between Georgia and Abkhazia, which proclaimed itself a separate state in 1993 following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Under fire
Marian Staszewski, a political adviser to the U.N. mission, said the observers were monitoring the gorge with peacekeepers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a grouping of former Soviet countries, when their car came under fire.

The observer team's Georgian interpreter was also kidnapped in the incident, the United Nations said in New York, adding that the four had been able to report back by radio that they were unharmed.

"We were told that no one was injured in the shooting," Staszewski told Reuters, adding that the Russian peacekeepers who had been with them had been disarmed and then released.

Nothing new
The kidnap took place in the remote Kodori Gorge, where U.N. observers have been taken hostage several times in the past but released without conditions, according to official information.

In the last such incident, two U.N. observers from Poland and Greece were held for a few days in December 2000.

In New York, the 15-nation U.N. Security Council was briefed on the hostage-taking and Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov said afterward council members were "very concerned."

"We join in the demand to release these hostages immediately, without any conditions," said Lavrov, the council president for the month of June.

Georgia has accused Russian peacekeepers of abetting Abkhazian separatists. In January, it accused Russia of annexing the region and appealed to the U.N. Security Council to "assume effective leadership over the peace process."

The United Nations has drawn up a document meant to be a basis for negotiations between Georgia and Abkhazia. But Abkhazia's leaders have so far refused even to discuss it.
Related topic(s):
Draft law asks Romanians to spy on each other
June 5, 2003
Yahoo! News

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

A draft law that would require people to declare all visitors to homes to the government and would encourage neighbors to spy on each other has provoked outrage in Romania.

Notifying officials
The proposed law would require Romanians to notify an official in writing if they wish to invite a friend or relative to their home and would encourage neighbors to let the authorities know about any such visits.

"Maintenance costs"
The government says the law is designed to help pay for building maintenance costs -- any visitor staying for more than two weeks would be required to pay a contribution towards maintenance expenses.

Country of informers
But opposition groups and the media have accused the social democrat government of seeking to turn Romanians into a a country of informers.

Violation of privacy
The Evenimentul Zilei newspaper said this week that the measure would constitute a fundamental violation of privacy and was "worse than under the communist regime".

Liberal member of parliament Mona Musca said: "The government says it wants to join the European Union but it seeks laws aiming to transform Romania into a country of informers".

Communist mentality
Democrat deputy Emil Boc charged that the draft law betrayed the communist mentality of the government.
Related topic(s):
Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey to boost ties
June 4, 2003
Associated Press

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

The presidents of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey vowed Wednesday to cooperate in their fight against organized crime and terrorism, and to boost economic and military cooperation.

Terrorist threat
Ion Iliescu of Romania, Bulgaria's Georgi Parvanov, and Ahmet Necdet Sezer of Turkey said in a joint statement they would combat all forms of terrorism, something they labeled as a "serious threat to the stability and security of the region, our states and the lives of our citizens."

The leaders also promised to step up their "political and military cooperation within NATO, as well as to contribute effectively to strengthening the trans-Atlantic relationship."
Turkey is a NATO member, while Romania and Bulgaria are set to join the alliance in November.

Peaceful minorities
The three met in Neptun, a resort on Romania's Black Sea coast, an area with significant Bulgarian and Turkish minorities.
"The history of (the Balkans), as troubled as it is, is not limited to permanent conflicts," said Iliescu, adding that the Black Sea region was a model for peaceful cooperation between Romanian, Bulgarians and Turks.

The neighbors also plan to build pipelines for natural gas and oil linking Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania with Central and Western Europe.

Serbia and Montenegro
Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey also pledged to support democratic and market reforms in Serbia and Montenegro.
Neptun (Romania) Resort
Iliescu, Ion (M) Politician Romania
Parvanov, Georgi (M) Politician Bulgaria
Sezer, Ahmet Necdet (M) Politician Turkey
Related topic(s):
Opposition demands Shevardnadze's resignation (again)
June 3, 2003
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Electerol commission
As the parliament fails to send the Central Electoral Commission into resignation, the rallies outside the house take up the slogans calling for resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze.

"From this moment on, the only demand of these rallies is for President Eduard Shevardnadze to resign" said leader of United Democrats Zurab Zhvania speaking at the rally in front of the Parliament.

Opposition coalition
The leaders of United Democrats, New National Movement, the New Rights, Traditionalists and People's Party decided to forge closer coalition and launch series of rallies nationwide with these demands.

By the end of the day, the epicenter of the rally has moved from the parliament to the State Chancellery - a seat to President Shevardnadze.
Tomorrow, the rally is planned in a city of Kutaisi.
Related topic(s):
Full-time US presence in Bulgaria and Romania?
June 3, 2003
Associated Press

Written by George Jahn
Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Out of Germany
U.S. troops may soon use Balkans bases for training sites and staging points for possible interventions in the Middle East as the Pentagon weighs withdrawing 15,000 soldiers from Germany, diplomats and government officials in Europe say.

"Soviet bloc"
Speculation about U.S. bases in newly democratic eastern Europe began months ago with NATO's decision to expand membership to the former Soviet bloc. On a recent stop in Bulgaria, which joins next year, Gen. Charles Wald, deputy U.S. Army commander in Europe, said that "as NATO moves east our presence and our participation will have to be where NATO is."

Full-time presence
But Balkan bases first used by the Americans during the Iraq war may get a full-time U.S. presence even before the official NATO expansion, said Western diplomats and local officials, who agreed to discuss the situation on condition of anonymity.

"Within months"
They said the Pentagon wants to use big Romanian and Bulgarian training grounds in year-round programs that would have up to 3,000 battle-ready U.S. soldiers here at any time. Speaking separately, two diplomats said such training could begin "within months, not years."

No formal agreement yet
None of those who spoke about the possible bases reported any formal agreement, but they indicated the parties were discussing the details of allowing U.S. military bases in the two countries. Legislation would be needed to implement such agreements.
Asked about the comments, a Pentagon spokesman in Washington, Lt. Dan Hetlage, said Tuesday that no decisions had been made on using the bases.

The idea is for the U.S. troops — infantry, artillery, light armor and helicopters — to undergo intense training of 30-90 days, then return to bases in western Europe or the United States, the sources said.

"Trouble spots"
But the diplomats and officials said the troops would also be ready for quick movement to trouble spots in the Middle East or Central Asia.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials have said they are studying how to shift U.S. troops around the world to respond to new threats such as terrorism.

Close to threats
"This is probably the closest point in Europe to the sort of threat which is centered in the areas of Central Asia, (or) the (Persian) Gulf," Romanian Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu said in an interview.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi told The Associated Press that the region also is a good jumping off point for fighting international terrorists groups, "an enemy hidden somewhere, without a capital, without a face, without a government."

US points of interest
In Romania, the Americans are interested in the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, the Babadag training range and the Black Sea military port of Mangalia. In Bulgaria, talks are focusing on the use of the Sarafovo and Graf Ignatievo military airports and the Koren and Novo Selo training areas.

German withdrawal
A senior Romanian official in regular contact with ranking U.S. officials said he was told 15,000 Americans would be withdrawn from Germany in the foreseeable future. "They would be welcome here," the official said.

New roads
At the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, U.S. contracts have paid for Romanian crews to resurface and widen two roads, build a third and improve landing areas to accommodate the Americans' largest planes.

Central heating
Existing accommodations for up to 6,000 service personnel also have been upgraded with central heating and other amenities, said Col. Victor Luchian, the Romanian commander of the base.

3,000 Americans
About 3,000 Americans, including special operations units, were at the base during the Iraq war, flying troops and weapons directly to the front.
Luchian said that most of them would be gone soon, but that a small crew would remain for maintenance. He shrugged when asked how long they would stay.

"They'll never go"
A senior diplomat was more direct on the American presence. "They'll never go home," he said.
Pascu, Ioan Mircea (M) Politician Romania
Pasi, Solomon (M) Politician Bulgaria
Related topic(s):
Bulgaria: no-confidence vote for Prime Minister
May 29, 2003
RFE/RL South Eastern Europe

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

Lawmakers of the conservative opposition coalition United Democratic Forces (ODS), which is led by the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), on 28 May used the plenary debate of a no-confidence motion to level accusations against Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski and to call for early elections, reported.

"Lost moral right"
Deputy SDS Chairwoman Ekaterina Mihailova called on all political parties in parliament to agree on early elections, arguing that the governing National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) and Saxecoburggotski have lost the moral right to govern the country.

Yordan Sokolov, a former parliamentary speaker who is currently an ODS deputy, accused Saxecoburggotski and his ministers of having been corrupted by businessmen, citing a recent Interior Ministry report that alleged ties among politicians, magistrates, and the underworld. The no-confidence vote is expected to take place on 29 or 30 May.

"Unable to lead a government"
Tatyana Doncheva, who is a lawmaker of the Bulgarian Socialist Party-led Coalition for Bulgaria, charged during the session that Prime Minister Saxecoburggotski is dependent on those business groups that helped him assume power, reported. Like ODS lawmaker Sokolov, Doncheva cited the recent Interior Ministry report, using it as an example of Saxecoburggotski's inability to take the necessary steps and dismiss the ministers involved.

Behave like a PM
She also mentioned the case of the Kozloduy nuclear-power plant, in which the government allegedly acted against the proclaimed will of parliament. "I dare say that this prime minister long ago proved unable to lead a government," Doncheva said. "And he has proven to be unwilling to behave like a prime minister."

Government emphasizes success
In reaction to the charges that the government is unwilling or unable to curb organized crime, Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov told the parliament session that crime rates are the lowest they've been in years and recalled the poor records of previous ODS- and BSP-led governments, reported.

"Unfounded charges"
Economy Minister Nikolay Vasilev, who is also a deputy prime minister, said the charges that the government has not fulfilled its electoral promises to improve social welfare are unfounded.

Miserable salary
"The average salary has increased from a miserable $113 to a no less miserable $169," bnn quoted Vasilev as saying. "But this is still a 49 percent increase in dollars. Would you call such an increase symbolic?"

Beyond expectation
"The justifications [for the no-confidence motion] did not meet our expectations," Vasilev said, according to BTA. "We expected serious, in-depth criticism and an analysis of the situation, but the way they were written shows the motion is intended to be voted down."
Related topic(s):
Possible restoration of Sochi-Tbilisi railroad
May 29, 2003
Moscow Times

Posted by HW on April 18, 2018

Technical condition
The Russian Railroad Ministry suggested that at the first stage of the project of restoration of the railway service on the Sochi-Tbilisi railroad, the technical condition of the railroad should be assessed.

Deputy Railroad Minister Vladimir Sazonov voiced this opinion at a meeting with Georgian First Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Georgy Nizharadze, devoted to the implementation of an agreement on the restoration of railway service on this railroad. The agreement was reached by the Presidents of Russia and Georgia in Sochi on March 6-7, 2003.

Mutual enrichment
During the first business meeting, the heads of the delegations pointed out that railway transport not only was a traditional method of progressive economic development but also supported international communication and mutual enrichment of international contacts.

End of June
Analysis of the results of the assessment will allow for determining the amount of financing of this project. Additionally, an agreement on holding the next meeting in Tbilisi at the end of June 2003 was reached.
Sochi (Russia) City
Tbilisi (Georgia) Capital
Related topic(s):
Tymoshenko runs for president?
May 28, 2003
Ukrayinska Pravda

Posted by HW on April 19, 2018

New office
On Tuesday, a public reception office of the deputy Yulia Tymoshenko opened up in Lviv, after which the chief of the reception office Mykola Boiko told Lviv newspaper Postup that Tymoshenko would run for president.

"That she will run for presidency, we have no doubt. She, as a charismatic leader would lose not run in. Besides, [her party] the Fatherland can find them selves in a disadvantageous position at parliamentary race if their leader not taking part in presidential elections," Mykola Boiko stated.

Premier or President
Boiko says that Tymoshenko will restrain her ambitions only in the event that Yushchenko offers her the position of premier. Although he would not exclude the combination Yushchenko - premier, Tymoshenko - president.

Break through
Boiko is sure that these two political leaders will break through to the second round of the upcoming presidential elections and Yulia Tymoshenko is bound to win.

All opposition votes
In his opinion, in the second round all the votes of the Communist chief Symonenko and the Socialist Moroz will go to the BUTy leader, as "Yushchenko will fall behind with his 27 per cent".
Tymoshenko, Yulia (F) Politician Ukraine
Yushenko, Viktor (M) Politician Ukraine
Related topic(s):
March 9, 2003 [Associated Press]