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Newsline - October 20, 1997


State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, a prominent Communist, told NTV on 20 October that the Duma may remove a planned no-confidence vote from its agenda for 22 October if the authorities demonstrate they are ready for genuine cooperation with the opposition. Seleznev made the remarks shortly before he was to attend talks in the Kremlin with President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev. According to presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, the "council of four" is to discuss upcoming "round table" negotiations between the government and opposition, the draft budget for 1998, and the proposed land code. Meanwhile, Grigorii Yavlinskii confirmed on 18 October that his Yabloko faction will vote no confidence on 22 October. Yabloko will change its stance only if the government agrees to withdraw its proposed tax code, Yavlinskii said.


During his 20 October meeting in the Kremlin, Seleznev is expected to discuss several demands outlined in a recent letter signed by Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Agrarian faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov, and Popular Power faction leader Nikolai Ryzhkov. The letter demanded that Yeltsin clarify the prospects for adopting the law on the government, which would force the entire cabinet to step down if the prime minister resigned, and that the parliament be given more radio and television air time. Other demands are that rent and utility payments be frozen for at least two years and that "round table" negotiations involving all branches of government cover major issues, such as the land code and tax code. A closed plenum of the Communist Party's Central Committee on 18 October instructed the Communist Duma faction to decide whether to pursue the no-confidence vote following Seleznev's talks.


First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin have indicated that the government is willing to meet parliamentary demands for more exposure on state-controlled television and radio. The Kremlin has also indicated that major policy issues will be discussed during round-table talks. However, Chubais and other ministers have made clear that the government will not agree to a two-year freeze on rent and utility payments, which would directly contradict the government's housing policy, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 17 October. Likewise, Yeltsin is not expected to change his position concerning the law on the government, which he refused to sign this summer even after both houses of the parliament overrode his veto. The previous day, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said the Communists may demand that Chubais be sacked, but Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and Yeltsin's spokesman Yastrzhembskii have both ruled out any cabinet reshuffle.


Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin may face criminal charges after announcing that his Movement to Support the Army plans to remove Yeltsin and his "hated regime" in spring 1998, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 20 October. The previous day, Interfax quoted Rokhlin as saying his movement will hold a "rehearsal" in February to determine whether it is strong enough to "overthrow the regime." Rokhlin was elected to the Duma on the pro-government Our Home Is Russia ticket, but since moving into open opposition in June, he has repeatedly called for Yeltsin's resignation. Ekho Moskvy quoted unnamed law enforcement officials as saying Rokhlin's statement is an illegal appeal to change the country's constitutional structure by violent means. The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison.


First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais announced on 17 October that the trilateral commission on the 1998 budget has agreed to raise federal funds transferred to regional governments to 14 percent of total revenues, Russian news agencies reported. The government's original draft lowered such transfers from 15 percent of total revenues to 13 percent. The commission also agreed to restore a separate budget item on expenditures for transporting winter supplies to far northern regions, although the amount to be allocated for that purpose has yet to be agreed. The concessions indicate that Federation Council deputies are playing an influential role on the commission. Also on 17 October, ITAR-TASS reported that the commission has agreed to increase budget expenditures by 4.8 billion new rubles to 344.8 billion new rubles ($59 billion). Projected GDP for 1998 has been increased to 2.84 trillion new rubles.


Economics Minister Yakov Urinson announced on 17 October that the government will take steps to protect Russian food producers, although he stressed that tariffs on imported food will not be raised, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The opposition Agrarian faction has called for higher customs duties on imported food. Urinson said such a policy would lead to retaliatory measures against Russian exports and cause the quality of domestically produced food to deteriorate. He added that Russian efforts to protect domestic food producers will be in compliance with rules of the World Trade Organization, Interfax reported. Russia hopes to join the WTO. Minister without portfolio Yevgenii Yasin suggested on 14 October that tariffs on food imports, especially meat and dairy products, may be gradually increased.


Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on 17 October warned that the Russian economy will collapse within six months if the government's proposed tax code is adopted, Interfax reported. Speaking to mayors representing the Union of Russian Cities, Luzhkov said the code would grant the federal government all proceeds from taxes that are easy to collect, while local governments would have more trouble collecting revenues. On 16 October, Luzhkov sent a letter to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin warning that electricity and heating may be cut to federal buildings in Moscow that have not paid their energy bills. Luzhkov strongly opposes the government's plans not to provide 1998 budget funds to compensate Moscow for the costs of maintaining federal facilities in the capital (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). Chernomyrdin met with Luzhkov on 17 October, but no details about their discussion were released.


Luzhkov on 18 October said the Russian military was behind the October 1994 murder of "Moskovskii komsomolets" journalist Dmitrii Kholodov, who was killed by a booby-trapped briefcase while investigating military corruption. On 17 October, Vladimir Kazakov, the head of the department on high-priority cases in the Prosecutor-General's Office, told Russian news agencies that those investigating the Kholodov murder will be able to report "good results" in the near future. Several army officers are suspected of involvement, Kazakov said. Since 1995, Russian law enforcement officials have periodically said they know who killed Kholodov or are on the verge of cracking the case, but no arrests have been made.


The Duma on 17 October asked its Budget and Security Committees to investigate whether the political instability surrounding efforts to vote no confidence in the government caused Russia economic harm on foreign financial markets, ITAR-TASS reported. Several government officials have warned that by pushing for a no-confidence motion, Duma deputies could cause share values of Russian corporations to lose billions of dollars on foreign markets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). The Central Bank issued a press release on 17 October saying Russian financial markets were not influenced by recent Duma debates over a no-confidence vote.


Also on 17 October, the Duma voted to appeal to the Constitutional Court against Yeltsin's refusal to sign the law on cultural valuables, ITAR-TASS reported. The law would prohibit the transfer abroad of trophy art seized by Soviet troops during the Second World War. The Federation Council has already filed a similar court appeal, claiming Yeltsin was obliged to sign the trophy art law after parliament overrode his veto. On slightly different grounds, the Duma recently asked the Constitutional Court to rule on Yeltsin's refusal to sign the law on the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1997).


Moscow has dropped its proposal that Caspian littoral states have jurisdiction over a 72-kilometer offshore zone and that all those states have equal rights to develop the mineral resources elsewhere, Interfax reported on 17 October, quoting an unnamed Russian Foreign Ministry official. That proposal, floated at a meeting of littoral states in November 1996, was supported by Iran and Turkmenistan but not by Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The spokesman hinted that Moscow will make an alternative proposal for dividing the sea. He denied that talks on defining its legal status are deadlocked. Also on 17 October, a Foreign Ministry official told Interfax that Moscow rejects Kazakhstan's objections to a Russian tender for exploration rights to a sector of the Caspian. He argued that the tender "corresponds to the current legal status of the Caspian."


Moscow will propose at the CIS summit on 22 October that Belarus cede the chairmanship of the four-nation CIS customs union, AFP and Ekho Moskvy reported on 19 October. The news agency quoted an unnamed Kremlin official as saying Russia is "disappointed" that the union, which comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, has not achieved more since its creation in 1995. The official did not, however, specify any grievances with Belarus. Ekho Moskvy cited a presidential administration official as saying Russia will propose that either Kazakhstan or Russia take over the chairmanship.


Cooperation between Russia and Japan has increased in several areas since the two sides decided to ignore for the time being the territorial dispute that has kept Moscow and Tokyo at odds for many years. Vasilii Saplin, a senior Russian diplomat, told ITAR-TASS on 18 October that some progress has been made toward an agreement on fishing rights. Meanwhile, Japan is preparing a proposal for participation in the development of a major Siberian gas deposit near Irkutsk, the news agency reported the next day. And the Sakhalin authorities have called for a bilateral working group to prepare proposals for the upcoming Russian-Japanese summit in Krasnoyarsk on 1-2 November.


Igor Zubov, the deputy chief of the Main Staff of the Interior Ministry, told journalists on 17 October that there is no truth to press reports suggesting Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov wants to restore the Stalin-era's NKVD by assuming control of all criminal investigations, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 18 October. Zubov was responding in particular to an article in the 16 October issue of the newspaper that said Kulikov wants to act much as his Soviet-era predecessors had done and control all criminal investigations.


A Nizhnii Novgorod district court has rejected State Duma deputy Gennadii Khodyrev's slander lawsuit against First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. Khodyrev ran unsuccessfully for governor of Nizhnii Novgorod in the summer. His court appeal argued that Nemtsov slandered him and all Communists when, in televised remarks, the first deputy prime minister asked an audience in the Republic of Mordovia whether they would like to see a "Communist or a normal person" as governor of neighboring Nizhnii Novgorod (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1997).


Aman Tuleev won the 19 October gubernatorial election in Kemerovo Oblast with nearly 95 percent of the vote, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 20 October. Preliminary results showed that State Duma deputy Viktor Medikov of the Russian Regions faction came second with 2 percent. Duma deputy and Communist Nina Ostanina finished last with 0.4 percent. (On a national level, the Communist Party supported Tuleev, rather than Ostanina, as did the Kremlin.) Turnout was 53 percent. Tuleev, a former head of the Kemerovo legislature, has long been an outspoken critic of Yeltsin and his government. He supported Gennadii Zyuganov's presidential bid in 1996. But Yeltsin appointed Tuleev to the cabinet in August 1996 and governor of Kemerovo in July 1997.


Duma deputy Sergei Kovalev, the leader of the human rights organization Memorial, has denounced official racism in Krasnodar Krai, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 16 October. Kovalev said pervasive discrimination against some ethnic minorities, especially Meskhetians, has worsened since Communist Nikolai Kondratenko was elected governor last December. Having been deported to Central Asia under Stalin, thousands of Meskhetians were forced to leave Uzbekistan following ethnic clashes in 1989. In Krasnodar, some 12,000 Meskhetians are unable to receive permanent residency permits and must pay to renew their registration with the police every 45 days, ITAR-TASS reported. They are regularly harassed by Cossacks charged with patrolling the streets. In addition, Krasnodar authorities do not recognize marriages between Meskhetians. A new krai charter adopted since Kondratenko's election declares Krasnodar the "historical territory of the Kuban Cossacks" and "place of residence for the [ethnic] Russian people."


Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov said on 19 October that Baku wants a "special partnership" with NATO on the basis of Azerbaijan's "strategic position" and its present level of cooperation with the West, AFP reported, citing Interfax. Hasanov had met with U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Robert Hunter, in the Azerbaijani capital the previous day. Hunter similarly stressed the importance of Azerbaijan's location and expressed support for Baku's desire for closer integration with the alliance. Meanwhile on 16 October, the Armenian National Committee of America reported that Azerbaijan's annual military expenditure is four times higher than Armenia's and constitutes 2.8 percent of GDP.


President Heidar Aliev's 17 September decree abolishing military censorship in Azerbaijan is being ignored, according to Arif Aliev, the chairman of the independent journalists' union Yeni Nesil. Arif Aliyev told "Ekspress-Khronika" on 11 October that military and political censorship persists. He added that of the material excised by the military and political censors' offices last year, 40 percent were on human rights and 25 percent were statements by opposition politicians.


Meeting in Yerevan on 17 October, several hundred Armenian intellectuals and opposition leaders condemned Levon Ter-Petrossyan's recent statements on Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. They singled out Ter-Petrossyan's acceptance of the "phased" solution to the conflict, proposed by the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, whereby Armenian forces would be withdrawn from occupied Azerbaijani territory before a decision is taken on Karabakh's future status vis-a-vis Baku. Speakers also rejected any status for Karabakh within Azerbaijan. Rafael Ghazarian--who, like Ter-Petrossyan, is a former member of the Karabakh Committee created in 1988 to support the unification of Karabakh with Armenia--suggested that Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, Karabakh's former president, and the "power" ministers should seek to oust Ter-Petrossyan, according to Noyan Tapan.


Talks on resolving the Abkhaz conflict scheduled to take place in Geneva from 14-16 October under UN auspices were postponed at the request of the Abkhaz, Georgian Ambassador to Moscow Vazha Lortkipanidze told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 October. The agenda of the talks included the status of the CIS peacekeeping force currently deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. Tbilisi intends to call for the peacekeeping force's withdrawal at the upcoming CIS summit in Chisinau if Abkhazia continues to block the force's entry into Abkhaz territory to facilitate the repatriation of Georgians forced to flee their homes during the 1992-1993 war. Some 3,000 displaced persons demonstrated in Tbilisi on 17 October to demand that the Georgian government take measures to expedite their return home, ITAR-TASS reported.


The first group of more than 80 Tajik government troops whom opposition field commander Mirzo Ziyeev had held prisoner in Tavil-Dara since 1993 were released on 19 October, Russian agencies reported. United Tajik Opposition chief of staff Davlat Usmon said their release is a "humanitarian action" within the framework of the peace accord signed by the Tajik government and the opposition in May. The release by the Tajik authorities of some 170 imprisoned opposition activists, scheduled for 17 October, was delayed because the Tajik government failed to provide fuel for transportation, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 October. The same day, a bomb exploded outside a department store in downtown Dushanbe, but no one was injured.


Some 1,000 people took part in a protest march in central Minsk on 19 October to denounce new legislation that would allow Belarusian officials to close any media outlet releasing materials that the government believes threaten the country's national interests or defame its president or other officials mentioned in the constitution, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The new legislation would require that all publications register with the state and not just, as now, those whose circulation exceeds 500 copies. Among the marchers was Pavel Sheremet, the Russian Public Television correspondent who spent more than two months in a Belarusian detention center and who still faces trial on charges that he illegally tried to cross the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.


Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko told journalists on 17 October that Kyiv may annul the Crimean parliament's decision to put the peninsula in the same time zone as Moscow and to seek economic independence from Ukraine, Interfax reported. Pustovoytenko added that Crimea could make progress "only together" with the rest of Ukraine. At the same press conference, he refused to answer questions about the lawsuit brought against him by former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko.


A cracked pipeline recently shut down another nuclear power plant, Ukrainian media reported. Operators at the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant took that step after discovering a leak. Shortly before, managers at the Chornobyl plant announced that it will not start up again until sometime in 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). Ukraine is also suffering from a shortage of natural gas, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. Ukrgazprom no longer has any reserves and hopes to draw from state reserves. Meanwhile, unidentified thieves drilled a hole in the Druzhba pipeline near the village of Suskovo in Ukraine's Transcarpathian region, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 October. The pipeline burst and several tons of oil flowed into a tributary of the River Uzh, which marks a large stretch of the Ukrainian-Slovak border. It is the third incident this year in which attempts have been made to tap the pipeline that carries oil from Russia to Western Europe.


The railways are refusing to transport Defense Ministry freight and passengers until the government pays what the ministry owes for past services, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 October. The railways' decision has blocked delivery of basic necessities to military bases and may create chaos when some 100,000 draftees are discharged from the service and sent home.


German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told journalists in Riga on 17 October that the European Commission's recommendation that EU entry talks be started with Estonia will benefit both Latvia and Lithuania, ETA and BNS reported. Kinkel made that remark after meeting with his Baltic counterparts. He stressed that Germany wants all three Baltic States to join the EU as soon as possible and will make every effort to achieve that goal. He also rejected as ungrounded concerns that investors will now prefer Estonia over the two other Baltic States. Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia supported that viewpoint, noting that portfolio investments are moving to Latvia and Lithuania. Similarly, Algirdas Saudargas of Lithuania said investments into his country have recently increased. Kinkel also commented that Bonn favors good relations between the Baltics and Russia, and he urged the Baltic States to sign border agreements with Moscow.


Meeting among themselves earlier on 17 October, the Baltic foreign ministers agreed to sign in November an accord that will eventually abolish non-tariff customs barriers, ETA and BNS reported. Initialed in September, that agreement is seen as an important step toward creating a Baltic free economic zone. Two other agreements, on the free movement of services and labor forces, still require a great deal of work, according to Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs.


Foreign Ministers Yevgenii Primakov and Algirdas Saudargas held talks in Moscow on 18 October to discuss Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas's upcoming visit to the Russian capital, during which the bilateral border demarcation agreement is expected to be signed, BNS and ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, Russian and Lithuanian negotiators put the finishing touches to the agreement, which both sides hail as signaling a new era in bilateral relations. Brazauskas's visit to Moscow is scheduled for 23-25 October.


Shortly after Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski asked him to form a government, Jerzy Busek was hospitalized for a throat infection, PAP reported on 17 October. The next day, however, Busek was released. He pledged to start work immediately on completing the formation of the new coalition government.


Police broke up a skinhead gathering near Plzen on 19 October after participants began shouting Nazi slogans, CTK reported. Seventeen of the participants were detained briefly. According to the Czech news agency, the gathering attracted some 500 skinheads from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, and Italy.


Slovak President Michal Kovac and Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar issued a joint statement on 17 October saying they will work together to promote Slovakia's entry into the EU, Slovak media reported. This rare display of unity between two men who have typically been at odds was greeted with skepticism by virtually all other Slovak political leaders.


Constitutional Court Chairman Laszlo Solyom on 19 October said Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and parliamentary chairman Zoltan Gal exerted pressure on the court before its ruling on the referendum on foreign ownership of land, Hungarian media reported. Solyom said that in a telephone conversation, the two politicians reminded one of the judges of the court's responsibility. Kovacs rejected the accusation, saying Solyom's remark was a "political attack in bad taste." He said the telephone conversation was only to brief the judge on the date of the planned referendum and how it fitted into the NATO enlargement timetable.


The Montenegrin Electoral Commission announced on 20 October that Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic beat outgoing President Momir Bulatovic in the previous day's elections by just over 6,000 votes. Belgrade-based Radio B-92 said Bulatovic has conceded defeat. The turnout was 72 percent. Djukanovic favors wide autonomy from Belgrade, while Bulatovic is a loyal ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Observers expect Djukanovic to concentrate his energies on blocking attempts by Milosevic to increase the authority of the federal government at the expense of that of the two republics. Also in Podgorica, the Interior Ministry charged that the Belgrade authorities sent 11 agents to Montenegro the previous week to disrupt the vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 1997), "Nasa Borba" wrote on 20 October.


A U.S. State Department spokesman on 18 October urged the Serbian authorities in Kosovo and the province's ethnic Albanian majority to end violence and resume a dialog. In recent weeks, Albanian terrorists have attacked Serbian police stations and other government installations. At the same time, Serbian police have staged raids on ethnic Albanian villages, and three Kosovars have died in police custody. Albanian terrorists on 17 October attacked a camp near Decani housing ethnic Serbian refugees from Albania. In Pristina, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova blamed the current violence on what he called police attempts to intimidate Albanians. Rugova added that now may be the last chance to restore a dialog, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. Meanwhile, on 18 October, some 13,000 Albanians attended the funeral near Pec of a young Kosovar killed in a raid on a police station.


French and Italian peacekeepers on 20 October inspected the factory compound near Pale where Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic has his office. Observers said the inspection is part of an effort by SFOR to remove from the scene Karadzic's bodyguards and other special police units, which are illegal under the Dayton agreements. Meanwhile on nearby Mount Jahorina the previous day, angry crowds of Bosnian Serb civilians wielding sticks taunted Italian peacekeepers as they attempted to inspect a former police station. None of the peacekeepers were injured.


The steering committee of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) agreed that the party will take part in the 23 November parliamentary elections. The committee also abolished the post of party president, which had been held by extreme hard-liner Aleksa Buha, and replaced it with a collective presidency. An RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pale that the decisions to participate in the elections and to set up a collective leadership favor the SDS's relatively moderate faction under Momcilo Krajisnik at the expense of Buha's group.


A spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 19 October that the Pale-based Bosnian Serb leadership committed "sabotage" when it disabled a television transmitter broadcasting programs of the rival Serbian network, based in Banja Luka. The Pale Serbs had used the transmitter, located at Veliki Zep near the military stronghold of Han Pijesak, to broadcast their hard-line programs on 16 October. NATO troops took control of the facility two days later and broadcast Banja Luka's programs. But Pale loyalists meanwhile removed some key parts, thereby rendering the transmitter inoperative. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on 19 October pledged $50,000 in aid for Banja Luka Television.


A group of skinheads murdered a 13-year-old Roma boy in central Belgrade on 18 October, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. "Dnevni telegraf" wrote that the boy appeared to have been killed solely because of his ethnic origins. The opposition Democratic Party said in a statement that the Interior Ministry has been so involved in politics in recent years that it has neglected protecting average citizens. Spokesmen for other human rights groups said the killing reflects the growing polarization of society.


Brindisi authorities said on 20 October that an Albanian refugee ship that sank in March has been raised and is being towed to the Italian port. The ship is believed to hold the bodies of at least 80 people who perished when the overcrowded vessel suddenly sank. Authorities will seek to determine how the ship went down. Many of the 34 Albanian survivors charge that an Italian navy vessel deliberately rammed the Albanian ship. Italy denies the claim. At the time of the sinking, thousands of Albanians were fleeing the anarchy in their country by seeking passage to Italy. The Italian navy had received orders from Rome to discourage additional refugees from landing.


Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, addressing an international conference on Albania that took place in Rome on 17 October, said Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano's goal of raising $300 million for his country over the next 18 months is realistic. Dini stressed, however, that foreign support for Albania will depend on the degree to which the Albanians help themselves. World Bank Vice President Johannes Linn added that his goal is to raise $1.5 billion for Albania over five or six years, provided that Albania continues to promote democracy and institutional reforms. On 22 October, donors will begin pledging specific sums at a conference in Brussels.


The government on 18 October annulled an agreement recently reached with one of the organizations representing the "1989 revolutionaries." It explained its decision by noting that the organization does not represent all the "revolutionaries." It also said the amended law abolishing the privileges to "revolutionaries" will not be subject to an emergency debate. Meanwhile, some 60 "revolutionaries" are continuing their hunger strike in Bucharest. Dan Iosif, the chief spokesman of the group, said on 19 October that the strikers will use Molotov cocktails if police try to disperse the group. He also said the hunger strike will continue for 200 days, after which the strikers will set themselves ablaze, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.


The government on 17 October approved a draft law on access to the files of the former secret police, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Under the bill, the name of the informant would be erased from copies of the files, but people who can prove they suffered on account of the information contained in the files could ask for the identity of the informant to be revealed. Access to the files would be monitored by a nine-member National Council supervised by the parliament. The bill also stipulates that officials, from the presidential to the local government level, are required to declare whether they collaborated with the secret police. Those who admit to collaboration or those found to have made false declarations will be requested to resign. If they refuse to do so, their names will be published in the official government journal "Monitorul oficial."


At a congress in Bucharest on 19 October, the Association of Former Political Prisoners in Romania (AFDPR) elected Cicerone Ioanitoiu as chairman. Ioanitoiu was backed by Ion Diaconescu, the head of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD). Meanwhile, former AFDPR chairman Ticu Dumitrescu, whose membership in the PNTCD was recently suspended (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 1997), plans to hold a rival congress in Brasov on 23-24 October. Dumitrescu criticized the government draft on opening secret police files, which is different from the draft submitted by him to the parliament. He said parliamentary oversight of the body monitoring access to the files amounts to "political supervision," which he said, is bound to impair the process of revealing all available information on the files.


Petru Lucinschi told ITAR-TASS on 17 October that he plans no "special initiatives" toward a settlement of the Transdniester conflict at the CIS summit scheduled for 22-23 October in Chisinau. He said that the presidents of Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine will meet with the Transdniester leadership during the summit and that he hoped they will agree to some "concrete measures" on the demilitarized zone. Meanwhile, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the extreme nationalist Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), said he has designated Aleksandr Saidakov, a former Minister of Industry in the Tiraspol separatist government, to set up a branch of the LDPR in the region.


Two Council of Europe rapporteurs told journalists in Chisinau on 17 October that while Moldova has made progress toward democratization and bringing its legislation into line with European standards, much remains to be done in implementing legal reforms. They noted there is "regrettably little progress" in finding a settlement to the Transdniester conflict, which, they said, depends primarily on Russia and the withdrawal of the Russian military from the separatist region, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. They also commented that in solving the problem of the Bessarabian Church, the rights of association and freedom of worship must be strictly observed.


by Paul Goble

Ever more East Europeans recognize that there are threats to their national security that NATO membership, in itself, will not solve. That recognition has not made most East Europeans any less interested in being included in the Western alliance. But it has transformed discussions about NATO in Eastern Europe and led an increasing number of countries in the region to take steps aimed at promoting their national security regardless of whether NATO invites them to join.

With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and then of the Soviet Union, virtually all countries in the region saw NATO membership as the foundation of their future security. Many even tended to view NATO membership as a panacea for all their problems. If they got in, they would be taken care of and their security would be assured. But if they did not, then they would be left without hope of a secure future.

Such perspectives helped frame the debate about security in many of those countries, but three developments have helped change both the understanding of NATO and the role those countries can play in promoting their own national security.

First, countries in Eastern Europe have had to deal with a West that has been anything but unanimous about the desirability or even the possibility of expanding the alliance eastward anytime soon. Many Western leaders have worried about the dangers involved in offending Russian sensibilities, and many Western populations have been concerned about the costs involved, which many in the West are reluctant to pay now that the Cold War is a thing of the past. As a result, East European countries have had to think about a future in which only a few may become members of the alliance soon and in which many of them will never join.

Second, NATO's outreach programs such as Partnership for Peace have taught many East European leaders just what NATO can do and even more important what it cannot. As ever more of them understand, NATO is a military defense alliance intended, in the first instance, to prevent or, in the worst case, to respond to military aggression. Its goal is not to deal with violence within countries. And as the West's reluctance to become involved in Bosnia has shown, the alliance remains hesitant to deal with such violence.

Moreover, NATO, as a political and military organization, provides neither the structure nor the weapons to combat other threats to national security that many countries in that region now face. The Western alliance cannot prevent illegal migration or develop a legal or judicial system for countries lacking such systems. Nor can it create a stable banking system or tax regime, without which any government is at risk of subversion. At best, the Western alliance can create a climate in which governments and peoples can take those often difficult steps. Indeed, many East European countries have learned that NATO member states face many of the same threats--such as illegal migration, organized crime, and subversion of banking systems--without being able to count on Brussels for a solution.

Third, ever more East Europeans recognize that the threats that NATO cannot defend against are precisely the ones they must overcome and that the threat NATO was intended to combat is for most of them less immediate. Virtually all East Europeans continue to fear the possibility that Russia will once again seek to dominate the region; they thus see NATO membership as a guarantee against that possibility. But ever more of them also understand that the threat to their countries over the next decade is less likely to take the form of an invading army than that of the subversion of their banking systems or economies.

They also recognize that improving their own domestic situations will have security consequences: it will attract ever more Western investment, and that investment will tend to provide a bulwark against the more immediate, non-military threats.

Again, this new understanding in Eastern Europe has not made the governments and peoples there any less interested in joining NATO. Nor has it made NATO any less important for the future of Europe. But it has meant that the countries of the region now recognize just how much they must do to promote their own security rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. Paradoxically, that, in itself, makes them even better candidates for inclusion in the Western alliance.