- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 7, 2003

CROATIA

Pope delivers message of reconciliation

OSIJEK — Under a punishing sun, Pope John Paul II brought a message of reconciliation yesterday to a corner of Croatia still embittered by war in the 1990s.

Temperatures that reached 100 degrees took their toll on many of the 150,000 pilgrims who packed an airfield to see the pope. At least two persons died of heart attacks, and dozens of others fainted or sought medical attention.

The 83-year-old pontiff urged believers to help bridge a postwar rift between Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs in this eastern region, which saw some of the most vicious fighting in Croatia’s 1991 war for independence from Yugoslavia.

RUSSIA

Fierce battles mark beginning of amnesty

VLADIKAVKAZ —Russian troops and Chechen police battled for a second day with rebels in an eastern Chechen town yesterday in fighting that killed at least 20 persons, even as an amnesty offer to rebels came into effect.

The amnesty, approved the day before by Russia’s parliament, was promoted as a step toward peace, offering immunity from prosecution to rebels who give up their weapons by Sept. 1.

But fighting persisted, particularly in Argun, a town in the eastern part of the war-ravaged republic where a convoy of Russian troops was ambushed by insurgents Friday, according to the Russian military.

POLAND

Voting begins on EU membership

WARSAW — Poles began voting yesterday in a two-day referendum on whether their nation of 38 million should join the European Union next year, a move their leaders say will end historic divisions, boost the economy and raise living standards.

Opinion surveys show overwhelming support for joining the bloc.

Poland signed the accession treaty at an Athens summit in April, but it’s not official until President Aleksander Kwasniewski also signs it with the blessing of voters.

Weekly notes …

ROCK MUSICIAN DAVE ROWBERRY, KEYBOARD PLAYER FOR THE TOP 1960S BAND THE ANIMALS, WAS FOUND DEAD FRIDAY IN HIS LONDON APARTMENT, A FELLOW BAND MEMBER SAID. HE WAS 62. DRUMMER JOHN STEEL SAID MR. ROWBERRY, WHO HAD HEART PROBLEMS, WAS FOUND DEAD BY ANIMALS BASSIST JIM RODFORD. … A PRODUCER OF THE OSCAR-WINNING FILMS “The Pianist” and “Schindler’s List” was charged Friday with influence peddling, deepening a bribery scandal that has gripped Poland and touched its government. Lew Rywin, 58, is accused of soliciting a $17.5 million bribe from Agora SA, the publisher of the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, in exchange for his lobbying the government for favorable media laws that would allow Agora to buy a nationwide broadcaster.

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