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Newsline - September 13, 1999




ANOTHER MOSCOW APARTMENT BUILDING RAZED IN EXPLOSION

Just four days after an explosion destroyed an apartment house in Guryanov Street in southeastern Moscow, a blast has leveled a residential building on Kashirskoe Highway, also in the southern part of the capital. At least 34 people are dead and dozens of others missing following a powerful explosion at 5:00 a.m. local time on 13 September. A police spokesman cited by AP said the incident is being treated as a suspected bombing, while police chief Colonel General Nikolai Kulikov has appealed for public help in finding a man who rented premises on both Guryanov Street and Kashirskoe Highway, Interfax reported. Last week, Russian President Boris Yeltsin designated 13 September a day of mourning for the victims of the Guryanov Street blast as well as for those killed in the explosions at the Russian capital's Manezh shopping mall and in the Daghestani town of Buinaksk. JC

YELTSIN URGES COUNTRY TO UNITE IN FACE OF TERRORIST THREAT

Speaking on national television on 13 September, President Yeltsin said that "terrorism has declared war on the Russian people" and that it is therefore "necessary to unite all forces of society and the state to rebuff the internal enemy." He did not specify who that enemy is. Yeltsin also noted that Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo has been appointed head of an "operations headquarters" for fighting terrorism and will coordinate the activities of the power ministries. Earlier, at an emergency meeting in the Kremlin, Yeltsin said that security will be tightened immediately in all major cities, noting that particular attention should be paid to nuclear power stations and other strategic facilities, as well as oil depots and pipelines, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has cut short his visit to Auckland, New Zealand, where he was attending the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, in order to return to Moscow. He called this latest blast "a clear terrorist act." JC

DUMA TO DEBATE STATE OF EMERGENCY IN SOME REGIONS?

State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev has said that when the lower house reconvenes on 14 September, it is expected to consider a draft law on imposing a state of emergency in some regions, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Federation Council, Yegor Stroev, was reported to be consulting with members of the upper house about convening an extraordinary meeting over the situation in the country. Two days earlier, on 11 September, Stroev had told Interfax that "in view of the upcoming parliamentary elections," the council would vote against declaring a state of emergency. JC

BASAEV DENIES CHECHEN INVOLVEMENT IN GURYANOV STREET BLAST

In a telephone interview with AP on 12 September, Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev denied that his men were responsible for the 9 September explosion in Guryanov Street, saying that it is "not our style" to kill civilians. The same day, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told NTV that he is "confident" that the blast was the work of "Chechnya, not Daghestanis." "There should be no doubt that this was a terrorist act," he commented. Investigators, meanwhile, are still seeking to determine whether last week's explosion was a deliberate act or caused by the mishandling of explosives illegally stored in the basement of the building. Two people have been detained in connection with the blast at Guryanov Street, in which 93 people are now known to have died. JC

PUTIN, CLINTON DISCUSS CORRUPTION...

Meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Auckland on 12 September, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian Premier Putin discussed the recent allegations of Russian corruption and money- laundering. U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger quoted Clinton as saying he hopes that Russia will deal with those allegations "because it could eat the heart out of Russian society if the problem of corruption is not dealt with." Putin commented that corruption is a "matter of concern" for Moscow but suggested there are some political dimensions to it, according to Berger. The U.S. official also quoted the Russian premier as saying that Moscow and Washington must develop a "cooperative approach" toward dealing with the problem of money-laundering. JC

...AND ARMS CONTROL

Clinton and Putin also tackled the issue of arms control, with the latter stressing that Moscow is committed to trying to persuade the State Duma to ratify START-2 but that achieving that goal will be "difficult." Clinton, for his part, repeated the U.S.'s desire to amend the 1972 ABM treaty so that it can deploy a system to protect itself against possible attacks by such "rogue states" as North Korea and Iraq. Putin reportedly said that he understands Clinton's concerns but that they must be addressed in such a way as to take into account the security concerns of other countries. At a meeting in Auckland on 10 September with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov underlined Moscow's continued opposition to the U.S. deploying a limited ABM system, arguing that the 1972 treaty is the "cornerstone of strategic stability" and should not be changed. JC

IVANOV SAYS RESTORING RELATIONS WITH NATO 'NOT ON THE AGENDA'

Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov told Interfax in Auckland on 10 September that restoring full fledged relations to NATO is "not on the agenda today." He made the remarks after meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Madeleine Albright. Ivanov added that "if it becomes possible at the OSCE summit in Istanbul in November to develop the main principles for European security that presuppose strict respect for the UN Charter and international law, there will emerge a chance for gradual unfreezing of relations." Interfax also quoted him as saying that the situation in Kosova is "more complicated now" than before the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. Ivanov argued that Kosova's political future and the organization of civilian life "appear extremely problematic today." FS

PUTIN ALSO MEETS WITH ZEMIN, OBUCHI

In talks with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in Auckland on 12 September, Putin stressed the importance of developing bilateral trade and economic relations, noting that there are a number of energy projects in which Russia would like to participate, Russian agencies reported, quoting Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov. Discussions between the Russian premier and his Japanese counterpart, Keizo Obuchi, the same day in the New Zealand city side-stepped the issue of the Kuril Islands while touching upon the pending Russian-Japanese peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities. Ivanov, who participated in the talks, was quoted by Interfax as saying that both sides are "patiently and consistently dovetailing positions on cooperation." JC

YELTSIN ASKS UPPER HOUSE TO EXTEND BOSNIAN PEACEKEEPING

President Yeltsin asked Federation Council chairman Stroev on 10 September to extend the term of the Russian SFOR peacekeepers in Bosnia until 31 July 2000, Interfax reported. The UN Security Council extended the mandate of SFOR to that date on 18 June. FS

VOLOSHIN, CHUBAIS STRIKE BACK OVER SCANDAL ALLEGATIONS

In a letter published in the 12 September issue of the Italian daily "Corriere della Sera," Russian presidential chief of staff Aleksandr Voloshin wrote that some media outlets have launched an "unprecedented campaign" to discredit the Russian Federation and its president, according to ITAR-TASS. Arguing that all corruption allegations are "purely political," Voloshin commented that the "flow of lies must be stopped." Meanwhile, in an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 11 September, former First Deputy Prime Minister and current United Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais "categorically" rejected allegations made by Britain's "The Observer" that the EES is linked to the main bank at the center of the Bank of New York money-laundering scandal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). Chubais said that if the newspaper does not publish a retraction, his company will file suit in Britain. JC

PROSECUTOR SAYS BEREZOVSKII'S SWISS BANK ACCOUNTS FROZEN

Nikolai Volkov of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office told NTV on 12 September that Swiss bank accounts belonging to or linked with business magnate Boris Berezovskii have been frozen, according to ITAR-TASS. Among other cases, Volkov is investigating whether Berezovskii set up two companies in Switzerland to misappropriate Aeroflot funds totaling some $250 million. The state-owned airline is headed by Valerii Okulov, who is President Yeltsin's son-in-law. JC

TWO GERMAN BANKS REQUEST PROBE INTO POSSIBLE MONEY- LAUNDERING

In its latest issue, the German weekly "Der Spiegel" reports that two of Germany's biggest banks, Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank, have asked German prosecutors to examine whether Russian account-holders have engaged in money-laundering, dpa reported on 11 September. According to the news agency, both banks have handed over lists of all dubious transfers by firms and individuals under investigation in the U.S. Last week, Deutsche Bank head Rolf Breuer said he could not rule out that his bank has been used by Russian money-launderers. JC

SKURATOV SAYS HOME SEARCHES WERE INTENDED TO 'SCARE' HIM

Following searches at his apartment and dacha last week, suspended Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov told "The Moscow Times" of 11 September that those measures were "designed to scare" him. "This is a reaction to the degree of frankness I had allowed myself in recent interviews with the media," Skuratov commented (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). JC

YELTSIN URGES ACCESSION TO INTERNATIONAL CRIME CONVENTIONS

President Yeltsin has told Prime Minister Putin and other senior officials that Russia must do more to join European anti-crime conventions and an international commission combating money-laundering, Interfax reported on 10 September. The president also urged his representatives in the two houses of the parliament to push for ratification of European conventions on extraditing criminals and on mutual assistance in investigating criminal cases. JC

RUSSIA TO PARTICIPATE IN Y2K MONITORING CENTER IN COLORADO

Moscow has accepted an offer to station military officers at a joint monitoring center in Colorado that will observe missile warning data during the year 2000 transition, AP reported on 11 September, citing an unidentified Pentagon senior official. Between 10 and 20 Russian officers are to be placed at the Y2K Center for Strategic Stability, which will close down after the New Year. An agreement on Russia's participation in the project is to be signed during U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen's visit to Moscow on 13-14 September, the news agency reported. JC

SVERDLOVSK GOVERNOR RE-ELECTED

Eduard Rossel was re-elected as governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. According to preliminary results, Rossel garnered some 64 percent of votes in the 12 September run-off, while Aleksandr Burkov, an oblast Legislative Assembly deputy and leader of the leftist regional movement May, won 27 percent support. Turnout was estimated at 36 percent. JC

PRIMAKOV BEATEN OUT BY BREZHNEV, ANDROPOV

Asked whom among living and deceased politicians they would elect as president, Russians taking part in a nationwide survey by the Public Opinion Foundation opted for two late Soviet leaders, according to Reuters, citing NTV. Leonid Brezhnev and Yurii Andropov both gained 12 percent support, while former Prime Minister and current leader of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc Yevgenii Primakov came a close third, with 10 percent backing. Russian Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and Josef Stalin received the same rating, 7 percent, while Moscow Mayor Luzhkov garnered 6 percent and Lenin 3 percent. JC

RUSSIANS OBJECT TO SPLITTING KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA

Almost 4,000 ethnic Russians, together with some Karachais, attended a demonstration on 10 September in republican capital, Cherkessk, to protest demands by the republic's minority Cherkess population to divide the republic into Karachai and Cherkess entities, Interfax reported. Russians are the largest ethnic group, acounting for some 42 percent of the region's 441,000 population; Karachais account for 31 percent and Cherkess less than 10 percent. Some speakers at the rally argued that if the republic is divided, the Slav populations should also receive territorial autonomy including Cherkessk, which the Cherkess also claim. On 11 September, supporters of Cherkessk Mayor Stanislav Derev (a Cherkess) ended the protest meeting they began two weeks earlier following a ruling by the republic's Supreme Court that the 16 May presidential election victory by General Vladimir Semenov (a Karachai) is valid, Caucasus Press reported. One of Semenov's supporters was hospitalized with gunshot wounds following an attack on 9 September, Interfax reported. LF

MASKHADOV SEEKS LEBED'S SUPPORT TO END DAGHESTAN WAR

Chechen President Aslan Mazkhadov has written to Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed proposing that they meet in the Daghestani town of Khasavyurt to try to avert "another large- scale war" between Russia and Chechnya, Interfax reported on 11 September. Lebed, then Russian Security Council secretary, and Maskhadov, then commander of the Chechen forces, signed an agreement in Khasavyurt three years ago ending the war in Chechnya. Maskhadov suggested that tensions between Moscow and Grozny stem from Russia's failure to fulfill the provisions of the Khasavyurt agreement. He added that Chechnya could become Moscow's most important partner in the North Caucasus. Maskhadov also denied any Chechen government involvement in the ongoing fighting in Daghestan, which he blamed on armed groups subordinate to Russian State Duma deputy Nadir Khachilaev. LF

CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDER WITHDRAWS FORCES FROM NOVOLAKSK

Shamil Basaev said on 12 September that his forces have been withdrawn completely from Daghestan's Novolaksk Raion, Reuters reported. He also denied any connection with the recent explosions in Moscow. On 10 September, Russian forces had dislodged the Chechen militants from the Novolaksk village of Gamiyakh. The following day, a Russian military helicopter crashed during a combat msission over the vilage of Duchi. Also on 11 September, Interfax quoted the Russian Interior Ministry as stating that the Wahhabi leader of the contested village of Karamakhi has been arrested. LF




ARMENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS IN YALTA WITH AZERBAIJANI, GEORGIAN COUNTERPARTS

Robert Kocharian met for half an hour on 10 September on the sidelines of the Baltic-Black Sea summit in Yalta with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, to discuss the Karabakh conflict. It was the third meeting between the two men within two months (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 July and 23 August 1999). Kocharian told journalists after the talks, which according to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma were held "in a very friendly and comradely atmosphere," that the discussion was "interesting" and "another step forward in the negotiating process," Reuters reported. Kocharian also met with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 10 September to discuss regional affairs prior to Kocharian's planned visit to Georgia next month, Caucasus Press reported. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PROTESTS SENTENCE ON JOURNALIST

The Azerbaijan Popular Front Party issued a statement on 10 September condemning as "inhumane and unfair" the suspended sentence handed down the previous day on Irada Huseynova, a journalist with the Russian-language newspaper "Bakinskii bulvard," Turan reported. The statement termed the sentence part of the campaign of repression of the media by the Azerbaijani government. Huseynova was found guilty on charges of having slandered parliamentary deputy Djalal Aliev, brother of the president (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). On 9 September, the international journalists organization Reporters sans Frontieres wrote to Azerbaijani Minister of Justice Sudabah Hasanova protesting the sentence on Huseynova. LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY STRIPPED OF IMMUNITY

Parliament deputies voted overwhelmingly on 9 September to strip Boris Kakubava of his deputy's immunity, removing the obstacles to his arrest on suspicion of involvement in the most recent foiled assassination attempt against President Shevardnadze, Caucasus Press reported on 10 September. Georgian police detained eight people in May in connection with that undertaking (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). Kakubava is also charged with maintaining criminal contacts with former Georgian security chief Igor Giorgadze, who is wanted in connection with the August 1995 bid to kill Shevardnadze. Kakubava claims to represent the interests of part of the ethnic Georgians who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 1, No. 37, 10 November 1998). LF

FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER ARRESTED IN MOSCOW...

Akezhan Kazhegeldin was detained by Russian police at Moscow's Sheremetevo airport late on 10 September on his arrival on a flight from London. He was hospitalized several hours later with a suspected heart attack. He told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service in a telephone interview from his hospital bed the following day that he had planned to return to Kazakhstan to visit the cities of Atyrau and Oral following the publication in "The Washington Times" of an article by Kazakhstan's ambassador to the U.S., Bolat Nurghaliev, saying that Kazhegeldin is free to return to Kazakhstan and no legal proceedings will be brought against him there. Reuters quoted a spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor-General's office as saying that Kazhegeldin would be handed over to the Kazakh authorities if the latter produced an arrest warrant. A spokesman for Kazakhstan's National Security Committee said the decision on whether or not to demand Kazhegeldin's extradition would depend on his state of health. LF

...APPEALS TO YELTSIN

In a 12 September letter addressed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Kazhegeldin said that his life may be endangered if he is extradited to Kazakhstan, Reuters reported. Kazhegeldin said that the charges of tax evasion brought against him by the Kazakh authorities are without foundation, and intended solely to prevent his participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections. He appealed to Yeltsin to enable him to return to his temporary home in Switzerland. On 9 September, Kazakhstan's Central Electoral Commission had refused to register Kazhegeldin as a candidate for the 10 October poll (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION CONDEMNS ARREST

Members of Kazhegeldin's People's Republican Party of Kazakhstan picketed the Russian Embassy and the National Security Committee building in Almaty on 11 September to protest his arrest, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. Around a dozen of the protesters were arrested. At a press conference in Almaty the same day, the party issued a statement condemning Kazhegeldin's arrest as involvement by undemocratic forces in Russia in the suppression of dissent in Kazakhstan, according to Interfax. Other opposition party leaders, including Serikbolsyn Abdildin (Communist Party) and Seydakhmet Quttyqadam (Orleu) endorsed the protest statement. LF

U.S. TO CUT AID TO KAZAKHSTAN?

Washington may cut financial aid to Kazakhstan, which now stands at $75 million per year, in retaliation for the sale of MiG fighters to North Korea, Interfax reported on 10 September, quoting an unnamed U.S. Embassy official in Astana. On 12 September, Kazakhstan's foreign minister, Qasymzhomart Toqaev, issued a statement saying that the government had no prior knowledge of that sale which, he continued, was the result of a "criminal and irresponsible" violation of the existing export control system, according to Reuters. Toqaev added that the government is "truly sorry about what has happened." LF

KYRGYZSTAN SEEKS TALKS WITH GUERRILLAS

Kyrgyz human rights activisit Tursunbek Akunov, who on 10 September relayed to the Kyrgyz government in Bishkek the demands put forward by ethnic Uzbek guerrillas who took four Japanese geologists and some Kyrgyz police officials hostage in southern Kyrgyzstan three weeks ago, returned to Batken on 12 September to try to arrange unofficial negotiations with the guerrillas, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Akunov had told the RFE/RL bureau on 10 September that the guerrillas' leader had assured him that they bear no grudges against Kyrgyzstan, but want simply to obtain the release of Muslim colleagues imprisoned in Uzbekistan. Kyrgyz Deputy Defense Minister Valentin Verchagin said on 10 September that some of the hostages may have been taken to neighboring Tajikistan, but all are alive and well, according to Interfax. Defense Minister General Esen Topoev met in Batken on 11 September with Uzbek Defense Minister Khikmatulla Tursunov and a Kazakh government representative to discuss the hostage situation. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION DENIES LINKS WITH UZBEK HOSTAGE TAKERS

Leaders of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), have rejected claims published in the official Uzbek press that the ethnic Uzbek guerrillas responsible for the hostage-takings in Kyrgyzstan are acting on orders, and receive arms and ammunition from the UTO (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999), ITAR-TASS reported. In a statement released in Dushanbe on 10 September, the UTO rejected those allegations as fabrications aimed at undermining peace and concord in Tajikistan. It also said that the UTO is making every effort to resolve the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan, which it describes as the direct consequence of the policies pursued by the Uzbek leadership, acording to Asia Plus-Blitz. LF

TURKMENISTAN EXPRESSES INTEREST IN DEFENSE COOPERATION WITH CHINA

Turkmen Defense Minister Batyr Sardzhaev, who recently ended a 10-day visit to China, has expressed an interest in defense cooperation with that country, Interfax reported on 10 September quoting an unnamed Turkmen government source. Sardzhaev named personnel training and the use and repair of military hardware as areas of particular interest. LF

TURKMEN POLITICAL PRISONER DIES IN JAIL

Khoshali Garaev, who was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment in 1995 on charges of conducting anti-state activities, has died in unclear circumstances, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported on 11 September. Garaev's relatives were informed of his death by prison officials in the Caspian town of Turkmenbashi. Amnesty International has said it has what it calls strong evidence that Garaev was a political prisoner jailed to prevent him from associating with exiled opponents of President Saparmurat Niyazov. LF




LUKASHENKA DECREES RESTRICTIONS ON RALLIES

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree "on measures to prevent emergencies during mass events." According to Belarusian Television, the decree was prompted by the 30 May stampede in a metro passageway in Minsk, which claimed 53 lives. The document prohibits holding rallies less than 200 meters away from metro stations and bans the sale of alcohol and beer within a 500 meter perimeter of a rally. The decree does not apply to official events organized on state holidays. According to Belarusian oppositionists, the decree intends to restrict opposition actions planned for this fall. Human rights activist Ales Byalatski told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service that the authorities may now designate remote places on the outskirts of Belarusian cities for opposition protest actions. JM

BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT TO RECONVENE CONGRESS IN OCTOBER

The Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) Board on 11 September decided to reconvene the BNF sixth congress on 30-31 October after the previous one failed to elect a BNF leadership on 1 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 3 August 1999). The board rejected a proposal by exiled BNF leader Zyanon Paznyak to divide the BNF into two allied organizations--a public movement and a political party--and hold their conventions separately. The session also invalidated Paznyak's directives to dismiss Lyavon Barshcheuski from the position of BNF acting chairman and to hold a separate congress of the BNF Party. However, some members of the BNF Board refused to register at the session and claimed that it lacked a quorum to adopt decisions. JM

KUCHMA APPEALS NOT TO CREATE 'PAPER CURTAIN' IN EUROPE

The 10-11 September Yalta conference of 22 Baltic and Black Sea states ended with a common pledge to promote regional cooperation and to build a Europe without dividing lines. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who hosted the Yalta forum, appealed for attendants not to create a "Paper Curtain" of travel restrictions between the EU and the rest of Europe in place of the "Iron Curtain." "We are convinced that visa and other restrictions should not become an insurmountable obstacle for free movement of law-abiding citizens of the states aspiring for European integration," Kuchma said. (see also "End Note"). JM

UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK CALM OVER RECENT HRYVNYA FALL

Last week the hryvnya left the previously established exchange corridor of 3.4 to 4.6 to $1 and was traded at 4.65-4.7 to $1, Ukrainian Television reported on 12 September. Commercial bank and currency dealers explain the hryvnya's fall by speculative demand for hard currency in expectation of the hryvnya's devaluation. They claim that the hryvnya will continue to fall unless the National Bank (NBU) intervenes on the currency market. However, NBU press secretary Dmytro Rikberg said last week that "there will be no interference" on the part of the bank and that the situation will stabilize in the next few days once Ukraine has received foreign credits. JM

MERI MEETS WITH ESTONIANS IN CRIMEA

Estonian President Lennart Meri, in Crimea for the Yalta Summit, on 10 September travelled to the town of Alupka to meet with ethnic Estonians settled there. President Meri invited members of the community to visit Estonia and to help strengthen the ties between Estonia and Ukraine. The Crimean Estonian Society, however, told Meri that they faced difficulty in obtaining visas to visit Estonia. The society also plans to open an Estonian-language school in the town of Krasnodarka, according to BNS. Estonians have been living in Crimea since the 1860s. While in Crimea for the summit, Meri also met with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov. MH

LITHUANIAN PREMIER IN FRANCE

Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas made a three-day visit to France on 8-10 September. His French counterpart, Lionel Jospin, told Paksas that France supports Lithuania's EU and NATO aspirations. Paksas and French European Affairs Minister Pierre Moscovici discussed Lithuania's EU integration bid, including issues concerning nuclear power and several recent EU actions against Lithuania for dumping. Moscovici also stated French support for Lithuania's desire to begin accession negotiations with the EU. During a meeting with Laurent Fabius, the speaker of the French National Assembly, Paksas restated that Lithuania's desire to join NATO is not directed at another country. MH

WIESENTHAL CENTER LAMBASTS LITHUANIA

The director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, Efraim Zuroff, called Lithuania an "ultimate haven" for Nazi war criminals, BNS reported. This comes as a Vilnius District Court rejected a prosecution motion to re-examine the health of war crimes suspect Aleksandras Lileikis, and subsequently suspended the trial (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). Zuroff added, "I have no doubt that this unfortunate decision will only increase and speed up the return to Lithuania of numerous Lithuanian Nazi murderers living abroad who fear prosecution in their lands of current residence." Zuroff called for Lithuanian authorities to re-examine the case, saying that it would "prove once and for all [Lithuania has] nothing to hide in this regard." MH

POLISH PREMIER PROMISES CABINET RESHUFFLE IN TWO WEEKS

Following a leadership meeting of the ruling coalition of the Solidarity Electoral Action-Freedom Union on 10 September, Premier Jerzy Buzek said decisions on a government reshuffle will be taken within the next two weeks. Leszek Miller, head of the opposition Left Democratic Alliance, said the same day that his party backs early parliamentary elections, adding that a cabinet reconstruction will not change the current situation. Jaroslaw Kalinowski, head of the opposition Peasant Party, said on 12 September that the government should either change its economic policy or agree to early elections. A poll in early September revealed that 71 percent of Poles negatively assess the performance of Buzek's cabinet and 58 percent disapprove of Buzek himself. JM

CZECH SOCIALISTS APPROVE CURTAILING PRESIDENTIAL POWERS

The leadership of the ruling Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 12 September approved the constitutional amendments proposed by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) on curtailing the prerogatives of the president. The amendments will be forwarded to the parliament in the next few days. CSSD deputy chairwoman Petra Buzkova said on Czech television on 12 September that she opposes the amendment that makes possible the removal of the president from office if he is unable to carry out his constitutionally-stipulated duties for six months. MS

EU COMMISSIONER SAYS CZECHS MAY NOT ACCEDE IN NEXT WAVE

In an interview with the German weekly "Der Spiegel," EU commissioner in charge of enlargement Guenter Verheugen says the Czech Republic might fail to be included in the next wave of EU expansion, CTK reported on 12 September. Verheugen says this may be due to the previous Czech cabinet which "did not take the talks with the EU very seriously." MS

CZECH POLITICIANS CONDEMN AD CALLING FOR KLAUS'S 'REMOVAL'

President Vaclav Havel on 10 September said an ad published by "Annonce" daily editor Josef Kudlacek on 8 September, which promised a reward of five million crowns (about $145,000) to "the person who will remove [ODS chairman Vaclav] Klaus from the political scene" was "beyond the limits of what is admissible" and demonstrated the "drop in the general level of morality that I have been criticizing for a long time," CTK reported. Prime Minister Milos Zeman commented that "Kudlacek belongs partly in the mad house and partly in prison, and if possible in both institutions." He also called on the police to investigate the case. A police spokeswoman on the same day said Kudlacek will not be charged because he denies the ad called for the physical liquidation of Klaus and says it was only intended to call for his removal from politics. MS

SLOVAK CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS DECLARE INDEPENDENCE FROM SDK

The Executive Council of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) on 12 September decided that the KDH will run under its own name in the 2002 parliamentary elections or in alliance with other parties, SITA and CTK reported. KDH chairman Jan Carnogursky said the decision "ends the discussion about the relationship between the KDH and the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK)." Premier Mikulas Dzurinda, who is also SDK chairman, told the council that he sees the future relationship between the two political entities as one of "a political union or a confederation [of parties]." But he admitted that the current legislation makes no provision for such a "confederation" to be able to run. KDH deputy chairman Pavol Hrusovsky told journalists after the meeting that the party will "no longer be distracted by scuffles" between the parties that make up the SDK. MS

SLOVAK SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS DECISION ON LEXA

The Supreme Court on 10 September rejected an appeal by Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky against a July decision of a Bratislava court to free from detention former Slovak Intelligence Service chief Vladimir Lexa, SITA and CTK reported. Lexa is being investigated on suspicion of abusing public office, participation in the kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son in 1995, theft, blackmail, and violation of financial regulations. MS

SLOVAK ROMANY PARTIES AGREE ON UNIFICATION

Representatives of 14 out of 15 registered Romany associations and political parties, meeting in Kosice on 11 September, agreed to set up a Council of the Coalition of Romany Parties and to meet again in 30 days to approve setting up a single Romany political representation, CTK reported. The chairman of the Party of Democratic Unity of Roma, Jan Conka, was elected chairman of the council. A spokesman for the council said that the unification was necessary as Roma felt deceived by both the SDK and by the previously ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. He said the Romany coalition will run its own candidates in 2002 and expects to get as many as 300,000 votes. The delegates criticized Premier Dzurinda and called for the resignation of Pal Csaky, deputy premier in charge of human rights and minority issues. Csaky's resignation was also demanded by representatives attending the International Romany Congress in Bratislava on 10 September, SITA reported. MS

HUNGARY CELEBRATES BORDER OPENING ANNIVERSARY

Austrian, German and Hungarian leaders on 10 September attended a commemorative session of the parliament in Budapest that marked the 10th anniversary of the day when Hungary opened its border to Austria. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called the free passage of tens of thousands of East German citizens to Austria "a turning point in European history." German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he "brought the gratitude of the German people," who will never forget the deed that "made German reunification possible." MSZ




KFOR WARNS OF SERBIAN DESTABILIZATION OF KOSOVA

A spokesman for NATO peacekeepers said in Prishtina on 12 September that KFOR troops have recently seen several dozen Serbian paramilitaries in the province. The Serbs wore dark uniforms and "insignia patches of a kind we haven't seen before." The spokesman said that the paramilitaries clandestinely entered the province, which all Serbian forces were to have left in June. He added that the Serbs have decided on "some planned activities to destabilize the situation [in Kosova]. These are orchestrated, planned activities." The spokesman gave as an example the recent clash between Serbian gunmen and Russian peacekeepers, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). Several Serbian hard-line politicians and some military officials have suggested in recent weeks that Serbia will reintroduce its security forces if KFOR fails to protect Serbian civilians. A spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, however, explicitly ruled out armed intervention by Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). PM

LIVE AMMUNITION USED IN MITROVICA CLASHES

Hospital staff told AFP that eight out of a total of 150 people hurt in clashes in Mitrovica on 10 September were hit by bullets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). They did not elaborate on the ethnic background of the victims. French KFOR troops fired only tear gas and stun grenades during the clashes, meaning that the live ammunition came from the Serbs, the ethnic Albanians, or both. Several hundred ethnic Albanian protesters held a rally outside UN headquarters in Mitrovica on 12 September, demanding that KFOR take measures to ensure the return of ethnic Albanian residents to the northern part of the town. Local UN Administrator Sir Martin Garrod promised the protesters that "Mitrovica will not be a divided city," an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. FS

KOSOVARS PROTEST ARREST OF UCK LEADER

About 2,000 ethnic Albanians gathered outside UN offices in Gjakova on 12 September to protest against the arrest of an unnamed local Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) commander, AP reported. KFOR recently arrested the man on unspecified criminal charges. Elsewhere, unidentified attackers fired shots at a Russian checkpoint but no casualties were reported. FS

CEKU PLEDGES TO BEAT DEMILITARIZATION DEADLINE...

General Agim Ceku, who is the chief of the UCK's general staff, told Reuters in Prishtina on 11 September that the UCK will complete its disarmament by 16 September, three days before the official demilitarization deadline. Ceku added: "Up until 19 September, there are 10,000 mobilized UCK [soldiers]. After that date there are none...including me." Ceku stressed that the UCK commanders firmly back the demilitarization. He added that recent attacks on Serbs and Roma are by criminals wearing UCK uniforms and by others who wrongly claim to be members of the UCK. He stressed: "If we had all those people with us who now say they are UCK, we would not have needed the help of the international community to liberate Kosova." FS

...AND URGES CREATION OF KOSOVA CORPS

General Ceku also told Reuters that he expects the international community to establish a Kosova Corps (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1999) despite Russian objections. He stressed that the corps will assist KFOR in case of emergencies and disasters and that it "will not be armed in any way to endanger someone else." Meanwhile, Zoran Andjelkovic, who was Serbia's governor of Kosova until the deployment of KFOR, told the state-run Tanjug news agency that including "some members of the terrorist UCK into a civilian force [in Kosova] would be a direct violation of [UN Resolution 1244]." Meanwhile, General Vladimir Lazarevic, who was a commander in Kosova during the war, claimed in an interview with Radio B2-92 that the UCK has "handed over some antiquated...weapons [to peacekeepers] but obtained, under KFOR guidance, new heavy weaponry." He did not provide evidence of his claim. FS

KOUCHNER: MORE SERBS IN KOSOVA THAN BELIEVED

Bernard Kouchner, who is the UN's administrator for Kosova, told the UN Security Council in New York on 11 September that the province's current population includes 1.4 million Albanians, 97,000 Serbs, and 73,000 members of other ethnic groups, including Turks, Roma, Bosnian Muslims, and others. Most recent estimates had put the number of Serbs left in Kosova at no more than 30,000. In Belgrade, Tanjug called Kouchner's report "vague [and] highly generalized," adding that "without a good knowledge of the province, one would not be able to understand what he was talking about." In New York, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke called Kouchner's presentation "brilliant," adding that "Dr. Kouchner is the right man in the right place at the right time," Reuters reported. PM

MONTENEGRO PLANS 'MARKA' AS DINAR SLIDES

U.S. Professor Steve Hanke, who is the advisor on currency policy to Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, said in Podgorica on 12 September that the result of upcoming talks between Serbian and Montenegrin leaders will determine whether Montenegro adopts its own currency. Hanke noted that the planned monetary unit would be called the marka, backed 100 percent by German mark reserves, and pegged to the German currency at one-to-one. On Montenegrin black markets, the Yugoslav dinar recently fell to 14 to the German mark. In Belgrade, Deputy Prime Minister Dragan Tomic said that "all rumors of alleged devaluation [of the dinar] come from the black market and those who are trying to take money from gullible people," Reuters reported. The official exchange rate is six dinars to the mark. The mark has been the unofficial currency throughout the former Yugoslavia for decades. Bosnia's successful new currency is closely linked to it. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION, MONTENEGRIN AUTHORITIES MOVING CLOSER?

Serbian Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told Montenegrin television on 12 September that he, other opposition leaders, and unnamed Montenegrin officials will soon issue a joint political declaration. The text will deal with promoting democracy in Yugoslavia and redefining the relations between Belgrade and Podgorica. Djukanovic met in the Montenegrin capital on 11 September with Djindjic and several other opposition leaders, including Nenad Canak, Mile Isakov, Jozsef Kasza, Rasim Ljajic, Rade Veljanovski, and Branislav Kovacevic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Djindjic spent several weeks in Montenegro during the NATO air strikes in the spring, saying that he feared arrest (or worse) in Serbia. Several opposition leaders are frequent visitors to Montenegro, but they and Djukanovic have not gone beyond vague declarations in their public remarks. Western countries have urged Montenegrin and Serbian opponents of Milosevic to work together for democratization. PM

SERBIAN COURT FINES OPPOSITION PAPER

A court in Cacak on 11 September fined the "Cacanski Glas" $13,500 for publishing an article suggesting that Nikola Pavicevic, who is a local official in charge of monitoring financial transactions, with "shady dealings." The court decision came on the basis of a year-old media law that gives the authorities the power to take tough measures against offending journalists and their employers. Another recent court decision fined "Cacanski Glas" $22,600 on the basis of a private lawsuit by Pavicevic, AP reported. A spokesman for the paper said that the article merely reported charges made by Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Party (SPO) against the official. The SPO did not send anyone to testify on the paper's behalf in court. The Serbian regime--like its counterpart in Croatia--frequently makes use of lawsuits and fines to intimidate or bankrupt the opposition media. PM

IN THE WINNERS' CIRCLE

Milosevic received ousted Bosnian Serb President Nikola Poplasen in Belgrade on 10 September. Also present was Momcilo Krajisnik, who is the former Serbian representative on the joint Bosnian presidency. Serbian Deputy Information Minister Miodrag Popovic denied that Milosevic was trying to reinstate Poplasen. The minister added: "we are not in the business of installing and removing governments around the world. Some other people are," Reuters reported. In Banja Luka, caretaker Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said that "we are waiting for Poplasen to come back from Belgrade to take his official car." Last week, Dodik and SFOR took away Poplasen's office, bodyguards, telephones, and cars (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). PM

IMF TEAM REVIEWS ROMANIAN PERFORMANCE

An IMF expert team led by the fund's chief negotiator for Romania, Emmanuel Zervoudakis, met with Finance Minister Decebal Traian Remes on 10 September, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The team is reviewing Romania's economic performance to establish whether it qualifies for receiving the second tranche of a stand-by agreement approved earlier this year. Budget expenditure in the first eight months of 1999 was 40 percent higher than expected, throwing doubts of Bucharest's ability to restrict its deficit to 3.9 percent of the GDP, as conveyed with the fund. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER CALLS ON PARTIES TO 'ISOLATE' OPPOSITION

Prime Minister Radu Vasile, in an interview with the BBC on 12 September, proposed to all parties in the ruling coalition to pledge that they will not join a coalition with the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) after the 2000 parliamentary elections, Romanian radio reported. If the pledge is implemented, he said, the PDSR will not be able to form a government even if it were returned as the largest party in the parliament by the ballot. Vasile said he "hopes this will solve the dilemma" of those of his party colleagues who attacked him last month for saying that the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) should consider entering a coalition with the PDSR after next year's elections. He also said that he "does not rule out" leaving the PNTCD if the opposition against him in the party persists. MS

ROMANIAN COURT DECLINES COMPETENCE TO RULE ON OUTLAWING EXTREMIST PARTY

Bucharest's Appeals Court on 10 September ruled that it is not competent to decide whether the Greater Romania Party (PRM) should be outlawed and sent the case to the Constitutional Court, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The Justice Ministry, the Association of Romanian Lawyers for the Defense of Human Rights, the Assistance Center for Non- Governmental Organizations, and the Party of Democratic Solidarity requested that the PRM be outlawed on the grounds of violating constitutional provisions forbidding racial incitement. They cited an article published in the PRM weekly "Romania Mare" in August 1998 inciting discrimination against ethnic Hungarians and Roma. MS

ROMANIAN PATRIARCH SENDS PROTEST LETTER TO PREMIER

Patriarch Teoctist on 10 September protested in a letter to Premier Vasile against the government's decision not to grant the Romanian Orthodox Church the status of "National Church," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported (based on an erroneous report by Romanian Radio and Television, "RFE/RL Newsline" on 10 September reported that the status had been granted). Teoctist said the government was "denying the Orthodox Church the status that has been obtained through nearly 2,000 years of Christian life." MS

OSCE EXPECTS PROGRESS IN TRANSDNIESTER NEGOTIATIONS

The OSCE mission head in Moldova, William Hill, said on 10 September that he expects the negotiations between Chisinau and Tiraspol--set to resume this week--to yield progress, Infotag reported. He told journalists that OSCE experts will go to Transdniester to establish the necessary financial assistance for the evacuation of the Russian arsenal or its liquidation there. He said that contrary to reports in the media, he has not received any official Transdniester warning that the experts will not be allowed to come to Tiraspol. Hill also said that the OSCE will not react to media reports that Russia has demanded a military base for its contingent in the Transdniester as this is a matter for Russian-Moldovan bilateral relations, but added that the OSCE "advocates prompt, complete, and orderly withdrawal of Russian troops and their weapons." MS

BULGARIA, UKRAINE, CRITICIZE ROMANIAN BLOCKADE ON DANUBE

Meeting in Yalta at the Black Sea-Baltic summit conference on 11 September, Transportation Minister Wilhelm Kraus and his Ukrainian counterpart Ivan Dankievich said they consider the Romanian blockade against Serbian vessels on the Danube River (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 10 September 1999) to be "uncivilized." Kraus told journalists that it is possible to find "an efficient mechanism to force the Serb authorities to reconsider their decision to set up artificial obstacles to free navigation" on the river. He also said that Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine will hold a trilateral meeting on 21-22 September to discuss the Serbian measures, as well as possibilities to finance clearing the wreckage of bridges destroyed by NATO air strikes, BTA reported. MS

MULTINATIONAL PEACE FORCE HEADQUARTERS INAUGURATED IN BULGARIA

At the inauguration of the headquarters of the Multinational Peace Force in Southeastern Europe at Plodviv on 11 September, President Petar Stoyanov said that he is confident that "the day will come when Serbia and other republics of former Yugoslavia will join the peace force," BTA reported. The 3,000-strong peace force includes ground forces from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, and Turkey. MS




Giving Yalta A New Meaning


By Paul Goble

Yalta, the place where Moscow and the West divided Eastern Europe in 1945, is now the symbol of the new and independent role the countries between Russia and Germany and the Baltic and Black Seas hope to play in the future.

On 10-11 September, 14 presidents and other senior officials from these and adjoining countries met there to promote cooperation among themselves, to denounce the emergence of any new dividing lines in Europe, and to demand that no decisions about them be taken without them.

This, the third international conference in a series launched in Vilnius in 1997, represented the latest and most dramatic effort by these countries to repudiate the great power politics that dominated thinking at the Yalta conference in 1945.

At that first Yalta conference, Soviet leader Josef Stalin, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill effectively created new spheres of influence in Europe without consulting any of the nations thus affected.

From that decision, one that has many precedents in European and world history, many once independent and proud peoples were consigned to Soviet rule for nearly half a century. And none of those affected has ever forgotten or forgiven either that meeting or its results.

Now, and largely as a result of the efforts of these nations themselves, they are once again in a position to be the active subjects of history rather than its mere objects.

And thus virtually all of the leaders there echoed in one way or the other the words of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk who said that " Yalta-99 has done away with the spirit of Yalta-45."

But that celebratory spirit was undercut not only by the tight security arrangements surrounding the meeting but also by expressions of genuine concern about whether the goals of Yalta II, as some of the leaders described it, were likely to be achieved anytime soon.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, the host of this year's meeting, pointedly appealed to the European Union not to create a new "paper curtain" of travel restrictions in place to the now-collapsed "Iron Curtain" of the Cold War.

Such restrictions on the "free movement of law-abiding citizens of states aspiring for European integration," Kuchma suggested, could effectively divide the continent in ways that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for states once submerged in the Soviet empire to recover.

Then, Estonian President Lennart Meri called attention to one of the problems that many of the other leaders only alluded to. While the countries of this region are now the subjects of history, he said, "none of us are simply subjects."

As a result, the Baltic leader continued, his country and its neighbors "remain its objects as well, driven hither and yon by larger forces and larger states." Because of that, Meri said, the countries of this region cannot take anything for granted but must work together to defend their interests.

And finally, in words that confirmed both the fears and the appeals of Meri and the others, the Russian representative at the Yalta meeting used the occasion to oppose the expansion of a Western institution that many of the countries in this region hope to join.

Speaking on 10 September, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko argued that "NATO's further expansion--including the Baltic states--would lead to the creation of new division lines and would in no case assist in the consolidation of security."

Khristenko's appeal in itself reflects the continuing view of many in Moscow that it and no one else should play the dominant role in this region, a role that Stalin believed the West had ratified at the first Yalta conference.

But at the same time, Khristenko made these comments in a city that is now part of an independent Ukraine and to an audience consisting of leaders of countries who have either gained or regained their independence from Moscow.

And that fact demonstrates more clearly than anything else just how much the world has changed since 1945 and how significant Yalta II in fact was, both as a symbol of those changes and as an expression of hope for the future.


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