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Newsline - November 21, 1997




YELTSIN REPLACES NEMTSOV AS FUEL AND ENERGY MINISTER...

Following his approval of a plan to bar deputy prime ministers from holding other posts, Russian President Boris Yeltsin replaced Boris Nemtsov as fuel and energy minister on 20 November. Like Anatolii Chubais, who earlier the same day was removed as finance minister over a book payments scandal, Nemtsov will retain his post as first deputy premier. Sergei Kirienko, who previously served as Nemtsov's first deputy, was named as new fuel and energy minister. Kirienko has been in charge of the day-to-day running of the Fuel and Energy Ministry since he was appointed by Nemtsov, according to analysts. AW

...PRAISES CHUBAIS FOR IMPROVING RUSSIA'S STANDING

After stripping Chubais of the finance portfolio, Yeltsin commented on 20 November that the former finance minister "had done much for the country and will be credited for that," Reuters reported. In remarks broadcast on three Russian television networks, Yeltsin credited Chubais for improving Russia's standing in the financial world, noting Russia had achieved membership in the Paris and London Clubs." But the president noted that the scandal had damaged the government's reputation. "Of course things were done clumsily, badly, and in a way that was unbecoming," he said. Yeltsin noted he has ordered the Prosecutor-General's Office, the Federal Security Service, and the Interior Ministry to probe further into the scandal. He added that a plan to bar deputy prime ministers from holding ministerial positions had been drafted long before the scandal broke. AW

YAVLINSKII NOT SURPRISED BY ZADORNOV'S DECISION

Grigorii Yavlinksii, the outspoken leader of Yabloko, told RFE/RL's Moscow Bureau on 20 November that he is not surprised by former bloc member Mikhail Zadornov's decision to accept the post of finance minister to replace Chubais. Yavlinskii said that "sooner or later," the 34-year-old Zadornov would have assumed a high-ranking position, given his talents. However, he questioned why Zadornov had not waited a few months, after which, Yavlinskii said, the "bankrupt" policies of Chernomyrdin and Chubais had been doomed to crash. Zadornov's 20 November decision to leave Yabloko was a significant loss, he commented. Yavlinskii questioned whether Zadornov would be able to act independently in the Finance Ministry, maintaining that Chubais would still be responsible for economic matters and would consult with Zadornov only when necessary. AW

NEMTSOV SAYS HE PROPOSED ZADORNOV AS CANDIDATE

First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov has taken credit for Zadornov's appointment, saying he proposed him as finance minister, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 November. Nemtsov said his acquaintance with Zadornov dates back to 1991, when Nemtsov worked with Yabloko members Zadornov, Yavlinskii, and Stanislav Shatalin in drafting the "500 Days" plan, aimed at revamping the country's economy. Nemtsov noted Zadornov played a role in devising economic reform plans in Nizhnii Novgorod, which is showcased as a model of successful Russian economic reform. He added that the government can only benefit from bringing Zadornov into its ranks. AW

YELTSIN APPEALS TO DUMA TO ADOPT BUDGET, END ROW OVER SCANDAL...

Yeltsin on 20 November urged the State Duma to adopt the 1998 budget and end the row with the government over the Chubais affair. Yeltsin said he had appointed Zadornov as finance minister in order to correct "insufficiencies that exist in the government," AFP reported. "I ask the State Duma...to close this affair and adopt the budget." The communist-dominated Duma had urged Yeltsin to drop Chubais altogether, saying this was a condition for adoption of the 1998 budget. But Yeltsin said he could not meet that demand "in full." AW

...BUT DUMA POSTPONES BUDGET DEBATE

Apparently dissatisfied with Yeltsin's reshuffle, the Duma voted by 258 to 44 to postpone debate on the draft 1998 budget. On 21 November, the day the debate was scheduled to begin, deputies decided to discuss the draft budget on 5 December. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, along with other opposition figures, had welcomed Zadornov's appointment, but Zyuganov said the communists would still oppose passage of the budget, arguing it would be "premature" to approve the draft in its current form. The Communist Party had said recently that it would not debate the budget while Chubais remained in office. However, it had then softened its stance and had allowed the budget to be included on the 21 November agenda. AW

GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN WARNS ON DUMA BUDGET DELAY

Igor Shabdurasulov said on 20 November that the Duma's decision to postpone its debate on the 1998 draft increases the likelihood that Russia will start next year without a budget in place, ITAR-TASS reported. The government began 1997 without a budget because of the Duma's resistance. AW

YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW KREMLIN DEPUTY CHIEF OF ADMINISTRATION

Yeltsin on 20 November appointed Viktoriya Mitina as the Kremlin's deputy chief of administration, Interfax reported. The relatively unknown Mitina replaces Aleksandr Kazakov, who was sacked by Yeltsin on 14 November in the book payments scandal involving Chubais. Mitina served as deputy prefect in Moscow's Zelenograd district, where she had a wide-ranging portfolio covering industry, science, and the media, according to Interfax. She was also active in Yeltsin's re-election campaigns in 1991 and 1996. AW

RUSSIA TO ABOLISH STATE COAL COMPANY

Also on 20 November, Yeltsin signed a decree abolishing the state-owned coal company Rosugol in a government bid to tighten control over the coal industry, Interfax reported on 20 November. Under the new structure, coal-industry policy will be set by a special interagency commission, Economics Minister Yakov Urinson announced. A unit within the Fuel and Energy Ministry will be created to handle the closure of unprofitable mines and another to deal with the social problems in coal-mining regions. Urinson said the new system will eliminate the current conflict of interest in which Rosugol was in charge of distributing state subsidies while overseeing the restructuring of the coal industry. Russia is seeking a loan from the World Bank to support the restructuring of the coal sector. Government officials have accused Rosugol of blocking such reforms. AW

YELTSIN HAILS IMPROVED TIES WITH UKRAINE

In a nationwide radio address on 21 November, Yeltsin hailed improved bilateral ties with Ukraine, which had soured after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 , ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Yeltsin said ties between the two Slavic neighbors had been plagued over the past six years by "mutual reproach and misunderstanding." He acknowledged differences remain, namely over the division of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, and recent Ukrainian-NATO military exercises in the Black Sea. Yeltsin also accused so-called "demagogues" of fanning nationalistic feelings and warned that Russian foreign policy is the domain of the president. Yeltsin, however, said that "frank discussions" at a recent informal meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had alleviated tensions and paved the way for an official visit to Russia by Kuchma in February. AW

RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS COMMENT ON IRAQ AGREEMENT

Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told Interfax on 20 November that Baghdad's consent to allow UN weapons inspectors to return to Iraq and resume their investigations was made unconditionally. He termed the Iraqi decision a "very serious breakthrough" in resolving the crisis. Russian Presidential Press Spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said the Russian-Iraqi agreement was a "most spectacular triumph" for Yeltsin and Russian diplomacy, which he attributed largely to the president's personal missive to Saddam Hussein. Also on 20 November, an unnamed Russian diplomat told Interfax that Moscow wants to bring forward the deadlines for UN inspectors to submit to the Security Council their reports on the destruction of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons. "Noviye izvestiya" commented on 20 November that if sanctions on Iraq are lifted to enable it to sell oil on world markets, the export of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil may become unprofitable. LF

ANOTHER RUSSIAN MISSILE TEST FAILS

A intercontinental ballistic missile blew up four seconds after it was launched from Arkhangelsk on 19 November, Interfax reported. It was the third failed test of such a missile aimed at a target in Kamchatka, some 8,000 kilometers to the east. An unnamed Russian officer said the missile is intended to be deployed aboard Russian nuclear submarines by the year 2000, but he added this is unlikely to happen now. BP

"MIR" TO COME DOWN WHEN "ALPHA" GOES UP?

Russian Space Agency Director Yurii Koptev said on 20 November that if a crew on the "Alpha" international space station can begin work before the end of 1999, the "Mir" space station would be closed down the same year, Interfax reported. BP



NAZARBAYEV GIVES CONFLICTING SIGNALS OVER IRAN PIPELINE

Two days after saying he agrees with U.S. proposals that future pipelines avoid Iran, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on 20 November that talks with Iran on a pipeline through its territory will continue, Reuters and IRNA reported. In a speech at Rice University in Texas, Nazarbayev said the Iranian government has proposed building a Kazakhstan -Turkmenistan-Iran pipeline, adding that "the Iranians are asking me about it constantly." He said his country does not in "any way support terrorism or Islamic fundamentalism," but he questioned whether a blockade was an effective means to influence a country. Nazarbayev noted that the Iranian pipeline proposal will be discussed at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Tehran in December. BP

FRENCH COUPLE STILL MISSING IN TAJIKISTAN

A French couple believed to have been kidnapped in Dushanbe on 18 November is still missing. ITAR-TASS reported on 21 November that the Tajik office of TACIS, for which the missing man works, has received a telephone call claiming Rezvon Sadirov's group kidnapped the couple to press for the release of his brother, Bahrom Sadirov, from prison. The Sadirov gang has kidnapped several foreigners since December 1996. However, when RFE/RL correspondents contacted the TACIS office in Dushanbe, workers denied they had received such a call. Meanwhile, the Red Cross has announced it will reduce its staff in Tajikistan until this latest incident is over, Reuters reported on 20 November. BP

DID HILLARY CLINTON HELP IMPRISONED KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER?

Topchubek Turgunaliev, the chairman of the Erkin Kyrgyzstan Party, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service on 19 November that he believes U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton was instrumental in securing his transfer to the capital. TurgunAliyev was recently brought back to Bishkek, where he is under house arrest, from a prison in Leilek, near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. He said he has been told that Clinton raised his case in conversations with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev during her recent visit to the former Soviet republic. TurgunAliyev also claimed he had been sent to Leilek in attempt to "isolate" him. BP

ARMENIAN JOURNALISTS BARRED FROM KARABAKH DISCUSSION

Journalists were not permitted to attend a session of the majority Hanrapetutyun parliamentary faction on 19 November at which President Levon Ter-Petrossyan discussed the ongoing Karabakh peace process, Armenian media reported the next day. Participants at the meeting refused to reveal details, with the exception of the chairman of the ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement, Vano Siradeghian, who told the daily "Aravot" that Ter-Petrossyan essentially repeated arguments he had made to that party on 10 November. "Aravot" also quoted Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian as denying reports that he disagrees with the president's Karabakh policy. LF

ARMENIAN VOUCHER PRIVATIZATION TO BE COMPLETED IN 1998

Newly appointed Privatization Minister Pavel Ghaltakchian told journalists in Yerevan on 20 November that so-called voucher privatization will be completed by the end of 1998, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Ghaltakhchian said that more than 90 percent of all privatization certificates distributed to Armenian citizens in late 1994 have already been used, while the remaining 10 percent are valid until December 1998. According to Ghaltakhchian, more than 1,200 state enterprises have been privatized to date, mainly using vouchers. He said the government will adopt a "more flexible and diverse approach" in selling off the remaining state property, noting that auctions for cash will be the principal means of distributing such property. LF

ARMENIA TO BEGIN FLIGHTS TO TURKEY

Representatives of the Turkish Civil Aviation Department who were in Yerevan from 11-14 November reached agreement with the Armenian government on regular flights between Yerevan and Erzerum, Noyan Tapan reported on 20 November. On 21 November, a delegation from the Union of Industrialists and Businessmen of Armenia will travel to Erzerum, Kars, and Trebizond to discuss expanding bilateral economic contacts, Armenpress reported. Turkey and Armenia do not have diplomatic relations, but the indirect trade turnover between the two countries via Iran and Georgia is estimated at between $120 and $150 million. LF

NEW AGREEMENTS ON REGIONAL ELECTRICITY SALES

Turkish Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer told journalists on 20 November that Turkey will buy 300 megawatts of electricity from Azerbaijan in 1998, AFP reported. The electricity will be transported via Georgia. During bilateral talks in Tbilisi on 19 November, Armenian and Georgian government officials reached a preliminary agreement on the sale of electricity from Armenia to Georgia. The two countries' power grids were linked on 1 November, according to ArmenPress. LF

HUNDREDS POISONED IN GEORGIA BY CONTAMINATED DRINKING WATER

Between 500 and 600 people in the Georgian industrial city of Rustavi are suffering from poisoning after drinking water contaminated by sewage. Thirty children are reported to have been hospitalized. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has set up a commission to investigate the incident and decreed that all those affected are to receive free medical treatment. LF

AZERBAIJANI-IRANIAN CONSULATE DISPUTE CONTINUES

Turan on 20 November quoted Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Tehran, Aliyar Safarli, as saying that if Iran continues to block the opening of an Azerbaijani consulate in the north Iranian city of Tebriz, Baku may close the Iranian consulate in Nakhichevan. That consulate was opened in 1992 following a visit to Tehran by Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, who at that time was still Nakhichevan parliamentary speaker. LF

HUMANITARIAN AID EMBEZZLED IN AZERBAIJAN

The state commission for receipt, registration, storage, and distribution of humanitarian aid has announced that executives of charity organizations and local government officials have misappropriated humanitarian aid worth several million dollars, Turan reported on 20 November. Part of the aid was destined for the estimated 800,000 displaced persons who fled their homes during the Karabakh conflict. LF




KYIV SEEKS MORE HELP TO CLOSE DOWN CHORNOBYL

Representatives of some 50 countries gathered in New York on 20 November to discuss how to raise the $760 million that the international community estimates is needed to close the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, ITAR-TASS reported The meeting, which was co-chaired by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and U.S. Vice President Al Gore, resulted in some commitments of additional funds but still far less than necessary. Kuchma commented that the conference came "10 years late. But better late than never." He also noted that Ukraine currently spends 12 percent of its budget revenues on the Chornobyl plant. PG

UKRAINE TO DEFEND NATIONAL CURRENCY

Ukraine's central bank has announced plans to support the embattled hryvna, Ukrainian media reported on 20 November. Other Ukrainian officials suggested Kyiv has the necessary funds to prevent a further decline in the value of its currency. The hryvna has recently come under pressure as a result of both domestic economic difficulties and international currency speculation. PG

LUKASHENKA OPPONENTS STAGE FLAG PROTEST

On the first anniversary of the vote that gave President Alyaksandr Lukashenka sweeping powers, Belarusians opposed to his rule displayed the now outlawed red-and-white national flag, RFE/RL's Belarusian service reported on 20 November. Some flags were so large that the authorities had to use heavy-duty equipment to remove them. No single group has taken responsibility for the latest protest. PG

BELARUS SEEKS TO RESTORE SOVIET-STYLE TIES WITH CUBA

Belarusian parliamentary speaker Anatoly Malofeyev said in Havana on 20 November that Minsk seeks to "restore all its positive ties with Cuba that existed in Soviet days," ITAR-TASS reported. He added that his country understands all the problems Havana faces "in its efforts to find its place in the contemporary world and in the struggle to survive in the new difficult conditions." The Minsk delegation is particularly interested in obtaining Cuban sugar in exchange for Belarusian machinery and fertilizers. PG

BALTICS PAVE WAY FOR JOINT ECONOMIC AREA

Meeting in Riga on 20 November, the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian prime ministers agreed to abolish non-tariff customs barriers, BNS and ETA reported. They also signed a resolution on establishing a joint economic area that would allow the free movement of labor and services and the creation of a joint border regime. A second resolution signed in Riga stresses the need to continue to cooperate in combating illegal immigration and to tighten control over the countries' eastern frontiers. JC

ESTONIAN PREMIER THREATENS TO RESIGN OVER BUDGET DEBACLE

Mart Siimann has threatened to resign if his government and the opposition cannot reach agreement over the 1998 budget, ETA reported on 20 November. The previous day, the opposition voted several amendments into the draft that would result in a budgetary imbalance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 November 1997). Under Estonian law, the budget must be balanced. Siimann is due to meet with opposition leaders on 24 November in a bid to reach agreement on the issue. JC

SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINAL INDICTED IN LITHUANIA

The Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office has filed criminal charges against Kazys Gimzauskas, who is suspected of involvement in genocide during World War II, BNS reported on 20 November. The 89-year-old Gimzauskas was deputy director of the Vilnius regional security police from the fall of 1941 to July 1944. During that period, the force was headed by Aleksandras Lileikis, who is also accused of involvement in genocide but has not yet been indicted owing to poor health. The parliament recently began debating amendments to the criminal code aimed at facilitating investigations into genocide suspects (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 1997). JC

POLAND WOULD EXPEL RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS FOR SPYING

Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek said on 20 November that Warsaw would expel any Russian diplomat found to be involved in espionage, ITAR-TASS reported. Geremek's comments followed the recent publication in "Zycie" of a list of 23 Russian diplomats the newspaper identified as spies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1997). The editors of "Zycie" have promised to publish a second list that will include the names of another 28 alleged Russian agents. PG

HUNGARY'S ANTI-NATO OPPOSITION CHALLENGES REFERENDUM

The far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party on 19 November announced that it will challenge the validity of the 16 November NATO referendum in the Constitutional Court. It argued that a 1989 referendum law requiring turnout to exceed 50 percent is still in force. The next day, the pacifist Alba Circle group asked the National Election Commission (OVB) to declare the plebiscite illegal on the same grounds. OVB Chairman Istvan Kukorelli said the commission is aware that the referendum law remains in force until the end of 1997, but he said a constitutional amendment passed in July superseded that legislation. Under that amendment, a referendum is valid if at least 25 percent of the electorate voted either for or against the issue put to the vote. MSZ

HUNGARY TO SLOW DOWN FORINT DEVALUATION

Finance Minister Peter Medgyessy and National Bank President Gyorgy Suranyi announced on 20 November that beginning January 1998, the "crawling peg" devaluation of the forint will be reduced by 0.1 percent to 0.9 percent a month. Medgyessy noted that GDP growth is more favorable than expected, reaching 4 percent by the end of 1997, and the deficit lower than the planned 4.9 percent of GDP. He also said that Hungary's foreign debt was $10.5 billion at the end of September. Medgyessy and Suranyi expect the 1997 inflation rate to be reach some 18 percent. MSZ




ALBANIA, YUGOSLAVIA TO HAVE FULL DIPLOMATIC TIES

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Tirana on 20 November that Prime Minister Fatos Nano and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agreed at the recent Balkan summit on Crete to establish full diplomatic relations. The spokesman said that "technical" problems are holding up the appointment of ambassadors. The previous Albanian government of President Sali Berisha refused to appoint an ambassador to Belgrade until Yugoslavia solved the Kosovo question to the satisfaction of the province's ethnic Albanian majority. The Kosovar and Albanian media have speculated since the Crete summit that Nano may have agreed to tone down Tirana's support for the Kosovars in return for better ties to Belgrade (see "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). PM

SPECIAL STATUS FOR KOSOVO?

The Albanian Foreign Ministry spokesman added on 19 November that the Kosovo question can be solved only by granting the province autonomy within Yugoslavia and that West European countries will work toward that end. In Paris, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, appealed to Milosevic to open talks with the Kosovars aimed at establishing autonomy for the province. Milosevic rose to power in the late 1980s on the pledge to end the autonomy that Kosovo then enjoyed, and he had kept that promise. Kosovar political leaders argue that the Albanians have no future in Yugoslavia and want independence. PM

KOSOVAR PARTIES FORM ALLIANCE

Some 13 political parties, NGOs, and other organizations set up the Kosovo Democratic Forum in Pristina on 19 November, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from that city. Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) did not join the new grouping, which is led by the Parliamentary Party's Adem Demaci (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 1997). Demaci argues that Rugova's policies of non-violence and of appealing to the U.S. and the EU to help solve the Kosovo problem have not brought results. He said that the founding of the Democratic Forum proves that the Kosovars can take responsibility for solving their own problems themselves. PM

SHOOT-OUT NEAR MACEDONIAN-ALBANIAN BORDER

A Macedonian Defense Ministry spokesman said in Skopje on 20 November that a border guard was badly wounded near Struga the previous day in a shoot-out with intruders from Albania. This is the second violent incident in that area within several days and one of more than 100 shoot-outs near the frontier so far this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 1997). Also in Skopje, spokesmen for an independent truckers' union said on 20 November that police prevented drivers' attempts to block major highways and border crossings. The truckers want road usage fees reduced. PM

YUGOSLAVIA TO RETURN CITIZENS' SAVINGS

The federal government agreed in Belgrade on 20 November on a plan to repay citizens' hard-currency savings. The government froze hard-currency accounts at the time of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. According to the new plan, each account holder may receive up to $200 in 1998, $250 in 1999, and additional payments at a fixed rate of increase in subsequent years. Western experts say that Belgrade's total hard-currency debts to its citizens amount to $6 billion, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. PM

SERBS GET ULTIMATUM OVER KARADZIC POSTERS

Representatives of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is supervising the Bosnian Serb parliamentary elections on 22-23 November, said in Sarajevo on 20 November that the hard-line Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) must take down posters depicting indicted war criminal and former SDS leader Radovan Karadzic. Officials of the SDS replied in Pale that the SDS has nothing to do with the posters, which bear the name of the Serbian National Society. Under an agreement in June 1996 between the international community and the Bosnian Serb leadership, Karadzic was to have disappeared from public life at that time. Posters depicting him nonetheless appeared during the Bosnian election campaign that fall. PM

MUSLIMS, CROATS URGED TO VOTE

Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnia joint presidency, and Kresimir Zubak, his ethnic Croatian counterpart, urged their respective constituents to vote in the Republika Srpska's elections. Izetbegovic appealed to Muslims to go to the polls and "help those [candidates] who advocate an integral and democratic Bosnia." PM

COUNCIL OF EUROPE SLAMS ALBANIAN POLITICIANS

A delegation from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly said in Tirana on 20 November that members of the Socialist and Democratic Parties are not willing to engage in dialogue or make compromises, "Shekulli" reported. A delegation spokesman added that one of his group's concerns is the slow process in drafting a new constitution. He added that all political forces must be involved in the process. Elsewhere, the parliament's constitution drafting commission, meeting for the first time, failed to agree on a plan to carry out its work. The Democrats did not show up for the meeting, "Koha Jone" reported. FS

ALBANIAN PYRAMID VICTIMS DEMAND ACTION

Spokesmen for the National Association of Creditors, which represents the interests of pyramid investors who lost their money when the schemes collapsed early this year, said that their association demands a roundtable of all political parties at the end of November to develop a joint strategy to deal with the pyramid issue. Association head Mistret Sahiti said that those who lost their money will be reassured that the authorities are serious about dealing with the pyramids only if all 10 political parties agree on a program. Turning his attention to the government, Sahiti threatened a nationwide hunger strike of failed investors if the government does not find a way of returning their money. FS

ROMANIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL ON ANTONESCU REHABILITATION

Sorin Moisescu has responded to Senator Alphonse D'Amato and Congressman Christopher Smith's protest against the judicial procedure for posthumously rehabilitating six members of the interwar government headed by Marshall Ion Antonescu, "Advearul" reported on 21 November. Moisescu said the six ministers did not share any responsibility for the decisions of that cabinet. He noted that Romania's constitution had been "suspended" in 1940 and all power transferred to Antonescu, who was designated the country's "leader." Consequently, neither collective government nor personal responsibility applied under those circumstances. MS

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT AMENDS BUDGET

The cabinet on 20 November issued an "urgent ordinance" increasing budget expenditures by 1.05 billion lei ($131.4 million). The bulk of that sum is for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (262 billion lei), the Defense Ministry (205.1 billion lei), and the Interior Ministry (193 billion lei).The government measure was requested earlier the same day by President Emil Constantinescu, who said parliamentary commissions debating amendments to the budget have been "unjustifiably procrastinating." An "ordinance" takes effect immediately, without the parliament's approval. MS

TRADE UNIONISTS PROTEST IN BUCHAREST

Between 15,000 and 20,000 members of the Fratia trade union confederation marched in Bucharest on 20 November to protest the government's market reform program, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The protesters called on Victor Ciorbea's cabinet to resign. MS

MOLDOVA TO SELL REMAINING FIGHTER PLANES

Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc on 20 November said Moldova intends to sell its six remaining MiG-29C fighter planes. But he refused to disclose the identity of the buyer, saying the planes are now undergoing repairs in Belarus, Infotag reported. Ciubuc confirmed that the U.S. is to pay $80 million for the 21 planes bought from Moldova. He said Washington has already transferred $40 million, while the remainder of the debt will be paid in the form of equipment for "humanitarian operations." Ciubuc also said the cabinet may be "somewhat reshuffled" in the near future, noting that "compromising information" on several ministers was being examined. Also on 20 November, Ciubuc and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed an agreement for a $30 million credit to finance an overhaul of Chisinau's water supply system, RFE/RL's bureau in the Moldovan capital reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH SEPARATIST LEADER

President Petru Lucinschi met with separatist leader Igor Smirnov in Chisinau on 20 November, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau and ITAR-TASS reported. The two leaders failed to reach an agreement on how to dispose of the Russian military equipment in the Transdniester. Smirnov said he and Lucinschi "differ on who should benefit from that [process] and to what degree." Smirnov is insisting on a share of the weapons and has publicly claimed the entire arsenal is Transdniestrian property. The same day, Russian Minister for CIS Affairs Anatolii Adamishin, whom President Boris Yeltsin recently appointed as coordinator of the Russian team mediating the Transdniester conflict, met in Chisinau with Minister of Defense Valeriu Pasat. The problem of the withdrawal of the Russian arsenal remains "most difficult," but a policy of "small steps" may succeed in the end, Pasat commented. MS

GAZPROM RESOLVES SOFIA-MOSCOW DISPUTE

Shareholders in TopEnergy, which is 50 percent owned by Russia's Gazprom company, have voted to exclude the controversial private Bulgarian Multigroup from a Russian-Bulgarian pipeline project. The vote requires Multigroup to sell their stakes in TopEnergy by 16 December to the state-owned Bulgargaz company, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Multigroup is viewed by many Bulgarians as a dubious intermediary company set up by former communists and serving Russian interests. Last month, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said Sofia's dispute with Gazprom was affecting relations with Moscow. MS

BULGARIAN-TURKISH FREE TRADE ZONE IN OFFING

Trade Minister Valentin Vasiliev on 20 November said his country and Turkey will agree to set up a free trade zone before Turkish Premier Mesut Yilmaz's scheduled visit to Sofia on 4 December, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Bulgarian capital reported. He said a comprehensive agreement on trade liberalization between the two countries is still being negotiated but noted that a memorandum on the free trade zone can be quickly signed. Vasiliev spoke after meeting with Turkish Economy and Foreign Trade Minister Isin Celebi. MS




THE LANGUAGE OF HATE


by Patrick Moore

Most analyses of the developments in the former Yugoslavia in the past 10 years have stressed the role played by the nationalist official media on all sides in fomenting ethnic hatred. Those media continue to convey a large part of their negative message not just in the way they select subject matter for their reports but in their use of language itself.

Part of the nationalists' manipulation of language has involved imposing rules of political correctness upon individual speakers and writers, both in the media and in public life in general. This has sometimes led to unintentionally amusing results as individuals struggle to speak a supposedly "pure" speech for their ethnic group, which may be based on a dialect spoken hundreds of miles from where those individuals were born or where they live. This is because the differences between Serbo-Croatian dialects are based on geography, not on ethnicity. It thus appears artificial when Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic affects the "real" Serbian of Belgrade.

But the language of hatred goes beyond mere political correctness. It involves selecting loaded terms that serve to demonize an entire ethnic group. On 14 November, RFE/RL discussed the phenomenon in a roundtable with social scientists and journalists from Croatia.

One participant noted that the language of hatred did not begin with the rise to power of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic a decade ago. It has its roots in the communist, totalitarian practice of mobilizing support by blackening those who dare to have different opinions. It reflects an "us-against-them" mentality.

By using ethnic pejoratives, nationalists can easily characterize members of other nationalities in the blackest of terms. Thus, until recently, the Croatian official media regularly used the term "Srbocetnik"--linking the Serbian ethnic group as a whole with the chetnik rebel fighters--to characterize all Serbs as anti-Croatian.

The Serbian media, for their part, conjured up Serbs' worst memories of Croatian war crimes against Serbs during World War II by lumping all Croats together as "Ustashe," the fanatical followers of Hitler's ally Ante Pavelic. The Muslims' wartime enemies, for their part, characterized them as "fundamentalists." That term served to identify even secular individuals--who happened to be descended from people who had embraced Islam--with the most hardened religious fanatics. In short, an entire nationality was tarred with the same brush.

The social scientists and opposition journalists told RFE/RL that they are pessimistic about the chances of overcoming the language of hatred and its legacy, even now that peace has come. First, the "us-against-them" mentality reflected in the language of hatred was propagated by the communists throughout society for more than 40 years and hence will be difficult to eliminate quickly.

Second, the new states that emerged from Josip Broz Tito's Yugoslavia were born amid hatred, as one panelist put it. Thus, he argued, hatred is already an internal component of those countries' domestic politics and is likely to remain so for many years to come. War only served to reinforce the negative feelings.

Third, the trends toward political correctness that developed during the war continue to be reinforced not only by the official media but by the school system as well. Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim children learn from books written in artificially "pure" languages. The texts, moreover, portray each respective people's history in only the most glowing of terms. That helps ensure that the "us-against-them" mentality will be passed on even to generations too young to remember the recent fighting.

But is their a way to break the vicious circle of ethnic hatred? Roundtable participants told RFE/RL that the negative system of values must be opposed by a positive one based on tolerance. That can come about only by promoting civil society and developing democratic institutions.


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