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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 154, 00-08-11

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

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

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 154, 11 August 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER NOTES IMPROVEMENT IN ARMED FORCES
  • [02] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT UNVEILS HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS
  • [03] ARMENIA RETURNS MORE 'TROPHY ART' TO GERMANY
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN: ARMENIANS GAINING UNFAIR ADVANTAGE ON RUSSIAN
  • [05] AZERBAIJANI EDITORS TO COORDINATE ELECTION COVERAGE
  • [06] GEORGIA DENIES RANSOM DEMANDED FOR ABDUCTED RED CROSS
  • [07] OSCE SAYS NO VIOLATIONS REGISTERED ON GEORGIAN-CHECHEN
  • [08] KYRGYZ PRESS TARGETS KULOV TRIAL JUDGE
  • [09] UZBEK ISLAMISTS ENTER KYRGYZSTAN...
  • [10] ...AS MORE FIGHTERS DRIVEN BACK ON TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] SECURITY COUNCIL BLASTS SERBIA OVER ARRESTS
  • [12] RUSSIA REPORTEDLY INTERVENES OVER SERBIAN ARRESTS
  • [13] SERBIAN OPPOSITION WITHOUT DRASKOVIC IN LOCAL ELECTIONS
  • [14] SPECIAL UN STATUS FOR MONTENEGRO?
  • [15] U.S. WARNS MILOSEVIC ON MONTENEGRO
  • [16] SLOVENE ARRESTED IN MONTENEGRO
  • [17] YUGOSLAV ARMY, MONTENEGRIN OFFICIALS MEET TO DEFUSE TENSIONS
  • [18] MESIC PREDICTS TROUBLE IN MONTENEGRO
  • [19] CROATIAN LEADERS PLEASED WITH U.S. VISIT
  • [20] NATO 'STILL COMMITTED' TO CATCH BOSNIAN SERBS' KARADZIC
  • [21] PETRITSCH BLASTS BOSNIAN EDUCATION MINISTERS
  • [22] INVESTMENT FUND VICTIMS CLASH WITH ROMANIAN POLICE
  • [23] ROMANIA REVISES UPWARD FORECAST INFLATION RATE
  • [24] TOEKES'S ALLEGED SECURITATE COLLABORATION STIRS CROSS-BORDER
  • [25] U.S. MEDICAL AID EQUIPMENT ARRIVES IN MOLDOVA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] DEMONIZATION IN RUSSIA AND ITS DISCONTENTS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER NOTES IMPROVEMENT IN ARMED FORCES

    Serzh Sarkisian, who was appointed defense minister for the

    second time three months ago, told journalists in Yerevan on

    10 August that the Armenian army is now "better armed, better

    funded, and better organized" than in 1993-95 during his

    previous term as minister, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.

    He claimed that discipline within the armed forces is strong,

    discounting repeated reports of hazing and the recent

    incident in which two deserters shot eight people dead before

    being apprehended (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 21 July

    2000). LF

    [02] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT UNVEILS HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS

    The

    Armenian government approved on 10 August the main points of

    what it expects to become a national system of mandatory

    health insurance in the next few years, RFE/RL's Yerevan

    bureau reported. The insurance "concept" developed by the

    Ministry of Health introduces a system of monthly obligatory

    payments to a special public fund that will cover the costs

    of medical services, which much of the population cannot

    currently afford. Health Minister Ararat Mkrtchian told

    journalists that the majority of contributions will come from

    the state budget, and that the new system will be introduced

    "in the first half of next year." Also on 10 August, Noyan

    Tapan quoted a Public Health Service official as saying that

    during the first five months of this year the sector received

    only 17 percent of the total funds allocated from this year's

    state budget. Many Yerevan medical personnel have not

    received their salaries since last fall. LF

    [03] ARMENIA RETURNS MORE 'TROPHY ART' TO GERMANY

    Armenia has

    sent back to Germany a second consignment of valuable books

    and manuscripts seized by the Soviet Army after World War II,

    Reuters reported on 10 August quoting a German government

    statement. A first consignment was returned in May 1998 (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1998). LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN: ARMENIANS GAINING UNFAIR ADVANTAGE ON RUSSIAN

    PRODUCE MARKET

    The Armenian government's exemption from

    customs duties on trucks transporting Armenian-produced

    cabbage and potatoes to Georgia has caused concern in

    Azerbaijan that its farmers may lose their share of the

    Russian produce market, Armenpress reported on 10 August

    quoting the Azerbaijani news agency Bilik Dunyasi. Russian

    customs officials on the Azerbaijani border with Daghestan

    routinely extort huge bribes from Azerbaijani truck drivers.

    LF

    [05] AZERBAIJANI EDITORS TO COORDINATE ELECTION COVERAGE

    Editors

    of newspapers planning to give broad coverage of the runup to

    the 5 November parliamentary elections have formed a Media

    Union-2000 to that end, "Azadlyg" reported on 10 August. It

    is not clear whether they agreed to establish a uniform fee

    for publishing election-related materials submitted by

    parties contending the ballot. LF

    [06] GEORGIA DENIES RANSOM DEMANDED FOR ABDUCTED RED CROSS

    WORKERS

    Former Georgian parliament deputy Mamuka Areshidze,

    who is one of the negotiators conducting talks on terms for

    the release of three Red Cross workers abducted in Georgia's

    Pankisi gorge on 4 August, told Caucasus Press on 10 August

    that the abductors are not demanding a ransom for their

    captives' release, nor have they made any "political

    demands." Instead, Areshidze said, they are demanding the

    solution of unspecified social "problems...of a rather

    complicated character," which will entail "courage and

    resolution" on the part of the Georgian authorities. LF

    [07] OSCE SAYS NO VIOLATIONS REGISTERED ON GEORGIAN-CHECHEN

    BORDER

    Romania's ambassador to the OSCE, Liviu Bota, who was

    previously the UN secretary-general's special representative

    for the Abkhaz conflict, on 10 August inspected OSCE

    monitoring posts in the Georgian border villages of Shatili,

    Omalo, and Girevi, Caucasus Press reported. Bota said after

    that tour that the OSCE observers deployed along the

    Georgian-Chechen border have registered no unauthorized

    border crossings since they began their mission in February.

    Russian military officials regularly claim that mercenaries

    and weapons enter Chechnya from Georgian territory. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ PRESS TARGETS KULOV TRIAL JUDGE

    In an editorial

    published in its 10 August edition, the pro-government

    newspaper "Slovo Kyrgyzstana" implied that presiding judge

    Nurlan Ashymbekov may have been paid a large bribe in hard

    currency to acquit former Vice President Feliks Kulov,

    RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. On 7 August, Ashymbekov

    announced Kulov's acquittal for lack of evidence on charges

    of abusing his official position while serving as National

    Security Minister in 1997-1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8

    August 2000). Ramazan Dyryldaev, chairman of the Kyrgyz

    Committee for Human Rights, told RFE/RL that he believes the

    decision to acquit Kulov was taken under pressure from the

    international community by President Askar Akaev, to the

    displeasure of other senior members of the country's

    leadership. LF

    [09] UZBEK ISLAMISTS ENTER KYRGYZSTAN...

    Kyrgyz presidential

    spokesman Osmonakun Ibraimov told journalists in Bishkek on

    11 August that two Kyrgyz servicemen were injured in fighting

    earlier that day between Kyrgyz government troops and a group

    of 30-40 fighters who had entered Kyrgyzstan's southern

    Batken Oblast from Tajikistan en route to Uzbekistan, Reuters

    reported. Ibraimov said the fighters are believed to belong

    to the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a group of

    whose forces clashed with Uzbek troops earlier this week (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 8, 9, and 10 August 2000). Also on 11

    August, ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed Uzbek official as saying

    that Uzbek forces destroyed "the main group" of those

    fighters in a surprise raid early on 10 August. On that same

    day, the first deputy chief of the Russian Army General

    Staff, Colonel-General Valerii Manilov, said that Moscow will

    provide assistance if asked to help Uzbekistan defeat the

    Islamists, Interfax reported. LF

    [10] ...AS MORE FIGHTERS DRIVEN BACK ON TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER

    Russian Border Guards in Tajikistan thwarted an attempt

    during the night of 10-11 August by a group of some 40 armed

    men to cross the Shaartus sector of the Afghan-Tajik border,

    Asia Plus-Blitz reported. The infiltrators were forced to

    retreat. The Russian border guards, although outnumbered,

    said they suffered no casualties. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] SECURITY COUNCIL BLASTS SERBIA OVER ARRESTS

    UN Security

    Council President Hasmy Agam of Malaysia issued a statement

    on 10 August saying that "members of the Security Council

    expressed their concern over the Federal Republic of

    Yugoslavia's disregard of its international obligations with

    regard to the arrest and detention of the two British, two

    Canadian, and four Dutch citizens. [Members] urged the FRY

    authorities to fulfill all of the requirements of the

    relevant provisions of international law without further

    delay," Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August

    2000). On 11 August, a group of 56 distinguished Montenegrin

    authors, professors, and other persons appealed to the

    Security Council to "urgently dispatch monitors with an

    international mandate to observe all the destructive

    activities of [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic's

    military and paramilitary troops" in Montenegro, AP reported

    from Podgorica. PM

    [12] RUSSIA REPORTEDLY INTERVENES OVER SERBIAN ARRESTS

    Russian

    President Vladimir Putin wants the legal status of

    international organizations in Yugoslavia "defined swiftly"

    to ensure their workers' immunity from arrest and

    persecution, London's "The Guardian" reported from Moscow on

    11 August. Putin takes a dim view of "international hostage-

    taking," an unnamed presidential aide added. Aleksandr

    Yakovenko, who is a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told

    the daily that the Kremlin will react "positively" if Britain

    asks Russia to use its influence in Belgrade in the case.

    Later on 11 August, Interfax reported that Foreign Minister

    Igor Ivanov has written the Belgrade authorities, asking them

    to help "clear up the circumstances of the case," an unnamed

    ministry source noted. The source added that "the Yugoslav

    side has promised to listen to the advice of the Russian

    minister." PM

    [13] SERBIAN OPPOSITION WITHOUT DRASKOVIC IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

    The

    united opposition will field joint slates in the 24 September

    local elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from

    Belgrade on 10 August. Representatives of the 15 parties

    agreed that the slate will be called "Democratic Opposition

    of Serbia--Vojislav Kostunica." Kostunica, who is the united

    opposition's presidential candidate, will formally "head"

    each local slate. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic will

    chair the central campaign organization. As in the

    presidential race, Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement

    will run its own candidates and thereby play the role of

    strategic ally of Milosevic by splitting the opposition vote

    (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 11 August 2000). PM

    [14] SPECIAL UN STATUS FOR MONTENEGRO?

    Montenegrin Foreign

    Minister Branko Lukovac said that "there are good prospects"

    that his republic may soon receive an unspecified "special

    status" at the UN, "Vesti" reported on 11 August. He added

    that Montenegro may be allowed to open an accredited

    "mission" to the world organization (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    10 August 2000). PM

    [15] U.S. WARNS MILOSEVIC ON MONTENEGRO

    State Department

    spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington on 10 August

    that "Secretary Albright and other U.S. officials have

    reiterated many times our strong interest in the security of

    the region, including Montenegro. And in addition, NATO

    ministers and officials have also made it clear that NATO is

    concerned about the situation in Montenegro. So I think we've

    been quite clear about this situation. We remain vigilant.

    NATO is watching, we are watching the situation very closely,

    and we're working to support democratic forces in the region,

    which we believe is the best way for the region as a whole to

    find stability," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. NATO

    Secretary-General Lord Robertson also recently warned

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic against

    "miscalculating" in his relations with Podgorica (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 27 July 2000). PM

    [16] SLOVENE ARRESTED IN MONTENEGRO

    A Slovenian tourist was

    recently arrested by the Yugoslav army in Montenegro, the

    Ljubljana daily "Dnevnik" reported on 11 August, quoting

    Foreign Ministry sources. The tourist was arrested where he

    was vacationing, which was nowhere near any military sites,

    the ministry noted. The ministry recently warned its citizens

    to be careful when traveling in Montenegro (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 8 August 2000). PM

    [17] YUGOSLAV ARMY, MONTENEGRIN OFFICIALS MEET TO DEFUSE TENSIONS

    The Montenegrin Interior Ministry issued a statement in

    Podgorica on 11 August saying that "Interior Minister Vukasin

    Maras has met an army delegation consisting of 10 generals

    and two colonels and headed by Deputy Chief of Staff General-

    Colonel Miodrag Simic. In an open and constructive dialogue,

    they discussed current issues related to the securing of

    state land and sea borders and adequate informing of the

    public. Special attention was given to intensifying

    cooperation between Montenegro's Interior Ministry and the

    Yugoslav Army to overcome accumulated problems and reduce

    growing tensions," the statement added. General Nebojsa

    Pavkovic, who is chief of the General Staff and a staunch

    Milosevic loyalist, is in Montenegro on a visit. He told a

    local radio station that the army "will not allow anyone to

    infiltrate into Yugoslav territory terrorists and foreign

    mercenaries whose aim is to provoke clashes between the army

    and the police, which would cause chaos leading to a break-up

    of the state," Reuters reported. PM

    [18] MESIC PREDICTS TROUBLE IN MONTENEGRO

    Speaking to a press

    conference in Washington on 10 August, Croatian President

    Stipe Mesic said that Milosevic has "learned nothing" from

    his defeats in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and

    Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Mesic added

    that "the international community should now send a message

    to Milosevic to force him to desist from causing any crisis

    in Montenegro. He should not be permitted to engage in a

    military adventure in Montenegro.... He should never be able

    to engage in any further military adventure in the future.

    Ever. And Montenegro's citizens are entitled to choose their

    own way, their own path." PM

    [19] CROATIAN LEADERS PLEASED WITH U.S. VISIT

    Wrapping up a

    three-day visit to the U.S., Mesic hailed military

    cooperation between Zagreb and Washington: "We said--not

    making any secret of it--that U.S. instructors have helped us

    in the structuring of the Croatian armed forces.... The

    Croatian armed forces are so close to NATO standards that we

    expect that membership very soon," an RFE/RL correspondent

    reported from Washington on 10 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    10 August 2000). Prime Minister Ivica Racan added that "if

    you had been present at the working breakfast meeting we had

    with the (U.S.) Chamber of Commerce and members of American

    business, you would have seen quite a few representatives of

    outstanding American companies offering concrete arrangements

    and business deals.... What was exceptionally important for

    us was the assessment which we received that currently the

    cooperation with Croatia and investment in Croatia is safer

    than it was ever [before]." PM

    [20] NATO 'STILL COMMITTED' TO CATCH BOSNIAN SERBS' KARADZIC

    Unnamed NATO officials in Brussels denied recent press

    reports that the U.S. and some other members of the Atlantic

    alliance are "afraid" to capture indicted Bosnian Serb war

    criminal Radovan Karadzic lest they risk taking casualties,

    the "Financial Times" reported on 11 August (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 8 August 2000). The officials stressed that NATO

    is "more committed than ever" and will arrest Karadzic "when

    the conditions are right." Jacques Klein, who is the UN's

    chief representative in Bosnia, and many other observers

    argue that Bosnia cannot put the legacy of the 1992-1995

    conflict behind it until Karadzic is arrested and brought to

    trial in The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 2000).

    Meanwhile in New York, a judge ruled on 10 August that

    Karadzic owes a group of Bosnian Muslim rape victims some

    $745 million in damages. PM

    [21] PETRITSCH BLASTS BOSNIAN EDUCATION MINISTERS

    Wolfgang

    Petritsch, who is the international community's high

    representative in Bosnia, charged Republika Srpska Education

    Minister Nenad Suzic and federal Deputy Education Minister

    Ivo-Miro Jovic on 10 August with "obstructionism." The two

    men have allegedly tried to hold up implementation of an

    agreement for joint textbooks for all of Bosnia. The books

    will be written in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets and

    will treat the history and literature of Bosnia on a unified

    basis, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [22] INVESTMENT FUND VICTIMS CLASH WITH ROMANIAN POLICE

    Some 500

    people protesting against the loss of their savings in the

    collapsed National Investment Fund (FNI) on 10 August clashed

    with police in Bucharest as they tried to force their way

    into the seat of the government and blocked adjacent roads,

    RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Two policemen were

    injured and two demonstrators said to have attacked them with

    knives were arrested. A governmental counselor who received a

    delegation of the protesters said the government will not

    cover losses in a private fund from its state budget. A

    Bucharest court recently ruled that the state savings bank

    CEC, which guaranteed the FNI investments, must cover part of

    the losses, but the CEC has appealed that decision. On 9

    August, two Romanian prosecutors flew to Israel to present in

    court arguments for the extradition of former FNI manager

    Ioana Maria Vlas. Media reports say Vlas may have left

    Israel, however. MS

    [23] ROMANIA REVISES UPWARD FORECAST INFLATION RATE

    Governmental

    spokeswoman Gabriela Vranceanu-Firea on 10 August said the

    government has revised the expected inflation rate for 2000.

    The cabinet now forecasts a 32 percent annual rate, instead

    of 27 percent as it did in early 2000. Vranceanu-Firea said

    the revision was mainly due to the impact of the drought. The

    July inflation rate was 4.3 percent, considerably higher than

    the 2.8 percent rate registered in June, Mediafax reported.

    MS

    [24] TOEKES'S ALLEGED SECURITATE COLLABORATION STIRS CROSS-BORDER

    CONTROVERSY

    Executive members of the Hungarian World

    Federation (MVSZ) declared that Reformed Church Bishop Laszlo

    Toekes will have to resign as the organization's honorary

    chairman if it turns out that he did cooperate with the

    communist-era Romanian secret services, Hungarian media

    reported on 11 August. Istvan G. Palffy, a member of the

    MVSZ's executive, said he was shocked to read Toekes'

    admission that he had written his own declaration as a

    Securitate informer, although Toekes had stressed that he did

    not sign the document (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August

    2000). Palffy said he wrote to Toekes reminding him that the

    MVSZ had decided that leaders must scrutinize their own past,

    and should not accept key positions "if they have skeletons

    hiding in their closets." MSZ

    [25] U.S. MEDICAL AID EQUIPMENT ARRIVES IN MOLDOVA

    A consignment

    of medical equipment--the largest single shipment of

    humanitarian aid received by Moldova since it became

    independent--arrived in the country's capital on 10 August,

    RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The total value of the aid

    is $16.8 million and it will be distributed to medical

    institutions in the Transdniester and in the autonomous

    Gagauz-Yeri region as well. Thirty U.S. military medical

    experts will monitor its use and will remain in Moldova till

    March 2001 to instruct aid recipients. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] DEMONIZATION IN RUSSIA AND ITS DISCONTENTS

    By Paul Goble

    The 8 August explosion in Moscow has thrown into high

    relief the gulf that exists in Russia between those who are

    prepared to play on prejudices against the Chechens and those

    who recognize the dangers of demonizing an entire people.

    Immediately after the blast, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov

    said that there were "many indications" that Chechen rebels

    were responsible for the bombing. But less than 24 hours

    later, President Vladimir Putin backed away from such

    assertions when he noted on national television that "it is

    very wrong when we brand one nation, because criminals--

    terrorists above all--do not have a nation or a belief."

    This difference in approach reflects a longstanding

    difference in the attitudes and calculations of the two men.

    Since at least October 1993, Luzhkov has played on the

    prejudices of some Russians against people from the Caucasus.

    In the wake of the conflict between then-President Boris

    Yeltsin and the country's parliament, Luzhkov issued a decree

    expelling from the Russian capital "people of Caucasian

    nationality."

    He has regularly invoked its provisions in the years

    since that time, most recently during what was called

    Operation Whirlwind at the start of Moscow's second campaign

    in Chechnya. And because his decree was enforced with the

    assistance of federal authorities, many other localities

    followed his lead and sought to deflect popular anger by

    moving against the Chechens.

    And Luzhkov's playing to popular prejudice and extremist

    nationalist attitudes in this case appears to be part and

    parcel of his larger agenda, which has included demands that

    Moscow seek the return to Russia of all or part of Crimea

    from Ukraine.

    Whatever his personal views, Putin, by way of contrast,

    has been much more cautious in this regard. Part of the

    reason for that appears to lie in his understanding that

    large-scale attacks on the Chechens as a whole--or on Muslims

    as a group--could complicate Russia's relationship with the

    West and with Muslim countries as well as Moscow's ties with

    its own Muslim minorities.

    When he launched the campaign in Chechnya last year,

    Putin initially made some sweeping statements about the

    Chechen nation, but he quickly backed away when it was

    pointed out that such remarks--which suggested that Moscow

    was interested in exterminating the Chechens as a group--were

    not playing well either in the Middle East or in Western

    Europe.

    Another reason for Putin's caution appears to be his

    understanding that a sweeping attack on the Chechens as a

    whole has the effect of driving those Chechens who might be

    willing to cooperate with Moscow into the hands of pro-

    independence Chechen groups and thus of complicating his

    efforts to end what he has called his campaign against

    terrorism.

    Indeed, immediately after this week's explosion, Shamil

    Beno, an official in the pro-Moscow Chechen interim

    administration representative in the Russian capital, said

    publicly that comments like those of Luzhkov threaten

    stability both "in Chechnya and in Moscow itself." Beno's

    words were echoed by other Chechens, including those opposed

    to Moscow's rule in that North Caucasian republic.

    And yet a third reason for Putin's relatively cautious

    approach is that many Russians are not persuaded by official

    charges that the Chechens are responsible for this or earlier

    terrorist acts in the Russian Federation.

    A poll released two weeks ago, for example, found that

    50 percent of Russians did not believe government claims that

    the Chechens were behind the attacks on apartment buildings

    in Russian cities a year ago. And a survey of more than 5,000

    Russians the day after the bombing found that slightly more

    than one-third of them did not think that the Chechens were

    to blame for the latest explosion.

    These poll results suggest that many Russians are not

    prepared to accept charges--like those made by Luzhkov--

    without evidence. Many appear to take this position because

    they believe that the authorities must offer real evidence

    first. Others do so because they fear, on the basis of past

    experience, that sweeping attacks on the Chechens could lead

    to attacks on other groups or to serve as the justification

    for a new authoritarianism.

    For all these reasons, Putin's reaction to the explosion

    in Moscow this week is likely to prove more politically

    prudent than the dramatic comments of Luzhkov, evidence of

    both the Russian president's pragmatism and the increasing

    unwillingness of Russian citizens to accept in the absence of

    clear evidence whatever the authorities say about Chechnya--

    or indeed, about anything else.

    11-08-00


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


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