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Newsline - June 6, 1997




DUMA SLAMS PRIVATIZATION RESULTS

By a vote of 288 votes to 6 with 1 abstention, the State Duma has passed a preliminary version of a resolution condemning the government's privatization policy from 1992-1996, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 5 June. The final version of the non-binding resolution is expected to be adopted within the next week. It calls for the reversal of some privatization auctions and for new laws to increase parliamentary oversight of the sale of state-owned shares in companies. Communist Duma deputy Mullanur Ganeev, who chaired a special Duma commission on privatization results, slammed the government for privatizing more than 57% of Russian enterprises at a total gain to the treasury of only $3-5 billion. Ganeev said the process was "criminal" and called on the government to ban foreign investors from what he called strategic sectors in the Russian economy.

STATE PROPERTY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO CRITICS

Deputy Prime Minister and State Property Committee Chairman Alfred Kokh objected to the Duma's description of Russian privatization as "criminal," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 5 June. Kokh acknowledged that some state property has been sold off cheaply and that new owners are not always efficient. However, he said poorly-drafted legislation--not the "evil intent" of government officials--was to blame. He added that sales had brought relatively little money to the treasury to date because the bulk of privatized enterprises were not sold for cash. Instead, they were sold for vouchers that were distributed to citizens during the "mass privatization" policy. Kokh said privatization will bring in 11 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) this year, exceeding budget targets of 5 trillion rubles. He also pledged to cooperate with the Duma in drafting new privatization legislation.

OFFICIALS ON PRIVATIZATION CRIMES, CAPITAL FLIGHT, SMUGGLING

Addressing the Duma on 5 June, First Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Kolesnikov told deputies that crimes related to privatization rose by 60% in 1996 compared with the previous year, Russian news agencies reported. He said real estate schemes involving fraud, bribery, and even murder continued to proliferate. The same day, First Deputy Central Bank Chairman Aleksandr Khandruev estimated that $12-15 billion flows out of Russia illegally every year. Khandruev said this estimate did not include capital funneled out through what he called semi-legal "gray schemes." In addition, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov told a 5 June government session that $16 billion worth of undeclared goods were brought to Russia in 1996, depriving the budget of more than $2 billion in customs tariffs.

DUMA RATIFIES UNION TREATY WITH BELARUS

The State Duma on 6 June ratified the Russian-Belarusian union treaty signed in May by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Russian news agencies reported. The treaty sailed through the Duma by a vote of 363 to 2 with 19 abstentions. Most of the Russian political elite supports some kind of integration with Belarus (see RFE/RL Newsline, 21 and 23 May 1997), although opposition deputies have argued that the treaty should have called for more rapid integration.

RELEASE OF FOUR JOURNALISTS ABDUCTED IN CHECHNYA

Four journalists from ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii who were abducted in Chechnya in March were freed early on 6 June, Russian media reported. The four men were handed over to Dagestani Security Council Chairman Magomed Tolboev and taken to Makhachkala. Two days earlier, Nezavisimaya gazeta had quoted Chechen Interior Minister Kazbek Makhashev as charging that Tolboev's earlier attempts to obtain the journalists' release had been counterproductive. Makhashev also suggested that Tolboev himself was implicated in their abduction. The newspaper charged that the Russian government similarly considered that Tolboev was obstructing attempts to locate and free the four men. The fate of three Russian journalists abducted near Grozny in May remains unclear.

COMMUNISTS TO INITIATE NO-CONFIDENCE PROCEDURE TO PREEMPT GOVERNMENT?

The Communist Party Duma faction is planning to begin the procedure of calling a confidence vote, Interfax reported on 5 June, citing an unnamed Duma source. The source said the move is aimed at preventing the prime minister from "stealing the initiative" by demanding a confidence vote himself. Under the constitution, the president can dissolve the Duma if deputies vote no confidence in the government twice within three months. But if the prime minister initiates the confidence motion, only one no-confidence vote is required to give the president legal grounds for disbanding the Duma. Meanwhile, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev on 5 June asked Chubais and Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin not to "engage in blackmail." Chubais and Rybkin had suggested that the Duma might be dissolved if deputies did not pass economic legislation backed by the government.

YELTSIN CALLS FOR "MODERN, COMPETENT" POLICIES IN REGIONS

In a 6 June address on nationwide radio, President Yeltsin called on Russia's regional leaders to pursue "modern and competent" economic policies, such as those adopted in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast. He said that because of poor oversight, federal aid sent to economically lagging regions often "does not reach those who need it most." He singled out Primorskii Krai as a region where poorly thought-out policies had hurt residents. (The krai has seen numerous energy crises in recent years, the most recent of which led to massive power cuts throughout May.) Yeltsin also warned regional leaders "who got extensive powers and immediately opened their own big pockets" that their income and property declarations will be scrutinized in Moscow. "We will slap their hands to teach them a lesson," he added.

WORLD BANK APPROVES LOANS FOR RUSSIA

The World Bank's board has approved five loans to Russia totaling nearly $820 million, Reuters reported on 5 June. In addition to a $600 million loan for structural reforms in the Russian economy, the bank approved an $85 million credit to help restructure recently privatized companies, $71 million earmarked for education, $40 million for the power sector, and $22.6 million to cover economic analysis for the government. The bank's board is scheduled to consider a proposed $800 million loan for Russia's social benefits system in late June. Also on 5 June, World Bank Managing Director of Operations Caio Koch-Weser appealed to G-7 nations to provide $12 million to help Russia stop producing ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), RFE/RL's correspondent in Washington reported. Koch-Weser urged that the issue be on the agenda at the June G-7 summit in Denver, Colorado.

RUSSIA TO DEMAND REPAYMENT OF DEBTS FROM LIBYA, IRAQ

Addressing a session of the presidential political consultative council on 5 June, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais said it is "not normal" that Russia should overlook the "massive debts" owed by a number of foreign countries. He said that the Russian government will demand repayment of those debts, according to Interfax. Chubais singled out Libya and Iraq, which, he said, owed Russia $2.5 billion and $7 billion, respectively.

PRIMAKOV ON ARMS CONTROL

Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov says Moscow supports a ban on bomb-grade fissile material as well as an eventual prohibition on land mines, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 5 June. Addressing a U.N.-sponsored conference on disarmament in Geneva, Primakov added that the Russian government is "sparing no effort" to ratify the START-2 treaty with Washington. START-2 was ratified by the U.S. Congress last year but faces significant opposition in the Russian Duma. Primakov said Moscow may soon start negotiations on a START-3 treaty to reduce the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons to one-fifth of their Cold War levels within a decade. But he warned against a bipolar vision of geopolitics, saying the time was approaching when all nuclear powers will have to join arms negotiations.

CHUBAIS PROMISES TO IMPROVE FUNDING FOR MILITARY

First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais says that funding for arms production and military research and development will be six times higher in July than in June, Russian news agencies reported on 5 June. Chubais, who chairs a recently created government commission on military financing, did not specify how much would be spent on the programs. He also promised that the government will soon release a schedule for paying back wages to soldiers. Funding for the armed forces, especially for soldiers' wages and military acquisitions, has fallen far below budgeted levels in recent years.

RESHUFFLE AT DEFENSE MINISTRY TO CONTINUE?

Unnamed sources in the Defense Ministry say several senior generals who were promoted during the last year under former Defense Minister Igor Rodionov are on the way out, Interfax and Krasnaya zvezda reported on 4 June. Yeltsin replaced Rodionov with Igor Sergeev in May. The sources claimed that Sergeev has asked Yeltsin to sign a decree reappointing some generals who lost their jobs after former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev was fired and Aleksandr Lebed was appointed Security Council secretary last June. Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii has denied media reports saying Grachev may be appointed Russian ambassador to NATO, Interfax reported on 5 June. Yastrzhembskii said Grachev is not among those being considered for the job.

RUMORS OF BAN ON U.S. FILMS IN ARMY DENIED

The Defense Ministry's press service says there is no ban on watching U.S. war movies at Russian military bases, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. Some Russian media have reported that the armed forces have banned screenings of violent films in an attempt to prevent soldiers from killing their comrades. A Russian soldier recently killed six of his comrades in Chita Oblast and a sergeant in Abkhazia killed 10 fellow soldiers before shooting himself. Izvestiya reported on 6 June that since April 1995, 63 Russian soldiers have been killed in similar circumstances.

YELTSIN DECREES CHANGE IN BLACK SEA FLEET FLAGS

Flags of the former Soviet Union will be replaced with post-Soviet Russian flags on Russia's Black Sea Fleet ships on 12 June, according to a presidential decree issued on 5 June. The 31 May agreement between Russian and Ukraine on dividing the fleet made the change possible, Russian news agencies reported. In recent years, 12 June--the anniversary of Russia's 1990 declaration of sovereignty--has been marked as Russian Independence Day.

KEMEROVO ADOPTS ELECTORAL LAW, IRKUTSK REGISTERS GUBERNATORIAL HOPEFULS

Kemerovo Oblast Governor Mikhail Kislyuk has signed an electoral law recently passed by the oblast's legislature, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. The move paves the way for gubernatorial elections to be held there later this year. Kemerovo is the only oblast still governed by a Yeltsin appointee (see RFE/RL Newsline, 20 May 1997). Kislyuk eventually dropped his demand that the law set the minimum turnout for valid elections at 50%, a level rarely seen in regional elections. Meanwhile, nine candidates have been registered to contest the 27 July gubernatorial election in Irkutsk Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 June. The contenders include Irkutsk Mayor Boris Govorin, Communist Party oblast head Sergei Levchenko, and State Duma deputies Viktor Mashinskii (Popular Power faction), Yurii Ten (Our Home Is Russia), and Vitalii Shuba (Russian Regions).

ASEAN HOLDS CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW

The Cooperation Committee of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held its founding conference in Moscow on 5 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigorii Karasin, who is a co-chairman of the committee, said Moscow hoped to promote better relations with the ASEAN countries and to attract members to take part in projects in Siberia and Russia's Far East. The ASEAN member countries are Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Burma, Cambodia, and Laos are expected to be admitted in July. Russia is attending the conference as a "dialogue partner," along with Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, New Zealand South Korea, the U.S., and the EU.




GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES PLANS TO INVADE ABKHAZIA

The Defense Ministry has issued a statement denying press reports that Georgian forces are preparing for a military attack on Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 June. The press reports claimed that the reason for First Deputy Defense Minister Dzhoni Pirtskhalaishvili's resignation was not personal friction between himself and Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze but Pirtskhaliashvili's opposition to the planned offensive. Addressing troops on 26 May, the anniversary of the 1918 proclamation of Georgia's independence, Nadibaidze had said that their primary obligation was to restore Georgia's territorial integrity, if necessary by force.

ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION IN KYRGYZSTAN

More than 500 people assembled outside the government building on 5 June and presented a list of demands to the government, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported. The protest was organized by Kyrgyzstan's Committee to Protect Journalists and was joined by a group representing the homeless in the capital. The protesters demanded the release of all journalists currently detained or jailed in Kyrgyzstan and an investigation into the 3 June beating by Kyrgyz militia of four people who had staged a hunger strike outside the government building. They also want the resignation of Bishkek Mayor Boris Silayev and his administration and increased efforts to help Bishkek's homeless. Deputy Prime Minister Mira Jangaracheva went out to talk to the demonstrators but they said they would only speak to Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN KAZAKSTAN

Kenneth Derr, the president of the U.S. company Chevron, told an investment conference in Almaty on 5 June that his firm has already invested $800 million in Kazakstan and plans to invest $20 billion in the Tengiz oil field project over the next 40 years, Interfax reported. The Tengizchevroil joint venture is already producing 160,000 barrels of oil per day and hopes to increase this to 700,000 barrels per day by 2010. President Nursultan Nazarbayev told the conference that foreign companies to date have committed themselves to investing more than $60 billion in the coming years. He noted that direct investment now totals $6 billion. and that by 2003, Kazakstan will be producing 100 million tons of oil annually. Nazarbayev also said the recoverable mineral resources in his country are estimated at $8.7 trillion.

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT IN ASHGABAT

Levon Ter-Petrossyan arrived in Ashgabat on 5 June for a two-day official visit, ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan reported. Ter-Petrossyan and his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurat Niyazov, signed an agreement on avoiding dual taxation and a memorandum on expanding bilateral cooperation. They also signed a protocol whereby Armenia will provide Turkmenistan with manufactured goods and gold in payment of its $35 million debt for Turkmen natural gas supplied in 1994-1995.

FREAK STORMS STRIKE TURKMENISTAN

Heavy rains fell in southern Turkmenistan from 2-4 June, causing damage in and around the capital, Ashgabat, ITAR-TASS reported. The level of the Atrek and Firuzinka Rivers rose as much as 3 meters and brought stones and wood into villages located on their banks. One plane at Ashgabat's airport slipped off the runway as it was landing and fell on its side. No casualties were reported. The rain fall is the heaviest recorded for June since 1929.




OSCE OFFICIAL POSTPONES TRIP TO BELARUS

Spenser Oliver, the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has postponed a visit to Belarus, RFE/RL's Vienna correspondent reported on 5 June. Oliver said the visit, which was due to start on 6 June, was postponed because the agenda included meetings with parliamentary deputies loyal to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka but offered no opportunity to meet with opposition politicians. A recent OSCE report says Belarus appears to be headed toward totalitarianism. The report was drawn up by an OSCE mission that visited Minsk in April and met with government members and supporters as well as representatives of the opposition. Oliver said the Parliamentary Assembly remains "extremely interested" in examining the parliamentary situation in Belarus. He also emphasized that his trip had been "postponed," not canceled.

NEW PROSPECTS FOR RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN SPACE CENTER

Viktor Durasov, head of the Ukrainian Yevpatoria space center, told a 5 June news conference that an agreement reached by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, during their recent summit has opened up new possibilities for the center. Durasov said the agreement will accelerate the implementation of Ukrainian-Russian space projects and allow for the installation of up-to-date equipment. He also noted that the center's financial situation could improve considerably if the two countries were to use it jointly The Yevpatoria center was set up at the beginning of space exploration and has suffered significantly in recent years because of financial constraints.

WWII VICTORY MONUMENT IN RIGA HIT BY EXPLOSION

A World War II victory monument in Riga was hit by an explosion on 6 June, BNS reported. Firefighters in the Latvian capital say that windows of nearby buildings were blown out but the monument is still standing. The cause of the blast is not yet known. A Latvian Interior Ministry spokesman said the Prosecutor's Office may launch a criminal investigation into the incident. The monument, located in downtown Riga, was erected to commemorate the liberation of Riga by the Soviet Army near the end of World War Two. In recent years, it has been the scene of rallies calling for restoration of the Soviet Union.

TURKISH PRESIDENT IN LATVIA

Suleyman Demirel has stressed his country's full, unconditional support for Latvia's membership in NATO , BNS reported. The Turkish president was speaking in Riga on 5 June at the end of his four-day tour of the Baltic States. At a meeting with his Latvian counterpart, Guntis Ulmanis, agreement was reached to promote the conclusion of an accord on free trade. Turkey signed such accords with Lithuania and Estonia several days earlier, but an agreement with Latvia is still pending because several Latvian ministries object to some of its provisions, including those on textiles and agricultural goods. The previous day, the two countries agreed to set up a joint business council to promote bilateral trade. Four documents were signed during Demirel's visit, including a cooperation treaty on combating drug trafficking, international terrorism and organized crime.

LITHUANIAN ROUNDUP

Lawmakers have adopted a controversial law on returning real estate to its former owners, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. The new legislation provides for the rights of tenants to be guaranteed by the municipal authorities when a residential building is restored to its former owner. The bill has prompted protests by citizens fearing they will become homeless once the legislation goes into effect. The opposition intends to appeal to the Constitutional Court to quash the new legislation. The previous day, three deputy culture ministers submitted their resignations, BNS reported on 5 June. They did not explain their resignation, but one of the deputy ministers told Lietuvos Rytas that he considers the leadership style of Culture Minister Saulius Saltenis "unacceptable."

POLISH PRESIDENT REJECTS ABORTION REFERENDUM

A Polish presidential aide said on Polish Radio on 5 June that Aleksander Kwasniewski will not initiate an abortion referendum. The statement came one day after Pope John Paul II publicly opposed abortion, saying any nation that allows abortion has no future and deserves to be called a barbarian civilization (see RFE/RL Newsline, 5 June 1997). The Constitutional Court recently ruled that a law liberalizing rules on abortion is unconstitutional. The parliament would need a two-thirds majority to override that ruling.

POLAND'S UNION FOR FREEDOM REJECTS PACT WITH LEFT, RIGHT

Leszek Balcerowicz, chairman of the Union for Freedom, rejected on 5 June the possibility of a coalition with either the ruling ex-communists or the opposition, led by the right-of-center Solidarity union. "These groupings are very similar conglomerates that merely have different names. It is hard to say which of the two would be worse for Poland," Balcerowicz is quoted as saying by PAP. Opinion polls suggest that the parliamentary elections, due in September, are likely to be won by the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance and the Solidarity Election Action. The Union for Freedom includes many of the intellectuals who were behind the pre-1989 opposition to communist rule and went on to form the first democratic governments. As finance minister, Balcerowicz steered Poland through shock-therapy reform.

CZECH PRIME MINISTER'S PARTY CALLS FOR UNITY

The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) issued a statement on 5 June denying any divisions within the party. The statement stressed that the ODS unanimously backs the government and calls on its two junior coalition partners, the Civic Democratic Alliance and the Christian Democrats, to do the same ahead of a parliamentary vote of confidence expected on 10 June. In May, the three-party coalition agreed to austerity measures and a cabinet reshuffle to stem an escalating trade deficit and halt a drop in the Czech currency. But Klaus has come under increasing attack from his coalition partners as well as from within ODS ranks. Recent criticism from ODS founding member and current Foreign Minister Josef Zielieniec sparked rumors of an internal power struggle within the ODS itself. Meanwhile, Klaus told a business conference in Montreux, Switzerland, on 5 June that he expects the 10 June vote of confidence in his government to help stabilize the Czech currency.

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN MEETS WITH NEWT GINGRICH

Ivan Gasparovic said after his meeting in Washington on 5 June with Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich that U.S. awareness of Slovak efforts to join the EU and NATO is a "very positive signal toward Slovakia." Gingrich said there is no sense to exclude Slovakia from NATO expansion. He added that Slovakia is clearly eligible for membership but that the U.S. needs to work with Slovakia to develop its economic strength so it can sustain the kind of defense commitment that mutual security requires. The U.S. State Department recently protested a lack of respect for the rule of law in Slovakia in connection with the Slovak government's role in the failed 23-24 May referendum on NATO membership and direct presidential elections.

SLOVAK PREMIER INVITES HEADS OF PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES FOR TALKS

Vladimir Meciar told a meeting of his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia in Bratislava on 5 June that he has invited the chairmen of all parliamentary parties for joint talks on domestic political issues, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. "If they come it is their business, if they do not come it is their business as well. They have been offered a chance," Meciar said. The premier also said that the opposition has little chance of having Interior Minister Gustav Krajci dismissed. The opposition hold Krajci responsible for the failure of the 23-24 May referendum . However, he said, the opposition's efforts to push through constitutional bill on direct presidential elections could pass in the parliament.

GRENADE ATTACKS ON FOUR CAR DEALERSHIPS IN BUDAPEST

Four Yugoslav-made hand grenades exploded early on 5 June at the premises of four second-hand car dealers in Budapest, Hungarian media reported. Police believe the explosions, which caused no injuries but damaged several cars, could be the work of a single gang demanding protection money. Just two hours before the explosions, gunfire hit the rear window of a Budapest bus. The four passengers and the driver were not injured. The police do not exclude the possibility of a connection between that incident and the explosions.




FINO CALLS FOR ALBANIAN ELECTION PACT

Prime Minister Bashkim Fino has invited all political parties to sign an agreement on the fair conduct of the election campaign. He said in Tirana on 5 June that the apparent assassination attempt on President Sali Berisha the previous day was a "dangerous precedent" (see RFE/RL Newsline, 5 June 1997). Politically polarized Albania has a tradition of political violence and is awash with weapons, but the attack on Berisha was the first such incident involving a major political figure in the current campaign. Also in Tirana, ATA reports that a bomb went off in a school yard but that police have arrested the culprits. In Vlora, Italian peacekeepers broke up a shoot-out involving 18 Albanians near the Italians' headquarters.

MILOSEVIC TO RUN FOR YUGOSLAV PRESIDENCY, BUT MONTENEGRO BALKS

Top officials of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia said in Podgorica on 5 June that Milosevic will run for the federal presidency later this year, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. Montenegro's Democratic Socialist Party, however, has said it will decide later whether to endorse Milosevic. It added that it rejects Milosevic's plans to strengthen the federal presidency or to elect the president by direct vote. Current Federal President and Milosevic-loyalist Zoran Lilic's term expires later this month. Milosevic cannot legally seek a new term as Serbian president, and the opposition has said it will take to the streets again if he tries to bend the law to be able to run again. His alternative means of holding onto power would be to run for a strengthened federal presidency.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION AGREES ON ELECTION PACT

Representatives of some 12 opposition parties met in Belgrade on 4 June and agreed on a set of minimum conditions that the government must meet before the parties will participate in the Serbian elections due later this year. Key points include ensuring access to electronic and other media and providing funding for the parties. If their demands are not met, the parties said they may actively obstruct the elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade. Meanwhile in Athens, the Greek telecommunications company OTE announced it will join Italy's Stet in taking a 49% share of Telecom Serbia. The London-based Financial Times wrote on 5 June that the deal "reflects a flourishing political relationship between Greece and Serbia, including the Bosnian Serbs."

CROATIAN OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BEATEN

Vlado Gotovac, the Liberal and opposition coalition candidate in the 15 June presidential elections, was assaulted by a man wearing a military uniform in Pula on 5 June. Gotovac fell to the ground and briefly lost consciousness. He then returned to address his followers in the Istrian port city. Croatian authorities have promised to issue a statement on the incident on 6 June, Hina reported. Tomac's party spokesman told reporters in Zagreb that he was flown back to the capital where he is undergoing medical tests. The spokesman added that Gotovac is suffering from a concussion and is in shock. Police arrested the assailant. Meanwhile in Osijek, the authorities have pardoned Ante Gudelj after he had just begun serving a 20-year sentence for the murder of Josip Reihl-Kir. Reihl-Kir was a local moderate police chief whose murder was a key development in the run-up to the war between Serbs and Croats in eastern Slavonia.

WESTENDORP TO GIVE PRIORITY TO CATCHING BOSNIAN WAR CRIMINALS

Carlos Westendorp, the international community's new high representative in Bosnia, said in Madrid on 5 June that he will give priority to catching war criminals. He said he will try to persuade local leaders to hand over their war criminals and added that if they do not comply, he will consider what he called "pressure." Westendorp echoed recent statements by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stressing that the international community will help those who observe the Dayton accords and isolate those who do not. In Banja Luka, Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic discussed refugee return and economic cooperation with her federal opposite number, Vladimir Soljic. And in Pale, the Bosnian Serb government approved a trade agreement with federal Yugoslavia that in effect eliminates administrative restrictions on trade between Belgrade and Pale, BETA reported.

SLOVENIA HOSTS CENTRAL EUROPEAN PRESIDENTS

A conference of eight presidents opens in Portoroz and Piran on the Slovenian Adriatic coast on 6 June. President Milan Kucan is hosting his counterparts from Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Italy, and Hungary. The gathering is especially important to Slovenia because it is counting on support from Germany and Italy, in particular, in its drive to join NATO and the EU. The main problem is that Rome could continue to block Ljubljana's EU candidacy unless Slovenia changes its laws to allow foreigners to own property. Many Slovenes are worried that Italians with family roots in Slovenia could buy up land and houses. Kucan told the Prague daily Pravo on 5 June that his country sees its future in Central Europe, not in the Balkans.

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION MOVES SECOND NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION

A motion of no confidence in Victor Ciorbea's cabinet was moved on 5 June by 143 deputies from the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania and the Party of Romanian National Unity, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The motion will be debated on 9 June. The signatories say the reform package that the premier recently submitted to the parliament (see RFE/RL Newsline, 4 June 1997) is not in line with the government program approved by the parliament last year. The legislature is scheduled to debate on 6 June another no confidence motion proposed earlier by the opposition.

RIFT WIDENS IN ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY

Mircea Cosea, deputy prime minister in charge of economic reform in the former cabinet headed by Nicolae Vacaroiu, has openly joined the camp of those calling for the restructuring of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (see RFE/RL Newsline, 4 June 1997). Cosea was interviewed on national television on 5 June, together with Iosif Boda, the main critic of the current party leadership. The two men said they do not intend to bring about a split in the party at its upcoming national conference. But they noted that their political future will depend on whether the PDSR is able to restructure itself and to allow a free democratic debate on the party's future course (see also "End Note" below).

MOLDOVA'S GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA TO BE PAID IN INSTALLMENTS?

President Petru Lucinschi on 5 June phoned his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, and First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov asking them to help find a formula to repay Moldova's debt to Gazprom in installments. Infotag and BASA-press reported that Lucinschi told the Russian leaders he had received a telegram from Gazprom threatening to cut off supplies if the debt were not cleared. According to the Moldovan presidential office, Yeltsin and Nemtsov agreed to negotiate a mechanism for the repayment of the debt without cutting supplies. Moldova owes Gazprom some $570 million, of which $300 million is the debt of the Transdniester breakaway region

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON CURRENCY BOARD

The parliament on 5 June approved the law establishing the country's currency board within the National Bank. The law prevents the National Bank from fueling inflation, tying local money supply to foreign-currency reserves, and covering state budget deficits by printing money. The same day,. Ivan Kostov's government nominated former Finance Minister Svetoslav Gavriiski to replace Lyubomir Filipov as National Bank governor. Meanwhile, a team of FBI agents that will advise Bulgarian authorities on fighting organized crime met with Justice Minister Vassil Gotsev (see RFE/RL Newsline, 4 June 1997), RFE/RL Sofia correspondents reported. The team will also advise the government on drafting anti-crime legislation.

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER SUMS UP BRUSSELS VISIT

At a press conference in Brussels on 6 June at the end of his three-day visit, Kostov stressed that Bulgaria's quest to join NATO and the EU by no means diminishes the importance of its relations with Russia. During his visit, Kostov met with EU, NATO, and Belgian officials. ITAR-TASS quoted Kostov as saying that at his meetings at NATO headquarters on 5 June, he received assurances that the aim of the alliance's July Madrid summit is not only to establish which new members will be admitted to the organization but also to set up a "mechanism of open doors" providing for further NATO expansion in the future.




ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY IN TURMOIL


by Michael Shafir

The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) is scheduled to hold its annual national conference in June, its first major gathering since having been voted out of power last fall. The question is whether the party will be able to redefine its course of action and produce a leadership capable of finding a political formula that will win back voters disillusioned with its seven-year rule following the fall of communism. Presumably, the first thing it must do is present a united front and prove itself capable of pursuing a clear ideological line and doing away with what the electorate deems either obsolete or repugnant.

Few political analysts would dispute that the remnants of communist ideology, which guided many of the PDSR leaders before 1989, are obsolete and the party's political clientelism--which is unavoidably linked with corruption and which Vladimir Tismaneanu, a U.S. political scientist of Romanian origin, diagnosed as early as 1990 as "kleptocracy"--is repugnant.

Yet, the possibility of a united leadership capable of dealing with such issues seems even more remote than ever. In fact, the upper echelons of the PDSR seem increasingly engaged in a "war of all against all" as the national conference draws nearer. Nothing illustrates this better than the recent public duel between PDSR deputy Iosif Boda, on the one hand, and Ion Iliescu, Romania's former president and PDSR chairman, and one of his deputies, Adrian Nastase, on the other hand. Boda, who was the manager of Iliescu's ill-fated presidential campaign in 1996, accused Nastase of leading the party to a dead-end and demanded his resignation. The former campaign manager was harshly criticized by Iliescu, who demanded that Boda leave the party. For the time being, Boda, a former ambassador to Switzerland, has received only a warning from the party. But, according to sources in the PDSR, his expulsion cannot be ruled out.

That Iliescu would act in a manner reminiscent of how he himself was treated by his presidential predecessor, Nicolae Ceausescu, is not surprising, given his personal history and the fact that Boda destroyed what Ceausescu would have called "the party-unity monolith." But the conflict is a lot more complicated than that.

There are two possible ways to approach analyzing the rifts in the PDSR. A "Kremlinological" approach would search for alliances, acts of treason, and realignments within the party and would not overlook the fact that Boda has demanded Nastase's replacement by another PDSR deputy chairman, former Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. Earlier, at a Sibiu branch PDSR regional conference, some delegates called for Iliescu's replacement as party chairman by Melescanu--a call reiterated at least at one other gathering of a PDSR branch. Until then, Iliescu was generally considered opposed to Nastase, who, justifiably or not, is perceived as embodying all the defects that helped the PDSR loose power, including corruption. The "Kremlinologists" would also emphasize that the "enemies of my enemy" are "my friends" and that Nastase is therefore Iliescu's buddy once again.

To strengthen that argument, the "Kremlinologists" would also point to an ongoing ideological dispute. Boda and Melescanu are known to belong to a group that wants to forge a Western-style, social-democratic identity for the PDSR (one of its members, the Iasi deputy Mugurel Vintila, even called it the Social Democratic Movement of Romania). The group is said to be opposed by another that wants the PDSR to form an alliance with the leftist-nationalist opposition represented in the parliament.

The trouble is that the "players" in this game of ideological musical chairs seem to keep changing camps, leaving it unclear where either Iliescu or Nastase stands. On the other hand, it only goes to show that a second approach--one that is closer to political sociology than to "Kremlinology"--may be more appropriate in analyzing developments within the PDSR. As a "clientelist" party, the PDSR has been left in a most precarious position. Not only is it no longer able to "distribute goods" to prospective allies, but its members have been brusquely removed from influential positions in state structures and leading economic institutions. The "war of all against all" within the PDSR is perhaps no more than a struggle over diminished resources. Be that as it may, the "Boda affair" does not bode well for Iliescu's party.


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