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Newsline - January 6, 1998




YELTSIN'S TRIP TO INDIA POSTPONED

The presidential press service on 6 January confirmed that Boris Yeltsin's trip to India, scheduled for mid-January, has been postponed "by mutual decision" and will be rescheduled for later this year. Interfax on 5 January quoted unnamed Russian diplomatic sources as saying the trip has been delayed because of "important domestic political events in India," which is due to hold general elections in February. Last month, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said Yeltsin's trip could go ahead in January, since the domestic political situation in India does not affect Russian-Indian relations. The postponement is likely to increase speculation about Yeltsin's health, although unnamed diplomatic sources quoted by Interfax said the president still plans to visit Italy in either late January or early February. LB

FINANCE MINISTER ON OTHER WAGE ARREARS PROBLEM...

Mikhail Zadornov told reporters on 5 January that the government has kept its promise to pay all back wages to state employees, Interfax reported. However, he noted that Russian enterprises currently owe wage arrears totaling some 40-45 trillion rubles, not taking into account the recent redenomination of the ruble ($6.7-7.5 billion). Many of those enterprises cannot pay their employees because they are owed huge debts by their own consumers. The government has not announced specific measures aimed at reducing the level of non-payments in the Russian economy. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told a cabinet meeting in November that solving the non- payments crisis will be the government's main task in 1998 and 1999, Interfax reported on 6 November. LB

...AND ON RUSSIAN BORROWING PLANS

Although he acknowledged that tax receipts in the first few months of 1998 will likely be lower than during the fourth quarter of last year, Zadornov announced on 5 January that the government will not borrow any more money through short-term treasury bills (GKOs) until the cost of borrowing through GKOs drops to "an acceptable level," ITAR-TASS reported. The turmoil on world financial markets in recent months caused many Russian and foreign investors to sell GKOs, making it far more expensive for the government to borrow on the domestic market. The government consequently took out more foreign loans (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and 29 December 1997). LB

'NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA' SAYS GOVERNMENT FAILED TO PAY DEBTS

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" charged on 31 December that amid the noisy campaign to pay wage arrears to state employees, the government has been quiet about its debt of some 12 trillion rubles ($2 billion) to the armed forces. In a separate article published the same day, the newspaper said the government has also failed to pay for numerous state orders. Consequently, many industrial workers are still owed large wage arrears. "Nezavisimaya gazeta," financed by Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, has strongly criticized the cabinet ministers who are most directly associated with efforts to clear wage arrears by the end of the year: First Deputy Prime Ministers Chubais and Boris Nemtsov. LB

FINANCE MINISTER BLAMES MILITARY LEADERSHIP FOR WAGE DEBTS

Zadornov claimed on 5 January that the Defense Ministry received 31.7 trillion rubles ($5.3 billion) in funding in 1997, some 1.8 trillion rubles more than the planned spending level. He did not specify whether he was speaking about the original 1997 budget targets or about planned expenditures after the government imposed a "sequester," or reduction in spending, in May. Zadornov blamed the Defense Ministry leadership for wage arrears to military personnel, adding that order in paying soldiers' wages can be restored only after the Defense Ministry's bank accounts are moved from commercial banks to a federal treasury. Many accounts for government agencies have been transferred from "authorized" commercial banks to the treasury, but an exception was made for Defense Ministry accounts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 December 1997). LB

HAS INFLATION BEEN CONQUERED?

The annual inflation rate in Russia was 11.3 percent in 1997, down from 21.8 percent the previous year, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 January, citing the State Statistics Committee. The government has forecast that inflation will fall to 5.7 percent in 1998. But in an interview published in "Trud" on 4 January, Igor Gadzhinsk, the head of the Economics Ministry's department on price monitoring, argued that it is too early to proclaim victory over inflation. He noted that the inflation rate has declined primarily because of a sharp reduction in the money supply. Gadzhinsk argued that federal transfers of 14.5 trillion rubles ($2.4 billion) toward paying wage arrears in December will cause inflation to rise in the first quarter of 1998. He added that costs for certain essential goods and services have risen faster than the overall inflation rate. LB

NEW CHECHEN GOVERNMENT TO HAVE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

The government being formed by Prime Minister-designate Shamil Basaev will have only some 20 ministries and agencies, rather than the 63 it has now, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 January. But one of those structures will be devoted to defense issues. Basaev is scheduled to present his cabinet on 10 January. Chechen officials have indicated that the new government will not change Chechen insistence that Russian recognize its independence at any future talks between Moscow and Grozny. PG

DAGESTANI AUTHORITIES DETAIN WAHHABI LEADER

Police officials in Dagestan have arrested Mukhamed-shafi Dzhangishiev, the leader of the Kavkaz Center, on suspicion that he and his group, which includes Wahhabi Muslim radicals, were involved in the recent attack in Buinaksk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 December 1997), Interfax reported on 5 January. PG

YELTSIN PROMISES TO IMPROVE HUMAN RIGHTS

Yeltsin has promised UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Russia will "strengthen [its] human rights legislation" in 1998, AFP reported on 31 December. In a message to Annan released by the Russian presidential press service, Yeltsin said that "special importance is attached to protecting the rights of refugees and forced migrants and improving prison conditions." Yeltsin issued a decree last April declaring 1998 the "Year of Human Rights in the Russian Federation." The same month, Amnesty International released a report criticizing Russia's human rights record, particularly prison conditions and asylum procedures. The State Duma recently approved an amnesty aimed at alleviating the problem of prison overcrowding (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April and 30 December 1997). LB

CHERNOMYRDIN FAVORS NEW POLICY ON SUPPORT FOR MEDIA

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin says government concessions for the media should be given only those outlets that need financial support. In an interview with the magazine "Zhurnalist," which was also published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 30 December, Chernomyrdin argued that the 1995 law on state support for the mass media is unfair because it grants tax breaks to all media, from small local newspapers to publications financed by wealthy bankers. Those tax breaks remain in effect, but journalists have voiced objections to the government's proposed tax code, which would revoke the media's special privileges (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 1997). Editors of some 20 Moscow-based newspapers signed an appeal in October urging the government to retain the tax breaks. LB

GROMOV FORMS NEW VETERANS' MOVEMENT

Duma deputy Boris Gromov was unanimously elected chairman of a new movement called Brotherhood of Fighters at its founding congress in Moscow on 26 December, "Trud" and "Segodnya" reported the next day. The movement seeks to unite veterans of all wars and military conflicts since the Second World War. Gromov, a retired colonel-general who oversaw the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989, has said Brotherhood of Fighters' only political goal is to seek changes in government policy toward veterans. Other politically active retired generals--most notably Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin- -were not invited to the congress, nor did any Kremlin officials attend. However, "Komsomolskaya pravda" argued on 25 December that the Kremlin may support Gromov as a potential magnet for some Lebed voters in future elections. LB

ROKHLIN'S MOVEMENT SEEKING YELTSIN'S OUSTER

The second congress of Rokhlin's Movement to Support the Army, which took place in Moscow on 25 December, approved a political platform outlining the movement's main goal: the ouster of Yeltsin before his term ends in 2000. Rokhlin announced he will seek to indict Yeltsin and bring the case to the Supreme Court, although he acknowledged that he would certainly lose such a court battle, Interfax reported. The Justice Ministry has so far declined to register Rokhlin's movement, which held its founding congress in September. "Segodnya" predicted on 26 December that the platform adopted at the congress the previous day virtually guarantees that Rokhlin's movement will not be registered. Rokhlin was elected to the Duma in December 1995 on the party list of the pro- government movement Our Home Is Russia, but he has sharply criticized the government and Yeltsin since late June 1997. LB

COURT SAYS CIVIL CODE CAN'T PUT WAGE PAYMENTS BEFORE TAXES...

The Constitutional Court on 23 December struck down a passage in Article 855 of the civil code saying that enterprises must pay their employees' salaries before making tax payments and contributions to non- budgetary funds such as the Pension Fund. The court ruled that enterprises have the right to decide whether to pay taxes or wages first. However, tax authorities have the right to demand immediate payment of tax arrears. According to the 24 December edition of "Kommersant- Daily," the controversy arose after an August 1996 presidential decree ordered that banks transfer taxes owed by enterprises before transferring funds earmarked for wages. The Duma in October 1996 adopted a resolution saying the civil code should take precedence over other tax regulations. In December of that year, the Supreme Court upheld the Duma's position but asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of Article 855. LB

...WHILE OFFICIALS WELCOME DECISION

Prime Minister Chernomyrdin hailed the Constitutional Court's ruling, saying that Article 855 had caused losses to the federal budget totaling tens of trillions of rubles in tax revenues in 1997, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 December. He added that in Russia, people evade taxes whenever possible, "especially when there is a loophole in the legislation." (The court found that Article 855 created opportunities for financial abuses, whereby enterprises artificially maintained wage debts so as to avoiding making tax payments, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 December.) Yeltsin also welcomed the court's ruling, the presidential press service told Interfax on 24 December. LB

FORMER PRISONER WINS SUIT AGAINST VORONEZH AUTHORITIES

A district court in Voronezh Oblast has ruled that the local administration must fulfill its financial obligations to former political prisoner Georgii Kusurgashev, "Izvestiya" reported on 6 January. Kusurgashev filed suit after the Voronezh authorities ceased in March 1997 to issue compensation payments to former political prisoners, of whom there are an estimated 10,000 in the oblast. Under a Voronezh government directive issued before Governor Ivan Shabanov was elected in December 1996, victims of political repression during the Soviet period received monthly payments of up to 34,000 rubles ($6). The Voronezh administration plans to appeal the court ruling. Shabanov was elected governor with the support of the Communist Party. LB

SAFE SEX CAMPAIGN DISCONTINUED IN MOSCOW

The Moscow city authorities have discontinued an advertising campaign that sought to halt the spread of the AIDS virus by promoting the use of condoms, "Segodnya" reported on 24 December. In June, the Russian Health Ministry and the international organization Doctors Without Borders launched the campaign, which involved billboards, posters, and television commercials using the slogan, "Safe Sex-- My Choice." The Moscow authorities did not give an official explanation for the decision to discontinue the campaign. The television network TV-Center, which is controlled by the Moscow city government, has also stopped airing the commercials promoting safe sex. However, other major television networks continue to broadcast those advertisements. In addition, billboards on safe sex have appeared in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, and Doctors Without Borders will soon launch a similar campaign in Nizhnii Novgorod. LB




GEORGIA, RUSSIA REMAIN AT ODDS OVER ABKHAZIA

Georgia and Russia remain deeply divided over what should be done in Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 January. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze wants the international community to deploy a Bosnian-style force if necessary to end the Abkhaz conflict and to do everything in its power to allow refugees to return. Russia, in contrast, opposes the use of such a force. A Russian commander in Abkhazia said on 5 January that deploying international peacekeeping troops would end all hopes for a solution to the conflict and possibly lead to a larger war. Meanwhile, Georgian and Russian defense officials met in Tbilisi on 5 January to discuss how to improve military cooperation. PG

CENTRAL ASIAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN ASHGABAT

The presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan met behind closed doors in Ashgabat on 5-6 January, RFE/RL correspondents and Russian media reported. Among the issues on the agenda were regional cooperation, gas and oil pipelines, and the situation of the Aral Sea. According to RFE/RL, Uzbek President Islam Karimov, backed by Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, called for improved border security, particularly along the Turkmen frontiers with Iran and Afghanistan, to stem the flow of narcotics into their countries from Afghanistan. ITAR-TASS reported that Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a declaration to step up cooperation toward exporting gas and oil. BP

FORMER AFGHAN PRESIDENT IN TAJIKISTAN

Burhanuddin Rabbani arrived in Dushanbe on 5 January for a "working visit," ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Rabbani has been engaged in shuttle diplomacy during the last two weeks, visiting Tehran and Islamabad in a bid to pressure all sides in the Afghan conflict to begin negotiations. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov is attending the Central Asian summit in Ashgabat but is expected to meet with Rabbani upon his return to Tajikistan. ITAR-TASS speculated that Rabbani will propose Dushanbe as a possible venue for Afghan peace negotiations. BP

KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN DISCUSS ENERGY SUPPLIES

Kyrgyz First Prime Minister Kamelbek Nanayev arrived in Tashkent on 5 January to hold talks with his Uzbek counterpart, Ismail Jurabekov, on energy and water supplies, RFE/RL correspondents reported. The two signed an agreement on Uzbekistan's natural gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan in 1998; those supplies almost meet the Kyrgyz yearly requirement. No information has so far been released about Uzbek payments for water from Kyrgyz reservoirs. Uzbekistan is opposed to such payments, while Kyrgyzstan claims they are necessary to maintain its reservoir systems. BP




UKRAINE'S KUCHMA ORDERS GOVERNMENT TO CUT SPENDING

President Leonid Kuchma has told the cabinet that it must cut spending rather than seek new revenues in order to lower the budget deficit in 1998 and thus reduce the need for foreign borrowing, Interfax reported on 5 January, quoting Kuchma's adviser Anatoliy Galchinskiy. In the past, Kyiv has stressed improving tax collection, rather than cutting expenditures, as the best way to reduce the budget deficit. PG

UKRAINE INSISTS BRITAIN YIELD EMBASSY BUILDING

The Ukrainian government is insisting that the United Kingdom give up an embassy building in Kyiv because of concerns that embassy officials may overhear conversations of President Kuchma, who lives next door, the newspaper "Vseukrayinskiye vedomosti" reported on 5 January. Questions of compensation have not yet been resolved, the newspaper said. PG

BELARUSIAN COURT AGAIN POSTPONES ORT JOURNALISTS' TRIAL

A Belarusian court on 5 January again postponed the trial of Russian Public Television journalist Pavel Sheremet and his cameraman Dmitriy Zavadskiy, RFE/RL's Belarusian service reported. The reason for this further delay is that Zavadskiy's lawyer is ill, The trial is now scheduled to begin on 8 January. The two men are charged with illegally crossing the Belarusian- Lithuanian border. Their case has strained relations between Minsk and Moscow. PG

ESTONIA'S COALITION PARTY TO GO IT ALONE IN NEXT ELECTIONS?

Prime Minister and Coalition Party Chairman Mart Siimann has said that his party and one of its coalition partners, the Country's People's Party, are prepared to run separately in the next elections, BNS reported on 5 January. At the same time, Siimann did not rule out an electoral alliance between the Coalition Party and its present partners, since, he stressed, cooperation between those groups has "passed the test of time." In a December poll, the Country People's Party won the most support (12 percent), while the Coalition Party gained 7 percent backing. JC

LITHUANIA'S PAULAUSKAS WANTS BALLOT RECOUNT

Arturas Paulauskas, who was defeated in the run-off of the presidential elections, has said he wants a recount of ballots in a number of constituencies. Paulauskas lost by less than one percentage point (or some 11,000 votes) to the Lithuanian-American Valdas Adamkus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 1998). Paulauskas told a news conference in Vilnius on 5 January that because the outcome was so close, ballots must be carefully recounted. He also noted that violations of the election law were reported in Kaunas and some western districts, according to BNS. JC

POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY CAUSES CZECH CROWN TO FALL

The Czech crown dropped from 19.37 to 19.51 against the German mark on 5 January , following former Premier Vaclav Klaus' statement that his party will not support Josef Tosovsky's cabinet unless four rebel members of his Civic Democratic Party (ODS) quit their government posts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 1998). Quoting local currency dealers, Reuters reported that the crown is likely to remain volatile at least until the parliament confirms the new cabinet. In related news, minister without portfolio and government spokesman Vladimir Mlynar has said the cabinet wants to face a parliamentary vote of confidence only after legislators meet to elect the country's president on 20 January. MS

CZECH 'REBEL' MINISTERS REFUSE TO EXPLAIN PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT

The ODS Executive Council on 5 December demanded that Finance Minister Ivan Pilip, Labor and Social Affairs Minister Stanislav Volak, and Defense Minister Michal Lobkowicz leave a council meeting at which their participation in the government was to be discussed, Reuters reported. The council had demanded that the three ministers explain their acceptance of portfolios in Tosovsky's cabinet, but the ministers refused to do and walked out. Regional Development Minister Jan Cerny was allowed to attend the council meeting in his capacity as chairman of the ODS parliamentary faction. Asked whether he would quit the ODS, Pilip said he is still considering his options. MS

HUNGARIAN SMALLHOLDERS CALL FOR OPPOSITION UNITY

In a 5 January statement signed by party chairman Jozsef Torgyan, the Independent Smallholders called for setting up a "united front of nationalist parties" in the second round of the spring 1998 elections, Hungarian media reported. The party proposes that opposition candidates who fare worst in the first round step down in favor of those who do better. It also urges that "nationally minded forces" unite to remove the "liberal-bolshevik" government from power. Democratic Forum spokesman Karoly Herenyi welcomed the initiative, saying the cohesion of opposition forces in the second round is a "rational idea." Young Democrat national board chairman Attila Varhegyi said his party also wants the removal of the current coalition. MSZ




PLAVSIC STANDS BY PRIME MINISTER

Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic expressed her full confidence in Mladen Ivanic, her prime minister-designate, following their meeting in Banja Luka on 5 January. Plavsic said she believes that Ivanic will succeed in forming a government of national unity, despite the hard-liners' recent rejection of his proposal that a cabinet be formed consisting of both politicians and experts, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Banja Luka (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 1998). PM

BOSNIAN CROAT LEADER CALLS SERBS "NATURAL ALLIES."

Kresimir Zubak, the Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, told the Zagreb weekly "Globus" that the Bosnian Croats' problem is that they are joined in a federation with the Muslims, who seek to dominate the alliance, "Oslobodjenje" reported on 5 January. Zubak said that the Muslims are preventing tens of thousands of Croats from returning to their homes in central Bosnia. He added that it is often easier for him to negotiate with his Serbian counterpart, Momcilo Krajisnik, than with the Muslims' Alija Izetbegovic. Zubak accused the Muslims of trying to make Sarajevo, which the Dayton agreement regards as multiethnic, into a purely Muslim area. He added that the Serbs and Croats have a common interest in blocking "Muslim attempts" at dominating Bosnia's joint institutions, such as the diplomatic corps. PM

MUSLIMS SAY ZUBAK WANTS PARTITION

On 6 January, the Sarajevo Muslim daily "Dnevni avaz" quoted Izetbegovic's adviser Mirza Hajric as saying that Zubak's ideas reflect "long standing plans" by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and his Yugoslav counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic, to partition Bosnia between their two countries. Hajric also denied Zubak's charges that the Muslims want special territorial advantages. PM

IZETBEGOVIC CALLS "NEW YUGOSLAVIA" IMPOSSIBLE

The Muslim leader believes that it is no longer possible to recreate a multi-ethnic Yugoslavia on the model of Josip Broz Tito's former state, "Dnevni avaz" reported on 5 January. Izetbegovic called for strengthening Bosnia's joint institutions as the best means of opposing Serbian and Croatian nationalist plans to partition Bosnia. He added that a strong Bosnia is ultimately in the interest of Croatia, since both countries face a common rival in Serbia. Izetbegovic said he would also welcome good relations between Bosnia and Montenegro. He noted that there will be a role for foreign peacekeepers in Bosnia well beyond the year 2000. PM

SPANISH KING PRAISES PEACEKEEPERS

King Juan Carlos spent his 60th birthday on 5 January among the 1,300 Spanish troops in Mostar and Medjugorje in Herzegovina. He was joined by two top Spanish diplomats-- NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia. The king praised the peacekeepers' work and said they should stay "until there is a triumph of understanding and tolerance between communities, based on a durable peace in the former Yugoslavia." Some 18 Spanish soldiers have died since Madrid first sent troops to the former Yugoslavia in 1992. PM

MULTIETHNIC POLICE IN ACTION

Robert Farrand, the international community's chief representative for the disputed northeast Bosnian town of Brcko, said in Sarajevo on 5 January that the multi-ethnic Brcko police force is working well and without serious incident. The 230-strong force consisting of Serbs, Croats, and Muslims took up its duties on 3 January. Japan and the UN donated $250,000 worth of equipment to the police force. PM

CROATIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS SLAM VAT

Spokesmen for the Social Democrats, Croatia's largest opposition party, said in Zagreb on 5 January that the new value- added tax hits the poorest Croats the hardest. Party leaders added that the tax could lead to a dramatic rise in unemployment and to a profound worsening of social conditions, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The 22 percent VAT went into effect on 1 January and is currently the most discussed domestic political issue. PM

ANNAN WANTS FRESH MANDATE IN CROATIA

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York on 5 January that the UN observers' mission on Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula should be extended for another six months. Annan said the extension is necessary because Yugoslavia and Croatia are still far from an agreement on the future of the strategic peninsula, which controls access to Yugoslavia's only major naval base. PM

CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER UNDERGOES SURGERY

A team of medical consultants announced in Zagreb on 6 January that Gojko Susak underwent an unspecified successful emergency operation two days earlier after experiencing sudden pains in the region of his appendix. The powerful hard-line leader has a history of health problems and underwent lung cancer surgery in the U.S. in 1995. PM

RUSSIAN LOAN FOR YUGOSLAVIA

The Russian government approved a $150 million state loan to Yugoslavia on 27 December, Interfax reported on 5 January. The loan runs until the year 2000 and will be used to pay for Russian supplies of gas and other products in the energy, mining, and metallurgy sectors. PM

KOSOVO STUDENTS URGE PEACEFUL SOLUTION

Kosovar student leaders on 5 January called for a peaceful and democratic solution to the current tensions in Serbia's mainly ethnic Albanian province. The students thanked Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle for his recent criticism of police violence but urged him to make a complete and public break with the Serbian government and its repressive methods (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 1998). Kosovar Social Democratic leaders, for their part, appealed in an open letter to all Serbs to condemn Belgrade's policies in the province, "Nasa Borba" reported. PM

EXPLOSIONS IN MACEDONIA

Police spokesmen said in Skopje on 5 January that one bomb went off the previous day near a police garage in Kumanovo and another in a police car in Prilep. No injuries were reported. Police appealed to citizens for information relating to the blasts. PM

KURDS STOPPED AT ALBANIAN BORDER

Interior Ministry spokesmen said in Tirana on 6 January that border police detained 18 Kurds the previous day at a frontier crossing with Greece near Saranda. Police said the young males were headed for the ports of Durres and Vlora, from where they planned to proceed to Italy with the help of Albanian criminal organizations. The Albanian authorities detained nine Kurds the previous week. Albania reached agreements with Italy and with Greece in 1997 aimed at controlling illegal migrants. PM

CONTINUED CONTROVERSY IN ROMANIA OVER ROYAL SUCCESSION

In a 5 January statement, the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) said President Emil Constantinescu's position on the republican form of government was "weak and unsatisfactory." The PDSR also accused the government of pursuing a "two- faced" policy on the monarchy, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Party chairman Ion Iliescu said the government should "unambiguously condition" the presence of the former royal family in Romania on a "firm and clear" declaration that it renounces any claims to a royal status or to the former crown properties. Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), demanded, among other things, the "immediate expulsion of Mihai von Hohenzollern and his family" from Romania and President Constantinescu's suspension from office. MS

EXTREMIST ROMANIAN LEADER WILL NOT LOSE IMMUNITY

Iliescu on 5 January said his party will oppose the prosecutor-general's initiative to lift the parliamentary immunity of PRM leader Tudor for having insulted President Constantinescu (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 1998). Without the support of the PDSR, the initiative will fail to achieve the required two-thirds majority to pass. In 1996, an similar initiative was started against Tudor for having insulted then President Ion Iliescu. After losing the elections at the end of that year, and intent on promoting collaboration with Tudor's PRM, the PDSR refused to support an initiative of the coalition members to continue the procedural steps undertaken by previous legislature toward stripping Tudor of his immunity. MS

ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW AGAIN ON AGEN DA

Ion Diaconescu, the chairman of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD), said on 5 January that the coalition will respect agreements with the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) when the government regulation amending the 1995 education law comes up for debate in the Chamber of Deputies. Diaconescu said the PNTCD will nonetheless continue to insist on the obligatory teaching in all schools of history and geography in Romanian. Meanwhile, UDMR executive chairman Csaba Takacs told Mediafax on 5 January that if the chamber adopts the version approved by the Senate, the UDMR will "no longer discuss quitting the coalition but will implement that step." MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES CHIEF OF STAFF

Petru Lucinschi has dismissed army chief of staff Vladimir Dontul, AFP reported on 5 January, citing Interfax. The decision was taken on 2 January, following a meeting between the president and the Defense Ministry Council, which last month had demanded that Lucinschi sack Dontul. The military leader is alleged to have been involved in the illegal sale of army property, including 850 kilometers of communication cable worth $ 300,000, and in illicit dealings with apartments built for military staff. An investigation is under way, and it is reported that other high-ranking officers may have been involved in the dealings. MS

BULGARIAN POLICE SEIZE HEROIN

Police in Sofia have seized 30 kilograms of heroin worth some $ 3 million, the Ministry of Interior announced on 5 January. A Bulgarian and a Turkish citizen have been arrested in connection with the seizure, Reuters reported. MS




BOSNIA LOOKS TOWARD DAYTON'S THIRD YEAR


by Patrick Moore

Two years after the Dayton peace agreement went into force, Bosnia-Herzegovina faces problems related to the role of the international community in implementing the treaty, domestic political factors, and economic development.

If there is anything on which most observers of the Bosnian scene are agreed, it is that the military provisions of the Dayton agreement have generally been well implemented. The international peacekeepers--currently known as SFOR--have taken a no-nonsense approach toward any serious violations and have been quick to seize unlawful arms caches or to punish any party that stages illegal maneuvers. An immediate return to fighting would therefore seem out of the question, at least as long as the peacekeepers are present.

It is less clear, however, how Dayton's civilian provisions have been implemented. But Most observers would say that there have been at least three serious shortcomings in implementing the civilian provisions and that time for enforcing them is running out.

The first is the creation of joint Bosnian institutions, which are clearly outlined in the peace agreement. The Serbs have been particularly obstinate in boycotting sessions of the joint presidency or blocking an agreement on a common citizenship. This is because any consolidation of a unified Bosnia works against the Serbian hard-line goal of dividing that country and joining the Republika Srpska to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's state.

In response to the Serbs' stone-walling, leaders of the international community agreed in Bonn in early December that Carlos Westendorp, the international community's main representative, should have the power to set and enforce deadlines to ensure compliance with the civilian provisions. A key question in 1998 will be whether he uses his powers and whether the major powers and SFOR support him.

A second issue is freedom of movement and the right of refugees to return to their homes. To date, Bosnia remains divided by internal frontiers, and few if any refugees have gone home to an area controlled by another ethnic group. In September 1997, the international community sponsored local elections, in which refugees were allowed to cast ballots for governments in their home areas. The coming months will show whether the major powers are prepared to enforce the results of the vote so that, for example, Muslim refugees can return to Srebrenica and take part in the affairs of the local council.

A third problem is posed by war criminals. Dayton allows for the peacekeepers to arrest individuals indicted by the Hague tribunal if the soldiers come face-to-face with them. In July, British special forces arrived in Bosnia to arrest two Serbs, while in December Dutch commandos seized two Croats. But reports persist of SFOR personnel deliberately looking the other way when well-known war criminals drive past NATO checkpoints or even drink in the same bars as the peacekeepers. SFOR officials argue that it is not their job to hunt war criminals. SFOR's critics, however, maintain that there will be no peace in Bosnia until persons indicted by The Hague are brought to justice, and stress that it is intolerable that major figures like Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic remain free.

In December, the Hague's Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour openly accused France of blocking the court's work. In any event, it remains to be seen whether the British and Dutch actions will prove to be isolated ones.

But if the foreigners bear responsibility for many of the post-Dayton problems, so do the former Yugoslavs. But while the hard-line Serbs in Pale have been the main obstructionists, since late June they have been openly opposed by Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic and her alternative power center in Banja Luka. Plavsic is as nationalistic as her rivals, but she argues that the Dayton agreement has much to offer the Serbs and is willing to work within its framework. It is unclear, however, which Serb faction will ultimately win out and whether Plavsic will actually work to implement Dayton--for example, by encouraging Muslims and Croats to return to Banja Luka.

The Muslims and Croats have had there share of problems, too. As RFE/RL's South Slavic service recently pointed out, the Muslims and Croats were the darlings of the international community at the time Dayton was signed but are now under a cloud. In the case of the Croats, this is because they and their patrons in Zagreb are widely seen as dragging their feet on implementing Dayton, particularly on reuniting Mostar.

In the case of the Muslims, public revelations by Westendorp in October suggested that the Muslims (and their Croatian allies) have been guilty of corruption on a vast scale. Both the Muslims and Croats have allegedly diverted customs revenues and aid money to maintain structures--such as intelligence services--that were supposed to have been abolished under Dayton. Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic has promised an investigation.

The Muslim authorities themselves, furthermore, were forced to admit that foreign Islamic fighters remain a security problem; in December, they launched a dragnet against those fighters. While Izetbegovic's supporters in the West applauded the action, the incident served to raise fresh questions about the role of Islamic hard-liners in Bosnian Muslim politics.

A final issue facing Bosnia is economic development. In the Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian areas alike, there are tens of thousands of demobilized young men whose only trade has been killing. The economic question is most acute in the Republika Srpska, where some estimates put the per capita monthly income at as low as $35. Plavsic has argued that peace and stability require prosperity and has appealed for investments.


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