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Newsline - November 14, 1997




DUMA POSTPONES BUDGET DEBATE, REJECTS THREE TAX LAWS...

The State Duma on 13 November postponed consideration of the revised 1998 budget in the first reading until 19 November, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov argued that it would be "senseless" to debate the budget after the Duma had rejected several tax laws on which 1998 revenues are based, according to Reuters. The Duma rejected in the first reading laws on changing current excise duties and on revoking tax exemptions for military personnel, as well as a package of amendments to the law on the fundamentals of the tax system, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. Those amendments would have rescinded 16 taxes, reduced fines for paying taxes late or concealing income, and allowed regional authorities to impose a sales tax of up to 5 percent. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais expressed confidence that the government and Duma will reach a compromise on the tax laws. LB

...BUT APPROVES OTHER TAX PROPOSALS IN FIRST READING

The Duma on 13 November supported several government-proposed tax laws in the first reading, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. The Duma approved a law that would force regional branches of corporations to pay taxes in the regions where they operate. (That law will find favor with regional leaders but will be bitterly opposed by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov.) Deputies also backed a law to raise the tax on foreign-currency purchases from 0.5 percent to 1 percent. In addition, the Duma approved draft laws dealing with taxation on land, alcohol production, and industrial use of animal products. Deputies postponed until 19 November consideration of a law on introducing a water tax. Meanwhile, the government withdrew from the Duma a law that would have raised value-added tax on food and children's products from 10 percent to 20 percent. LB

FIRST HEAD ROLLS IN BOOK ROYALTIES SCANDAL

President Boris Yeltsin on 13 November sacked Aleksandr Kazakov, first deputy head of the presidential administration, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Aleksandr Shokhin, leader of the Our Home Is Russia Duma faction, told the news agency that Kazakov's dismissal is most likely linked to the scandal over substantial royalty payments for a book on the history of Russian privatization, which has not yet been published (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November 1997). Kazakov was one of the book's seven authors. The others are First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais, Federal Bankruptcy Administration Chairman Petr Mostovoi, former State Property Committee Chairman Alfred Kokh, State Property Minister Maksim Boiko, Federal Securities Commission Chairman Dmitrii Vasilev, and former Chubais aide Arkadii Yevstafev. It is unclear whether Kazakov will also be removed as chairman of the board of the gas monopoly Gazprom, a post to which he was elected in June. LB

MORE FALLOUT FROM SCANDAL

Before leaving for Kyiv on 14 November (see Part II), Chubais told journalists that he believes criticism of the high fees received for the forthcoming book on privatization is justified, ITAR-TASS reported. Chubais said Yeltsin will judge the matter, adding that he will accept any decision by the president. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who is on a one-day visit to Novgorod Oblast, declined to comment on Kazakov's dismissal but told ITAR-TASS that the government will look into the book scandal. An unnamed source close to the prime minister said he does not expect Kazakov's dismissal to be the last in connection with the scandal. LB

MOSCOW PROSECUTORS TO INVESTIGATE SCANDAL

Sergei Gerasimov, the head of the Moscow Prosecutor's Office, announced on 13 November that an investigation of the latest scandal is under way, Russian news agencies reported. Gerasimov said Chubais and other senior officials will be questioned. Moscow prosecutors are already investigating Kokh for accepting a $100,000 payment from a Swiss firm for another book on privatization. That investigation is to be completed by 1 December, Gerasimov said. Meanwhile, "Segodnya" on 14 November slammed the officials involved in the latest book scandal for hypocrisy. The author noted that while top officials received $90,000 each to write a book, State Property Minister Boiko recently ordered his ministry to investigate a privatization official in Vologda Oblast who receives a monthly salary of $16,500. "Segodnya," owned by Vladimir Gusinskii's Media-Most company, has frequently criticized Chubais and his associates. LB

DUMA PASSES ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW

The Duma on 14 November approved by 363 votes to zero a law on fighting corruption, ITAR-TASS reported. The law would prohibit government officials from accepting remuneration from government agencies, individuals, or legal entities in the form of money, services, gifts (other than symbolic ones), or payment for trips within Russia or abroad. LB

FOREIGNERS ALLOWED TO HEAD STOCK MARKET BROKERAGES

The Federal Securities Commission has revoked part of a resolution, adopted in September, that banned foreigners from serving as chief executive or chief accountant of banks or companies licensed to trade on the Russian stock market, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 14 November. The decision affects several prominent firms, including Credit Suisse-First Boston and the investment bank MFK, part of the Oneksimbank empire. MFK appointed U.S. citizen Boris Jordan as chairman of the board in September. LB

PRIMAKOV WRAPS UP JAPAN VISIT

Minister of Foreign Affairs Yevgenii Primakov ended his four-day visit to Japan on 14 November, Russian media reported. Primakov and his counterpart, Keizo Obuchi, signed an agreement allowing Russia to open a center in Japan for promoting foreign investment. An agreement on mutual protection of investments, currently being drawn up, will pave the way for a Japanese investment of $100 million in oil projects off Sakhalin Island. Russian managers will soon attend special training sessions in Japan, while a delegation from the Japanese Federation of Economic Cooperation will visit Russia on 19-20 November to seek ways to boost cooperation in power engineering. BP

U.S. AMBASSADOR LISTS PRIORITIES

James Collins, the new U.S. ambassador to Russia, announced at his first press conference in Moscow that "security issues and preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction" are among his top priorities, AFP and Russian news agencies reported. Collins also called on Russia to ratify the START-2 arms control treaty. He said U.S. President Bill Clinton plans to visit Russia during the first half of 1998, although no date has been set. He added that Clinton's visit would be "most productive" following ratification of START-2, so that he and Yeltsin could discuss further arms control agreements. There is staunch opposition to START-2 in the Duma. Collins also said the U.S. will closely watch how Russian authorities implement the new religion law, which imposes restrictions on foreign missionaries and some minority religious groups. LB

ORT SHAREHOLDERS CONFIRM DIRECTOR, BUT NOT CHARTER

Shareholders in the 51 percent state-owned network Russian Public Television (ORT) on 13 November unanimously approved Kseniya Ponomareva as the network's director-general , Russian news agencies reported. Ponomareva was named acting director-general last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1997). However, shareholders postponed consideration of a new ORT charter until 2 December. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 14 November, the government seeks changes to the draft charter proposed by ORT managers, who are close to former Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii. The current draft would require a two-thirds or three-quarters vote to appoint members of the ORT board of directors. But the government, which seeks to reduce Berezovskii's influence at the network, wants the right to appoint board members by a simple majority of shareholders--that is, without input from the private shareholders in the network. LB

MOSCOW LEGISLATURE LOSES COURT APPEAL OVER REFERENDUM

The Supreme Court on 13 November approved a decision by the Moscow Oblast Court on setting a referendum for 14 December, the same day as elections to the Moscow Oblast Duma, "Kommersant-Daily" and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. The referendum, backed by Governor Anatolii Tyazhlov, would ask voters whether they support halving the number of deputies in the oblast legislature who hold no job outside the legislature. The Moscow Oblast Duma, which opposes the referendum, failed to persuade the Supreme Court that the oblast court exceeded its authority by setting a referendum date without the legislature's approval. They fear that voters will pass the referendum, which has popular appeal as a cost-cutting measure. If the officials in the oblast administration were allowed to simultaneously serve as oblast Duma deputies, Tyazhlov would increase his influence over the legislature's activities. LB

SOBCHAK'S WIFE RETURNS TO RUSSIA

Duma deputy Lyudmila Narusova on 13 November returned to St. Petersburg from Paris, where her husband, former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak, is receiving medical treatment. Narusova told journalists that her husband will return to Russia by the end of the year, as soon as he has recovered, Russian news agencies reported. She said Sobchak has informed the Prosecutor-General's Office that he will answer any questions in connection with a corruption investigation of his former associates. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported that Sobchak is considering running for the Duma seat formerly held by Irina Khakamada, who was recently appointed to the cabinet. Duma deputies are immune from criminal prosecution. LB

SCULPTOR SAYS LUZHKOV HAPPY WITH FRESCOES PLAN

Zurab Tsereteli says Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov is satisfied with a budget of 372 billion rubles ($63 million) for frescoes in the restored Cathedral of Christ the Savior, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 November. Tsereteli said 60 percent of that sum will be spent on materials and the remainder on the salaries of some 360 artists who will be involved in the project. Earlier reports suggested the mayor thought the proposed budget was excessive, but Tsereteli explained that Luzhkov only objected to his initial cost estimate for painting the frescoes: 4 trillion rubles. That would have been nearly three times as expensive as all previous costs of rebuilding the church, which was razed under Stalin. LB

STAVROPOL TO CREATE SECURITY ZONE ON BORDER WITH CHECHNYA

Participants at a meeting of law-enforcement officials in Stavropol on 13 November voted to create a 3-kilometer security zone along the region's border with Chechnya to prevent shootings and hostage-takings by maverick Chechen groups, Russian media reported. Addressing the conference, Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov termed Chechnya a destabilizing factor in the North Caucasus and said a special regiment of Interior Ministry troops will be deployed to protect the border. Kulikov said he opposed the creation of local volunteer armed militias in regions bordering on Chechnya as violating the Russian Constitution and federal laws. In Grozny, Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov criticized the planned deployment of more Russian forces along the border as evidence of "Russia's ongoing blockade of Chechnya," Interfax reported. LF

INGUSHETIA PLANS "WILD DIVISION"

Ingush President Ruslan Aushev on 13 November warned that his republic may be forced to form a "wild division" to protect its territory and people if the situation in the North Caucasus deteriorates, Interfax reported. Aushev expressed concern at the arming of Cossack units in the North Caucasus and the planned creation of self-defense militias in Dagestan. He called on the Russian authorities to take "premeditative rather than threatening steps" in the North Caucasus. LF

TATARSTAN NOT TO ISSUE NEW RUSSIAN PASSPORTS

The Tatar parliament on 13 November ordered the republic's government not to proceed with issuing new Russian passports pending a vote in the republican legislature, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The parliament recently voted to postpone issuing the new passports to protest the omission of any mention of the holder's nationality (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1997). Addressing parliamentary deputies, President Mintimer Shaimiev said the Russian passports issued to citizens of Tatarstan should mention Tatarstan's statehood and the state languages of Tatarstan. He added that the passports should also make provision for dual (Tatar and Russian) citizenship for the republic's inhabitants. LF



KAZAKHSTAN TO EXPORT OIL VIA GEORGIA, BULGARIA

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova met with her Kazakh counterpart, Kasymzhomart Tokaev, and President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Almaty on 13 November to discuss cooperation in the oil sector. Mikhailova told Interfax that Bulgaria wants to buy part of the Kazakh oil exported via Azerbaijan and Georgia at its Burgas terminal. Tokaev said the proposed Burgas-Aleksandroupolis pipeline--a joint venture between Bulgaria, Russia, and Greece--was also discussed. In Tbilisi on 13 November, Minister of State Niko Lekishvili said President Eduard Shevardnadze had reached agreement with the Kazakh leadership in Almaty on 10-11 November on exporting 5-7 million metric tons of Kazakh crude via Georgian ports. LF

RUSSIA WILL FIGHT FOR CASPIAN MAIN EXPORT PIPELINE

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who is also fuel and energy Minister, said on 13 November that Russia will fight to have the main export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil routed north to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, Interfax reported. The same day, First Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Kirienko said Russia proposes that the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), which oversees the exploitation of three Azerbaijani Caspian oil fields, should hold a tender to select the route for the main export pipeline. He noted that a tender would be advantageous for Russia, since the northern route is the most economic one. The AIOC has said the choice of route will be determined by economic, not geo-political, factors. LF

NEMTSOV CALLS FOR NEW TALKS ON STATUS OF CASPIAN

Nemtsov also told journalists in Moscow on 13 November that it is time for new talks to resolve the deadlocked question of the international status of the Caspian Sea. In an indication that Russia may stop insisting that Caspian hydrocarbon resources be developed jointly by all five littoral states, Nemtsov had hinted in Baku the previous day that the Caspian could be divided into national sectors. Those sectors would be determined on the basis of dividing lines drawn by the former USSR Oil Ministry, Turan reported on 13 November. Meanwhile, Iran's Permanent Mission to the UN has sent a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan protesting Azerbaijan's "unilateral exploitation" of Caspian oil resources, AFP reported on 13 November. The letter claimed Azerbaijan's action violates international agreements and affirms Iran's readiness to take action to protect its interests in the Caspian. LF

COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION IN ARMENIA

Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan met with a delegation from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly in Yerevan on 13 November to discuss Armenia's possible full membership in that body and the political and human rights situation in Armenia, Noyan Tapan reported. The delegation also held talks with opposition party leaders. Speaking after that meeting, Paruyr Hayrikyan, head of the Union for Self-Determination, argued that Armenia's full membership in the council should be made contingent on the democratization of its political system, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Hayrikyan proposed that the council stipulate preconditions for full membership including free and fair elections. LF

ABKHAZIA CUTS POWER SUPPLIES TO GEORGIA

Following an 11 November explosion at a substation in Abkhazia's southern-most Gali Raion, Abkhazia has reduced power supplies to Georgia from the Inguri hydro-electric power station, Interfax reported. The Abkhaz government has blamed the explosion on Georgian guerrillas operating in Abkhazia. The Inguri facility generates much of the country's electricity. LF

NEW KYRGYZ MEDIA LAW RESTRICTS FREEDOMS

Doronbek Sadyrbayev, the chairman of Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary commission on human rights, said a law on mass media passed by the parliament on 11 November, violates freedom of the press, Interfax reported on 13 November. Under the new legislation, journalists cannot report information on persons who are under criminal investigation until a verdict is passed. Mass media are not allowed to enter either public or private enterprises without permission or make public information about the private lives of individuals. Journalists must name their sources upon request. President Askar Akayev can veto the law within 10 days, but the parliament can override such a veto by a two-thirds majority. The new law reportedly enjoys "wide support" among law-makers. BP

EU PROVIDES AID TO TAJIKISTAN

The EU has voted to grant Tajikistan $9 million ecu in humanitarian aid, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 November. The funds will be used for medicines and food supplies. BP

U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY IN TURKMENISTAN

Federico Pena met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov on 13 November, whom he urged to seek to solve the dispute with Azerbaijan over an oil field in the Caspian Sea. Niyazov proposed that a gas pipeline running along the sea bed would be the best route for exporting Turkmen natural gas. That line would run from Turkmenistan via Azerbaijan to Turkey. BP




KYIV UNENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT CHUBAIS VISIT

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais left Moscow on 14 November for talks in Kyiv on settling outstanding bilateral debts. Observers say, however, that the Ukrainian authorities would prefer dealing with former Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii, an RFE/RL correspondent in Kyiv reported on 13 November. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was reportedly disappointed by Berezovskii's recent dismissal. Ukrainian observers also expect that during the presidential campaign scheduled for 1999, Chubais will back former Prime Minister Yevgenii Marchuk rather than Kuchma, whom Berezovskii was expected to support. LB

RUSSIAN PRIVATE TV TO SOON BEGIN BROADCASTING IN UKRAINE

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 10 November that after months of negotiations, Russia's private network NTV is close to an agreement with the Ukrainian authorities to allow the network to begin broadcasting in Ukraine. If the plans go ahead, the newspaper said, NTV president Igor Malashenko may become Kuchma's "main image-maker" during the upcoming presidential campaign. LB

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SETS 1998 ECONOMIC TARGETS

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 13 November issued a decree setting the country's economic targets for 1998, Russian agencies reported. GDP is forecast to grow by 7-8 percent, industrial output by 8-9 percent, consumer goods production by 10-11 percent, and agricultural output by 4-5 percent. Inflation is to be kept below 2 percent a month. As a result, real incomes are forecast to grow by 6-7 percent. Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 November reported that the number of unemployed in Belarus has dropped to 2.4 percent. LF

ESTONIA'S ONLY POLITICAL PRISONER WILL BE PARDONED

By a vote of 36 to zero with two abstentions, the parliament has approved an amnesty of anyone convicted of treason, ETA reported on 13 November 1997. Twenty-eight lawmakers did not take part in the vote. The amnesty applies only to Tiit Madisson, Estonia's sole political prisoner, who in September 1996 was sentenced to two years in prison for a publication that called for overthrowing the country's constitutional order (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 1997). Madisson has repeatedly protested his innocence and has appealed to the European Court of Justice. The amnesty goes into force on 14 November. JC

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN VILNIUS

Poland remains committed to its policy of "strategic partnership" with Lithuania, Bronislaw Geremek stressed during his visit to Vilnius on 13 November, BNS reported. Following a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Saudargas, Geremek said a commission of the bilateral Intergovernmental Cooperation Council has been established to streamline the countries' policies on European security issues. Geremek also noted that Poland "fully understands" why the Baltic States rejected Russia's recent offer of security guarantees. He added that Warsaw is also wary of such an offer because "as one historian put it, the Russian army often used to come ahead of any guarantees whatsoever." JC

SOLIDARITY BLOC REGISTERS NEW PARTY

Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), the senior partner in Poland's new coalition government, filed an application with the Warsaw Court on 13 November to register a new party. The registration motion was signed by 10,000 people. The founding committee of the party, the Social Movement of the AWS, includes Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, and lower house speaker Maciej Pluzynski. Krzaklewski said recently that new party will espouse Christian values and "market-solidarity" principles. JC

KWASNIEWSKI WANTS TO OPEN COMMUNIST-ERA FILES

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski wants to make public communist-era secret service files, dpa quoted a presidential spokesman as saying on 13 November. Kwasniewski has submitted to the parliament a bill providing for the opening up of those files. Observers suggest that Kwasniewski, an ex-Communist, may have wanted to preempt a similar move by the center-right coalition, which has said it wants to settle old scores with former communist leaders. JC

ANOTHER CZECH PROTEST RALLY AGAINST RACISM

Several thousand people demonstrated in Brno on 13 November to protest what they called growing racism in the country, CTK reported. The demonstration came several days after skinheads in Prague killed a Sudanese student. That killing has prompted similar demonstrations in other Czech cities, amid calls for the government to take steps against anti-foreign and racially motivated violence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 1997). MS

HAVEL TO REMAIN IN HOSPITAL LONGER THAN PLANNED

Miroslav Cerbak, head of the team of doctors treating President Vaclav Havel, issued a statement on 13 November saying Havel's condition has not changed and his chronic bronchitis is complicating the treatment for pneumonia. The team of doctors says it is does not know when Havel will be released from the hospital, CTK reported. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER URGES PRO-NATO VOTE

Gyula Horn, addressing a rally in Budapest on 13 November, urged Hungarians to approve the country's entry into NATO in the 16 November referendum. He told the crowd that the invitation to join the alliance means that, for the first time this century, the world has acknowledged Hungarian accomplishments. He also called on all segments of society to put aside political differences and combine forces to seize "this historic opportunity." MSZ

HUNGARY, ITALY, SLOVENIA TO FORM JOINT PEACE-KEEPING FORCE

Hungary, Italy, and Slovenia have signed an agreement to set up a joint peacekeeping unit, Hungarian media reported on 13 November. The unit will consist of three artillery battalions and will have joint headquarters in Italy, according to Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti. The three countries' defense ministers, meeting in Budapest on 13 November, said their cooperation is not aimed at any other country but "could be open to other states that want to join." MSZ




ATTACK ON PLAVSIC'S HEADQUARTERS

Two masked gunmen attacked the offices of Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's Serbian People's League (SNS)on 13 November in Bijeljina. Damage was extensive, and UN police are investigating the incident. Plavsic founded the SNS in August after she broke with the Serbian Democratic Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 1997). The attack comes less than two weeks before the Bosnian Serb parliamentary elections, scheduled for 22-23 November. PM

MUSLIMS STONE UN BUS

A crowd of Muslim refugees near Tuzla stoned a UN bus carrying Serbian visitors from Serb-held areas into Muslim-controlled territory on 13 November. Two Serbian men and one Muslim woman were injured. The Muslims were blocking traffic in the area to protest the cutoff of electricity to their refugee camp owing to unpaid bills. It was the third attack by local Muslims against Serbian visitors this year. The Dayton agreements ensure freedom of movement across the former front lines. PM

MUSLIMS WANT SERBS IN U.S. PROGRAM

Mirza Hajric, an adviser to Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said in Sarajevo on 13 November that the Bosnian Serbs should be allowed to join the U.S.-sponsored "Train and Equip" military program. Hajric stressed that Serbian participation in the program, which already includes Muslims and Croats, would be a first step toward creating a joint army, which might then qualify for membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Washington recently turned down Plavsic's request to join the "Train and Equip" program (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November 1997). Bosnian Serb hard-liners oppose Serbian participation in the program. PM

SARAJEVO INVESTIGATES CORRUPTION

The Bosnian federal government announced in Sarajevo on 13 November that it is launching a probe into the possible embezzlement of some $30 million in taxes, customs fees, and aid money. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, recently said he would make public a list of allegedly corrupt officials' names if the Sarajevo authorities failed to act against the embezzlers by 14 November (see "RFE/RL Bosnian Report," 5 November 1997). PM

MISIC FORMALLY CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES

Belgrade authorities formally charged Slobodan Misic with war crimes on 13 November. Misic recently told the Serbian media that he had killed some 80 Bosnian civilians during the war (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 1997). In Zagreb, a court sentenced Mario Maler, a Bosnian Croat, to one-and-a-half years in prison for mistreating Croatian prisoners when he was a guard in the Serb-run Stara Gradiska camp in 1992. PM

NEW PRESS LAW IN SLOVENIA

Justice Minister Tomaz Marusic on 13 November said that criminal legislation will be changed so that journalists will no longer be prosecuted for disclosing state and army secrets if their aim in doing so is to expose wrong-doing. The move is part of a process to bring Slovenian legislation in line with EU standards. PM

ITALY WARNS CROATIA ON RIGHTS

Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini told his Croatian counterpart, Mate Granic, in Rome on 13 November that Italy will support Croatia's integration into European institutions. Dini added, however, that Rome expects Zagreb to institute "European standards and behavior" in regard to human and minority rights. Dini and Granic signed several agreements, including one that will enable the citizens of each country to visit the other with only their internal identity papers. The conclusion of an overall Friendship and Cooperation Treaty, however, is being held up by differences regarding rights to and compensation for the property once owned by some 150,000 Italian citizens in Dalmatia and Istria. Italy also wants more schools for Croatia's remaining Italian minority. PM

STATE OF EMERGENCY IN DALMATIA

The Croatian authorities on 13 November declared Split-Dalmatia County a disaster area, following heavy rains and floods. The power grid was damaged and the ferry service to the islands disrupted. PM

ALBANIAN COURT CURBS PYRAMID INVESTIGATORS

The Constitutional Court on 13 November ruled that a key article of the new law regulating pyramid schemes is unconstitutional, "Dita Informacion" reported. The court argued that the law gives government-appointed administrators judicial functions over property owned by the pyramid companies, which, it said, is in violation of the principle of separation of powers. FS

ROMANIAN SENATE POSTPONES DEBATE ON EDUCATION LAW

The Senate has postponed its scheduled debate on government regulations amending the 1996 education law. Bela Marko, the leader of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), appealed to President Emil Constantinescu on 13 November to mediate between his group and the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD). Marko said there have been accusations that the UDMR is "blackmailing" the PNTCD but the truth is, in fact, the opposite. He explained that the PNTCD is threatening to withdraw support for other amendments to the 1996 law supported by the UDMR if the ethnic Hungarian formation does not agree to history and geography being taught in the Romanian language in all schools, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

MOLDOVA, UKRAINE, ROMANIA TO JOINTLY COMBAT ORGANIZED CRIME

The interior ministers of Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania are to sign in Chisinau on 14 November a declaration on collaboration in the fight against organized crime, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The declaration follows an accord on jointly combating organized crime that the three countries' presidents signed at the first meeting of the Moldova-Ukraine-Romania "trilateral" in Izmail, Ukraine, in early July. MS

BULGARIAN COMMISSION UNVEILS CORRUPTION IN ARMY

Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev and Chief of Staff Miho Mihov told a press conference in Sofia on 12 November that a special audit commission has discovered large-scale corruption and theft at military facilities and in the ministry itself under the former cabinet of Socialist Zhan Videnov. The commission found irregularities in expenditures for peace-keeping troops assigned to the UN and established missing equipment from military depots. It said corruption was evident among officers and officials responsible for food supplies, spare parts for vehicles, and the safeguarding of weapons and ammunition, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. MS




TWO SCENARIOS FOR BOSNIA


by A. Ross Johnson

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, Jacques Klein, who is the international community's second most important representative in Bosnia, and other international leaders have recently called for continued NATO and U.S. military presence in Bosnia after SFOR's mandate expires in June 1998.

Bosnia's future was debated at an October conference in Washington sponsored by the RFE/RL Fund, Inc. Participants included Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Senator Joe Biden, Ambassador Warren Zimmerman, and a number of experts on the Yugoslav region. Three major conclusions were drawn at that conference.

First, continued U.S. involvement and military presence are essential to maintain peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, prevent the conflict from being rekindled (and perhaps spreading to neighboring countries), and give democratic institutions a chance to develop. While viewing a continued military presence as essential, participants had differing views on the efficacy of utilizing military forces to promote moderate, pro-Dayton Accord behavior on the part of the ruling Bosnian Serb elite in the Republika Srpska.

Second, strengthened independent media are indispensable for maintaining peace and developing democratic institutions. Conference participants agreed that the wars of Yugoslav succession began in the media, most notably in the xenophobic, Serbian nationalist propaganda of Belgrade Television. Nationalist Serbian, Croatian, and, to a lesser degree, Muslim politicians in Bosnia-Herzegovina continue to utilize captive television and radio networks as well as newspapers to fan the flames of national separation and often ethnic hatred.

The official Bosnian Serb media have the worst record in this regard. Some independent publications have emerged in the last year, such as "Nezavisne novine" in Banja Luka and "Slobodna Bosna" in Sarajevo. But major international assistance notwithstanding, indigenous electronic media remain mouthpieces of national parties and nationalist politicians. With few exceptions, it is only international broadcasters who provide balanced reporting on the airwaves.

Third, international guarantees of self-determination are a prerequisite for a peaceful future in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Participants in the conference agreed on the minimum program for Bosnia's future: self-determination of peoples, no repetition of forced mass expulsions and mass murder, and emergence of pluralist and democratic institutions. But two quite different viewpoints were expressed about what that might mean in practice.

One view maintained that, with the cessation of hostilities and with international encouragement and pressure, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been reestablishing itself as a country composed of two major federal or confederal units (the Serbian entity and the Muslim-Croatian federation). War criminals are being brought to justice. Some refugees expelled from their native regions are returning, and some infrastructure is being re-established. Bosnia will never be a nation-state, but its three peoples (Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims) will again accept one another as neighbors.

According to Dennison Rusinow of the University of Pittsburgh, those peoples realize that "if we do not all hang together, we shall most assuredly continue to hang each other." The republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina may have been a constitutional artifact of Titoist Yugoslavia, but the region and its peoples have a common history. In due course, self-determination will manifest itself in loyalty to the new state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ambassador Holbrooke argued that the realistic objective as well as the moral obligation of the U.S. and Western Europe is to encourage that process. For " to impose partition would be immoral..., it would legitimize aggression."

The second view was that Bosnia-Herzegovina can never become a state commanding even minimal loyalty from the majority of its inhabitants. The collapse of multi-national Yugoslavia and the outbreak of genocidal warfare for the second time in a half-century foreclosed such a future. Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats show loyalty to, and identify with, Serbia or Croatia, rather than Bosnia. That national exclusivism is reflected in both the independent and official media in the three parts of Bosnia.

Moreover, the Croatian areas of Herzegovina, nominally part of the Muslim-Croatian Federation, are de facto part of Croatia--more so than in the case of the Republika Srpska and Serbia. The common Bosnian-Herzegovina institutions postulated in the Dayton accords are an external construct. Self-determination can mean only partition, with international military guarantees of new borders, especially those of a new state for the Bosnian Muslims (who suffered the most). Aleksa Djilas, a Belgrade-based sociologist and historian, commented that the "goal of a unified Bosnia is morally justified, but there are times when the best is the enemy of the good, and this is the case in Bosnia right now."

Although participants in the conference found little common ground between those two viewpoints, there was consensus that continued Western and U.S. military presence is a prerequisite for even minimal stability in the region, while the peoples of Bosnia and the international community determine which of the two scenarios will prevail.

The author is RFE/RL counselor.


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