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Newsline - November 5, 1999




COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR CHECHEN CEASEFIRE

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution on 4 November calling on Moscow to cease hostilities in Chechnya and to "abstain from any human rights violations or raids on the civilian population," Reuters reported. The resolution also affirmed its support for talks between the Russian leadership and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, according to Interfax, which quoted Ernst Muellemann, chairman of the Assembly's committee on Chechnya, as saying that assembly members would like to travel to Chechnya to met with Maskhadov but for security reasons are unable to do so. LF

MOSCOW HINTS AT READINESS FOR TALKS WITH MASKHADOV

Addressing the assembly, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev said that attempts had been made to contact Maskhadov. (Maskhadov's chief of staff Apti Batalov had told Interfax on 2 November that neither fax nor mobile telephone communications with Moscow nor the "hotline" set up in 1997 are functioning, so there is no possibility of direct contact.) Avdeev said that it would be "difficult" for Maskhadov to sever ties with field commander Shamil Basaev, whom Moscow holds responsible for terrorist attacks elsewhere in Russia, since Maskhadov is "financially dependent" on Basaev. But Avdeev added that Moscow would "of course" agree to talks with Maskhadov if he did disown Basaev. Avdeev characterized members of the Chechen parliament currently in Strasbourg as illegitimate and "Basaev's people." LF

RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA WARNS AGAINST CEASEFIRE

In comments published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 November, Major General Vladimir Shamanov, who commands the western group of forces deployed in Chechnya, warned that many young officers and some generals will quit the army in disgust if Moscow decides to halt the campaign in Chechnya before completely neutralizing the enemy, as it did in 1996. He rejected the argument that the army "should stay out of politics" and serve simply as an instrument for achieving the civilian leadership's objectives. Stressing that "virtually all federation subjects with a couple of exceptions" support the Russian military's actions to "stamp out terrorism" in Chechnya, Shamanov said that leaving the war half-ended could precipitate a civil war in Russia that could result in the emergence of 10-15 uncontrollable nuclear states. He argued that "Russia is not simply affirming itself as a state, it is becoming stronger. We are sick of seeing Russia humiliated," he said. LF

DID YELTSIN CUT SHORT VACATION TO DEAL WITH GENERALS?

Citing sources close to the government, controversial journalist Aleksandr Khinstein writes in the 5 November "Moskovskii komsomolets" that President Boris Yeltsin cut short his vacation in Sochi earlier this week to avert a major scandal over the Kremlin's alleged "recommendations" that military leaders prepare for possible negotiations with Chechen President Maskhadov. Those recommendations were said to have stemmed from Kremlin officials "worried about Russia's negative image in the West." Armed Forces General Staff Chief Anatolii Kvashnin allegedly threatened to resign, along with a group of military commanders who "authored" the Chechen campaign, if the recommendations were not "disavowed." Khinstein's sources say Yeltsin confirmed the Chechen campaign will continue and denied there was any intention to suspend it. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" has suggested that Yeltsin granted the Hero of Russia award to several military leaders, including Kvashnin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1999). "Moskovskii komsomolets" is close to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. JC

SHOIGU VISITS CHECHEN-INGUSH BORDER

Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu and Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev traveled on 4 November to the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya. Although procedures for admitting fleeing Chechen civilians were relaxed, allowing some 3,000 people to enter Ingushetia over the previous 24 hours, Aushev told Interfax that the situation at the border remains complicated. Shoigu told journalists in Mozdok after talks there with Russian commander Colonel-General Viktor Kazantsev that opening a second crossing point on the border would expedite transit in both directions. He said efforts will be made to relocate displaced persons from Chechnya to other parts of the North Caucasus, as Ingushetia's capacity for housing them is limited. In Moscow, UNHCR representative Christopher Carpenter said his organization will make available $3 million in humanitarian aid for the displaced persons. LF

BUDGET SAILS THROUGH SECOND READING...

State Duma deputies approved the draft 2000 budget in its second reading on 5 November. The vote was 284 to 10 with no abstentions, ITAR- TASS reported. The level of expenditures and revenues-- 855.1 billion rubles ($33 billion)and 797.2 billion rubles, respectively--is the same as in the version of the bill passed in its first reading (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 1999). The largest faction, the Communists, cleared the way for the bill's passage by announcing before the vote that its members could vote as they wish. "Kommersant-Daily" on 5 November predicted the budget's eventual passage but noted that no matter what the final numbers are, the government will have little chance of gathering sufficient revenues should the price of oil fall. JAC

...AS NEW RATES FOR INCOME TAX APPROVED

Also on 5 November, the Duma passed amendments to the Income Tax Law in their third reading. Under the new law, which will go into effect 1 January, people with annual incomes of more than 150,000 rubles ($5,700) will pay 30 percent in tax, while those earning less than 50,000 rubles will pay 12 percent. JAC

RUSSIA TEST-FIRES SECOND MISSILE...

Following the launch of an anti-missile rocket from the Sary-Shagan test site in Kazakhstan earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1999), Russia test-fired another such tactical missile on 4 November from the Kapustin Yar test site in Astrakhan Oblast. Commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces Vladimir Yakovlev said that the launch "extends the life service" of the SS-21 missile to 22 years, Interfax reported. The SS-21 was first deployed in 1976 and an improved version was introduced 10 years later, in 1986. JC

...WHILE COHEN ACCUSES MOSCOW OF 'OVER-STATING' ITS CASE

Responding to the launch from the Sary-Shagan test site, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen told reporters in Washington on 4 November that the Russians are "overstating their case" by test-firing an anti-ballistic missile in apparent opposition to U.S. plans to develop a limited national missile defense system, Reuters reported on 4 November. "Assuming they tested [the missile]," Cohen said, "it only confirmed that they have an ABM system and we do not. So I'm not sure of the point they are trying to make." JC

ROSVOORUZHENIE TO INCREASE SHARE OF GLOBAL ARMS SALES

Aleksandr Kotelkin, a former director of Russia's arms trade giant who was named chief marketing advisor to its present head Aleksei Ogarev earlier this week, told Interfax on 4 November that the company is likely to conclude deals worth $2-2.5 billion in the next few months. He added that total arms exports for 1999 are set to reach $3-3.1 billion, of which Rosvooruzhenie's share is $2.7 billion. Kotelkin said that as a result of those deals, Russia will move up from fourth or fifth to third place among world arms exporters, after the U.S. and the U.K. Kotelkin headed Rosvooruzhenie from November 1994 until August 1997. LF

BUDGET REVENUES RISE...

Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told reporters on 4 November that the government succeeded in bringing in additional revenues for the budget during the first nine months of the year "for the first time in recent history." According to "Rossiiskaya gazeta" the next day, the government collected 386 billion rubles in cash, which is 6.8 percent more than was projected in the budget. Budget expenditures exceeded targets by 3.5 percent because of increased spending on defense and security. JAC

...AS GDP FORECAST RAISED

Kasyanov also announced on 4 November that because of the continued rise in industrial production, GDP might even increase by 2 percent before the end of the year rather than register zero growth, as had been predicted earlier. GDP rose 1.8 percent in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year, Interfax reported. However, ING Baring's Phillip Poole cautions that more investment is needed to achieve further boosts in industrial output, but with the banking sector still recovering from last year's economic crisis, the prospects for such an expansion are dismal, "The Moscow Times" reported on 5 November. JAC

PURCHASING POWER SINKS AS GOVERNMENT SLOWLY REDUCES WAGE DEBT

The population's purchasing power declined 14 percent during the first nine months of 1999, compared with the same period last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin informed his cabinet members on 4 November. Meanwhile, the minimum pension and wage increased 15 percent as of 1 November, "Kommersant- Daily" reported on 3 November. The backlog of unpaid wages declined by 2.7 percent from 1 September to 1 October and now totals 54.639 billion rubles ($2.1 billion), according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 28 October. JAC

PENSIONERS IN SIBERIA MAY RECEIVE PART-PAYMENT IN GRAIN

It is possible that pensioners in Buryatia will receive part of their pensions in grain, the republic's Ministry for Social Welfare and Labor told Interfax-Eurasia on 4 November. So far, the republic has no more than 21 percent of the 26 million rubles ($1 million) necessary to pay pensions in November, and local officials are prepared to try to cover some of the payments due with high-quality and fodder grain. JAC

CRIME RATE SOARS

The crime rate leaped 21 percent during the first nine months of 1999, compared with the same period last year, Interfax reported on 4 November, citing an Interior Ministry official. According to the agency, serious and/or violent crimes are increasing: unpremeditated murder by 5.7 percent, assault and battery by 3.2 percent, crime involving abduction by almost 21 percent, armed robbery by 14 percent, robbery by 23 percent, theft by almost 35 percent, and fraud by 14 percent. The same day, AFP reported that more than 1,000 policemen in Moscow resigned in October rather than work the extended hours required after the bombings of two apartment buildings in the capital city. Policemen were working 12-hour shifts with only one day off a week. JAC

DUMA CANDIDATES VERY FAMILIAR WITH CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

"Izvestiya" reported on 5 November that according to unidentified sources in the Interior Ministry, 18-20 percent of the candidates seeking seats in the State Duma have a "criminal past." That Sergei Mikhailov, who is allegedly known in organized crime circles as "Mikhas," will run from a single-mandate district in Rostov Oblast has been widely covered. Less well known is that the alleged head of the Uralmash crime gang, Aleksandr Khabarov, will run from Yekaterinburg, according to the daily. However, Khabarov, if he is successful in his bid, will be deprived of the company of Aleksandr Shmonov, the St. Petersburg businessman who in 1990 attempted to assassinate former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November 1999). Shmonov has failed in his bid to register as a candidate in St. Petersburg because he did not collect the necessary number of signatures for the 19 December State Duma elections, "Vremya MN" reported on 4 November. JAC/JC

YAROV DENIES CIS FREE TRADE ZONE DISADVANTAGEOUS TO RUSSIA

CIS Executive Secretary Yurii Yarov told a press conference in Moscow on 4 November that he disagrees with the State Customs Committee's prediction that Russia would likely sustain losses of up to $800 million as a result of the creation of a CIS free trade zone, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 1999). Yarov explained that every Russian ministry has its own estimates of how the creation of such a zone would affect Russian interests, noting that those estimates have not yet been collated. He added that the Russian Ministry for the CIS has calculated that although tax revenues would fall by 3 percent, that loss would be more than compensated for by an overall 10 percent increase in trade turnover. LF




NEW ARMENIAN CATHOLICOS INAUGURATED

Archbishop Garegin Nersisian, who was elected on 27 October to head the Armenian Apostolic Church, was inaugurated as 132nd catholicos in Echmiadzin on 4 November in the presence of senior clerics and members of the Armenian leadership, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The former Archbishop of Armenia's largest diocese vowed during the ceremony to intensify cooperation between the Church and state. He also prayed that "the Lord keep the Armenian nation united and the state unshakeable," according to Noyan Tapan. LF

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT PRESENTS NEW PREMIER TO CABINET

Robert Kocharian on 4 November presented newly appointed Premier Aram Sargsian to acting ministers, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Sargsian is expected to name his new cabinet next week. Kocharian told journalists that most current ministers will retain their posts. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION VOWS TO REVIVE NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT

In a joint statement issued on 3 November, the leaders of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front, Musavat, Azerbaijan National Independence, and Azerbaijan Democratic Parties announced the establishment of a National Resistance Movement that will oppose what they termed the "defeatist" policy of the Azerbaijani leadership in conducting negotiations on a settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported. The signatories called for immediate compliance with four 1993 UN Security Council resolutions calling for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied districts of Azerbaijan. They also demanded that the Azerbaijani leadership make public details of the ongoing peace negotiations. A similar national resistance movement was created following the signing of a ceasefire agreement in 1994 (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 42, 21 October 1999). LF

AZERBAIJAN VOICES OBJECTIONS TO RUSSIAN VISA PROPOSAL...

Azerbaijan's Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said in Baku on 4 November that "it is hard to see the link between the Russian military action in Chechnya and the introduction of a visa regime on the border with Azerbaijan," Reuters reported. Azimov added that "Azerbaijan has active economic, humanitarian and cultural ties with Russia, and the introduction of a visa regime would undoubtedly hurt those contacts." Presidential staff official Novruz Mamedov told ITAR-TASS he considers the imposition of a visa regime unjustified and at variance with the emphasis laid on integration between CIS member states. During a cabinet meeting earlier that day, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had called for the introduction of visas for citizens of Azerbaijan and Georgia entering the Russian Federation, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said on 4 November that a note has been sent to Georgia proposing talks on the issue, according to ITAR-TASS. LF

...WHILE GEORGIA SEES ADVANTAGES

Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said on 4 November in Strasbourg that he considers the imposition of a visa requirement for persons wishing to cross the Russian-Georgian frontier unnecessary but noted that Tbilisi is ready to discuss the issue with Moscow, Caucasus Press reported. Menagharishvili added that the requirement should apply not only to Georgia's border with Chechnya but along the entire extent of its frontier with the Russian Federation, including Abkhazia. Russian Border Guard commander Lieutenant-General Valerii Chkheidze said the requirement "will help restore order" at the Russian-Georgian border and will serve as a reminder to Russia that Georgia is an independent state. But Abkhaz Prosecutor-General Anri Djergenia said he considers the requirement "unacceptable," explaining that it will hinder the entry into Russia of Abkhaz wishing to sell agricultural produce and who depend on that trade as their sole source of income. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT DECLARES A NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on 4 November, Eduard Shevardnadze gave the heads of government departments and regional administrations one month to draft plans for stamping out corruption and the shadow economy, ITAR-TASS and AP reported. Economics Minister Vladimir Papava estimated that the shadow economy currently accounts for 40 percent of the country's economic activity, compared with up to 80 percent in the early 1990s. Shevardnadze had earlier declared 1999 a year of active struggle against corruption. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT HOLDS OUT OLIVE BRANCH TO OPPOSITION...

Nursultan Nazarbaev on 4 November told state- owned Khabar TV, which is run by his daughter, that the OSCE employs "double standards" in its evaluation of the level of democracy in various countries, Interfax reported. The OSCE evaluated the conduct of the 10 and 24 October elections to the lower chamber of the parliament as falling short of OSCE commitments to free, fair, and accountable elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 199). But Nazarbaev added that he "does not want to divide society into winners and losers" after that poll. The Otan party, which unequivocally backs him, won a parliamentary majority in the elections. Nazarbaev said he is ready to cooperate with the opposition and that he would greet the return to Kazakhstan of former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin. Nazarbaev added that he does not think Kazhegeldin should be punished for "errors" made during the privatization process. LF

...WHILE OPPOSITIONISTS CALL FOR NEW ELECTIONS

Leaders of Kazhegeldin's Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan told journalists in Almaty on 4 November that opposition forces should unite to pressure the country's leadership into admitting that the outcome of the October parliamentary poll was falsified, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital reported. Ghaziz Aldamzharov, who is chairman of the party's executive committee and who failed in his election bid, argued that new parliamentary elections should be held next year and be followed by a presidential poll. LF

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO KAZAKHSTAN

Alyaksandr Lukashenka ended a two-day official visit to Kazakhstan on 4 November, having signed with his host, President Nazarbaev, a 10-year economic cooperation agreement and a cultural agreement, Interfax reported. Lukashenka had told journalists on his arrival the previous day that a "large number" of agreements would be signed during his visit. Lukashenka reportedly expressed interest during his talks with Nazarbaev in buying crude oil and other minerals from Kazakhstan, while Nazarbaev said his country is ready to export grain to Belarus and buy tractors produced there. Nazarbaev also commented that Kazakhstan is prepared to "cooperate" with the envisaged Russia-Belarus union. On arriving, Lukashenka had expressed optimism that if that union materializes, both Kazakhstan and Ukraine will join it. He implied that such a fusion could form the nucleus of the Eurasian Union, for which Nazarbaev has been lobbying since 1994. LF

KAZAKHSTAN SENDS MEDICS TO SITE OF PROTON ROCKET CRASH

A large group of medical personnel has been sent to the region of central Kazakhstan affected by the 27 October explosion of a Russian proton rocket shortly after blastoff from the Baikonur cosmodrome, RFE/RL's Almaty correspondent reported. Those medical personnel will screen all local residents before the end of November. LF

KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO IRAN

Muratbek ImanAliyev returned to Bishkek on 3 November following a two- day visit to Tehran, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. ImanAliyev met with President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and Mejlis speaker Ali Akbar Nateq- Nouri and discussed bilateral relations and Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev's upcoming visit to Iran. LF

IMF DISCUSSES TERMS FOR NEW LOAN TRANCHE FOR TAJIKISTAN

IMF Second European Department Director John Odling-Smee held talks in Dushanbe on 4 November with President Imomali Rakhmonov on the possibility of further IMF support for the Tajik economy, Asia Plus- Blitz reported. Rakhmonov said such help is needed to reduce the country's budget deficit and strengthen the balance of payments. Odling-Smee said that the outcome of the upcoming elections and progress in implementing political reform will "only partially" influence the bank's decision on releasing the loan tranche, according to Interfax. Other IMF officials said the decision on doing so will be taken early next year. LF

TURKMENISTAN'S CENTRAL BANK TO MAINTAIN TIGHT MONETARY POLICY

An unnamed Central Bank official told Interfax in Dushanbe on 4 November that in the coming years the bank will abide by its moderately strict monetary policy with the aim of reducing annual inflation to 6 percent by 2005 and to 4 percent by 2010 and ultimately making the country's currency fully convertible. Inflation for 1999 is estimated at 40 percent, double the figure for 1998. President Saparmurat Niyazov had harshly criticized the work of the Central Bank in September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1999). LF




IMF MISSION URGES BELARUS TO TAKE MORE LIBERAL STEPS

An IMF mission headed by Thomas Wolf has concluded a two-week stay in Belarus to assess that country's economic prospects, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 4 November. In particular, the mission examined the government's plan to liberalize its monetary policy in 2000. While praising the government's intent, Wolf told journalists that Belarus should "go further" in liberalizing its hard currency market and prices as well as expanding privatization and launching agricultural reform. The IMF has not commented on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's remark in the Russian State Duma last week that Russia's economic woes result from the country's cooperation with "those crooks from the IMF." JM

UKRAINE'S MOROZ, VITRENKO SUPPORT SYMONENKO AGAINST KUCHMA?

Ukraine's Central Electoral Commission officially confirmed on 4 November that President Leonid Kuchma and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko will face each other in the 14 November presidential runoff. According to official results of the 31 October first round, Kuchma won 36.49 percent of the vote, Symonenko 22.24 percent, Oleksandr Moroz 11.29 percent, Natalya Vitrenko 10.97 percent, and Yevhen Marchuk 8.13 percent. Turnout was 70.15 percent. Moroz declared that he and "most" of his supporters will vote for Symonenko in the runoff but warned that a "large part" of his electorate will "vote against" both Kuchma and Symonenko. Vitrenko said she will back Symonenko if he offers her the post of premier in a future cabinet. Meanwhile, Interfax reported that other candidates in the elections--Oleksandr Tkachenko, Volodymyr Oliynyk, Mykola Haber, Oleksandr Bazylyuk, and Yuriy Karmazin--have also decided to support Symonenko against Kuchma. JM

KUCHMA TO STRIKE ELECTION DEAL WITH MARCHUK?

Kuchma said on 4 November that a dialogue with Marchuk about their "cooperation" in the 14 November runoff is "possible," Interfax reported. "Marchuk has to make up his mind," Kuchma added, noting that "talks with some of the former presidential candidates are under way and the results will be known shortly." Meanwhile, Mykhaylo Pohrebynskyy, head of the Kyiv-based Center for Political Research, told journalists on 4 November that Symonenko could beat Kuchma if the turnout in the second round is low. "If only 35 percent of the electorate turns out, then Symonenko will be president," Pohrebynskyy said, adding that "Kuchma's problem is to convince voters that Symonenko could win." JM

UKRAINE URGES RIGHT TO EU MEMBERSHIP

First Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Bersheda urged the EU on 4 November to make a clear pledge that Ukraine has the right to become a member of the union, Reuters reported. It is expected that at the Helsinki summit on 10-11 December, EU leaders will unveil a new strategy for Ukraine, similar to that drawn up for Russia earlier this year. Bersheda said Ukraine wants the strategy to make clear that the country has a future in the EU once Kyiv meets the union's economic and political conditions for prospective members. Bersheda added that the first round of the presidential elections in Ukraine proved that Ukrainians want to move toward the West rather than turn back toward Russia. JM

TALLINN ELECTS MOIS AS MAYOR

The Tallinn City Council on 4 November elected Interior Minister Juri Mois of the Pro Patria union as mayor of Tallinn. Mois gained 33 votes in the 64-member Council in a second vote, having won only 32 in the first vote, just short of the necessary majority. The opposition voiced anger at the re-vote, and Siiri Oviir of the Center Party called it a "legal infringement" on the rules of electing a mayor and promised to "definitely challenge this in court," "Eesti Paevaleht" reported. The Reform Party's Rein Voog was elected as City Council chairman on 28 October, thanks to the defection of an opposition member, giving the four-party coalition a majority of 33 seats (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 1999). MH

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES AMENDMENTS AHEAD OF REFERENDUM

Lawmakers on 4 November passed amendments to the law on pensions, despite the fact that an earlier version of the bill will be put to a referendum on 13 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1999). Most of the opposition walked out of the vote, BNS reported. The new amendments would slow down the rise in the official retirement age and lift some financial restrictions on working pensioners. Opposition lawmakers said the passage of the amendments causes a constitutional crisis, as it replaces a law blocked pending a referendum. They noted that they will challenge the amendments in court. MH

LITHUANIAN NUCLEAR REGULATORS REFUTE RUMOURS OF 'INCIDENT'

The Lithuanian nuclear safety regulator VATESI has dismissed rumors of a recent "incident" at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, ELTA reported. Ignalina director Viktor Shevaldin said no "incidents" surpassing the INES rating of zero have occurred at Ignalina for a long time, according to BNS. ELTA noted that the German television station RTL reported the possible incident on 3 November. Currently both reactors at Ignalina are working to full capacity. MH

LITHUANIA NOT TO HOLD REFERENDUM?

Opposition lawmakers' bid to hold a referendum over the sale of Mazeikiai Oil to Williams International (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 1999) may be in jeopardy after a chief supporter of such a vote withdrew his support. Saulius Peceliunas said he originally signed the petition calling for a referendum in order to pressure the government for better conditions from Williams; later, however, he recognized that it is too late and that the costs of the referendum will be high, ELTA reported. Lithuanian laws state that a referendum may be called when more than one-third of total members of the parliament, or 48 members out of 141, sign a petition. The withdrawal of Peceliunas would lower the number of signatures to 47. However, referendum supporters are questioning whether the actual number of lawmakers is currently 138, as three seats have been declared vacant for the remainder of the legislative term. MH

POLISH COALITION STILL UNDECIDED ABOUT TAX REFORM

Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz of the Freedom Union (UW) caused the zloty exchange rate to plunge when he threatened on 3 November to quit the cabinet if the UW's coalition partner, the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), does not accept his tax-cutting proposal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 1999). Polish Radio reported the following day that Balcerowicz termed the AWS's proposal on individual income tax brackets as "sufficiently close" to his own and "supportable." However, a UW-AWS expert commission has not yet agreed on a final tax bill to be submitted to the parliament. The zloty exchange rate fell to an all-time low of 4.35 to $1 on 4 November. JM

POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY SUPPORT SLOVAKIA'S NATO BID

Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Vladimir Vetchy, and Janos Szabo, the defense ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, respectively, pledged at their 3-4 November meeting in Poland to assist Slovakia in its efforts to integrate into NATO, PAP reported. According to CTK, the ministers also discussed cooperation in modernizing their countries' forces and combat equipment. JM

EU COMMISSIONER CRITICIZES CZECH WALL

Speaking in The Hague on 4 November, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, EU commissioner in charge of enlargement Guenter Verheugen said that now, when East and West are no longer separated by an iron curtain whose symbol was the Berlin wall, Europe wants "no more walls, neither between East and West, nor inside countries, not in parts of a town, and not on a single street," CTK reported. Verheugen amplified this obvious allusion to the wall erected in Usti nad Labem by saying that discrimination against Roma in Eastern Europe is still strong and "represents one of the many problems for the EU enlargement." MS

CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES INTRODUCING OMBUDSMAN

The Chamber of Deputies on 4 November voted 101 to 70 to establish the institution of ombudsman. The Senate must now vote on the bill, CTK reported. The opposition Civic Democratic Party and Freedom Union opposed the draft law, saying that citizens' rights are already defended by regular courts and the Constitutional Court. The bill stipulates that the ombudsman's office is to be located in Brno, like the Constitutional Court. It will have a staff of no more than 40 employees. The ombudsman will report cases of violation of the law to the Chamber of Deputies and/or make them public. MS

SLOVAK LABOR OFFICE ALSO MARKING ROMA WITH LETTER 'R'

Like its Czech counterpart (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 1999), the Slovak National Labor Office (NUP) is marking the files of unemployed Roma with the letter "R," NUP Director General Jaroslav Sumny told CTK on 4 November. Sumny emphasized that this does not signal discrimination. He said that the letter is being used to point to what he called "a risky group," explaining that a low level of education, insufficient professional skills, and "complicated social adaptability" characterizes that group. He said that if NUP offices want to help them find jobs, they "must know something about them." He also said this form of evidence aids Slovakia to receive EU funds destined to help the Roma population. MS




U.S., EU TO COORDINATE APPROACH TO YUGOSLAVIA

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer agreed in Washington on 4 November that the U.S. and the EU will coordinate their policies toward Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. The two sides said U.S. and EU officials will hold meetings in the coming weeks to work out a coordinated strategy. While German officials said the meetings will focus on deciding whether to lift the sanctions on Yugoslavia before or after elections in Serbia, U.S. officials said the meetings will focus merely on creating "common objectives." Fischer stressed that the U.S. and Germany see "eye to eye" on the need to remove Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from power. VG

EU OFFICIALS CALL FOR LIFTING OF SANCTIONS ON YUGOSLAVIA

Various European officials have recently called for the lifting of sanctions against Yugoslavia as a means of easing the burden on average Serbs and supporting the opposition. On 3 November, Hans Koschnik, the German emissary to Bosnia- Herzegovina, said the sanctions should be lifted and replaced with "intensive cooperation" with the Serbian opposition, "Die Woche" reported. Koschnik's call was supported by officials in the Social Democratic and Christian Democratic parties of Germany. On 4 November, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine sent a message to his EU colleagues in which he called for gradual lifting of those sanctions that affect average Serbs. At the same time, Vedrine said the sanctions that "directly touch upon the leaders of the regime in Belgrade" should be maintained and even tightened. VG

ALBRIGHT: U.S. HAS INTEREST IN MONTENEGRO'S SECURITY

U.S. Secretary of State Albright on 4 November said the U.S. has an "important interest" in the security of the Balkans, "including that of Montenegro," Reuters reported. A senior State Department official said the remark was a "carefully worded" and "direct message" to the Belgrade leadership. Albright also said the U.S. will seek new ways to offer economic aid to Montenegro without propping up the regime in Belgrade. On official suggested that the U.S. might allow flights to and from Montenegro, but bypassing Serbia. VG

MONTENEGRIN PREMIER MEETS YUGOSLAV CHIEF OF STAFF

Filip Vujanovic on 4 November said he met with Yugoslav Chief of Staff Dragoljub Ojdanic in order to "establish an environment in which any incident will be avoided," Reuters reported. The meeting took place that day, despite Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's pledge that he will hand over any war criminal who happens to be on Montenegrin territory to the Hague based war crimes tribunal. The tribunal indicted Ojdanic for war crimes last May. Djukanovic said the arrest of war criminals such as Ojdanic is "linked to a high degree of risk, risk that the international community is cautioning Montenegro not to take." In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin expressed sympathy for Djukanovic's position, indicating that the Montenegrin leader is not "free to act" as he would like and that the U.S. believes his intention to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal is "genuine." VG

SERBIAN OFFICIALS SAY MONTENEGRO'S CURRENCY CHANGE A NATO PLOT...

Ivan Dacic, the spokesman for Milosevic's Socialist Party, on 4 November described Montenegro's new currency policy as a "move carried out by NATO which is using this puppet creation only as a means to an end." Serbian Radical Party head Vojislav Seselj said Montenegro's leadership is heading for "all-out secession," which he called "a very dangerous direction." Meanwhile, the National Bank of Yugoslavia announced that it has halted transfers of funds to firms in Montenegro from accounts of firms in Serbia. The bank said it took the measure to prevent the "uncontrolled issue of money in the territory of Montenegro," Beta reported. VG

...REJECT U.S. PLEDGE TO LIFT SANCTIONS FOR ELECTIONS

Seselj dismissed the recent U.S. pledge to lift most sanctions in exchange for free and fair elections as an attempt by U.S. Secretary of State Albright to ensure that "her bootlickers will win" the vote. He described the strategy as "violence." The official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug described the U.S. offer as "new tactics and tricks" being prepared by the Clinton administration. VG

POVERTY ON THE RISE IN YUG0SLAVIA

The UN's humanitarian coordinator Steve Allen on 4 November said poverty has nearly doubled in Yugoslavia over the past year. Allen said the percentage of the population considered to be living in poverty increased from 33 percent in July 1998 to 63 percent in September 1999. The poverty level includes all people who have a monthly income equivalent to $60 or less. The figures do not include Kosova. Allen also noted that Yugoslavia's national health insurance fund is on the verge of collapse. VG

NEW ORGANIZATION PAYS FINE FOR SERBIAN EDITOR

An organization calling itself Team 29 has paid the fine that Cedomir Jovanovic received for violating the media law in Yugoslavia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 1999), according to a Beta report monitored by the BBC. Jovanovic is the editor of the opposition Alliance for Change's publication "Promene." In a statement to the press, Team 29 pledged to "continue to assist in the struggle for a democratic Serbia by the means which the regime of Slobodan Milosevic allows." The Alliance for Change told Beta it is not familiar with the new organization. VG

STUDIO-B SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH BANJA LUKA STATION

Belgrade's independent Studio-B radio and television station has signed an agreement with independent Banja Luka Radio-TV to share news and cultural broadcasts, Studio-B reported on 4 November. Meanwhile, Studio-B director Dragan Kojadinovic said some of his station's programs are still being jammed in Serbia. VG

U.S. ASKS ISRAEL TO STOP BROADCASTING SERBIAN TV

The Israeli Spacecom company, which operates the Amos-1 satellite, has stopped allowing Serbian state television (RTS) to use its satellite for broadcasting. That move comes after the U.S. complained to Israel about the practice, AP reported. U.S. Secretary of State Albright had asked Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the recent Oslo summit to stop letting RTS use the Israeli satellite for broadcasts, the newspaper "Yedioth Ahronoth" reported. VG

PETRITSCH DISAPPOINTED WITH FAILURE TO SECURE BORDER AGREEMENT

The international community's high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Wolfgang Petritsch, on 4 November said he is disappointed over the failure of the joint presidency of Bosnia to adopt a draft law on a multiethnic state border service, Reuters reported. Bosnian Muslim President Alija Izetbegovic said he supported the proposal but that his Croatian and Serbian counterparts disagreed on how wide the border under control of the state service should be. The proposal called for the border belt to be 30 kilometers wide. Last week, the head of the UN international police force in Bosnia, Detlef Buwitt, said Petritsch will impose a law if Bosnia fails to adopt one by December. VG

THREE PEOPLE SENTENCED IN MOSTAR CAR BOMB ATTACK

A Zenica court handed down three foreign nationals prison sentences ranging from five to eight years for their roles in planting a car bomb that injured almost 50 people in Mostar in 1997, ONASA reported on 3 November. The three men were also sentenced to five years' expulsion from Bosnia following their release. VG

DEL PONTE RAPS CROATIA FOR NOT COOPERATING WITH WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL

The chief prosecutor of the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Carla del Ponte, said on 4 November in Zagreb that she is "very disappointed" that Croatia is not cooperating fully with the tribunal. She was reacting to Croatia's refusal to hand over documents regarding Zagreb's Flash and Storm military operations in 1995. Del Ponte threatened to "report Croatia's noncompliance" with the UN Security Council unless it starts cooperating. Croatian Justice Minister Zvonimir Separovic said Croatia believes the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the operations, which he described as a "legitimate liberation of our land." Del Ponte said she is not questioning Croatia's right to carry out the operations. She said the tribunal wants to investigate whether war crimes were committed in the course of the operations, which sparked a mass exodus of Serbs from Croatia. VG

POLL: MOST CROATS SAY TUDJMAN SHOULD RESIGN FOR HEALTH REASONS

More than 60 percent of Croats say President Franjo Tudjman should resign for health reasons, according to an Media Metar poll cited by AP on 5 November. VG

OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATION HELD IN TIRANA

As Prime Minister Ilir Meta's cabinet outlined its priorities in the parliament on 4 November, some 3,000 demonstrators gathered in Tirana's main square to demand new elections, AP reported. Opposition Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha addressed the crowd, saying "new elections are the only way out of the deep crisis this country is in." In the parliament, Meta said the new government will focus on fighting corruption, stabilizing the country, and improving public order. The Democratic Party boycotted the session. VG

ROMANIAN STUDENTS RENEW PROTESTS

Thousands of students again took to the streets in Bucharest and other towns on 4 November to protest small grants and bad living conditions in dormitories. Prime Minster Radu Vasile met with Daniel Onisor, leader of the Students' League, and signed an agreement stipulating that grants will be increased by 10 percent every month from January to May 2000 and by 50 percent in October 2000. But two student organizations from Bucharest announced that the agreement does not meet their minimum demands and that they will picket university buildings and go on a strike as of 5 November, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

HISTORY TEXTBOOK SCANDAL TO BE DEBATED BY ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT

Democratic Party and independent deputies joined lawmakers from the nationalist Greater Romania Party and Party of Romanian National Unity on 4 November to initiate a motion for debate in the Chamber of Deputies of the dispute over the "de-mythicized" history textbooks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1999). The 55 deputies said in their motion that by allowing these optional textbooks to be used in classrooms, the Education Ministry condones "the gross affront of Romania's historical past, the trivialization, marginalization, and falsification of historical truth" and thereby risks "the danger of losing our national identity," Romanian radio reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS BUDGET

The parliament on 4 November approved the amendments to the 1999 budget that it had rejected one week earlier, Infotag reported. The amended budget increases the deficit from 383 to 583 million lei ($52 million) and proposes covering the shortfall by borrowing on the international financial market, Infotag reported. Earlier on 4 November, Prime Minister Ion Sturza told legislators that they have 12 days to approve the amended budget and government-proposed privatization laws. He said he and his cabinet will resign if these changes are not approved. "The government needs a vote of confidence or one of no confidence. We are ready for any outcome," Reuters quoted him as saying. MS

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT MANDATES GOVERNMENT TO NEGOTIATE KOZLODUY SHUTDOWN

The parliament on 4 November voted 146 to 68 with five abstentions to mandate the government to negotiate the early closure of the Kozloduy nuclear plant. The legislators said that the government must seek EU compensation for the closure, AP reported. The same day, Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner in charge of expansion, told Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova in The Hague that Sofia is in an "excellent position" to begin accession talks with the EU, BTA reported. Verheugen said Bulgaria "fully meets political criteria" for EU membership and has started the process of economic reform. MS

BALKAN LEADERS URGE INVESTMENTS

Meeting in Borovets on 4 November, the presidents of Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece urged the implementation of the Balkan Stability Pact, proposing that various projects be financed by international financial institutions. In a joint declaration, Petar Stoyanov, Emil Constantinescu, and Kostas Simitis pledged that "their countries will contribute to the substantiation [sic] of the Stability Pact." Simitis said Greece intends to mobilize over the next five years $500 million from the private sector to finance transport, energy, and telecommunication projects in the region, Reuters and AP reported. The three leaders urged the EU to raise funds to help remove from the River Danube debris from bridges bombed by NATO earlier this year. MS




RADIO LIBERTY'S PETER DORNAN


By Mario Corti

On All Saints Day (1 November), in Springfield in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, the former head of Radio Liberty's Samizdat Unit, Peter Dornan, died of cancer at the age of 76. He was the first editor of "Materialy Samizdata," a weekly Radio Liberty publication that became the biggest collection of annotated documents on human rights violations in the Soviet Union.

"Materialy Samizdata," originally created for internal use only, was soon made available to external subscribers. It became the main source of information for scholars and journalists interested in the subject of human rights violations in the USSR. It was also a key source on Soviet dissidents' struggle for their individual, political, social, national, and cultural rights.

Dornan joined Radio Liberty in 1956 as a research analyst. He was instrumental in the creation of a samizdat archive at Radio Liberty in 1968 and was its custodian until 1988, when he retired. He was also the author of the most exhaustive study on Andrei Sakharov at the beginning of the 1970s (which was included in "Dissent in the USSR: Politics, Ideology, and People," ed. Rudolf Tokes, Johns Hopkins University Press). Thanks to Peter Dornan, samizdat documents played a key role in Radio Liberty broadcasts.

Indeed, it was thanks to samizdat and the efforts of Dornan that Radio Liberty's broadcasts became a real "domestic" service, broadcasting to the Soviet Union documents about and authored by people living inside the country.

Dornan also acted as a talent scout for other departments of Radio Liberty: it was on his initiative that the current editor of "RFE/RL Newsline," who began her career as a freelance translator of Georgian samizdat, was signed up in 1980 by Radio Liberty Research.

The samizdat archive, comprising more than 5,000 documents, is now housed at the Central European University in Budapest. Dornan recently donated his personal archive to the Drew University Library in the U.S. state of New Jersey. Mario Corti is acting director of RFE/RL's Russian Service.


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