- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002

Putin seeks to tighten border with Caucasus

MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for stronger control and protection of Russia's southern border in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
"In a situation where weapons, drugs and criminals are heading in our direction, we cannot wait much longer," Mr. Putin said Thursday, according to Interfax news agency.
He was not certain whether to reinforce control along the Russian border or to build up controls on the edge of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the loose union grouping the former Soviet republics, excepting the Baltic states.
"It is, at any rate, a very difficult political decision," Mr. Putin said, adding that discussions with the Central Asian and Caucasus republics are under way.

Asset freeze ordered in Greek terror case
ATHENS A Greek court last week ordered a freeze on the assets of 15 detained suspects following charges the November 17 urban guerrilla group stole the equivalent of $1.12 million in addition to carrying out 23 killings and a number of bomb attacks, ANA news agency reported.
The Greek postal service ELTA had asked that $2.49 million be seized in connection with armed raids on post offices in Athens in 1991 and 1997, the report said.
The court in Piraeus responded by ordering the provisional freezing of all transactions on the assets linked to the 15 detainees. A total of $1.12 million was stolen, but ELTA added interest and legal costs to the amount it wants seized, ANA said.
Police say several arrested suspects have admitted to the raids.

Closure leaves one seminary in Ireland
DUBLIN The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, whose theological schools once exported priests worldwide, has closed another hallowed institution, leaving just a single seminary in this mainly Catholic country.
The directors of St. Patrick's College in Thurles, County Tipperary, said that their few remaining seminarians would transfer immediately to the church's flagship seminary, Maynooth College near Dublin, which is struggling to produce enough priests for the next generation of Irish Catholics.
Since 1994, public confidence in the Catholic Church in Ireland has steadily eroded as hundreds of cases have been exposed involving church officials' sexual abuse of children dating back to the 1950s.

Albanian rebels free 5 Macedonians
SKOPJE, Macedonia In what appeared to be at least a temporary reduction of tensions ahead of crucial elections, ethnic Albanian gunmen early yesterday released five Macedonians abducted three days earlier.
The Albanian National Army, an ethnic Albanian splinter rebel group opposed to an August 2001 peace deal, took responsibility for the kidnapping and threatened more abductions.
The release came after negotiations between the kidnappers and representatives from international groups, including the European Union and the International Red Cross, Interior Ministry spokesman Voislav Zafirovski said.
The peaceful solution offered temporary relief in a country where tensions have soared recently ahead of general elections, scheduled for Sept. 15.

Albanians find arms near Macedonian border
TIRANA, Albania Some 18,000 rounds of ammunition and about 100 grenades have been discovered in a cave in northeastern Albania near the Macedonian border, a police official said Thursday.
He said the weapons were almost certainly headed for Macedonia, where elections are scheduled for Sept. 15, just over a year after a peace deal was signed between the government and ethnic Albanian rebels in the country.

Weekly notes
Slovak President Rudolf Schuster, 68, left a Vienna, Austria, hospital for home Thursday after doctors completed extensive medical tests on him but could not immediately determine the cause of his illness. Earlier in the week, Slovak doctors who examined Mr. Schuster said his illness was likely caused by either his gallbladder, a viral infection or food poisoning. His family had suspected he had been poisoned, but doctors ruled out the possibility and later Mr. Schuster's son withdrew the claim.

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