• 2002-11-21
Danes to host another conference

Denmark is to host a conference on the separatist Russian republic of Chechnya, less than a month after a similar meeting led to a major diplomatic row with Moscow, organizers said Nov. 19.

The conference, scheduled to begin Nov. 22, will include Russian deputies, human rights activists and former Russian soldiers who have served in the region, Pernille Fendrich of the Danish Socialist People's Party said.

The conference was being organized by the party together with a Chechen support group and the Zakayev committee, named after top Chechen envoy Akhmed Zakayev, arrested last month after addressing the first Chechen meeting. Denmark refused to ban that conference, prompting outrage from Moscow who accused Denmark of "solidarity with terrorists."

Zakayev is being held in Danish custody awaiting a decision on a Russian request to have him extradited on terrorist charges. (Agence France Presse)

Troops arrive in Afghanistan

Troops of Lithuania's special forces have reached their deployment location in Bahram, some 50 kilometers from the capital Kabul, to participate in the U.S.-led anti-terrorist operation Enduring Freedom, the Defense Ministry said Nov. 19.

Lithuanian soldiers are trained to conduct special intelligence, guarding and other tasks. On Oct. 1 the Lithuanian Parliament gave the green light to the dispatch of 40 special forces troops to the U.S.-led international operation in Central and Southern Asia.

A group of 32 Lithuanian soldiers are also serving in international peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Kosovo province. (Baltic News Service)

GraffitI-covered trains from Moscow

Anti-NATO slogans on Baltic-bound trains leaving Moscow on Nov. 17 could be the work of Russia's extreme National Bolsheviks.

The National Bolshevik Party's press service stated that the graffiti attacks were done by "unknown people that were akin to national bolsheviks." The announcement stated that the cause for the vandalism is "the expected NATO accession of the Baltic states and the unstable situation of transit visa requirements for traveling through Lithuania and the repression of veterans in Estonia and Latvia."

Graffiti was sprayed on trains leaving the Moscow train stations of Leningrad, Riga and Belarus, heading for the Baltic capitals of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius on the evening of Nov. 17 between 6:15 and 7:15 Moscow time.

The announcement stated that the graffiti included political nature slogans such as "Stop NATO!" and "NATO is worse than AIDS."

The Moscow-Vilnius train was covered in graffiti stating "Kaliningrad is a Russian city" and "No Visas."

The Moscow-Riga train was hit with slogans like "We will cut your ears off for our old-timers" and "Independence from NATO," while the Moscow-Tallinn train was tarred by graffiti stating "Freedom for Russian veterans." (BNS)

U.S. fighters over Vilnius

There is a possibility that the U.S. Air Force will be called to assistance to ensure the safety of President George Bush during his visit in Vilnius later this week.

Raimundas Kairys, director of the VIP Protection Department, said Nov. 18 that the participation of U.S. military aircraft in the efforts to ensure safety of the Vilnius airspace is not finalized but "should not be ruled out."

Lithuanian armed forces commander Major General Jonas Kronkaitis said that Lithuanian air forces would work to ensure airspace security but declined to reveal any detail. He was also reluctant to speak about the possible involvement of U.S. warplanes in the ensuring of airspace safety during the U.S. president's visit in Vilnius on Nov. 22-23.

Lithuanian air forces have four Czech-made light-assault jets L-39 Albatros, two Mi-2 helicopters and 10 helicopters Mi-8, as well as several Czech- or Soviet-made transport airplanes.

Helicopters of the Lithuanian air forces were involved in the security measures during Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit in Vilnius in June. (BNS)

No linkage on conventional arms

A high-ranking Czech defense officer says he will not relate NATO enlargement and the future members' - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - joining an agreement on armed forces deployment.

In a round table discussion Nov. 18, Czech Deputy Defense Minister Stefan Fule said that he saw no link between NATO enlargement and Agreement on Conventional Forces Europe.

"I don't think there is a linkage. It's logical that sooner or later the invitees, especially Baltic countries, will make their views clear on CFE. I know that this kind of commitment was made by Lithuania," said Fule.

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus delivered a speech at the 57th session of the U.N. General Assembly where he declared that Lithuania would join the amended Agreement on Conventional Forces Europe as soon as it comes into effect.

Moscow has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction about the Baltic states' joining NATO without having signed the Conventional Forces Europe Agreement. (BNS)