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Newsline - May 18, 1998




YELTSIN AT G-8 SUMMIT IN BIRMINGHAM

President Boris Yeltsin said he was satisfied with the results of the G-8 summit in Birmingham, England, Russian media reported. Yeltsin said he spoke on all 12 issues on the summit's agenda and "defended our stance if it did not coincide with the opinion of the other summit participants." Russian press hailed the summit as the first at which Russia participated as a full member but noted that Yeltsin did not attend a meeting to discuss the Asian financial crisis and that the Russian financial minister was not invited to an earlier session of the group's ministers. Yeltsin, however, pointed out that no one referred to the summit as the "G-7." British Prime Minister Tony Blair, for his part, on 17 May praised the Russian contribution to the "G-8" summit. Members voted to postpone a decision on Yeltsin's proposal to hold the 2000 annual gathering in Russia, rather than Japan, but expressed support for his suggestion to organize a meeting in Moscow next year on combatting crime. BP

YELTSIN MEETS WITH CLINTON...

Yeltsin held a one-hour meeting with President Bill Clinton on 17 May, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Yeltsin told the U.S. leader that he is "determined" to have the START-2 treaty ratified and that he is looking forward to Clinton's visit to Russia, which, he said, he hopes will take place in July. Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii went one step further, saying that after ratification of START-2, Russia will begin a "practical phase of negotiations" designed to facilitate the signing of START-3 and establish the "complete parity of Russia and the United States in that sphere." Both presidents called for the G-8 members to increase controls over the export of military, rocket, and dual- purpose technology. Yeltsin backed a continued U.S. military presence in Macedonia. And he introduced Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov to Clinton as the "next Russian president." BP

...AND WITH BLAIR, BRITISH BUSINESSMEN

Yeltsin met separately with Tony Blair on 15 May and reached tentative agreement on an informal "meeting without neckties" (a term used in Yeltsin's recent meetings with the Japanese prime minister) in Russia next year. Yeltsin invited Britain to participate in a project with Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany to produce An-70 transport planes. Yeltsin also met with leading representatives of the British business community, whom he called "our tried and trusted partners." Some of the businessmen complained that starting prices for shares in the Russian company Rosneft are too high. Yeltsin said he will examine the issue. BP

YELTSIN TO HOLD TALKS WITH LATVIAN PRESIDENT?

Arriving in Birmingham on 15 May, Yeltsin said he is confident he will soon meet with Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis and "reach an agreement." He welcomed recent proposals by Riga to relax citizenship regulations, noting that the "message" of those proposals is "not to discriminate against Russians." "There will be no discriminatory measures against the Baltic States on our part," Yeltsin said. The president added that relations with Estonia are "somewhat more complicated but we will reach a solution to the problem." The next day, Yastrzhembskii sounded a somewhat less conciliatory note, saying Yeltsin plans to meet with Ulmanis but only "on the basis of a request from the Latvian side." He said that without changes in the citizenship law recommended by such international bodies as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, "it is hard to expect progress in Russian-Latvian relations." JC

LEBED WINS KRASNOYARSK ELECTION...

Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed won the 17 May gubernatorial election in Krasnoyarsk Krai with 57 percent of the vote. His rival, incumbent Valerii Zubov, gained 38 percent, despite running a more active campaign than Lebed in the runup to the second round. Turnout was some 63 percent, roughly the same as in the first round. After the early returns were announced, Zubov told NTV that he will not contest the election results. But ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed source in the Krasnoyarsk Krai Electoral Commission as saying Lebed's staff violated several campaign regulations. The source said the violations were sufficient to justify annulling the election and that the prosecutor's office has already been informed about those violations. Some commentators have predicted that the authorities would annul the election in the event of a Lebed victory (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 12 May 1998). LB

...LEAVES DOOR OPEN ON PRESIDENTIAL BID

Appearing on NTV on 18 May, after the early election results were announced, Lebed said he has no plans "for now" to run for president in 2000. He noted that presidential campaigns are expensive and time-consuming and that "big and difficult" work awaits him as Krasnoyarsk governor. However, he did not rule out a presidential bid "if I am needed." During the campaign, Zubov repeatedly charged that Lebed has no roots in Krasnoyarsk and merely wants to use the Siberian region's natural resources to help finance a presidential campaign. Lebed has repeatedly said he will not run for president until he improves the Krasnoyarsk economy. During a 15 May appearance on local television, he appeared to rule out running in 2000, saying that "it is not possible to turn around the situation in the region within two years," AFP reported. LB

GOVERNMENT PROMISES SUPPORT FOR COAL INDUSTRY...

Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko announced on 16 May that the federal government has found additional funds for the coal industry, although he did not specify how much will be spent on top of the 5.7 billion rubles ($930 million) allocated in the 1998 budget, Russian news agencies reported. Speaking to journalists after a meeting with leaders of trade unions that represent coal industry workers, Kirienko said privatization and alcohol sales will bring in additional revenues, and money will be saved by limiting energy consumption by budget-funded organizations. Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who also attended the meeting, said the government will spend 385 million rubles on back wages for miners by the end of May. LB

...AS KIRIENKO LINKS ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO BUDGET CUTS

Kirienko addressed the State Duma on 15 May after Communist deputies threatened to block parliamentary proceedings if the prime minister did not come to the chamber to report on the situation in the coal industry, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Kirienko proposed a draft law that would cut 1998 spending on the State Duma, the Federation Council, the government, the Audit Chamber, and the presidential administration by 25 percent. He said the measure would save 500 million rubles ($81 million), which would be used to support the coal industry. The Duma passed the law in the first reading by 369 to two, Russian news agencies reported on 15 May. However, Agrarian faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov accused Kirienko of using the difficult situation in the coal sector to propose a "hidden sequester of the 1998 budget." The budget projects 500 billion rubles in total 1998 spending. LB

MINERS UNIMPRESSED BY PROMISES

The promises by top government officials to find more money for the coal sector did not persuade miners in Komi Republic or Kemerovo Oblast to end their blockades of the Moscow- Vorkuta railroad or the Trans-Siberian railroad (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 1998). Meanwhile, 100 coal miners in Perm Oblast blocked a major highway on 18 May, ITAR-TASS reported. LB

KIRIENKO OUTLINES HIS RESPONSIBILITIES...

Prime Minister Kirienko has signed a document assigning the responsibilities within his cabinet, Russian news agencies reported on 15 May. In addition to supervising the activities of other cabinet members, Kirienko will be directly involved in the work of the following ministries: Atomic Energy, State Property, Science and Technologies, Agriculture, Finance, Economics, and Justice. He will also monitor the work of the "power ministries," which are directly subordinate to the president, and will coordinate Russian policy on arms exports, military and technical cooperation with other countries, and military reform. LB

...AND DIVISION OF LABOR AMONG HIS DEPUTIES

Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov will carry out the prime minister's duties in Kirienko's absence, according to the document signed by Kirienko. He will also be responsible for land reform and housing policy and will coordinate government policies on energy, transportation, regulating natural monopolies, ensuring competition, and supporting small businesses. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko will be responsible for a wide range of economic issues, including the development of the banking sector, the management of state property, privatization, revenue collection efforts, and matters related to Russia's internal and external debt. Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev will supervise the government's social policies, in particular pension reform, restructuring the social benefits system, and health and education matters. He will also coordinate the government's relations with the mass media, trade unions, public associations, and religious organizations. LB

CHUBAIS REASSURES FOREIGN SHAREHOLDERS

Unified Energy System (EES) chief executive Anatolii Chubais on 16 May said a new law on the distribution of the company's shares does not threaten foreign shareholders, Interfax reported. He criticized the law, which restricts foreign ownership of EES to a maximum of 25 percent, but added that the Russian civil code protects the rights of shareholders. The law does not specify how foreign ownership of EES, currently above 25 percent, is to be reduced (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 May 1998). Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Yastrzhembskii on 15 May charged that the Duma "stabbed the market economy in the back" by passing the law on EES shares. He did not comment on the fact that Yeltsin was compelled to sign the law only after the Federation Council, made up of regional legislative and executive leaders, also overrode the president's veto. LB

MAYOR CRUSHES INCUMBENT GOVERNOR IN SMOLENSK

Smolensk Mayor Aleksandr Prokhorov won the 17 May gubernatorial election in Smolensk Oblast with 67.3 percent of the vote, ITAR-TASS reported. Incumbent Anatolii Glushenkov gained just 26.5 percent, according to preliminary returns. The Smolensk race was unusual in that Prokhorov had the backing of both the Communist Party and the presidential administration, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 May. The Communists were disillusioned with Glushenkov, whom they supported in the 1993 gubernatorial election. The Kremlin recognized that Prokhorov had better electoral prospects and is counting on him to "forget" the promises he made to the Communists during the campaign. The oblast has traditionally been a Communist stronghold: Gennadii Zyuganov received 56 percent of the vote in the region in the 1996 presidential election, while Yeltsin gained just 38 percent. LB

INCUMBENT LEADER LOSES IN KARELIA

Preliminary returns suggest that Sergei Katanandov gained 49.5 percent of the vote in the 17 May election for the top executive post in the Republic of Karelia, ITAR-TASS reported. Incumbent Viktor Stepanov, who was backed by the Communist Party and its political allies, gained 43.4 percent. Katanandov was until last month mayor of Petrozavodsk, the republic's capital city, but he did not seek re-election, choosing instead to challenge Stepanov. His supporters included the Our Home Is Russia movement, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. Katanandov told ITAR-TASS that among his first actions will be to conduct an audit of his predecessor's allocation of funds. LB

COURT APPROVES DECISION TO ANNUL NIZHNII ELECTION

A raion court in Nizhnii Novgorod on 15 May approved the decision by the city's electoral commission to annul the 29 March mayoral election, Russian news agencies reported. The court found that Andrei Klimentev, the apparent winner of the election, and several rival candidates violated various campaign rules in the weeks leading up to the election. The city's electoral law allows election results to be canceled if candidates break campaign rules. But some observers have said the Nizhnii Novgorod statute violates federal law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1998). A representative for Klimentev announced plans to appeal to the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Court. LB

RUSSIAN, CHECHEN INTERIOR MINISTERS DISCUSS COOPERATION

Meeting in the Ingush capital, Nazran, on 16 May, Sergei Stepashin and Kazbek Makhashev agreed on measures to intensify cooperation between their ministries. Makhashev told journalists that the talks were "productive and useful" and that, as a professional, Stepashin understands the importance of coordinating measures to combat kidnapping and political terrorism. He also said that the man who shot dead Chechen Deputy Security Minister Shamsudi Uvaisayev, former Foreign Minister Ruslan Chimaev, and two others during the night of 15-16 May was insane. Makhashev ruled out any political dimension to the murders. The following day, Stepashin met with Chechen field commanders to discuss how to secure the release of some 50 Russian and foreign hostages, including Russian presidential envoy to Chechnya Valentin Vlasov. LF




MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN CONTINUE TALKS

The co- chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group met with Armenian President Robert Kocharian in Yerevan on 15 May. Kocharian again called for direct talks between the Karabakh and Azerbaijani leaderships and ruled out any direct subordination of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. He also advocated establishing a "sub-regional security system" to create a balance of forces in the region. The president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arkadii Ghukasyan, said on 15 May that he believes the conflict can be resolved if all sides demonstrate the necessary political will, Interfax reported. Ghukasyan said that the Minsk Group co-chairmen showed "understanding" for the Karabakh Armenian position. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev told the co-chairmen in Baku on 16 May that he hopes for a swift solution to the conflict. He also reaffirmed his commitment to the cease-fire agreement signed in May 1994. LF

UN SPECIAL ENVOY ASSESSES ABKHAZ SITUATION

Speaking in Sukhumi on 16 May, Liviu Bota expressed concern at the increased incidence of what he termed professionally planned and executed terrorist activities in Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported. Bota said that neither Abkhazia nor Georgia appears to want peace and that the withdrawal of peacekeeping forces from the region would render the situation potentially explosive. Bota also rejected Georgian calls for a stricter economic blockade of Abkhazia, saying he does not believe the embargo is conducive to resolving the conflict. The Georgian leadership wants the blockade to remain in force until ethnic Georgians who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 fighting have been repatriated. But Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba on 15 May told representatives of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly that the beginning of repatriation should be contingent on lifting the embargo. LF

ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT, PRESIDENT REJECT CIS PROPOSALS

The Abkhaz parliament on 15 May adopted a resolution rejecting the "Additional Measures on resolving the Abkhaz conflict" adopted at last month's CIS summit, Caucasus Press reported. The resolution said those measures are a concerted effort to exert pressure on Abkhazia by the Russian and Georgian Foreign Ministries. It called on Ardzinba to propose that the CIS peacekeeping force's mandate be revoked and to reject further Russian mediation. Ardzinba, for his part, rejected the proposals contained in the "Additional Measures" to extend the security zone in which the CIS peacekeepers are deployed and to create joint Abkhaz-Georgian local government bodies in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion. Ethnic Georgian displaced persons are to be repatriated to that area. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION AGAIN PROTESTS ELECTION LEGISLATION

Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar and Azerbaijan Popular Front chairman Abulfaz Elchibey said that the parliament's adoption in the third and final reading of a new law on the creation of the Central Electoral Commission is "an erroneous step by the authorities," Turan reported on 15 May. Under that law, half of the 24 members of the Central Electoral Commission are to be appointed by the president and the other half by the ruling New Azerbaijan party. Elchibey hinted that opposition parties may boycott the October presidential poll to protest the law. By the same token, Gambar said that his party may boycott the elections if changes are not made in the draft law on the presidential elections to remove the minimum 50 percent plus one turnout. LF

UTO COMPLAINS ABOUT 'TROIKA' AGREEMENT

The leader of the United Tajik Opposition, Said Abdullo Nuri said the decision to form a "troika" of Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to combat the threat of fundamentalism in Central Asian endangers the Tajik peace process, ITAR- TASS reported on 15 May. Nuri called the threat "an invention" of "certain circles" and said "fundamentalism does not exist in Tajikistan." The next day, ITAR-TASS quoted Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov as a saying fundamentalism is a real threat in the region and claiming that religious radicals are already disseminating fundamentalist propaganda in Tajikistan. BP

AKAYEV TO RUN FOR ANOTHER TERM AS KYRGYZ PRESIDENT?

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Kubanychbek JumAliyev on 14 May said that current President Askar Akayev is eligible to run in the 2000 presidential elections, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Akayev was elected by the Supreme Soviet as president of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990, and he was twice voted Kyrgyz president in direct elections, in 1991 and 1995. The Kyrgyz Constitution stipulates that a president may stay in office for only two terms, but JumAliyev said the constitution was adopted in 1993 and therefore covers only the last presidential election. There are also reports that parliamentary deputies are drawing up an amendment to make possible a third term in office for the president. BP




BELARUS BLOCKS HUMANITARIAN AID TO CHORNOBYL VICTIMS

Participants in a conference in Warsaw on 16 May focusing on the after-effects of the Chornobyl nuclear accident adopted a resolution saying that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's "dictatorial regime is preventing international humanitarian aid from reaching victims of the disaster at the Chornobyl nuclear power station," AFP reported. The 12-state meeting condemned the Belarusian government for introducing a 40 percent tax on international humanitarian aid and appealed to the international community to send aid directly to the some 3 million Chornobyl victims in Belarus. Also on 16 May, some 50 young people from various European countries staged a protest in front of the Belarusian embassy in Warsaw to denounce Lukashenka's regime and its human rights violations. JM

PREMIER SAYS BELARUS ON RIGHT TRACK

Syarhey Linh told the National Assembly on 15 May that Belarus's economic performance in 1998 shows that the government has chosen the correct strategy and work methods, Belapan and Interfax reported. The premier said real incomes increased by 10 percent from January-April, while GDP grew by 12 percent, compared with the same period in 1997. The government intends to keep this year's budget deficit below 3.5 percent of GDP. At the same time, Linh noted the government's failure to keep the monthly inflation rate below the planned 2 percent. He also said that the profitability of enterprises has dropped from 17.3 percent to 6.3 percent. JM

UKRAINIAN MINERS, TEACHERS PROTEST WAGE ARREARS

More than 1,000 coal miners from Pervomaysk set off on a 130-kilometer march to Dnipropetrovsk on 15 May to demand the payment of wage arrears, Ukrainian Television reported. According to the Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners, strikes continue at 46 mines over wage arrears (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 7 May 1998). Also on 15 May, some 3,500 teachers in Kherson staged a rally in front of the local government building to demand payment of the previous two months' wages. Fifty of the 55 schools in Kherson are on strike, while almost 300 teachers have declared a hunger strike. JM

ULMANIS GREETS YELTSIN STATEMENT

Responding to press reports of Yeltsin's statement in Birmingham at the G-8 summit (see Part I), Ulmanis welcomed the Russian president's desire to expand political dialogue with Latvia. An "open and regular dialogue" will strengthen mutual confidence and create stability in the region, he said, noting that Russian-Latvian relations and European integration have created "a vast circle of issues to be discussed." JC

LITHUANIA INTRODUCES HARSHER PUNISHMENT FOR TERRORIST ACTS

The parliament has introduced harsher punishment for the acquisition, possession, production, and sale of firearms, ammunition, and explosives, BNS reported on 15 May, It has also added an article to the penal code on crimes classified as "acts of terrorism." Such acts that result in any deaths or in which three or more individuals are seriously injured now carry prison sentences of 10-20 years. The same punishment can be handed down for explosions or arson against state agencies or facilities of strategic importance to the national security. The move follows a recent wave in Lithuania of explosions and arson attacks. JC

POLAND TO HOLD LOCAL ELECTIONS ON 11 OCTOBER

Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek signed a decree on 16 May stating that local elections will be held on 11 October. The elections to three-tier local governments, which are to replace the current two-level administrative system, will pave the way for completing administrative reform. An April opinion poll showed that 48 percent of Poles support reducing the number of provinces and introducing the "powiat," a middle tier of local administration. However, 46 percent of the respondents demand that a national referendum be held on administrative reform. JM

RALLY TURNS VIOLENT IN PRAGUE

A rally of environmental activists on Prague's main Wenceslas Square on 16 May turned into an open clash with the police. Four policemen were injured, and some 50 youths aged 13-20, including several German youngsters, were detained after breaking shop windows and plundering, CTK reported. Twenty-five people were later charged with breach of public order and damaging property, and nine were kept in custody. The rally began as an authorized, pre-election meeting organized by the Czechoslovak Anarchist Federation and the radical ecological Earth First movement to protest the impact of economic globalization on the environment. MS

ROM KILLED IN RACIAL INCIDENT

A Romany man was killed by a passing truck in the night from 16-17 May in Orlova, police told CTK on 17 May. He had been left lying on the road after being attacked by a group of skinheads, who were detained. The truck driver fled the scene. The incident occurred after a Romani father and his daughter were verbally insulted by the skinheads on their way home from a restaurant. Four Roma attacked the skinheads, who fought back. The chairman of the Orlova Roma Civic Initiative told CTK that the death would be avenged. MS

EXPERT TEAM CHIEF WARNS AGAINST SLOVAK NUCLEAR PLANT

Wolfgang Kromp, the Austrian chief of an international team of experts who inspected the controversial Mochovce nuclear plant last month, says the plant must not be allowed to become operational, Reuters reported, citing the Austrian APA agency. In an appeal to Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and the director of the plant, Kromp said triggering the first chain reaction at the plant could lead to the contamination of the reactor. The Soviet-made plant is located some 120 kilometers from Vienna. Austrian authorities have long expressed concern about its safety. MS

HUNGARY'S MAJOR PARTIES CONCERNED ABOUT FAR- RIGHT GAINS

The ruling Socialist Party (MSZP) and its main center-right challenger, the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP), have reassured the Jewish community that they will not let the gains of the extreme-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) threaten Hungary's democratic progress. MSZP executive deputy chairwoman Magda Kovacsne Kosa told Peter Feldmajer, the president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, that her party will do its best to ensure that all can live in peace and security in Hungary. Feldmajer said that FIDESZ has stressed that under no circumstances would it "accept the MIEP's support" in a new government. MSZ




SERBIA BLOCKADES KOSOVA

The Serbian authorities closed the border crossings into Kosova to all private vehicles on 15 May, regardless of whether drivers are Serbian or ethnic Albanian. Police have since allowed only vehicles belonging to state-owned corporations to pass. Serbian authorities gave no official explanation for stopping the private vehicles. One unnamed official told Reuters that all vehicles periodically require a safety check and that Kosovar drivers can "afford the delay" because "the Albanians are all smugglers and they are very rich as a result." Other observers have suggested that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has placed restrictions on economic activity in Kosova in retaliation for the latest international sanctions against his country. PM

THREE KOSOVARS KILLED

Three ethnic Albanians died near Klina on the Prishtina-Peja road on 17 May. The Kosova Information Center reported that the deaths occurred when police attacked a village in the area. KIC added that several homes were "burned, others were demolished, and [still] others pillaged." Serbian sources stated that armed Kosovars attacked a paramilitary police patrol and that one policeman was wounded. There was no independent report on the incident because Serbian authorities have barred the road to foreign journalists for more than one week. PM

SERBIAN POLICE EVICT SERBIAN STUDENTS

Serbian police on 18 May ordered several hundred Serbian students to leave the premises of the Technical Faculty of Prishtina University, which are slated to revert to the control of Kosovar faculty and students later in the day. The Serbs began their protest on 17 May against the latest stage in the implementation of the education agreement that representatives of Milosevic and Rugova signed in March. The pact restores Albanian-language education in government school buildings in stages between 31 March and 30 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April 1998). A Kosovar spokesman recently told "RFE/RL Newsline" in Thessaloniki that the implementation of the education agreement has become a low priority for the Kosovar leadership since the end of February, when the Serbian crackdown began. PM

NO RESULTS FROM MILOSEVIC-RUGOVA MEETING

Milosevic told Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova during two hours of talks in Belgrade on 15 May that Kosova must remain part of Serbia and that the Kosova question is an internal Serbian affair. Rugova said that Kosova must become independent, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported, citing sources close to the Kosovar leader. Four top advisers from his 15-strong negotiating team accompanied Rugova, but two members of the so-called G- 15 resigned from that body to protest Rugova's decision, which he made under U.S. pressure, to meet Milosevic without a foreign intermediary present. Later this week, the G-15 and its Serbian counterpart will begin holding weekly meetings that will alternate between Prishtina and Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 1998). PM

ALBANIA STILL WANTS NATO PRESENCE

Prime Minister Fatos Nano said in a statement on 16 May that the Milosevic-Rugova talks represent a "positive preliminary result.... This gives hope for a peaceful solution of the Kosova problem, for a quiet future of the region in general and especially for the lowering of armed tension on our state border." Nano added: "We stick by our request for the intensification of cooperation with NATO and the undertaking of a series of stabilizing measures" along Albania's border with Kosova. Tirana has repeatedly called for the stationing of NATO troops to bolster security in the region, as UN peacekeepers have helped do in Macedonia. NATO has twice turned down the request (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 1998). AFP reported from Brussels on 15 May that NATO has sent "a reconnaissance mission" to northern Albania to study the terrain in preparation for a possible deployment. PM

HERZEGOVINIANS REBUKE TUDJMAN, WESTENDORP

Members of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is a branch organization of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's party, elected hard- liner Ante Jelavic as party chairman at the HDZ's annual convention in Mostar on 16 May. Tudjman, through his personal emissary Ivic Pasalic, backed the candidacy of the more moderate Bozo Ljubica. It is unclear how Tudjman will respond to the delegates' decision, the Zagreb daily "Jutarnji list" wrote on 18 May. In a letter to the convention on 16 May, Carlos Westendorp, who is the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, told the delegates that the Herzegovinian Croats must abandon efforts to create their own mini-state within the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation. Jelavic told the delegates that the HDZ will continue with its current policies and stressed that the Croats must have their own army. PM

HEBRANG APPOINTED CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER

Tudjman appointed outgoing Health Minister Andrija Hebrang to succeed the late Gojko Susak as defense minister in Zagreb on 14 May. Hebrang said following his appointment that the Croatian army should "be adjusted to all the principles of...NATO [but] also remain the main protector of Croatian people and state's interests." PM

SERBIAN BROADCASTERS DEFY GOVERNMENT

Participants in a meeting of the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) agreed in Belgrade on 17 May to "continue their broadcasts regardless to the decision of the Yugoslav Ministry of Telecommunications on the allocation of temporary frequencies" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998), Radio B-92 reported. The independent broadcasters argue that the new monthly fee of $35,000 is prohibitively high for private broadcasters in Yugoslavia. ANEM members charge that the government is using the high fees to drive them off the air. PM

SLOVENIAN TRUCKERS CUT OFF LJUBLJANA

Several hundred truckers blocked roads leading into the Slovenian capital on 18 May to protest the introduction of a new road use tax. The drivers also want the authorities to relax new traffic regulations, which, among other things, include tougher punishments for motorists driving under the influence of alcohol. In other news, Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek faces a vote of confidence later this week stemming from the disclosure last winter of the existence of a secret defense pact between Slovenia and Israel. Drnovsek needs the support of the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), which is a member of his governing coalition, to survive the vote. Observers say that Drnovsek's party may not be willing to pay the high political price that the SLS is demanding in order to secure its support. PM

TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA

Ismail Cem and his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, on 15 May welcomed the beginning of a dialogue between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosova Albanian minority leader Ibrahim Rugova. At the same time, they said that if the dialogue fails, their countries are "ready to contemplate other measures" to help resolve the conflict. Among other things, they discussed the setting up of the multinational military force for south-eastern Europe but disagreed on where its headquarters should be. Turkey has proposed the Bulgarian city of Plodviv, while Romania prefers Constanta, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Cem also held talks on improving bilateral economic ties with President Emil Constantinescu, Premier Radu Vasile, and parliamentary chairman Petre Roman. MS

WORLD BANK TO RENEGOTIATE ROMANIAN LOANS

Kenneth Lay, the World Bank official responsible for Romania, said on 15 May after talks with Romanian officials that the bank will negotiate with Bucharest three accords to replace the FESAL agreements, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Those agreements were canceled after Romania failed to abide by their provisions. Lay said the new accords will be used for the privatization of the banking sector and state owned-enterprises, adding that further aid is entirely dependent on the success of Romania's privatization program. The FESAL agreements were signed in 1994 and canceled on 30 April. MS

DEADLOCK IN MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT PARLEYS?

Mircea Snegur and Iurie Rosca, the co-chairmen of the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), on 15 May told journalists in Chisinau that the CDM will not agree to any further compromises in talks with Premier-designate Ion Ciubuc on the distribution of portfolios in the new government, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Snegur said Ciubuc has accepted only two of the CDM's seven proposals for cabinet ministers, whereas the CDM has agreed to the re-appointment of Nicolae Tabacaru as foreign minister and Tudor Botnaru as minister for state security, both at the insistence of President Petru Lucinschi. The same day, Lucinschi said the coalition must take into consideration the views of the premier- designate. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER DENIES BREAKING ARMS EMBARGO

"Demokratsiya" on 16 May quoted Ivan Kostov as denying that Bulgaria is involved in breaking the UN embargo on arms deliveries to Sierra Leone. He said that Bulgaria is "strictly observing" the embargo and that no Bulgarian company has done business with the British Sandline International company. According to a recent report published in the "Sunday Times," Sandline International has delivered Bulgarian-made arms to Sierra Leone. Kostov said that if Bulgarian arms reached Sierra Leone via another African country, Sofia "bears no responsibility" for that development. Meanwhile, Romanian media reported on 15-16 May that a transport of Bulgarian-made machineguns destined for Slovakia was turned back at the Calafat border checkpoint because the transit had not been cleared with the Romanian authorities. MS




STILL STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN HOMELAND


by Mubeyyin Batu Altan

On 18 May, Crimean Tatars mark the 54th anniversary of their mass deportation from Crimea by the Soviet authorities. Although that was one of the saddest days in the history of the Crimean Tatar people, they are by no means the only ones who have to live with such a heritage. Among the other nations deported by Stalin were the Koreans, Chechens, Ingush, Karachais, Volga Germans, and Kalmyks, to name just a few. Why then do we, the Crimean Tatar community, consider 18 May so important?

The reason is simple: the "Surgun," as the mass deportation is called in Crimean Tatar, has not yet ended. More than half of the Crimean Tatars deported 54 years ago have so far been unable to return, even though most other deported groups are now back in their historical homelands. Along with the Ahiska (Meskhetian) Turks, the Crimean Tatars stand out as the nation that continues to experience the direct effects of deportation and not just the resulting dislocation.

If the Crimean Tatars had been helped to return to their homeland, had received an apology from those responsible, and had been compensated for their losses, 18 May would not have the significance it is currently accorded. It would, of course, be commemorated as a time of mourning. But the next day, Crimean Tatars would return to normal life.

Unfortunately, they do not have that option. And as a result, the Crimean Tatars have no choice but to make a big fuss about their deportation and thus keep the memory of 18 May 1944 alive. Their nation remains divided; many still have relatives in Uzbekistan or other parts of the former Soviet Union who cannot yet return to Crimea . Indeed, many continue to search for relatives lost during the "Surgun," as a glance at Crimean Tatar newspapers shows. Advertisements in those papers reveal that even now, many Crimean Tatars have been unable to find out whether their loved ones are alive or dead.

Moreover, it appears that many Crimean Tatars are losing ground in their peaceful struggle to return and resettle in their Crimean homeland. Some 90.000 Crimean Tatars were denied the right to cast their ballots in the March 1998 Ukrainian elections because Kyiv does not consider them citizens of Ukraine--despite the fact that they were forcibly and unjustly uprooted from their homeland and did not become Uzbek citizens by choice. As a result, the Crimean Tatars have almost no representation in the current Crimean parliament--in sharp contrast to the situation before the March ballot, when they had 14 representatives in the legislature.

Mustafa Jemilev and Refat Chubarov, the two Crimean Tatar representatives in the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, are bound to find it extremely difficult to shoulder the responsibility for an entire people, even with the support of the Ukrainian government. And unfortunately, it appears that there are many in Kyiv who will seek to block their efforts to help the Crimean Tatars.

On 17 May, Crimean Tatars living in the U.S. once again peacefully gathered to commemorate the "Surgun." At a special ceremony in Corum, New York, they dedicated the first Crimean Tatar monument in honor of all Crimean Tatars who were killed or died during the "Surgun" and its aftermath. And, in particular, they remembered those whose bodies were thrown off the trains carrying the Crimean Tatars from their homeland to Uzbekistan.

But for the Crimean Tatars in Crimea and for those still living in exile, everyday is another "18 May." This will remain the case until all the Crimean Tatars are able to return and settle in their ancestral homeland, until they are allowed to live there in peace and harmony with other nationalities just as they did before the "Surgun." But as they continue their struggle, it is both their hope and ours that there will be no more martyrs to add to the long list of those who have already died for the Crimean Tatar national cause. The author is editor of "Crimean Review," a U.S.-based, English-language publication dedicated to recording the history and current status of the Crimean Tatars.


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