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Newsline - July 20, 1999




LEBED DENIES HE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed told a Tbilisi-based television station on 19 July that "regarding any such idiocies that I am running for president--I have made no announcement," ITAR- TASS reported. Lebed called reports that he will participate in presidential elections "smoke without fire." The Public Opinion Fund reported last month that Lebed dropped from second or third place to sixth in the popularity ratings of Russian national leaders, citing polls it conducted from May 1998 to May 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1999). JAC

IMF, WORLD BANK BOARDS TO CONSIDER FUNDS FOR RUSSIA THIS MONTH

As Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko on 19 July signed a joint statement on development policy, Mikhail Zadornov, presidential envoy to international financial institutions, declared talks with World Bank and IMF completed, Interfax reported. The joint statement was one of the conditions for the bank to approve a third structural adjustment loan. World Bank Country Director for Russia Michael Carter said that the bank expects to resume lending to Russia at the end of July or the beginning of August. According to Carter, the Japanese government is considering co-financing with the bank both that loan and one to the coal sector. The World Bank's board of directors is expected to meet to discuss the loans on 23 July, Zadornov said. Five days later, the IMF's board of directors is expected to discuss the $4.7 billion credit for Russia. JAC

LOCAL ELECTRICITY SUPPLIER PULLS PLUG ON MILITARY RADAR

Khabarovskenergo cut off electricity to the 11th air and air defense army troops located in its region because of unpaid bills. Radar units were unable to monitor the country's air border temporarily when the emergency power system failed to kick in, Interfax reported on 20 July. Troops currently not only lack electricity but also cold water since artesian wells have also stopped functioning. Military commanders are concerned that without water supplies, their troops are more vulnerable to the forest fires that have been spreading throughout the region so quickly due to a continued bout of dry hot weather that Khabarovsk Governor Viktor Ishaev declared a state of emergency the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 1999). According to Interfax, the region's air and air defense army forces owe electricity suppliers 27 million rubles ($1.1 million). JAC

PASKO WALKS FREE FOLLOWING CONVICTION...

Military journalist Grigorii Pasko on 20 July was sentenced to three years in prison for "abuse of power" but was immediately amnestied, under the amnesty legislation passed by the parliament earlier this year. Pasko, who was arrested in November 1997 and spent the last 20 months in jail, had already fulfilled more than one third of his sentence, Interfax reported. According to AFP, the court failed to find Pasko guilty of espionage or treason but ruled that his passing of classified materials to the Japanese media about the Pacific Fleet's handling of nuclear waste was an "abuse of power." Pasko criticized the verdict saying "Here, in Russia, if the KGB takes up a case, there is never an acquittal. I came out today but tomorrow someone else will go to jail. First of all we need a precedent of an acquittal," AP reported. JAC

...AS OTHER ENVIRONMENTALISTS STILL FACE SCRUTINY

"The Moscow Times" reported on 17 July that human rights advocates in Russia believe the Federal Security Service (FSB) is harassing ecologists on behalf of the military, which is responsible for up to 60 percent of toxic contamination within Russia. This month, authorities pulled the passport of noted scientist Valerii Soifer for alleged mishandling of classified documents about the Pacific Fleet's environmental practices, while an American student exchange coordinator was denied a visa to return to Voronezh for having reportedly collected "secret environmental maps for the CIA," according to the daily (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 15 July 1999). FSB Director Vladimir Putin told "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 8 July that "foreign secret service organizations use not only diplomatic cover but very actively use all sorts of ecological and public organizations, commercial firms, and charitable organizations. This is why, regardless of pressure from the public and mass media, such organizations will always be a subject of our attention." JAC

TATARSTAN OPPOSITION DECLARES HUNGER STRIKE

Representatives of 16 opposition parties and movements began a hunger strike on 19 July to protest the adoption of a law on elections to the Tatarstan's legislative assembly or State Council, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The law has already passed the first two readings and will likely be put to a third reading this week. Opposition leaders object to the bill's abolition of election to the State Council on the basis of party lists. They also insist that the legislation should include a provision prohibiting the election of raion administration heads as State Council deputies. Among the 16 parties and movements represented are the nationalist opposition parties Ittifak and Omet as well as Tatarstan's Communist Party. JAC

RUSSIA TO END OIL-FOR-SUGAR DEAL WITH CUBA

Valerii Pervukhin, head of the Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry's external economic affairs department, told "The Moscow Times" of 20 July the ministry has decided to end Russia's oil-for- sugar deal with Cuba by the end of this year. Under a 1995 protocol creating two separate programs, Russia is committed to exchanging oil for sugar and to channeling oil revenues to maintain a listening post for spying on the U.S. No oil has been shipped under the oil-for-sugar program for some two- and-a-half years, partly because of the reluctance of oil companies to take part; according to Pervukhin, the ministry is seeking to expedite the transport of the 1.5 million tons of crude remaining under that program. "The Moscow Times" reports, however, that oil exports to fund the listening post are "still going strong." According to the daily, this program is more attractive to the oil companies because, unlike under the oil-for-sugar program, they are allowed to select their own shipping agents. JC

MONGOLIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW TO REVIVE CROSS BORDER TIES

At meetings with Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on 19 July, Nyam-Osoryn Tuya discussed boosting Mongolia's ties with Russia, particularly with its southern Siberian regions, ITAR-TASS reported. Trade between the two countries has been dwindling recently: according to Russian Trade Ministry data cited by Interfax, turnover totaled $186.4 million in 1998, down 34 percent on the previous year. Top-level diplomatic contacts between the countries have also been below previous levels: as Tuya noted, the Mongolian prime minister's last visit to Russia was four years ago. The two sides reached agreement in principle on a meeting of the two countries' premiers this fall. In a forum on the problems of border regions earlier this month, Belgorod Governor Yevgenii Savchenko complained that Mongolia "was taking its goods to China" rather than Russia because of poor roads and customs regulations, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 10 July. JC/JAC

ARMED FORCES TO RECEIVE NEW WEAPONS THIS YEAR?

Colonel- General Anatolii Sitnov told Interfax on 17 July that despite financial difficulties, the armed forces will receive new weapons and other military hardware this year. Among the planned acquisitions are 10 Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles for the Strategic Rocket Forces, a TU-160 bomber for the Air Force, a nuclear submarine and anti- submarine vessel for the Navy, 100 armored vehicles and 30 T- 90 tanks for the General Purpose Forces, and 10 satellites for defense needs. At the same time, Sitnov warned that the delivery of these and other items will depend on funding for state defense contracts. That caution may prove well-founded. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov was quoted in the latest issue of "Vek" as saying that the army will have to upgrade its weapons because it does not have the money to buy new ones, "The Moscow Times" reported on 17 July. JC

RARE VIRUS OUTBREAK ISOLATES SOUTHERN TOWN

Oblivskaya, a small town in Rostov Oblast, is experiencing an outbreak of what one top Russian health official called "Congolese- Crimean hemorrhagic fever," "Izvestiya" reported on 20 July. First Deputy Minister of Health and head sanitary doctor Gennadii Onishchenko believes that the virus is transmitted by insects and domestic animals. As of 19 July, 38 children and 52 adults had been hospitalized with symptoms of the virus, such as sudden fevers, severe headaches, and bleeding from different internal organs. Onishchenko told Ekho Moskvy earlier that officials are not planning to introduce quarantine, but Russian Television reported that the town is already in semi-quarantine, with bus services between it and neighboring towns suspended and trains passing through without stopping. Over the past two weeks, six people have died from the illness, Interfax reported. According to "Izvestiya," the last outbreak occurred in 1997 in Khabarovsk Krai, where 225 people fell ill. JAC

IVANOV DENIES ETHNIC CLEANSING IN KOSOVA, SLAMS NATO...

Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov told "Komsomolskaya pravda" of 20 July that the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia was not justified. "I traveled to Yugoslavia often, there was not a situation which would have required an...intervention, " he said. "There was no massive ethnic cleansing, although of course there were incidents. But the [Western] mass media created an image of [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic, Yugoslavia, and the situation around it, designed to [justify] decisions that NATO had taken in the previous months. First, to use forces without a UN Security Council resolution. Second, to use forces outside NATO's sphere of responsibility." FS

...BUT CALLS FOR BETTER RELATIONS WITH THE WEST

Ivanov also told "Komsomolskaya pravda" that Russia maintained good relations with individual NATO countries throughout the Kosova crisis, despite freezing relations with the alliance itself. He also called on his fellow countrymen to improve relations with the West. Ivanov warned that there is a rise of "anti-American feelings in Russia, especially among young people," adding that it is the "task not only of the president and the government but of entire public opinion to overcome negative [images] by solving concrete problems." FS

RUSSIAN EXPERTS ESTIMATE DAMAGE TO YUGOSLAV REFINERIES

Valerii Yevlampiev, director-general of the Nizhnii Novgorod regional department for foreign economic relations, told Interfax in Moscow on 19 July that Russian experts estimate the damage to the Novi Sad and Pancevo oil refineries at about $400 million. He added that three companies in Nizhnii Novgorod designed parts of the refineries in the 1970s and 1980 and are hoping to receive post-war reconstruction contracts. Meanwhile on 19 July, the Russian Emergency Ministry sent a chemical and radiological laboratory to Yugoslavia to assess the environmental impact of the war. Six military trains carrying 682 paratroopers, 39 armored vehicles, 207 other vehicles, and more than 600 tons of cargo left Tula and Ryazan bound for Leskovac. And Russian railways resumed regular passenger traffic between Moscow and Belgrade, ITAR-TASS reported. FS

A CANDIDATE FOR ALL SEASONS

"Obshchaya gazeta" reported in its No. 28 July issue that Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii plans to run in not just two upcoming gubernatorial elections but five. According to the newspaper, after a failed bid for the governor's seat in Belgorod, Zhirinovskii is preparing to run in the following elections: Sverdlovsk Oblast on 29 August, Novgorod Oblast on 5 September, Omsk Oblast on 5 September, Leningrad Oblast on 19 September and Tomsk Oblast also on 19 September. The newspaper claims that Zhirinovskii is not seeking victory for its own sake, since the "trash of life in the provinces is not for the LDPR leader." Zhirinovskii "merely wants to tone his reflexes on the eve of federal elections." JAC

CHECHENS, RUSSIANS EXCHANGE FIRE

Chechen attacks on Russian border posts on 19 July left two Russian soldiers dead and five wounded, the Russian Interior Ministry told ITAR-TASS. In response, Russian forces launched 40 missiles from helicopters based in Stavropol Krai. PG

CHECHNYA CLOSES REGIONAL MISSIONS IN RUSSIA

Chechnya's general representative to the Russian Federation told ITAR- TASS on 19 July that he is temporarily closing all of Chechnya's representational offices in the regions of the Russian Federation. Mairbek Vachagayev, who took up his duties in Moscow the same day, said that these offices will remain closed "until the Russian side provides an official explanation" for the detention and then release of Chechen State Security Minister Turpal Atgeriyev. Meanwhile, Russian prosecutors announced that they lack evidence to charge Atgeriyev with the crimes for which he was detained. PG

NEW ZEALAND CITIZEN RELEASED IN CHECHNYA

Cruz Ribeio Geraldo, a citizen of New Zealand and representative of the International Red Cross, who was seized by Chechen gunmen in Nalchik on 15 May 15, has been freed "as a result of a special operation carried out by the North Caucasian department for combating organized crime," the Russian Federation Interior Ministry told ITAR-TASS on 20 July. PG




ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER PREDICTS EXPANDED WAR WITH AZERBAIJAN

Even as Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev expressed satisfaction with their recent meeting, the Armenian newspaper "Golos Armenii" suggested that Azerbaijan will eventually earn enough money from oil and gas exports to be able to finance a new and larger war against Armenia. Writing in that newspaper's 17 July issue, V. Grigoryan said that "it will then become increasingly harder for Armenia to maintain military parity and a full-scale war will be unavoidable in 10 years' time." PG

STALIN WAS 'RUSSIAN' PHENOMENON, SAYS GRANDSON

Speaking in Moscow on 18 July to a meeting of those opposed to burying Lenin, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili said that his grandfather was "not a Georgian but a Russian phenomenon," Caucasus Press reported on 19 July. And he said that those who try to blame Stalin on the Georgians are making a major mistake. PG

SHEVARDNADZE WILL 'PROBABLY' RUN AGAIN...

At his weekly news conference on 19 July, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that he will "probably" run for a second term but added that "to be serious, I haven't yet decided," Reuters reported. In other comments, reported by Caucasus Press, Shevardnadze expressed his believe that the "president can head a political party," suggesting that he will seek to run as the leader of one. PG

...WELCOMES GROWING TIES WITH U.S.

The Georgian leader said that "relations between Georgia and the U.S. are gradually assuming the nature of a strategic partnership," ITAR-TASS reported. But he commented that "this cooperation is not aimed against anyone." He again expressed interest in NATO's participation in finding a solution to the Abkhaz problem. In related developments, Tbilisi announced that the parliament will consider sending 20 Georgian servicemen to Kosova, ITAR- TASS reported. A representative of the Georgian military will go to Italy in August for NATO training, according to Caucasus Press. PG

GEORGIA RAISES THRESHOLD FOR PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATION

The Georgian parliament on 20 July voted to increase the voting threshold for representation in parliament from 5 percent to 7 percent, Caucasus Press reported. The vote, which will make it more difficult for some smaller parties to gain representation in the parliament, results in the first amendment to the country's 1995 constitution. But President Shevardnadze dismissed it as having little importance for him and his political future. PG

CENTRAL ASIANS TO FORM SECURITIES MARKET

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan will form a securities market, the Kazakhstan government announced to Interfax- Kazakhstan on 20 July. PG

KAZAKHSTAN STEPS UP PRESSURE OVER BAIKONUR

Meibek Moldabekov, the head of Kazakhstan's Space Agency, told Reuters on 20 July that his government will seek a percentage of profits from all future Russian launches from Baikonur as well as a say in future launch schedules. But he acknowledged that "Kazakhstan does not have the legal right" to limit the number of launches at the site, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported the same day. PG

KYRGYZSTAN, RUSSIA SIGN BORDER CONTROL ACCORD

Under the terms of a 17 July agreement, Kyrgyzstan will assume responsibility for parts of its border that have been under the control of Russian border guards, Interfax reported on 19 July. PG

TAJJIK MUSLIM LEADER RE-ELECTED

Haji Amanullo Negmatzoda was re-elected to the chairmanship of the Tajik Muslim Religious Board for another five years, Interfax reported on 19 July. PG

UZBEKISTAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES AFGHAN PEACE PLAN

Speaking to a meeting of the "Six plus Two" group in Tashkent on 19 July, President Islam Karimov called for a cease-fire, an exchange of prisoners, and the end of all blockades of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, Interfax reported. Karimov said that "our most coveted and greatest desire is to see a peaceful, stable, and secure Afghanistan." PG




BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PARLIAMENT HEAD SEEKS REFUGE IN MINSK HOTEL

Syamyon Sharetski, speaker of the opposition Supreme Soviet, has moved to the Minsk hotel at which the OSCE monitoring and consultative group's offices are located, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 19 July. Sharetski said that Belarusian special services have recently been watching his activities "very impudently" and, in his opinion, are going to arrest him. Sharetski is to preside over a 21 July Supreme Soviet session that will debate the end of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's five-year term on 20 July. According to the 1994 constitution, the Supreme Soviet chairman assumes the powers of the head of state if there is no legitimate president in the country. Sharetski told RFE/RL that he will stay in the OSCE Minsk office as long as "he deems it necessary." JM

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES SUPPORT TO PRIVATE BUSINESS

Lukashenka on 19 July told the first session of the newly created Council for the Development of Entrepreneurship (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 July 1999) that he will encourage and support the private production sector "in every possible way." He appealed to the council "to submit proposals intended to amend relations between the authorities and entrepreneurs" and pledged not to "obstruct" the work of private businessmen. Lukashenka also promised to grant Tatsyana Bykava, the chairwoman of the council, the powers of a cabinet member and allow her to participate in the cabinet's discussions on all economic problems, Belapan reported. JM

U.S., POLISH ASSISTANCE FOR UKRAINIAN REFORMS

On 19 July in Warsaw, the Polish-American-Ukrainian Cooperation Initiative (PAUCI) approved four projects worth $150,000 to support small and medium-sized business and the restructuring of local government in Ukraine, PAP and AP reported. These are the first projects under the scheme, which was set up in 1998 to make use of Poland's free-market experience and $10 million in U.S. grants in the transformation of the Ukrainian economy. JM

TWO WORKERS EXPOSED TO RADIATION AT CHORNOBYL

Two workers were exposed to radiation at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant as they carried out safety checks at the plant's only operational reactor on 17 July. The workers were using a gamma-ray emitting device to check for radiation leaks when part of the device fell out of its protective container, according to official reports. One worker was exposed to a radiation dose of 9.8 rem (roentgen equivalent in man) and the other to a dose of 8.3 rem. Under Ukrainian safety norms, a dose of 5 rem a year is considered the upper safety limit. A Chornobyl plant spokesman told AP that the radiation doses received by the workers were "meager." JM

TRIAL OF DEPORTER BEGINS IN ESTONIA

The trial of Mikhail Neverovski, a former KGB agent accused of arranging deportations to Russia during the Soviet occupation, began on 19 July in Parnu. The 79-year-old Neverovski was charged for his role in the 1949 deportation of several hundred Estonians deemed as "bandits, nationalists, or kulaks," BNS reported. Neverovski, an Estonian citizen, denied all charges and pleaded not guilty in pre-trial hearings. One survivor, who was deported to Novosibirsk Oblast with his entire family, told "Eesti Paevaleht" that Neverovski was "not human" in his treatment of others. MH

LATVIAN RADICALS ATTEMPT TO REGISTER

The 17 July formation of the NGO Kolovrat is causing controversy, as several of its founders are alleged members of the radical Russian nationalist group Russian National Unity. The leader of Kolovrat stressed its goals are to maintain Russian culture and improve the rights of the Russian community, but he also noted that the Latvian language should be respected, taught, and promoted as the state language, BNS reported. The group also seeks to promote activities such as self-defense, martial arts, and shooting and wants to register with the Justice Ministry as an NGO. For Fatherland and Freedom, a member of the ruling coalition, criticized the formation of the new group and its alleged links, expressing concern that "such extremist groups that have been banned even in Russia can operate freely in Latvia." MH

LITHUANIA FILES CHARGES AGAINST WAR CRIMINAL IN AUSTRALIA

The Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office on 19 July filed charges against Antanas Gudelis for his alleged role in war crimes committed during World War II. The 88-year-old Gudelis, currently residing in Australia, is charged with genocide for a series of killings in 1941 when he led a contingent under the Nazi occupation forces. Lithuanian officials have asked Australia for more information on the whereabouts and status of Gudelis. They claim to have jurisdiction as the crime was committed on Lithuanian soil. MH

POLISH OFFICIAL ASKS EU TO HALT SUBSIDIZED FOOD EXPORTS

Deputy Agricultural Minister Jerzy Plewa said on 19 July that the EU decision five days earlier to reduce subsidies on pork exported to 10 Central and East European countries will not "dramatically" reduce EU pork exports to Poland, PAP reported. Plewa said Poland does not subsidize food exports to the EU, adding that it is now the EU's turn to make a reciprocal move. JM

CZECH FINANCE MINISTER DISMISSED

President Vaclav Havel on 20 July dismissed Ivo Svoboda as finance minister and appointed Pavel Mertlik as his successor. That move came at the request of Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who told journalists that he will make no other changes in his cabinet, Reuters and CTK reported. Zeman said that the reasons for Svoboda's dismissal are generally known, while Havel commented that Svoboda "wants to do everything to prove his innocence" of the charges brought against him last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1999). As a member of Zeman's cabinet, Mertlik was deputy premier in charge of the economy and often clashed with Svoboda. MS

FORMER SLOVAK COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE CHIEF RELEASED FROM CUSTODY

Ivan Lexa on 19 July was released from custody after more than three months in detention, but the investigation of the charges brought against him for abuse of power and participation in the abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son continues. Lexa was released by order of a regional court, which ruled that the original reasons for his detention no longer applied. He had been ordered detained so that he could not impede the investigation. Chief investigator Jaroslav Ivor told CTK that there are grounds to fear that Lexa may still try to influence witnesses. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said he learned about the court's decision with "surprise and consternation." And Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner told journalists that the investigation will take longer than would have been the case had Lexa been kept in jail, CTK and AP reported. Lexa's parliamentary immunity was revoked in April. MS

OSCE WELCOMES SLOVAK MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW

The OSCE, in a 19 July statement signed by its High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel, said it welcomes the new Slovak law on use of minority languages in contacts with the authorities, CTK reported. The commissioner said that in passing the law, the Slovak parliament returned to the norms stipulated in the constitution, which, it added, was ignored by Vladimir Meciar's cabinet. MS




REHN CALLS FOR 'NEW MECHANISM' AGAINST RIGHTS VIOLATORS

Former UN envoy to Bosnia Elisabeth Rehn said in Helsinki on 19 July the international community must "create a mechanism with which we can deal with the actions of this kind of a terror state"--by which she meant Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia--without resorting to a bombing campaign. "Every missile cost around $1 million and, in a few years, we will pay for the reconstruction. And so much sorrow and misery," Reuters reported. Rehn also called upon NATO not to reduce its forces in the Balkans until the remaining indicted war criminals have been captured. Rehn is a former Finnish defense minister and has served the UN in the Balkans for the past four years. PM

U.S. REJECTS AMNESTY FOR MILOSEVIC

State Department spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 19 July that "Milosevic's future is only in one place, and that is The Hague. We oppose any suggestion of granting sanctuary or amnesty to indicted war criminals, and we encourage any state that obtains custody over Milosevic to deliver him directly to The Hague." Serbian opposition politician Vuk Draskovic recently suggested that Milosevic receive amnesty in return for leaving office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 1999). PM

CLINTON TO ATTEND BALKAN SUMMIT

U.S. President Bill Clinton will attend the international summit on Balkan reconstruction in Sarajevo on 30 July, the White House said in a statement on 19 July. The statement noted that "the leaders will discuss ways to strengthen peace and stability, deepen democracy and civil society, and promote economic reforms throughout southeast Europe." On 28 July, international financial experts will meet in Brussels to plan an aid package for the region. PM

EU REACHES 'MESSY COMPROMISE' ON BALKAN RECONSTRUCTION

London's "The Independent" reported on 20 July that European foreign ministers the previous day reached a "messy compromise" dividing EU offices for Balkan reconstruction between Thessaloniki and Prishtina. An unnamed "senior European Commission official said the member states were behaving in a 'disgraceful' way, and United States diplomats [were] taken aback by the naked self-interest of the infighting," the daily continued. The ministers also agreed to lift the oil embargo on Montenegro and Kosova "soon." PM

DJINDJIC WANTS 'CONCRETE PLAN' FOR EU ADMISSION

Serbian Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Bonn on 19 July that the EU should offer Serbia a "concrete plan" for obtaining EU membership. Djindjic stressed that Serbs will make "great efforts" to join European structures once Milosevic is out of power, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Djindjic added he considers that "Milosevic is already history." The opposition leader pointed out, however, that removing Milosevic from office "will not be easy." Schroeder replied that he "does not exclude" EU membership for Belgrade once Milosevic is gone, Deutsche Welle reported. PM

BELGRADE CAMPAIGN AGAINST 'CRONYISM'?

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Dragoljub Karic said that many unspecified company managers with "membership in certain political parties and with political connections" all too often "channel [corporate] money into private pockets," Reuters reported on 19 July. Observers suggested that his reference was to a large number of businessmen close to the respective political parties of Milosevic and his wife. Former top banker Dragoslav Avramovic told an opposition news conference that Karic could not "give such a statement without a certain security, certain guarantees for himself, according to the way things work here." PM

BELGRADE SAYS UN VIOLATES ITS SOVEREIGNTY

Vladislav Jovanovic, who is Yugoslavia's chief envoy to the UN, said in a letter in New York on 19 July that Secretary-General Kofi Annan's 12 July report on Kosova was "biased and tendentious" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 20 July 1999). Jovanovic added that Annan showed "scant respect" for Belgrade's sovereignty in the province. Elsewhere, the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions approved an initial $200 million to finance the UN's operation in Kosova. PM

UN TRIES TO GET RUGOVA'S PARTY ON TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL

On 20 July in Prishtina, unnamed officials of the UN and the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) discussed the possible participation of moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova in the UN- sponsored transitional council for the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 1999). The council's next session is scheduled for 26 July. Rugova's foreign relations adviser, Edita Tahiri, told AFP in Prishtina that the LDK declined to attend the first council meeting on 16 July because the Christian Democratic, Liberal, and Social Democratic Parties were not invited. These small parties were represented in the last shadow-state parliament. The UN instead opted to invite all Kosovar representatives who were at the Rambouillet conference, as well as representatives of the Kosovar Serbs and Turks. A UN official told AFP that inclusion of the smaller Albanian parties could lead to further demands for representation by other small lobby groups from other ethnic communities. FS

WORLD BANK GIVES $40 MILLION TO ALBANIA

Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and World Bank President James Wolfensohn signed an agreement in Tirana on 19 July providing for a $40 million loan, AP reported. The loan will be used to upgrade infrastructure, promote regional integration, and assist the development of small enterprises. The credit has a 40-year maturity period, a 10-year grace period, and an annual interest rate of 0.75 percent. Wolfensohn told President Rexhep Meidani that "now is the moment for you to secure...Albania's position in the region and world. The World Bank will be your partner." He urged the Albanian government to continue its privatization program and step up the fight against corruption. Since 1991, Albania has received loans totaling $482 million from the World Bank in support of 33 projects. FS

GREECE EXPELS MORE ALBANIANS

Greek authorities continued to deport Albanian immigrants on 19 July, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 1999). Within 24 hours, Greek police shipped 1,000 immigrants to the border crossing of Kakavia. Many of them complained that Greek police had torn up their bank documents, which made it impossible for them to retrieve their savings deposited in Greek banks. Others claimed that they have the necessary papers to stay in Greece. One immigrant told Albanian Radio that "the police did not bother to look at my documents, they just tore them up and put me forcibly on a bus for the border." Albanian officials estimate that Greek authorities deported more than 3,000 emigrants to Albania the previous week. FS

CROATIA REBUFFS ARBOUR

Croatian Minister of Justice Zvonimir Separovic told Louise Arbour, who is the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's special prosecutor, in Zagreb on 19 July that the Croatian authorities will not extradite Mladen "Tuta" Naletilic and Vinko "Stela" Martinovic until court cases against them in Croatia have been completed. She had demanded that the two appear before the tribunal to face charges of war crimes that they allegedly committed in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 war. Separovic also refused to give Arbour all the documents the latter had requested regarding alleged atrocities committed against Serbs in Croatia between 1991 and 1995. Separovic commented that "we have to take care of our national interests." He stressed, however, that "no country" has given the court as many documents as Croatia has. PM

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER DEFENDS CONVICTED GENERALS

Victor Babiuc on 19 July said his ministry will appeal not only the decision of the Supreme Court obliging his ministry to pay damages to the victims of the 1989 uprising in Timisoara but also the sentencing of Generals Victor Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"16 July 1999). Babiuc said the sentence was "not just a legal mistake" but "a blunder, with strong political bias" aimed at discrediting the army as a whole. He emphasized that the army in 1989 "sided with the revolution" and that Stanculescu "played a key role in that decision." Chief of Staff General Constantin Degeratu said the sentence was "bizarre, unfounded, and illegal" and undermined the principle of "fulfillment of orders" by the military. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DENIES ALLEGATIONS OF ESPIONAGE

Presidential spokesman Razvan Popescu on 19 July said that Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor's recent allegations that Emil Constantinescu spied for the U.S. were "just another aberration circulated by Tudor and the team of retired Securitate people that surrounds him." Popescu called on the Prosecutor-General's Office to indict the senator. During an interview with a private television station on 15 July, Tudor played a videotape in which a former officer of the communist secret police made the allegation. Interviewed by the daily "Cotidianul" on 19 July, the officer repeated the allegations but added that he cannot produce proof. His colleagues who were in charge of shadowing Constantinescu under the former regime are all dead, he added. MS

TRANSDNIESTER LEADER ON KYIV SUMMIT

Speaking on Tiraspol television on returning from the Kyiv summit (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 19 July 1999), separatist leader Igor Smirnov said the negotiations were "constructive" and that the documents submitted by his delegation were "highly appreciated" by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and "particularly by [Russian Prime Minister] Sergei Stepashin." Smirnov said that according to Stepashin, the agreed declaration on a single Moldovan-Transdniestrian state "may successfully serve as a model for solving relations between the Russian Federation and Chechnya," RFE RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Smirnov also said that Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi "did not share Stepashin's optimism," pointing out that the Moldovan Constitution defines the country as a "unitary state." MS

RUSSIA REBUFFS BULGARIA ON AIR CORRIDORS FOR KFOR TROOPS

Russia has said it rejects as "unacceptable" the conditions set by Bulgaria on air corridors for the transportation to Kosova of Russian KFOR peacekeepers. An embassy spokesman said on 19 July that Bulgaria insists that Russia present a list of the exact number of troops, their weapons, and ammunition five days prior to the transit. He argued that it is "impossible to satisfy these demands," ITAR-TASS reported. The spokesman also said that the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has informed the embassy that the transit requires parliamentary approval and that the legislature cannot discuss the request now because of the parliamentary recess. MS

BULGARIA BANS USE OF POLICE FORCE AGAINST JOURNALISTS

Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev on 19 July issued an order prohibiting police from using force against journalists, AP reported, citing BTA. The ban comes after several incidents involving such force. Most recently, police in Varna confiscated and exposed the films of a local newspaper photographer who was taking pictures of municipal workers pulling down illegally constructed buildings. Last week, military police in Sofia handcuffed a newspaper photographer taking pictures of guests arriving at a reception at the French embassy. Earlier, police on the Bulgarian-Turkish border attacked a radio reporter covering the transit of Turkish peacekeepers to Kosova. MS




HAS HUNGARY OVERSTATED ITS VOJVODINA CASE?


by Michael Shafir

There are indications that Budapest's repeated insistence on the need for the autonomy of neighboring Vojvodina is having diminished returns. Hungary's new allies in NATO and its prospective future EU partners have distanced themselves from the Hungarian position, according to which the Vojvodina Magyars must be safeguarded against the idiosyncrasies of Slobodan Milosevic's regime in Belgrade. There are three reasons for this development. First, Hungarian leaders have been using vague terminology, such as "personal autonomy," borrowed from the program of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania. That term, which has been widely employed but seldom clarified, means little more than ensuring that Vojvodina ethnic Hungarians living in settlements where there is no Magyar majority have the right to participate in electing provincial representative bodies. The lack of understanding of this term is self-evident: The Hungarian language is not exactly an international communications tool, nor are leaders of Hungary's new allies known for browsing through Hungarian publications over their morning porridge or croissants.

Second, Budapest's behavior during the Kosova conflict failed to meet the expectations of its new allies. While that behavior was not as unsatisfactory as that of the Czech government--prominent members of which criticized the alliance as air strikes took place against Yugoslavia --the Hungarian cabinet obviously considered it had done its duty by allowing the alliance to use the Taszar air base for anti- Yugoslav sorties. Moreover, according to a report in the daily "Vilaggazdasag" on 25 June, Prime Minister Viktor Orban had vetoed in April a planned NATO ground operation from Hungary.

Budapest repeatedly emphasized that Yugoslavia's likely reprisals against the 350,000-strong Magyar minority in the province prevented it from contributing troops to a possible ground force. Its worries about such reprisals are likely to have been the reason for Orban's vetoing an invasion from Hungary. But after the conflict ended and Hungary escalated its own Vojvodina autonomy campaign, her allies were little inclined to follow a course that could lead to a new conflict, one for which neither domestic nor international public opinion were prepared.

Not that the Hungarian argument lacks in persuasiveness. Orban, Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, and other Hungarian officials have all pointed out that since the region's autonomy was abolished by Milosevic in 1989, Vojvodina has lost much of its multi-ethnic character. The break up of Tito's Yugoslavia saw Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia settled in Vojvodina, and the region's ethnic balance was further altered by the recent conflict in Kosova. In an address to a NATO workshop in Budapest on 21 June, Orban said that no fewer than 250,000 Serbs fled from Kosova to Vojvodina once Milosevic's defeat became clear. Even more worrisome, as Hungarian President Arpad Goncz indicated during a visit to Norway in late June, members of Serbian paramilitary organizations from Kosova had appeared in Vojvodina, increasing the prospect of ethnic-cleansing in the province.

The third reason for NATO's reluctance to support the Hungarian position stems from the reaction of Hungary's neighbors, other than Yugoslavia, which fear that the next step in applying the autonomy model might be "imported" to their territory. When NATO Supreme Commander Europe, General Wesley Clark spoke in Budapest last month about the obliteration of the Trianon legacy (by which he meant non- interference in so-called "internal affairs" when human rights are at stake), Romania's politicians were united in denouncing the declaration and calling for "clarification." It was not sufficient for NATO headquarters in Brussels to send a verbatim report of Clark's statement to Bucharest, which the media printed in full. Clark himself had to reassure his hosts, during a brief visit of Bucharest on 15 July, that he had not suggested that borders would in any way be questioned after Kosova. NATO was pursuing regional stability, he stressed, and "stability means no change of borders."

When William Cohen visited Budapest on 12 July, the U.S. defense secretary's hosts were confronted with his obvious reluctance to back ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina. "Magyar Hirlap" reported that when Orban asked for such support, Cohen "politely" changed the subject. The look on his face, according to an AP report, was "not again!" A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP that the U.S. would certainly not meet Orban's request that the issue be included on the Western agenda for talks on the future of the Balkans. "The last thing we need," he said, "is another push for autonomy."

Likewise, a Foreign Ministry official from one of the EU member states told "Nepszabadsag" that the issue of autonomy for Vojvodina's Hungarians will be at the bottom of the list of priorities in talks on the region's stability. The official rejected the Kosova-Vojvodina link, noting that the two provinces are not comparable, since one's population is 90 percent Albanian and the other's 17 percent Hungarian. When Orban was asked whether his demand that NATO "guarantee" autonomy meant using military force, he replied "How else?"

He would have been well advised to come up with a different answer. Unless, of course, he is ready to settle for an air base in the U.S, from which Hungary would launch air strikes to defend its Vojvodina brethren.


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