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Newsline - November 6, 1997




BEREZOVSKII SLAMS CHUBAIS, NEMTSOV...

Former Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii told journalists on 5 November that his dismissal was instigated by First Deputy Prime Ministers Anatolii Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. He denied charges that he used his state post to promote personal business interests, noting that he resigned from all corporate boards after joining the Security Council in late 1996. Referring to the first deputy prime ministers' avowed efforts to end government favoritism toward certain financial groups, Berezovskii accused Chubais of hypocrisy. He noted that during a recent visit to London, Chubais said he supports a joint venture between Russia's Oneksimbank and British Petroleum. (Oneksimbank and Berezovskii's LogoVAZ empire have repeatedly clashed over privatization sales.) Berezovskii argued that Nemtsov is incapable of carrying out "serious tasks" and has no chance of being elected president in 2000, Russian news agencies reported. LB

...CLAIMS CHERNOMYRDIN, RYBKIN NOT CONSULTED ON DISMISSAL

At the same press conference, Berezovskii claimed that neither Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin nor Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin was informed about his dismissal until after President Boris Yeltsin had signed the decree, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. He added that Rybkin threatened to resign when he heard the news but that he urged Rybkin not to take any drastic action. Berezovskii claimed that Chubais's behavior resembles practices common at the Kremlin when Aleksandr Korzhakov was Yeltsin's top presidential bodyguard. At that time, some bureaucrats could approach the president and persuade him to sign any decree, he said. Now, Berezovskii continued, Chubais has the power to push through any personnel change he desires. Citing an unnamed source in the Kremlin, "Kommersant-Daily" claimed on 6 November that Berezovskii's dismissal may have been Yeltsin's own initiative and that it may have surprised Chubais and Nemtsov as well. LB

NEMTSOV WELCOMES OUSTER, OTHERS KEEP QUIET

Nemtsov said Yeltsin made "absolutely the right decision" in firing Berezovskii, Interfax reported on 5 November. He noted that officials were warned about not combining their government activities with private business interests. Removing Berezovskii was an important step toward leaving "oligarchy capitalism" behind, he said. There was no comment on Berezovskii's dismissal from Yeltsin, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Security Council Secretary Rybkin, or Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, who remains on vacation. LB

TV COVERAGE OF OUSTER REFLECTS DIVIDE IN ELITE

Russian Public Television's (ORT) Channel 1 network on 5 November depicted Berezovskii as a key figure in reaching a peace settlement in Chechnya. It devoted substantial coverage to Berezovskii's criticisms of Chubais and Nemtsov. ORT is 51 percent state-owned, but Berezovskii wields considerable influence at the network and reportedly pays the salaries of its top executives (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 5 November 1997). In its coverage of the dismissal, the private network NTV praised Berezovskii's role in Chechnya. Owned by Vladimir Gusinskii's Media Most, NTV has repeatedly criticized Chubais and Nemtsov in recent months. At his 5 November press conference, Berezovskii claimed that Chubais has vowed to "ruin" ORT and NTV, Interfax reported. In contrast, fully state-owned Russian Television (RTR), whose chairman Nikolai Svanidze is close to Chubais, reported on Berezovskii's career in more neutral terms. LB

MEDIA CLOSE TO BEREZOVSKII WARN CHUBAIS COULD BE NEXT

Both ORT and NTV reminded viewers in 5 November newscasts that Yeltsin's leadership style involves maintaining a balance between opposing groups in the government. This pattern suggests the president may strike next against Chubais, commentators noted. "Nezavisimaya gazeta," partly financed by Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, described recent events as a "temporary victory" for Chubais, whose departure from the government is "inevitable." Ridiculing Chubais's pledge to rid Russia of "bandit capitalism," the newspaper charged that Chubais is himself the "father of bandit capitalism." In contrast, the newspapers "Izvestiya" and "Komsomolskaya pravda," in which Oneksimbank is a major shareholder, both welcomed Berezovskii's ouster in their 6 November editions. LB

CAUCASIAN REACTION TO BEREZOVSKII'S DISMISSAL

Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov told Interfax on 5 November that Yeltsin's decision to fire Berezovskii was a "big mistake" since Berezovskii "was making great efforts" to resolve relations between Moscow and Grozny. Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov said the dismissal was Russia's internal affair but added that he hopes Berezovskii will remain a member of the Russian-Chechen commission tasked with drafting a treaty on bilateral relations, ITAR-TASS reported. Ingush President Ruslan Aushev attributed the firing to "internal Kremlin intrigue." Praising Berezovskii's role in Chechnya, Aushev recalled he had asked Yeltsin to appoint Berezovskii presidential envoy to the North Caucasus, according to Interfax. Berezovskii told Ekho Moskvy on 5 November that he will continue to be involved in the Chechen peace process in a private capacity. LF

RUSSIA RATIFIES CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION

Yeltsin signed the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention on 5 November within hours of the Federation Council's passage of a law on ratifying the treaty. The relevant documents were delivered to UN headquarters in New York the same day, just meeting the deadline to allow Russia to participate in a conference on chemical weapons in early December in The Hague, AFP reported. While debating the convention, several Federation Council deputies expressed concern that if Russia were excluded from the December conference, it would lose substantial potential aid from the U.S. and the EU to fund chemical weapons destruction, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Russia's stockpile of some 40,000 tons of chemical weapons is stored at seven sites: two in the Republic of Udmurtia and one each in Bryansk, Kirov, Kurgan, Penza, and Saratov Oblasts. LB

MASKHADOV PROCLAIMS CHECHNYA ISLAMIC REPUBLIC

Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov claimed on 5 November that Chechnya has won independence and is now adopting a new administrative system as an Islamic Republic, according to the "Turkish Daily News." He added that Chechnya is ready to fight another war if Russia "dabbles in intrigues to obstruct our independence," Reuters reported. Maskhadov was speaking at a reception in his honor in the Turkish resort of Antalya. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" commented that the Chechen parliament may oppose amending the Chechen Constitution to designate Chechnya an Islamic state. A vote on expanding Maskhadov's powers has been postponed three times by Chechen lawmakers. LF

YELTSIN AIDE IMPLICATES CHECHEN LEADERS IN HOSTAGE-TAKING

Yevgenii Savostyanov, the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, has named Chechen Vice President Arsanov and acting Prime Minister Shamil Basaev as among "numerous" top Chechen leaders suspected of direct involvement in hostage-takings. Addressing the Federation Council on 5 November, Savostyanov said that more than 170 people have been kidnapped in Chechnya since January 1997, Interfax reported. NTV President Igor Malashenko accused Arsanov in August of being behind the kidnapping of a group of NTV journalists (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 August 1997). LF

FEDERATION COUNCIL CONCERNED ABOUT NEW PASSPORTS

The Federation Council on 5 November unanimously approved a letter to Yeltsin and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin requesting changes to the format of the new Russian internal passports, Interfax reported. The letter requests that an extra page be included, which, in republics of the Russian Federation, would print information about the holder in the titular language of the relevant republic. The Council's letter also asks that regional authorities be empowered to list the holder's nationality in the new passports if the holder desires it. This would be in accordance with Article 26 of the constitution, which entitles citizens to "determine and indicate" their nationality. The letter did not ask the government to remove the two-headed eagle from the cover of the new passports. Some politicians in the North Caucasus have said the eagle symbolizes Russian imperialism. LB

TATAR PRESIDENT ADVOCATES DUAL CITIZENSHIP

Addressing the Federation Council in Moscow on 5 November, Mintimer Shaimiev argued that the new Russian passports should identify the holder's nationality and that inhabitants of Tatarstan should be allowed to hold dual citizenship, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 6 November, Shaimiev called for a division of powers between the center and federation subjects whereby the former would decide "strategic questions" and the latter all others. Shaimiev said Tatarstan's most pressing problem is the conversion of the military-industrial complex. LF

FEDERATION COUNCIL WITHDRAWS COURT APPEAL...

The Federation Council on 5 November agreed to withdraw its appeal to the Constitutional Court over Yeltsin's refusal to sign the law on the government after both houses of parliament overrode his veto, ITAR-TASS reported. Council Speaker Yegor Stroev said the appeal was no longer necessary since Yeltsin recently promised to sign the law. In fact, Yeltsin said he will sign the law on the government only if certain passages in it are amended (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 21 October 1997). The Council has not withdrawn its Constitutional Court appeal against Yeltsin's refusal to sign the trophy art law after both houses of the parliament overrode his veto. According to "Russkii telegraf" on 5 November, the State Duma is drafting a law that would prohibit the president from vetoing the same legislation twice. LB

...EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT POWER CUTS, DEFENSE INDUSTRY

Also on 5 November, the Federation Council approved an amendment to the criminal code introducing fines and prison sentences of up to five years for officials responsible for illegal power cuts to non-paying consumers of electricity, ITAR-TASS reported. The same day, the Council adopted a resolution demanding the creation of a federal agency to supervise the defense industry, whose head would have the rank of deputy prime minister. The Defense Industry Ministry was eliminated in a cabinet reshuffle in March. That move was criticized by some leaders of regions that have high concentrations of defense plants (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 1997). LB

NEMTSOV CALLS FOR CREATING A MIDDLE CLASS

First Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov announced on 5 November that forming a middle class will be a priority of the government and the main task of the State Committee on Support and Development of Small Businesses, ITAR-TASS reported. Introducing Irina Khakamada, the new head of that committee, to the committee's staff, Nemtsov said small and medium-sized businesses currently employ some 12 million citizens. He called for efforts to increase that figure to 30-40 million, which, he said, would help form a middle class and solve the problems of unemployment and non-payment of wages and pensions. Nemtsov also noted that small and medium-sized businesses currently account for about 12 percent of GDP, which, he said, is more than either the gas monopoly Gazprom or the electricity utility Unified Energy Systems, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 6 November. LB

RUSSIAN ECOLOGIST CRITICIZES NUCLEAR COOPERATION

In an article published in "Novye izvestiya" on 6 November, Aleksei Yablokov, the chairman of the Russian Center for Ecological Policy, argues that the Ministry for Atomic Energy is directly contributing to nuclear proliferation. Yablokov singled out the contracts signed with China and Iran in 1993 and 1995 respectively on providing technology on enriched uranium production. He also asserted that the nuclear facilities that the former USSR built in North Korea have enabled that country to produce nuclear weapons. A former presidential adviser on environmental security, Yablokov recently supported the controversial claim by former Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed that the Soviet Union produced suitcase-sized nuclear weapons (see "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 1997) LF

MORE CRITICISM OF DECISION TO AIR CONTROVERSIAL FILM

The presidium of the Communist-led Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia on 5 November issued a statement accusing the private network NTV of ignoring the views of "an absolute majority" of Russians by planning to air Martin Scorsese's film "The Last Temptation of Christ," ITAR-TASS reported. NTV is scheduled to broadcast the film on 9 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 1997). Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II said on 4 November that the Russian Orthodox Church is not trying to ban the film, which, he said, interested people may rent on video. However, he warned that showing the "blasphemous" film on nationwide television would lead to "divisions" in society. A statement issued by the Union of Muslims of Russia the previous day said showing the film would be destructive and immoral, "insulting God's messenger and all believers," Interfax reported. LB

MOSCOW DUMA REVOKES DEPUTIES' IMMUNITY

The Moscow City Duma on 5 November unanimously approved amendments to the law on the status of city legislators, "Segodnya" and "Kommersant-Daily" reported. Deputies will no longer be protected from criminal prosecution. Moscow Duma Deputy Chairman Valerii Galchenko said the amendments are aimed at heading off attempts by "criminal structures" to place their people in the legislature during the upcoming city Duma elections, scheduled for December. The Supreme Court of the Altai Republic recently decided that deputies in the republic's legislatures should not be granted immunity from prosecution (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 1997). LB

DEMONSTRATION IN DAGESTAN

Residents of Dagestan's Khasavyurt Raion staged a demonstration on 6 November to protest the recent abductions of three ethnic Avars and eight local police officials, an RFE/RL correspondent in Vladikavkaz reported. All the abducted men are believed to have been taken to neighboring Chechnya. The protesters intend to hold a larger demonstration in the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, to demand that the local government introduce restrictions on cross-frontier traffic. Russia temporarily closed the border between Dagestan and Chechnya on 25 October following the abduction of the eight police officers. LF



KAZAKH OPPOSITIONIST ANNOUNCES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY

At a 6 November meeting of opposition parties and movements, Murat Auezov, leader of the AZAMAT movement, announced his intention to run as a candidate in the 2000 presidential election, RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported. The leaders of several opposition parties said they will support Auezov's candidacy, but Kazakh Communist party leaders told RFE/RL that they are opposed to a presidential system. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTIES DISCUSS COOPERATION

Representatives of several opposition movements and parties on 4 November attended the first session of a joint coordination committee on creating an opposition union called National Front, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. Prominent opposition activist Galym Abelseyitov was elected chairman of the front, which will hold its first session in February 1998. AZAT, AZAMAT, the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, the Workers' Movement, LAD (which represents Kazakhstan's Slavic population), and the Socialist Party of Kazakhstan have expressed their readiness to join the front. LF

WORKERS' PROTESTS CONTINUE IN KAZAKHSTAN

Twenty-four representatives of workers at the Qaratau Phosphorus Producing plant in Janatas (Jambyl Oblast), picketed the parliament building on 5 November demanding payment of wage arrears, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. The pickets said 202 workers at the plant have started a hunger strike to demand that local authorities and the plants administration begin paying some 560 million tenges ($7.3 million) in overdue salaries for the last two years. Meanwhile, workers at the Kentau Achisay Polymetal Plant have ended their protest. Over the past month, police have prevented them from continuing their planned march on Almaty. The plant's administration started paying off its debts to the Achisay workers after receiving a credit worth 150 million tenges from the Kazakh government. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT CALLS FOR PURGE OF MILITARY, POLICE

In a 5 November televised address to mark the third anniversary of the Tajik Constitution, Imomali Rakhmonov said the police and military must be cleansed of "criminal elements," Interfax reported. Rakhmonov added that measures must be taken to stop rival groups from seeking to resolve political differences by the use of violence. Also on 5 November, Russian Ambassador to Dushanbe Yevgenii Belov told Interfax that 78 political prisoners have been released in Tajikistan over the past three months. The National Reconciliation Commission estimates that some 700 United Tajik Opposition supporters still in prison are eligible to be amnestied. LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER SLAMS PRESIDENT'S KARABAKH POLICY

National Democratic Union (AZhM) chairman and former presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 5 November that President Levon Ter-Petrossyan's foreign policy may put an end to Armenian control over Nagorno-Karabakh and reduce Armenia to a nation living "at subsistence level." Manukyan said that international pressure on Armenia to recognize Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is not strong enough to force Yerevan to make serious concessions. He said he opposes any solution to the dispute with Azerbaijan that would restore Baku's sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh. The AZhM and other opposition parties have denounced Ter-Petrossyan's recent statement that unilateral demands for the disputed region's secession from Azerbaijan are "unrealistic." LF




UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT STANDS FIRM ON PRIVATIZATION

Volodymyr Lanoviy, the acting head of the Ukrainian State Property Fund, told a Kyiv press conference on 5 November that the government does not consider the parliament's decision suspending privatization to be law, Ukrainian media reported. "We will never change our privatization plans," he said, "and we have all the laws needed for that in place." In an indication that President Leonid Kuchma fully backs Lanoviy, the president's spokesman told reporters that Kuchma will quickly asks the parliament to confirm Lanoviy in his current position. PG

ESTONIA'S RUSSIAN SCHOOLS TO GET "STATE-LANGUAGE TEACHERS"

By a vote of 44 to zero with no abstentions, the parliament has approved an amendment to the education law whereby "state-language teachers" will be introduced into schools in which Russian is the language of instruction, BNS and ETA reported on 4 November. The stated aim of the amendment is to improve Estonian-language instruction in those schools and thereby facilitate the transition to secondary and higher education in Estonian. An Education Ministry legal adviser said the present level of Estonian-language instruction in Russian-language schools is insufficient to ensure that the transition is made. State-language teachers must have a degree in Estonian and a minimum of three years' experience in teaching non-Estonians. JC

LATVIA RELEASES FORMER COMMUNIST PARTY CHIEF

Alfred Rubiks, the former leader of the Latvian Communist Party, was released from prison on 5 November. Rubiks, aged 62, was serving an eight-year sentence for supporting the January 1991 Soviet crackdown on the Latvian drive for independence and for having backed the failed coup in Moscow some eight months later. An Interior Ministry spokesman said Rubiks was released because he had served three-quarters of his sentence and his behavior had been good. JC

POLISH PRESIDENT OPTIMISTIC ON NATO, EU

President Aleksander Kwasniewski told the American Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw on 5 November that he expects Poland to be a full member of NATO "at the beginning of 1999" and to join the EU "early in the next millennium, Polish media reported. Kwasniewski also said that the new government will do everything possible to meet those goals. PG

POLISH, GERMAN NAVIES STAGE EXERCISES

German and Polish naval vessels began a joint mine-sweeping exercise in the Baltic Sea on 5 November, the Polish media reported. The exercise is to conclude on 6 November. PG

CZECH REPUBLIC SENDS LETTER OF INTENT TO NATO

The Czech government on 5 November sent a letter of its intent to join the Western alliance and make the required financial contribution, CTK reported. That is the final step in the application process. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus has announced he will visit the U.S. from 10-15 November to generate additional support for Prague's application. PG

MORE DETAILS ON RUSSIAN REPAYMENT DEBT TO HUNGARY

Visiting Hungarian Industry, Trade, and Tourism Minister Szabolcs Fazakas said in Moscow on 5 November that Russia has agreed to store on its territory for 20 years some 3,500 spent fuel rods from Hungary's Paks nuclear power plant in partial repayment of Moscow's outstanding debt, Hungarian media reported. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Bulgak said large-scale plans for the transportation of Russian gas via Hungary and Austria to Italy have been completed. Russia intends to participate in the joint production of Hungarian Ikarus buses as well as in a tender to develop Hungary's electricity system, he added. MSZ




NANO DENIES SELLING OUT KOSOVARS

Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano said in Tirana on 5 November that he did not attempt to speak in the name of the Kosovars during his meetings with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic at the Crete Balkan summit. Nano added that he urged Milosevic to enter into a dialogue with Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova, BETA news agency reported. Meanwhile in Pristina, spokesmen for Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo stressed that only the "legitimate representatives of the Kosovo Albanians" have the right to discuss Kosovar affairs with Milosevic (see also "End Note" below). PM

GRENADE ATTACK IN KOSOVO

Unknown persons threw two grenades at the town hall in Podujevo on 5 November. No one was injured in the attack. A meeting of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia was taking place in the building at the time. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has frequently attacked symbols of Serbian rule in the mainly ethnic Albanian province. Some 20 alleged UCK members are currently on trial in Pristina (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1997). PM

MACEDONIA'S GLIGOROV SAYS GREEK TIES IMPROVING

President Kiro Gligorov said in Skopje on 5 November that at the Crete summit, he and Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis made more progress in improving relations than Gligorov had expected. The Macedonian leader called Simitis a "realistic and modern politician." But Gligorov added that Athens' refusal to recognize his country's name as Macedonia is still a major source of tension that affects the whole Balkan region. Greece argues that the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name, but Skopje denies the charge. Macedonia has already changed its flag to accommodate the Greeks. PM

ALBRIGHT SAYS U.S. LIKELY TO KEEP FORCE IN BOSNIA

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington on 5 November that a "consensus is developing that there will be or should be some form of U.S. military presence" in Bosnia after SFOR's mandate runs out in June 1998. This is the most explicit statement to date from a top government official that Washington is moving toward a new military commitment to Bosnia. Other NATO states have said they will not remain in Bosnia without the U.S. Elsewhere in Washington, a White House spokesman was more cautious than Albright, saying that a consensus still needs to be built. President Bill Clinton opened talks with congressional leaders on a variety of key foreign policy issues on 4 November. PM

KLEIN SAYS TROOPS MUST STAY IN BOSNIA

U.S. General Jacques Klein, the international community's second most important representative in Bosnia, said in Strasbourg on 5 November that an international peacekeeping force must remain in Bosnia for at least two to three more years. "This country is like a patient getting a transfusion. If we take away the medical assistance, the patient will die," Klein argued. He also blasted the leaders of the three main ethnic groups in Bosnia for failing to agree on creating joint institutions and state symbols. Meanwhile in Brussels, an RFE/RL correspondent reported that the EU will call for expanding the powers of Carlos Westendorp, Klein's boss, if the three sides remain deadlocked. PM

CROATIA UNVEILS PLAN FOR IMPROVING BOSNIAN LINKS

President Franjo Tudjman's office said in a statement on 5 November that Croatia has submitted to Sarajevo its proposals for improving links to the mainly Croatian and Muslim Bosnian federation. The plan calls for a common market, a monetary and customs union, military and security cooperation, a joint command in time of war, and combined efforts against terrorism. The U.S.-sponsored Croatian-Muslim peace agreement of 1994 commits Zagreb and Sarajevo to seek close links. PM

CROATIAN JOURNALISTS DEMAND INDEPENDENT TV

A group of 20 prominent radio and television journalists said in a statement in Zagreb on 5 November that the state should end its control over Croatian Radio and Television (HRT). The journalists added that HRT should become an independent public corporation along the lines of similar institutions in many European countries. The statement called for instituting more professional standards and pluralism at HRT as well as for reducing its size by privatizing at least television's third channel. PM

SERBIAN CIVILIANS "LIQUIDATED" IN 1991

Josip Manolic, Tudjman's former top security official, told "Globus" of 5 November that a Croatian military gang "liquidated" an unspecified number of ethnic Serb civilians in the Gospic area in 1991. Manolic added that the killers also attacked some ethnic Croats who had returned to Croatia from abroad. Tudjman tried to fire the officers responsible but dropped the matter when the war intensified. Manolic was in charge of security from1991-1993 but then fell out with Tudjman. He now heads the small left-of-center Independent Democrats. PM

ALBANIAN PYRAMID INVESTIGATOR INDICTS VEFA CHIEF

Pyramid investigator Farudin Arapi filed charges against VEFA chief Vehbi Alimucaj for refusing government officials access to his company offices (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 1997). Alimucaj, for his part, claims that the three officials never showed up. If found guilty of denying them access to his offices, Alimucaj may face up to six months in prison. He told "Gazeta Shqiptare" that he will receive the officials on condition they "do not touch anything" before the Constitutional Court has ruled on a law regulating the government's right to investigate and administer suspected pyramid schemes. FS

ALBANIAN REPUBLICANS WANT TO BECOME "THIRD FORCE"

Republican leader Sabri Godo told a party congress in Tirana on 5 November that the Socialists made political capital out of the unrest last spring. He added that they have benefitted from voter resentment against the former Democratic Party government and are determined to cling to power. Godo also blasted the Democrats and questioned their professed commitment to seek alliances with other anti-communist parties, such as the Republicans. He stressed that conservatives must look for a new rallying point outside the Democratic Party. Elsewhere in Tirana, Socialist legislators voted down a controversial code of party discipline (see "RFE/RL Newsline 5 November 1997), "Koha Jone" reported. FS

NATO EXERCISES IN ROMANIA

Six NATO members states and six participants in the Partnership for Peace program began a joint peace-keeping exercise in the central Romania town of Sibiu on 5 November. The exercise, called "Cooperative Determination '97," will end on 14 November. It involves 500 troops from the U.S., France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Portugal, together with troops from Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Macedonia, Moldova, and Uzbekistan, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN COALITION STILL DIVIDED OVER EDUCATION LAW

A joint commission set up by the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) has failed to find a compromise solution to the draft on amending the education law, Radio Bucharest reported on 6 November. It has postponed making a decision until the following week. The commission was set up after the Senate's Commission on Education, chaired by a PNTCD senator, voted to reintroduce obligatory history and geography instruction in the Romanian language. If a compromise solution is not found, the UDMR may leave the coalition. In other news, the Party of Romanian National Unity has expelled nine Targu Mures branch members who support Gheorghe Funar. That move comes one day after Funar was expelled from the party. MS

SALE OF FIGHTER PLANES RAISES $40 MILLION FOR MOLDOVA

Finance Minister Valeriu Chitan said the sale to the U.S. of 21 MiG-29C fighters means that the "state budget will gain $40 million," Reuters reported on 5 November. He declined to say whether this was the total price paid for the aircraft. Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat said the value of the deal was a "state secret." But a high ranking member of Moldova's parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security revealed, on condition of anonymity, that half of the cost of the fighters would be paid in cash and the other half in military equipment. MS

WORLD BANK SUSPENDS LOANS TO MOLDOVA

James Parks, the World Bank's permanent representative in Moldova, told Infotag on 5 November that the bank will postpone the second installment of a $100 million structural adjustment loan until the IMF resumes its financing. The IMF recently announced it was delaying the release of a second tranche of a loan to Chisinau (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1997). Parks said the bank is concerned about the progress of economic reforms. Noting "substantial progress" in reforming the energy and agricultural sectors and the pension system, he said some of the parliament's recent decisions may be viewed as a "step backward." He singled out the decision to cancel the debts of state-owned enterprises to the budget and the recommendation to the cabinet to lower electricity prices. MS

BULGARIAN LAWMAKER QUITS OVER SECRET POLICE TIES

Georgi Kolev, a deputy from the ruling Union of Democratic Forces, resigned his parliamentary seat on 5 November, some two weeks after he was revealed as a former collaborator of the communist secret police. Kolev was one of the 23 top officials whom Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev named as communist-era informants. He is the second official to resign since the list was made public. Simeon Voinov, the deputy chairman of the government's Post and Telecommunications Committee, stepped down immediately after Bonev's disclosures, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. MS

BULGARIA OPPOSES RUSSIAN PIPELINE PROJECT

The Bulgarian Ministry of Environment says it is opposed to a Russian project to lay a pipeline under the Black Sea that would supply gas to Turkey without passing through Bulgaria. In a statement released on 5 November, the ministry said the project was extremely difficult to realize and carried ecological risks that far outweigh its advantages, AFP reported. Gazprom director Rem Vyakhirev said the project would go ahead. He said the pipeline was a "reserve route" in case of political instability in Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, or Ukraine. But he added that Gazprom wants to sign a new agreement with Sofia on piping gas through Bulgaria. An earlier agreement expired in August. MS




THE BALKAN ARC OF INSTABILITY


by Patrick Moore

This year, instability has come to characterize the region extending in an arc from Albania into western Macedonia and northward into Kosovo. The summit meeting of Balkan leaders held on Crete on 3-4 November may have served only to exacerbate an already tense situation.

When the Dayton agreement was concluded at the end of 1995, many observers thought that the worst of the Balkans' problems were over for the foreseeable future. An uneasy peace did prevail in Bosnia throughout 1996, but 1997 saw a new period of instability emerge in the Albanian-speaking region of the western Balkans.

There were several reasons for that development. First, the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) changed its tactics from launching occasional random attacks against Serbs to making more frequent and more sophisticated raids against carefully targeted Serbs, Serbian institutions, and ethnic Albanians whom the UCK regards as collaborators. The UCK captured headlines, and perhaps also the imagination of young Kosovars frustrated with the moderate leadership of Ibrahim Rugova and the failure of his policy of non-violence to achieve even the most basic of the Kosovars' goals, namely autonomy.

Second, law and order collapsed in Albania in the spring following the demise of a series of pyramid schemes into which a sizable portion of the population had put its savings and hopes. Angry citizens, perhaps incited by President Sali Berisha's political enemies, blamed him and his Democratic Party for their losses. They returned the Socialist Party--the former Communists--to office with a more than two-thirds majority in special elections in June.

The Socialists quickly began to restore order in some major cities, but gangs continue to hold sway in much of the south. Large areas of the north, moreover, remain loyal to Berisha, or at least highly suspicious of the Socialists. Thus, it cannot be said that the elections brought real peace to Albania.

Nor can it be said that Albania has reemerged as a factor of stability in the Balkans, as it appeared to be during much of Berisha's term in office. Security along Albania's borders collapsed, providing a golden opportunity for smugglers and armed gangs. Guns stolen from armories and police stations found their way into Kosovo and into western Macedonia, where a mainly ethnic Albanian population uneasily coexists with Macedonia's 70 percent Slavic majority.

And continued ethnic tensions in Macedonia constituted the third factor of instability in this region of the Balkans. In the summer, demonstrations in Gostivar and Tetovo in favor of the display of the Albanian flag--and a subsequent violent police crackdown--prompted even the normally non-confrontational President Kiro Gligorov to accuse the Albanians of wanting to secede.

The fourth problem was the growing political uncertainty surrounding Kosovo because of the possible changes in policy by its neighbors. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was handed two stiff electoral defeats in the early fall, one in Montenegro and the other in Serbia. Many observers wondered whether he would try to regain some of his political standing through some new crackdown in Kosovo, where his security forces have been carrying out a policy of repression for at least eight years. Recent press reports in Britain suggest that he has begun sending elite military forces into the area.

Across the border, moreover, Albania's new Socialist government did not quickly set down a clear Balkan policy, which led to much speculation that Prime Minister Fatos Nano might try to strike a deal with Milosevic at the Kosovars' expense. Rugova had publicly supported Berisha, who was a staunch advocate of autonomy for Kosovo. Many Albanians believed that Nano would seek to settle this election campaign score with the Kosovar leader.

Press reports from Crete seemed to bear out such a prediction. Nano met with Milosevic, despite protests from the Kosovars and Berisha that Nano should not do so without a Kosovar present. News agencies reported that Milosevic agreed during the discussions to grant the Kosovars basic civil rights, in return for which Nano accepted that the Kosovo question is Serbia's internal affair.

Should those reports prove true, many Kosovars might conclude that their only hope is the UCK. Some Kosovars had earlier begun to argue that the lesson of the Bosnian war and the Dayton agreement is that oppressed groups must go to war to obtain justice and the attention of the international community.

Nor did Crete seem to lead to an easing of the Macedonian tensions. True, during the fortnight before the talks, the Macedonian and Albanian defense ministers agreed on measures to increase border security. And then Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem visited the two countries in a move to bolster regional stability. But on Crete, Gligorov and Nano could agree only to disagree. Gligorov reportedly refused to grant legal status to an Albanian-language university in Tetovo and added that any Albanians from Macedonia who want a higher education in their mother tongue should go to Tirana University.


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