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Newsline - May 5, 1998




YELTSIN INCREASES GOVERNMENT'S POWERS...

Following his meeting with Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko on 5 May, Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced that he has signed a decree empowering the new government to take decisions without channeling them through the presidential structure. At the same time, he said the new procedure makes Kirienko's government more accountable to both the president and the country. Yeltsin said he and Kirienko also discussed wage problems, funding the military, and the continued misappropriation of budget funds. LF

...AND CUTS STAFF BY HALF

Yeltsin also said that the government will undergo "serious structural changes." Government departments will be abolished, the number of ministries reduced, and government staff halved in a move that Yeltsin said will reduce "red tape." Yeltsin said that the final composition of the government, which will include many new and young faces, is complete except for two or three cabinet posts. LF

PRIMAKOV AFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE STANDARDS...

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 5 May said that adapting Russian legal and human rights practices to Council of Europe standards is "a major goal" and that Moscow looks to the council for assistance in doing so, Interfax reported. He added that Russia will do its best to overcome the challenges of the post-Cold War era, including local, separatist, and nationalist conflicts. Primakov was speaking at a meeting with Council of Europe Secretary-General Daniel Tarschys, to whom he submitted the ratification instruments of the Council of Europe's conventions on the protection of human rights, local self-government, and the abolition of torture, Interfax reported. LF

...BUT WARNS MOSCOW WILL NOT RETREAT ON LATVIA

Arriving in Strasbourg the previous day, Primakov had warned that Russia "will not retreat a single step" in its standoff with Latvia and will continue to demand the abolition of all discriminatory measures against the Russian-speaking population in that country, ITAR-TASS reported. Also on 4 May, Primakov met with his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, to review bilateral relations and preparations for signing a bilateral treaty. LF

CHECHEN PRESIDENT APOLOGIZES TO YELTSIN FOR ENVOY'S ABDUCTION

Aslan Maskhadov wrote to Yeltsin on 4 May to express his regret at the abduction three days earlier of Yeltsin's envoy to Chechnya, Valentin Vlasov. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 5 May described Vlasov as one of very few Russian officials with a profound knowledge and understanding of the situation in Chechnya. Maskhadov stressed that the abduction was intended to exacerbate relations between Russia and Chechnya and to destabilize the entire North Caucasus, Interfax reported. Russian and Chechen Interior Ministry staff continue to search for Vlasov not only in Chechnya but also in Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and Dagestan. Dagestani Security Council secretary Magomed Tolboev said on 4 May that he knows the identity of the kidnappers but declined to divulge it. He said they are sponsored by foreign circles keen to destabilize the North Caucasus, RFE/RL's North Caucasus correspondent reported on 5 May. LF

YELTSIN ISSUES NEW DECREE ON PASSPORTS

Yeltsin has signed a new decree outlining the procedure for Russian citizens to apply for a passport for foreign travel, ITAR-TASS reported. The decree stipulates that people who are not registered as permanently resident in the Russian Federation may apply for a passport for foreign travel to the local Interior Ministry agencies at their temporary place of residence. The Constitutional Court had ruled in January that the federal law on issuing passports violated the provision of the Russian Constitution guaranteeing freedom of travel because it precluded the granting of passports to the homeless and those who do not have a formal residence permit for the city in which they live (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 January 1998). LF

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS ON WAGES

New data released by the State Statistics Committee show that the average monthly wage in Russia during the first quarter of 1998 was 1,023 rubles ($167), up from the equivalent of 844 rubles during the same period in 1997, Interfax reported on 1 May. However, 32 million Russian citizens (some 22 percent of the population) earned income below the subsistence wage, calculated at 423 rubles, Interfax reported on 2 May. An estimated 82 million people earned a monthly income of less than 800 rubles during the first quarter of the year, while some 8 million people earned monthly wages exceeding 2,000 rubles. LB

OIL, GAS SECTOR PAYS HIGHEST AVERAGE WAGES

According to the latest data released by the State Statistics Committee, average monthly wages during the first quarter of 1998 were highest in the gas industry, totaling 4,165 rubles ($679), Interfax reported on 1 May. Wages for workers involved in oil extraction were a distant second at 2,794 rubles, followed by those working in oil refining (1,992 rubles). At the other end of the spectrum, agricultural workers in the Russian Federation earned on average just 348 rubles a month during the first quarter of the year, while workers in light industry and the timber industry earned 546 and 558 rubles, respectively. Workers in the health and social services received on average 672 rubles a month, education sector employees 636 rubles, and scientific personnel 936 rubles. LB

GROUPS CRITICIZE DRAFT LAW ON ALTERNATIVE SERVICE

Groups including the Soldiers' Mothers Committee and the Anti-Military Radical Association have sharply criticized the latest version of a law outlining the procedures whereby young men could exercise their constitutional right to choose alternative service if they are drafted, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 30 April. In particular, they object to an amendment proposed by Viktor Zorkaltsev, the Communist chairman of the Duma Committee on Public Associations and Religious Organizations. That amendment would stipulate that until the year 2000, allow up to 50 percent of young men who receive permission to perform alternative service could be placed in civilian jobs at military facilities. Kirill Shulipa of the Anti-Military Radical Association argued that connections or bribes would likely determine who would be sent to military facilities. LB

DECREE ON PROFESSIONAL ARMY BEING IGNORED

Although a May 1996 presidential decree ordered that the army should consist entirely of contract soldiers by 1 January 2000, various government documents and directives are ignoring that deadline, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 30 April. In a written response to a query from Duma deputy Valerii Borshchev of the Yabloko faction, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov recently admitted that Yeltsin's decree (issued a month before the first round of the presidential election) is not being implemented. Nikolai Khramov of the Anti-Military Radical Association commented that "we all remember perfectly well" the circumstances under which the decree was issued. But Khramov called for reminding the president and government that the decree has not been rescinded and must not be "sabotaged." The government already has trouble meetings its financial obligations toward military personnel and lacks the means to support an all- professional army. Contract soldiers are paid far more than draftees. LB

CITIZENS MAY APPEAL REFUSAL TO OPEN CRIMINAL CASE

The Constitutional Court has ruled that all those affected by a prosecutor's decision not to open a criminal case have the right to file court appeals seeking to reverse that decision, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. The court struck down an article in the criminal-procedural code that granted such a right only to the person who initially reported an alleged crime, rather than to all victims of that crime. Having determined that articles 45 and 46 of the constitution guarantee all citizens the right to use the judicial system to defend their rights and freedoms, the court instructed the parliament to amend the criminal-procedural code accordingly. LB

KRASNOYARSK GOVERNOR WARNS LEBED VICTORY WOULD HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES

Valerii Zubov has warned that there will be dire consequences for Krasnoyarsk Krai if former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed wins the upcoming gubernatorial election, Reuters reported on 3 May. Appearing on local television, Zubov argued that a Lebed victory would lead to a redistribution of property and land, as well as the "giving away of Siberian minerals." In an open appeal to Yeltsin, Zubov said such policies would be tantamount to a "civil war over the vast expanses of our great country." Lebed, the favorite going into the 17 May runoff election, described Zubov's remarks as "clownish" and "hysterical." Meanwhile, using a tactic commonly employed by candidates in regional elections, Zubov has sharply criticized the federal government for failing to meet its financial obligations toward Krasnoyarsk. He also threatened to stop transferring tax revenues to the federal budget. LB

HUNGER STRIKES SET TO RESUME IN PRIMORE...

Employees of the Tsentralnaya coal mine in Partizansk (Primorskii Krai) have suspended their protests against persistent wage arrears, but trade union officials predict the miners will soon resume hunger strikes, RFE/RL's correspondent in Vladivostok reported on 4 May. On the eve of the 1 May labor holiday, more than 50 employees of the Tsentralnaya mine received five months' worth of back wages and ended a hunger strike. Some 40 of their colleagues ended a similar strike late last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April 1998). Although more funds have reportedly been sent to Partizansk, they are expected to cover back wages for only two to three months, while most miners have not been paid in seven months. LB

...AS TRADE UNION OFFICIAL CRITICIZES POLICY ON SETTLING DEBTS

Petr Kiryasov, the chairman of a local coal miners' trade union in Primorskii Krai, has criticized the policy of paying back wages in full to workers who are staging hunger strikes. Speaking to ITAR-TASS on 30 April, Kiryasov argued that such a policy encourages other workers to resort to similar actions in order to receive their pay. Employees of the Nagornaya mine, also located in Partizansk, began their own hunger strike after wages were paid to the strikers from the Tsentralnaya mine. ITAR- TASS reported on 3 May that 14 employees of the Nagornaya mine are participating in the latest hunger strike. LB

BUDDHISTS IN BURYATIA PROTEST PLANS TO EXHIBIT BOOK

Police in Buryatia on 4 May barred protesting Buddhists from entering a museum in a bid to prevent a Tibetan book from being shipped to the U.S. for an exhibition, ITAR-TASS reported. The Vaidurya-Onbo is one of only three surviving copies of the Atlas of Tibetan Medicine dating from the 17th century. The president of Buryatia, Leonid Potapov, in early April tore up a contract with the U.S. agency sponsoring the tour in response to protests from the Buddhist community. But Buryatia stood to lose $3 million for breach of contract and eventually agreed to the tour, after receiving guarantees from the U.S. sponsors that the book will be well cared for. BP

TURKISH GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS KAZAN

President Mintimer Shaimiev on 4 May met with a Turkish delegation headed by State Minister Ahat Andican to discuss the proposed visit to Tatarstan of Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The two sides also discussed expanding Turkish investment in Tatarstan and bilateral trade. Andican said that in the near future, Turkey will move from fifth to first place among foreign investors in Tatarstan. Turkey is particularly interested in purchasing ships built in Tatarstan. The Turkish delegation is scheduled to visit the Kazan helicopter plant and the Yeshel Uzen Gorky ship-building plant. LF




TAJIK PRESIDENT BLAMES OPPOSITION FOR RECENT FIGHTING

Imomali Rakhmonov on 4 May told UN special envoy to Tajikistan Paolo Lembo that the recent fighting in and near Dushanbe was planned in advance by the opposition, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Rakhmonov said that not only forces loyal to field commander Rahmon "Hitler" Sanginov took part in attacks on government troops but also units of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) stationed on the eastern outskirts of Dushanbe. Lembo expressed his approval of Rakhmonov's handling of the situation, noting Rakhmonov consulted with the government and opposition before ordering a counter- attack on 1 May. At the same time, the UN envoy noted the contribution of UTO deputy leader and Deputy Prime Minister Khoja Akbar Turajonzoda in mediating the dispute. BP

MOST ARRESTED UYGHURS FREED IN KYRGYZSTAN

Officials at the Kyrgyz Security Ministry told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service on 4 May that all but one of the 20 Uyghurs taken into custody last month were freed within three to four days of their arrests. The remaining detainee is a Chinese citizen, who was also in possession of Kyrgyz and Turkish passports when taken into custody. An official from the "Ittipaq Uyghur Ethnic Association" in Bishkek told RFE/RL correspondents in the Kyrgyz capital that none of those arrested were Kyrgyz citizens. The Kyrgyz daily newspaper "Vecherny Bishkek" and ITAR-TASS reported on 1 May that 20 Uyghur terrorists had been arrested (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1998). BP

UZBEKISTAN NOT TO REPAY DEBTS TO RUSSIA

The parliament has voted not to repay loans granted by Russia from 1992-93, Interfax reported on 1 May. Nurijon Ismailov, the chairman of an ad hoc commission, said treaties with Russia did not respect Uzbekistan's national interests, while the terms of Russian loans left Uzbek enterprises at a disadvantage. Uzbekistan owes Russia a total of 237 billion old rubles dating from 1992-1993. But the Russian newspaper "Vek" reported in its latest edition that during Uzbek President Islam Karimov's 5-7 May visit to Moscow, Uzbekistan's debt to Russia will be discussed. BP

ARMENIA RETURNS CULTURAL TREASURES TO GERMANY

On the first day of an official three-day visit to Germany, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian met in Bonn with his German counterpart Klaus Kinkel, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Oskanian handed over a collection of several hundred books and manuscripts confiscated by Soviet troops at the end of World War II and subsequently transferred to libraries in the then Armenian SSR. The two ministers signed a joint declaration on bilateral relations, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Oskanian also discussed the Karabakh conflict with Kinkel and Frank Lambach, the German representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group. Oskanian said that negotiations on resolving the conflict should resume without preconditions and focus on a "package" solution. He added that any subordination of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to Azerbaijan is unacceptable. LF

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER

Robert Kocharian on 1 May appointed Democratic Party of Armenia chairman and defeated presidential candidate Aram Sargsian as his advisor on foreign policy, Noyan Tapan reported. Interviewed by "RFE/RL Newsline" in March, Sargsian accused the international community of double standards in recognizing Bosnia but not Nagorno-Karabakh. He argued that Armenia has to align itself with Russia and Iran in order to defend its national interests. LF

AZERBAIJAN RESUMES RETRANSMISSION OF RFE/RL BROADCASTS

Communications Minister Nadir Ahmedov on 4 May order the resumption of rebroadcasting RFE/RL's Azerbaijani-language programs on medium wave. Retransmission was halted last month because RFE/RL lacked the required license. The U.S. State Department twice expressed concern at the ban, and Azerbaijani opposition youth organizations began a protest hunger strike last week. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION MAY BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

The supreme council of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front voted on 4 May to boycott the October presidential elections if the draft law on the elections is passed in its present form, Turan reported. Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar said that the law as currently drafted renders democratic elections "impossible." In New York, former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev, who would face arrest if he returned to Azerbaijan to contend those elections, said the law "legitimizes dictatorship." The elections are invalid unless contended by at least two candidates. LF

AZERBAIJANI DELEGATION CANCELS VISIT TO ANKARA

An Azerbaijani delegation has canceled a 5-6 May visit to Ankara to discuss the planned Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline for Caspian oil, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 5 May, citing a Turkish Energy Ministry statement. A spokesman for the ministry denied that problems have arisen between Baku and Ankara over the project. LF

MORE SHOOTINGS IN ABKHAZIA

Two Abkhaz soldiers were killed on 3 May and a third abducted by members of Georgia's White Legion guerrilla formation in Abkhazia's southern-most Gali Raion, Russian agencies reported. At least 15 people have been killed in a series of shootings in the district since early April. LF




CHORNOBYL PLANT DIRECTOR SACKED

Nir Nihmatulin, head of the state atomic energy company, dismissed Chornobyl plant director Serhiy Parashyn on 4 May. According to the Enerhoatom, Parashyn was sacked for "gross violations of work duties and low executive discipline." Parashyn told ITAR-TASS he was ousted for sending a letter to the Ukrainian president criticizing Enerhoatom. "This organization lacks experience and is incapable of ensuring the nuclear safety of its power stations," AFP quoted Parashyn as saying. JM

LUKASHENKA WANTS RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION TO STEP UP DECISION-MAKING...

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is also chairman of the Higher Council of the Belarusian-Russian Union, addressed the union's Parliamentary Assembly on 4 May, ITAR-TASS and Belapan reported. Lukashenka said the union is a "transition stage toward restoring the formerly powerful unity of nations," but he criticized the assembly's deputies for procrastination in adopting decisions. "It should be determined once and for all, primarily by Russia, whether we will develop our union as an economic formation or make more radical political decisions," Belapan quoted Lukashenka as saying. JM

...PROPOSES REINTRODUCTION OF SOVIET ANTHEM

Lukashenka also told the union's Parliamentary Assembly that he is ready to sign a decree on reintroducing the former Soviet anthem as the official anthem of the Union of Belarus and Russia, Belapan reported. "We do not have the right to give up this unprecedented and good anthem," Lukashenka told the assembly. JM

BABURIN SAYS RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS POSSIBLE IN 1998

Sergei Baburin, deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Belarusian-Russian Union has told Belapan that direct elections to the union's Parliamentary Assembly may be held in December 1998. In his opinion, the assembly should be transformed into a bicameral body. Meanwhile, Gennadii Seleznev, the speaker of the Russian State Duma, has been re-elected chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of Russia and Belarus. JM

ULMANIS SAYS LATVIA NEEDS NEW CONSTITUTION

Speaking at a conference in Riga on 4 May, Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis argued that the country needs a new constitution, BNS reported. Ulmanis asserted that a referendum on the basic principles of the basic law is necessary and that it will be the task of both the next parliament and the people to draft a new constitution or revise the existing one. He added that the decision to restore the pre-World War II basic law after independence was a "correct" one but that today a new approach is needed "in the European context." He refrained, however, from saying what changes should be made. Also on 4 May, the parliamentary legal committee approved in principle draft amendments to the citizenship law providing for the removal of the so-called naturalization windows and for the granting of citizenship to children born to non-Latvians since 1991. JC

ANOTHER BOMB EXPLOSION IN LATVIA

A bomb exploded in the early hours of 4 May in the town of Dobele, some 70 kilometers southwest of the capital, causing minor damage to a World War II monument, BNS reported. Local police officers told the news agency that no warning was received before the blast. They also noted that there have been no similar incidents in the town previously. JC

POLISH GOVERNMENT URGES REFORM IN COAL MINING

Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz, and five other ministers visited the Silesia region on 4 May in a bid to persuade local authorities and trade union leaders to launch reform in the coal mining industry, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported. Under its restructuring plan, the government wants to cut 118,000 jobs over the next four years and reduce coal production by 25 percent. On 1 May, the government and the trade unions signed an agreement on severance pay for miners who are laid off under that plan. Buzek told journalists that miners understand the need for restructuring, while Balcerowicz said the World Bank has pledged financial aid for the reform. JM

GEREMEK SAYS RUSSIA'S SILENCE MEANS CONSENT TO NATO EXPANSION

Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek on 4 May said that the lack of Russia's reaction to the U.S. Senate's ratification of the treaty on NATO expansion means Russia agrees to it, "Zycie Warszawy" reported. "Russia should also see its own interest in the decision on NATO expansion, since stabilization in the region provides chances for Russia's democratic development," the minister commented. JM

MECIAR AGREES TO OSCE OBSERVERS FOR ELECTIONS

Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 4 May said that he will invite Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe officials to monitor the September parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Slovak Service reported. Meciar made the pledge after meeting with Javier Ruperez, the chairman of the OSCE's parliamentary assembly. In a poll broadcast by private Television Markiza on 4 May, Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia was the most popular party with 25 percent support, followed by the Slovak Democratic Coalition (20.5 percent) and the Party of the Democratic Left (14 percent). Opposition parties were named by more than 60 percent of those polled. PB

MIXED REACTION TO FREEDOM HOUSE REPORT ON FREE MEDIA IN SLOVAKIA

Dusan Kleiman, the director-general of the state news agency Slovakia, has sent a letter to the U.S.-based Freedom House organization protesting its designation of Slovakia as a country where the media has "partial freedom." The Freedom House report was issued on 1 May and lists 53 countries in which the media has "partial freedom." Lubos Machaj of Radio Twist said the report is unfair and that the situation in Slovakia is comparable to that in Hungary or the Czech Republic. Pavol Minarik, editor in chief of the newspaper "Pravda," argued that journalists are denied access to many government officials, an obstacle journalists in neighboring countries do not face. PB

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE ASSASSINATIONS, BOMBINGS

The parliamentary National Security Committee has convened a meeting to investigate the spate of assassinations and bombings in the country, Hungarian Radio reported on 5 May. Committee head Imre Konya said "it seems that in Hungary terrorist acts can be committed with impunity." So far this year, there have been three bomb attacks on politicians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1998) and several prominent businessman have been assassinated, including media mogul Janos Fenyoe in February and a Ukrainian businessman shot dead on 4 May. Virtually no arrests have been made in connection with those incidents. PB




STANDOFF OVER IN KOSOVA?

Some 200 armed ethnic Albanians broke through a police cordon in the town of Ponoshec on 5 May, independent Belgrade Radio B-92 reported. Police said the previous day that they had surrounded members of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) there. The broadcast also quoted police officials as saying they have successfully blocked arms smuggling from Albania into Kosova. On 4 May, the leading Democratic League of Kosova issued a statement in Prishtina charging that "Serbian aggression is aimed at stepping up the ethnic cleansing of Kosova." At Junik, to the north of Ponoshec, police refused to allow some foreign observers to enter the area, from which the foreigners could hear gun and mortar fire, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

ANNAN TO CHECK ARMS FLOW

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York on 4 May that he wants "a comprehensive monitoring" of the arms embargo against President Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia. Annan added that he is "concerned about the deteriorating situation in Kosova and the absence of progress in negotiations between the parties concerned." He also cited "alarming reports about incidents on the border with Albania." In Sofia, Trade Minister Valentin Vasilev said that Bulgaria will scrupulously observe the embargo. PM

KINKEL AGAINST AIRLINE CURBS

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said in Frankfurt on 3 May that he opposes reimposing a ban on landing rights for Yugoslav Airlines (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 February 1998). Kinkel said that Yugoslavia would retaliate against any ban on JAT by denying landing rights to Lufthansa, in which case it would be impossible for Germany "to continue our weekly deportations" of Kosovar refugees who have been denied asylum. Kinkel added that there are 150,000 such people in Germany, which would also become the target of a new influx of refugees should the fighting worsen, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. The daily also quoted Engelbert Nelle, who heads the Bundestag's Sports Committee, as saying that he opposes a ban on Yugoslav participation in soccer's World Cup because of Kosova. Nelle said such a ban would constitute "interference in the internal affairs" of that country. PM

OGATA URGES HALT TO DEPORTATIONS

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata has urged European states to stop deportations of Kosovars. She said in Geneva on 4 May that "the return of rejected asylum seekers at this time would pose security risks for those sent back and could also tip the scales towards further violence." Germany and Switzerland, in particular, have large communities of Kosovars. PM

5,000 KOSOVA REFUGEES IN MONTENEGRO

UNHCR officials said on 4 May in Podgorica that more than 5,000 refugees from Kosova have found shelter with families and friends in Montenegro since the latest crisis began, "Koha Jone" reported. The refugees include ethnic Albanians, Serbs, Montenegrins, and Muslim Slavs. Montenegrin Interior Ministry officials said that over the previous four days alone, more than 800 residents of Kosova arrived in the mountainous republic. Many ethnic Albanian refugees have found shelter in Ulcinj on the Adriatic, which has an ethnic Albanian majority. Local refugee commissioner Rifat Hajdinaga said that 492 people are registered as refugees there, the majority of whom are children and pensioners. FS

WAR CRIMES SUSPECT ON TRIAL IN MONTENEGRO

Nebojsa Ranisavljevic went on trial in Bijelo Polje on 4 May for the abduction and murder of 19 mainly Muslim travelers from the Belgrade-Bar train near Visegrad in February 1993. Ranisavljevic denied that he was in the area at the time of the crime. He also withdrew his previous confession, which he said he made under police pressure, "Nasa Borba" wrote. Meanwhile in Podgorica, a court began the trial of Emil Labudovic for the attempted murder of a policeman during the political violence in January. Labudovic is a supporter of former President Momir Bulatovic and a former editor of Montenegrin television. Bulatovic's party has nominated Labudovic for a parliamentary seat in the upcoming elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

MONTENEGRO CALLS FOR OPEN BORDER

Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic told his Yugoslav counterpart, Radoje Kontic, on 4 May that the Debeli Brijeg border crossing with Croatia must be reopened, Vujanovic's spokesman said in Podgorica. The Montenegrin leader wants the border reopened even though Zagreb and Belgrade have yet to agree on the final status of the Prevlaka peninsula, which belongs to Croatia but controls access to Yugoslavia's only deep-water naval base. The reform-minded Montenegrin leadership actively follows a policy of openness to the outside world in hopes of revitalizing the economy, in which tourism and shipping play key roles. PM

KRAJISNIK QUESTIONS REFUGEE RETURNS

Momcilo Krajisnik, the hard-line Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said in Pale on 4 May that he does not acknowledge the permanent loss of some Bosnian cities and towns once inhabited by Serbs but now controlled by Muslims or Croats. He added, however, that he sees no purpose in making great efforts to enable Serbs to return to their homes there only to make way for Muslims and Croats to enter Serb-controlled areas. Also in Pale, the first issue went on sale of the new ultra-nationalist daily "Srpsko Oslobodjenje." An editorial said that most Bosnian Serb newspapers now do the bidding of Western mediators and that there is need for a daily that will "write the truth." The newspaper is published in Belgrade and includes on its editorial board Aleksa Buha, the chairman of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party. PM

INTERIOR MINISTER CLAIMS PLOT AGAINST ROMANIA

Gavril Dejeu said on 4 May that an "anti-Romanian lobby" is trying to thwart democracy and the country's international relations, AFP reported. Dejeu made his comments after a series of arrests in a growing cigarette smuggling scandal in the military. Some opposition politicians claim there are links between the scandal and President Emil Constantinescu's office. He did not say who was involved in the "lobby" but said it had links to the mafia. Colonel Gheorghe Trutulescu, arrested the previous day for his involvement in the smuggling operation, said the racket was organized by the state and that profits were siphoned to political party coffers. Constantinescu's aide, Zoe Petre, said the president was the victim of a plot to discredit him and added on national television on 3 May that "Watergate would have looked like a joke compared with this scandal." PB

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW STATE SECURITY CHIEF

Constantinescu has named General Anghel Stefan Andreescu as the head of the state security service, RFE/RL's Romanian Service reported on 4 May. Andreescu, a professor at a police academy, replaces Nicu Anghel, who resigned last week after reports alleging his involvement in the cigarette smuggling scandal. Constantinescu has given Andreescu 15 days to overhaul the agency. PB

BULGARIA CRACKS DOWN ON CORRUPTION...

Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov has fired Deputy Interior Minister Liutscan Liutscanov, who was in charge of border control, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sofia on 5 May. The sacking occurred on the same day that all customs officers were fired at the Oriakhovo border crossing, where cigarette smuggling was reportedly running rampant with the complicity of the officers. Police also reported the seizure of smuggled cigarettes on a freighter at the port of Burgas. PB

...BUT FACES TRADE SANCTIONS OVER PIRATED GOODS

In Washington, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said Bulgaria must show much greater progress in eliminating pirated compact disks, computer software, and movies by September or it will face trade sanctions, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Barshefsky said Sofia had progressed in its fight against pirated intellectual property. She said Bulgaria was singled out for an ultimatum because it needs to find a long-term solution to the problem. Bulgaria was listed alongside Russia, Turkey, and Greece, among others, as "priority watch" countries. PB

PARVANOV REELECTED SOCIALIST PARTY LEADER

At its party congress on 4 May, the beleaguered Bulgarian Socialist Party voted to keep Georgi Parvanov as leader, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Parvanov, who received 55 percent of the votes, attacked the government for its pro-Western stance and derided its austerity program. PB




EXPANDING NATO, LIMITING NATO


by Paul Goble

Sometimes a defeat can define the future far more precisely than a victory does.

That may have been the case last week when the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve NATO membership for Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. But at the same time, that body more narrowly defeated an amendment that would have called for a three-year pause before considering any more new members of the alliance.

By contrast, the number of senators voting for the failed amendment exceeded the one-third of the Senate that would be needed to prevent ratification of any future treaties. Consequently, this vote may guide the evolution of the alliance even more than will the approval the Senate gave for the three new members.

And that is especially likely given statements in the Senate debate itself and follow-up commentaries that have suggested the alliance's primary task now should be developing relations with Moscow rather than considering further applicants for membership anytime soon.

On 30 April, the U.S. Senate voted 80 to 19 to approve treaties that would make Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic members of the alliance. The U.S. thus became the fifth of the 16 current NATO member states that have formally ratified plans to take in the three East European countries. (While most of the other 11 are expected to ratify the expansion without difficulty, there may be problems in a few . Reports from Ankara last week, for example, suggest that the Turkish parliament would not vote for expansion at the present time. And under alliance rules, any one member country can block expansion from taking place.)

Prior to that vote, the senators defeated a series of amendments that would have had the effect of changing or limiting the alliance in one way or another. The most significant of those proposed amendments came from Senator John Warner, a Republican from Virginia. Sometimes identified in the press as the "pause" amendment, that proposal called for adding to the instrument of ratification of the inclusion of the three new members a provision that would put the U.S. on record as opposed to any further expansion of the alliance for at least three years.

The proposed amendment was rejected by a vote of 59 to 41. But that rejection may mean less than a superficial consideration of the numbers suggests.

On the one hand, the vote showed that 12 senators who later voted to include the first three new applicants appear to be against any further expansion soon. On the other, the 41 votes this amendment garnered are seven more than the 34 votes needed to defeat any proposal for expanding the alliance further to the East over the next several years. And consequently while the amendment lost and does not have the force of law, the number of votes it attracted is likely to have an enormous political impact on NATO itself, the Russian Federation, and the countries lying between the two.

For the alliance, the U.S. Senate vote suggests there is likely to be even less interest in the future than there has been in the past for a second or third round of NATO expansion anytime soon. If, as seems likely in the wake of the Senate vote, the U.S. does not appear inclined to ratify any new expansion, other member states are going to be less likely to push for it.

That could, of course, change if Russian policy toward the region changes or if Western evaluations of Russian policy in Eastern Europe and elsewhere shift.

What is intriguing is that this vote may have precisely that effect. For the Russian Federation, this vote is virtually an invitation to increase pressure on NATO to make even more concessions to the insult and injury that some in Russia and more in the West say Moscow is feeling from the first round of expansion. It is also likely to be read in the Russian capital as an implicit acknowledgment that the Western alliance is prepared to go so far and no further, regardless of what its political and military leaders say. That could lead some in Moscow to push for an even tougher approach with regard to Russia's immediate neighbors.

Finally, for the countries situated between the expanded alliance and the Russian Federation, this vote appears likely to have the most serious political consequences. Many leaders there may read the vote on the Warner amendment in the same way that Moscow is likely to. In such an event, some are likely to conclude that they have no choice but to make additional concessions to Moscow. Others may retreat into a hyperbolic nationalism that will only further exacerbate the situation. Still another group is likely to seek additional expressions of Western support, short of NATO membership but beyond what it feels it has today.

And all those likely responses will come from a vote on a measure that did not pass rather than from a vote for a measure that did.


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