THE AMERICAS

Peru Accepts Spy Chief's Resignation

LIMA, Peru--Peru officially accepted the resignation of Vladimiro Montesinos, the spy chief seeking asylum in Panama after detonating a political crisis that has prompted early elections, an opposition party said yesterday.

A resolution signed by President Alberto Fujimori, Prime Minister Federico Salas and Justice Minister Alberto Bustamante said the government had accepted Montesinos's resignation from the National Intelligence Service. His role had made him Peru's power behind the throne for a decade.

The opposition American Popular Revolutionary Alliance made the official document public. A spokesman said the government had presented it at talks with opposition leaders brokered by the Organization of American States. There was no comment from Fujimori's office.

The resolution also praised Montesinos, who fled to Panama early Sunday morning after diplomatic pressure on that nation to take him in, for his "significant" role in quelling leftist guerrilla violence, fighting drug trafficking and securing peace with neighboring Ecuador.

It said the resignation took effect as of Sept. 14, the day a videotape was aired showing Montesinos apparently bribing an opposition legislator. Fujimori responded by announcing early elections in which he will not run and the closing of the notorious spy service.

(Reuters)

Cubans Protest U.S. Immigration Policy

HAVANA--Thousands of people answered the Communist government's call to gather outside the U.S. mission and protest immigration policies it blames for last week's dramatic departure of a group of Cubans aboard a stolen plane.

President Fidel Castro presided over the rally, which began with a rendition of the Cuban national anthem by a military band.

A series of students read speeches condemning the "murderous" Cuban Adjustment Act, which Havana says encourages its citizens to migrate illegally to the United States, sometimes stealing boats or planes to do so.

The rally came less than a week after a Cuban pilot fled the country aboard a single-engine crop-duster plane, taking with him nine relatives and friends. One passenger died Sept. 19 when the plane went down in the Gulf of Mexico; the rest were rescued by a Panamanian freighter.

Although the accident occurred closer to Cuba and Mexico than to the United States, the nine survivors were transported by the U.S. Coast Guard to Florida, where they have been allowed to stay.

(Associated Press)

EUROPE

Russian Rebuked for Pressuring Tycoon

MOSCOW--Russia's press minister, Mikhail Lesin, who has been the Kremlin's point man in a campaign against media baron Vladimir Gusinsky, was reprimanded for signing a document that critics say sought to pressure Gusinsky to sell his companies.

Lesin was told Saturday by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that he "acted improperly" in signing the document, the government announced. At issue is a statement that offered Gusinsky immunity from prosecution if he would pledge loyalty to the government. The statement was signed by Lesin and attached to a deal in which Gusinsky agreed to sell his media empire, although Gusinsky later renounced the agreement, saying he had signed under duress.

Critics have questioned how Lesin could offer Gusinsky immunity from prosecution since he has no such powers. Lesin said he signed the document as a "private citizen," but the prime minister told him that "ministers cannot act as private citizens in some cases," the Interfax news agency reported.

Meanwhile, bailiffs continued to seek out and freeze the shares in Gusinsky's companies, including his flagship NTV television channel, as a result of a lawsuit brought by the natural gas monopoly Gazprom. Under pressure from the Kremlin, Gazprom is seeking to collect on a $211 million debt owed by Gusinsky's conglomerate, Media-Most, although Gazprom had earlier agreed to accept stock in payment.

(David Hoffman)

ASIA

Rescue Crews Aid Flood Victims in India

CALCUTTA--Rescue crews used boats and military helicopters to help some of the millions of people washed out of their homes by floods believed to have killed more than 700 in India and Bangladesh.

They were trying to ferry victims to higher ground, but most remained marooned atop buildings. Air force helicopters were dropping food and water purification packets.

The vast majority of the deaths have been in India, but the toll in both countries was expected to rise, and waterborne diseases were said to be breaking out.

(Associated Press)

FOR THE RECORD

Indonesian police investigating a series of bombings in Jakarta arrested two members of the armed forces after a shootout, officers said. Police Gen. Bimantoro said the two had acted as individuals and denied suggestions that the military as a whole was behind the deadly blasts, which included an explosion at Jakarta's stock exchange on Sept. 13 that killed 15 people. . . . African leaders brought their campaign to restore calm to Ivory Coast directly to the country's junta leader after he snubbed their summit and blocked opposition leaders from attending. Heads of state or foreign ministers of at least seven African nations flew into Ivory Coast for the impromptu talks with Gen. Robert Guei, who took power after the country's first coup nine months ago.