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Newsline - June 22, 1999




RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET SOARS...

The Russian stock market continued its several-day climb on 21 June as the benchmark RTS index closed at 129.28, a rise of 6.7 percent over the previous day. Stocks in Mosenergo, Unified Energy Systems, and Rostelekom lead the way, gaining 14.8 percent, 8.6 percent and 7.4 percent respectively, according to AFP. Russia is now the best-performing market in the world, Loren Bough, head of Brunswick Warburg Brokerage, told the agency. Bough attributed the market's rise to the departure of Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov's leftist cabinet. Traders also responded warmly to news from the weekend's G-8 meeting, including that group's call for a debt restructuring deal for Russia. JAC

...AS UNEMPLOYMENT RISES

Unemployment rose to 10.44 million as of early June--a 26 percent hike over the same period last year and a 7 percent increase since January, according to the State Statistics Committee. The number of unemployed persons in Russia amounts to 14.2 percent of the country's economically active population, Interfax reported. In the meantime, the number of people officially registered as unemployed with the State Employment Service fell by more than 7 percent in June from the same period last year, according to the agency. JAC

GOVERNMENT FINALLY POISED TO TAKE MORE DECISIVE ACTIONS IN BANKING SECTOR?

The Russian government is showing signs of being ready to confront the problem of restructuring Russia's largest commercial banks, "Izvestiya" concluded on 22 June. As evidence, the newspaper cites Central Bank chairman Viktor Gerashchenko's recent warning that Oneksimbank is in danger of losing its license. More recently, the Agency for Restructuring Credit Organizations (ARKO) announced on 18 June that it is prepared to rescue Rossiiskii Kredit and Promstroibank. According to the daily, ARKO officials recently admitted that the agency could stretch its meager resources to restructure one or perhaps two large banks. Both Rossiiskii Kredit and Promstroibank have massive debts, including more than 3 billion rubles ($124 million) owed to the federal budget, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 19 June. "Vremya MN" reported earlier that despite systemic problems, the number of banks in Russia declined by only 5 percent during the first five months of the year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1999). JAC

NATO COUNCIL APPROVES COHEN-SERGEEV AGREEMENT

The NATO Council in Brussels approved on 21 June the Helsinki agreement between Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and his U.S. counterpart William Cohen on Russia's role within the Kosova peacekeeping force (KFOR) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 1999), ITAR-TASS reported. In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin told AP that his cabinet sent the agreement to the Federation Council, which must approve the peacekeepers' deployment. He added that the government will send Russian peacekeepers to Kosova as soon as the council approves the deployment. FS

UNCERTAINTY REMAINS OVER RUSSIAN KFOR FUNDING

State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev told ITAR-TASS in Troitsk on 21 June that the deployment of the 3,600 Russian peacekeepers "is not a cheap action and the [Defense Ministry's] budget does not provide a kopek for this." Seleznev stressed, however, that there can be "no doubt" that the Finance Ministry will find ways to fund the mission. Seleznev said that the Duma will discuss the Helsinki agreement in the presence of Sergeev and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on 23 June. In Moscow on 22 June, Lieutenant-General Nikolai Staskov, who is the head of Russia's airborne forces, said that these forces will be increased by 5,600 to a total of 37,600, reflecting needs caused by the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Kosova, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. The government reduced the airborne forces from 46,000 to 32,000 in 1998 to reduce costs. FS

RUSSIA PLEDGES TO REPAIR BUILDINGS IN BELGRADE AND NOVI SAD

"Moskovskii Komsomolets" reported on 21 June that a group of Russian construction and design specialists left Moscow for Belgrade on 21 June to assess the damage caused by NATO's air campaign to several buildings and bridges in Belgrade and Novi Sad. The daily suggested that "the specialists will restore several historical buildings...[including] the Opera House, the buildings of the Foreign Ministry and the government of Yugoslavia, and the television centers and railway bridge." It also said that "Moscow has promised to restore the bridge across the Danube near Novi Sad" but did not elaborate. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that "the damage to [Yugoslavia's] national economy and infrastructure exceed all the destruction seen during World War II," ITAR-TASS reported. The statement added that "Russia will actively cooperate" in the reconstruction. FS

LUZHKOV ACCUSES OLIGARCHS OF CARVING UP THE MEDIA

In a speech to the first World Congress of the Russian Press on 21 June, Moscow Mayor and likely presidential contender Yurii Luzhkov accused the country's so-called oligarchs of carving up media outlets into spheres of influence. He said that oligarchic capital "wants to have its own press and influence it through financial methods," Interfax reported. Luzhkov also called the pressure of state authorities and large financial groups on mass media unacceptable and expressed concern about the decreasing number of Russian-language publications in the CIS, particularly Ukraine. "They have a right to get information in their own language," he said. On the same day, Unified Energy Systems chairman Anatolii Chubais denied reports that his company had provided $12.5 million to the publishers of "Kommersant-Daily" to reduce the company's debts, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

KREMLIN SEEKS TO CREATE COUNTERBALANCE TO LUZHKOV

Meanwhile, "Versiya" reported in its 15-21 June issue that the presidential administration is trying to organize a "future presidential party" composed of All Russia (Vsya Rossiya), Voice of Russia (Golos Rossii), and other parties that are capable of becoming a major rival of Luzhkov's Otechestvo (Fatherland) party in upcoming presidential elections. According to the publication, "total information support" will be provided by nationwide TV channels such as Russian Public Television, Russian Television, and TV-6. In the meantime, the Kremlin is reportedly considering canceling the licenses of pro-Luzhkov outlets such as NTV and Moscow's TV- Center networks. JAC

UNGUARDED WEAPONS CACHES LEADING TO SCOURGE OF ILLEGAL GUNS

The spread of unlicensed firearms is a growing problem, "Trud" reported on 19 June. According to the daily, weapons are being stolen in large quantities from military or police storage facilities. In fact, every third illegally owned firearm was stolen from Defense Ministry stocks. In addition, one out of every nine Russian men owns a weapon, and the number of crimes in which firearms were used in 1998 was double that recorded in 1996. The newspaper calls on the Defense and Interior Ministries and local police stations to upgrade security at facilities where weapons are stored and it appeals to State Duma deputies to enact tougher gun- control legislation. JAC

STEPASHIN CALLS FOR WTO MEMBERSHIP BY YEAR END

Speaking at the G-8 summit in Cologne over the weekend, Prime Minister Stepashin announced that Russia could join the World Trade Organization before the end of the year, Interfax reported on 21 June. However, "Vremya MN" on the same day suggested that Stepashin's "optimism" was difficult to explain. According to the daily, Russia began the process of trying to join the organization in 1994 and only in the first quarter of this year completed the first "informational" stage of negotiations. A minimum of two stages remain--including bilateral consultations with 30 member-countries with whom "Russia does not agree on many points." In addition, Russian legislation would require eight new laws and amendments to 36 existing laws in order to bring its trading systems in line with WTO norms, according to the newspaper. JAC

FEDERAL, LOCAL OFFICIALS PLAY BLAME GAME OVER KAMCHATKA

Prime Minister Stepashin criticized the Fuel and Energy Ministry on 21 June for failing to take prompt steps to ensure continuous energy supplies to Kamchatka Oblast, where residents have been restricted to three hours of electricity every other day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 17 June 1999). Stepashin added that "I do not understand the position of the [oblast] administration, which shifts local problems to the federal level," noting that "the mechanism for federal intervention into regional governance should be revised," Interfax reported. Meanwhile, oblast administration head Andrei Chernenko said he will find out who is responsible for unnecessary red tape and take the appropriate steps, including dismissals if necessary. On 22 June, a tanker filled with 5,000 tons of diesel fuel left Nakhodka for Kamchatka, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

SKURATOV GETS MORE BAD NEWS

The Supreme Court ruled on 22 June that a criminal case against Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov has legal grounds and may continue, ITAR-TASS reported. A lower court in Moscow had ruled earlier that the investigation was illegal and had to be stopped. However, the Supreme Court upheld the appeal of the Military Prosecutor's Office and overruled that decision. On 9 June, Federation Council members--who had earlier rejected two efforts by President Yeltsin to dismiss Skuratov--voted to ask the Constitutional Court to decide whether President Yeltsin has the constitutional right to suspend Skuratov from office pending the outcome of a criminal investigation without the approval of the upper legislative chamber. Last month, the embattled prosecutor-general reported that he had been turned away at the airport because his passport had been annulled; the Foreign Ministry claimed the passport was invalid because of a "technical mistake" and would be reissued. JAC

CHECHEN SECURITY OFFICIAL ESCAPES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

National Security Committee head Ibragim Khultygov escaped injury when gunmen opened fire on his home in Grozny on the night of 20-21 June, Russian agencies reported. Khultygov's brother, Lecha, who had also served as Security Committee chairman, was shot dead in Grozny during a standoff with supporters of maverick field commander Salman Raduev exactly one year ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1998). Ibragim Khultygov suggested the attempt to kill him was in response to a recent crackdown on criminal gangs. On 21 June, President Aslan Maskhadov placed all top defense and security personnel on 24-hour alert. Speaking in Moscow on 21 June, Mayor Luzhkov argued that Chechnya should be given independence from the Russian Federation if the majority of the population demand it, Interfax reported. LF

DEFEATED KARACHAEVO-CHERKESS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SEEKS COMPROMISE SOLUTION

Cherkessk Mayor Stanislav Derev has appealed to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation against the ruling by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia confirming as legal and valid the outcome of the 16 May presidential runoff, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 19 June. According to official data, Vladimir Semenov, a Karachai, was elected president of the republic with some 75 percent of the vote. Addressing a "mini-congress" of his supporters in Cherkessk on 19 June, Derev, who is a Cherkess, advocated requesting Moscow to name as interim president for four years an ethnic Russian with knowledge of Karachaevo-Cherkessia. Derev said that during that time the Cherkess, who account for only some 10 percent of the population, would consider whether to proceed with their demand that the republic be split and the Cherkess- populated territory be given the status of an autonomous republic within neighboring Stavropol krai, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 22 June. LF

STEPASHIN UPBEAT ON CIS'S PROSPECTS

Speaking in Moscow on 21 June at the first World Congress of the Russian Press, Prime Minister Stepashin said that the CIS "is by no means moribund" and has a good future ahead of it, Interfax reported. But Stepashin added that it is time to abandon "the theory of older and younger brothers." LF




ARMENIAN PRESIDENT GIVES INTERVIEW TO TURKISH NEWSPAPER

In an interview published by "Milliyet" on 16 June and circulated by Noyan Tapan on 21 June, Robert Kocharian downplayed the importance of Armenia's ongoing military cooperation with Russia, noting that in the economic sphere Armenia gives priority to cooperation with Europe. He expressed concern that the establishment of a Turkish military presence in Azerbaijan would provoke a reaction from Russia and Iran and thus lead to "additional tensions" in the region. Kocharian said there has been a minimal easing in relations with Turkey since his election as president in March 1998, but expressed regret at Ankara's insistence on setting conditions for establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. He said the absence of such relations was the reason why he had not accepted an invitation to the 1998 celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, adding that he will definitely attend the OSCE summit in Istanbul this fall. LF

UN AGENCY DISCLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ARMENIAN VOTER LIST ERRORS

In a statement released on 21 June, the Yerevan office of the United Nations Development Program rejected charges that the software it provided to the Central Electoral Commission to computerize voter registers contributed to widespread omissions from voter lists, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Tens of thousands of people were prevented from casting their votes in the 30 May parliamentary elections because their names had not been included in the voter lists (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 1999). The UNDP said that the computerization of voter lists was carried out under the supervision of CEC officials and that the completed lists were endorsed by local authorities. Also on 21 June, the Constitutional Court annulled the voting in a constituency in the northern city of Gyumri because of inaccuracies in the vote tally and stripped the Communist Party deputy of his mandate. LF

RUSSIA DENIES VIOLATION OF GEORGIAN AIRSPACE

The press service of the Russian Air Force informed ITAR-TASS on 21 June that no Russian fighter or other aircraft penetrated Georgian air space on 18 June. The Georgian Defense Ministry had issued a statement on 19 June saying that four Russian fighters overflew Georgia the previous day en route from an air base in Rostov to Armenia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 1999). LF

GEORGIANS INCREASINGLY INTOLERANT OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

Georgians of widely varying political persuasions have advocated banning or restricting the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Georgia, arguing that those activities undermine Georgia's statehood and the position of the Georgian Orthodox church, Caucasus Press reported. In the south Georgian district of Akhaltsikhe, some 100 local Christians picketed the local police headquarters last week to demand the destruction of six tons of religious tracts and video cassettes produced by the Jehovah's Witnesses that were confiscated by customs officers on the Georgian-Turkish frontier in late April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April 1999). LF

KAZAKH GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT ON COLLISION COURSE

Both houses of Kazakhstan's parliament rejected on 21 June the budget cuts proposed by the government following the devaluation of the tenge in April, Interfax reported. Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev responded, as Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Oraz Dzhandosov had warned last week that the government would, by demanding a confidence vote in his cabinet. Meeting with deputies from the Aul faction on 15 June, Dzhandosov had said that the amount by which the budget must be sequestered is not negotiable, although compromise is possible over the specific items of spending to be targeted. Balghymbaev also denied that the budget cuts were dictated by the IMF as a condition for assistance. Under the constitution, if two thirds of all parliament deputies vote no confidence in the cabinet, the president must decide within ten days whether to dismiss the government or dissolve parliament. LF

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT AMENDS ELECTION LAW

Kazakhstan's parliament passed on 21 June in the first and second readings amendments proposed by President Nursultan Nazarbaev to the election law, Interfax reported. Those amendments abolish the penalties hitherto incurred by involvement in unregistered public organizations, which disqualify persons who have incurred such reprimands from running as candidates in elections at any level. Nazarbaev also proposed reducing by half the registration fee for parliamentary candidates from 132,000 to 66,000 tenges ($4,100). LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT PROPOSES RELAXING ELECTION REQUIREMENTS

Askar Akaev has appealed to both chambers of the Kyrgyz parliament to consider amending Article 92 of the new election law passed last month, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 21 June, citing the presidential press service. Akaev proposed reducing from 12 to six months the minimum period prior to parliamentary elections for which a political party must be officially registered. A presidential spokesman said the present requirement infringes on the interests of newly-created parties by rendering impossible their participation in the parliamentary elections due in early 2000. Former Bishkek Mayor Feliks Kulov, who on 21 June published an appeal to citizens of Kyrgyzstan to join his new movement Ar-Namys, had stated his intention of appealing to the Constitutional Court to abrogate that article of the election law as unconstitutional (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1999). LF

TAJIK COURT HANDS DOWN DEATH SENTENCES ON TWO INSURGENCY PARTICIPANTS

Two close associates of rebel Colonel Makhmud Khudoiberdiev were sentenced to death on 21 June on charges of treason and attempting to seize power for the role in the abortive uprising in Khujand in November 1998, ITAR-TASS reported. LF




BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT TO HOLD CONGRESS ON 31 JULY

The opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) has decided to hold its congress on 31 July-1 August in Minsk. According to an RFE/RL correspondent in Minsk, the congress will be "heated" because it is widely expected to address changes in the BNF leadership. Some prominent BNF activists have disagreed with BNF exiled leader Zyanon Paznyak's decision to withdraw from the opposition presidential elections in May, claiming that Paznyak harmed not only his organization but the entire opposition to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Belarus. JM

U.S., EU PLEDGE HELP IN FUNDING UKRAINE'S ENERGY SECTOR

In a joint statement after talks in Bonn on 21 June, U.S. President Bill Clinton, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and European Commission President Jacques Santer stressed their commitment to help Ukraine obtain funds for its energy sector as compensation for closing the Chornobyl nuclear plant, dpa reported. The statement, however, did not mention any new grants or credits. The three leaders called on Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to push forward with reforms, including the privatization of large industries and reforms in the agricultural and energy sectors. The statement also stressed the need to ensure free and fair presidential elections and to protect media freedom in Ukraine. JM

SMOOTH SAILING FOR ESTONIAN BUDGET?

The parliamentary opposition appears to have abandoned its delay tactics against the government-sponsored negative supplemental budget. When the second reading of the 1 billion kroon ($67 million) budget continued on 21 June, the opposition chose to walk out of the chamber rather than call 10-minute recesses after each of the more than 500 amendments they introduced. The ruling coalition managed to wipe the amendments off the agenda during the afternoon and passed the budget in the second reading. Coalition parliamentarians called on the opposition to discuss possible amendments to the bill, stating that some had merits but the process should be constructive, as reported by "Postimees." MH

TENDER FOR POWER LINK BETWEEN LITHUANIA AND WEST COLLAPSES

Economics Minister Eugenijus Maldeikis announced on 21 June that the tender for the construction of a power link from Lithuania to the west European grid has been canceled. The deadline for bids was 21 June. Maldeikis said the tender conditions "were unclear for many people, including ourselves" and they will prepare "a new, transparent and clear-cut project meeting western standards of international tenders," according to BNS. This is the second tender for the project that has failed, as the first with the PowerBridge consortium ground to a halt earlier this year. A government report issued last week stated that former Economics Minister Vincas Babilius organized the tender badly. MH

LITHUANIAN EX-COMMUNISTS CALL FOR CELEBRATION OF PARTY'S SOVIET BREAK

The left-wing Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP), the successor to the Lithuanian Communist Party, called on the country to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the historic break of the party's Moscow links. On 18 December 1989, the Lithuanian Communist Party (LKP) officially broke off from the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union), triggering anger from the Soviet leadership. LDDP chairman and parliamentarian Ceslovas Jursenas stated: "[The] separation of the LKP was one of the most important steps [and] paved the way for [the] restoration of Lithuanian independence," BNS reported. MH

POLISH NURSES RADICALIZE PROTEST OVER SALARIES, LAYOFFS

The Nurses and Midwives Trade Union on 21 June decided to step up its protest (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1999) by barring entry to state administration offices at the central and regional levels. The union demand that the government pay higher salaries and halt massive lay-offs in the health care service (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 1999). "We are very sorry that all civilized methods of solving our problems have failed. It took us 32 days of protests to realize that only force, boorishness, and lawlessness is taken into account [by the authorities]," the 22 June "Zycie Warszawy" quoted a protesting nurse as saying. JM

POLISH PREMIER SAYS REPRIVATIZATION LAW TO MEET JEWISH CLAIMS

Jerzy Buzek said on 21 June that he hopes a reprivatization law that is currently being prepared will address the claims of Holocaust survivors who filed a class- action lawsuit against the Polish government in New York last week. Eleven Holocaust survivors seek to recover property their families owned in Poland before World War II. Buzek said the recovery of assets appropriated by the communist authorities concerns also Polish citizens, adding that the government wants to treat everybody equally. The current government pledged to make reprivatization a priority issue but has so far been unable to pass appropriate legislation. Tentative plans for the reprivatization laws foresee that Poland will hand back some $12 billion worth of property, with another $20 billion being returned in alternate property or shares in privatized companies. JM

CZECH RULING PARTY SUPPORTS CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Social Democratic Party (CSSD) spokesman Jiri Hron on 20 June told CTK that CSSD deputies agree on raising the number of electoral districts from the current eight to 36. The change was proposed by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and is to be linked with changing the electoral system from the present proportional to a first-past-the-post system. Hron said the CSSD will discuss with the ODS submission of a joint proposal to amend the electoral law in the second half of 2000, and that the change should come into effect in 2002. Jan Kasal, chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, said in reaction on 21 June that he understands why the ODS wants to promote the amendment, but fails to see why the CSSD wants to "commit political suicide," since the change would transform it into a minor party. MS

CZECH KFOR UNIT TO LEAVE FOR KOSOVA

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan on 21 June said a 126-strong Czech reconnaissance unit will leave for Kosova on 28 June. Kavan, who visited the soldiers preparing for their mission in Prostejov, southern Moravia, said he believes the unit is well prepared and will "confirm the reputation won by the Czech battalion in Bosnia," CTK reported. MS

FORMER SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER OFFICIALLY CHARGED

The Bratislava Prosecutor General's office on 21 June officially charged former Interior Minister Gustav Krajci, now a deputy leader of the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, in connection with his involvement in hindering the May 1997 referendum on Slovakia's NATO accession and direct presidential elections. The office said Krajci deliberately ordered the printing and stamping of ballot papers that did not include the question on the presidential elections. He is accused of abusing his office and forging official documents, and faces three to ten years in prison if found guilty, CTK reported. MS

SLOVAK NATIONALIST LEADER ATTACKS CZECH PRESIDENT, SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTER

Slovak National Party (SNS) leader Jan Slota on 21 June blamed "that democrat, Mr. Havel," for the breakup of the Czechoslovak secret service in late 1989 and for the dismissal of "the best of its [sic] agents," CTK reported. Slota was reacting to the decision of Defense Minster Pavol Kanis one day earlier to carry out personnel changes in the military intelligence after allegations that in his capacity as chairman of the parliament's committee overseeing those services Slota leaked classified information to the press. He said that he has only leaked information "unequivocally proving" that Kanis was "re-Bolshevizing" the ministry and that Kanis had "so many coats" that his wardrobe "must be full of them." MS

HUNGARY WANTS TO BE CENTER FOR BALKAN RECONSTRUCTION

Prime Minister Viktor Orban and President Arpad Goncz, addressing a NATO workshop in Budapest on 21 June, said the Hungarian capital can offer its infrastructure, geographical proximity, and regional contacts for the international reconstruction of Kosova. Orban urged NATO to include Vojvodina in its peace plans, as interethnic tensions in the province could grow because of the tens of thousands of Serbs from Kosova fleeing northward. He stressed that the autonomy plan envisaged by Budapest for the region provides for setting up an ethnic- Hungarian council to provide protection for the Hungarian minority in case of a future conflict. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana also said that Budapest would be "the most suitable" center for the region's reconstruction, Hungarian media reported. MSZ/MS

GONCZ MEETS ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER

President Goncz on 21 June told visiting Romanian Defense Minister Victor Babiuc that Hungary supports Romania's Euro-Atlantic integration. Babiuc said at the NATO workshop that "the Romanian government does not believe that any parallel can be drawn between Kosovo and the Hungarian minority in Romania." He said the cabinet does not fear that ethnic Hungarians in Romania will emulate the example of the Kosovar Albanians. "The history of Kosovo cannot be repeated in Transylvania," Babiuc concluded, Hungarian and Romanian media reported. MSZ/MS




BELGRADE BANS PROTESTS

Police on 21 June broke up a demonstration in Belgrade by some 200 Kosova Serbs for the second day in a row. Police spokesmen said that mass gatherings are illegal under the legal "state of war," which remains in force in Yugoslavia. Two leaders of the protests each received a 30-day jail sentence. Several protesters told journalists that they had no choice but to leave Kosova, that the authorities have done nothing for them since they left, and that the authorities are now trying to force them to return. An RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade that the protesters want the UN to set up a civilian authority in Kosova as soon as possible so that the Serbian refugees can go back to their homes and not to Serbian government refugee camps (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 1999). Fewer than 2,000 Serbs have returned to Kosova under government pressure in recent days. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROTESTS

Spokesmen for the Alliance for Change, which is a coalition of opposition groups, said in Belgrade on 21 June that the opposition will "gather in Cacak and Kraljevo [on 26 June] to demand early elections on all levels, as well as freedom of the media," "The New York Times" quoted Vladan Batic as saying. Spokesman and Balkan affairs expert Milan Protic added: "this is the last minute to reverse the present political course in Serbia and to demand the responsibility of those who have had unlimited power in the decision-making process over the last 10 years." PM

GOVERNMENT NEWSCASTS MANDATORY

The Serbian authorities recently began forcing all radio and television stations to broadcast newscasts prepared by state-run Radio-Television Serbia. The non-government Association of Independent Electronic Media said in a statement in Belgrade on 21 June that the move is illegal. PM

ARTEMIJE RETURNS TO KOSOVA

Bishop Artemije, who is the leading Serbian Orthodox cleric in Kosova and an opponent of Milosevic, returned to Kosova recently (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1999). He appealed on 21 June to an unspecified number of Serbian villagers at Velika Hoca, near Rahovec, to stay. Accompanied by a British army chaplain, he said that "NATO has brought safety and security here." Artemije added that he intends to return to his rectory in Prizren, Reuters reported. Unknown persons looted and desecrated at least one Serbian monastery complex in that area recently, the BBC reported on 19 June. In Peja, some 50 Serbian refugees returned under Italian KFOR escort from Montenegro on 21 June. PM

NATO TO ACCELERATE ORGANIZED REFUGEE RETURN

NATO officials said in Durres on 21 June that they plan to begin the organized return of refugees as early as 1 July, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. The return will be organized for those refugees who have no means of transportation and who do not prefer to wait until the situation in Kosova has further stabilized. NATO is thus responding to the large-scale unorganized refugee returns over the last week. NATO will bring refugees from throughout Albania to Kukes, from where about 5,000 people will travel daily into Kosova accompanied by NATO forces. A UNHCR spokeswoman said in Skopje on 21 June: "We are now aware the desire to return is far greater than the threat of insecurity...and we are trying to expedite things," indicating that an organized return from Macedonia could start later this month. FS

KUKES CAMPS ALMOST EMPTY

A UNHCR spokesman told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Tirana that "the departures [from Kukes] have been enormous and rapid. Two of the camps are officially closed, [including] the Medecins sans Frontieres camp. Four camps remain but with very few people." Most of the estimated 6,500 remaining refugees are elderly. Only one week earlier, there were about 100,000 refugees in Kukes. Albanian public television began broadcasting information spots about the danger of landmines, and UNICEF has begun to distribute mine-awareness leaflets. FS

GLIGOROV REJECTS THACI'S PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT

Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov said in Prague on 21 June that "NATO forces [must] stay a certain time in [Kosova] in order to create a situation in which...democratic elections [can be held and] representatives...elected [to] form legitimate bodies," CTK reported. Gligorov thus rejected the participation of Hashim Thaci's provisional government in the new civilian administration for Kosova. Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski recognized Thaci's provisional government last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 18 June 1999). FS

ANNAN APPOINTS TWO KOSOVA ADMINISTRATORS...

A UN spokesman said in New York on 21 June that Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed Dominique Vian, currently the prefect of French Guyana, as his deputy special representative for interim civilian administration in Kosova. Vian will be responsible for various tasks, including police, telecommunications, and public transport. Annan also appointed Dennis McNamara, currently the UNHCR's special envoy for the region, as his deputy special representative in charge of refugee return and humanitarian assistance, AP reported. Under a plan that Annan unveiled on 14 June, the UN administration in Kosova will have four deputies serving under a special representative. FS

...BUT NO SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

Annan said on 20 June in Paris that his special representative for Kosova will be a European, thus ending speculation about a possible appointment of Jacques Klein, the U.S. deputy to the international community's High Representative Carlos Westendorp in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Currently, UN Undersecretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil holds that position, pending a final appointment. Also open are the positions of the deputy special representatives for reconstruction--to be filled by an EU representative--and institution building, which will go to the OSCE. Neither body has proposed its candidate. FS

HAVEL CALLS FOR ACTION ON BALKANS...

Czech President Vaclav Havel told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service in Prague on 21 June that he welcomes the international community's decision to hold a series of conferences on rebuilding the Balkans in the region itself (see "End Note" below). He added that the first conference to be held in Sarajevo next month could mark the beginning of a stable peace and peaceful coexistence among the ethnic groups of former Yugoslavia. They are proud peoples who would not easily accept their fate being decided far away, he said. Havel reiterated his intention of visiting Kosova soon, saying he feels some responsibility for the NATO bombing and wants to find out what must be done to create normal, dignified living conditions there. The president argued that the hard task now facing the international community is to break the "seemingly endless cycle of bloodshed, revenge and counterrevenge." SW/PM

...WARNS ON MILOSEVIC

Havel also told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service on 21 June that it will be very difficult to restore peace and harmony to the Balkans while Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power. Havel recalled that Milosevic is the man behind four Balkan wars over the past decade. Those conflicts resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, and the Hague-based war crimes tribunal has charged Milosevic with atrocities over the actions of Serbian forces in Kosova. SW/PM

SLOVENIA LAUDS NATO INTERVENTION...

President Milan Kucan and Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek praised their guest, U.S. President Bill Clinton, for NATO's intervention in Kosova. Speaking in Ljubljana on 21 June, Drnovsek said: "We have been witnessing a war that was fought for the values that we want to defend and to protect minorities. [It was a war that] was fought for peace. [NATO used] force to protect the weakest, not to give benefits and profits to the stronger. This is a [vindication] for Slovenia, for our partnership and for our role in this part of the world." PM

...WHILE CLINTON HAILS SLOVENIAN MODEL

Clinton said in Ljubljana on 21 June that "the whole world admires Slovenia's success in building freedom and prosperity and now we look to you to play a crucial role as we build a better future for all of Europe." He called the Alpine republic "an excellent candidate for NATO." Citing Slovenia's progress in moving from a communist to a democratic system, the president added: "Slovenia can lead the way [for other countries of the region], and America will help." PM

CLINTON URGES SERBIA TO CHOOSE DEMOCRACY

The U.S. president also said in Ljubljana on 21 June that "we want Serbia to be a part of the new Europe, but Serbia must reject the murderous rule of Mr. Milosevic and choose the path that Slovenia has chosen, where people reach across the old divides, and find strength in their differences and their common humanity." Clinton noted that Serbia will not receive "a penny" in reconstruction aid so long as Milosevic remains in power. He added that he "can't wait for the day" that a democratic leader replaces the indicted war criminal. Clinton also appealed to ethnic Albanians not to take revenge on the Serbs of Kosova. Elsewhere, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said that NATO hopes that domestic support for Milosevic will wane once Serbs come to realize "the real truth of what went on" in Kosova since the spring. PM

U.S. SUPPORT FOR DJUKANOVIC

During his stay in Ljubljana on 21 June, Clinton met with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, who is a staunch opponent of Milosevic and who seeks to democratize Yugoslavia. Clinton's spokesman Lockhart noted that Washington wants to show "our support for democratic efforts in Montenegro and our willingness to work" with democrats there. Lockhart added that "we need to make sure that the democratic movement there is fostered and the moves that [Djukanovic] has taken are rewarded rather than punished. But it is a difficult issue because clearly aid to Montenegro could have the ability to aid Serbia." Both the U.S. and the U.K. firmly reject any aid to Serbia so long as Milosevic remains in office. PM

ROMANIAN POLL RECONFIRMS OPPOSITION LEAD

A public opinion poll conducted by the Center for Public Opinion and Marketing Research (CSOP) reconfirms the lead of former President Ion Iliescu and his Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 1999). The poll indicates that if elections were to be conducted now, Iliescu would garner 38 percent of the votes, followed by incumbent President Emil Constantinescu (20 percent), Alliance for Romania Party (PAR) leader Teodor Melescanu (15 percent), and Greater Romania Party (PRM) chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor (7 percent). In party preferences, the PDSR (37 percent) is ahead of the Democratic Convention of Romania (24 percent), the APR (10 percent), the Democratic Party (9 percent), and the PRM (8 percent). Nearly half of the respondents (47 percent), however, said they would not know for whom to vote, Mediafax reported. MS

ROMANIAN RULING ALLIANCE AT A CROSSROAD?

National Liberal Party (PNL) vice chairman Paul Pacuraru on 21 June rejected as "unacceptable" a proposal from the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) for overcoming the conflict in the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR). The PNTCD proposed that before the local elections, the CDR reregister as a two-party alliance, namely of itself and the Romanian Ecologist Party (PER). This would make it possible to meet the PNL's wish to run on separate lists in the local elections. Before the general elections, the CDR would reregister as an alliance including the PNTCD, the PNL, and the PER, which would merge with the Romanian Ecologist Federation. The four-party alliance would thus be reduced to three, lowering the electoral threshold from 14 to 11 percent, PNTCD chairman Ion Diaconescu said. MS

ROMANIA WANTS DAM, NOT BRIDGE, OVER DANUBE

Transportation Minister Traian Basescu said on 21 June that Romania will propose the construction of a dam over the Danube River within the Western-led plans for Balkan reconstruction, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Basescu said the dam would be an alternative to the Bulgarian plan for constructing a second Danube-crossing bridge between Vidin and Calafat and would be more advantageous as it could ease train and road traffic over the river and also provide an alternative source of power to Bulgaria's controversial Kozloduy nuclear plant. MS

PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY WANTS LUCINSCHI TO RUN FOR SECOND TERM

"If Petru Lucinschi decides to run for another term [as president] in 2000, the Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova [that] I have the honor to head will back him," parliament chairman Dumitru Diacov told journalists on 21 June. Diacov refuted rumors that he himself or Premier Ion Sturza intend to run for president in the next elections, Infotag reported. Also on 21 June, presidential spokesman Anatol Golea told journalists in Chisinau that Lucinschi considers the achievements of the cabinet headed by Sturza after 100 days in office to be "rather modest" and that the president intends to pursue his drive for a change of the parliamentary system to a presidential one. MS

LUCINSCHI MEETS NEW OSCE MISSION CHIEF

Meeting William Hill, the new head of the OSCE mission to Moldova on 21 June, Lucinschi said he hopes the OSCE will become more actively involved in the process of alleviating tensions and fighting separatist tendencies all over Europe and added that he is optimistic about finding a solution to the conflict with the Transdniester separatists. According to a press release from the presidential office cited by Flux, Lucinschi said his optimism is based on the results of his last meetings with separatist leader Igor Smirnov and other Transdniester officials. MS

CHIEF U.S. DIPLOMAT IN BULGARIA

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met in Sofia on 22 June with President Petar Stoyanov, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova, and other members of the cabinet, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Albright told Stoyanov that the U.S. values Bulgaria's stand on the Kosova conflict. Government spokeswoman Nery Terzieva said Albright promised support for Bulgarian reforms in response to Stoyanov's request that his country be fully included in the future Stability Pact for the Balkans. MS

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT AGREES TO KFOR TROOPS TRANSIT

The cabinet of Premier Ivan Kostov on 21 June approved the transit of KFOR troops through Bulgarian territory, BTA reported. The decision has yet to be approved by the parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 1999). The draft agreement approved by the cabinet envisages transit passage by air, land, and through ports, and includes access and stopovers by troops, equipment, and logistic supplies. Also on 21 June, chief of staff General Mikho Mikhov visited the headquarters of NATO's Cooperative Partner '99 exercises taking place near Varna and said the event is a "step forward" in achieving Bulgarian military interoperability with NATO. MS

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SUMS UP CHINA VISIT

Upon returning to Sofia after a five-day visit to China, Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said on 20 June that the visit had confirmed mutual interest in "the promotion of bilateral relations" and a "dramatic dynamism of reforms in both countries, BTA reported. Mihailova briefed journalists on her meetings with Premier Zhu Rongji, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and other officials. She said both sides concurred on the need to improve bilateral trade and insisted that Bulgaria will welcome Chinese investment. MS




HAVEL--THE PEOPLES OF THE BALKANS MUST DECIDE THEIR OWN FATE


Remarks by Czech President Vaclav Havel to RFE/RL's South

Slavic Service on 21 June 1999.

I believe unequivocally that human rights take precedence over state sovereignty. Man is the creation of God and has existed tens of thousands of years. The state is the creation of man and is an administrative unit existing several hundred years in the form we know today. It seems that in the future, in the next millennium, in view of the global nature of our civilization and other factors, the importance of people and their rights will grow in significance over the rights of the state.

Many functions now carried out by the state will in the future be handled at a lower level by various civic groups, others will become functions of higher, super-national or transregional units, as is now taking place within the European Union. ...

It's absolute nonsense to criticize bombing as one evil trying to stop another evil, namely ethnic cleansing. Alas, the world is such, and people are such that evil has to be checked with fire and sword--evil must be met by force. That's why all countries except Costa Rica have armies. That's the way the world is. In this case, a great evil was met with the relatively least of evils. Not one of the critics offered a better solution, except one Czech who said: "Let them all murder each other, and we should take no notice."

If a government takes over a state as in Yugoslavia, the only way to check its evil is to destroy the structures that support it. That means military structures, transport, communications, and others that serve the regime. NATO conducted thousands of raids and hit some civilian targets, regrettably killing innocent civilians. But compared to most previous wars, the percentage of innocent victims was relatively small.

It's hard for me to imagine that peace and stability can be established while [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic remains in power. He was behind several Balkan wars now for more than a decade, resulting in thousands of deaths.

I am afraid that with him it would be very hard to build a good peace based on justice and civic co-existence, all the more because he stands accused by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. This is a court that has no political biases, because it was created by the United Nations on the decision of the Security Council, with the agreement of both the Russian Federation and China.

I think that an earlier intervention might have meant fewer victims in this past decade and the bombing need not have been so devastating. ...Of course that's hindsight, and everyone is a general after a battle.

NATO must do all it can to create confidence in the international civil administration or protectorate that will be established in Kosova so that people will trust the law and order forces there sufficiently for some Serbs to return to the region, just as some ethnic Albanians are now returning.

That is the great task before us. The question is what will be done now and will happen now.

There is an endless circle of blood and revenge that must be broken. That is an unusually hard and difficult task. It's hard to explain to Kosova Albanians, who were forced out of their homes at gunpoint. I spoke to some of them in refugee camps, and they said: "We were told you must leave in three minutes or you will be shot and you can take only what you can carry." They thus had to leave with no food, no clothes, nothing. They then had to witness their homes being looted and burned. It is hard to explain [to them] that now that they are back, they cannot steal from abandoned Serbian homes.

Nevertheless, it is the duty of the international community to try to do this and stop this endless circle of bloodshed, revenge, and settling of accounts.

Kosova must decide its future--by referendum or election--not now, but after heads have cooled and can make reasoned decisions. I think at least three years should go by in negotiations. Then, calmly and sensibly, the decision can be made--but it has to be by Kosovars themselves.

I feel some responsibility for the intervention of NATO and the international community in Yugoslavia and Kosova. The action had only one goal, namely to create conditions for civic co-existence and democratic development, as well as to stop human rights violations, murders, and massacres. I feel responsibility for the action and what it led to, regardless of whether or not it achieved its goal. That is why I want to visit Kosova and find out what must be done further to achieve that aim, if it hasn't already been achieved.

One can't create a situation through bombing and then lose interest in the situation. On the contrary, now is the time to get interested. The bombing was not an end in itself but merely the means to create conditions for people to live in dignity.

The international community must do all within its power to make the Balkans a region of peace and peaceful co- existence among ethnic groups. A beginning could be the planned conferences in the region: the first is supposed to held in Sarajevo. I welcomed the news because I have been saying from the beginning that one cannot decide the Balkans' future in Alaska or Washington or Paris or Moscow. The conferences have to be there in the Balkans. These are proud peoples who would not easily tolerate their fate being decided far away. (Translated from the Czech by Sonia Winter)




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