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Newsline - August 23, 1999




ALL RUSSIA ELECTS NEW LEADER...

The recently allied All Russia and Fatherland movements held separate congresses on 21 August. More than 450 delegates to the All Russia congress in Ufa elected St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev its chairman, according to "Izvestiya." Fellow movement founder, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, had been the movement's de facto leader. Earlier, it was announced that Yakovlev will occupy the third spot on the alliance's party list for the upcoming State Duma elections, after former Prime Minister Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1999). Ingushetia's President Ruslan Aushev, who is also a founder of All Russia, told congress attendees that the most important question for All Russia is who will represent it in the State Duma. He added that too many Muscovites are currently on the federal party list, commenting that "it's more like All Moscow than All Russia," he said, according to ITAR- TASS. JAC

...AS FATHERLAND DRAWS UP PARTY LIST...

Meanwhile, more than 700 delegates gathered for Fatherland's congress in Moscow to discuss candidates on the draft party list, according to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau. Fatherland-All Russia election headquarters chief Georgii Boos told the bureau that the fourth position on the list will be offered to a "pleasant female candidate" and the fifth to Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin. He added that of the first 18 spots, two will go to the Agrarians. According to Interfax, Boos's own name is also on the list, along with Moscow Deputy Mayor Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Sistema head Vladimir Yevtushenkov, as well as Andrei Kokoshin, Andrei Isaev, Artur Chilingarov, and Aleksandr Vladislev, all of whom are also members of Fatherland's political council. Among the regional leaders represented are the president of Mordovia and the governors of Karelia, Yaroslavl, Primorskii Krai, and Nizhnii Novgorod. JAC

...AND LUZHKOV SLAMS YELTSIN

Fatherland leader and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov used the occasion of the congress to lambaste Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He declared that "the country is being robbed in a way that is unprecedented in its cynicism and permissiveness. Russia's weak authority is the only reason behind this." He added that the Kremlin has "turned into a regime which people cannot understand and which threatens the country." He also noted that "President Boris Yeltsin's proposal to give regions as much sovereignty as they can stomach is being poorly digested." Addressing the All Russia congress, its new leader, Yakovlev, called for passing a law that would guarantee a safe and dignified life for retired Russian presidents. "We can see what is going on in the country when the president and his insiders are afraid of what would happen after they step down," he said. JAC

STEPASHIN TO GO IT ALONE...

Former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin on 21 August announced that he will compete in the Duma elections as an independent because negotiations with the so-called centrist-right groups such as Right Cause, New Force, and Our Home is Russia (NDR) have failed. Right Cause is headed by Unified Energy Systems chief Anatolii Chubais and New Force by former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko. Right Cause member and former First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov had announced earlier that "everyone, including our most ambitious politicians, agree that Sergei Stepashin should lead the right-wing bloc." However, Stepashin said there have been "too many personal ambitions" involved in the attempt to form a coalition that he would head and too much "attention to names and to a position on the [party] list." Talks between Stepashin and Yabloko also failed to result in an agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). JAC

...WHILE NDR CHOOSES INDEPENDENCE

According to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, NDR leader Viktor Chernomyrdin had wanted Kirienko, Voice of Russia's Konstantin Titov, Forward Russia's Boris Federov and Common Cause's Irina Khakamada, and Transformation of the Fatherland's Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel to be included on the potential coalition's list. However, he had opposed giving Kirienko one of the top three spots. NDR member and Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov announced on 20 August that since negotiations with Stepashin and the other groups have failed, NDR will likely run in the Duma elections on its own. NDR faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov told NTV the same day that while his group is "warmly disposed toward Stepashin," it is "negatively disposed toward Democratic Choice of Russia and Right Cause." JAC

STALINISTS FORGE SINGLE BLOC

The leaders of four movements announced on 22 August that they have formed a new election coalition called the Stalinist Bloc. The bloc is composed of Workers' Russia, the People's Patriotic Youth Union, the Officers' Union, and the Union Movement, according to ITAR-TASS. Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov said the goal of the new alliance is to restore the Soviet Union and abolish the post of presidency. The grandson of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Yevgenii Djugashvili, will occupy the third spot on the coalition's party list. Officers' Union head Stanislav Terekhov will be second and Anpilov first. JAC

BEREZOVSKII TO LAUNCH NEW GOVERNORS' BLOC

Media magnate Boris Berezovskii told journalists on 20 August that media reports about bank accounts in Switzerland being frozen are "absolute lies" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 1999). The previous day, Berezovskii met with Sverdlovsk Governor Rossel in Ekaterinburg. "Izvestiya" suggested on 21 August that Berezovskii is trying to create a new bloc of governors to be led by Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed. JAC

MILITANTS DENY RUSSIAN FORCES HOLD KHARAMI PASS

Federal forces intensified their bombing and artillery strikes on the villages of Ansalta (reportedly held by Shamil Basaev's men) and Tando on 20 August. On the morning of 22 August, a Russian military spokesman said that federal forces had secured the strategic Kharami mountain pass, but Sirazhdin Ramazanov, self proclaimed prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Daghestan, later denied that claim. A Russian Interior Ministry spokesman said last week that federal troops had taken control of that pass (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 1999). Later on 22 August, Russian forces surrounding Tando prevented an attempt by some 100 Islamists to break through Russian lines and killed approximately 20 of the rebels. On 21 August, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesmen estimated that the militants' losses total to date an estimated 500-700. The previous day, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said that 35 Russian troops had been killed and 164 wounded to date, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

IVASHOV SLAMS U.S.-RUSSIAN DISARMAMENT TALKS...

General Leonid Ivashov, head of the Defense Ministry's department for international cooperation, slammed last week's U.S.-Russian talks on START-3 and the ABM treaty, saying the negotiations yielded no results, Interfax and Reuters reported on 20 August. Ivashov, who took part in the talks, said that U.S. plans to develop a national anti- missile system would violate the 1972 ABM Treaty. That document, he argued, is "the basis on which all subsequent arms control agreements have been built. To destroy this basis would be to destroy the entire process." The next round of talks is scheduled to take place in Washington next month. JC

...WHILE LUKIN SAYS ABM AMENDMENTS POSSIBLE

Meanwhile, State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin said that he does not rule out amendments to the ABM treaty if those changes do not alter the treaty's "backbone," Interfax reported on 20 August. "If we understand the directions in which the Americans intend to adjust the ABM Treaty, it would ease the State Duma debate of the START-2 Treaty ratification," Lukin told the news agency. He added that the main parameters of START-3 should be discussed ahead of that ratification, stressing that the number of nuclear warheads allowed under START-3 should be reduced from 2,500-2,000 to 1,500 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). JC

RUSSIA DELIVERS MISSILE SYSTEMS TO GREECE

The first four out of 21 Russian TOR anti-aircraft missile systems for the Greek army arrived in Thessaloniki on 20 August, AP reported. The Greek Defense ministry paid 56 billion drachmas ($180.6 million) for the systems. Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the purchase is "very important" for upgrading Greece's air defenses. AP noted that the short-range missiles are part of a major arms buildup aimed at "keeping pace with Turkey." Fifteen Russian military advisers will train Greek personnel in the use of the systems. FS

MAYORSKII SAYS RUSSIA TREATS BELGRADE 'WITH FULL RESPECT'

Senior Russian diplomat Boris Mayorskii told ITAR- TASS on 20 August that "we treat the [Yugoslav] government with full respect.... And there are no reasons for contacts to be broken just because other countries see the relations with Belgrade differently." Mayorskii added that his government cannot base its policy toward Yugoslavia on the protests in Belgrade on 19 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). He argued that "complicated processes are happening in Yugoslavia now and we see them as a manifestation...that a normal democratic development is going on in the country. It is up to the Yugoslav people to master its own fate." Mayorskii also said that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) failed to meet the 19 August deadline to surrender 60 percent of its weapons. KFOR did not confirm Majorskii's claims (see Part II). FS

'ILLEGAL DRAFTEES' FILE SUIT AGAINST MILITARY COMMISSIONS

"Noviye Izvestiya" reported on 19 August that for the first time in the history of the Russian armed forces, lawsuits are being filed against military recruitment agencies for illegal conscription. Last week, the Moscow Izmailovskii Municipal Court was to have considered a lawsuit filed by 20-year-old Vladimir Sapronov against the Military Enlistment Commission of Moscow's Eastern Administrative Department. Sapronov was drafted into the army despite having received regular medical treatment over the past 13 years for a serious nervous disorder that leaves his whole body twitching. The commission nonetheless decided Sapronov was fit for military service. According to the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, doctors and military enlistment commissions frequently act in collusion in an bid to fulfil the draft plan. Consideration of the Sapronov case has been postponed because members of the Moscow commission are currently on vacation. JC

DID LUZHKOV GOVERNMENT TRY TO BLOCK RELIGIOUS GROUP GATHERING?

The government of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov reportedly tried to stop the local Olimpiiskii Sports Complex from hosting the annual congress of the Jehovah's Witnesses on 20 August, "The Moscow Times" reported. The congress went ahead as scheduled, according to the daily, but not without "days of talks including foreign human rights activists." The head of the St. Petersburg Jehovah's Witnesses said that the administration of the stadium received a "serious demand" from the city government that the stadium lock out the group. The stadium's deputy director told the newspaper that he does not know precisely where the order came from. JAC

ZHIRINOVSKII SAID TO HAVE HOSTED OCALAN

Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan spent two weeks last fall at the dacha of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia chairman Vladimir Zhirinovskii, Reuters reported on 21 August, citing ORT. Ocalan reportedly spent his time playing soccer and telephoning with State Duma deputies from the dacha, located close to Moscow. Russian officials had repeatedly denied any knowledge of Ocalan's whereabouts after he left Syria in October at the request of that country's leadership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1998). Ocalan was arrested when he arrived in Rome on the night of 12-13 November aboard a Russian air lines flight from Moscow. Zhirinovskii, who earlier denied Turkish media reports that he had helped Ocalan, has not commented on the report. LF




ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS MEET IN GENEVA

Armenian President Robert Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, met for two hours in a lakeside villa near Geneva on 22 August, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. After an interlude, the talks resumed in a relaxed atmosphere in the presence of the two countries' foreign ministers, Vartan Oskanian and Tofik Zulfugarov, as well as Armenian National Security Minister Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijani State Foreign Policy Advisor Vafa Guluzade. President Aliyev told journalists later that he and Kocharian agree that the conflict must be resolved through a peaceful compromise. He added that the two countries' defense ministers will meet shortly to discuss measures to strengthen the cease-fire that has been in force since May 1994. Both presidents characterized the talks as productive and useful. LF

ARMENIAN FORMER MINISTER REPORTEDLY BEATEN IN PRE-TRIAL DETENTION

Lawyer Karo Karapetian told journalists in Yerevan on 20 August that his client, former Education Minister Ashot Bleyan, was beaten in pretrial detention in Nubarashen jail two days earlier, Noyan Tapan reported. Bleyan, who now heads the opposition Nor Ughi party, was arrested in May and charged with embezzlement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March and 14 May 1999). LF

DETAILS EMERGE OF AZERBAIJAN TV STATION MURDER

Turan on 20 August reported that Telman Didirov, who was murdered three days earlier on the premises of the independent DM TV station in Balakan Raion, was a technician, not a journalist, as reported earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). Didirov's brother was fired as president of the local TV company on 6 June. LF

UNKNOWN FIGHTERS AGAIN VIOLATE GEORGIAN AIR SPACE

Two unidentified aircraft crossed the border from Daghestan into Georgian airspace on 19 August and circled the village of Omalo before heading toward Chechnya, Caucasus Press reported the following day. Russian aircraft mistakenly crossed from Daghestan into Georgian air space earlier this month and dropped mines in the vicinity of Omalo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1999). LF

KAZAKH OFFICIALS DENY GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN MIG SALES TO NORTH KOREA

Meeting in Astana on 20 August with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev, Japanese Foreign Ministry official Keizo Takemi demanded clarification of media reports that Kazakhstan sold the six MiG fighter aircraft impounded in Baku in March to North Korea, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March and 13 August 1999). Balghymbaev said the Kazakh government "had nothing to do" with the sale of the MiGs. He refused to divulge details of the ongoing investigation into the scandal. U.S. experts are participating in that investigation. Also on 20 August, Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Toqaev told ITAR-TASS that Kazakhstan did sell a consignment of some 35-40 planes, some of which ended up in North Korea. But he stressed that the transaction "went out of control of the president and the government." LF

GUERRILLAS IN KYRGYZSTAN TAKE NEW HOSTAGES

Kyrgyz government troops on 23 August launched an operation against two groups of guerrillas from Tajikistan who took new hostages in two separate incidents on 22 and 23 August, RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent reported on 23 August quoting presidential spokesman Kanybek Imanaliev. On 22 August, a band of some 20 guerrillas crossed into Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan and took some 320 villagers hostage. The following morning, a second band seized the commander of the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry forces, General Anarbek Shamkeev, and four Japanese specialists near the Altyn-Jailoo goldmine. It is unclear whether either band is the one which took four Kyrgyz officials hostage earlier this month. Defense Minister Myrzakan Subanov said on 22 August that the operation to neutralize that group has been completed. Presidential administration security and defense department head Bolot Januzakov told Reuters on 20 August that some of those guerrillas were killed or wounded as a result of bombing and artillery raids launched by Kyrgyz forces on 19 August. LF

ONE NEW POLITICAL PARTY REGISTERED IN KYRGYZSTAN...

The Ar-Namys party founded in June by former Bishkek Mayor Feliks Kulov has been formally registered by Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Justice, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 20 August quoting a party spokesman. Kulov resigned as mayor in April, accusing President Askar Akaev of condoning actions by his subordinates that violate democratic norms and the rule of law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April and 12 July 1999). LF

...AND ANOTHER FORMED

Some 125 delegates from throughout Kyrgyzstan attended the founding congress in Bishkek on 21 August of a second communist party, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The party split from the Party of Kyrgyz Communists, headed by Absamat Masaliev, who is a former First Secretary of the Central Committee of the then Kirghiz Communist Party. LF

TAJIKISTAN'S PARLIAMENT HIGHLIGHTS PRESS SHORTCOMINGS

The Tajik parliamentary committee for international affairs, international relations and culture met with editors of a dozen of the country's newspapers on 19 August to discuss the media situation, Asia Plus-Blitz reported the following day. Committee chairman Ibrohim Usmonov told the agency that newspapers are "full of information on violence, cruelty, and wars" and ignore the promotion of "high human values" and "protecting the national dignity of the Tajik people." There are currently some 30 weekly newspapers in Tajikistan, of which 10 are state- owned. However, there is no daily newspaper. LF

UZBEK PARLIAMENT ENDORSES ELECTION DATES

Deputies on 20 August approved the election timetable proposed the previous day by President Islam Karimov, Russian agencies reported. Elections to a new 250-seat parliament will take place on 5 December, together with elections to city and local councils. The presidential poll will be held on 9 January. The parliament also voted to amend the existing election legislation, abolishing the 5 percent threshold for parliamentary representation. Karimov told deputies that he anticipates that "a large number of alternative candidates" will contest the parliamentary poll. All five registered political parties will be entitled to field candidates. LF

SAUDI GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS UZBEKISTAN

President Karimov on 20 August received a delegation headed by Saudi Minister of Trade Osama Jaafar Faquieh, Interfax reported. The Saudi delegation is attending the first session of the Uzbekistan-Saudi Arabia intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, which opened in Tashkent on 18 August. Addressing that gathering, the Saudi minister noted an increase in trade between the two countries but added that the potential for expanding trade ties is not being fully realized. LF




BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TO MEET OPPOSITION 'WITHIN FRAMEWORK' OF 1996 BASIC LAW

Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 20 August said he is ready to hold a dialogue with political parties and public associations on the "improvement of the election legislation within the framework of the constitution currently in force," Belarusian Television reported. Lukashenka repeated his earlier pledge to hold "free and fair parliamentary elections in 2000" while taking into account "opinions of all political forces" in Belarus. This means that Lukashenka intends to organize elections to the National Assembly, which he created following the 1996 controversial referendum on the constitution. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS LUKASHENKA'S ACTS ILLEGAL

Syamyon Sharetski, speaker of the opposition Supreme Soviet, said in Vilnius on 23 August that all documents signed by Lukashenka after 20 July are illegal since Lukashenka's legitimate term expired on that date, Belapan reported. JM

UKRAINE HOPES FOR WORLD BANK LOAN TO PAY ARREARS...

Deputy Labor Minister Olena Haryacha said on 20 August that the government currently owes 1.9 billion hryvni ($413 million) in unpaid pensions and 1 billion hryvni in wage arrears. Despite President Leonid Kuchma's order to clear those debts by October, only a fraction of those amounts has been paid to date. Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Tyhypko said the same day that the World Bank has tentatively agreed to provide a $100 million loan in September to pay back pensions and wages. He added, however, that the loan is conditional on the continuation of the IMF's aid program. JM

...LOOKS FOR MONEY IN ANOTHER EUROBOND ISSUE

The Finance Ministry on 20 August announced that it has issued Eurobonds worth 538 million German marks ($292 million), which will mature in February 2001 at an annual interest rate of 16 percent, Interfax reported. The ministry has received confirmation from the Luxembourg Stock Exchange that it has included the Eurobonds in its listing. In February and May 1998, Ukraine floated the first issue of Eurobonds, worth 1 billion German marks. JM

PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER URGES UKRAINIANS TO ELECT 'SAVIOR OF MOTHERLAND'

Oleksandr Tkachenko said in a statement marking the eighth anniversary of the country's independence that "on the threshold of the third millennium, Ukraine has abandoned progressive development and walks the path of self-destruction," Interfax reported on 21 August. Tkachenko noted that 80 percent of Ukrainians are now living below the poverty line. Meeting with Crimean parliamentary and local deputies in Simferopol the previous day, he said that the 31 October presidential elections, in which he is a candidate, will be a turning point in Ukrainian history, since the people "must elect not simply a president but a savior of the Motherland," ITAR-TASS reported. If elected president, Tkachenko intends to reach an agreement with Russia and Belarus on the "creation of a single economic space and a defense union." JM

BALTS MARK 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF MOLOTOV- RIBBENTROP PACT

Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians on 23 August marked both the 60th anniversary of the pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that cost them their independence and the 10th anniversary of the Baltic Way, the 600 kilometer human chain extending from Tallinn through Riga to Vilnius. The chain marked a boost in the Baltic States' efforts to recover their freedom. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who arrived in Tallinn on 23 August to meet with Estonian officials, took part in the celebrations, BNS reported (see also "End Note" below). PG

ZHIRINOVSKII CALLS FOR RADICAL MEASURES AGAINST BALTS

Vladimir Zhirinovskii, the leader of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, told a Russian media outlet on 20 August that Moscow should adopt "radical measures" against all three Baltic countries, BNS reported. He said that "the Balts are laundering illegal money in the North Caucasus" and "supporting the terrorists" there in a variety of other ways. PG

ESTONIAN, JAPANESE DEPUTIES DISCUSS RUSSIAN BORDER ISSUES

Japanese parliamentary deputies met with their Estonian counterparts in Tallinn on 19 August to discuss their border problems with the Russian Federation, BNS reported on 21 August. The Japanese deputies are members of the special Okinawa and Northern Territories committee of the Diet. The Estonians are members of the Estonian parliament's Foreign Relations Committee. PG

RIGA URGES NON-CITIZENS TO ACCEPT ALIENS PASSPORTS

The Latvian Citizenship and Migration Administration on 20 August again called on all permanent residents of Latvia who are not citizens to obtain aliens passports, BNS reported. If the number of applicants does not increase, approximately 100,000 of people in this category will not have such documents by 1 January 2000 deadline. PG

LANDSBERGIS SAYS NATO SHOULD FOCUS ON RUSSIA

During a meeting with visiting U.S. Congressional staffers, Vytautas Landsbergis, the speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, said that NATO should focus on the democratization of Russia even as it maintains its traditional role as a defense alliance, BNS reported on 21 August. Arguing that his country should be included in the alliance, Landsbergis said Lithuania would be a contributor and not just a consumer of security. In other news, Landsbergis decided to give up land he had purchased at a favorable price after his action sparked criticism in Vilnius, according to BNS. PG

LITHUANIA TO INCREASE CONSULAR PRESENCE IN KALININGRAD

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry last week proposed increasing the size of its consulate in Kaliningrad, BNS reported on 21 August. The Russian government has already agreed to this step. Currently, the only other country with consular representation in Kaliningrad is Poland. PG

INVESTIGATION OPENED INTO CLASH BETWEEN POLISH FARMERS, POLICE

Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the 19 August clash between police and protesting farmers who blocked a road at Bartoszyce, in northern Poland. Police used batons, tear gas, a water cannon, and rubber bullets to disperse the farmers, who started hurling stones and other objects after the road was cleared. Eighty-three policemen and a dozen civilians were injured in the clash. Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz said the government must "put those responsible for the rioting in the dock," PAP reported. Balcerowicz added that farmers' protests in Poland are provoked not by the government's agricultural policy but by people who "try to profit from problems of the Polish countryside." JM

CZECH OFFICIAL CALLS FOR OPENING COMMUNIST POLICE ARCHIVES

In a statement released on the 31st anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, Jitka Seitlova, deputy chairwoman of the Civic Democratic Alliance-Freedom Union's parliamentary group in the Senate, said the archives of the former Czechoslovak secret police must be opened. The Czech Republic, she said, must follow the example of Poland and Germany, CTK reported on 20 August. The next day, the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Communist Crimes said that 85 percent of those whose past is being investigated for such crimes will not be prosecuted if no charges are brought against them by 29 December, when the statute of limitations will go into effect, CTK reported. MS

AUSTRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS BENES DECREES MUST BE ABOLISHED

Wolfgang Schuessel says he will demand that the 1945 Benes decrees, under which the Sudeten Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia, be abolished as a condition for the Czech Republic's admission to the EU, CTK reported on 21 August. The news agency cited a press release by the Organization of Expelled Sudeten Germans, according to which Schuessel made that statement at a meeting with the association's chairman, Franz Neubauer. The press release said Schuessel and the association's leaders agree that there is "a great historical parallel" between the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans and that of the Kosovar Albanians. In both cases, it added, it is necessary to "restore full-scale respect for human rights and the rule of law." MS

FORMER SLOVAK PREMIER SAYS HE WILL NOT TESTIFY IN ABDUCTION INQUIRY

Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio on 21 August that he does not intend to testify in the investigation into the abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son in 1995, CTK and SITA reported. Meciar said the parliament has no right to relieve him of his secrecy oath, as the police had demanded. He commented that he learned about the abduction only after the crime was committed and that he has no knowledge of the Slovak Counter-Intelligence Service's alleged involvement in the kidnapping. He warned the government to "stop the circus" of the investigation, saying that those now seeking to investigate him are doing so out of "revenge" and are themselves "committing crimes." MS

FINLAND REFUSES ASYLUM TO SLOVAK ROMA

The Finnish immigration authorities have so far processed and rejected 300 applications for asylum filed by Slovak Roma who arrived in Finland in late June, CTK reported on 20 August. The agency cited a Finnish official as saying the Immigration Office is likely to process all the 1,200 or so applications by late October or early November. MS

HUNGARIAN FAR-RIGHTISTS WANT UN PROTECTORATE FOR VOJVODINA

Ten thousand supporters of the extreme- right Hungarian Justice and Life Party rallied on 20 August-- Hungary's national holiday--to call for re-drawing Hungary's borders to include part of Yugoslavia's Vojvodina province, Hungarian media reported. Party chairman Istvan Csurka told the demonstrators that Vojvodina must be placed under UN supervision to protect Hungarians there from "daily injustices" and to prevent "another genocide in the area." Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi rejected Csurka's "irresponsible proposals," saying the Hungarian government "does not want to change the borders but the nature of borders." MSZ




OPEN SPLIT IN SERBIAN OPPOSITION RANKS

Vuk Draskovic, who heads the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), said that "there will be [no alliance] of the opposition under any circumstances," "The Daily Telegraph" reported on 23 August. He stressed that any new government must come to power through elections, repeating his call for an early vote. Draskovic added that he will not recognize any "street cabinet elected on the streets" through mass protests. He warned that mass demonstrations could lead to civil war. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic, who is Draskovic's main rival, again demanded the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as a precondition for holding new elections. Djindjic stressed that "politics is not made in cabinets any more, but on the streets and squares," according to the London-based daily. PM

WHAT MAKES DRASKOVIC SO ADAMANT?

Many members of the opposition Alliance for Change believe that Draskovic has concluded at least a tacit alliance with Milosevic, the "Berliner Zeitung" reported on 21 August. Both men support early elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 1999). The Berlin daily added that Milosevic's secret police may have incriminating evidence about corruption among Draskovic's supporters in the Belgrade city government. PM

OPPOSITION ALLIANCE TELLS MILOSEVIC TO GO

Vladan Batic, who is one of the leaders of the Alliance for Change coalition, said in Belgrade on 20 August that Milosevic must resign by 21 September. If he does not, the opposition will hold protests throughout Serbia until he goes. Forms of protests will include civil disobedience and a general strike, he added. Batic stressed that "there will be no turning back" for the alliance. PM

EIU SAYS YUGOSLAVIA POOREST COUNTRY IN EUROPE

The London-based Economist Intelligence Unit said in a report released on 23 August that the recent conflict in Kosova will ultimately cost Yugoslavia some $64 billion. The study added that the war inflicted "tremendous damage" on the economy and infrastructure. This will cause GDP to shrink by more than 40 percent in 1999, making Yugoslavia Europe's poorest country. The per capita GDP in Yugoslavia for 1999 is expected to be $880, compared with $905 in Albania. GDP will remain at a level well below that of 1989 for some time to come, the report concluded. PM

VOJVODINA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIANS SET UP PROVISIONAL NATIONAL COUNCIL

Three out of the six political organizations representing the region's ethnic Hungarians-- the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM), the Democratic Union of Vojvodina Hungarians, and the Vojvodina and Hungarian Civic Movement--have formed the National Council of Vojvodina's Hungarians, the BBC reported, citing Tanjug of 20 August. Subotica Mayor and SVM chairman Jozsef Kasza was elected head of the 55-strong council, which is composed of federal, republican, and regional ethnic Hungarian deputies, as well as municipal councilors representing the three organizations. Hungarian Radio said that the council will act as a "mini-parliament" of ethnic Hungarians living in Yugoslavia. A meeting of the Vojvodina branch committee of the Socialist Party of Serbia said the setting up of the council is a "political provocation." MS

DRASKOVIC SAYS WEST SEEKS 'GREATER ALBANIA'

Draskovic told Belgrade's Studio-B Television on 21 August that NATO seeks to set up "a large Albanian Islamic state in the Balkans." He added that Western countries intervened recently in Kosova "to purge all Serbs from [the province], to take part in the biggest crime...to help create a large Albanian state in the Balkans. That's what they are doing." He did not elaborate. Draskovic also charged that unnamed Western countries "even want to mark all Serbian houses in [Kosova], saying it would help protect them. But that would mean yellow ribbons, like those Nazis imposed on Jews," AP reported. Observers note that Serbian paramilitaries instructed local Serbs to clearly identify their homes as Serbian during the Operation Horseshoe ethnic cleansing campaign in the spring of 1999. PM

SERBS DEMAND OWN ENCLAVES IN KOSOVA

Kosova Serb leader Momcilo Trajkovic said in Prishtina on 21 August that Kosova's dwindling Serbian minority is not secure from attacks by ethnic Albanians. He concluded that "the multi- ethnic [Kosova] has failed. We think that cantonization could stop the ongoing tragedy of the Serbian people." UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner said he "will study" the proposal, but observers note that the UN is committed to a multi-ethnic Kosova. Ethnic Albanian spokesmen rejected Trajkovic's demand outright. Observers note that "cantonization" was one of the models suggested at various times between 1992-1995 as a possible solution for the Bosnian conflict. Critics charged that it would make permanent the results of ethnic cleansing. PM

KOSOVA ALBANIANS PREVENT RUSSIANS FROM ENTERING RAHOVEC...

Russian peacekeepers heading for Rahovec on 23 August turned back after encountering a "huge roadblock" set up by local ethnic Albanians, Reuters reported. Dutch troops have been deployed in that town, but KFOR commander General Sir Mike Jackson on 20 August ordered them to leave to make room for the Russian contingent. An older man who emerged as the ethnic Albanians' spokesman told Colonel Andrei Serdukov, who is the deputy commander of the Russian contingent, that his troops are not welcome. The man argued that Russian mercenaries took part in Serbian atrocities in the area earlier this year. He added: "We will stay here until someone comes to tell us that Russians are not coming to Rahovec." Serdukov replied that "no one will come to tell you that because there is an international agreement that the Russian army will come" to the town. FS

...AFTER SERBS TURN IN 600 WEAPONS

An unspecified number of Serbian inhabitants of Rahovec had handed over around 600 weapons to KFOR as of 22 August, Reuters reported. KFOR the previous day put up posters throughout the town's Serbian neighborhood listing the names of those who had received weapons from Serbian forces during the recent conflict. The posters ordered them to turn in their weapons or face arrest. They also warned that the peacekeepers will begin house-to-house searches after the deadline expires. KFOR nonetheless extended the deadline, arguing that the collection of weapons is proceeding successfully but not yet finished. KFOR also arrested three Serbian war crimes suspects there on 20 August. Meanwhile in Prishtina, KFOR officials declined to confirm claims by Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) General Agim Ceku that the UCK has met the second disarmament deadline, which expired on 19 August. They argued that KFOR must draw up a complete inventory before confirming compliance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). FS

UNMIK TAKES OVER MITROVICA HOSPITAL

A UN administration was installed on 22 August in a hospital in northern Mitrovica, which will employ ethnic Albanian and Serbian medical workers. Kouchner said that the hospital--located in the Serbian-dominated part of the city--is "a symbol in my eyes and it must be a symbol of the future [of Kosova].... It will be a place where everyone [will] work in tolerance, a symbol of life together." On 20 August, French KFOR troops escorted two Albanian families back to their homes in northern Mitrovica, while angry Serbs shouted curses at the peacekeepers. FS

DEL PONTE: TIME TO ARREST MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS

Carla Del Ponte told the "International Herald Tribune" of 21 August that she intends "to go after [top war criminals] aggressively because they should be brought to trial." She was referring specifically to Milosevic, paramilitary Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and former Bosnian Serb military commander General Ratko Mladic. Del Ponte is slated to succeed Louise Arbour in September as chief prosecutor for the Hague- based war crimes tribunal. PM

CROATIAN VETERANS PROTEST REOPENING BORDER CROSSSING

Some 500 Dubrovnik-area veterans of Croatia's 1991-1995 conflict with Serbian forces rallied on 21 August to protest the recent reopening of the Ivanica border crossing to Serbian-held eastern Herzegovina and the town of Trebinje (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 6 August 1999). The veterans charged that the international community and Croatian government did not take local sensitivities into account when they decided to reopen the crossing, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The veterans and many local people want several people living in eastern Herzegovina charged with war crimes for their alleged roles in the 1991 shelling of Dubrovnik. They include Trebinje Mayor Bozidar Vucurevic. That town has long been a Serbian nationalist stronghold. PM

ALBANIAN PREMIER ORDERS CHECKS ON HIGH OFFICIALS

Pandeli Majko on 20 August ordered the Finance Ministry to conduct checks on the personal business activities and the wealth of high-ranking government, customs, and tax officials, dpa reported. Majko also instructed the ministry to report its findings to him on a monthly basis. The orders come amid persistent press allegations of government personnel's involvement in corruption and smuggling. A government spokesman said that "the government is concerned that the high [level] of corruption may pose a serious threat to its efforts to revive the economy and to the future of the country in general." He added that unspecified international donors have asked "the government...to fight corruption and smuggling in order to benefit from the [Balkan stability] pact's economic projects." Majko also ordered the National Information Service to install hidden cameras at border crossing points. FS

ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE REBUKES ROMANIAN FOOTBALL FEDERATION

Kenneth Jacobson, assistant national director of the U.S. Anti-Defamation League, said on 20 August that the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) is "sidestepping the issue" in its response to the International Federation of Amateur Football (FIFA) complaint about the anti-Semitic activities of FRF Vice President Dumitru Dragomir, AP reported. In response to FIFA's request that the FRF launch an inquiry into the anti-Semitic articles printed in the weekly "Atac la persoana," whose director is Dragomir, FRF president Mircea Sandu replied that the Romanian Information Service and the Prosecutor-General's Office informed him that "there are no anti-Semitic organizations in Romania." Jacobson says that the question is whether the Romanian authorities "are willing to stand up against racialism and do something about it," not whether organizations openly declare that they are anti-Semitic. MS

OPPOSITION PARTY DEPUTY LAUNCHES ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACK ON SENATE CHAIRMAN

Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) deputy Miron Mitrea told a PDSR meeting in Focsani that Senate Chairman Petre Roman, who recently announced his candidacy for the presidency, should run rather "for chief rabbi," "National" reports on 23 August. Roman's father, a communist official, was Jewish. In response to a query by the daily, Mitrea denied his remarks were anti- Semitic, saying that "he who believes that being a Jew is shameful must be considered an anti-Semite." He added that it is apparently for this reason that Roman hides his Jewishness. Roman has said that he is a member of the Romanian Orthodox Church and has even published his baptism certificate. MS

MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS COMMUNIST PARTY APPEAL

The Constitutional Court on 20 August rejected an appeal by the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) against the parliament's confidence vote in Ion Sturza's cabinet in March, Infotag reported. The PCM said the vote was invalid because the majority vote resulted from the absentee ballot of deputy Ilie Ilascu, who is imprisoned in Tiraspol. The court said it is not within its prerogatives to rule on the matter, since this would constitute a "breach of the principle of division of power" between the three branches of government. MS

BULGARIANS FAIL TO DEMOLISH DIMITROV MAUSOLEUM

An attempt to demolish the mausoleum of Bulgaria's first communist leader ended in failure on 21 August. The building did not collapse as planned after engineers set off a remote- controlled blast of some 600 kilograms of explosives. The building remained standing, although it tilted slightly to the left. A second attempt also failed. Reuters quoted an onlooker as saying the building was "just as stiff as communism," while AP quoted a communist sympathizer as commenting that "there is just not enough ammunition to destroy our ideas." The mausoleum will now be demolished by bulldozers and cranes. MS




LONG SHADOW OF AN OLD AGREEMENT


By Paul Goble

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact, the deal between Hitler and Stalin that touched off World War II and that continues to cast a shadow over Eastern Europe and relations between Moscow and the West.

On 23 August 1939, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and his Soviet counterpart, Vyacheslav Molotov, signed a non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Because this agreement eliminated the immediate threat to Germany of a two-front war, it freed Hitler to launch the attack on Poland that began World War II. And because it allowed Germany to acquire numerous militarily important supplies from the USSR, it helped to power Nazi victories in Europe in 1939 and 1940.

But even more important, this agreement--and especially a secret protocol, the existence of which both Berlin and Moscow long denied--drew a new line in Eastern Europe between a German and a Russian sphere of influence, a line that allowed Stalin to put pressure on and then absorb the three Baltic countries.

If much of the importance of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was made irrelevant by Hitler's decision to attack the Soviet Union in June 1941 and by the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the sphere of influence the pact gave to Moscow over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania has had a much longer life.

Virtually all Western governments followed the U.S. in refusing to recognize as legitimate Stalin's occupation of these three small countries. Most maintained ties with the diplomatic representatives of the pre-occupation authorities and adopted other measures to show their non-recognition of what the Soviet Union had done.

And that policy, one that Baltic leaders have always said encouraged them in their struggle against the occupation, continued until August 1991 when Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania successfully achieved the restoration of their state sovereignty as full members of the international state system.

But in an important sense, Moscow's sphere of influence as defined by this pact continues to play a role in the thinking of both Russian and Western leaders.

Until almost the end of the Soviet period, Moscow officials denied the existence of the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. And when they could no longer deny that, they retreated to an insistence that the Sovietization of the Baltic States in 1940 had nothing to do with that accord.

However, as Baltic, Russian, and Western historians have demonstrated, Stalin occupied Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania when he did only because of the assurances Hitler had given him that these countries lay within Moscow's sphere of influence.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation has changed again, but it is still the case that many in Moscow call for Western recognition that the Baltic countries lie within a Russian sphere of influence. And they advance as the basis for that claim the notion that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were part of the Soviet Union.

In the past, most Western officials were careful to speak about the existence of 12 Soviet republics and three occupied Baltic states and thus to implicitly reject Moscow's pretensions in this regard.

But more recently, senior Western officials and various Western academic experts have made ever more references to the supposed existence of "15 former Soviet republics." These call into question the West's non-recognition policy. Moreover, they are taken by Moscow as an implicit recognition that the Soviet borders are still a dividing line in Europe.

That pattern, in turn, has encouraged some in the Russian capital to assume that Moscow can deal with the Baltic countries in much the same way it has dealt with its other neighbors, an assumption that threatens not only the security of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania but also the stability of Europe as a whole.

As a result and despite all the talk about a Europe without new lines of division and about the future inclusion of everyone in all international structures, such comments and assumptions appear to reinforce just such a line--one drawn 60 years ago by two of the most evil figures of our time.




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