Accessibility links

Newsline - June 11, 1999




TALKS ON KOSOVA PEACEKEEPING TROOPS ISSUE BREAK OFF

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott left Moscow on 11 June without securing an agreement to a unified NATO command for the Kosova peace-keeping force. Talbott arrived in Moscow the previous day to discuss Russia's role in such a force with presidential envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, and various Defense Ministry officials. Russian officials have repeatedly insisted that the force should be put under the UN's command, rather than NATO's. Head of the department for international military cooperation at the Russian Defense Ministry General Leonid Ivashov, who was conducting talks with Assistant Defense Secretary Ted Warner and others, told reporters on 11 June that "our positions on the role of the Russian military contingent in Kosovo differ. The Americans have taken a timeout," according to ITAR-TASS. Ivashov added that "if we do not reach an agreement, we will work out with Yugoslavia the sector we will control," according to AFP. JAC

FIRST RUSSIAN SOLDIERS ALREADY DEPARTED?

Interfax reported the same day that 300 paratroopers of the first 1,000 Russian troops could head for Yugoslavia as early as 11 June. In addition, 500 Russian peacekeepers currently in Bosnia- Herzegovina could relocate to Kosova in the near future. "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported the same day that by 15 August 2,200 Russian airborne troops will be ready to move into Kosova from airborne troop units stationed in Tula, Ivanovo, and Pskov. Citing Beta news agency, AP reported on 11 June that a convoy of Russian troops numbering up to 1,000 crossed over from Bosnia into Serbia at midmorning and were expected in Kosovo by the afternoon. Beta said that the Russian vehicles bore the insignia of the Kosova peacekeeping force. JAC

RUSSIA-NATO RELATIONS STILL IN DEEP FREEZE

Russian President Boris Yeltsin said on 11 June that Russia's relationship with NATO "remains frozen; we will see later what happens." The same day, an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry official told Interfax that the announced pause in NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia is not a justification for a renewal of relations with NATO. He added that "first the operation must stop completely" and following that, "the Russian-NATO Founding Act will need rethinking." Anonymous Defense Ministry officials added that renewing relations with NATO "is not on our list of priorities now." "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported that one Defense Ministry official reported that the ministry will no longer hold consultations and talks with representatives of the NATO command on the Kosova issue, explaining that "we will resolve all issues directly with the Americans." JAC

NEW BUDGET ALLOCATES LESS TO MILITARY...

Russia will devote 110.88 billion rubles ($4.56 billion) or 2.17 percent of GDP to military spending next year, according to the current draft of the 2000 budget, Prime-Tass reported on 10 June. Defense spending is the second-largest expenditure item in the budget, followed by spending on law enforcement activities and state security, which totals 1.35 percent of GDP or 68.74 billion rubles. First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko told reporters on 10 June that the draft budget plans $10 billion for foreign debt payments, compared with the $15.6 billion owed. The remainder will have to be rescheduled, according to Khristenko. In addition, international financial institutions will have to provide new financing worth $3-3.85 billion to cover next year's deficit. JAC

...THAN TO CREDITORS

The 1999 budget sets aside $9.5 billion for expected payments totaling 17.5 billion. Khristenko had predicted that foreign creditors are likely to decide on Russia's debt-restructuring plan by 15 June. Aleksandr Livshits, former finance minister, suggested that a decision on restructuring Soviet-era debt is likely to take a year. In addition, some analysts have suggested that rumors being circulated about the London Club plans to declare Russia in default are part of a broader strategy to gain more concessions during debt-restructuring negotiations. According to Interfax, Russia failed to make payments worth $1.218 billion to the London Club in June. JAC

RUSSIA TO IMPOSE NEW CURBS ON TOBACCO

State Duma deputies on 10 June approved a bill in the first reading that would impose stricter control over tobacco sales and advertising. The legislation bans the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 18, smoking in certain public places, and limits cigarette advertising, according to ITAR-TASS. Health Committee chairman Nikolai Gerasimenko told deputies before the vote that 70 percent of Russian men smoke, 27 percent of women, and "42 percent of children and teenagers," according to "The Moscow Times" on 11 June. Under the law, employers can impose an 860 rubles ($35) fine on workers who smoke outside specially designated areas. JAC

LUZHKOV CLAIMS KREMLIN'S OUT TO GET HIM

Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told reporters on 10 June that the presidential administration has given orders to find compromising materials about him and the work of the Moscow city government. He said that the administration, despite its public professions of impartiality toward him, has in fact declared him "Enemy No. 1." The same day, head of the presidential administration Aleksandr Voloshin told Interfax that he knows nothing about such orders and that the administration has enough real work to do on the threshold of parliamentary elections, such as preventing attempts to tinker with the ballot. At a meeting with the heads of regional election commissions, Voloshin said that while the administration dislikes the idea of moving up Moscow mayoral elections, it will not oppose such a move as long as "everything is done lawfully," according to ITAR-TASS (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 May 1999). JAC

LEBED'S POPULARITY AS NATIONAL FIGURE SLIPS

A poll of 1,500 respondents in urban and rural areas conducted by the Public Opinion Fund showed that 6 percent would have voted for Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed if presidential elections had been held in May 1999, Interfax reported on 10 June. Last year, 12 percent of respondents in a similar poll conducted by the same organization said they would vote for Lebed. Within a period of 12 months, Lebed dropped from second or third place in the popularity ratings to sixth. In a new book on Lebed, Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Moscow Center concludes that the first several months of Lebed's tenure as governor were not overly successful and that he may be impeached as early as May or June of this year. He also notes that national voters may not hold Lebed's performance as governor against him partly because they do not completely trust mass media accounts of his performance. JAC

ANOTHER GOVERNOR SEEKING TO BENEFIT FROM EARLY ELECTIONS?

Following the Novgorod Oblast Duma vote last month to move up gubernatorial elections from December to September (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 9 June 1999), the opposition has accused incumbent Governor Mikhail Prusak, who has broad support in the local legislature, of seeking to serve his own political interests, an "EWI Russian Regional Report" correspondent reported on 10 June. The opposition argues that Prusak is afraid to hold the gubernatorial vote at the same time as the State Duma elections because turnout could be high enough to oust him from office. They also point to the high cost of staging two separate election campaigns. Similar arguments were raised in Belgorod Oblast when the local legislature, loyal to incumbent Governor Yevgenii Savchenko, voted to hold an early ballot. Savchenko easily won re-election last month, beating out another leftist candidate and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii. JC

MINISTER URGES RENEWED COOPERATION WITH LIBYA

At a 10 June cabinet session, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu urged that military and technical cooperation with Libya be renewed, Interfax reported. Pointing out that Libya had earlier bought Russian-made weaponry worth $18 billion, Shoigu noted that those weapons now require servicing and maintenance. He also commented that possible payments by debtor countries such as Libya should be taken into account in drawing up Russia's 2000 budget. Earlier this year, the UN Security Council lifted sanctions against Tripoli. Also on 10 June, the Russian national airline resumed passenger flights to Libya, ITAR-TASS and AP reported. Aeroflot is offering a weekly service between the two capitals. JC

SEVEN DIE IN ST. PETERSBURG SUBWAY ACCIDENT

Seven people were killed and more than a dozen injured when a concrete roof collapsed in the entrance to the Sennaya Square subway station in downtown St. Petersburg on 10 June. Governor Aleksandr Yakovlev told ITAR-TASS the next day that so far police do not believe a terrorist act caused the accident. The subway station was built in the mid-1960s. JC

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA COURT SAYS ELECTION VALID

The Supreme Court of Karachaevo-Cherkessia on 10 June declared the recent presidential elections valid and said that Vladimir Semenov, who won a majority in the second round, has been elected president, Caucasus Press reported. The court had investigated the poll for two weeks following a complaint against the republic's Central Electoral Committee. PG

STEPASHIN SAYS RUSSIAN, CHECHEN PRESIDENTS TO MEET

Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said in Vladikavkaz on 11 June that a meeting between Russian President Yeltsin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov will take place by all means," ITAR-TASS reported. Stepashin added that the presidential session will be arranged on the basis of his conversations with Maskhadov. PG

RED CROSS APPEALS FOR RELEASE OF HOSTAGES IN NORTH CAUCASUS

The International Committee of the Red Cross issued another appeal on 10 June for the release of a New Zealander and his Russian associate who were taken hostage last month near Chechnya, AP reported. The ICRC said that Chechen officials claim that they have taken "appropriate measures" to secure the release of these hostages. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported the same day that a correspondent from the Russian Federation's Volga Military District was released by his kidnappers at the Chechen border. PG




ARMENIAN DEFENSE CHIEF NAMED PRIME MINISTER

Government sources in Yerevan told RFE/RL that Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, whose Miasnutyun alliance won the 30 May parliamentary elections, has been appointed prime minister by President Robert Kocharian. The appointment is to be announced later on 11 June. The names of other members of the new cabinet have not yet been announced. PG

GEORGIA, ARMENIA, IRAN TO COOPERATE IN FIGHTING CRIME

The foreign ministers of Georgia, Armenia, and Iran signed a memorandum in Tbilisi on 10 June committing their countries to work together to control illegal drugs and money laundering, the Georgian news agency Iprinda reported. Under the terms of the agreement, the three will hold annual meetings, exchange information, and train one another's specialists in these areas. PG

YEREVAN SAYS ITS WEAPONS DON'T THREATEN OTHERS

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said in Tbilisi on 10 June that his country has every right to purchase weapons for its national security, Prime-News reported. But he insisted that the weapons it possesses do not pose a threat to Georgia. PG

RICH-POOR GAP INCREASES IN ARMENIA

The UN Development Program announced on 10 June that living standards for most Armenians have deteriorated over the last several years and that the gap between the wealthy and the poor has increased, Armenpress reported. The average monthly salary in Armenia is now $27. PG

DEBAKEY SAYS Aliyev IN GOOD HEALTH

U.S. heart surgeon Michael DeBakey told ITAR-TASS on 11 June that Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliyev has made excellent progress in recovering from his 29 April surgery and is now in good health. DeBakey, who acknowledged that he has not seen Aliyev since the surgery, said he based his assessment on conversations with Aliev's doctors. PG

BAKU SEES NO CHANGE IN ARMENIA'S POSITION

Vafa Guluzade, Azerbaijani President Aliev's chief foreign policy adviser, told the Turan news agency on 10 June that he does not believe that the election of former communist leader Karen Demirchian as speaker of the Armenian parliament will produce significant changes in Yerevan's approach to foreign policy. He added that "one can expect changes in Yerevan's attitude to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict only when Russia's influence on Armenia declines." PG

BAKU SAYS IRAN HAS INCREASED ESPIONAGE ACTIVITIES

Azerbaijan's Security Ministry told Reuters on 10 June that Tehran has increased its espionage effort against Baku and that Iranian agents are seeking to weaken the Azerbaijani republic. The Iranian Embassy denied the charges. PG

NEW AZERBAIJANI GAS FIELD LARGER THAN EXPECTED

President Aliyev said on 10 June that test wells at the Shakh Deniz oil field suggest that this field contains almost twice as much gas as predicted, Reuters reported. The Azerbaijani leader said that there may be 700 billion cubic meters of gas in the field, instead of the 400 billion cubic meters estimated. PG

TBILISI SEES SUPPORT FOR 'INTERNATIONALIZING' ABKHAZ PEACE PROCESS

Georgian State Minister Vazha Lordkipanidze on 10 June said that Tbilisi's ambassador in Brussels has found support for adopting the "Kosovo pattern" for a resolution of the Abkhaz dispute, Prime-News reported. According to the Caucasus Press news agency, among those supporting this view are the U.S. and German ambassadors. PG

GREECE TO PRESENT WARSHIP TO GEORGIA

The Greek Defense Ministry will present a warship and other military equipment to Georgia in two weeks or so, Caucasus Press reported on 10 June. The same day, Tbilisi officials noted that Russia has slowed or even stopped its promised withdrawal of frontier troops from Georgia. PG

NAZARBAEV MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF NEW CAPITAL

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev on 10 June participated in celebrations marking the first anniversary of the shift of his country's capital from Almaty to Astana, Interfax-Central Asia reported. He said that "much has changed" in the new capital over the last year and that it "will become the administrative center of the country and the cultural and scientific center of our state." PG

KAZAKHSTAN DENIES VIOLATING ANTI-DUMPING ACCORD

Viktor Yazikov, an official of Kazakhatomprom, told Interfax- Kazakhstan on 10 June that his country has not violated an agreement on ending an anti-dumping investigation concerning uranium exports to the West. Yazikov said that charges to this effect reflect an effort by Washington to promote the interests of the U.S. Enrichment Corporation. PG

KAZAKHSTAN FAILS TO HELP REPATRIATES

According to prosecutors in Kazakhstan, the government has failed to provide sufficient funds to help those who have returned to the country from other republics but who do not have the status of refugees, Asia-Plus reported. More than 175,000 such people came to Kazakhstan between 1991 and the end of 1998. As a result, the authorities have set a quota of only 500 families for all of 1999. PG

BOMB DAMAGES TAJIK TOWN

An explosion in Tursunzade on 10 June caused extensive property damage but claimed no casualties, Reuters reported on 11 June. Local officials said there is no indication that the latest bombing is linked to the country's long-running civil war. PG

TURKMENISTAN VISA LAW BLOCKS DEPARTURE OF 51

According to Interfax on 10 June, the new mandatory visa regime set up by Ashgabat on 8 June has already prevented 51 people from flying out of the Turkmen capital to Moscow. Acquiring the necessary documentation will take "at least a month," the news agency said. PG




LUKASHENKA SAYS 'ALL OF US LOST' IN BALKAN CRISIS

"Not only [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic, but all of us lost in the Balkans. We have suffered a crushing defeat and we will soon convince ourselves [of that]," Belapan quoted Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka as saying on 11 June. The Belarusian president also commented on the opposition presidential election initiative and on Russian State Duma deputy Viktor Ilyukhin's statement this week that U.S. special services and NATO are preparing an operation in Belarus to topple Lukashenka. "Those brainless people in the West who plan such operations...do not know our reality. There is no basis for shattering our society [to the extent of] removing Lukashenka," Belarusian Television quoted the president as saying. Lukashenka added that if Milosevic asked for political asylum, Belarus would granted it to him. JM

SLAVIC LAWMAKERS MULL INTEGRATION IN KYIV...

Addressing a forum of deputies from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine in Kyiv on 10 June, Ukrainian speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko said the breakup of the USSR has led to a significant decline in living standards in all three countries. He appealed to the three to work together to overcome the current crisis. Russian State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev said the three post-Soviet countries and Yugoslavia should unite to form a union in the 21st century. Russian Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev said Russia sees no contradiction between the Slavic states' belonging to a union and simultaneously maintaining their sovereignty. Stroev added that the key task today is "to remove barriers impeding the integration of the economies" of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. JM

...WHILE UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER LOOKS WEST

Borys Tarasyuk on 10 June held a meeting with parliamentary deputies of the North-Atlantic Assembly, ITAR-TASS reported. Tarasyuk said the development of a "parliamentary dialogue with NATO has become an important lever for Ukraine to gain a foothold on the world arena." The minister stressed that "European and European-Atlantic integration" remains Ukraine's top priority. Referring to Kiev's bilateral ties with neighboring states, he emphasized that they are aimed at establishing a "safe zone of peace and stability" around Ukraine. JM

UKRAINE SEEKS TO RESCHEDULE DEBT PAYMENT TO ING-BARINGS

The Ukrainian government failed to pay $163 million to the Dutch- based ING-Barings this week, but still hopes to persuade the lender to reschedule the payment, AP reported on 10 June. Ukraine has entered negotiations with the bank, proposing to pay off only 20 percent of the loan and convert the rest into state bonds. According to the agency, ING Barings is reluctant to accept the offer. Commenting on Ukraine's huge foreign debt (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1999), Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov said there is a "large difference between the obligations and means available to cover them." JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENTARY MARATHON HALTED, TO RESUME NEXT WEEK

Following a session that exceeded 20 hours (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1999), lawmakers recessed for the weekend at midday on 10 June. The deputies had discussed 59 of some 550 amendments by the end of the extended session. The body will meet again on 15 July to resume the debate over the negative supplementary budget. Leaders from several opposition groups called for dialogue as they introduced packages calling for a drastically lower cut than the 1 billion kroons ($67 million) reduction proposed by the government. The coalition, however, affirmed its resolve to push through the necessary cuts and is investigating linking the budget with a confidence vote, thus bypassing the delay amendments process, according to Baltic news agencies. MH

NO EVIDENCE TO CHARGE LATVIAN 'SPY'

The Prosecutor-General's Office has issued a statement on the "Daugavpils spy" case (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 1999) saying there is a lack of evidence to indict. The security police ordered further investigation into the case, as well as an examination of shortcomings during the initial parts of this investigation, according to BNS. LETA quoted "Chas" as saying that the alleged spy is journalist Pavels Korsenkovs, who at the time was conducting investigative journalism. MH

NEW LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVED

The parliament on 10 June approved the government of Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas. The vote for the government program was 80 to 18 with 22 abstentions. Broad support came from the former ruling coalition of Conservatives and Christian Democrats, while the Centrists abstained. The leftist opposition mainly voted against the new government. MH

POPE MAKES HISTORIC SPEECH TO POLISH PARLIAMENT

Pope John Paul II on 11 June addressed the Polish parliament in the first-ever speech by the head of the Roman Catholic Church to a national parliament. Even ex-communist deputies knelt and crossed themselves as the pope walked to a chair set up specially for him in the parliament, AP reported. He gave the Vatican's full approval Poland's efforts to join the EU, while stressing that politics and economic development must be based on ethical principles and spirituality. The packed chamber, including former communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa, gave the pontiff lengthy standing ovations. It also sang the national anthem, followed by the traditional "Sto lat" or "May He Live 100 years." JM.

POLAND WANTS TO PARTICIPATE IN BALKAN RECONSTRUCTION

Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek on 10 June said that the Balkans need a new Marshall plan to build democracy and stability in the region. Geremek stressed that the most urgent thing now is to assist the Albanian refugees and Serbs who suffered in the Kosova conflict. "Poverty in the Balkans should cease to be a source of destabilization for the entire continent," he told Polish Radio. Geremek added that Poland could help in the reconstruction of the Balkans, proposing that a government commission be set up to draw up a plan for such assistance. Geremek also announced that Poland and Ukraine are considering the participation of a joint battalion in the Kosova stabilization force. JM

POLISH SENATOR ADMITS BEING LUSTRATED

Jerzy Mokrzycki, senator of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), said on 10 June that the Lustration Court has begun examining his lustration statement, PAP reported. Mokrzycki reconfirmed that he was never an employee of or collaborator for the communist-era secret services. The 10 June "Zycie" reported that the Lustration Court has also begun proceedings against a SLD parliamentary deputy from Olsztyn identified as Tadeusz M. Tadeusz Matyjak, an SLD deputy from that city, commented that he knows nothing about the court action and denied he was a secret service agent. JM

CZECH GOVERNMENT RAISES MINIMUM WAGE

The cabinet on 9 June announced it will raise the minimum monthly wage to 3,600 crowns (nearly $ 1,000) from the current 3,250 crowns, CTK reported. Government spokesman Libor Roucek said the change will come into effect on 1 July. MS

AUSTRIA TO BLOCK CZECH, SLOVAK EU ACCESSION?

Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima on 10 June said he doubts whether the Czech Republic and Slovakia are "taking seriously the conditions for accession to the EU," CTK reported. At a meeting with Austrian federal officials, Klima said developments surrounding the Temelin nuclear power plant, in the Czech Republic, and the Rohumce nuclear facility, in Slovakia, are "worrying" and "a source of concern about our partners not taking the EU's conditions seriously enough." Nuclear power plant safety is "a prerequisite" to becoming an EU member, he stressed. Environment Minister Martin Bartenstein told the gathering that safety measures at Temelin are "a real obstacle" to Czech accession. Asked whether at the Helsinki summit in December Austria will vote against Slovakia's accession to the "fast-track" group, Austrian Nuclear Safety Minister Barbara Prammer said "anything is possible." MS

HUNGARY OUTLINES AUTONOMY PLAN FOR VOJVODINA

Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth on 10 June outlined a three-tier autonomy draft plan for Vojvodina. Nemeth told a regional stability conference in Cologne that Budapest supports the ethnic Hungarian proposal for the restoration of the autonomy the province enjoyed from 1974- 1989. The plan grants ethnic Hungarians the right to elect their own representative bodies and provides for setting up an alliance representing settlements that have a Hungarian majority population. It thus resembles the "three-tier autonomy" demand of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania. In other news, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the cabinet demands that the peace plan drawn up by the international community contain a special chapter guaranteeing the protection of Serbia's 350,000-strong Hungarian minority. The plan should "once and for all rule out the possibility that the Hungarian community become the focus of ethnic conflict," Orban concluded. MSZ/MS




BALKAN STABILITY PACT LAUNCHED

Foreign ministers of the G-8 countries and their counterparts from several southeastern European countries agreed in Cologne on 10 June to establish a long-term program to promote stability in the Balkans. Three "working tables" will deal with democracy and human rights, economic development, and security, respectively, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. German Foreign Minster Joschka Fischer stressed that the EU will play the key role in promoting regional stability, the "Berliner Zeitung" wrote. The EU will be the main source of funds for the project, the goal of which is to prevent conflicts and integrate southeastern Europe with the rest of the continent. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that the main task facing the region now is to provide "the people with bread and work," Deutsche Welle reported on 11 June. PM

KOSOVA PEACE PROCESS ON TRACK

NATO supreme commander General Wesley Clark confirmed on 10 June in Brussels that Serbian forces have begun withdrawing from Kosova under the terms of the recent agreement between NATO and Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1999). NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana then ordered a suspension of air strikes against Yugoslav targets. In New York, the UN Security Council passed a resolution that includes a peace plan for Kosova and provides a mandate for the KFOR peacekeeping force. That mandate will enable refugees and displaced persons to return safely to their homes. China abstained from voting. PM

NATO BUILDUP IN MACEDONIA CONTINUES

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in Skopje on 11 June to meet with key NATO and Macedonian officials. Elsewhere, hundreds of U.S. troops continued to arrive in Macedonia from Albania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1999). French and U.K. troops are expected to be the first NATO troops to enter Kosova, probably on 11 or 12 June. The U.K. will supply KFOR with some 12,000 troops based in Prishtina. Germany's contingent will be 8,500-strong and headquartered in Prizren. Some 7,000 French soldiers will be stationed in Kosovska Mitrovica in the north. A U.S. contingent of 7,000 will have its headquarters in Gjilan, near the Macedonian border. Some 2,000 Italians will be based in Peja. It is not yet clear what Russia's role will be in the peacekeeping operation (see Part I). PM

MILOSEVIC CLAIMS VICTORY

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic began a televised address on 10 June with the words: "Happy peace to us all!" He maintained that "we never gave up" Kosova and that Serbian sovereignty over the province has been preserved. He added that "the people are the heroes." Milosevic argued that the UN ended the crisis and that troops stationed in Kosova will [be there] under a UN mandate. He added that "we have shown that our army is invincible. I am sure it is the best army in the world." PM

ARTEMIJE TELLS SERBS TO STAY

Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije, who is the leading Serbian cleric in Kosova and a critic of Milosevic, said in a statement to Orthodox priests on 10 June that they should tell their parishioners not to leave Kosova. He stressed that the Serbs can "lose" Kosova only if they themselves leave it, Vatican Radio reported. Momcilo Trajkovic, who is a political leader of Serbs in Kosova and an ally of Artemije, recently told a rally in Prishtina: "We ask for the protection of the international community so we can stay in our homes. Revenge is not a solution [to] the crisis." PM

CLINTON PRAISES KOSOVA POLICY

U.S. President Bill Clinton said in a televised address on 10 June that NATO "did the right thing...the right way" in handling the crisis in Kosova. He noted that "aggression against an innocent people has been contained and is being turned back." The president stressed that NATO remained united throughout the crisis and that "we also preserved our critically important partnership with Russia." The president noted, as have several other Western leaders in recent days, that Serbia will receive no reconstruction aid as long as Milosevic remains in power. PM

CHIRAC: FRANCE SAVED BELGRADE BRIDGES

French President Jacques Chirac said in a televised interview on 10 June that France had a veto power over "every single" NATO air strike against Yugoslav targets and that it often exercised that right over U.S. objections. He added that he and other unnamed French officials used their veto to prevent attacks on Belgrade's bridges and to limit the number of strikes against targets in Montenegro, particularly on the coast. Chirac argued that Milosevic "surrendered." The French president added: "It is very difficult to say why a tyrant gives in. It was very difficult for [Milosevic] to continue resistance.... [In the end he made] an unconditional capitulation. He clearly was banking on direct or indirect support from Russia, which he did not get," Chirac concluded. PM

ALBANIA, SLOVENIA EXPRESS CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko said in Tirana on 10 June that "the deployment of NATO troops in Kosova is one of the most significant achievements in establishing [ethical] values in Europe since World War II." He added that "like everyone else, we are waiting to see developments. If Milosevic remains in power, anything is possible," he concluded. His visitor, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek, noted that the peace process will be complicated and problems will arise. He added: "We all hope today is the first day of a new era for this region and that the war now will really stop," Reuters reported. PM

AUSTRALIAN DOCTOR SAYS UCK TROOPS WERE 'CANNON FODDER'

Dr. Craig Jurisevic, who is an Australian physician of Slovenian origin, told Reuters in Kukes on 11 June that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) soldiers he has been treating in his emergency surgical station were "basically cannon fodder and they're fed up.... If this cease-fire doesn't hold, there will be many more avoidable deaths" among the Kosovar guerrillas. Jurisevic argued that the troops do not have a sufficient number of officers with them in the field. "They're sitting there being shelled daily. They have orders not to make an offensive and not to fire back so as not to annoy the Serbs," Jurisevic added. PM

GERMANY PLEDGES AID TO ALBANIA

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, who is minister for development assistance, said in Bonn on 10 June that Germany will provide nearly $20 million in aid to Albania. She noted that Albania will play a key role in the Balkan stability pact. She made her remarks after meeting with Albanian Minister for Economic Cooperation and Trade Ermelinda Meksi. PM

TWO KILLED IN ATTACK ON OSCE VEHICLE IN ALBANIA

Unknown persons fired on an OSCE security vehicle in the lawless Bajram Curri region on 10 June, killing the driver and a technician. A third man was wounded. All five occupants were Albanians. Daan Everts, who heads the OSCE mission in Tirana, condemned the attack as a "ruthless act of violence," Reuters reported. PM

ARBOUR TO LEAVE HAGUE COURT

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien on 10 June named Louise Arbour, who is the chief prosecutor at the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, to fill a vacancy on Canada's Supreme Court. She has served just over two years of a four-year term at The Hague. The UN Security Council will choose her successor. Observers noted that a change in leadership at the tribunal at a time of crisis in the Balkans could make it difficult for the court to assert its role in investigating war crimes and prosecuting those who committed them. PM

SEPAROVIC RELEASED FROM CROATIAN POLICE DETENTION

Police in Zagreb released Miroslav Separovic from detention on 10 June after failing to find any evidence in a search of his flat to substantiate charges that he leaked confidential documents to the press (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1999). A spokesman for the prosecutor's office of Zagreb county said, however, that his office will conduct its own investigation of the charges against Separovic, who is a former director of the Croatian Intelligence Service. PM

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ACCESS TO COMMUNIST POLICE FILES

The Chamber of Deputies on 10 June voted by 244 to 13 to approve a law on access to the files of the former secret police. Senator Constantin Ticu-Dumitrescu, who initiated the law, said he is "profoundly disappointed" by the legislation because civil society representatives are not included on the body that will supervise such access and because the files will not be transferred to that body. He noted that many categories defining those obliged to declare links to the Securitate have been added to the law, making it "inoperable." Dumitrescu criticized the narrow definition of "informer" and the fact that active diplomats and those still employed by the Romanian intelligence service are exempt from having to reveal their links. He said he hopes the law will be improved by the commission that will mediate between its text and that approved by the Senate. MS

WORLD BANK APPROVES ROMANIAN LOAN

The World Bank on 10 June approved a $300 million loan to promote the restructuring of the private sector and another $25 million loan for "technical assistance" in that reform. The same day, the government decided it will not extend beyond 30 June the validity period for the offer to Bell Helicopters Textron to take over the IAR aircraft company in Brasov. The cabinet said it cannot meet Bell's condition for governmental guarantees of $2 billion for the purchase of helicopters produced under license for the Romanian army. The cabinet also decided to accept the IMF- requested moratorium on the law offering incentives to investors. Finally, representatives of the government and teacher unions said they have reached an agreement that will end the ongoing teachers' strike. They said, however, that the agreement will be publicized only after approval by the unions' councils. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS TRANSDNIESTER LEADER

Petru Lucinschi met in Chisinau on 10 June with the leader of the separatist breakaway region, Igor Smirnov, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau and Infotag reported. The two leaders first spoke alone and were later joined by Prime Minister Ion Sturza and Smirnov's deputy, Viktor Sinev. Lucinschi told journalists that the encounter was "fruitful and covered a broad scope of problems." In this context, he mentioned the implementation of earlier accords, speeding up the negotiation process on the breakaway region's status, the withdrawal of Russian forces and their weapons, and finding solutions to economic problems and energy problems. Also discussed was the case of the "Ilascu group," which is being detained in Tiraspol. Lucinschi said that ways to secure the group's liberation are being sought. Smirnov said he does not think Lucinschi "may order the bombing" of the Transdniester and that he backs his initiative to change the system of government to a presidential one. MS

MOLDOVAN POLITICIAN SENTENCED FOR INSULTING OFFICIAL

Valeriu Matei, deputy chairman of the Moldovan parliament and leader of the Party of Democratic Forces (PFD), has been ordered to pay General Nicolae Alexe, chief of the government's Department for Fighting Organized crime, the equivalent of 100 minimum monthly wages. The Chisinau Municipal Tribunal found Matei guilty of having insulted Alexe during a search of the premises of a company with which the PFD has close links (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 March 1999), Flux reported on 9 June. MS

BULGARIA NEGOTIATING LOGISTIC SUPPORT AGREEMENT WITH NATO

Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Dimitrov told BTA that Bulgaria is negotiating with NATO an agreement about extending logistic support to NATO peacekeepers transiting its territory, AP reported. Transportation Minister Wilhelm Kraus confirmed that NATO experts are in Bulgaria, studying the country's transport infrastructure (see also "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 1999). MS

BULGARIA PRIVATIZES FOUNDRY FOR $1

The Kremikowzi foundry outside Sofia was privatized on 10 June for the symbolic sum of $1, dpa reported. The Bulgarian company Daru Metals and its Italian partner, Marccigalia, acquired a 71 percent stake in the foundry at that price. Daru metals is assuming 462 billion leva ( $247 million) of the foundry's debts, while the Bulgarian state will cover the remaining 183 billion leva. Under the deal, the buyers will also guarantee 8,708 jobs at the foundry. MS




THE APPROACHING END OF THE 'PARTY OF POWER'


By Paul Goble

Economic failures, geopolitical isolation, and electoral experience are combining to bring an end to the rule of the "party of power," one of the most characteristic features of the post-communist transition in the former Soviet republics.

An amorphous and non-ideological group consisting of a non-party president, a politicized bureaucracy, and a depoliticized government closely linked to non-official groups, the party of power serves as a buffer between Communists on the left and nationalists on the right in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Moldova, and other post-Soviet states.

At the present time, the party of power, both as a concept and a reality, still dominates the political landscape. But as Vladimir Bruger writes in the 26 May issue of the Moscow newspaper "Nezavisimaya gazeta-Sodruzhestvo," its days may be numbered because of forces beyond its control. He suggests that it is likely to be replaced by a politicized politics and a more pragmatic political style.

The first such force working against the continued dominance of the "party of power" in these countries is the continuing if not accelerating collapse of their economies. Because the parties of power have justified their remaining in office by pointing to the evils that either the nationalists or Communists may bring, they have often escaped public attack even if they have not received much public support.

But as the economic situation in these countries has deteriorated, the parties of power no longer can make that argument work to their advantage. "In contrast to ideology or PR," Bruger writes, "economics demands an accounting for everything that is done and not done." And ever more people and politicians are deciding that the alternatives denounced by the party of power may in fact not be worse than the incumbents.

The second force undermining the continuation of this form of governance is the changing geopolitical position of these countries. Immediately after the collapse of communism, the first post-Soviet governments--which included second- level party nomenklatura officials as well as a thin stratum of reformers--expected that the West would not only provide substantial aid but would work to integrate these countries into Western organizations.

Neither has happened, at least as far as the population can see, Bruger notes. As a result, ever more people in these countries are prepared to consider supporting parties of the left or the right advocating policies that can be variously described as committed to self-reliance or going it alone.

And the third force is the growing electoral experience of both politicians and the population in these states. The parties of power were able to coopt many politicians, and these ideologically based leaders were all too willing to be coopted--because the party of power had all the power--and all too willing not to challenge the bases of the party of power because they hoped eventually to use its levers themselves.

One distinguishing characteristic of this tendency, Bruger notes, is that in both Russia and Ukraine, the political parties that form the parliamentary majorities in parliament have accepted the designation of opposition and have behaved as such.

But that pattern is beginning to change as a result of the pressures of electoral politics. Some of those now aspiring to office were earlier cast out of the party of power and have since changed their views. After being fired as Russian premier, Viktor Chernomyrdin's political party adopted a very different stand on the constitutional arrangements that have allowed the Russian party of power to control all decision-making.

Even more important, as the populations of these countries gain experience with elections, those politicians who hope to win support are now being forced to distance themselves from the failings of those currently in power. Thus, as Bruger points out, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov immediately declared that his new party "cannot be held responsible for everything that was done before us." None of this necessarily sounds an immediate death knell for the parties of power. The authoritarian traditions of these countries mean that many leaders, even those who head more ideologically based parties, prefer the informal and backroom dealings that the parties of power have practiced over the last few years. And in the past, the parties of power have shown their ability to manipulate the media and the political system during elections and successfully maintain their positions of power by portraying their opponents as more dangerous than themselves.

But economic collapse, international isolation, and experience with elections have fragmented the parties of power in all these countries, Bruger notes, thus reducing their ability to respond to challenges. That makes it ever more likely that over the next decade, the current "party of power" system will give way to a more ideologically and interest-based politics.

That may produce bad things as well as good, Bruger concludes. But he adds that it will at least mean that the post-communist transition will enter a new phase, one that will put still more distance between where these countries will be and where they were in the communist past.


XS
SM
MD
LG