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RADIO MARYJA'S 'INFLUENTIAL FUNDAMENTALIST'... In 1990, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk started Radio Maryja in Torun as a local radio station; in 1993, the station received a concession for broadcasting nationwide. Today, Radio Maryja claims a regular listenership of 14 percent of adult Poles (some 4 million people) and touts itself as the most influential Catholic media outlet in Poland. The weekly "Wprost" called Father Rydzyk -- who remains the head of Radio Maryja -- "the most influential religious fundamentalist in Europe." ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 13 August)

...EVANGELIZING BUNDESWEHR... The daily "Gazeta Wyborcza" on 7 August ran a report asserting that Radio Maryja is also spreading the gospel to Germany's Bundeswehr. "This is Radio Maryja, the Catholic voice in your home." These words, in Polish, were reportedly heard some time ago by a Luftwaffe pilot during a routine flight on the short-wave frequency 7,400 kilohertz, which is used by the Bundeswehr for military communications. It took some time for the Bundeswehr to identify the station interfering with Luftwaffe messages, but the German Defense Ministry eventually turned for help to the Polish General Staff. In turn, General Lech Konopka asked the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council Chairman Juliusz Braun for an explanation. ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 13 August)

...FROM RUSSIA... Father Rydzyk's explanation "stupefied everyone," according to "Gazeta Wyborcza." The radio signal on the 7,400-kilohertz frequency is transmitted not from Poland but from the Russian Federation. In line with a license issued by the Russian Media Ministry and an agreement signed in 1997 with the RTRS company it owns, the transmitters used by Father Rydzyk's network are located in Krasnodar (southern Russia). Radio Maryja broadcasts in Poland on UHF frequencies; its license does not allow for its signal to be emitted on short waves, which have become less popular. It remains a mystery why Father Rydzyk needs a short-wave transmission as well. ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 13 August)

...TOTALLY LEGALLY. "Everything is in line with the law," "Gazeta Wyborcza" quoted experts from the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council as saying. "The Polish broadcaster, who did not have the possibility to broadcast on short waves in Poland, obtained such a license in Russia and broadcasts into Poland [from there]," the daily related. "Before the Radio Maryja signal reaches Poland, it passes many countries on its way. One can confidently claim that Radio Maryja primarily targets Catholics who live east of the Bug River [which runs along a portion of Poland's border with Belarus and Ukraine]. The evangelization of German troops is a side effect." ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus and Ukraine Report," 13 August)


COURT DENIES RADIO STATION LICENSE, BUT ALLOWS IT TO OPERATE? On 8 August, the Kyiv Economic Court ruled that the city's Kontinent radio station could operate for 10 more years -- and around the clock -- but revoked its license. The radio station had relayed various Western broadcasts until its license was revoked when it brought suit against the TV and Radio Broadcasting Council. The radio station's lawyers believe a future ruling by the European Court of Human Rights -- which has agreed to consider the Kontinent v. Ukraine case -- will play a decisive role. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)

ARE ANTI-SEMITIC PUBLICATIONS ON THE INCREASE? According to a 9 August statement by the chairman of the Anti-Fascist Committee of Ukraine, Alexander Shlayen, "numerous individuals and media outlets have emerged recently" that want to disturb the ethnic situation in the country. Shlayen referred in particular to the paper "Idealist" and the magazine "Personal," and called on the Ukrainian authorities to "respond properly to anti-Semitic articles" in those two publications. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS Newsletter," 5-11 August)

STATE MEDIA TO PAY SYMBOLIC RENT. Cabinet ministers decreed on 9 July that state and municipal broadcasting companies and their periodicals can pay a symbolic amount of one hryvnya a year (less than 20 cents) for the rent of government property. The same rent is set for the periodicals established by public associations, state research and educational institutions, and by post offices that distribute periodicals. In contrast, however, the new decree does not cover advertising or erotic periodicals or media outlets founded in Ukraine by international organizations or with the participation of legal entities or individuals from other countries or stateless individuals. For such media outlets, the decree sets the rent at 7 percent of the commercial evaluation of the real estate. ("European Institute for the Media July CIS Newsletter," 15 August)

COURT REJECTS NEW ACCUSATION AGAINST FORMER MILITARY CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER. The Moscow Arbitration Court ruled that former chief military financial officer Colonel General Georgii Oleinik did not abuse his office in 1998 by selling $54 million in Defense Ministry bonds to a bank at 8 percent of their real value, reported on 14 August. The court also declared the deal null and void. The latest charges (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August 2002) were filed earlier this month against Oleinik, who is already serving a three-year prison term after being convicted of embezzling $450 million in Defense Ministry funds through a Ukrainian company. VY

BELARUSIAN COURT UPHOLDS VERDICT AGAINST JOURNALISTS FOR LIBELING PRESIDENT. The Hrodna Oblast Court on 15 August upheld the guilty verdict passed by a district court in June on journalists Mikola Markevich and Pavel Mazheyka, who were convicted of libeling President Lukashenka ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 2 July 2002), Belapan reported. At the same time, the court shortened the sentences of "restriction of freedom" and corrective labor -- 2 1/2 years for Markevich and two years for Mazheyka -- by one year for each of them, saying that the journalists' sentences fall under an amnesty law. Markevich called the 15 August ruling "a crime against freedom of speech, morality, and justice." JM

UKRAINE, ROMANIA DISCUSS BORDERS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko and his Romanian counterpart Mircea Geoana met in Yalta on 15 August to discuss the regulation of border problems between the two countries, Ukrainian media reported. The ministers reportedly have not reached any specific decisions. Asked whether a document regulating state borders will be signed during an expected meeting of the Ukrainian and Romanian presidents in September, Geoana said he does not deem it necessary for the presidents to discuss this issue at their meeting. Answering a question about how much time Romania has to solve the border issue considering its efforts to join NATO, Geoana said "Romania is not under any time pressure from the point of view of European and Euro-Atlantic integration." The two countries have long been at loggerheads over the delimitation of the border in the vicinity of Serpents Island in the Black Sea and the control over several islets in the Danube estuary. JM

UKRAINE REJECTS ASYLUM REQUESTS OF THREE BELARUSIANS. Ukrainian authorities have turned down an asylum requests of three Belarusian citizens -- Uladzimir Bukhanau, Svyataslau Shapavalau, and Syarhey Korneu -- who claimed they were persecuted in Belarus for opposition views and activities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August 2002), UNIAN reported on 15 August. The Kyiv City administration's Department for Nationalities and Migration Issues said the three missed the deadline for requesting political asylum and refused to accept their application. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO CONTINUE ARMY MODERNIZATION. President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who is the commander in chief of the Polish armed forces, made an address at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw on 15 August to mark Polish Army Day, Polish media reported. Kwasniewski said the country's armed forces will continue to be modernized and gradually equipped with new armaments. "We are aware of the fact that the modernization of the armed forces is a difficult task, particularly at a time when the financial condition of the state is not the best," Kwasniewski said. "Personal problems and frustrations cannot be an excuse for breaking the rules and for behavior that goes against officers' and soldiers' honor," Kwasniewski added, in an apparent allusion to a recent call for a "vote of no confidence" in the country's military leadership by Colonel Ryszard Chwastek (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 13 August 2002). Kwasniewski presented nominations to the rank of four-star general to General Staff chief Czeslaw Piatas, and to the rank of three-star general to General Staff deputy chief Jozef Flis and Air Force commander Ryszard Olszewski. JM

KOSOVARS CLASH WITH UN POLICE. A clash between UN police and angry Kosovars demanding the release of recently arrested former guerrillas left 47 protesters and 11 police injured in Decan on 15 August, Hina reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12, 13, and 14 August 2002). Some 20 demonstrators were arrested. UN civilian administration (UNMIK) spokeswoman Susan Manuel said that she understands why tempers were high but added that the rule of law must prevail. The news agency added that local media criticized elected officials for not commenting publicly on the arrests. The Kosova Committee for the Protection of Human Rights charged that the police overreacted. Reuters reported that the mainly Spanish, Argentinean, and Ukrainian police used tear gas to repel stone-throwing protesters. UN press officer Andrea Angeli said that the police are trying to identify the ringleaders. Observers note that many Kosovars are suspicious over what they regard as UNMIK's determination and efficiency in arresting Albanians while failing to arrest Milan Ivanovic, a prominent Serbian extremist, in what some liken to a "Keystone Kops" operation. The police maintain that they are continuing to search for him. PM

TRANSDNIESTER EXPERTS REJECT MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT'S SUMMIT PROPOSAL. Transdniester experts cited by the official Transdniester news agency Olivia Press on 15 August rejected Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin's initiative for a "marathon summit meeting" to take place in Chisinau, Flux reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August 2002). The experts said Voronin is "usurping the prerogatives of the mediators" in calling for the meeting, stressing that only the three mediators -- Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE -- are empowered to establish dates, venues, and agendas for such negotiations. MS