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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 07:51 GMT
European press review

The Russian press continues to labour over the aftermath of the Moscow hostage crisis. A Ukrainian paper explains why there are fewer Ukrainians among the hostages than initially claimed.

The jury is still out on whether the outcome of last week's Brussels EU summit was as good as the French and Germans would have us believe.

The aftermath

"Russia now has its own 11 September" which "should unite the nation", the moderate Russian daily Izvestiya says in its Monday edition, devoted largely to the aftermath of the hostage-taking in central Moscow.

The operation is not complete until the very last hostage is handed over to his family.

The nation, however, is apparently far from united. Most Russian papers are critical of the authorities' actions in the wake of the rescue operation.

Izvestiya itself deplores the authorities' unwillingness to issue definitive lists of victims and survivors, or to allow hospital visits even for relatives.

The liberal daily Vremya Novostey also criticises the authorities' "unwillingness, inability and dread of simply talking to people".

While most papers almost spare the Russian president from criticism, the popular daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets directly attacks him.

"It beggars belief that in his Saturday address to the nation, President Putin failed to mention Chechnya at all as if the war there has nothing to do with what happened," it says.

"If you refuse to accept the truth, if you treat the consequences of the disease and not its cause, you will never be cured," warns Moskovskiy Komsomolets.

Attitude change needed

The liberal weekly Novaya Gazeta, meanwhile, says Russia has to change its attitude to Chechnya.

It believes that the question is not whether an end is put to the war as this "will have to happen" but it is rather how.

We're Ukrainians

The Kiev-based tabloid Segodnya says that several Russian nationals had tried to fool the hostage-takers by passing themselves off as Ukrainians.

Ukrainians were the largest foreign group among the hostages.

When it was rumoured that all foreigners would be released, they told the rebels that they were Ukrainian nationals. This explains why fewer Ukrainians have been identified among the hostages after their release than had been originally reported - 31 instead of 37, according to Segodnya.

EU cake

There are varying responses to the French-German agreement reached in Brussels last Thursday on the future of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the financing of the union's enlargement.

Hungary's Magyar Hirlap says that 24 October will go down in history, even if as "a minor date", because it removed what it sees as "the last barrier" to the admission of 10 new members, including Hungary, in 2004.

A grain of sand of a few billion euros was threatening to sabotage the post-war goal of the reunification of Europe

Le Monde
Its compatriot Nepszabadsag sees it as important that what it calls "a major uncertainty" has now been removed.

But on balance the paper's verdict is one of "good news".

According to France's Le Monde "a grain of sand of a few billion euros" was "threatening to sabotage the post-war goal of the reunification" of Europe.

But "as in the good old days", the paper adds, "it took only a few private conversations" between the French and German leaders "to remove the obstacle".

In the end, it believes, everyone left Brussels happy.

The French, "because CAP has been saved"; the Germans, "because expenditure has been capped"; the British, "because calling their rebate into question has been at worst postponed"; and the future new members, "because they will have their share of the cake".

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

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