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Updated: 10-May-2004

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

10 May 2004

  • Blast kills Chechen President at stadium


  • NATO balking at Iraq mission


  • NATO exercise viewed by Bulgarian media
  • 20,000 demonstrators protest Iraq prison abuse; warn NATO Summit, Bush


  • The International Herald Tribune reports that the explosion of a bomb Sunday in a stadium in Chechnya’s capital, killed the republic’s president and at least 13 others in a holiday celebration. The explosion, reportedly caused by a bomb planted inside a concrete pillar, occurred as President Kadyrov and other Russian and Chechen leaders attended a parade and concert in Grozny commemorating the 59th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, notes the paper. Akhmad Kadyrov, a former rebel leader who was elected president last fall in a vote widely considered fraudulent, was the political figure entrusted by Russian President Putin, and his death plunges the Kremlin’s strategy into uncertainty, comments the daily. There were no immediate claims of responsibility but given the placement of the bomb, observes the paper, the attack was clearly meant to kill the president and the leaders present at the event. Mr. Putin allegedly announced that Sergei Abramov, the Kremlin appointed prime minister of Chechnya, would take over as acting president, as called for in the republic’s new constitution, until new elections are held sometime before September. In a related article, the Christian Science Monitor quotes Irina Zvegelskaya, an expert with the independent Center for Political and International Studies in Moscow, saying: “This bombing on Russia’s most important holiday is an open personal challenge to Putin … Kadyrov made himself indispensable to the Kremlin, he wasn’t much loved or respected by the majority of Chechens, but there is no doubt that he imposed a kind of order in Chechnya. He did this by using violence, oppression and other very unpopular measures, but he was able to deliver stability. With him gone, the whole program is in crisis.”


  • According to The Los Angeles Times, interviews with allied defense officials and diplomats show that the Bush administration’s hopes for a major NATO military presence in Iraq appear doomed. “The Alliance had expected to announce at a June summit that it would accept a role in the country, perhaps by leading the international division now patrolling south-central Iraq,” continues the paper, “But amid continuing bloodshed and strong public opposition to the occupation in many nations, allies want to delay any major commitment until after the U.S. presidential election in November, officials say.” The newspaper also argues that the Pentagon’s announcement last week that it intends to keep 135,000 U.S. troops in the country was a sign that the administration does not expect to shift more of the burden to other nations anytime soon.


  • Various national and local Bulgarian newspapers reported recently on the military exercise code-named “Combined Endeavor 2004”, which is being conducted in Bulgaria in the framework of the PFP program and is scheduled to end May 25. Nation-wide newspapers Labor and 24 Hours, echoed by the local paper Black Sea Lighthouse, wrote that over 200 soldiers belonging to seven countries joined the NATO exercise in the military camp of Sarafovo. They remarked that the exercise, for the first time, will be conducted in 2 regions far away from each other, Baumholder, Germany, and Sarafovo, Bulgaria. The aim of the exercise, said the papers, is to increase interoperability in the communication and information systems of the participating countries.
  • Turkish news agency Anatolia, May 9, reported that during acts of protest against the prisoner abuse in Iraq, some leaders also pronounced speeches against American and British leaders’ participation in the June NATO Summit. Ismail Sagdic, spokesman of the Confederation of Public Sector Worker Unions (KESK), allegedly said that KESK does not want the “occupiers to come to Istanbul to attend the NATO Summit in June. Likewise, at a rally organized by the Human Rights and Freedom Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHHA) in Sisli, Istanbul, Mehmet Kilicarslan, leader of the Toil Party, reportedly said: “When he comes to Turkey for the NATO summit, we will organize for President Bush in such a way that he will not be able to go out in Istanbul.”


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