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Newsline - August 3, 1999




MORE TOP EDITORS COMPLAIN OF POLITICAL PRESSURE...

Editors- in-chief of magazines and newspapers controlled by a wide variety of entities appealed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 2 August to meet with them to discuss the "abnormal situation" within the country's mass media. According to the editors, "high-ranking officials are putting pressure on the mass media and on journalists," using their "clout" and "even the name of the president" during the run- up to the State Duma election campaign. The letter follows a recent appeal to the president signed by editors of publications controlled by the Media-Most Group, that complained about pressure from tax service officials operating under the orders of Kremlin officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July 1999). This latest missive was signed by the editors of 14 newspapers and magazines, including "Kommersant-Daily" and "Rossiiskaya gazeta." Some of the publications are controlled or influenced by the government, Media-Most, Gazprom, Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. JAC

...AS TOP KREMLIN OFFICIAL CLAIMS MEDIA PRESSURING HIM

In an interview published by "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 3 August, presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin accused the Media-Most Group of trying to pressure the Kremlin and of targeting him personally with "kompromat" because of his "uncompromising" position. Voloshin added that "these days, the media always cites 'an anonymous source in the Kremlin' and any rubbish may follow that.... Do [these Kremlin insiders] really exist?" In its 29 July issue, "Kommersant- Vlast" argued that the Kremlin's three goals in the recent media war are to compel Media-Most head Vladimir Gusinskii to abandon his support for Moscow Mayor Luzhkov, force NTV into bankruptcy so that it can be nationalized later, and achieve increased control over Gazprom partly through "loyal and even pro-presidential coverage" concerning the company. JAC

TELEVISION STATIONS RUNNING POLITICAL ADS AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

Political factions have already begun televising thinly- disguised campaign advertisements in defiance of election laws prohibiting campaigning for the Duma elections before 19 August, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 2 August. The advertisements, which have been aired since May, finally caught the attention of Central Election Commission chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov last month, who met with the heads of top television channels and asked them to avoid broadcasting political advertisements until the official start of the campaign. Yulii Nisnevich, head of the Center for Legislative and Parliamentary Activity, told RFE/RL that new legislation is needed that would clarify existing electoral laws since the latter do not address the issue of political advertising. Under the current system, top television executives say they expect to receive offers of free, ready-to-broadcast programs as well as money for the television appearance of various politicians. JAC

GUSINSKII ALLY SACKED FROM KREMLIN JOB

Four days after presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin told reporters that no document dismissing presidential administration deputy head Sergei Zverev had been drawn up (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1999), the presidential press service told ITAR-TASS that Zverev has been sacked. Speaking to Interfax on 2 August, Zverev revealed that he had sent a letter to President Yeltsin criticizing some of the activities of presidential staff members and asking for a personal meeting. Zverev, who is seen as an ally of Media-Most head Gusinskii, spent less than three months in his post. Presidential aide Vladislav Surkov, who previously worked at Menatep, Rosprom- YUKOS, and Russian Public Television, will replace Zverev. Yeltsin also relieved Deputy Foreign Minister Yurii Proshin of his duties overseeing the economic aspects of foreign policy, Interfax reported on 2 August. JAC

PRIMAKOV TO GO IT ALONE?

Citing only "rumors," "Kommersant- Vlast" reported in its 29 July issue that former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov has a three-prong plan for becoming president and that the plan does not include an alliance with either Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's Otechestvo or the so-called governors' bloc, Vsya Rossiya. First, he will win a seat in the State Duma from a single-mandate district, while simultaneously lending his support to 40-45 other candidates from single-mandate districts. Second, once in the Duma, he will form a deputies' faction that promotes him to Duma chairman. And third, early in 2000 he will launch his presidential campaign as Duma chairman, without needing the support of party structures. Interfax reported on 16 July, citing "a source close to Primakov," that the premier will not make a decision about joining either Otechestvo or Vsya Rossiya before the fall. JAC

YELTSIN URGES INCREASED ROLE FOR RUSSIA IN MID-EAST PEACE PROCESS...

Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in Moscow on 2 August, Russian President Boris Yeltsin urged a greater role for Russia in the Middle East peace process, saying that Moscow and Washington--both co-sponsors of that process--must cooperate to achieve peace in the region. Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who also met with Barak, stressed that Russia can help normalize Israeli-Syrian relations. Barak reportedly welcomed these calls for an increased Russian role, but in his meetings with both Russian leaders, he expressed concern about the alleged "leakage" of Russian nuclear technology to Iran and Iraq. Stepashin is quoted as having said that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by any country--including Iran--is not in Russia's interest. JC

....DENOUNCES ANTI-SEMITISM

During his meeting with Barak, Yeltsin also condemned anti-Semitism in Russia. According to Interfax, presidential aide Sergei Prihodko quoted Yeltsin as telling the Israeli premier that those guilty of "ugly manifestations of anti-Semitism" will be punished. The same day, Interfax-Eurasia reported that unidentified persons desecrated six Jewish graves in a cemetery in the city of Tomsk. This is the latest in a series of recent acts directed against Russia's Jewish community (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 26 July 1999). Last month, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, commenting to NTV on the so-called media war between Berezovskii and Gusinskii, said "two Jews get into a fight and the whole country has to watch." JC/JAC

BARAK IN MOSCOW TO REPAY 'DEBT' VIS-A-VIS GUSINSKII?

"Komsomolskaya pravda" on 3 August cited the Political News Agency as reporting that Barak was in Moscow to promote not only Israeli-Russian relations but the case of Media-Most Group owner Gusinskii, who is also president of the Russian Jewish Congress. According to a "source within the presidential structures," Gusinskii took an active part in organizing the visit and expected Barak to seek to persuade the president to write off the holding's debts and to call off the "attack" against his company orchestrated by the presidential administration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 and 29 July 1999). Gusinskii reportedly invested $7-12 million in "ensuring" Barak's victory over Benjamin Netanyahu in the May Israeli elections. JC

KEY LEGISLATOR PREDICTS START-II PASSAGE IN 2000

State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin told ITAR- TASS on 2 August that although the Russian government is likely to increase its efforts to persuade the lower chamber to ratify the START-II treaty in the fall, "there is very little chance that it will pass before January 2000." He explained that Duma members are "preoccupied with the upcoming elections" and the left-wing majority, "while understanding that the treaty has to be ratified, is unlikely to do so now because it has spent so much time explaining to its electorate that [the treaty's] ratification would be a betrayal." Lukin, who is a member of the Yabloko faction, added that the treaty should be ratified only when all questions concerning anti-missile defense systems have been worked out. In August, U.S. and Russian officials are expected to meet in Moscow to discuss the START-III and ABM treaties (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1999). JAC

RUSSIA DEVELOPS NEW SHORT-RANGE MISSILE

ITAR-TASS on 2 August reported that Russia had developed a new short-range missile that has "far greater precision" than its predecessors. The Iskander-E missile was described as a "deterrent weapon" to be used in local conflicts. Meanwhile, Commander of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces Colonel- General Vladimir Yakovlev said in Belarus on 2 August that another rocket regiment will "undoubtedly" be formed by the end of the year and will be equipped with 10 Topol-M missile systems, Interfax reported. The new regiment would be attached to the Tatishchevskaya division based in Saratov Oblast, where the first such regiment, also with 10 Topol-M missile systems, was established last year. JC

ROSVOORUZHENIE HEAD REPLACED YET AGAIN

President Yeltsin on 2 August fired Grigorii Rapota as director of Russia's largest arms export agency and appointed Kremlin deputy chief of staff Aleksei Ogarev as his successor, Russian media reported. Ogarev, who also served as deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, is the fourth head of Rosvooruzhenie in less than two years. He had been tipped to take control of Rosvooruzhenie a year ago, but Rapota, a former deputy director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service and a protege of then Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov, was named to that post (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November 1998). LF

LUZHKOV BACKS DJUKANOVIC

Moscow Mayor Luzhkov told Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic in Moscow on 2 August that the international community must not tolerate any "arbitrary moves" against Montenegro by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Reuters reported. Luzhkov and Djukanovic discussed possibilities of increasing economic and other, unspecified cooperation. Djukanovic said that Luzhkov had "shown understanding for the idea of [promoting] greater democracy and openness not only in Montenegro, but the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in general," Interfax reported. In Belgrade, the Serbian opposition Democratic Party issued a statement hailing Djukanovic's visit to Moscow as a sign that Russia intends to reduce ties with the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities and to forge direct links with democratic forces in Yugoslavia, BETA reported. Russian Prime Minister Stepashin told Djukanovic that the international community must not neglect Yugoslavia, adding that "we favor assistance to all victims." FS

DID RUSSIA EXPORT MISSILES TO YUGOSLAVIA?

Valentin Zapevalov, spokesman for Rosvooruzhenie, on 2 August denied a report in "Jane's Defence Weekly" that Russia exported up to 20 SA-10 anti-aircraft missiles to Yugoslavia in early 1999. The magazine reported that Russia shipped missile parts to Yugoslavia hidden in railway cars carrying scrap metal and in fuel tanks. Zapevalov argued that "SA-10 parts are impressive in size.... Their deliveries by air, sea, or rail to Yugoslavia would have been detected by NATO intelligence services," ITAR-TASS reported. He added that the report contains "non-scientific fantasies" and stressed that "if we suppose that such deliveries had taken place, NATO aviation would have lost several dozens of its planes in each raid." The S-300 is a mobile radar and missile launching system designed to hit both airplanes and cruise missiles. FS

CHERNOMYRDIN RESIGNS AS BALKAN ENVOY

Former Premier Chernomyrdin quit as Russian President Boris Yeltsin's special envoy to Yugoslavia on 3 August. He told ITAR-TASS after meeting with Yeltsin that he had "stopped doing the job right after peace was restored in Yugoslavia." Chernomyrdin said that "the world has seen that such questions cannot be solved without Russia. We proved it by our work.... Russia managed to stop the Balkan war. We worked as mediators, as a country that could speak with both sides." Meanwhile, the first group of Russian policemen taking part in the international police force in Kosova left Moscow on 3 August. Russia will send a total of 210 policemen to Kosova. FS

MENTAL ILLNESS, POVERTY INCREASING

According to a new report submitted to Russia's human rights commission, the number of Russian citizens who are suffering from mental illnesses has more than tripled in the last decade, Interfax reported on 2 August. According to the human rights commissioner Oleg Mironov, 4 million Russians registered at outpatient clinics are suffering from mental disorders. Moreover, 4.5 percent of Russian children are afflicted by such disorders. The Russian Statistics Agency reported on 30 July that during the first half of 1999, 35 percent of Russians were living below the minimum subsistence level of 872 rubles per month ($36). During the same period last year, 22 percent of the population was earning what was then considered the minimum subsistence level wage of 429 rubles a month. JAC




FORMER ARMENIAN PREMIER BLAMES PRESIDENT OVER CONTROVERSIAL TELECOM DEAL

Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan on 30 July, Hrant Bagratian denied any share of the responsibility for the creation of the telecommunications monopoly ArmenTel or the activities of its former monopoly shareholder Trans- World Telecom, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Bagratian pointed out that ArmenTel acquired full ownership of the country's telecommunications network only in July 1997, when current Armenian President Robert Kocharian was prime minister, and that Kocharian endorsed the company's privatization in December 1998. An ad hoc commission formed by Kocharian earlier this year said on 27 July that TWT's acquisition of a 49 percent stake in Armenia's telephone network several years ago violated Armenian law. Commission chairman David Vartanian accused Bagratian, who served as prime minister from 1993-1996, of complicity. LF

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR EXPEDITING CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

Kocharian on 30 July chaired the first meeting of a newly-created commission charged with amending the country's constitution, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. That commission, which is headed by Justice Minister David Harutiunian, replaces a larger body created in spring 1998 and disbanded last month. Defining the aim of the proposed amendments as ensuring "balanced relations" between the branches of government, Kocharian instructed the new commission to draft and present its proposals by the end of the year. Parliamentary speaker Karen Demirchian has similarly expressed his intention of establishing a parliamentary commission to draft amendments to the constitution. Demirchian favors limiting the powers of the president and augmenting those of the legislature. LF

NEW KARABAKH DEFENSE MINISTER APPOINTED

President Arkadii Ghukasian released General Samvel Babayan from the post of defense minister of the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno- Karabakh on 2 August and appointed Major-General Seiran Ohanian to replace him, Noyan Tapan reported. Latent tensions between Ghukasian and Babayan resurfaced last month after Ghukasian sacked the enclave's Prime Minister Zhirair Poghosian and his entire cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 June and 12 July 1999). Ghukasian also appointed Bako Sahakian as interior minister, replacing Artur Aghabekian. In recent years Sahakian had served as the Moscow representative of the Armenian Interior and National Security Ministry. LF

IRANIAN PROVINICIAL GOVERNOR VISITS AZERBAIJAN

Yahja Mohammedzade, head of the Iranian province of Eastern Azerbaijan, which borders on Azerbaijan's exclave of Nakhcihevan, held talks in Baku on 2 August with parliamentary speaker Murtuz Alesqerov and President Heidar Aliev, Turan reported. Aliyev stressed Baku's interest in developing closer relations with Iran, noting at the same time Azerbaijan's displeasure at Iran's flourishing relations with Armenia. Aliyev added that, unlike some opposition forces, the Azerbaijani leadership does not consider that the presence of a multi-million ethnic Azerbaijani minority in Iran justifies Baku's interference into Iran's domestic political affairs. Aliyev is scheduled to visit Tehran and Tabriz, the capital of Eastern Azerbaijan, next month. But State Foreign Policy Adviser Vafa Guluzade told Turan on 3 August that Iran's refusal to extradite to Baku former Azerbaijani Interior Ministry special forces member Mahir Djavadov could torpedo Aliev's visit. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT PROCLAIMS LIMITED AMNESTY

Nursultan Nazarbaev has issued a decree amnestying some 13,000 prisoners, most of whom are suffering from TB, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 2 August. Deputy Interior Minister Bulat Baizharov had said in early June, when the parliament passed the amnesty law, that some 20,000 prisoners, or 25 percent of the prison population, would be freed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999). But the parliament reduced the number of persons eligible for early release. LF

TURKMENISTAN RESUMES TALKS WITH BRIDAS?

Interfax on 30 July reported that the Turkmen government has resumed secret discussions with the Argentinean oil and gas company Bridas that are believed to focus on Bridas's participation in the proposed construction of a gas export pipeline from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan. Ashgabat and Bridas began such talks in 1994, and in February 1996 Bridas signed an agreement with the Afghan government on the construction and operation of such a pipeline. But following disagreements between Bridas and the Turkmen leadership, in 1997 the latter granted the U.S. companies Delta and Unocal the exclusive right to form a consortium to build the pipeline. Unocal then withdrew from that consortium in late 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 1998 and 26 January 1999). LF




RUSSIA TO REOPEN RADAR STATION IN BELARUS

Visiting Colonel- General Vladimir Yakovlev, commander of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, said on 2 August that this year Russia will test a Soviet-built radar in Baranavichy, Belarus, and put it back into service in 2000, Interfax reported. According to Yakovlev, the Baranavichy facility is expected not only to substitute for the old radar station in Skrunda, Latvia, but also to make Russia's early warning system against missile attacks even more effective and reliable. He added that Russia will supply information on missile launches to Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. JM

PAZNYAK SAYS HE WAS RE-ELECTED BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT HEAD...

Zyanon Paznyak, exiled leader of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF), told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service on 2 August that he was re-elected BNF chairman during the BNF congress in Minsk on 1 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 1999). It was announced at the congress that the delegates did not elect a chairman since neither of the two candidates--Vintsuk Vyachorka and Zyanon Paznyak-- gained a "majority of votes." Vyachorka was supported by 152 delegates and opposed by 160. Paznyak was supported by 156 votes, (not 152 votes, as incorrectly reported by "RFE/RL Newsline" on 2 August) and opposed by an equal number of delegates. Paznyak said that the wording "majority of votes" in the BNF election regulations is in his favor, since he won more votes than Vyachorka and therefore is the legally elected BNF chairman. JM

...WHILE FRONT OFFICIAL REMAINS UNSURE

BNF board secretary Alyaksandr Kryvarot told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service the same day that the formulation regarding the election of the movement's leadership "by a majority of votes" is ambiguous. He declined either to confirm or deny that Paznyak was elected BNF chairman, adding that only the BNF congress has the right to change or interpret the BNF charter. The congress is to reconvene in the fall to tackle again the leadership issue. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW FIRST DEPUTY PREMIER

Leonid Kuchma on 2 August appointed Anatoliy Kinakh, head of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists, as first deputy prime minister. Kinakh, leader of the pro-government Popular Democratic Party, was deputy prime minister for industrial policy from July 1995 to September 1996. He will now be responsible for fuel and energy issues. Kinakh replaces Volodymyr Kuratchenko, who was fired by Kuchma last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 1999). JM

UKRAINIANS DO NOT BELIEVE IN FAIR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

A June poll conducted by Socis Gallup revealed that 58 percent of respondents think that the presidential elections in Ukraine will be unfair or dishonest, Interfax reported on 2 August. In addition, 57 percent believe that the elections will have no influence whatsoever over developments in the country. Meanwhile, a July poll by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation put the popularity ratings of Ukraine's presidential candidates as follows: Leonid Kuchma 24.3 percent, Natalya Vitrenko 17.4 percent, Petro Symonenko 13.1 percent, Oleksandr Moroz 7.2 percent, Yevhen Marchuk 4.3 percent, Hennadiy Udovenko 3.6 percent, and Oleksandr Tkachenko 2.5 percent. JM

MULTINATIONAL COMPUTER MANEUVERS START IN UKRAINE

A multinational military computer exercise, codenamed Peace Shield-99, began on 2 August at the Yavorivskyy training range near Lviv, ITAR-TASS reported. The exercise, attended by 1,300 servicemen from 14 countries, is taking part under a cooperation program between the U.S. Department of Defense and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. Its main purpose is to train brigade commanders and chief of staffs in conducting a multinational peacekeeping operation. JM

IGNALINA BACK TO FULL OPERATION

The first unit at Lithuania's controversial Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant resumed operating on 2 August. In mid-May, the unit was shut down when the State Nuclear Energy Safety Inspectorate failed to renew the operating license of the first unit owing to bureaucratic errors and minor technical reasons. Plant officials cited new licensing procedures as the cause of the closure. The second unit at Ignalina was re-started on 9 June. MH

POLAND'S COAL MINING SECTOR DOING WORSE THAN EXPECTED

Deputy Economy Ministry Jan Szlazak, who is responsible for the reform of the coal mining industry, said on 2 August that in the first six months of 1999 the sector registered losses totaling some 1.6 billion zlotys ($409 million), 100 million zlotys more than planned for the whole year. This year's coal sales on the domestic market dropped by 10 percent, while the price per ton was down 18 zlotys on last year's level. Coal exports exceeded planned levels by 2 million tons but in reality added to the losses since each exported ton was subsidized by some 50 zlotys. The government will soon earmark 80 million zlotys in credit to support the creation of non-mining jobs in mining communities, PAP reported on 2 August. JM

CZECH PREMIER 'ENCOURAGED' BY EU CRITICISM

Milos Zeman said in an interview published by "Zemske noviny" on 3 August and cited by CTK that he is "not worried" by recent criticism by Ramiro Cibrian, head of the EU mission in Prague. Cibrian had told "Pravo" last week that the Czech Republic's weakest point is "inadequate market regulations," which he said results in creditors' being very vulnerable and "tacit agreement with economic crime." Zeman said he is "encouraged" by the criticism, which he argued shows that the country's fight with economic crime is in line with European norms, since it is based on the independence of the judiciary and the investigative authorities. Zeman also said that the Czech Republic intends to ask the EU for a reprieve on bringing fuel prices in line with those of the EU by 2007. MS

CZECH, SLOVAK PREMIERS FAIL TO AGREE ON DIVISION OF FEDERAL PROPERTY

Zeman and his Slovak counterpart, Mikulas Dzurinda, meeting privately last week-end in Slovenia, failed to reach agreement on dividing up the federal property of the former Czechoslovakia, CTK reported 2 August. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan the same day said that a solution to the dispute cannot be expected before official negotiations are resumed in the fall. On 30 July, Zeman had said he is opposed to the so-called "zero option," which involves canceling mutual debts, arguing that the Czech National Bank's claims on Slovakia amount to 29 million crowns ($8.4 million). Dzurinda, in a lecture to students in Prague one week earlier, had said he favors that option. MS

SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER HINTS AT KGB INVOLVEMENT IN MURDER

Ladislav Pittner on 2 August said police are investigating allegations that the main suspect in the murder earlier this year of former Economy Minister Jan Ducky was a KGB colonel. Pittner told the Bratislava weekly "Plus 7 dni" that police are trying to establish the true identity of Ukrainian mobster Oleg T., whose underworld name is Alex. He said the matter is "delicate" and "complicated" because the Ukrainian mafia combines organized crime with legal activities. He also said that police are investigating allegations by former Slovak Counter-Intelligence deputy director Jaroslav Svechota that the KGB may have been involved in the 1995 abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son. According to Svechota, the abduction was prompted by efforts to destabilize Slovakia and damage its reputation with the EU and NATO. MS

HUNGARY REJECTS BRITISH MILITARY MAGAZINE'S SPECULATIONS

Customs and Finance Guard's spokesman Laszlo Laczo on 2 August "categorically" rejected a report by "Jane's Defence Weekly" that Russian aid convoys smuggled spare parts for missiles to Yugoslavia through Hungary (see also Part 1). According to the report, Russia had transported components for SA-10 missile systems, together with 20 assembled missiles, in railway cars loaded with scrap metal. Laczo denied that anything had been concealed in the containers, Hungarian media report. MSZ




SERBIAN BISHOP WANTS MILOSEVIC TRIED FOR WAR CRIMES

Some 6,000 people attended a rally organized by the opposition Alliance for Change in Valjevo on 2 August. Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije, who is the leading Serbian cleric in Kosova, called on all Serbs to sink their political differences until Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic resigns. The bishop added that "we lost Kosova only when Milosevic tried to solve the problem with force." In response to a speaker who called on Milosevic to go to Kosova, Artemije replied: "Don't send him to Kosova again.... Send him to The Hague," Reuters reported. A BBC journalist said the next day, however, that Artemije refused to tell him which war crimes he thinks Milosevic committed. Artemije was, moreover, equivocal when the reporter asked whether Milosevic should be tried in Serbia or in The Hague. PM

EX-GENERAL SAYS ARMY, POLICE WILL BACK SERBIAN OPPOSITION

Vuk Obradovic, who is leader of the Social Democratic Party and a former general, told the same rally in Valjevo on 2 August that "the police and the army will be with us, don't worry," Reuters reported. He made the remarks after at least two buses of riot police arrived from Cacak and took up positions near the rally. The police did not intervene. This was the first time that riot police have been present at any of the alliance's rallies, the news agency added. PM

SERBIAN ECONOMISTS CALL FOR PROTEST, TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT

Mladjan Dinkic, who is a spokesman for the independent G-17 group of Serbian economists, called for all opposition groups to stage a joint rally in Belgrade on 19 August. Speaking in Belgrade on 2 August, he appealed to participants to leave their party flags home and carry only the Serbian ensign. Dinkic added that representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church will soon start discussions with unspecified "political leaders" about the G-17 plan for a nonpartisan transitional government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1999). Dinkic stressed that it is "irrelevant" whether Milosevic resigns before or after the transitional body takes office. The plan calls for a one-year transitional government to organize free and fair elections and to draft plans for economic reform. PM

POLICE END VOJVODINA FARMERS' PROTEST

Dragan Veselinov, who heads the opposition Vojvodina coalition, said in Pancevo on 2 August that police forced a group of farmers to end their blockade of the road leading north from Belgrade to Zrenjanin. Police arrested an unspecified number of protesters. The farmers sought the resignation of Yugoslav Agriculture Minister Nedeljko Sipovic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

SERBIAN COURTS INVESTIGATING WAR CRIMES?

Judge Miloje Mitic said in Nis on 2 August that the district court is investigating whether Igor Radocaj is guilty of murdering two ethnic Albanians and stealing money from an ethnic Albanian family. Radocaj is a Bosnian Serb who recently served with Serbian forces in Kosova, where he allegedly committed the crimes. Military police arrested him on 14 June. He is now in a civilian prison. Reuters reported that this is the first known investigation of war crimes by a Serbian court. It is unclear why the court decided to investigate Radocaj. PM

ETHNIC ALBANIANS FLEE SERBIA

About 4,500 ethnic Albanians have fled Serbia proper since the withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosova, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told Reuters on 2 August in Prishtina. Most of the refugees come from the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac, and Medvedja. Redmond said that "the displaced persons have told the UNHCR that Yugoslav Army and paramilitary groups have started an intimidation program, a campaign that has included harassment, beatings, expulsions, looting, and threatened murder.... [The displaced persons] claim that the paramilitaries are threatening to abuse Albanian women and some said that one woman was violated by paramilitaries in their presence." Some refugees reported that Serbian troops occupied their homes, cut telephone lines, and confiscated cars at checkpoints. Questioned by UNHCR officials, Serbian authorities in the three communities denied any campaign to drive out Albanians. FS

KOUCHNER ESTIMATES 11,000 IN KOSOVA'S MASS GRAVES

The UN's Bernard Kouchner told Reuters on 2 August that UN war crimes investigators estimate that the mass graves in Kosova contain the bodies of about 11,000 ethnic Albanians. Kouchner acknowledged that his civilian UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is understaffed but said that the crime rate in Kosova is diminishing. He stressed: "I am asking governments to send me police. I spend two hours a day on the phone on such issues, but in the rich world it is summer holiday time. They are not listening very much." Kouchner added that NATO troops at road checkpoints detain up to 15 Albanian citizens a day for carrying weapons or for other offenses and send them back across the border. With regard to the demilitarization of the Kosova Liberation Army, Kouchner said "I am in charge, and they know that." FS

UN SETS UP KOSOVA CUSTOMS CONTROLS

A spokeswoman for UNMIK told Reuters in Prishtina on 2 August that UNMIK has installed customs controls on Kosova's borders with Macedonia and Albania to collect urgently needed revenues and stop the influx of uncontrolled and untaxed imports. UNMIK also hopes to reduce the activities of Albanian gangsters operating inside Kosova. The spokeswoman said that the "customs services will contribute to the protection of public health and safety and ensure the control of hazardous goods." FS

POST OFFICE, UNIVERSITY REOPEN IN PRISHTINA

Kouchner reopened Kosova's main post and telecommunications center in Prishtina on 2 August, Reuters reported. UNMIK officials estimate that they will have to invest about $5 million before resuming full telecommunications services. Mail services will start later this month. Elsewhere, professors at Prishtina University held a ceremony to formally reopen that institution, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS

YUGOSLAV, MACEDONIAN MINISTERS MEET

Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic met with his Macedonian counterpart, Aleksandar Dimitrov, in Bujanovacka Banja in southern Serbia on 2 August. Jovanovic told the state-run Tanjug news agency afterward that relations are moving in a "positive direction." He did not elaborate. It was the first known cabinet-level contact between the two governments in several months. PM

MONTENEGRO PREPARES TO LAUNCH OWN CURRENCY

Steve Hanke, who is a U.S. economist and adviser to Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, said in Podgorica on 2 August that the Montenegrin authorities have prepared legislation to set up a currency board in the event that they decide to introduce a Montenegrin currency (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 27 July 1999). Hanke added that they will need reserves of $70 million should they take that step, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. PM

PROTESTS AGAINST BOSNIA-CROATIA BORDER DEAL

Some 2,000 ethnic Serbian residents of Kostajnica on the Bosnian- Croatian border demonstrated on 2 August against the new border delimitation agreement between Sarajevo and Zagreb (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 1999). The protesters are angry that a strip of land near their town is now part of Croatia. Demonstrators called for the sacking of Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik and Zivko Radisic, who is the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, "Dnevni avaz" reported. Elsewhere, some 30 ethnic Croatian residents of the village of Unista told journalists that they do not want their village transferred from Croatian to Bosnian control under the new agreement. If they do not get their way, they will ask the Croatian government to resettle them elsewhere in Croatia, "Oslobodjenje" reported. PM

CROATIAN RIGHTS GROUP WANTS BETTER TREATMENT OF SERBS

The Croatian Helsinki Committee (HHO) said in an open letter to Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa on 2 August that incidents are on the rise between returning Serbian refugees and Croatian settlers in the Knin area, "Jutarnji list" reported. The letter added that members of Croatian right-wing extremist organizations have been responsible for several recent anti- Serbian incidents. The HHO stressed that the Croatian mass- circulation newspapers "Vecernji list," "Slobodna Dalmacija," and "Nedjeljna Dalmacija" have encouraged anti-Serbian feelings among local Croats, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DEMANDS STOP TO 'WITCH HUNT'...

The Defense Ministry on 1 August said that the sentencing of Generals Victor Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac last month was "unjust" and "humiliating" for the army as a whole. It demanded that a "stop be put to the witch hunt" launched against the military, Romanian media reported on 2 August. The statement says that the verdict is "a new attempt to conceal the real culprits for [the killings] in December 1989 and at placing the entire responsibility...on the army's shoulders." The ministry also released a list containing the names of 222 officers and soldiers killed during the revolution, saying it is demanding that the "relevant institutions" make public any information they have on "the perpetrators of the crimes against the military who fell during the revolution." MS

...WHILE DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS ARMY SUBJECTED TO 'PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR'

In a statement released on 2 August, Victor Babiuc said the courts are "not competent to establish the truth about the 1989 revolution because the facts do not have a strictly penal character." Babiuc said that the army is being subjected to a "psychological war" by "forces hostile to the process of stabilization and national reconciliation." In 1989, he continued, the army was "compelled to intervene to stop street demonstrations in line with the laws then in force--and which are still in force." He added that such interventions by the military are common, mentioning by way of example Israel, Northern Ireland, the U.S. and India as well as several instances in inter-war Romania, Mediafax reported. MS

ROMANIAN NATIONALIST PARTY RESPONDS TO ALLY'S DESERTION

Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) Secretary-General Vasile Dobrescu on 2 August said the recent agreement concluded by Vatra romaneasca (Romanian Cradle) and the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) may lead to the dismemberment of the former, Mediafax reported. On 30 July, PDSR leader Ion Iliescu and Vatra chairman Zeno Opris signed a protocol providing for mutual support and for Vatra leaders to run on PDSR lists in the 2000 parliamentary elections. Dobrescu said he believes that only a few Vatra members will leave the PUNR, which was set up in 1990 as the political organization of Vatra. MS

BULGARIAN MEDIA COUNCIL SEEKS RULING ON DISMISSING RADIO CHIEF

The National Council on Radio and Television appealed to the Prosecutor-General's Office on 2 August to rule on whether Alexandar Velev, director-general of Bulgarian National Radio, should be dismissed, BTA reported. The appeal comes after an audit established financial violations at the radio station. A spokesman for the council said the body has no legal mechanism at its disposal to decide on the dismissal, and it argued that the National Radio's board of governors might seek to hinder the investigation recently launched by the Prosecutor-General's Office. The board backed Velev at its 1 August meeting, saying all his decisions were discussed "at expert level" and approved by the board. MS




CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES


By Andrej Krikovic

Croatian President Franjo Tudjman recently named his son, Miroslav Tudjman, as head of the Croatian Intelligence Service (HIS) and deputy chief of the umbrella National Security Bureau (UNS), giving the younger Tudjman virtual control over Croatia's half-dozen secret services. Many observers welcomed the move in the belief that Miroslav Tudjman, who enjoys the reputation of a solid professional, would put an end to the abuses of the intelligence community. Yet subsequent developments have shown that this initial prognosis may have been overly optimistic.

The appointment was prompted by recent scandals that have rocked the intelligence community. Within the space of a few weeks, the independent weekly "Nacional" published classified secret-service documents revealing that those services have monitored the telephone conversations of influential members of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and that the secret services even attempted to rig the national soccer championships. Former HIS chief Miroslav Separovic was subsequently arrested for allegedly making the leaks. The police also searched the offices of "Nacional" and brought charges against the weekly's chief editor for publishing secret documents.

Most people believe that the secret services regularly spy on opposition leaders, independent journalists, and other individuals whom the regime regards as a threat. The intelligence community is controlled by the hard-line Herzegovinian faction of the HDZ, which is led by the president's domestic policy adviser, Ivic Pasalic. Last year, prominent HDZ moderates resigned from their post in the intelligence services after HDZ hard-liners had used the intelligence services to orchestrate attacks against the same moderates in the media. HDZ hard-liners seemed to score another political victory last month, when the HDZ-controlled parliament determined that there was no justification for a parliamentary investigation into abuses committed by the secret services.

Nevertheless, many observers have expressed optimism that Miroslav Tudjman's appointment could signal that the president is ready to clean up the intelligence community and curtail the influence of hard-liners. Croatia faces parliamentary elections at the end of the year, and most polls indicate that the ruling party is headed for an overwhelming defeat. The president is well aware that the secret service scandals have only added to the HDZ's unpopularity.

The younger Tudjman is considered to be a consummate professional. He is also one of the founders of the Croatian intelligence community, and many consider him to be an HDZ moderate who has not been afraid to stand up to his father. This is the second time that he has been appointed to the country's top intelligence post. It has been speculated that Pasalic engineered Miroslav Tudjman's earlier dismissal after the president insisted on pursuing a secret service investigation into the Dubrovacka bank scandal, which implicated party hard-liners--including Pasalic himself.

Tudjman Jr. is expected to stop the harassment of his former colleagues at the HISlike Separovic--and restore their power. In the process, he will repay the hard-liners who engineered his departure from the service, such as National Security Adviser Markica Rebic and Head of Office for the Protection of Constitutional Order (SZUP) Ivan Brzovic.

Yet there are serious doubts that Miroslav Tudjman will launch a real cleanup of the services. Instead, some observers argue, the president intends to take advantage of his son's image as a liberal and rival of Pasalic in order to create the impression that the president is doing something about the secret-service scandal.

Critics of the younger Tudjman say he does not deserve his reputation as a professional and liberal and add that he is very much under his father's control. They say Miroslav Tudjman resigned as intelligence head only because the investigation threatened to implicate his close friend and associate, Herzegovinian intelligence chief Ivo Lucic. There has been speculation that the younger Tudjman may have financial ties to the wealthy Lucic clan. In such a case, he may not be as upright as many of his supporters believe.

President Tudjman may be more concerned about controlling the leaks from the intelligence community than about stopping the transgressions of the secret services. The Hague-based war crimes tribunal's indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic may have opened the way for an indictment against Tudjman. In fact, a prosecutor at the tribunal recently said that Tudjman is responsible for Croation war crimes in Bosnia. The president may fear that if leaks continue, secret documents that reveal official Zagreb's role in the 1993-1994 Croat-Muslim war in Bosnia may find themselves in the hands of Hague prosecutors. Some independent reports seem to confirm this line of thought. According to the independent weekly "Globus," Miroslav Tudjman in fact returned to the HIS weeks before his reappointment and has allegedly been busy destroying secret documents that could compromise the president and the ruling party.

Some recent developments support this pessimistic view about Miroslav Tudjman's appointment. Negotiations between the HDZ and the opposition on a new election law for the upcoming elections have collapsed. The government has also flatly refused to meet recent demands by the tribunal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 1999). As the country heads for elections, the president seems to have again shifted policy in favor of party hard-liners. These developments indicate that hard-liners may continue to control the secret services and that those services will continue their dubious practices in preparation for the upcoming election campaign. The author is a free-lance journalist based in Zagreb.


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