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Saturday, September 18, 2004

New York Times > A Mild Shanghai Lawyer and His Accidental Crusade


September 18, 2004 THE SATURDAY PROFILE
By HOWARD W. FRENCH
SHANGHAI
WHEN Guo Guoting pauses to think about the course his life has taken, it is the jagged lines, the result of a series of accidents, that impress him most.
As a college student, he set his sights on physics, but his score on the graduate study exam betrayed him, so he ended up studying law instead.
After graduation from law school, he was sent by the government to be a judge in Fujian Province. Upon arriving there, he was told that what the courts really needed was lawyers, so Mr. Guo complied and went into practice.
Mr. Guo eventually settled in Shanghai, where he became established in shipping law. Here, his life was altered once again by events more unexpected than anything that had come before. His troubles began when he heard about a law school classmate who had been jailed for taking on the Shanghai authorities over the sudden eviction of neighborhoods marked for real estate development.
The classmate, Zheng Enchong, had not been a close friend. Mr. Guo said he barely recalled him, in fact. But hearing the man had been jailed - after a five-hour secret trial - for filing hundreds of lawsuits on behalf of dispossessed Shanghai residents, and recognizing that no other lawyers would represent him for fear of being blacklisted, or worse, Mr. Guo said he felt compelled to step forward.
"I wasn't being a hero," said Mr. Guo, 46, a short, affable man previously known by his colleagues more for his strong work ethic and modesty than for crusading. "I was doing the right thing."
The rest, as they say, is history, personal history of the brutal, hard-knock variety commonplace in China, a place that may be changing rapidly in many ways but where one old rule endures: you can't fight City Hall.
SINCE he was a young man, Mr. Guo said, he has dreamed of a quiet life in a small village somewhere, a life in the shadows of a mountain in a small house close enough to a river or brook to hear the gurgling flow of the water from his study.
"I don't like arguments," he said, chuckling at himself, during a interview in a restaurant atop a skyscraper affording one of the best views of this city's skyline. "I don't even enjoy social intercourse so much, to tell the truth. My kind of personality really isn't suited for being a lawyer."
For his efforts to defend a friend and principle, Mr. Guo has recently been driven from the law, deprived of a livelihood after most of his paying clientele was scared away, but not before adding his name to a long and growing roll of accidental activists, people driven to do something in their own immediate spheres by the intolerable injustices they encounter in everyday life.
One of those is the dispossession of the powerless, which has long been the dirty little secret behind much of China's extraordinary urban development. Local authorities have been able to condemn buildings and clear land without so much as a hearing, and distribute the land to developers in murky, no-bid sweetheart deals.
In Shanghai, a fantasyland of skyscrapers today in a city where tall buildings scarcely existed only 15 years ago, these stories have a particularly breathtaking quality to them. In some instances, residents of old properties in choice areas of the city have been summoned to the police station only to return and find their houses demolished.
Mr. Zheng had angered local officials by filing a series of lawsuits and court motions designed to at least slow the land expropriations.
In a touch that could have been borrowed from Kafka, the city government accused Mr. Zheng of violating security laws for faxing public documents about a real estate case to a human rights group in the United States.
That was when Mr. Guo took up his case, filing an appeal for his schoolmate in the Shanghai High People's Court. Immediately, he said, there were warnings to stop, subtle at first, but then increasingly menacing. Then his main business, representing maritime shippers, began to fall off, his clients frightened away. "The authorities called me in 18 times to tell me to abandon this case," he said. "It's not a legal matter, it's a political matter, they'd say.
"Finally, a midlevel cadre warned me, 'If you pursue this case any further, whatever comes of it will be entirely your own responsibility.'
"Other city officials approached me privately to say they personally didn't want to do this to me," said Mr. Guo, whose hands stay busy with his cellphone and cigarettes as he speaks. "It is the people behind the scenes, the higher ups who have decided this. This is how things work in China, the powerful people remain invisible, but there will always be mid-level cadres who are willing to tell you what is happening."
Despite the mounting trouble, Mr. Guo said he had given blunt advice to his classmate, Mr. Zheng. "I told him that you have a choice," he said. "If you drop the matter and admit that you were wrong, you can go free. But if you do that, nobody will respect you."
Mr. Zheng remained resolute, but his appeal was ultimately rejected.
Mr. Guo's feelings about social justice developed only gradually. Slowly, in the course of his practice, activism bit him, he says, as he began exchanging ideas with other lawyers about how to improve the workings of China's rickety legal system and to protect individual rights. Encouraged by colleagues, Mr. Guo eventually began posting his thoughts on legal issues on the Internet. He emerged as a prominent figure in local law circles, someone looked up to and regarded with awe by younger lawyers.
"Most Chinese lawyers just want to make money, to become rich," Mr. Guo said in an initial interview some weeks ago, sounding almost like a happy warrior. "I want to make money, too, but as a man, I don't want to forget my purpose, or forget higher ideals. I believe that, one case at a time we can change the legal system."
SEEN again more recently, after the news that Mr. Zheng's appeal had been denied, the lawyer seemed like a different man, defeated, even depressed. Another case he had taken on, an even more radical challenge to the system, was now headed to a foreordained defeat. It was a defense of a citizen's rights under the Constitution to try to form an independent political party.
Speaking at a teahouse, dressed casually in short sleeves, Mr. Guo somberly announced he was quitting the law. He had been spending his own money to argue cases like these and had not had any income for the last four months, and could not support his family.
The political case had meaning for him because he saw some value in putting his arguments on the Internet. "It is the demand of the people and of the times to end one-party rule and to free the press," he wrote in his bold summation. The authorities, however, had already blocked Mr. Guo's writings from the legal Web sites he once used.
"I always thought things would gradually get better," Mr. Guo said, explaining how things had come to this pass. "I now realize how dark our society is, and our legal system is just the same."
From: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/18/international/asia/18guo.html?ei=5090&en=ad51506a27f06ef8&ex=1253246400&partner=rssuserland&pagewanted=print&position=


BBC > US Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry has charged President George W Bush with "mismanaging" the Iraq war.

Kerry turns up the heat over Iraq
He said the Bush administration had awarded lucrative defence contracts to politically connected companies and turned a blind eye to overcharging.
The comments mark a shift in campaign battleground for Mr Kerry whose team had earlier promised an economic focus.
He said the conflict in Iraq was an abuse both of American trust and taxpayer's money.
Bloated war
"It is clear that almost every aspect of this war, from how we went to how it was conducted, has been mismanaged," Mr Kerry said from his campaign trail in New Mexico.
"All the way to turning a blind eye to the massive overcharging and waste."
Mr Kerry said that members of the Bush administration continued to profit from the conflict, singling out Halliburton, the firm once headed by US Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Halliburton has been accused of overcharging since it was handed a no-bid contract last year.
The Bush campaign countered that Mr Kerry's accusations were "false and baseless."
In a statement his campaign said there was no conflict of interest in the awarding of contracts to Halliburton, and that Mr Cheney is no longer is connected to the company.
Meanwhile Mr Bush chose to focus on domestic issues, telling an audience in Washington that Mr Kerry would damage the economy by raising taxes for small businesses.
Fertile ground
The BBC's correspondent in Washington, Rob Watson, says polls indicate Iraq is a potentially fertile area for the presidential challenger.
Over 50% of voters say they are not happy with the way Mr Bush is handling Iraq, he says.
But, he says, Mr Kerry's room for manoeuvre on the issue is limited as he is not an anti-war candidate or in favour of an immediate withdrawal of US troops.
However a senior aide to Mr Kerry's campaign, Joe Lockhart, says Iraq is "a central issue in the campaign".
"I think you've seen a very aggressive effort to engage the president on the war in Iraq," Mr Lockhart told reporters.
"You will see a lot more of that next week and every week going through the campaign."
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go /pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas /3667684.stm

Published: 2004/09/17 22:17:15 GMT

© BBC MMIV



Friday, September 17, 2004

The Moscow News > Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin Speak out Against PutinÂ’s Reforms


Created: 16.09.2004 23:59 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:01 MSK, 39 minutes ago
MosNews
The Soviet UnionÂ’s last president Mikhail Gorbachev and RussiaÂ’s first president Boris Yeltsin expressed criticism regarding Vladimir PutinÂ’s proposed reforms of RussiaÂ’s electoral system.
The statements by Yeltsin and Gorbachev were made in exclusive interviews to Moskovskie Novosti (The Moscow News) weekly, and will be published in the paperÂ’s Friday issue. MosNews, which is a partner publication of Moskovskie Novosti, posted a full translation of both statements on our website on Thursday.

Our common goal is to do everything possible to make sure that bills, which, in essence, mean a step back from democracy, don’t come into force as law. I hope that the politicians, voters, and the president himself keep the democratic freedoms that were so hard to obtain, — reads Mikhail Gorbachev’s statement. The Soviet Union’s last president, who ruled the country from 1985 to 1992, is convinced that Russian authorities “must search for political solutions, negotiate with the middle-of-the-road militants, separating them from the unappeasable extremists”.

His successor Boris Yeltsin, whose second presidential term ended on December 31, 1999, with a surprise announcement of his voluntary resignation (Vladimir Putin was named acting president for three months before being elected in March 2000), called on the Kremlin to refrain from undermining the existing constitutional framework, despite the necessity of fighting terrorist threats.

I firmly believe that the measures that the country’s leadership will undertake after Beslan will remain within the framework of democratic freedoms that have become Russia’s most valuable achievement over the past decade. We will not give up on the letter of the law, and most importantly, the spirit of the Constitution our country voted for at the public referendum in 1993. If only because the stifling of freedom and the curtailing of democratic rights is a victory by the terrorists. Only a democratic country can successfully resist terrorism and count on standing shoulder to shoulder with all of the world’s civilized countries, — Yeltsin says in his statement.

Boris YeltsinÂ’s statement is viewed as a surprise move by many observers in Moscow. Unlike Mikhail Gorbachev, who is still active on Russian political scene, Yeltsin chose to refrain from public comments about Vladimir PutinÂ’s politics after his retirement. Recently Boris Berezovsky, an exiled tycoon, renowned for his criticism of the Kremlin and Putin, published an open letter to RussiaÂ’s first president, urging him to speak up and reminding him of his responsibility for the establishment of Russian constitutional democracy. Yeltsin makes no mention of Berezovsky in his statement, but some observers are linking his decision to break his silence with the exiled oligarchÂ’s request.
SEE ALSO
16.09.2004 21:56 MSK, MOSNEWS.COM
Boris Yeltsin: "We Will Not Give Up On the Spirit of the Constitution"
16.09.2004 21:56 MSK, MOSNEWS.COM
Mikhail Gorbachev on Putin's Reforms: "A Step Back from Democracy"
15.09.2004 12:01 MSK, MOSNEWS.COM
More Beslans Inevitable If Putin Doesn't Talk Peace - Zakayev
14.09.2004 11:09 MSK, MOSNEWS.COM
Berezovsky Urges Yeltsin to Speak out Against Putin's Reforms
MONEY
MosNews
Russian Companies Seek $1.6Bln in Loans
A number of Russian companies, led by state-owned Rosneft Oil Company, have applied this week for $1.6 billion worth of bank loans. Since the beginning of the year Russian companies have already borrowed $4.9 billion from Western banks which loan gladly, lured by the countryÂ’s economic growth.
FEATURE
ANASTASIYA LEBEDEV
MosNews
Grieving in Beslan
As the town of Beslan continues to hold funerals in the aftermath of the siege that resulted in over 350 dead and over 600 injured, local residents take comfort in tradition. Their quiet and friendly town will never be the same.
INTERVIEW
YELENA RUDNEVA
Gazeta.Ru
Who Framed President Putin?
Vladimir Putin has outlined plans to end the direct election of regional governors as part of efforts to “strengthen the effectiveness of the authorities” in combating terrorism. However, Putin’s aides appear to have forgotten that back in 1996 the Constitutional Court of Russia ruled that governors could only be elected by direct popular vote.
COLUMN
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV
Moscow News weekly
Mikhail Gorbachev on Putin’s Reforms: “A Step Back from Democracy”
“Under the motto of war on terror, there are suggestions of sharply limiting democratic freedoms,” said Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR’s last leader, to Moscow News reporter Ludmila Telen.
COMMENTARY
BORIS YELTSIN
Moscow News weekly
Boris Yeltsin: “We Will Not Give Up On the Spirit of the Constitution”
“Only a democratic country can successfully resist terrorism,” Russian ex-President Boris Yeltsin told Moscow News reporter Ludmila Telen in the wake of the bloodshed in Beslan and the government’s reaction.



USA Today > Bush clear leader in poll


By Susan Page, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — President Bush has surged to a 13-point lead over Sen. John Kerry among likely voters, a new Gallup Poll shows. The 55%-42% match-up is the first statistically significant edge either candidate has held this year. (Related item: Poll results)

The boost President Bush received from the Republican convention has increased.
By Jim Mone, AP
Among registered voters, Bush is ahead 52%-44%.
The boost Bush received from the Republican convention has increased rather than dissipated, reshaping a race that for months has been nearly tied. Kerry is facing warnings from Democrats that his campaign is seriously off-track.
With 46 days until the election, analysts say the proposed presidential debates offer Kerry his best chance to change the race.
"It doesn't look like the new consultants and strategies of attacks are the right ones" for Kerry, says Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush campaign. Kerry in recent weeks added veterans of the Clinton White House to his team and began criticizing Bush more sharply on Iraq and other issues.
Dowd says Kerry at this point would "have to defy history" to defeat a sitting president.
"We have seen some bouncing around in the numbers," says Mike McCurry, a top Kerry adviser, "but it is our sense that the race is moving back to a much closer race."
A Pew Research Center poll released Thursday shows a tighter contest. The survey, taken Saturday through Tuesday, gives Bush a statistically insignificant lead of 47%-46% among likely voters.
The Gallup Poll was taken Monday through Wednesday.
Presidential candidates have won after trailing by similar margins. One was George W. Bush himself. In 2000, he was behind Al Gore by 10 points among registered voters in early October and then prevailed in the Electoral College, though he lost the popular vote.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan was down 8 points in the Gallup Poll in late October but won in a landslide after doing well in the only debate held with President Carter.
"Sen. Kerry is like Seabiscuit: He runs better from behind," says Donna Brazile, who was Gore's campaign manager. But she acknowledges that "backbenchers" in the Democratic Party "have begun pushing the panic button."
Find this article at:
http://www.usatoday.com /news/politicselections /nation/president/2004 -09-17-gallup-poll_x.htm ?POE=NEWISVA


Thursday, September 16, 2004

India Times > Malaysia's Anwar loses case against political ban

REUTERS[ THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2004 02:52:48 AM ]
PUTRAJAYA (MALAYSIA): Malaysian rebel politician Anwar Ibrahim failed on Wednesday in a final court bid to erase his criminal record, leaving a royal pardon as his only option for a swift return to politics.

MalaysiaÂ’s highest court, which two weeks ago quashed a sodomy conviction against the former deputy premier and freed him from almost six years in jail, denied a request to re-hear his appeal against his last remaining criminal conviction, for corruption.

“We would say that there is no fraud or suppression of evidence and neither is there any new evidence before the court which merits the court to entertain a reopening or rehearing of the case,” judge Alauddin Mohamad Sheriff said.

Anwar has already served his sentence on the corruption count, which landed him in jail in 1999 and sparked violent street protests. He was accused of abuse of power in trying to cover up the sodomy investigation.

The conviction prevents him under Malaysian law from standing for party office or parliament until April Â’08. Mr Anwar has said both convictions were trumped up by former leader Mahathir Mohamad.
From: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/852187.cms


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Hong Kong's Election

The New York Times > Opinion > Hong Kong's Election: "September 15, 2004
Hong Kong's Election

September 15, 2004
Hong Kong's Election

Elections in Hong Kong this week were a big disappointment as an exercise in democracy. Pro-democracy or independent-minded candidates won about 60 percent of the vote, a stunning victory by any measure except the one applied to this election. Under the skewed system Beijing insists on maintaining, that entitled the pro-democracy candidates to only about 40 percent of the seats in the legislature. That will make it harder for democrats to push for more freedoms, like the direct election of the territory's chief executive. It may also be difficult for pro-democracy legislators to do more than delay the initiatives favored by the Chinese government and its chosen chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa.

But despite shady campaign tactics and problems at voting sites, we hope that there was a lesson for Beijing in the results and that Sunday's vote was not a complete loss for the forces of openness. Democracy advocates increased the size of their potential coalition by at least four seats, which means that things are at least moving in the right direction. At the same time, the success of pro-Beijing candidates should give Communist Party leaders more confidence to keep their distance and allow Hong Kong's tentative democracy the time and space to mature.

Hong Kong's voters made it clear that they urgently want to participate in their own government. Turnout was high, a stunning 55.6 percent of the eligible population. There were also signs of democratic support in unexpected quarters. Of the 60 seats in Hong Kong's legislature, 30 are elected by special interests - by businesses and professions that tend to take a pragmatic pro-Beijing line. Half of the votes for these positions went to democrats, but that yielded them only 6 of the 30 seats.

At this point, it is still hard to tell how China's central government will ultimately respond to these elections. China's official news agency said the election " is believed to be the most democratic election in Hong Kong's history,'' which sounds encouraging. But it does not allay legitimate worries that Beijing and its supporters in Hong Kong could try to impose stricter security measures on this new legislature after it convenes on Oct. 1. That would be a mistake. The last effort at tightening security in Hong Kong in 2003 brought so many thousands of residents to the streets that the government backed off.

Sunday's elections were hardly the clean sweep that was needed in Hong Kong's young legislature. But the modest increase in democratic voices should help legislators and residents resist any loss of present freedoms in the name of stability or security.


The New York Times > Washington > The Billions: Seeing Threat to Iraq Elections, U.S. Seeks to Shift Rebuilding Funds to Security

The New York Times > Washington > The Billions: Seeing Threat to Iraq Elections, U.S. Seeks to Shift Rebuilding Funds to Security

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 - The Bush administration said Tuesday that it would shift nearly 20 percent of its aid budget for Iraq out of reconstruction projects and into security and short-term job-creation programs, acknowledging that continued violence threatened its plans for elections early next year.

The State Department said it would ask Congress to take $3.46 billion out of the $18.4 billion aid package that President Bush signed into law last November and authorize its use to speed the training of Iraqi security and police personnel, create temporary public works programs and take other steps to help stabilize the country. Officials said the money would come mainly from allocations to build water and sewer systems and repair and modernize the electricity system.

"The security situation presents the most serious obstacle to reconstruction and economic and political development in Iraq," said Marc Grossman, the under secretary of state for political affairs, who said the decision was made after consultations with American military commanders and the Iraqi government.

"They decided that without a significant reallocation of resources to the security and law enforcement sectors, the short-term stability of Iraq would be compromised and the longer-term prospects for a free and democratic Iraq undermined," Mr. Grossman said at a news conference.

The announcement came on a day when attacks by insurgents left dozens of Iraqis dead, many of them police recruits or officers, underscoring the difficulties and dangers of trying to shift all responsibility for security to the Iraqis. Saboteurs also temporarily knocked out much of the nation's electricity supply through an attack on an oil pipeline.

Democrats said the change was evidence that the administration was grasping for solutions to a situation that was not getting any better.

The announcement "is an acknowledgment that the current situation in Iraq represents a failure of the administration's plan to bring stability and democracy to Iraq," Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee's foreign operations subcommittee, said in a statement.

Noting that the United States has spent only about $1 billion of the $18.4 billion aid package so far while the costs of the war are running billions of dollars a month, she added: "This has not gotten results. Right now, violence is rampant, many Iraqis live without basic services, and we have failed to turn Iraqi public opinion in our favor."

But the administration's package appeared likely to win the backing of the Republican-controlled Congress. Rep. Jim Kolbe, the Republican from Arizona who is chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee, backed the proposal. He said that it was unclear whether the money could make a difference quickly enough to ensure that elections go ahead as planned, but that the United States had to recognize that it was facing a different situation from what it had assumed when it drew up reconstruction plans last year.

"The most important thing is that it clearly represents a shift that reflects the reality of what we're dealing with today," Mr. Kolbe said in an interview.

The plan was drawn up by John D. Negroponte, the United States ambassador to Iraq. It would decrease the budget for water and sewer projects by $1.935 billion, electricity projects by $1.074 billion and purchases of refined oil by $450 million.

Those reductions would go to offset a $1.8 billion increase in spending on law enforcement and security. Among other programs that would get more money are several intended to create jobs. Iraq's official unemployment rate is 28 percent.

The administration is also requesting that Congress allocate $360 million to wipe from the books Iraq's debts to the United States, which total $4.4 billion but have been largely written off. It also asked for $450 million to invest in Iraq's oil production capacity, with a target of increasing production by 650,000 barrels per day within 10 months.

Mr. Grossman said the money would ultimately help train 45,000 new Iraqi police officers and 16,000 new border control officers, plus a substantial number of additional Iraqi national guardsmen. Robin Raphel, the department's coordinator for Iraq assistance, said that in the short run the money would help increase capacity at police training academies to 5,300 per month from 2,300. She said the Iraqi police force now numbers 82,000.

The officials said that there was still plenty of money available for rebuilding projects in the long run, but that the immediate focus had to be on creating conditions that would allow elections to proceed as planned.


The New York Times > International > Europe > The Chechen's Story: From Unrivaled Guerrilla Leader to the Terror of Russia

The New York Times > International > Europe > The Chechen's Story: From Unrivaled Guerrilla Leader to the Terror of Russia: "September 15, 2004
The Chechen's Story: From Unrivaled Guerrilla Leader to the Terror of Russia
By C. J. CHIVERS

September 15, 2004
The Chechen's Story: From Unrivaled Guerrilla Leader to the Terror of Russia
By C. J. CHIVERS

MOSCOW, Sept. 14 - The most loathed man in Russia moves in secret along the edges of a nation whose security services were once thought to be all-knowing. It should be hard for him to hide, having only one foot, a shaved head, and a beard reminiscent of the Taliban.

He did not start this way.

Shamil Basayev, the man accused of plotting the attacks that have terrorized Russia this summer and killed hundreds, including more than 170 children in a school in the town of Beslan, has always had a flair for spectacular attacks. But once he was also capable of restraint.

His first terror act was in 1991. Mr. Basayev, then 26, seized a passenger plane with hijackers armed with pistols and grenades. He forced the jet to Turkey and then Grozny, the Chechen capital. Having made his point - Chechnya is sovereign, he said - he let 171 hostages go.

Mr. Basayev held his fire and commanded attention, always one of his aims. "We wanted to show that we would resort to anything to uphold our sovereignty," he said on Moscow television.

From the hijacking in 1991 to the rows of children's bodies left after the siege of Beslan, the story of Mr. Basayev's career is one of a rebel's rise, radicalization and dizzying moral descent.

During his long run as Russia's most wanted man, Mr. Basayev briefly shed the image of a terrorist in the mid-1990's to become a storied guerrilla commander, exuding tactical dexterity and sarcastic charm as he led fighters who chased the Russian Army from Chechen soil. Back then he rarely displayed the ascetic habits of the Islamic extremists he later embraced; in a break during a battle in 1995 he pointed to looted vodka and offered a journalist from The New York Times a drink.

But even as he gained victories, this personification of the Chechen warrior began to suffer war's toll, losing much of his family, surviving injury and, after communing with foreign Islamist militants, evolving to a darker form. He became a scarred man waging total war.

Russia has put a $10.3 million bounty on Mr. Basayev's shaved head, a more than ten-fold increase of the reward first attached to his death or capture in 1999. As the manhunt proceeds with new urgency, those who have known him wonder: How did the separatist become the nihilist? What makes Shamil Basayev tick?

"Obviously something in him cracked," said Thomas de Waal, the Caucasus editor of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, a nonprofit organization that encourages the development of independent journalism in troubled parts of the world. Mr. de Waal met Mr. Basayev several times in the 1990's.

The Chechen struggle is epic in sweep, brutality and grief; Mr. Basayev was raised in its dark milieu. In 1944 the Chechen population was deported on Stalin's orders to Kazakhstan. In 1957 the Soviet government allowed Chechens to return.

Mr. Basayev was born in the mountain village of Vedeno in 1965 to Chechens who had reclaimed the highlands, and has said about 40 of his relatives died in exile. He was the namesake of Imam Shamil, a 19th-century religious warrior who fought the czars, and claims to descend directly from a Shamil lieutenant.

His moral tone was often as high as his martial pedigree. He once said he had wanted to become a detective but was denied admission to the right school for refusing to pay requisite bribes. "If I start handing out bribes now, what kind of investigator will I be later on?" The Moscow News quoted him saying in 1996.

As a young man living in Moscow, he joined Boris Yeltsin at the barricades to resist the coup when the Soviet Union unraveled in 1991, a decision he described as a calculated move, telling the newspaper Moskovskaya Pravda several years later that if the hard-liners had succeeded, "you can kiss Chechnya's independence goodbye." A few months later, after Chechnya had declared its independence from Moscow, he appeared with the hijacked jet. He next turned up in 1992, under circumstances that are still debated, as a paramilitary commander fighting with Russian-backed ethnic Abhkaz guerrillas seeking to break away from the republic of Georgia.

A Warlord With No War

The war ended in 1993 with a Georgian retreat and the establishment of a small, self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia. Mr. Basayev returned to Chechnya with f 500 to 700 fighters, a warlord with no war. Suspicion surrounds his early guerrilla period. Many who have studied him claim that Russia's intelligence services trained him for the Abkhaz war, a version of history that casts him as a proxy who broke his leash - the Kremlin's Frankenstein monster. The public evidence is unclear.

"Clearly there was Russian connivance," said Dr. Dmitri Trenin, deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center and a scholar of the Chechen wars. "He couldn't have gotten to Abkhazia without the Russian border guards and officials letting him go through. But whether there was more intimate assistance, I've never seen clear evidence of it."

Russia has denied helping him. Sergei N. Ignatchenko, the top spokesman for the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., said Mr. Basayev did not interest the intelligence services until the first Chechen war began in 1994; by then, Russia was trying to kill him.

Details of his next months are also contradictory. Mr. Ignatchenko said Mr. Basayev went to Afghanistan in 1994 to train in a terrorist camp. Mr. Basayev once told a New York Times correspondent that the charge was not true, but he has been quoted elsewhere confirming it.

"From April through July 1994, myself and a group of 30, we were in Afghanistan, in the province of Khost," the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted him saying in 1996. "I sold some weapons and borrowed some money and we went."

War broke out in Chechnya in December 1994. Mr. Basayev organized Grozny's defenses and emerged as the resistance's most capable commander.

In May 1995, the Russians destroyed his family's homes. The attacks reportedly killed 11 of his relatives, including his wife, two daughters and a brother. "That could have propelled him, because he was not a born terrorist," Dr. Trenin said. "The annihilation of his clan may have pushed him in this direction."

Whatever drove Mr. Basayev, Chechnya could no longer contain him. In June 1995 he hid fighters in trucks that ostensibly carried the bodies of slain Russian soldiers and, with a fake police escort, drove to the adjacent republic of Dagestan and seized a hospital and as many as 1,500 hostages. Russia conducted two failed assaults against him; more than 100 hostages died.

He eventually negotiated with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on live television, having broken the Kremlin's nerve. "I beg you," Mr. Chernomyrdin pleaded, according to a report by the United States Army's Foreign Military Studies Office, "release women, children, sick and wounded. I beg you."

Mr. Basayev relented, exchanging hostages for passage back to Chechnya, where in 1996 he commanded the assault that ousted the Russian Army from Grozny and led to de facto Chechen autonomy.

By then Mr. Basayev was the unrivaled guerrilla leader of Chechnya, a role he played with style. Unlike Osama bin Laden, with whom he is sometimes compared, Mr. Basayev lacked a list of global grievances and the blank messianic stare. He focused his rage against Russia, and, even after the deaths of his family members, often wisecracked.

In 1996 he warned a British reporter that if war resumed, "Moscow will be destroyed- not one person will be left," but he then leavened the threat with a punch line, "I'm just warning you so if you have any flats there you'd better sell up."

In January 1997, he lost a bid for the Chechen presidency, capturing just 23.5 percent of the vote. But the new government appointed him prime minister - a job for which his skills were of little use. Chechnya became a gangster state, which Islamic militants exploited.

One Arab commander, Ibn al-Khattab, tapped money from Islamic charity fronts and set up jihadist training camps, Russian and Western officials say; Mr. Basayev's collaboration was implicit because the camps were in a zone he controlled.

Mr. Ignatchenko provided The New York Times with copies of identification cards carried by foreign fighters. The sampling includes 45 cards with numbers ranging from 1 to 231, and fighters' photographs beside coded names: "Abu al-Ansar," "Abu Ziad," "Abu Khalid." The cards bear Mr. Basayev's signature, above a title: "Islamic Division General."

Those who have studied Mr. Basayev and his fighters say they appear to have made a marriage of convenience. Marginalized in politics, they joined with Islamists and found access to foreigners and cash.

A Drift Toward the Islamists

"That became grounds for fusion: people who had very little else in common accepted the sense of a common enemy," said Dr. Martha Brill Olcott of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Sebastian Smith, who also covers the Caucasus for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, agreed. "My distinct feeling is that this was not a religious conversion," he said. "This was a means to an end, but a means that led him down this horrible path." The contrast with an earlier period was sharp. Asked by the Moscow News in 1996 if he had fought in Abkhazia for faith, Mr. Basayev answered: "What faith? Abkhazia is pagan almost to a man."

Mr. Basayev was drifting to the Islamists' fold, and his struggle was rising as an Islamist cause. In early 2000, when the Russian Army was attacking Chechnya again, only one government recognized Chechnya's independence: the Taliban's in Afghanistan.

The rebels' fate resembles one that later befell the Taliban. In February 2000, pressured by a fresh Russian advance, the rebels withdrew from Grozny, as the Taliban did from Kabul. Mr. Basayev stepped on a mine. His foot was amputated soon afterward. He has been seen very little since, operating his network from hiding, appearing now and then on videotape, and executing ever deadlier terror attacks on civilians.

By October 2002, according to Russian authorities, he ordered the takeover of a Moscow theater that resulted in at least 129 deaths when the government, after a 57-hour standoff, raided the building in which hundreds of hostages were held. Two months later, suicide bombers destroyed the headquarters of Chechnya's pro-Russian government in Grozny; more than 40 people died. Mr. Basayev claimed responsibility. Once attentive to public images, both his own and that of his cause, Mr. Basayev and his adherents, at one time sympathetically regarded in many parts of the world as underdogs, now often evoke disgust.

"These are beasts, not people," said Aslan Aslakhanov, a Kremlin adviser on the Chechen war. "These animals have shown their true face."

Russia now controls almost all Chechnya. Estimates of the rebels' number vary from several hundred to the low thousands, but their connections to each other are not clear.

Some fighters are thought to form gangs motivated strictly by revenge.

Others are tied to Mr. Basayev, whose core now calls itself the Riyadus-Salakhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs, which the State Department designated as a terrorist organization last year. During the siege at Beslan, a hostage taker spoke by telephone with The New York Times and said he was from that group.

The relationships between the fighters with different motivations is debated among those who study the war. One theory holds that Mr. Basayev and the Islamic extremists use younger fighters motivated by revenge to do much of their bidding. Military analysts also say Mr. Basayev's group has impressive organizational and tactical skills, conducting detailed reconnaissance, massing for attacks when necessary and swiftly dispersing, as they did in raids this summer in the republic of Ingushetia and in Grozny, where masked fighters briefly overwhelmed the army and the police in the night. Its bomb-making talents are fully developed, and at Middle School No. 1 in Beslan its members made a tenacious last stand.

No matter the immediate fate of Mr. Basayev, the experts said, his legacy will almost certainly be much like the followers that Al Qaeda developed in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and will include continued terror acts.

"These guys are incredibly professional, to use the most morbid sense of the word," said Nick Pratt, director of the Program on Terrorism and Security at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq suffers day of grim violence

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq suffers day of grim violence: "Iraq suffers day of grim violence
Dozens of people have been killed in Iraq as the country experienced another day of extreme violence.
A car bomb exploded on Tuesday morning close to an Iraqi police station in central Baghdad, killing 47 people, health ministry officials say.
Gunmen opened fire on a police minibus killing 12 policemen and a civilian in Baquba, north of Baghdad.
A statement said to be from alleged al-Qaeda militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group said it carried out the attacks.
Meanwhile medical officials said 10 Iraqis were killed as US forces and insurgents clashed in the town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
Baghdad car bomb
And the US military said three US troops were killed in separate attacks, two in Baghdad and one in the northern city of Mosul, where five were also reported injured.
A series of explosions was heard in Baghdad's Green Zone, housing the US embassy and the interim government, on Tuesday evening.
In other developments across Iraq:
An explosion hits an oil pipeline near Beiji, north of Baghdad. Iraq's interim Electricity Minister says power supplies across Iraq are affected, but will be restored in hours.
Insurgents sabotage another pipeline 60km west of Kirkuk, halting exports to Turkey.
US and Iraqi forces allow civilians to return to the mainly ethnic Turkmen northern city of Talafar, after Turkey threatens to stop co-operating with the US over Iraq unless an assault there ends.
Militants release a Turkish translator taken hostage in late July, apparently in response to Turkey's actions over Talafar.
Two Turkish truck drivers are taken hostage near the town of Tikrit.
Al-Jazeera television broadcasts a videotape showing mask"

BBC NEWS | Africa | US presents new Darfur UN draft

BBC NEWS | Africa | US presents new Darfur UN draft: "US presents new Darfur UN draft
The US has put out a new version of its UN draft resolution on the Darfur crisis, containing a modified threat of sanctions against Sudan.
It says the UN Security Council will consider such measures if violence continues in the region.
The earlier draft contained a direct threat of sanctions if Sudan failed to disarm pro-government militias.
Earlier, fresh attempts to find a solution to the Darfur crisis made no progress at talks in Nigeria.
The US ambassador to the UN, John Danforth, said he hoped a vote would be held by the end of this week.
The new draft says the security council 'shall consider' punitive measures, such as actions 'to affect Sudan's petroleum sector', if atrocities in Darfur continue.
Talks held up
But the BBC's Susannah Price at the UN says the more indirect language is unlikely to satisfy China, Algeria or Pakistan - which oppose altogether the threat of sanctions against Sudan. "

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Malaysia's Anwar loses court bid

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Malaysia's Anwar loses court bid: "Malaysia's Anwar loses court bid
Malaysia's former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has lost an appeal to set aside a conviction for corruption.
The decision, by the country's highest court, means Anwar is prevented from seeking public office until 2008, unless he wins a royal pardon.
A fortnight ago the court overturned a sodomy conviction, allowing him to walk free after six years in jail.
Anwar told Reuters news agency that he was undecided whether to seek a royal pardon to clear his name.
He is currently in Germany recovering from surgery for a back problem he claims was caused by a police beating while he was in custody.
Anwar maintains that the convictions against him were fabricated when he fell out with the country's former leader, Mahathir Mohamad.
Under Malaysian law, convicted criminals are banned from holding public office for five years.
His only remaining route of appeal is a royal pardon. "

Predicted Path of Hurricane Ivan as of 0300 GMT 9-15-2004

BBC NEWS | Americas | Americans flee as hurricane nears

BBC NEWS | Americas | Americans flee as hurricane nears: "Americans flee as hurricane nears
Hundreds of thousands of people are evacuating their homes along the southern US coast, as Hurricane Ivan heads inland from the Gulf of Mexico.
A state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Louisiana and Alabama, and nearly two million people have been urged to flee to higher ground.
Major roads out are jammed with traffic and ports and airports have closed.
The hurricane is expected to land on Thursday, after spreading devastation across the Caribbean for a week.
At 0300 GMT, Ivan's centre was about 295 miles (475 km) south-south-east of the Mississippi River and moving at 12mph (19km/h).
Forecasters say the 140 mph (225 km/h) category four winds could strengthen on Wednesday, then weaken slightly as the storm nears the coast.
The exact place where Ivan will hit the US is likely to change in the coming hours.
Deluge threat
The state of emergency is in force along a 300-mile swathe (480 km) from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle"

The New York Times > International > Europe > News Analysis: From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise

The New York Times > International > Europe > News Analysis: From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise: "September 15, 2004
NEWS ANALYSIS
From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise
By STEVEN LEE MYERS

MOSCOW, Sept. 14 - On Monday, President Vladimir V. Putin announced he would strip Russia's 89 regions of much of their authority and electoral legitimacy. On Tuesday, not one of the leaders of those regions said a public word of protest.

On the contrary, there were words of praise.

"It is constructive and productive," Murat M. Zyazikov, the president of Ingushetia, said in a telephone interview, embracing a proposal that would leave him serving at the will not of his impoverished electorate in southern Russia, but of the president in faraway Moscow.

If there were any lingering doubts about Mr. Putin's grip on power, the reaction to his sweeping proposal to overhaul Russia's political system - replacing, for instance, the election of governors, presidents and other regional leaders with presidential appointments - swept them away.

A headline in the newspaper Izvestia called it the "September Revolution," equating Mr. Putin's consolidation of power to this country's most famous October, almost 87 years ago. And yet the second day of the revolution passed with barely a murmur of protest, even among those affected most.

In Washington, however, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said that "we have concerns" about Mr. Putin's actions, and that he planned to ask Russian officials to explain the moves. [Page A10.]

"The president demonstrated political will," Dmitri F. Ayatskov, governor of Saratov Oblast, in the southeast, said at a news conference, according to a statement issued by his office. "An end will be put to various demonstrations of extremism - religious, political and other."

In theory, in a democracy, the leaders of Russia's regions, representing myriad blocs of voters of all classes and ethnicities across Russia, would constitute a potent political force, one that could challenge even a powerful federal center.

In reality, Mr. Putin simply formalized the Kremlin's already immense sway over regional leaders, which critics said on Tuesday has been sustained by the power of purse and perks, coupled with an element of fear.

"Any governor understands that if he is against Putin, he will be under criminal investigation," Vladimir A. Ryzhkov, a liberal member of Parliament, said in a telephone interview. He cited cases involving the governors of Kursk, Yaroslavl and Atlai, who all faced investigations that, coincidentally or not, began after they challenged Kremlin policies. "The main thing is fear," he said. "They are afraid of everything."

In outlining his program, his first legislative proposals since the wave of terrorist violence that has roiled Russia, Mr. Putin said the country needed political unity in order to withstand the threats facing it.

And he made clear that in his view, unity would be accomplished best by giving him the power to appoint regional leaders, leaving local parliaments merely the power to ratify his choices. Although the legislative details remain unwritten, recent experience would suggest few regional bodies would dare buck the Kremlin.

Mr. Putin did more than upend the country's still evolving experiment with electoral democracy. With his proposals, he also resolved many of the still-unanswered questions about the distribution of power between the federal and state levels. Not unexpectedly, perhaps, he came down on the side of what is called here the "vertical of power," whose most prominent, most dominant feature is the man at the top, Mr. Putin.

Or as Gov. Vyacheslav Y. Pozgalev of Vologda put it to one of the state's television networks, First Channel: "Executive power must be whole."

Mr. Putin's proposals would also shift legislative politics toward the center, where power has been through much of Russia's history. He said he would eliminate the district elections that now fill half of the 450 seats in the Duma, the lower house of Parliament. Instead, the Parliament would be elected proportionately, based on party lists compiled by the main parties, all centered in Moscow and all susceptible to Kremlin influence.

After parliamentary elections in December, only four parties won blocs of seats. The largest, by far, was United Russia, the party defined almost entirely by its fealty to Mr. Putin. United Russia, along with the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Motherland, control nearly 400 seats and follow the Kremlin's lead without hesitation. The Communist Party, the only meaningful opposition, holds only 51 seats, making it a mere remnant of the force it was even in the early post-Soviet period.

Still, there were some voices of dissent on Tuesday. Mr. Ryzhkov and two members of United Russia elected from local districts, Aleksandr Y. Khinshtein and Konstantin F. Zatulin, appeared at a news conference to criticize the parliamentary proposal, though not, they emphasized, Mr. Putin himself.

"Even during Stalin's time, even during Soviet times, all deputies were formally elected," Mr. Zatulin said. "It allowed concrete people to solve concrete problems. This is a return to czarist times."

Others accused Mr. Putin of exploiting the horrific events at Middle School No. 1 in Beslan, in North Ossetia, where at least 300 hostages died in the violent end of the siege by a band of separatists. "I think he wanted to do this before," said Boris E. Nemtsov, a leader of the Union of Right Forces, a liberal party that fell into disarray after failing to win seats in Parliament. "But now this is a very good opportunity, after this disaster, because people will accept it."

Indeed, it is a measure of Mr. Putin's power over all branches of government that few people expressed hope for a political or legal challenge to his proposals, even though some argued that the changes would be unconstitutional. Simply by being proposed, it seems, the changes will become law.

"We are coming to the point where we have no checks and balances, no democratic and peaceful way to balance power," Leonid N. Dobrokhotov, an adviser to the Communist Party, said in a telephone interview. "The only thing left is absolute prostration."


The New York Times > International > Europe > News Analysis: From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise

The New York Times > International > Europe > News Analysis: From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise: "September 15, 2004
NEWS ANALYSIS
From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise
By STEVEN LEE MYERS

MOSCOW, Sept. 14 - On Monday, President Vladimir V. Putin announced he would strip Russia's 89 regions of much of their authority and electoral legitimacy. On Tuesday, not one of the leaders of those regions said a public word of protest.

On the contrary, there were words of praise.

"It is constructive and productive," Murat M. Zyazikov, the president of Ingushetia, said in a telephone interview, embracing a proposal that would leave him serving at the will not of his impoverished electorate in southern Russia, but of the president in faraway Moscow.

If there were any lingering doubts about Mr. Putin's grip on power, the reaction to his sweeping proposal to overhaul Russia's political system - replacing, for instance, the election of governors, presidents and other regional leaders with presidential appointments - swept them away.

A headline in the newspaper Izvestia called it the "September Revolution," equating Mr. Putin's consolidation of power to this country's most famous October, almost 87 years ago. And yet the second day of the revolution passed with barely a murmur of protest, even among those affected most.

In Washington, however, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said that "we have concerns" about Mr. Putin's actions, and that he planned to ask Russian officials to explain the moves. [Page A10.]

"The president demonstrated political will," Dmitri F. Ayatskov, governor of Saratov Oblast, in the southeast, said at a news conference, according to a statement issued by his office. "An end will be put to various demonstrations of extremism - religious, political and other."

In theory, in a democracy, the leaders of Russia's regions, representing myriad blocs of voters of all classes and ethnicities across Russia, would constitute a potent political force, one that could challenge even a powerful federal center.

In reality, Mr. Putin simply formalized the Kremlin's already immense sway over regional leaders, which critics said on Tuesday has been sustained by the power of purse and perks, coupled with an element of fear.

"Any governor understands that if he is against Putin, he will be under criminal investigation," Vladimir A. Ryzhkov, a liberal member of Parliament, said in a telephone interview. He cited cases involving the governors of Kursk, Yaroslavl and Atlai, who all faced investigations that, coincidentally or not, began after they challenged Kremlin policies. "The main thing is fear," he said. "They are afraid of everything."

In outlining his program, his first legislative proposals since the wave of terrorist violence that has roiled Russia, Mr. Putin said the country needed political unity in order to withstand the threats facing it.

And he made clear that in his view, unity would be accomplished best by giving him the power to appoint regional leaders, leaving local parliaments merely the power to ratify his choices. Although the legislative details remain unwritten, recent experience would suggest few regional bodies would dare buck the Kremlin.

Mr. Putin did more than upend the country's still evolving experiment with electoral democracy. With his proposals, he also resolved many of the still-unanswered questions about the distribution of power between the federal and state levels. Not unexpectedly, perhaps, he came down on the side of what is called here the "vertical of power," whose most prominent, most dominant feature is the man at the top, Mr. Putin.

Or as Gov. Vyacheslav Y. Pozgalev of Vologda put it to one of the state's television networks, First Channel: "Executive power must be whole."

Mr. Putin's proposals would also shift legislative politics toward the center, where power has been through much of Russia's history. He said he would eliminate the district elections that now fill half of the 450 seats in the Duma, the lower house of Parliament. Instead, the Parliament would be elected proportionately, based on party lists compiled by the main parties, all centered in Moscow and all susceptible to Kremlin influence.

After parliamentary elections in December, only four parties won blocs of seats. The largest, by far, was United Russia, the party defined almost entirely by its fealty to Mr. Putin. United Russia, along with the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Motherland, control nearly 400 seats and follow the Kremlin's lead without hesitation. The Communist Party, the only meaningful opposition, holds only 51 seats, making it a mere remnant of the force it was even in the early post-Soviet period.

Still, there were some voices of dissent on Tuesday. Mr. Ryzhkov and two members of United Russia elected from local districts, Aleksandr Y. Khinshtein and Konstantin F. Zatulin, appeared at a news conference to criticize the parliamentary proposal, though not, they emphasized, Mr. Putin himself.

"Even during Stalin's time, even during Soviet times, all deputies were formally elected," Mr. Zatulin said. "It allowed concrete people to solve concrete problems. This is a return to czarist times."

Others accused Mr. Putin of exploiting the horrific events at Middle School No. 1 in Beslan, in North Ossetia, where at least 300 hostages died in the violent end of the siege by a band of separatists. "I think he wanted to do this before," said Boris E. Nemtsov, a leader of the Union of Right Forces, a liberal party that fell into disarray after failing to win seats in Parliament. "But now this is a very good opportunity, after this disaster, because people will accept it."

Indeed, it is a measure of Mr. Putin's power over all branches of government that few people expressed hope for a political or legal challenge to his proposals, even though some argued that the changes would be unconstitutional. Simply by being proposed, it seems, the changes will become law.

"We are coming to the point where we have no checks and balances, no democratic and peaceful way to balance power," Leonid N. Dobrokhotov, an adviser to the Communist Party, said in a telephone interview. "The only thing left is absolute prostration."


The New York Times > International > Europe > News Analysis: From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise

The New York Times > International > Europe > News Analysis: From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise: "September 15, 2004
NEWS ANALYSIS
From Those Putin Would Weaken, Praise
By STEVEN LEE MYERS

MOSCOW, Sept. 14 - On Monday, President Vladimir V. Putin announced he would strip Russia's 89 regions of much of their authority and electoral legitimacy. On Tuesday, not one of the leaders of those regions said a public word of protest.

On the contrary, there were words of praise.

"It is constructive and productive," Murat M. Zyazikov, the president of Ingushetia, said in a telephone interview, embracing a proposal that would leave him serving at the will not of his impoverished electorate in southern Russia, but of the president in faraway Moscow.

If there were any lingering doubts about Mr. Putin's grip on power, the reaction to his sweeping proposal to overhaul Russia's political system - replacing, for instance, the election of governors, presidents and other regional leaders with presidential appointments - swept them away.

A headline in the newspaper Izvestia called it the "September Revolution," equating Mr. Putin's consolidation of power to this country's most famous October, almost 87 years ago. And yet the second day of the revolution passed with barely a murmur of protest, even among those affected most.

In Washington, however, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said that "we have concerns" about Mr. Putin's actions, and that he planned to ask Russian officials to explain the moves. [Page A10.]

"The president demonstrated political will," Dmitri F. Ayatskov, governor of Saratov Oblast, in the southeast, said at a news conference, according to a statement issued by his office. "An end will be put to various demonstrations of extremism - religious, political and other."

In theory, in a democracy, the leaders of Russia's regions, representing myriad blocs of voters of all classes and ethnicities across Russia, would constitute a potent political force, one that could challenge even a powerful federal center.

In reality, Mr. Putin simply formalized the Kremlin's already immense sway over regional leaders, which critics said on Tuesday has been sustained by the power of purse and perks, coupled with an element of fear.

"Any governor understands that if he is against Putin, he will be under criminal investigation," Vladimir A. Ryzhkov, a liberal member of Parliament, said in a telephone interview. He cited cases involving the governors of Kursk, Yaroslavl and Atlai, who all faced investigations that, coincidentally or not, began after they challenged Kremlin policies. "The main thing is fear," he said. "They are afraid of everything."

In outlining his program, his first legislative proposals since the wave of terrorist violence that has roiled Russia, Mr. Putin said the country needed political unity in order to withstand the threats facing it.

And he made clear that in his view, unity would be accomplished best by giving him the power to appoint regional leaders, leaving local parliaments merely the power to ratify his choices. Although the legislative details remain unwritten, recent experience would suggest few regional bodies would dare buck the Kremlin.

Mr. Putin did more than upend the country's still evolving experiment with electoral democracy. With his proposals, he also resolved many of the still-unanswered questions about the distribution of power between the federal and state levels. Not unexpectedly, perhaps, he came down on the side of what is called here the "vertical of power," whose most prominent, most dominant feature is the man at the top, Mr. Putin.

Or as Gov. Vyacheslav Y. Pozgalev of Vologda put it to one of the state's television networks, First Channel: "Executive power must be whole."

Mr. Putin's proposals would also shift legislative politics toward the center, where power has been through much of Russia's history. He said he would eliminate the district elections that now fill half of the 450 seats in the Duma, the lower house of Parliament. Instead, the Parliament would be elected proportionately, based on party lists compiled by the main parties, all centered in Moscow and all susceptible to Kremlin influence.

After parliamentary elections in December, only four parties won blocs of seats. The largest, by far, was United Russia, the party defined almost entirely by its fealty to Mr. Putin. United Russia, along with the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Motherland, control nearly 400 seats and follow the Kremlin's lead without hesitation. The Communist Party, the only meaningful opposition, holds only 51 seats, making it a mere remnant of the force it was even in the early post-Soviet period.

Still, there were some voices of dissent on Tuesday. Mr. Ryzhkov and two members of United Russia elected from local districts, Aleksandr Y. Khinshtein and Konstantin F. Zatulin, appeared at a news conference to criticize the parliamentary proposal, though not, they emphasized, Mr. Putin himself.

"Even during Stalin's time, even during Soviet times, all deputies were formally elected," Mr. Zatulin said. "It allowed concrete people to solve concrete problems. This is a return to czarist times."

Others accused Mr. Putin of exploiting the horrific events at Middle School No. 1 in Beslan, in North Ossetia, where at least 300 hostages died in the violent end of the siege by a band of separatists. "I think he wanted to do this before," said Boris E. Nemtsov, a leader of the Union of Right Forces, a liberal party that fell into disarray after failing to win seats in Parliament. "But now this is a very good opportunity, after this disaster, because people will accept it."

Indeed, it is a measure of Mr. Putin's power over all branches of government that few people expressed hope for a political or legal challenge to his proposals, even though some argued that the changes would be unconstitutional. Simply by being proposed, it seems, the changes will become law.

"We are coming to the point where we have no checks and balances, no democratic and peaceful way to balance power," Leonid N. Dobrokhotov, an adviser to the Communist Party, said in a telephone interview. "The only thing left is absolute prostration."


Monday, September 13, 2004

IHT > Mixed signals are confusing Russia-U.S. ties

: "News Analysis: Steven R. Weisman NYT
Monday, September 13, 2004

WASHINGTON Three tumultuous years ago, President George W. Bush memorably proclaimed that he had looked into the soul of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and found a man with whom he could do business. But if there is any soul-searching going on today in the Bush administration, it is over why the latest attacks by Chechen terrorists in Russia have deepened a recent estrangement between the two countries.

Despite the understandable horror after the massacre of schoolchildren and other attacks, administration officials were taken aback by the almost despairing tone of Putin as he lashed out at the United States last week for suggesting that Chechen demands needed to be addressed politically as well as militarily.

'Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?' Putin was quoted as telling a group of Western visitors.

After that cri de coeur, Secretary of State Colin Powell hastened to declare that 'there can be no justification for what happened in Russia' and 'no compromise in this battle.' The White House let it be known that Bush had telephoned his soul mate to express condolences. Other officials, responding to Putin's complaint that the United States had granted asylum to a Chechen leader and had contacts with others, said that the asylum case was granted by the courts and that the U.S. government cut off even low-level contact with the Chechens two years ago.

Some administration officials, while they moved quickly to address Putin's concerns, concede that they nonetheless have growing doubts about the nature of his leadership - not just over the bru"

The New York Times > National > Most Crimes of Violence and Property Hover at 30-Year Lows

The New York Times > National > Most Crimes of Violence and Property Hover at 30-Year Lows: "Most Crimes of Violence and Property Hover at 30-Year Lows
By MATTHEW L. WALD

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 - The rate of property crime and violent crime other than homicides remained at a 30-year low in 2003, the Justice Department said Sunday.
Statistics on the homicide rate are gathered more slowly, but they appear to be following a similar trend. In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 2002, there were 16,200 homicides, up 1 percent from 2001, the Justice Department said.
The government report did not cite causes for the statistics or predict trends.
'There is probably no single factor explanation for why the crime rates have been going down all these years and are now at the lowest level since we started measuring them in 1973,' said Lawrence A. Greenfeld, director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. 'It probably has to do with demographics, and it probably has to do with having a lot of very high-rate offenders behind bars.'
The low crime rate is continuing despite the deployment of many law enforcement officers to antiterrorism duty in the last three years. Mr. Greenfeld said he had not seen any evidence that diverting some police resources to security had had any effect on the crime rate.
The results form the National Crime Victimization Survey, based on interviews with people in 84,000 households, and show a steady decline from 1993 until 2002 in the rates of violent crime and property crimes, and then a leveling off.
The number of victims of violent crimes for 2003 was 22.6 per 1,000 people, down from 49.9 in 1993. Personal crimes included rape and sexual assault, attempted rape"

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Insurgency: Scores Are Dead After Violence Spreads in Iraq

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Insurgency: Scores Are Dead After Violence Spreads in Iraq: "Scores Are Dead After Violence Spreads in Iraq
By SABRINA TAVERNISE

Published: September 13, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 12 - In a series of tightly sequenced attacks, at least 25 Iraqis were killed by suicide car bombings and a barrage of missile and mortar fire in several neighborhoods across Baghdad on Sunday.
The attacks were the most widespread in months, seeming to demonstrate the growing power of the insurgency and heightening the sense of uncertainty and chaos in the capital at a time when American forces have already ceded control to insurgents in a number of cities outside of Baghdad.
The Associated Press reported that the total death toll throughout the country for the day reached 59, citing the Health Ministry and local authorities. Nearly 200 people were wounded, more than half of those in Baghdad.
Four suicide car bombings struck targets in Baghdad and Abu Ghraib, with two of them detonating nearly simultaneously and one hitting just outside the gates of the Abu Ghraib prison.
In Baghdad, American military helicopters fired at Iraqis who were scaling a burning American armored vehicle. It was unclear how many Iraqis were killed in the airstrike. At least one television journalist was confirmed dead, and photographs immediately after the strike showed a group of four men severely wounded or dead at the site. American military commanders said the helicopters were returning fire aimed at them from the ground.
American forces appear to be facing a guerrilla insurgency that is more sophisticated and more widespread than ever before. Last month, attacks on American forces reached their highest level s"

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Pro-China win in Hong Kong vote

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Pro-China win in Hong Kong vote: "
Pro-China win in Hong Kong vote
Pro-Beijing parties have kept their majority in Hong Kong's legislative council, winning 34 of the 60 seats on offer in Sunday's elections.
Pro-democracy parties, which had been expected to do well, increased their seats by just three, winning 25.
There was a record turnout for the poll, which was seen as a test of public feeling towards Beijing's rule.
Former Democrat leader Martin Lee said the complicated voting system had favoured pro-China candidates.
Thirty of the Legislative Council (LegCo) seats were elected by popular vote, and the remaining 30 by special interest groups that have tended to favour the pro-Beijing camp. "

BBC NEWS | Americas | Hurricane Ivan bears down on Cuba

BBC NEWS | Americas | Hurricane Ivan bears down on Cuba: "
Hurricane Ivan bears down on Cuba
Hurricane Ivan has strengthened as it heads towards Cuba after bringing destruction to the tiny Cayman Islands.
Southern Cuba has been feeling the first effects of Ivan's winds, and the island's western tip is expected to take the full force later on Monday.
Meanwhile, the low-lying Cayman Islands have reportedly suffered enormous damage, with large areas under water.
Governor Bruce Dinwiddy said thousands of homes had lost their roofs and that key government buildings had been hit.
He described the damage as 'very, very severe and widespread'.
Reuters reported people clambering on to kitchen counters and roof tops as waist-high storm surges aided by 160mph (260km/h) winds swept across the island.
Warning
The US National Hurricane Center said Ivan had strengthened to the most dangerous category five level as it moved from the Cayman Islands on to Cuba.
At 0300 GMT the eye of the storm was said to be 175 miles (285km) south-east of Cuba's western tip, moving at nine mph (15km/h). "

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | N Korea says it blew up mountain

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | N Korea says it blew up mountain: "
N Korea says it blew up mountain
North Korea has given its first explanation for a huge blast last week which prompted speculation it had carried out a nuclear test.
The country's foreign minister, Paek Nam-sun, said the blast was in fact the deliberate demolition of a mountain as part of a huge, hydro-electric project.
His remarks came in response to a call for information by the visiting UK Foreign Office minister, Bill Rammell.
North Korea had said nothing about the incident until now.
After meeting with Mr Paek, Mr Rammell said North Korea had agreed to his request that a British diplomat be allowed to visit the scene of the blast, near the country's northern border.
Mr Rammell welcomed the fact that North Korea had provided an explanation for the blast and agreed to the request.
'Having asked the vice foreign minister this morning for our ambassador and other ambassadors to be allowed to visit the scene of the explosion I am very pleased the North Koreans have agreed to the request,' Mr Rammell said.
'Peculiar cloud'
The United States and South Korea had already played down suggestions that the explosion, near Yongjo-ri in Yanggang Province, was caused by a nuclear device.
'There was no indication that was a nuclear event of any kind. Exactly what it was, we're not sure,' US Secretary of State Colin Powell told ABC television on Sunday.
The blast is said to have happened on Thursday as the Stalinist state celebrated its National Day.
It created what officials in Seoul say was a peculiar-shaped cloud.
The incident and the fears it has provoked around the world are another illustration of the enormous tension between the regime and the international community, says"

BBC NEWS | Europe | Putin tightens grip on security

BBC NEWS | Europe | Putin tightens grip on security: "
Putin tightens grip on security
President Vladimir Putin has ordered a drastic overhaul of the way Russia is run in the wake of a series of bombings and deadly attacks on civilians.
Mr Putin announced plans to allow him to nominate regional governors, who are currently elected.
He said a new federal commission would study the troubled North Caucasus region, at the heart of much tension.
Mr Putin addressed a special cabinet meeting, summoned after hundreds died in the school siege in Beslan.
'The organisers and perpetrators of the terror attack are aiming at the disintegration of the state, the break-up of Russia,' he told ministers, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Political shake-up
He went on to propose that the lower house of parliament, the Duma, be elected wholly on a party-list basis. Currently, half of the Duma's 450 deputies are elected that way.
The new commission on the North Caucasus - a region that includes Chechnya and the North Ossetia republic that is home to Beslan - will be headed by the government chief of staff, Dimitry Kozak.
It will concentrate on the economy, social affairs, and security powers, the Itar-Tass news agency said.
Further measures under consideration include restoring the death penalty, tighter controls on foreigners and the creation of a colour-coded alert system.
The governor of the Moscow region has said he wants checks to be carried out on anyone arriving in the capital from the Caucasus.
Security has become Moscow's number one concern following the school siege in Beslan and a series of bombings, says the BBC's Peter Biles.
The Russian army's Chief of Staff, General Yuri Baluevsky, said after the bloody end to the school siege -"

BostonHerald.com - International News: U.S., South Korean officials say mushroom cloud in North not from nuclear blast

BostonHerald.com - International News: U.S., South Korean officials say mushroom cloud in North not from nuclear blast: "U.S., South Korean officials say mushroom cloud in North not from nuclear blast
By Associated Press
Sunday, September 12, 2004
SEOUL, South Korea - A huge mushroom cloud that reportedly billowed up from North Korea was not caused by a nuclear explosion, South Korean and U.S. officials said Sunday, but they said the cause was a mystery.

Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed that unusual activity had recently been detected at some of North Korea's atomic sites, but said there was no concrete evidence the North's secretive communist regime was preparing for its first nuclear test explosion.

The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Sunday that a mammoth explosion in North Korea produced a mushroom cloud more than 2 miles across Thursday. It said the blast was stronger than an April explosion that killed 160 people and injured an estimated 1,300 at a North Korean railway station when a train carrying oil and chemicals apparently hit power lines.

``There was no indication that was a nuclear event of any kind,'' Powell said of Thursday's incident. ``Exactly what it was, we're not sure.''

Kim Jong-min, spokesman for the South Korean presidential office, told Yonhap: ``Currently, we are trying to find out in detail the exact character, cause and size of the accident, but we don't think North Korea conducted a nuclear test.''

China's government, which has the closest relations with North Korea, had no immediate comment about the reported explosion.

Before Yonhap's report, The New York Times' Sunday editions said senior U.S. intelligence officials had seen signs of activiti"

Sunday, September 12, 2004

BBC > Poll blow for Hong Kong democrats

Exit polls in Hong Kong's legislative elections suggest pro-democracy parties have made limited gains while the pro-Beijing camp did better than expected.
Early results predict the pro-democracy camp will win the popular vote, but not by the margin they had hoped for.
A record number of voters turned out in what was seen as a test of attitudes towards the Beijing-backed government.
Pro-democracy leaders have forced a partial recount following allegations of inconsistencies in vote tallies.
Reuters news agency said initial results showed pro-democracy candidates had won 18 of the 30 directly elected seats - up one on the 2000 poll.
Meanwhile, pro-Beijing parties had taken seven extra seats, taking their number in 12, reported Reuters.
Results for the other 30 seats in the legislative council - elected by special interest groups - have yet to be released but have tended to favour the pro-Beijing camp.
One leading pro-Beijing politician, Tsang Yok-hing, said voters had opted for stability.
Fiercely fought
However, election officials agreed to recount some of the votes following claims by the Democratic Party that there were inconsistencies in the tallies.
They also allege that proper procedures were not followed at some polling stations when they ran out of ballot boxes, the BBC's Chris Hogg in Hong Kong reported.
HONG KONG VOTE
All 60 seats in Legislative Council up for grabs
Only half are decided by direct elections
Other half reserved for business and professional groups
3.2 million eligible voters
Around 1.7m people - 53% of the population - took part in Sunday's vote.
There were 200,000 more voters than the previous record turnout eight years ago.
Queues formed outside some polling stations where they ran out of ballot boxes during the afternoon.
Some voters had complained that cardboard boxes without official seals were being used as alternatives.
The government blamed the large ballot papers needed this year because there were so many candidates in some constituencies.
Curtains were removed from polling booths after reports that voters had come under pressure to use mobile phone cameras to photograph their ballot to prove how they had voted.
Analysts say it is the most fiercely fought election since the territory was handed back to China seven years ago.
The vote has been seen as a referendum on the aspirations of some Hong Kong residents for more democracy.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go /pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia -pacific/3650534.stm




New York Times > Atomic Activity in North Korea Raises Concerns

September 12, 2004
By DAVID E. SANGER
and WILLIAM J. BROAD
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 - President Bush and his top advisers have received intelligence reports in recent days describing a confusing series of actions by North Korea that some experts believe could indicate the country is preparing to conduct its first test explosion of a nuclear weapon, according to senior officials with access to the intelligence.
While the indications were viewed as serious enough to warrant a warning to the White House, American intelligence agencies appear divided about the significance of the new North Korean actions, much as they were about the evidence concerning Iraq's alleged weapons stockpiles.
Some analysts in agencies that were the most cautious about the Iraq findings have cautioned that they do not believe the activity detected in North Korea in the past three weeks is necessarily the harbinger of a test. A senior scientist who assesses nuclear intelligence says the new evidence "is not conclusive," but is potentially worrisome.
If successful, a test would end a debate that stretches back more than a decade over whether North Korea has a rudimentary arsenal, as it has boasted in recent years. Some analysts also fear that a test could change the balance of power in Asia, perhaps leading to a new nuclear arms race there.
In interviews on Friday and Saturday, senior officials were reluctant to provide many details of the new activities they have detected, but some of the information appears to have come from satellite intelligence.
One official with access to the intelligence called it "a series of indicators of increased activity that we believe would be associated with a test," saying that the "likelihood" of a North Korean test had risen significantly in just the past four weeks.
It was that changed assessment that led to the decision to give an update to President Bush, the officials said.
The activities included the movement of materials around several suspected test sites, including one near a location where intelligence agencies reported last year that conventional explosives were being tested that could compress a plutonium core and set off a nuclear explosion. But officials have not seen the classic indicators of preparations at a test site, in which cables are laid to measure an explosion in a deep test pit.
"I'm not sure you would see that in a country that has tunnels everywhere," said one senior official who has reviewed the data. Officials said if North Korea proceeded with a test, it would probably be with a plutonium bomb, perhaps one fabricated from the 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods that the North has boasted in the past few months have been reprocessed into bomb fuel.
A senior intelligence official noted Saturday that even if "they are doing something, it doesn't mean they will" conduct a test, noting that preparations that the North knew could be detected by the United States might be a scare tactic or negotiating tactic by the North Korean government.
Several officials speculated that the test, if it occurred, could be intended to influence the presidential election, though a senior military official said while "an election surprise" could be the motive, "I'm not sure what that would buy them."
While the intelligence community's experience in Iraq colors how it assesses threats in places like North Korea, the comparisons are inexact. Inspectors have seen and measured the raw material that the North could turn into bomb fuel; the only question is whether they have done so in the 20 months since arms inspectors were ousted. While Iraq denied it has weapons, the North boasts about them - perhaps too loudly, suggesting they may have less than they say.
On the other hand, the divisions within the administration over how to deal with North Korea mirrors some of the old debate about Iraq. Hard-liners in the Pentagon and the vice president's office have largely opposed making concessions of any kind in negotiations, and Vice President Dick Cheney has warned that "time is not on our side" to deal with the question. The State Department has pressed the case for negotiation, and for offering the North a face-saving way out. While the State Department has won the argument in recent times, how to deal with the North is a constant battle inside the administration.
Some of the senior officials who discussed the emerging indicators were clearly trying to warn North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, that his actions were being closely watched. Asian officials noted that there has been speculation in South Korea and Japan for some time that Mr. Kim might try to stage an incident - perhaps a missile test or the withdrawal of more raw nuclear fuel from a reactor - in an effort to display defiance before the election. "A test would be a vivid demonstration of their view of President Bush," one senior Asian diplomat said.
The intelligence information was discussed in interviews with officials from five government agencies, ranging from those who believe a test may occur at any moment to those who are highly skeptical. They had differing access to the intelligence: some had reviewed the raw data and others had seen a classified intelligence report about the possibility of a test, perhaps within months, that has circulated in Washington in the past week. Most, but not all, were career officials.
If North Korea successfully tested a weapon, the reclusive country would become the eighth nation to have proven nuclear capability - Israel is also assumed to have working weapons - and it would represent the failure of 14 years of efforts to stop the North's nuclear program.
Government officials throughout Asia and members of Mr. Bush's national security team have also feared it could change the nuclear politics of Asia, fueling political pressure in South Korea and Japan to develop a nuclear deterrent independent of the United States.
Both countries have the technological skill and the raw material to produce a bomb, though both have insisted they would never do so. South Korea has admitted in the past few weeks that it conducted experiments that outside experts fear could produce bomb-grade fuel, first in the early 1980's and then in 2000.
Senior officials in South Korea and Japan did not appear to have been briefed about the new evidence, beyond what one called "a nonspecific warning of a growing problem" from American officials. But it is a measure of the extraordinary nervousness about the North's intentions that earlier this week, South Korean intelligence officials who saw evidence of an intense fire at a suspected nuclear location alerted their American counterparts that a small nuclear test might have already occurred. American officials reviewed seismic sensors and other data and concluded it was a false alarm, though the fire has yet to be explained.
North Korea has declared several times in the past year that it might move to demonstrate its nuclear power. It is impossible to know how such a test might affect public perceptions of how Mr. Bush has handled potential threats to the United States. Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, has already accused President Bush of an "almost myopic" focus on Iraq that has distracted the United States while North Korea, by some intelligence estimates, has increased its arsenal from what the C.I.A. suspects was one or two weapons to six or eight now.
Mr. Bush, while declaring he would not "tolerate" a nuclear North Korea, has insisted that his approach of involving China, Russia, Japan and South Korea in a new round of talks with the North is the only reasonable way to force the country to disarm. He has refused to set the kind of deadline for disarmament that he set for Saddam Hussein.
When asked in an interview with The New York Times two weeks ago to define what he meant by "tolerate," he said: "I don't think you give timelines to dictators and tyrants. I think it's important for us to continue to lead coalitions that are firm and strong, in sending messages to both the North Koreans and the Iranians."
The differing assessments of North Korea's intentions may reflect the competing lessons of two huge intelligence failures: the failure of the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies to detect India's preparations for a nuclear test in 1998, and the false warnings about the state of Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical programs in 2002, which became the chief justification for invading the country. An investigation into the first failure, a test that took intelligence officials by surprise and led to Pakistan's first tests, prompted searing criticisms of the nation's intelligence agencies. It also created an atmosphere, intelligence professionals say, that encouraged early warning of any hint that another country is preparing a nuclear test.
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting for this article.


BBC > US marks three years since 9/11

Ceremonies have been taking place in the US to mark the third anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks in which about 3,000 people died.
In New York, relatives and officials gathered for a public reading of the names of those killed when two hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center.
The moment of impact and the fall of its twin towers were marked by silence.
In Washington, a commemoration of victims of the Pentagon attack was attended by the US defence secretary.
Every day is hard but this day is a little bit harder
Nancy Brandemarti
Mother bereaved by 9/11
Nineteen al-Qaeda Islamist militants hijacked four US domestic airliners on 11 September 2001. They flew two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and the fourth crashed short of its target.
President George W Bush - in a rare live radio address to the nation on Saturday - pledged there would be no let-up in his war on terror.
"The United States is determined to stay on the offensive and to pursue the terrorists wherever they train or sleep or attempt to set down roots," he said.
Tradition
In New York, bagpipes and drums sounded as events got under way at Ground Zero, and church bells could be heard tolling in the distance before silence fell at 0846 (1246GMT) - the exact time the first plane struck one of the Twin Towers.
THIRD ANNIVERSARY EVENTS
A memorial is dedicated to Staten Island victims at the ferry terminal across the harbour from Ground Zero
Communities nationwide gather for services at fire stations, memorial dedications, bell-ringing events and flag ceremonies
President George W Bush attends church service near the White House before observing a silence on the South Lawn
John Kerry, Mr Bush's Democratic challenger, attends a memorial in his home city, Boston
"We come here to remember and to ask the country and the world to remember the names of those we lost three years ago," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the audience.
"We will never forget that each person was someone's son or daughter."
Three other moments of silence were observed - at 0903, 0959 and 1029 - reflecting the second impact and the fall of the skyscrapers.
In what has become an anniversary tradition, the names of the 2,749 victims at Ground Zero were read out - this year, by parents and grandparents of the dead.
Some carried photos of their loved ones; the voices of others cracked with emotion as they paid brief tribute on the podium.
Last year it was children who recited the names.
Many family members wept quietly and embraced one another as the ceremony continued, with solemn music playing softly in the background.
Families were allowed to walk down into the towers' "footprints", ground once combed for the tiniest fragments of human remains. The remains of about 40% of the New York victims have still not been identified.
At sundown, light beams representing the towers will be projected into the sky and remain on through the night.
At the Pentagon in Washington, where 184 people died, officials - including Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - and relatives laid wreaths and observed a minute's silence.
Bells were to toll across Pennsylvania, where the fourth plane came down with the loss of 40 lives.
At a ceremony on 4 July, the cornerstone of the future 541-metre (1,776-foot) Freedom Tower was laid on the Ground Zero site.
The skyscraper is due to be completed by 2009.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go /pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas /3646874.stm