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Newsline - August 2, 1999




RUSSIA, PARIS CLUB REACH AGREEMENT

The Russian government and Paris Club creditors reached an agreement on 1 August to restructure payments on Soviet-era debts. According to Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, some $8 billion of payments due to be made between 1999 and 2000 will now be repaid over 15-20 years, Reuters reported. Russia will have to pay only some $600 million in 1999-2000. Paris Club chairman Francis Mayer told reporters that the creditor governments will begin talks by the fall of next year to find "comprehensive solutions" to the Soviet-era debt problem, but he added that "at this point in time, for us a comprehensive solution does not mean a reduction or cancellation" of Russia's debt. Kasyanov hailed the agreement, noting that the sums Russia will now have to pay "comply with the parameters of the current budget and the draft budget for 2000 and will not force us to cut spending on social needs once again," according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

LUZHKOV, REGIONAL GROUP CLOSE TO AGREEMENT?

The recent positive pronouncements of the leader of Otechestvo and the informal leader of Vsya Rossiya about progress in forming a single election bloc has led some Russian media, including "Kommersant-Daily," to conclude that an agreement in principle about the new election bloc has already been reached. Vsya Rossiya's Mintimer Shaimiev, who is also Tatarstan president, told Interfax on 30 July that "consultations have brought our positions together in many respects." The next day, Otechestvo leader and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov was similarly positive, saying that negotiations on forming a single election bloc are close to a conclusion and are proceeding successfully. An unidentified source told Interfax on 29 July that the new coalition may include other parties and organizations, such as the Agrarian Party, which decided recently not to participate in an election bloc with the Communist Party. JAC

TOP BREAD OFFICIAL CALLS WESTERN FOOD AID ESSENTIAL

Roskhlebprodukt President Leonid Cheshinskii told Interfax on 1 August that Russia should petition the West for more food aid now, rather than wait for the end of the 1999 harvesting campaign. Roskhlebprodukt experts are predicting this year's grain harvest will range from 50-55 million tons, compared with the official Agriculture Ministry forecast of 60 million tons. According to Cheshinskii, 14-15 million tons will therefore have to be imported just to meet the population's need for bread. Grain for livestock and poultry breeding would raise this figure even higher, he added. Last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Vladimir Sherbak said that Russia is not planning any large-scale centralized grain imports this year, but Russia will ask the U.S. to donate 2-3 million tons of high-protein animal feed in 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1999). JAC

STEPASHIN SLAMS MILOSEVIC...

During the Balkan reconstruction summit in Sarajevo on 30 July, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin told "Kommersant-Daily": "I do not cherish kind feelings for [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic. The sufferings of the Yugoslav population were caused not only by the [NATO] bombings but chiefly by the regime of Slobodan Milosevic." Stepashin, however, urged western representatives to give humanitarian assistance to Serbia. He argued that "10 million Yugoslavs must not become hostages of one politician." The same day, President Boris Yeltsin told "Kommersant-Daily" in Moscow that "we have to resolve the situation in Yugoslavia and establish friendly relations with the U.S., Germany, France, and other Western countries." The daily noted on 31 July that both statements mark a "radical change" in Russia's policy toward Yugoslavia, which until now was based on friendly relations with Milosevic. FS

...BUT BLOCKS 'CRITICAL' REFERENCE IN DECLARATION

The Russian delegation to the Balkan summit --led by Stepashin-- blocked plans, however, to include a critical reference to Milosevic in the summit's declaration, Reuters reported (see Part II). The final declaration spoke only of "regret" that Yugoslavia could not be invited to attend the meeting and called on Serbs to implement democratic reforms. Stepashin said: "We did not come here to discuss that person.... It's an internal affair of Yugoslavia." Russia plans to give $150 million in credit to Yugoslavia. FS

DJUKANOVIC VISITS MOSCOW

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic arrived in Moscow for a two-day visit on 1 August. The Yugoslav embassy in Moscow issued a statement saying that it had been "neglected" in the arrangements for the visit. It suggested that the visit violates diplomatic protocol but added that Russia "has the right to hold meetings in the way it considers appropriate," Reuters reported. Yugoslavia's ambassador to Russia is Milosevic's brother, Borislav. Djukanovic said he will discuss with Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov "economic and political transformations within Yugoslavia" as well as ties between Montenegro and Russia. Montena-fax quoted Djukanovic as saying that Moscow's invitation is "an expression of support for and recognition of Montenegro's principled state policy." Djukanovic repeated earlier warnings that Montenegro will declare independence unless Serbia introduces substantial reforms leading to democracy and a market economy. FS

YUGOSLAV, RUSSIAN, BELARUSSIAN LEGISLATORS FORM JOINT COMMISSION

Parliamentary deputies from Russia, Belarus, and Yugoslavia agreed in Belgrade on 31 July to set up a joint commission that will help Belgrade prepare to join the loose union between Russia and Belarus, Reuters reported. The commission will hold its first meeting in early September. It will include four Yugoslav, two Russian, and two Belarusian legislators as well as two members of the Russian-Belarusian Interparliamentary Assembly. FS

RIGHT-CENTRISTS SEEKING TO WIN MILITARY VOTE

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 30 June that plans are under way to set up a round-the-clock military television channel funded by businessmen close to the Kremlin and Pravoe Delo (Right Cause). The newspaper cited "military sources" as saying that the aim of the new channel will be to "form a positive image of the current authorities in the eyes of servicemen." It also cited the same sources as saying that Defense Ministry officials are holding "unofficial negotiations" on servicemen's participation in Vsya Rossiya (All Russia) during the elections. Officers and generals are reported already secretly combining their military duties and work with Vsya Rossiya's electoral staff. And with regard to Otechestvo (Fatherland), military experts believe that the movement enjoys "ever-growing popularity" among the troops but that its leader, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, is unpopular among military leaders, according to the daily. JC

CRIME DOWN, DRUGS UP IN ARMED FORCES

According to data released by the Main Military Prosecutor's Office, the crime incidence in the armed forces was down 12.4 percent in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period in 1998, "Krasnaya zvezda" reported on 29 July. The total number of crimes registered during the period January-June 1999 stood at 9,174. However, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 July, citing Chief Military Prosecutor Colonel-General Yurii Demin, that the number of drug addicts drafted into the army and navy has increased. More than 200 crimes registered during the first half of this year were linked to drug-trafficking. JC

PRIMORSKII GOVERNOR EXTENDING SCARE TACTICS TO JUDGES...

Tatyana Loktionova, chairwoman of the Primorskii Krai's arbitration court, told reporters on 29 July that Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko has been interfering with the activities of the court for the past two year, and that she and her colleagues are now afraid for their own safety, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 30 July. Nazdratenko has accused the court of destroying the krai's economy because of its role in bankrupting local enterprises. Loktionova says her court has only been following the letter of the law and that the reason for the attacks against her "is to pass the responsibility for the collapse of the local economy during the past few years to the arbitration court," "The Moscow Times" reported. Loktionova claims that the local police, acting under orders from Nazdratenko, are fabricating criminal cases against her and her family. JAC

...AS NEWSPAPERS DIFFERENTLY ASSESS HIS ROLE VIS-A-VIS FOREIGN INVESTORS

Meanwhile, Russian newspapers are devoting more attention to the governor's relations with foreign investors following the flurry of coverage in U.S. media during Nazdratenko's recent visit to the U.S. as a member of Prime Minister Stepashin's delegation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1999). "Novye Izvestiya" reported on 30 July that the governor's "peculiar understanding of his role in attracting foreign investment to Primorskii Krai ended up wrecking certain projects" such as the construction of a Canada Business Center and a new highway that would have been partly funded by Canadians. "Tribuna," on the other hand, credits Nazdratenko with saving the Far East Sea Navigation company from British investor Andrew Fox, who it claims is "an agent of British special services" and who "privatized what ought to have been privatized by Russian citizens." "Tribuna," a national daily widely read in Russian regions, is financed by Gazprom. JAC

TATARSTAN OPPOSITION GROUPS TO APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

The hunger strike initiated by leaders of opposition groups in Tatarstan to protest a new election law ended on 30 July, "Segodnya" reported. The new law, which passed Tatarstan's legislative assembly on 21 July in its third and final reading, abolishes the use of party lists in elections to that body (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 28 July 1999). According to "Segodnya," a roundtable assembly of Tatarstan's opposition groups intends to appeal the law to the Russian Constitutional Court. It also plans to hold a protest meeting in Moscow. On 20 August, a protesters from districts within Tatarstan will march to Kazan. On 30 August, Tatarstan Independence Day, all members of Tatarstan's opposition will hold a meeting in Kazan. JAC

FAR EAST ENERGY WORKERS CALL STRIKE

Workers at Dalenergo in Primorskii Krai began a strike on 2 August to demand full payment of back wages, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Chairman of the strike committee said the workers plan to cut off electricity to about 1,000 enterprises that have not paid their electricity bills. According to the agency, municipal enterprises and organizations alone owe Dalenergo around 1.4 billion rubles ($56 million). Striking workers do not plan to turn off water and electricity to residences during the first stage of their protest; however, if 140 million rubles worth of unpaid wages are not reduced at least in part during the first week of the protest, they do not exclude the possibility that all personnel at the plant will walk off the jobs and/or declare a hunger strike. JAC

RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION DE FACTO UNDER WAY?

The Belarusian regions of Minsk, Homel, Vitsebsk, and Mahileu have been accepted as members of the Central Russia interregional association for economic cooperation, following a decision taken at a meeting of the association near Moscow, "Izvestiya" reported on 30 July. The newspaper comments that from now on, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka can demand that Moscow charge "inter-Russian tarrifs" for oil and gas since four regions of his country have become part of "Central Russia." JC

LEBED WARNS NORTH CAUCASUS COULD DESTABILIZE RUSSIA

Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed told Interfax on 1 August that "complications in the North Caucasus may lead to the introduction of a state of emergency in the whole of Russia" and that "Russia needs airborne troops, as problems may arise in the North Caucasus." According to Lebed, "two thirds of [Russia's] airborne troops are located outside of Russia--in Abkhazia, Bosnia, and Kosovo." JAC

CHECHEN LEADER SAYS WEST SEEKS TO PUSH RUSSIA OUT OF NORTH CAUCASUS

President Aslan Maskhadov said on Grozny television 30 July that the West is seeking to drive Russia from the North Caucasus, just as it already has from the South Caucasus, Interfax reported. He suggested that some Russian groups may be cooperating with the West first "to undermine Russia from the inside and later oust it from the Caucasus." In other comments, Maskhadov said the West is currently supporting a Dagestani group in order to spread instability and isolate Chechnya. PG

RUSSIAN NATIONALITIES MINISTER WARNS AGAINST PROVOCATIONS

Vyacheslav Mikhailov told NTV on 31 July that the "provocative statements" by some Chechens about a possible Russian attack on Chechnya are intended to block a meeting between Russian President Yeltsin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, ITAR-TASS reported. Mikhailov said that these forced are not under the control of Maskhadov and should not be allowed to get in the way of the meeting. PG

CHECHNYA, STAVROPOL SIGN ACCORD

Representatives of Chechnya and Stavropol Krai signed an agreement in Nazran, Ingushetia, on 31 July to cooperate in maintaining order on their common border, ITAR-TASS reported. The news agency gave no further details but suggested that the accord could lower tensions there. Meanwhile, Chechen officials expressed the hope that the Grozny-Tbilisi highway will soon open, allowing Chechnya access to the Black Sea, the Caucasus Press agency reported the same day. PG

DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE IN KARACHAYEVO-CHERKESSIA

Supporters of both former presidential candidates--Vladimir Semenov and Stanislav Derev--continued to demonstrate in Cherkessk and other cities of the republic over the weekend, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

INGUSHETIA SUSPENDS TALKS WITH NORTH OSSETIA

Ingush President Ruslan Aushev on 30 July announced that he has suspended all negotiations with North Ossetia-Alana until the latter fulfills its agreements on Prigorodnyi Raion, ITAR- TASS reported. Aushev added that in his view, "the only way out of the situation is to implement direct federal rule" the raion. In response, North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov said on 31 July that he is against "a senseless escalation of tension" sparked by the return of Ingush to the disputed region and by their plans to stage a peace march. PG




ARMENIA SAYS TIES WITH RUSSIA TO CONTINUE AT 'HIGH LEVEL'

Armenia's foreign and defense ministers said on 31 July that cooperation in the military sphere between Yerevan and Moscow will continue "at a high level," ITAR-TASS reported. Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan said these ties have deep historic roots and will grow even stronger in the future. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Vagarshak Aratyunyan stressed that this cooperation is not directed at any third country, adding that officers from the two countries work closely together: "We have all come out of the same school. We have served together and graduated from the same schools. We have the same mentality. And there are no problems in relations." PG

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RECONVENING PARLIAMENT

Unhappy with amendments introduced on the law on municipal elections, the 20 deputies who are members of the Democratic Bloc have called for an extraordinary session to debate the matter, the Turan news agency reported on 31 July. PG

AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS PROTEST TV STATION CLOSURES

Ruh, the independent journalists' organization of Azerbaijan, issued a statement on 31 July denouncing official interference that it said has led to the closing of four of the eight local television stations in the country, the Turan news agency reported. Meanwhile, an Azerbaijani court fined the opposition newspaper "Sharg" for insulting parliamentary speaker Murtuz Aleskerov. And seven members of the Azerbaijani People's Front were arrested in Nakhchevan on 30 July, Turan said. PG

AZERBAIJAN GRADUATES FIRST OFFICERS

On 30 July, the Azerbaijan Military Academy graduated its first class, including 30 officers from the academy itself and another 13 from its special courses on strategic research and state defense management, Turan reported. Defense Minister Safar Abiyev told the graduates that he believes they "will play an important role in raising the fighting efficiency of the country." PG

UN EXTENDS ABKHAZ MANDATE, IGNORES TBILISI ON ETHNIC CLEANSING

On 30 July, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of UN military observers in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone until 31 January 2000, Prime News reported. But the resolution failed to include a finding that Abkhazia is guilty of engaging in ethnic cleansing. Georgia sought such a finding, but the Russian Federation indicated it is opposed. PG

U.S. DEFENSE CHIEF PRAISES GEORGIA

During his visit to Tbilisi on 1 August, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen praised Georgia for its progress in all areas and said it is up to Tbilisi to decide whether to replace Russian bases with American ones. Cohen indicated that Georgia could seek NATO membership in the future. And he signed agreements to increase military cooperation, including supplying helicopters to improve security at Georgia's borders, Prime- News, Georgian radio, and ITAR-TASS reported. PG

GEORGIAN DEPUTIES SEEK CLOSURE OF RUSSIAN BASES

The Georgian parliament's Defense and Security Committee on 30 July called for the closure of Russian military bases in Gudauta and Vaziani, Prime News reported. The committee said the former should be closed because it is contributing to a continuation of the Abkhaz conflict and the latter because its nearness to Tbilisi raises questions as to its purpose, "especially under circumstances when there have been instances of illegal arms trade and the sheltering of terrorist groups on the territory of the base." The committee took no position on the Russian bases in Akhalkalaki and Batumi. PG

GEORGIA CANCELS ROUNDTABLE IN ETHNIC ARMENIAN AREA

Georgian authorities on 30 July cancelled a roundtable of academics to have been held in the predominantly Armenian area of Javakh, Noyan Tapan and Caucasus Press reported. It explained that move by saying the forum might exacerbate ethnic tensions there. The Georgian authorities suggested that a roundtable including the same people be held in Tbilisi in the fall. PG

KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA STILL DISAGREE ON BAIKONUR

Another round of talks between Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation has reduced the number of disputed issues related to Moscow's use of the Baikonur cosmodrome, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. Among the issues still to be resolved include the weight of launch vehicles and the scheduling of launches. PG

KAZAKHSTAN PRESIDENT PUTS OFF SALE OF FARM LAND

Following protests in several cities across the country, Nursultan Nazarbaev said on 30 July responded to one of the protestors' demands by saying it is "perhaps premature" to sell agricultural land, Kazakhstan television news reported. According to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, the demonstrators also are calling for an end to operations at Baikonur, free transit for the elderly and handicapped, payment of all back wages and pensions, and the resignation of Nazarbaev. PG

KAZAKHSTAN INCREASES URANIUM PRODUCTION

Kazakhstan's National Atomic Company forecast on 30 July that it will produce 37 percent more uranium in 1999 than it did last year, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. PG

KYRGYZSTAN TO BUY GAS FROM KAZAKHSTAN

Kyrgyzgas announced on 30 July that it plans to purchase natural gas from Kazakhstan at a price lower than it has been paying to Uzbekistan, with which Bishkek has had some difficulties, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. PG

BISHKEK MAY RE-REGISTER HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE

President Askar Akaev has promised Jerzy Wieclaw, the head of the OSCE office in the Kyrgyz capital, that his government will re- register the Kyrgyz Committee for Human rights in the near future, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service Reported. The committee was registered in 1996 but stripped of that registration in September 1998. Meanwhile, in what may prove to be a related development, Akaev vetoed legislation governing non- commercial organizations. PG

TAJIK OFFICIAL DENOUNCES UZBEK 'CRIMINAL GROUPS'

Deputy Prime Minister Abdurakhmon Azimov told Interfax on 1 August that some Uzbek citizens living illegally in eastern Tajikistan are members of criminal groups and are "armed to the teeth." While he gave no figures concerning such groups, approximately 500 Uzbek citizens are known to have refused to register with the Tajik migrant commission, the news agency added. PG

TAJIK OPPOSITION MAY LEAVE ELECTORAL COMMISSION

The United Tajik Opposition will pull out of the Central Electoral Commission unless a UTO representative is appointed deputy chairman of that group and at least 25 percent of CEC staff in the capital and in the regions, Asia Plus reported on 30 July. Meanwhile, the UTO said that it is not yet in a position to say that it no longer has any armed formations, Interfax reported. PG

UZBEKISTAN TO RAISE WAGES, PENSIONS

President Islam Karimov issued a decree raising wages, pensions, and student stipends as of 1 August, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. The decree sets 1,750 soms (approximately $13 U.S.) per month as the minimum wage. This is the second such increase so far this year. PG

ERK SAYS UZBEK PRESIDENT BENEFITED FROM BOMBINGS

An article in the newspaper of the Erk Democratic Party, which has been banned in Uzbekistan, says that President Islam Karimov "hit the jackpot" as a result of the 16 February bombings, Iran's Mashhad radio in Uzbek reported on 28 July. That is because the bombings gave him the chance to introduce a "terror movement" of "unprecedented oppression." Erk said that "if it was not Karimov himself who organized these bombings, then most likely he is currently handing out rewards to those who did. PG

UZBEK DENOUNCES 'POISONOUS' RUSSIAN IDEOLOGY

An Uzbek state radio commentator on 27 July said that the Uzbek people must be "vigilant" against "pseudo-cultural goods brought from Russia" that "are aimed at making the people spiritually blind and deaf," BBC monitoring reported on 31 July. The speaker said that this "poisonous ideology" is being brought in "by colonialists" and has already overwhelmed Kazakhstan. PG




BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT HOLDS CONGRESS...

As widely expected, the congress of the Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) that took place in Minsk on 31 July-1 August turned into a battleground over the form of leadership to be pursued by the main opposition movement. One group supported BNF leader Zyanon Paznyak, who obtained political asylum in the U.S. in 1996 and has ruled the BNF from abroad since then. Another group, led by Paznyak's deputy, Vintsuk Vyachorka, argued that Paznyak's leadership is too authoritarian and demanded that more powers be given to members inside Belarus. Paznyak, who sent a message to the congress from Poland, called on the BNF to side only with those Belarusian opposition organizations that "in no way participate in Russian politics." JM

...FAILS TO ELECT LEADER

The congress proposed two candidates to lead the BNF, Paznyak and Vyachorka, but neither obtained the required majority of votes to become BNF chairman. On 1 August, 152 delegates voted for Vyachorka and 160 against him. Paznyak was supported by 152 votes and opposed by an equal number of delegates. The BNF is technically left leaderless, with Paznyak as acting chairman until the BNF reconvenes in the fall to tackle the issue of leadership once again. The congress did, however, adopt a declaration calling for the protection of Belarus's sovereignty and condemning Russian-Belarusian integration. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FIRES FIRST DEPUTY PREMIER

Leonid Kuchma has sacked First Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Kuratchenko, Kuchma's spokesman said on 31 July. He provided no reason for the dismissal, however. Observers say the dismissal can be linked to Kuratchenko's remarks last week that Ukraine should revive state economic planning and change its course of reform (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1999). The government's press service issued a statement on 29 July confirming the country's commitment to market reforms. JM

UKRAINE, U.S. AGREE ON KOSOVA MISSION, EXTENSION OF WEAPONS DEAL

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen told President Kuchma on 31 July that the U.S. and other NATO members will provide one-time aid to send 800 Ukrainian peacekeepers to Kosova. Kuchma's spokesman quoted Cohen as saying that NATO has already taken a decision in principle on the issue, while financial details will be worked out in the near future. Moreover, Ukraine and the U.S. agreed to a six-year extension--until 2006--of the U.S.-sponsored program to destroy ICBMs and long-range bombers that were left in Ukraine after the breakup of the USSR. JM

NINE CANDIDATES TO COMPETE FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY

The Central Electoral Commission on 31 August registered Cherkasy Mayor Volodymyr Oliynyk as the last candidate in the 31 October presidential elections, bringing the total number of presidential hopefuls to nine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1999). Several other aspirants failed to qualify because they could not produce the required 1 million signatures in their support, Interfax reported. JM

BALTIC PRESIDENTS TAKE PART IN BALKAN STABILITY SUMMIT...

Lennart Meri (Estonia), Vaira Vike-Freiberga (Latvia), and Valdas Adamkus, taking part in the 29-30 July Sarajevo summit on Balkan reconstruction, pledged their countries' assistance in that effort. Meri offered Estonia's "proven approach" in achieving stability and economic progress, adding that "human rights will be respected only when people believe they have a vested interest in economic well-being," BNS reported. Vike- Freiberga commented that "we need not remain slaves to our history," while Adamkus also offered to share Vilnius's "experience of [its] relationship with neighboring countries" and show that problems can be solved "peacefully and without using bullets and tanks," ELTA reported. MH

ESTONIAN DEPORTER SENTENCED

A Parnu court sentenced Mikhail Neverovski to four years in prison following his conviction for involvement in the 1949 deportations. The court ruled that in his capacity as a former KGB agent, the 79-year-old Neverovski was responsible for the deportations of nearly 300 individuals to Siberia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1999). This is the first deportation case to result in a prison sentence, as others led to suspended sentences. Neverovski can appeal the verdict. MH

POLISH TRADE UNIONS TO RESUME SOCIAL DIALOGUE?

The National Trade Union Accord (OPZZ), a major coalition of left-wing trade unions, has confirmed it wants to discuss with Solidarity the principles and the future of social dialogue in Poland. OPZZ leader Jozef Wiaderny on 30 July said that he has sent a letter to Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski inviting him to take part in such talks. Wiaderny noted that since Jerzy Buzek took over as the prime minister in 1997, there has been no social dialogue in Poland. According to PAP, Krzaklewski does not rule out the possibility of meeting Wiaderny, but he said he would like the dialogue to take place within the so-called tripartite commission, formed by the government, employers, and trade unions. JM

SWITZERLAND SENDS BACK SLOVAK ROMA...

A Swiss police spokesman on 31 July said 85 Slovak Roma were sent back to Slovakia last week. The spokesman said the Roma arrived at Zurich airport on three flights and had no money on them. In line with the Swiss law, all persons seeking to enter the country must show they have adequate financial resources for the duration of their stay, the spokesman said. He added that none of the Roma asked for political asylum, Reuters reported. A spokeswoman for the Czech national carrier Ceske Aerolinie on 30 July warned Slovakia's Romany minority not to travel to Switzerland in search of political asylum there. The spokeswoman said that those doing so would lose the money they paid for the air tickets and face "other difficulties," CTK reported. MS

...WHILE SLOVAK OFFICIAL CALLS FOR EUROPEAN WIDE ASYLUM LEGISLATION

Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jan Figel told Markiza television on 1 August that Europe must harmonize its legislation to cope with the problem of Romany emigration. Figel said that "obsolete" and "soft" legislation in countries such as Finland and Norway, where asylum applicants receive sums larger than the average Slovak salaries and applications can take as long as one year to be processed, must be changed. Also on 1 August, the daily "Pravda" said that if present demographic trends continue, 1 million Slovak Roma will live in Slovakia in 10 years and will make up the majority of the population by 2060. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER ON VOJVODINA

Viktor Orban, in a 30 July interview with Duna Television, said that although the issue of Vojvodina's autonomy was not included in the Balkan Stability Pact signed in Sarajevo the same day, the participants had "at least become familiar" with the province's demands. He added that the pact "does not deal substantively with the most important questions." Earlier, he told delegates to the summit that Hungary will not accept any agreement on the future of Yugoslavia that fails to provide legal and institutional protection for minorities. But after the summit he said that he considers it a major success of Hungarian diplomacy that EU special coordinator Bodo Hombach announced that an international conference will be held jointly with Hungary. The conference is to serve as a forum of opposition-led local governments in Serbia. MS/MSZ




U.S. FORCES PROTECT FLEEING SERBS

KFOR ground troops and helicopters prevented ethnic Albanians from attacking a convoy of 450 Serbs in 150 automobiles and tractors on 1 August. The Serbs had requested protection as they fled north from Zitinje, in southeastern Kosova. They told reporters that they no longer feel safe in their ethnically mixed village. Local ethnic Albanians said that some of the Serbs had earlier looted Kosovar homes. The Albanians added that they intend to take back their property if they see any Serb trying to leave with it, Reuters reported. PM

BOMB ATTACK ON SERBIAN CHURCH

Unknown persons set off a bomb that damaged the unfinished Prishtina Serbian Orthodox Cathedral on 1 August. No one was injured. The UN's Bernard Kouchner said that "there are people who want to destroy, symbolically, Orthodox churches. I find this behavior absolutely unacceptable." Serbian Orthodox Father Sava, who favors reconciliation between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, added that "Albanian extremists are organizing a systematic campaign of destruction of Orthodox churches, with the intention to blot out all traces of Serbian existence" in the province. Sava added that "we very much wonder why [the attack] could not have been prevented," AP reported. Work on the cathedral began in 1996. PM

BLAIR URGES END TO VIOLENCE

British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Prishtina on 31 July and urged local Albanians that "justice must apply to all people whatever their race, whatever their religion, whatever their class, whatever their background," AP reported. Blair met separately with both the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) Hashim Thaci and his main rival, Ibrahim Rugova. He also met with local Serbian politicians and leaders of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who have expressed increasing concern about the revenge attacks against Serbs. Father Sava told Blair that Albanian looters recently destroyed or damaged 35 medieval Serbian Orthodox churches. He stressed that these buildings "survived 500 years of Turkish occupation but not the 40-something days of peace with the international peacekeepers." FS

KOSOVA'S THACI SLAMS RUSSIANS...

Thaci sharply criticized Russian KFOR soldiers after they briefly detained UCK General Agim Ceku on 31 July near Kijeva. Ceku heads the guerrillas' general staff. Thaci said that "as [prime minister of the UCK-backed] provisional government of Kosova, we condemn this act as premeditated, with a political aim.... It shows our doubts about Russian troops' participation within KFOR were correct," Reuters reported. Thaci warned that "we will defend our honor" if such incidents occur again. A KFOR spokesman in Prishtina said, however, that the soldiers detained Ceku to check his identification and to verify whether he had KFOR's permission to wear a UCK uniform. Ceku was traveling with four armed bodyguards and was not carrying the card authorizing him to do so. FS

...WHILE RUSSIA CALLS THACI REMARKS 'UNACCEPTABLE'

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 1 August in Moscow calling Thaci's complaints "unacceptable and impermissible." The statement says that "the impunity of the UCK, carrying out illegal violent acts against local Serbs, has reached the point where its leaders are already making public threats against the international peacekeepers.... Any pretence on the part of the UCK that it is somehow in charge of the situation in Kosova and controls territory in the province directly contradicts UN Security Council resolution 1244...and other documents describing the status and tasks of international peacekeepers." FS

SARAJEVO SUMMIT UNDERSCORES POLICY DIFFERENCES

U.S. President Bill Clinton, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and several other Western leaders joined many of their Balkan colleagues in signing a declaration on Balkan regional development in Sarajevo on 30 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1999). EU countries issued a separate statement blaming Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for Serbia's isolation. Russia had refused to approve any explicit reference to Milosevic in the declaration (see Part 1). Elsewhere, unnamed U.S. officials called on the EU to follow Washington's lead and "lift trade controls on Balkan products." The officials stressed that EU countries "must bear the lion's share of the burden" in the reconstruction and development of the Balkans. After the conference, EU aid coordinator Bodo Hombach denied charges by unnamed critics that the summit was only a "media spectacle," the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 2 August. Official Belgrade media slammed the gathering as "anti-Serbian." PM

SERBIA'S AVRAMOVIC: MILOSEVIC MUST GO SOON

Dragoslav Avramovic told AP in Belgrade on 1 August that Milosevic must resign by late September if Serbia is to receive sufficient international aid in time for the winter. He argued that any attempt at reform with Milosevic still in power would be "like building a house on a landslide." Avramovic is a senior banker whom many observers believe will head the first post- Milosevic government, PM

SERBIAN POLICE IN SCUFFLE WITH OPPOSITION

In Paracin on 1 August, an unspecified number of police beat several persons. Those protesters had sought to prevent the police from interfering with efforts by opposition activists to collect signatures on a petition calling for Milosevic to resign. Following the incident, officials of the opposition Democratic Party said they will press legal charges against the local chief of police and several of the police involved in the scuffle, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In Leskovac and Valjevo, several hundred demonstrators demanded Milosevic's resignation. In Nis, a hunger strike staged by 14 army reservists for back wages entered its seventh day. PM

SFOR DETAINS BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMES SUSPECT

NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana said in Brussels that NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia detained indicted war criminal Radomir Kovac on 2 August. Solana added that NATO officials will soon send Kovac to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Kovac is a former police official and paramilitary leader whom the court indicted in connection with the alleged systematic rape of Muslim women in Foca during the 1992-1995 war. PM

CROATIA'S TUDJMAN BLASTS HAGUE TRIBUNAL

Speaking in Sarajevo on 30 July, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman denied recent charges by a Hague tribunal prosecutor that he is responsible for Bosnian war crimes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 1999). "That accusation...is as much surprising as it is completely unfounded. Croatia, and I personally, have done everything to defend Bosnia," AP reported. Tudjman also charged that "those dilettantes in The Hague" failed to take note specific actions he took on Bosnia's behalf. Tudjman recalled that he urged local Croats to vote in Bosnia's 1992 referendum on independence from the former Yugoslavia and that Croatia was the first country to recognize independent Bosnia. He stressed that "Croatia and Bosnia are so linked that they cannot exist one without another." Earlier that day, he and Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic signed an agreement defining the border between the two states. PM

WESTENDORP IMPOSES BOSNIAN PUBLIC BROADCASTING LEGISLATION

In one of his last official acts as the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, Carlos Westendorp decreed measures establishing a single public broadcasting service for the entire country, Reuters reported from Sarajevo on 31 July. The service will provide newscasts to television stations both in the mainly Muslim and Croatian federation and in the Republika Srpska. The new service will represent Bosnia in the European Broadcasting Union and consequently have the rights in Bosnia to broadcast international sporting events. Westendorp's office said in a statement that he decreed the legislation "following the failure of the relevant local authorities" to agree on a number of unspecified issues "vital to the continued implementation" of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement. Austria's Wolfgang Petritsch will shortly take up his post as Westendorp's successor, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 2 August in an interview with him. PM

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA

Janos Martonyi on 31 July and 1 August toured settlements in Transylvania inhabited by ethnic Hungarians and met with leaders of the Hungarian ethnic minority. On 30 July, he told journalists that Hungary does not promote border revision and that such fears on the Romanian side are due to "incorrect information" or are "fueled by circles with a vested interest." Martonyi said he and his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, agreed that a Hungarian consulate will be opened in Miercurea Ciuc in 2000. He said there are still "problems" in bilateral relations stemming from the discrepancy between declarations and their implementation. In this context, he pointed to the restitution of Church property and the setting up of a Hungarian-language state university. Martonyi also said he and Plesu agreed that the planned Budapest-Bucharest highway must pass through Transylvania and "serve the interests" of its population. MS

ROMANIAN RULING PARTY REACHES COMPROMISE ON LEADERSHIP

Prime Minister Radu Vasile and National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) chairman Ion Diaconescu agreed on 31 July to postpone the election of a new party leadership until an extraordinary party congress scheduled for 2001. According to the party's statutes, the new leadership is to be elected in January 2000. Vasile provoked an uproar within the party when he said he will not lead the PNTCD during the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2000 unless he is appointed party chairman. The two PNTCD leaders also agreed that the party will decide on coalition partners only after the parliamentary elections. Vasile said in an interview with Reuters on 29 July that he may opt for a coalition partnership with "leftist parties." The declaration was criticized by other PNTCD leaders and welcomed by Party of Social Democracy in Romania chairman Ion Iliescu. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW VERSION OF PRIVATIZATION BILL

The parliament on 30 July approved a new version of the bill on the privatization of the Moldtelcom company. An absolute majority of all deputies voted in favor of the bill, after the Constitutional Court declared invalid a bill approved earlier. The new version of the bill drops the provision granting the winner of Moldtelcom's privatization tender the right to operate mobile telephones as well. Also on 31 July, parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov, changing his previous position on the privatization of the Tirex- Petrol company, sent the bill on that company's privatization to President Petru Lucinschi for promulgation. The legislation provides for a Romanian consortium to take a 51 percent stake in Tirex-Petrol in exchange for paying part of Moldova's electricity delivery debt to Romania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 29 July 1999). MS

BULGARIAN DEPUTY STRIPPED OF PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY

The parliament on 31 July voted 190 to seven with 12 abstentions to strip Euroleft deputy Tsvetelin Kanchev of his parliamentary immunity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1999). The legislature went on to approve by 134 to 81 with six abstentions that Kanchev be detained immediately. Prosecutor- General Nikola Filchev, in a letter to the parliament, said Kalchev is suspected of "serious crimes," including racketeering and the "threat of battery and murder," an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. MS




IMPLICATIONS OF A ROMANIAN COURT DECISION


by Michael Shafir

The Supreme Court's recent decision to sentence Generals Victor Athanasie Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac to 15 years in prison and the responses to that decision raise several questions. The most obvious is why the judiciary waited nearly a decade to put the two generals on trial. After all, it was an "open secret" that they had been executing the orders of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu when they led the attempt to quash the December 1989 popular revolt in Timisoara, which triggered the toppling of the communist regime.

The answer is that the Romanian judicial system was not allowed to pursue the perpetrators of the crimes committed during the popular revolution. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), the Greater Romania Party and the Party of Romanian National Unity--the three opposition parties in the parliament are right when they claim that the court's decision is a "political one." But it is political only in the sense that it reverses their earlier objection to let justice be done. As long as they had been in power, the investigation into the December 1989 events was never completed for alleged "lack of evidence." Romanian democracy, whose "birth certificate" was marred by the mock trial of Ceausescu and his wife, continued in a judicially ambiguous limbo. Even those members of the Ceausescu leadership sentenced to prison terms immediately after the overthrow of the former regime were freed from jail on health grounds, and most remained at liberty till after the 1996 elections.

One should avoid concluding from this "evidence" that in order to legitimize their rule, Romania's post-1989 leaders had staged the resistance to the revolution. The jury is still out on that question. But it is beyond doubt that Stanculescu (who first became minister of industry and later defense minister) and Chitac were associated with the post- revolutionary regime of Ion Iliescu and Petre Roman. This common past must make Iliescu and Roman (despite their having since parted political ways) to wonder whether they will not be the ultimate targets of an all-out judicial campaign. And even if the two former allies were to be pronounced innocent by a court of justice, they would be unlikely to survive the ordeal politically.

This may explain PDSR deputy chairman Adrian Nastase's denunciation of the sentence as attesting to a "political war" in which the two generals are "just the first two victims" and Iliescu and Roman the ultimate ones. By the same token, Defense Minister Victor Babiuc commented initially that the verdict was "not just a legal mistake" and a "blunder with strong political bias" but was aimed at "discrediting the army as a whole." It would be a mistake, however, to suggest that in responding this way, Babiuc was putting party interests (as one Roman's deputies in the Democratic Party) above professional ones (he is a lawyer by training). Babiuc's main objection was to the "institutional implications" of the sentence.

First, as both Babiuc and Chief of Staff General Constantin Degeratu pointed out, the verdict questions the very principle on which armies are supposed to function-- namely, carrying out orders. Indeed, the court, rejecting the two generals' plea that they had obeyed orders, ruled that "military discipline excludes blind subordination and does not annul responsibility for a crime." This issue has haunted military and military-like structures ever since the Nuremberg trials and cuts across party lines.

For example, Interior Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu, taking a stand very different from that of other National Peasant Party Christian Democratic leaders, revived a proposal he had first made in 1998. It was the "responsibility of the political class," he said at the time, to find a way out of the haunting legacy of December 1989 by agreeing to amnesty those involved in the events of that time. And Ionescu, who was briefly defense minister when the Democrats walked out of the coalition in February 1998, had become even more convinced of his "solution" when Interior Ministry forces sent to stop the miners' march on Bucharest in January this year reportedly hesitated about obeying their superiors lest they be accused by a PDSR successor government of having implemented "criminal orders."

Second, the court ruled that the Ministry of Defense must pay compensation to relatives of those killed or wounded in 1989. Babiuc said the ministry will appeal the ruling, which, in his opinion, affects the Romanian army's honor, transforming it into a collective accomplice to a crime. Some observers even argued that the army's budget should not be slashed as a result of the compensation ruling, particularly at a time when the army is undergoing reform under considerable budgetary restraints.

None of these arguments, of course, carries any real weight. Stanculescu and Chitac were brought to justice for individual, not collective, deeds. Carrying out the orders of a democratically elected government is not, and cannot be considered tantamount to implementing the orders of a dictator and thus does not undermine hierarchical principles. Moreover, it is not the army but the "body politic" that assumes responsibility by compensating the victims of 1989, and it is certainly not those victims who have to carry the mundane burden of budgetary constraints. Democratic justice, after all, is also guided by moral responsibilities. Whether those responsibilities can triumph in the fast-approaching election year in a country where the army rates in opinion polls as one of the two state institutions enjoying almost unanimous confidence is a matter that the pending appeal of the sentence will help clarify.


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