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Newsline - October 1, 1999




MOSCOW LAUNCHES GROUND CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHECHNYA

Spearheaded by tanks, Russian ground forces moved as much as 10 kilometers into Chechnya on 30 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. The campaign is intended to seize "commanding heights" in the republic, rather than occupy its entire territory, Russian commanders said. Meanwhile, the Russian air campaign continued with attacks on dams, oil wells, bridges, and other infrastructure. Chechen officials said that several people have been killed in the attacks. PG

CHECHENS PLEDGE TO RESIST...

Magomed Khambiyev, Chechnya's defense minister, said on Grozny television 30 September that if Russia invades Chechnya, "highly professional special units" will take actions in the rear of the Russian army, Interfax reported. But other Chechen officials stressed that Grozny was opposed to anything connected to terrorism. The deputy speaker of the Chechen parliament, Selim Beshaev, said in Baku the same day that "the Chechen people and the leadership of the Chechen government" oppose terrorism, Reuters reported. And Chechen presidential spokesman Selim Abdulmuslimov told ITAR-TASS that Grozny has invited leaders of all North Caucasian republics to take part in a national congress of the Chechen people on 2 October. PG

...WANT SHEVARDNADZE TO MEDIATE

Chechen representatives in Tbilisi on 30 September said that Grozny would like Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to serve as a mediator between Russia and Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported. The Georgian side has not yet responded to that proposal. Meanwhile, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov said he believes that Russian authorities foiled his plans for talks with Daghestani leader Magomedali Magomedov, Chechen State Secretary Khisein Akhmadov told Interfax on 30 September. PG

MOUNTING REFUGEE CRISIS FORCES MOSCOW TO ASK FOR AID

As the Russian attacks continue, Chechens are fleeing their homeland at a rate of 6,000-7,000 a day, Ingush officials told ITAR-TASS on 30 September. Almost 80,000 Chechens are reported to be in that republic alone. Various Russian regions, including Moscow, have dispatched food and medicine to help out, but the number of refugees is now so large that Moscow has been forced to ask the UN for assistance, Reuters reported. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees will dispatch some $500,000 in assistance immediately as well as a team of experts to help local officials cope. PG

YELTSIN PLEASED WITH PUTIN'S TOUGH LINE

Boris Yeltsin's press spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin told Interfax on 30 September that the Russian president is pleased with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's "decisiveness" on Chechnya. Yakushkin said the president believes that Moscow failed to punish the Chechens for far too long and that Putin is now taking care of that. At the same time, Yakushkin said, Yeltsin has not ruled out talks with Chechen leaders. He added that, "Today Russia holds a very decisive stance and there is a certain support for the line pursued by the Russian leadership." PG

PUTIN DOESN'T RULE OUT TALKS WITH CHECHEN LEADERS...

Arguing that the Russian military has the right to go anywhere in Chechnya because it is part of Russia, Putin said that the Russian army will choose where to base itself in terms of military advantage, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. At the same time, Putin, too, did not rule out the possibility of talks with Chechen leaders. Putin's strategy was praised by State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich, who said Moscow had to act in Chechnya because "we faced there a real regular well-trained and strong army armed with state-of-the-art NATO weapons." But former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin warned against any full-scale invasion of Chechnya lest it interfere with Russian elections and economic reform, Interfax reported. PG

...WELCOMES FOREIGN SUPPORT, DISMISSES CRITICISM

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in St. Petersburg on 30 September that Western leaders support Russia's anti- terrorist measures, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry "accepted with satisfaction" a statement by Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev supporting harsh action against terrorism. But Putin said that Chechnya is a purely domestic Russian affair and that no other country should interfere. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov underscored that position, welcoming European and EU support for Russia's territorial integrity, while ignoring their calls for negotiations and caution, Reuters reported. PG

RUSSIANS WANT CHECHEN BORDER CLOSED, WHILE MUSCOVITES OPPOSE BOMBING

A poll reported by Interfax on 30 September showed that 82 percent of all Russians favor closing the border with Chechnya, while only 7 percent opposed such a move. A poll of Muscovites, meanwhile, found that only 34 percent of the residents of the capital support Russia's air campaign against Chechnya. That sampling found that 73 percent believe that "too many Chechens" live in Moscow. Only 15 percent disagreed with that viewpoint. PG

LEADING FIGURE AMONG RUSSIAN INTELLIGENTSIA DIES

Dmitrii Likhachev, literary historian and prominent cultural figure in Russia, died on 30 September at the age of 92. A specialist in Russian medieval literature, Likhachev authored more than 1,000 works, according to Reuters. He spent 1928-1932 in prison camps, and from 1986-1991 he was a member of the USSR's Congress of Peoples' Deputies. Russian President Yeltsin said that Likhachev represented "the best traits of the Russian intelligentia," adding that his death is "an irrevocable loss for science, Russian culture, and all of Russia," according to ITAR-TASS. Last year, Yeltsin awarded Likhachev one of Russia's highest honors, the order of St. Andrei. JAC

BUDGET FIGHT BEGINS IN EARNEST

State Duma Deputy Chairman Boris Kuznetsov told Interfax on 1 October that the first reading of the new version of the 2000 budget will take place on 20 October and the second reading will likely occur on 29 October. Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said on 30 September that basic budget parameters, such as revenues, will be revised upward but the level of the deficit must remain the same, according to ITAR-TASS. Agrarian Party faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov announced earlier that his party will insist that appropriations to agriculture be raised from 7.2 billion rubles ($285 million) in the current draft to at least 12.5 billion rubles. Otherwise, he said, the Agrarians will not vote for the budget "under any circumstances." JAC

COURTSHIP BETWEEN UNITY, NDR FAILS

The newly formed regional bloc Unity (Edinstvo) has issued a statement that it will not form an alliance with Our Home Is Russia (NDR) because the latter is imposing unacceptable conditions, Interfax reported on 1 October. According to the statement, Unity has two principles that it cannot relinquish: it must fight for the maximum number of regional representatives in the State Duma and it cannot follow any ideology. The previous day, NDR Duma faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov told reporters that the main requirement for the alliance "is to preserve the NDR as an independent political organization." He added that the party must retain its name and symbols and be first in the name of the alliance. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 30 September, Ryzhkov continued to oppose the merger of the two parties, despite the likelihood that his name would have been among the top three on the party list. JAC

LEBED SUGGESTS HE WAS MISQUOTED

Following the Kremlin's harsh denunciation of his remarks in French newspaper, "Le Figaro" on 29 September, Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed's press service said the following day that Lebed is "unhappy over the translation of his words into French" and that "the correspondent omitted part of the interview thus twisting ideas and shifting emphases" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1999). Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushin said that Lebed's allegation that the Kremlin might have been involved in the bombing of apartment houses in Moscow went "beyond all bounds of acceptable behavior for an official of his standing." He added that Lebed's accusations "are blatant abetting of terrorists." "Izvestiya," which is owned by Vladimir Potanin's Inteross financial group and LUKoil, suggested on 1 October that in order to have made such remarks, Lebed must have fallen out completely with his financial backer, Boris Berezovskii, or Berzovskii must have broken with the Kremlin. JAC

RUSSIA, CHINA TO HOLD NAVAL EXERCISES

Russia and China are to stage joint naval exercises from 2 to 6 October as part of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Reuters on 30 September quoted the "Beijing Youth Daily" as saying that a destroyer and a missile-armed escort ship from Russia's Pacific Fleet will take part in maneuvers with Chinese vessels off Shanghai. Also on 30 September, President Yeltsin telephoned with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin to congratulate him on the occasion of China's half-century celebration. Interfax qouted both leaders as expressing satisfaction with the "significant progress" made toward consolidating bilateral relations. JC

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY WARNS AGAINST NATO BASES IN BULGARIA

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said on 30 September that Bulgarian leaders' statements suggesting that U.S. and NATO bases might be set up in their country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 27 September 1999) do not "promote security and stability in Europe, particularly in its southeastern part, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Such bases, he asserted, would harm relations between countries. The same day at a press conference in Brussels, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stressed Moscow's position that it will resume cooperating with NATO once the alliance creates the necessary conditions for such cooperation. Ivanov was in the Belgian capital to unveil a statute of Aleksandr Pushkin. JC

SEMENOV TAKES OFFICE IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA

After weeks of uncertainty and conflict, Vladimir Semenov, who won the 16 May elections by a landslide, assumed the presidency of Karachayevo-Cherkessia on 30 September, ITAR-TASS reported. He moved into the offices that had been occupied by acting Governor Valentin Vlasov. PG

MORE JOURNALISTS ATTACKED IN SVERDLOVSK...

Journalists in Sverdlovsk Oblast decided to protest on 1 October recent attacks on a fellow journalists, "Izvestiya" reported that day. All newspapers were to run a blank front page, while radios intended begin their broadcasts with a minute of silence and television programs with a blank screen. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" the previous day, Dmitrii Bondarev, director-general of the Channel 10 television station, was beaten by a group of assailants not far from his home on 28 September. The attack follows an assault last week on Kirill Derbenev, a correspondent for the local ATN television station. Both journalists received anonymous threats following reports on the narcotics business in the oblast. JAC

...AS GOVERNOR WANTS TO CRACK DOWN ON DRUG TRADE

Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel on 29 September proposed holding a regional referendum on introducing the death penalty for drug trafficking, Interfax reported. According to the governor, the referendum might be held at the same time as the upcoming State Duma elections. Sverdlovsk Deputy Governor Semen Spektr reported that drug abuse has spiralled among the local population, particularly among teenagers, while local doctors believe that more than 10,000 drug addicts will probably be registered in the region at the beginning of the year. Along with rising drug use, Sverdlovsk has experienced an increase in the cases of AIDS. Other Siberian regions, such as Irkutsk, have also seen a sharp increase in AIDS cases linked with rising rates of drug abuse. JAC

STALIN'S SON REHABILITATED

The Russian Supreme Court's Military Collegium acquitted Vasilii Stalin, the late son of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, on 30 September on charges of anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation, ITAR-TASS reported. The court also reduced charges of embezzlement and abuse of power. The court's decision was in response to an appeal filed last year by Vasilii Stalin's friends in the army and his relatives, "The Moscow Times" reported on 1 October. The case against Vasilii Stalin was launched just a month after his father's death. According to the prosecutor in the recent case, Stalin's son spent a considerable amount of state money creating hunting resorts, modernizing his state-owned dacha, and hosting extensive private parties. Stalin, who became a general at the age of 26, spent eight years in prison after his conviction. In 1962, he died at the age of 41 from alcoholism. JAC

BUT WILL THEY DELIVER?

Russian Space Agency press secretary Sergei Gorbunov told Interfax on 30 September that Russia may sell its slots on future crews on the International Space Station. According to the agency, Russia is alloted three of the seven spots on the station's permanent crews and is currently holding talks with the Japanese National Space Agency and the European Space Agency. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut announced that it will have its logo placed prominently on the Proton rocket that will launch the station in November, according to AFP. The Pizza Hut logo will measure some 30 feet on the fuselage of the 200- foot rocket. Mike Rawlings, Pizza Hut president and chief concepts officer, said "Pizza is the most popular food on earth--now Pizza Hut pizza will become the most popular food in space." U.S. astronaut Rick Hieb called the Pizza Hut initiative "a major step toward commercializing space." JAC




ARMENIA, GEORGIAN PRESIDENTS SEEK CLOSER TIES

During a two-day visit to Yerevan, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, that he wants priority to be given to the development of closer ties among the three southern Caucasus countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. Kocharian, for his part, welcomed Shevardnadze's support for signing more agreements between their two countries. PG

TBILISI FEARS MOSCOW WANTS TO INVOLVE GEORGIA IN CHECHEN CONFLICT

Levan Aleksidze, a foreign policy adviser to Georgian President Shevardnadze, said that he fears Moscow may want to push Chechens into fleeing to Georgia and then use that as an excuse to attack his country, Interfax reported on 30 September. "If the Georgian side lets the Chechens in," he said, "Russia will start destroying them in Georgia." Meanwhile, Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze denied in Kyiv that Georgia has anything to do with the supply of arms to the Chechens, ITAR-TASS said. PG

TBILISI SAYS GIORGADZE NOW IN SYRIA

Igor Giorgadze, the former Georgian security chief who is wanted on suspicion of involvement in terrorist attacks on President Shevardnadze, is now in Syria, Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze told Prime News on 30 September. Targarmadze indicated that Georgia has been unsuccessful in seeking his extradition, largely because of the work of "Russia's special services." PG

KAZAKHSTAN PREMIER RESIGNS TO HEAD NATIONAL OIL COMPANY

Nurland Balgimbayev resigned as prime minister on 1 October to become head of KazakhOil, the company he had worked for before becoming premier two years ago, Interfax reported. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had been critical of Balgimbayev's leadership, immediately appointed Kasymzhamart Tokayev as acting prime minister. Until now, Tokayev was deputy prime minister and foreign minister. PG

ASTANA THREATENS TO FORCE KAZHEGELDIN'S RETURN

Kazakhstan's Prosecutor-General Yuri Khitrin told ITAR-TASS on 30 September that if former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin does not return home after receiving medical treatment, the Kazakh authorities will try to compel him to return, using what Khitrin said would be "unpopular but forced measures." Khitrin said he has sufficient evidence to convict Kazhegeldin of money laundering, abuse of office, and tax evasion. In other comments, Khitrin said he is supervising the investigation of an illegal sale of MIG-21 fighters to North Korea and that he knows of no evidence to support claims that there are foreign militants operating in Almaty. PG

KYRGYZSTAN TIGHTS SECURITY ACROSS COUNTRY

Facing a continuing challenge from rebels in the southern region of the country, Bishkek has increased security throughout the country, increasing its monitoring of mosques and checking the passports of those suspected of not having legal residence permits, Kabar reported on 30 September. Meanwhile, rebels in the south continued to hold 13 hostages, Interfax reported. The news agency quoted Kyrgyzstan Interior Minister Omurbek Kutuyev as saying that the current situation in his country "is similar to events in Daghestan." PG

TAJIKISTAN REGISTERS CANDIDATES, PARTY

Tajikistan's Central Electoral Commission registered incumbent President Imomali Rakhmonov, leader of the Congress of People's Unity Party Sayfiddin Turayev, and former tax official Sulton Quvvatov as presidential candidates, Iranian radio reported on 29 September. The same source added that the commission has also registered the Islamic Rebirth Party. PG

KARIMOV CHALLENGES 'FORCES WITH EVIL INTENTIONS' IN UZBEKISTAN

Speaking on 30 September near the Uzbek- Kyrgyz border, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov said he is prepared to defend his country against all those "with evil and bad intentions" who might seek to "stir up trouble" in his country. PG

UZBEKISTAN AGREES TO RESUME GAS SHIPMENTS TO KAZAKHSTAN

Uzbektransgaz will resume shipments of gas to southern Kazakhstan under the terms of an agreement reached between Astana and Tashkent, Kazakhstan's Khabar TV reported on 30 September. The two countries will settle their accounts by writing off Kazakhstan's debts for gas against Uzbekistan's debts for rail service. PG




BELARUSIAN WORKERS PROTEST GOVERNMENT'S ECONOMIC POLICIES

"Our enterprises are becoming bankrupt because of the current economic policy, extortionate taxes, the multitude of Belarusian ruble exchange rates, and excessive state expenditures," some 15,000 workers said in a statement adopted at a rally in Minsk on 30 September. The rally demanded that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka cancel his decree introducing a contract system of employment in Belarus. It also supported the trade union petition requesting access to state- controlled media, which some 300,000 people have already signed. Alyaksandr Bukhvostau, a trade union leader, told the crowd that the authorities resorted to "draconian measures" in order to prevent Minsk workers from participating in the demonstration. "As long as we have such a political authority, the state has no prospects," Belapan quoted Bukhvostau as saying. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION TREATY DRAFT IS 'LAUGHING STOCK'...

The Belarusian president on 30 September lashed out at Moscow for not meeting his expectations with regard to the planned Russia-Belarus union state. Referring to a draft union treaty approved by Russian President Boris Yeltsin for publication in the media, Lukashenka said "it is a laughing stock, not a treaty," Interfax reported. He added that the proposed draft "does not differ at all" from the union treaty currently in force. Lukashenka said he does not intend to publish the draft for public discussion in Belarus because he has a "constitutional right" to sign it even in its "radical version," which would provide for a common presidency. "If Yeltsin does not sign it, I still have time to sign the treaty with someone else," Lukashenka noted. JM

...LAMBASTES RUSSIA'S YAVLINSKII FOR 'INSULTING' BELARUS

Referring to Russian State Duma deputy Grigorii Yavlinskii's recent proposal to close the Russian-Belarusian border and stop financing Belarus, Lukashenka said Yavlinskii "appeared on television screens [on 26 September] on the orders of the West and, first and foremost, the U.S.," Interfax reported. According to Lukashenka, Yavlinskii's suggestions that Belarus is a "black hole" and a "weight around Russia's feet" are "insulting" to the Belarusian people. He added that he is sure that Yavlinskii's proposal was an election gimmick. "It will be a pity for Russia if such people come to power there, because they are pro-Western-minded politicians," Lukashenka commented. JM

BELARUS PAYS COMPENSATION FOR EXPULSION OF U.S. AMBASSADOR

The Belarusian government has earmarked $119,500 in compensation to the U.S. Embassy in Minsk for the expulsion of Ambassador Daniel Speckhard from his residence at Drazdy in June 1998, Belapan reported. Earlier, the U.S. had said it invested some $800,000 in the reconstruction of Speckhard's residence there. JM

UKRAINIANS BELIEVE PRESIDENTIAL POLL RESULTS WILL BE FALSIFIED

In a 1-12 September poll conducted among 1,200 Ukrainians by the Kyiv-based Institute of Politics, only 5 percent of respondents said they believe that the results of the 31 October presidential elections will not be falisified, Interfax reported on 30 September. Of those polled, 43.9 percent said the ballot will be falsified to a large degree and 26.7 percent said it will be falsified somewhat. The remainder were unable to answer the question. According to the same poll, 60.6 percent of respondents have not yet decided for whom they will vote in the elections. JM

ESTONIA'S WTO RATIFICATION INVALID?

Estonian Legal Chancellor Eerik-Juhan Truuvali has said that the parliament's ratification of the protocol of accession to the World Trade Organization was invalid (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September 1999). According to the constitution, he noted, ratification requires the support of a majority of the 101- member parliament because it places a financial obligation on Estonia, "Postimees" reported. The measure passed by a simple majority of 48 to seven. Truuvali recommended that the parliament hold another vote on ratification. Estonia is required to ratify the protocol and pass all relevant legislation by 31 October, otherwise it will have to renegotiate its accession package, thus delaying membership. MH

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT SETS UP PANEL TO INVESTIGATE PEDOPHILIA SCANDAL

Lawmakers on 30 September formed a panel to investigate a growing pedophilia scandal. Ruling coalition members Latvia's Way and For Fatherland and Freedom as well as the opposition Social Democratic Workers Party called for the formation of such a panel; the main coalition People's Party, however, will not participate, LETA reported. Earlier this month, a television program broadcast by LNT and produced by parliamentary deputy Edvins Inkens of Latvia's Way accused a local beauty-pageant organizer of sexual assault and pedophilia and also linked two unnamed cabinet members to the scandal. The government has vehemently denied any involvement. To date, no concrete information has been presented to the Prosecutor-General's Office, and Prosecutor-General Janis Skrastins has suggested that the accusations made in the television program may have been unsubstantiated. MH

LUKOIL WARNS LITHUANIA

Russian oil giant LUKoil demands to be an "equal partner" in Lithuania's oil sector and is threatening to cut off crude oil supplies if it is not granted that status, ELTA reported. Mikhail Mashkov, the representative of the Russian Gas and Industrialists Union to Lithuania, said on 30 September that LUKoil, as the "world's leading oil company," is "not satisfied" with the "prospect of purchasing 10 percent" of Mazeikiai Oil, Lithuania's oil- processing conglomerate. Unless LUKoil is allowed to buy a one-third stake in Mazeikiai, it will effectively pull out of Lithuania and will supply only enough crude for the company's gas stations in that country. Also on 30 September, the parliament approved a package of bills aimed at facilitating the sale of Mazeikiai Oil to U.S.-based Williams International, a measure that was supported only by the ruling Conservative Party and several Christian Democrats. Negotiations with Williams have proved difficult, missing every deadline established to date. MH

PRODI REASSURES POLAND ON EU ENLARGEMENT, BUT GIVES NO DATE

European Commission head Romano Prodi reassured Premier Jerzy Buzek and President Aleksander Kwasniewski in Warsaw on 30 September that he is in favor of speeding up EU enlargement and will assist Poland in its EU membership bid. Prodi, however, appeared to distance himself from his earlier statements that the EU summit in Helsinki in December should set a timetable for accepting new members. "There is a little 'I do not know'," Reuters quoted him as saying when he was asked whether Poland and the five other fast-track candidate countries will know the date of their entry after the summit. JM

EU AGAINST TRANSITION PERIOD ON SALE OF LAND

The EU has prepared a position document that opposes requests from prospective membership candidates to impose temporary restrictions on foreign ownership of land, CTK reported on 29 September. The union has asked for more information from countries that have requested such "transition periods," including the Czech Republic and Hungary. The Czech Republic's chief EU negotiator, Pavel Telicka, has insisted on the legitimacy of his country's stance on the issue, CTK reported on 30 September. VG

GERMAN CHANCELLOR VISITS PRAGUE

Gerhard Schroeder on 30 September said his country will push to have the Czech Republic accepted into the EU in 2003, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported. Both Schroeder and Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said that Czech-German relations are at a high point. Schroeder noted that the Czechs showed solidarity with his compatriots 10 years ago in their efforts to emigrate to the West before the fall of the Berlin Wall. "It's time to repay solidarity with solidarity," he said. Schroeder also distanced himself from attempts by German opposition parties to pass a parliamentary resolution calling on the Czech Republic to cancel the Benes decrees, under which Sudeten Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. VG

CZECHS NOT WORRIED ABOUT SALE OF TANKS TO YEMEN

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has confirmed that the Czech Republic will sell 97 of its T-55 tanks to Yemen, despite concerns that Yemen may re-export the tanks to a third country, "Lidove noviny" and "Yemen News" reported on 1 October. Petr Necas, chairman of the parliamentary Defense and Security Committee, raised concerns on 30 September that Yemen might be planning to re-sell the tanks to Sudan. The UN has imposed a trade embargo on Sudan, which is suspected of engaging in terrorist activities. Earlier, Poland had signed a deal to sell T-55 tanks to Yemen but canceled the agreement when 20 of the tanks appeared in Sudan. VG

PARLIAMENT COMMISSION CRITICIZES CZECH TELEVISION

The parliamentary media commission on 30 September accused state-owned Czech Television of failing to carry out its duties in connection with its decision to re-broadcast a communist-era television series, Czech media reported. Czech Television argued that it has been broadcasting the series, along with documentaries and discussions about each episode, as a means of "opening up a discussion on the past." The chairmam of the commission had earlier called on the Czech Television board to resign for allowing the series to be broadcast. VG

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT DISMISSES SLOTA FROM KEY POST

The Slovak parliament on 30 September voted 82 to two with one abstention to remove Jan Slota from his post as chairman of the legislative oversight committee for the Slovak Intelligence Service, TKE reported. Slota is currently seeking to hold on to the chairmanship of the extremist Slovak National Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 September 1999). Christian Democratic Movement deputy chairwoman Anna Zaborska--who recently returned from a trip to the U.S.--said U.S. officials "saw an inconsistency" between Slovakia's stated commitment to democratic principles and the fact that it took the parliament so long to remove Slota from the key post. VG

HUNGARY PRAISES SLOVAKIA'S IMPROVED MINORITIES' POLICIES

The Hungarian-Slovak Committee on Minorities met on 30 September in Bratislava, according to an MTI report cited by the BBC. The Hungarian delegation, led by Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth, praised steps taken by the current Slovak cabinet to remedy the violations of minority rights committed by the previous government. However, the delegation also expressed regret that the current law on the use of minority languages in Slovakia was framed in a way that is not acceptable to the country's Hungarian minority. The Slovak delegation argued that the law is both acceptable to European institutions and in accordance with the Slovak Constitution. VG




SERBIAN RIOT POLICE BEAT DEMONSTRATORS AGAIN...

Serbian riot police charged at and beat back a crowd of some 40,000 protesters as they attempted to march to the main Yugoslav government building in Belgrade, the independent B2-92 Radio reported. At least 10 people were reported injured in the incident, which took place as marchers attempted to cross a bridge into Novy Belgrade. Police said 21 people were arrested, and they warned the organizers of the demonstrations, which have entered their ninth consecutive day, to stop disturbing "public peace and order." Zoran Djindjic, a leader of the Alliance for Change (SZP), said protestors will continue to rally and will attempt again to march to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's home in the Dedinje district. Rallies attended by some 10,000 people were also reported in Nis and Novy Sad. PB

...AS POLICE ACTIONS ARE CONDEMNED

NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana said in Madrid on 30 September that the Yugoslav government will not solve discontent among Serbs by "dealing violently with people demonstrating peacefully," Reuters reported. Solana said he would like to see opposition forces in Serbia "more united." Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic, who has refused to join in the opposition protests, said "Milosevic is ready for bloodshed...the lives of people mean nothing to him." Draskovic repeated his desire for early elections so that Milosevic can be replaced via the ballot box. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it is concerned by the clashes, and it urged dialogue between the opposition and the government. U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said the police actions in Belgrade are "contemptible," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Berger added that the use of force by Milosevic shows his regime's desperation. The U.S. based humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch condemned the "unnecessary and excessive use of force by Serbian police." PB

SERBIAN DAILY SHUT DOWN

Police sealed off the offices of the independent daily "Glas Javnosti" on 30 September and slapped a 15-day ban on the publication of the newspaper, the AP reported. Police said the shutdown was due to "financial irregularities," while editor Vjekoslav Radovic said it was because the daily had printed leaflets distributed at opposition rallies. On 1 October, police also surrounded the offices of the Alliance for Change, reportedly to detain Ceda Jovanovic, the publisher of the leaflet "Promene" (Changes). Jovanovic told Reuters by telephone that he and several others had barricaded themselves in the office. He said the attempt to arrest him was "expected." PB

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET TO DISCUSS EARLY ELECTIONS

The leaders of 17 Serbian opposition groups held a round-table meeting on 30 September to discuss their participation in early elections, Reuters reported. The meeting was organized by the Democratic Center. Miladin Kovacevic, an official from the Serbian Renewal Movement, said the meeting was constructive and was just the first in a series of discussions among the opposition on its strategy and tactics for calling early elections. In Paris, the dissident Serbian economists' Group 17 held talks with French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine on a plan to distribute oil to parts of Serbia governed by opposition parties. Vedrine said he backed the group's "energy for democracy" plan. PB

KFOR COMMANDER CONCERNED ABOUT SECURITY IN KOSOVA

Lieutenant-General Michael Jackson, the head of NATO forces in Kosova (KFOR), said in Tirana on 30 September that he is not satisfied with the level of security in the Serbian province of Kosova, AP reported. Jackson added, however, that his troops are determined to break the "cycle of violence" in the province based on "ethnic hatred." Jackson met with Deputy Premier Ilir Meta and Defense Minister Luan Hajdaraga during his trip. Discussions centered on the situation in Kosova as well as the NATO troops in Albania (AFOR-2). There are some 2,000 troops in AFOR-2 operating under KFOR command. They maintain communications between the port city of Durres and the Kosova border. Jackson said those troops will likely remain in place as long as KFOR is in Kosova. PB

ETHNIC ALBANIAN PATIENTS, STAFF REMOVED FROM HOSPITAL IN KOSOVA

KFOR troops have removed the remaining nine ethnic Albanian patients and 10 Albanian nurses and doctors from the main hospital in the divided town of Mitrovice, AP reported on 30 September. The hospital is in the northern part of the town, dominated by Serbs, while the southern part of the town is controlled by ethnic Albanians. French KFOR troops keep the two sides separated. Ethnic Albanians needing medical treatment will now be taken to Prishtina. PB

BERISHA WARNS OF ALBANIAN FEDERATION...

Former Albanian President Sali Berisha said on 30 September that Albanians throughout the Balkans may unite if "anti-Albanian racism" continues in other countries where Albanians are in the minority, Reuters reported. Speaking at a convention of the opposition Democratic Party, which he heads, Berisha said "we are not seeking to change borders" but one could not exclude the possibility of Albanians forming a "federation of free Albanians in the Balkans as a fundamental condition of survival." He added that UN governance in Kosova is only a "first step toward independence." PB

...AS HIS PARTY PURGES MODERATES

Three members of the Democratic Party's steering committee considered to be more moderate than party leader Berisha were expelled from the party on 30 September, AP reported. Ylli Vejsiu, who was often critical of Berisha for his autocratic ways, was dismissed along with two other committee members. The expulsions come one day after party official Genc Pollo's decision not to challenge Berisha for the chairmanship of the party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September 1999), accusing Berisha of manipulating the nomination process. Local media also report that Pollo and his family had received death threats. PB

U.S. BACKS ALBANIAN BID FOR WTO

The U.S. said on 30 September that it has agreed to support Albania's bid to join the World Trade Organization, AFP reported. In a bilateral agreement signed in Washington, Albania will reduce tariffs and other trade barriers in the agriculture, banking, insurance, and telecommunications sectors, among others. U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said the agreement will benefit Albania by increasing its commercial ties with the U.S. and other WTO members. PB

SLOVENE PRESIDENT PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR ALBANIA

Milan Kucan said in a meeting with his Albanian counterpart, Rexhep Meidani, in Ljubljana that Slovenia strongly supports the democratic process in Albania, ATA reported on 30 September. Kucan also said his government will work with Albanian officials to help them towards the country's goal of joining NATO and the EU. Meidani, on a two-day visit to Slovenia, said relations between the two countries were good but that increased trade and a more liberalized visa regime should be worked on. Meidani also met with Foreign Minister Boris Frlec and parliament speaker Janez Podobnik as well as attending a business conference. PB

HUNGARIAN CONSUL BUILDING IN ROMANIA FINED FOR FLYING FLAG

The Mayor's Office in the city of Cluj-Napoca has slapped an 80,000 lei ($5) fine on the owner of a building inhabited by the Hungarian consulate-general for flying the Hungarian flag, according to a 29 September Hungarian TV2 report cited by the BBC. Mayor Gheorghe Funar said the building's owner would be fined again if the flag is not removed. VG

INCREASE IN ATTACKS ON ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS

The Agency for Media Monitoring has noted a "sharp increase" in recent months in the number of attacks on Romanian journalists investigating corruption cases, AP reported on 30 September. The agency reported that three journalists who were writing stories on illicit business deals were attacked this month. Two of the journalists were pushed and shoved by a group of construction workers, while the third was thrown from a moving train. VG

ROMANIAN MINORITY DEPUTIES WANT MORE REPRESENTATION

Representatives of minorities in Romania's parliament are planning to push for changes to the electoral law that would give those minorities greater representation in local and national legislatures, according to a 30 September Mediafax report cited by the BBC. VG

U.S. PLEDGES TO CONTINUE SUPPORT FOR MOLDOVA

U.S. Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott on 29 September told visiting Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru that the U.S. will continue to support Moldova's independence and integrity "especially in the context of the present situation in Southeastern Europe," Basa-Press reported. Both officials agreed that Moldova and Russia should quickly finalize plans for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Transdniester. VG

BALKAN FINANCE MINISTERS CONCERNED ABOUT STABILITY PACT

The finance ministers of Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania voiced their concerns about the delay in implementing the Balkan Stability Pact, BTA reported on 30 September. Bulgarian Finance Minister Murayev Radev said the speed at which the Stability Pact is developing is "not satisfactory." The three ministers, who were meeting in Washington, D.C., agreed to approve a final report on their countries' infrastructure needs at a November meeting in Sofia. Radev said they will also invite finance ministers from Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia to attend the meeting. VG




KARL HEINRICH MENGES (1908-1999)


By David Nissman

Last week, Karl Heinrich Menges, one of the world's greatest Altaists and Turkologists, died in Vienna at the age of 91. His knowledge is not adequately represented by his published books, book reviews, and articles because he saw the Altaic languages as a linguistic spectrum: each of his writings expressed only a small part of that spectrum, and to understand his thoughts it was necessary to have known him personally.

I was a student of his from the late 1950s until the late 1960s, and a friend and colleague later. He imparted to me and his few other students his knowledge not only of the classics of Central Asian literature but also the cultures, folklore, and language of the Turkic and Tungusic peoples of Siberia and the Russian East.

Menges was a survivor. His sense of humor and ability to imitate accents and mannerisms did not always stand him in good stead. When he was a professor at Berlin, his occasional parodies of Adolph Hitler drew unwelcome attention from the Gestapo. That, together with his work in the anti-Nazi resistance, resulted in his interrogation and arrest. He was released shortly thereafter, and one of his students in the Japanese diplomatic corps advised him that he had heard he was to be arrested shortly. He went home, packed a few things, and left for Turkey.

In Turkey, he settled in at the University of Ankara. Conditions in Turkey at that time were not good for emigre German scholars, so he left for Russia in 1940. When he arrived in Moscow, he was contacted by the U.S. Embassy and offered a job at the University of California. He left immediately, taking the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Vladivostok. He was able to take a Japanese freighter to San Francisco, arriving there in December 1941, just before the outbreak of war between Japan and the United States. As noted above, he was a survivor and occasionally lucky.

Of his published works, his study of the Altaic words embedded in the Old Slavic epic poem, "The Lay of the Host of Igor," is perhaps his most original. He was able to demonstrate the openness of the steppe and the way different languages and cultures intermingled under the conditions of the freedoms available in a region without boundaries.

His study, "The Turkic Languages and Peoples: An Introduction to Turkic Studies," was published in Wiesbaden in 1968. It was one of the essential works for newer generations of Central Asian and Turkic scholars.

Karl Heinrich Menges could have published more, but in a way he knew too much and had too little time.

But remarkable people like Menges always have too little time. His death is not only a loss to scholarship but also a personal loss to all who knew him. The author is the editor of the "RFE/RL Iraq Report."


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