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Newsline - April 4, 2000




FORMER FOES COOPERATE TO CARVE UP KEY INDUSTRY...

Officials from Siberian Aluminum and the Sibneft oil company are engaged in talks on forming a aluminum holding company that would control some 7 percent of the world aluminum market, Russian media reported on 3 April. The new "superholding" would be called Russian Aluminum, Interfax reported. According to "Segodnya" and "Kommersant-Daily" on 4 April, the Alfa Group, which controls an aluminum facility in Irkutsk Oblast, is also taking part in the negotiations. Until recently, Siberian Aluminum and Sibneft had been at loggerheads, with the former asking the government to investigate recent deals in which Sibneft acquired controlling shares in at least two major aluminum smelters. An unidentified official at Sibneft explained to "The Moscow Times" that the new truce was motivated by Siberian Aluminum's desire to avoid a media war and that its shareholders have the same political base as Sibneft. Media magnate Boris Berezovskii is one of the founders of Sibneft. JAC

...AS GOVERNMENT LOOKS THE OTHER WAY

Russia's Anti-Monopoly Ministry asked Siberian Aluminum and Sibneft on 3 April for documents explaining the consequences for the Russian market of forming their new holding company. Anti-Monopoly Minister Ilya Yuzhanov is due to report on the ministry's analysis of the industry to the State Duma on 14 April. Also on 3 April, First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said that recent deals on the aluminum market "comply with Russian law." He continued that "no one can doubt government control over such deals from the standpoint of anti-trust requirements." He also noted that "it's good that we have a single Gazprom, which is Europe's 10th largest company of its kind." Kasyanov also declared that he has "no concrete ties with any financial-industrial groups in Russia" and meets with Berezovskii only once every six months and Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais more frequently. Chubais is an ally of Siberian Aluminum head Oleg Deripaska. JAC

TITOV RESIGNS

Konstantin Titov resigned his post as governor of Samara Oblast on 4 April, Interfax reported. Titov recently ran an unsuccessful campaign for the presidency, finishing sixth in a field of 11 candidates and polling 1.5 percent of total votes cast. Titov also performed poorly in his home region, attracting only 20.5 percent of the vote, compared with 44 percent for Vladimir Putin and 29 percent for Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov. Late last month, Titov expressed his willingness to serve in Putin's new government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 March 2000). Unidentified sources close to Titov told Interfax that Titov resigned because he was dissatisfied with his results in Samara in the recent election. RIA Novosti agency quoted Titov as saying that he might run again for governor "if the people express their confidence." According to Interfax- Eurasia, if Titov decides to run again he might face such competitors as former first deputy head of the presidential administration Oleg Sysuev and chairman of the board of AvtoVAZ Vladimir Kadannikov. JAC

FINANCE MINISTER SAYS NO LOANS, NO PROBLEM...

First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kasyanov told reporters on 3 April that despite the lack of foreign loans anticipated in the 2000 budget, the Russian economy managed to perform well in the first quarter. He said that budget revenues totaled 218 billion rubles ($7.6 billion) and spending 210 billion rubles, resulting in a deficit that is the equivalent of 2 percent of GDP. He said that inflation was only 0.6 percent in March and 4.1 percent for the first quarter. Kasyanov added that the government may not even have to borrow from the Central Bank in the second quarter of the year. He predicted that GDP growth will exceed 3 percent in 2000 while the ruble will not fall below an exchange rate of 30 rubles per dollar. JAC

...AS TOP IMF OFFICIAL DUE TO VISIT MOSCOW

IMF Acting Managing Director Stanley Fischer is expected to meet with President-elect Putin and several ministers this week in Moscow, Kasyanov announced. Interfax AFI reported the same day that the IMF's Moscow representative Martin Gilman said that the Fischer's visit should not be considered a "mission in the traditional sense of the word," but he added that fund officials will be able to gather information during their stay. According to Dow Jones and Prime-TASS, the fund will send a mission to conduct negotiations on a new cooperation program in May or June. On 31 March, State Duma deputies approved in the first reading amendments to a law on the Central Bank, a law on banks and banking activity, and a law on insolvency and bankruptcy of credit institutions. Reuters reported that the laws are among legislation recommended by the IMF. JAC

UNEMPLOYMENT DECLINES

At the end of February 2000, the number of unemployed people registered in Russia totaled 9,124,000, a drop of 12.3 percent compared with the same period the previous year, according to the State Statistics Committee, "Finansovaya Rossiya" (No. 12) reported. JAC

GOVERNMENT REVEALS COST OF CHECHNYA OPERATION

First Deputy Prime Minister Kasyanov told reporters on 3 April that during the first quarter of 2000, Russia spent 6 billion rubles ($210 million) on its military campaign in Chechnya. According to Kasyanov, this amount includes soldiers' wages as well as fuel purchases for troops stationed there. "Novaya gazeta" (No. 9) reported that parents of servicemen killed in action receive a one-time payment equivalent to 120 times a soldier's monthly wage, or about 50,160 rubles, and an insurance payout of 31,400 rubles. The journal concluded that since "by most conservative estimates some 1,400 servicemen have been killed in Chechnya the cost to the Defense Ministry is close to $4 million." It noted, however, that it is not known whether these payments have been made. JAC

UN OFFICIAL ADVOCATES INQUIRY INTO HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN CHECHNYA...

UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson issued a statement in Moscow on 4 April urging the Russian leadership to set up an independent national commission to investigate reports of human rights abuses in Chechnya, Reuters reported. Robinson said on her return from a three- day visit to Chechnya and Ingushetia that she is "very concerned" about reports she heard of the scale and magnitude of such abuses. Robinson met in Moscow on 3 April with First Deputy Chief of Army General Staff Colonel General Valerii Manilov and the following day with Justice Minister Yurii Chaika and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Her request for a meeting with President-elect Putin was ignored. Ivanov accused Robinson on 4 April of a "propaganda offensive" against Moscow, adding that the hostilities in Chechnya should not be used as leverage to try to influence "internal affairs of state," according to Interfax. LF

...AS KALAMANOV DENIES HER ACCESS RESTRICTED

Russia's human rights commissioner for Chechnya, Vladimir Kalamanov, who accompanied Robinson to Chechnya, said on their return to Moscow on 3 April that Robinson was not denied access to localities she had wished to inspect there, Interfax reported. Kalamanov said a planned visit to Aldy on the outskirts of Grozny, where Russian troops are believed to have executed civilians, was called off for security reasons. Kalamanov also denied reports that "thousands" of Chechens are currently detained in filtration camps. He said no more than 890 people are currently under investigation in Chechen prisons, according to ITAR-TASS. Kalamanov added that since it opened one month ago, his office has received some 2,500 complaints about human rights abuses in Chechnya, on the basis of which 129 criminal cases have been opened. LF

TYPHOID SPREADING IN WESTERN CHECHNYA

Some 75 people in the village of Lermontovo in Achkhoi-Martan Raion have contracted typhoid, which is spread by contaminated drinking water, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 April. Nineteen patients have been hospitalized. Last week, the number of persons to have contracted the disease was put at 19. LF

PACE TO CONSIDER SUSPENION OF RUSSIA'S VOTING RIGHTS

Following a proposal by a group of center-right parties, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will consider later this week suspending the Russian delegation's voting rights. According to Reuters on 3 April, however, that proposal should not prevent Russia from voting in a debate scheduled for 6 April on a report suggesting that proceedings begin this summer toward suspending Russia from PACE over human rights abuses in Chechnya. The news agency reports that the proposal must first go to the organization's political committee and then be submitted to the assembly after the debate on the Chechnya report. JC

RUSSIA'S CULTURAL ELITE LAMENTS 'WESTERN BIAS' OVER CHECHNYA

Twenty-one Russian cultural figures and intellectuals have signed an appeal expressing disappointment that their Western counterparts have joined the "anti-Russian campaign" over events in Chechnya, Interfax reported on 3 April. Responding to the view expressed by "numerous Western intellectuals" in "Le Monde" on 26 March, Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov said that Western media generate "one-sided information" that creates the image of a "horrible state and terrible people" and Western intellectuals have accepted that information "uncritically." The appeal, whose signatories include Mikhalkov, Academy of Sciences Vice President Nikolai Laverov, and pianist Nikolai Petrov, called on the West to respect the fact that Russians have elected as their president Vladimir Putin, "the man who took responsibility for the Chechen operation." JC

NATO SAYS RUSSIAN MILITARY DOCTRINE IS 'STEP IN WRONG DIRECTION'

NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark said in Vilnius on 3 April that Russia's new military doctrine "represents a turning away from the previous policy of increased openness and cooperation with the West, which the Russian military put in place in the early 1990s." That document, which was approved by the Security Council in early February but has not yet been signed by President-elect Putin, notes that Russia would be unable to repel a NATO attack without nuclear weapons (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February 2000). Clark commented that "a revision of this doctrine to restore to a more prominent place the policy of increased cooperation...would be welcome," Reuters reported. JC

BEREZOVSKII SAYS OLIGARCHS ARE FOREVER

In an interview with the German weekly "Stern," Boris Berezovskii expressed his doubts that oligarchs in Russia could be stripped of their proximity to power, Interfax reported on 4 April. "It is impossible," he said. "Big capital will always be in power as we live in a modern society. If [Putin] eliminates one oligarch, another will appear." Berezovskii also said that he likes the fact that Putin is a "reformer with a strong will" and that "this is absolutely necessary for the strengthening of Russia. [But] this doesn't mean that we will have a dictatorship." JAC

COSMONAUTS ON THEIR WAY TO REVIVE 'MIR'

A Soyuz rocket carrying cosmonauts Aleksandr Kaleri and Sergei Zaletin lifted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on 4 April bound for the "Mir" space station. The two cosmonauts expect to spend at least 45 days on board the station, which has been unmanned since last August. The station's new lease on life came after the Amsterdam-based MirCorp pledged some $20 million for the commercial rights on the station. However, plans to film scenes for a movie aboard "Mir" were scrapped when the filmmakers failed to produce the multimillion-dollar fee. JC




ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SANCTIONS FORMER MINISTER'S DETENTION...

Deputies voted overwhelmingly on 4 April to lift the immunity of former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian to allow him to be taken into custody, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 March 2000). Prosecutor-General Boris Nazarian said the measure is necessary because Siradeghian is threatening witnesses and trying to prolong his trial, which began in September 1999. He is charged with ordering several contract killings during the early 1990s. Siradeghian was not present at the 4 April parliamentary session. His close associates told RFE/RL he had left the country the previous day, anticipating the outcome of the vote. LF

...GIVES GO-AHEAD FOR ENERGY PRIVATIZATION

On 3 April, deputies finally defeated a long-standing opposition initiative to halt the ongoing privatization of the country's four regional energy distribution networks, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. That privatization is one of the preconditions for continued disbursement of World Bank loans. Five international companies are participating in the tender for those networks, which are to be sold in two packages, First Deputy Energy Minister Karen Galstian told journalists the same day. Galstian said no single bidder will be permitted to acquire more than a 51 percent stake in either package, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will purchase up to 20 percent, according to Noyan Tapan. The majority Miasnutiun parliamentary faction was divided over the merits of privatization. Most deputies from the Republican Party of Armenia voted against the opposition bill, regarding it as a challenge to Prime Minister Aram Sargsian's economic policies, but their colleagues from the People's Party of Armenia supported the opposition initiative. LF

ARMENIAN JOURNALISTS UNION PROTESTS KARABAKH COLLEAGUE'S ARREST

The Union of Journalists of Armenia issued a statement on 3 April expressing concern at the arrest of Vahram Aghajanian, a journalist for the opposition Karabakh newspaper "Tasnerord nahang," Armenpress reported. The law enforcement agencies of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic have not said why Aghajanian was detained in Stepanakert last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 March 2000). But a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said he was taken into custody for "obstructing the implementation of martial law," which has been in force in the enclave since 1992. The statement said that Aghajanian's earlier criticism of the Karabakh authorities does not constitute grounds for his detention. Also on 3 April, deputies from the Armenian parliament's Right and Accord faction, which supports arrested former Karabakh Defense Minister Samvel Babayan, told a Yerevan press conference that the Karabakh authorities are attempting to muzzle Aghajanian because they disapprove of his reporting, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT POSTPONES PLANNED VISIT TO TURKEY

Heidar Aliyev will not visit Turkey on 17-18 April because the planned celebration of the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire has been postponed, Turan reported on 3 April, quoting presidential administration official Novruz Mamedov. LF

RUSSIAN MILITARY DELEGATION POSTPONES TALKS WITH GEORGIA

A delegation from the Russian Ministry of Defense has postponed indefinitely talks in Tbilisi on handing over to the Georgian authorities properties that belong to the Russian military, Caucasus Press reported. Fourteen properties were to be selected from a list of 44 , agreed on during talks last year between Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze and his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August 1999). But implementation of that agreement has been delayed by Russia's reluctance to hand over a military airfield to the Georgian side. LF

GEORGIA, GREECE SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT

Georgian and Greek Defense Ministry officials have signed an agreement on cooperation in 2000 within the framework of the NATO Partnership for Peace program and on the participation of officers from each country acting as observers during maneuvers in the other country, Caucasus Press reported on 3 April. Greece undertook to cover all expenses involved in that participation. LF

VETERAN GEORGIAN OPPOSITION FIGURE ASSAULTED

National Independence Party of Georgia Chairman Irakli Tsereteli was attacked and beaten in Tbilisi on the night of 3-4 April while returning home after giving an interview to Georgian National television, Caucasus Press reported. Tsereteli is one of the leaders of the Center for Georgia's Freedom and Independence, which advocates a nationwide boycott of the presidential elections scheduled for 9 April. LF

CHINESE OFFICIAL VOWS TO RESOLVE OIL COMPANY DISPUTE WITH KAZAKHSTAN

Hu Yaobin, vice president of the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), told journalists in Almaty on 3 April that the ongoing dispute between that corporation and sacked employees of the Aqtobe-Munaigaz company in northwest Kazakhstan will be resolved in the near future, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital reported. Some 2,000 workers at that facility are demanding compensation and/or reinstatement after being dismissed when the CNPC acquired a 60 percent stake in Aqtobe-Munaigaz in 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January and 2 March 2000). Also on 3 April, a senior Aqtobe-Munaigaz official told Interfax that the company plans to increase output from last year's 2.3 million tons, of which 370,000 were exported to China, to 2.5 million tons this year and 3 million tons in 2001. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION NEWSPAPERS CRITICIZED

The latest issue of the newspaper "Altyn orda," which is the mouthpiece of the pro-presidential OTAN party, has published harsh criticism of several opposition newspapers, including "Soldat" and XXI vek," RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported on 4 April. Those papers are accused of bias toward former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin and of receiving financial support from him. LF

KYRGYZ LEADERSHIP REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO DEMOCRATIZATION...

Presidential spokesman Osmonakun Ibraimov told journalists in Bishkek on 3 April that President Askar Akaev intends to draw lessons from the shortcomings of the February-March parliamentary poll in order to ensure that they are not repeated during the presidential election later this year, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Ibraimov said that Akaev remains committed to further democratization. Also on 3 April, Akaev's adviser Askar Aitmatov told journalists that preparations are under way for a round-table discussion under the aegis of the OSCE between the country's leadership and the opposition. LF

...AS ARRESTED OPPOSITION LEADER CONTINUES HUNGER STRIKE

Ar- Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov told two Russian television channels on 3 April that his health is deteriorating as a result of the hunger strike he began on 22 March, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kulov said he is allowed to meet with his lawyer, but not with members of his family. LF

UZBEK SPECIALISTS SAY CONTRABAND RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL NOT WEAPONS-GRADE

Nuclear scientists in Tashkent said on 3 April that the 10 containers of radio-active material intercepted on the Kazakh-Uzbek border four days earlier could not be used to manufacture nuclear weapons, Interfax reported. The materials were destined for Pakistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 2000). RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported that the cargo was loaded by a private Kazakh company in Shymkent, southern Kazakhstan. LF




BELARUS RATIFIES ACCORDS ON CUSTOMS UNION, CIS COLLECTIVE SECURITY

The Chamber of Representatives on 3 April ratified an agreement on establishing a legislative basis for the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan and their single economic space, Belapan reported. The Belarusian legislature also ratified the country's adherence to a protocol on prolonging the CIS Collective Security Treaty of 15 May 1992. Earlier, the treaty was prolonged by Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan did not renew their participation in the treaty. JM

EU CONDEMNS USE OF FORCE AGAINST 25 MARCH RALLY IN MINSK

The EU, condemning the Belarusian authorities for using force to break up the 25 March opposition rally, has demanded the release of demonstrators still in detention, Reuters reported on 3 April. The EU called upon Minsk to investigate the police's "mishandling of the march," including reports that some people were detained before the march began and that some detainees were subsequently beaten. JM

PACE UNLIKELY TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON UKRAINE OVER REFERENDUM

Lord Russel-Johnston, head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, told journalists in Strasbourg on 3 April that "in his opinion" PACE will not impose any sanctions against Ukraine over the 16 April constitutional referendum, Interfax reported. Russel-Johnston welcomed the ruling by Ukraine's Constitutional Court that excluded two questions from the referendum ballot (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 2000), adding that the ruling "has doubtless changed the political climate in Ukraine." PACE is scheduled to discuss Ukraine's referendum on 4 April. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT WON'T APPROVE REFERENDUM RESULTS?

Deputy speaker Viktor Medvedchuk told journalists in Kyiv on 3 April that the Supreme Council may not endorse constitutional amendments approved in the 16 April referendum, Interfax reported. Medvedchuk said the parliamentary majority currently has 276 deputies, while constitutional amendments should be approved by no less than 300 votes. "Today it is impossible to say unambiguously what happens if the parliament fails to implement the results of the 16 April nationwide referendum," Medvedchuk added. JM

OUTGOING NATO CHIEF IN BALTICS

NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark made a farewell visit to Latvia and Lithuania on 2-3 April. After meeting with Clark, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga told journalists that the Baltic states' membership in NATO "would help ensure stability in this part of Europe and...in no way poses threats to Russia," BNS reported. Clark also expressed his satisfaction with NATO integration efforts by both Latvia and Lithuania and said that Latvia is a "real competitive contender" for NATO membership, AP added. In Lithuania, Clark praised the increase in defense spending but warned that the total economic picture must also be taken into account, according to ELTA (see also Part 1). MH

LITHUANIAN RULING PARTY GIVES ULTIMATUM TO EX-PREMIER

The ruling Conservatives on 3 April told former Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and other breakaway members to return to the fold by 16 April or be expelled, ELTA reported. Immediately after local elections last month, a dozen parliamentary deputies who support the former premier established the Moderate Conservatives faction in the parliament The supervisory committee of the Conservative Party accused Vagnorius of evading his responsibilities and "causing a critical situation inside the party and country." However, the breakaway faction said its action constituted an "internal cleansing" of the party. MH

POLAND'S LUSTRATION COURT HEAD RESIGNS

Jan Krosnicki has resigned and asked to be transferred to the Penal Department of the Appeals Court in Warsaw, "Zycie" reported on 3 April. According to the daily, Krosnicki has been warning his superiors over the past several months that the work of the Lustration Court could be halted unless more judges are found to fill the vacancies in his department. Krosnicki complained in February that he had 10 vacancies and only two applicants for the jobs. Krosnicki told PAP that judges of the Lustration Court are poorly paid and have to work under "huge stress." JM

CANDIDATE PROPOSED TO HEAD POLAND'S INSTITUTE OVERSEEING COMMUNIST-ERA FILES

The Board of the National Remembrance Institute, which is to oversee public access to the Communist-era secret service files, has proposed Jerzy Polaczek as its chairman, PAP reported on 3 April. Polaczek, a parliamentary deputy from the Solidarity Electoral Action, is unlikely to be approved by the required three-fifths majority in the parliament, since both the opposition Democratic Left Alliance and the coalition Freedom Union (UW) have refused to support him. The UW had proposed its own candidate, Deputy Interior Minister Bogdan Borusewicz, to head the institute. JM

CZECH OPPOSITION PARTY CRITICIZES HAVEL

The Executive Council of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) said on 3 April that President Vaclav Havel's 29 March statement that "mafia- like capitalism" has emerged in the Czech Republic was "unfortunate" and "tarnished the image of the state he heads." ODS Chairman Vaclav Klaus told journalists that Havel has "insulted hundreds of thousands and even millions of people in our country." The same day, representatives of the four-party opposition coalition met with Havel, saying they backed his rejection of "mafia-like capitalism." Also on 3 April, ODS Senator Jiri Pavlov left the party to protest its "opposition agreement" with the ruling Social Democrats (CSSD). MS

CZECH COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE REPORTS TO HAVEL ON 'POLICE DESTABILIZATION'

The Counter Intelligence Service (BIS) has submitted a secret report to President Havel on possible attempts to destabilize elite police squads. Havel had requested that the BIS conduct an investigation into the matter. Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said Havel is "convinced that the results of the investigation will help ward off destabilization attempts." According to "Mlada fronta Dnes" cited by CTK on 3 April, Havel suspects former detective and current lawyer Josef Doucha of being linked to the Russian mafia and of seeking to paralyze police efforts against organized crime through his contacts with influential CSSD members. MS

EU SAYS SLOVAK GOVERNMENT STABILITY VITAL

EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen and Slovak Finance Minister Brigita Schmognerova, meeting in Brussels on 3 April, agreed that the ongoing reform process in Slovakia must continue. Verheugen said it is "vital" to ensure the political stability needed for structural changes and privatization. The Slovak government, he said, "must stay together and do what it has pledged to." Schmognerova said foreign investment is far below what the government expected and this makes it difficult to maintain the pace of reform. She told journalists that Verheugen said he would like to see Slovakia join the EU in 2005, at the same time as the Czech Republic, CTK reported. MS

HUNGARY, NEIGHBORS AGREE ON ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION

The Environmental Ministers of Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Hungary met in Budapest on 3 April to sign an agreement on preventing future transnational ecological disasters. The four countries will pinpoint potential sources of ecological damage, involve international experts in damage assessment, and form joint monitoring teams. Romanian Environmental Minister Romica Tomescu, however, rejected a proposal for "integrated pollution prevention and regional development." His Hungarian counterpart, Pal Pepo, said the Romanian state's responsibility in the recent cyanide spill cannot be avoided. "According to our laws, the polluter pays, but there is nothing about the Romanian state's responsibility in any bilateral international agreement," Tomescu replied. MSZ

HUNGARY UNVEILS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN

Economics Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy has presented an ambitious plan designed to boost the country's economy, Hungarian media reported on 3 April. Under that plan, the budget will allot 434 billion forints ($1.6 billion) over the next two years, of which $1 billion will be earmarked in the 2001 budget. The plan includes a 120 billion forint highway project, measures to boost tourism, and the construction of 35,000-40,000 new homes a year. Matolcsy remarked that the plan "will not cure all our ills" and that total spending on the program will depend on the economy's performance. MSZ




U.S. HAILS ARREST OF KRAJISNIK

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke, who was also the architect of the 1995 Dayton Bosnian peace agreement, called SFOR's arrest of former Bosnian Serb leader Momcilo Krajisnik on 3 April "the best news in five years" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 2000). Holbrooke noted that Krajisnik's extradition to The Hague "is a major blow to the separatists, racists, and murderers who have been trying to thwart the concept [of Bosnia as a single nation] that is at the heart" of the Dayton agreement, Reuters reported. In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin noted that only by assigning "individual responsibility [for war crimes] can collective responsibility be expunged." He added that "today's arrest sends a message to Mr. [Radovan] Karadzic that time is against him and that the international community will not let up in its efforts to bring him to justice," AP reported. Karadzic, who is one of the two most senior Bosnian Serb war criminals still at large, should "get even less sleep [following Krajisnik's arrest] than he's been getting up to now," Rubin said. PM

BELGRADE SLAMS 'GENOCIDE AGAINST SERBIAN PEOPLE'

The Yugoslav Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 3 April that the arrest of Krajisnik "clearly shows that NATO continues its policy of genocide against the Serbian people," Reuters reported. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party (SPS) said in a statement that "by this act, SFOR showed itself to be a mere occupation force directed against the interests of the Republika Srpska and the Dayton peace accord." The SPS argued that NATO used "cowboy principles" to strengthen the position of Bosnian Serb moderates led by Prime Minister Milorad Dodik. PM

MIXED REACTION FROM SERBIAN OPPOSITION

Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) said that the 3 April arrest is "worthy of condemnation from a legal, political, and any other kind of standpoint," "Vesti" reported from Belgrade. Referring to the fact that Krajisnik's arrest was based on a secret indictment, the SPO added that such indictments are not used as the basis for arrests "in any single Western country." The party called attention to the timing of the arrest, which took place shortly before the 8 April Bosnian local elections. But Vladan Batic of the Alliance for Change said that everyone must recognize that the Hague-based war crimes tribunal is a "cruel reality" of political life in the former Yugoslavia. He noted that the Dayton agreement commits all signatories to cooperating with The Hague and that Milosevic is among the signatories. Batic wondered when Milosevic, whom the tribunal has indicted for war crimes, will be arrested and sent for trial. PM

BOSNIAN SERBS SHAKEN BY KRAJISNIK'S ARREST

Dodik said in Banja Luka on 3 April that he had nothing to do with the arrest of Krajisnik or its timing. He suggested that responsibility lies with Krajisnik's own Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), for which he had been campaigning, "Vesti" reported. Dodik stressed that the SDS has been a constant source of trouble in Bosnian politics, adding that he hopes the party will soon "meet its end." Bosnian Serb Vice President Mirko Sarovic said that the arrest of Krajisnik violates "all resolutions and other measures [approved by] the UN's Security Council" on Bosnia. He added that in making the arrest, SFOR showed that it "is not preserving the peace but rather violating the basis of human rights and freedom" in Bosnia. Jovan Mitrovic of former President Biljana Plavsic's Serbian National Alliance said the arrest was "directed against the Serbian people." The SDS said in a statement that it has responded to the latest developments "peacefully and with dignity." Zivko Radisic, who succeeded Krajisnik on the Bosnian joint presidency in 1998, wondered "who is next" on The Hague's list, "Oslobodjenje" reported. PM

WARM WORDS FROM SARAJEVO FOR SFOR

Adnan Jahic, who is a spokesman for Alija Izetbegovic's Party of Democratic Action, said in Sarajevo on 3 April that Krajisnik's arrest gives one reason to hope that the arrest of Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic is not far off, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Jacques Klein, who is the UN's chief representative in Bosnia, called Krajisnik "the most persistent extremist and xenophobic individual with whom I had to deal," Reuters reported. Klein added that Krajisnik "robbed his own people.... He personally profited [from war and suffering through his business deals]. It is always easy to mislead people under the [banner] of nationalism," Klein concluded. PM

MIXED FEELINGS AMONG ELECTION MONITORS, KOSOVARS

A spokeswoman for the OSCE, which is organizing and monitoring the 8 April elections, said in Sarajevo on 3 April that "we believe that the people from the Republika Srpska want elections free of violence. People should just go and vote." But in Split, OSCE officials said privately that they fear for the safety of their several hundred monitors in the Republika Srpska. In Prishtina, one Kosovar spokesman told "RFE/RL Newsline" that Krajisnik's arrest means that "there is one [war criminal] off to The Hague, but what about the rest?" A second spokesman said that he fears the international community will now concentrate its efforts on arresting Bosnian war criminals and will neglect bringing to justice those responsible for atrocities in Kosova in 1998 and 1999. The spokesman added: "Milosevic has the blood of two million people on his hands. When will NATO go after him?" PM

PETRIC SACKS HERZEGOVINIAN POLICE CHIEF

Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the international community's chief civilian representative in Bosnia, has fired Ante Barisic as chief of police in Canton 10, which includes the Livno region, a Croatian nationalist stronghold. Petritsch charged that the ethnic Croatian police chief did nothing over a period of many months to stop attacks on Serbs and Muslims, "Oslobodjenje" reported on 4 April. PM

IS DJUKANOVIC COOPTING MILOSEVIC'S MILITARY OPPONENTS?

The "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" reported on 4 April that the three generals who are advising the Montenegrin leadership on military affairs are opposed to Milosevic, who previously sacked them on account of their political views (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 2000). Former deputy air force chief General Blagoje Grahovac advises President Milo Djukanovic, while General Radoslav Martinovic, who formerly commanded the Second Army in Montenegro, works with Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic. Former military intelligence chief Nedeljko Boskovic advises Vukasin Maras, who is Djukanovic's police chief. In addition, some 300 "middle-ranking" army officers have applied to join Djukanovic's paramilitary police, the Munich-based daily added. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER SAYS 'NO SECOND TERM IN OFFICE'

Mugur Isarescu told Antena 1 private television channel on 3 April that he will not agree to head another cabinet after the elections scheduled for this fall, Romanian Radio reported on 4 April. Isarescu said he might return to the post of National Bank governor but might also "go the private sector, possibly the media." MS

ROMANIAN GENERAL SENT TO PRISON FOR 1989 SOLDIERS' DEATHS

The Supreme Court on 3 April sentenced Dumitru Draghin to eight years in prison for "negligence" and "manslaughter," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. On 22 December 1989, the military unit defending the Bucharest international airport under Draghin's command opened fire against another unit that had responded to its call for reinforcement. Apparently, Draghin's unit had feared a "terrorist attack" during the first day of the anti-Ceausescu uprising. Fifty soldiers were killed and 13 wounded. The court ruled that Draghin should have ensured that the two units were aware of each other's position. It also ruled that Draghin and the Defense Ministry must pay 1.5 billion lei ($77 million) to relatives of the deceased as compensation. The ministry said it will appeal that part of the sentence. MS

MAIN ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CONCLUDES AGREEMENT WITH FRINGE LIBERALS

Ion Iliescu, leader of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and Radu Campeanu, who heads the extra- parliamentary National Liberal Party-Campeanu Wing, signed an agreement on 31 March to join forces for the local elections scheduled for this summer. Under the agreement, the two formations will support the best-placed candidate in runoffs but will run separately in the elections. They will also examine the possibility of cooperating in the parliamentary elections scheduled for the fall, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

BULGARIA, ROMANIA CALL FOR RAPID CLEAN-UP OF DANUBE

In a 2 April letter to the EU and NATO, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and his Romanian counterpart, Isarescu, called on the two organizations to help rapidly clean up the River Danube, AFP reported. The two leaders wrote that they "insist" that the re-establishment of Danube shipping, which has been blocked by rubble from bombed bridges since the NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia, must be regarded as an issue separate from the sanctions imposed on that country. Kostov and Isarescu noted that 70 percent of Bulgarian and 80 percent of Romanian river boats are out of service as a result of the blockage and that their countries have "suffered more than Yugoslavia." MS

LIBYA AGAIN POSTPONES BULGARIANS' TRIAL

Libya has postponed for the second time the trial of six Bulgarian medical workers charged with intentionally infecting children with the HIV virus, Reuters reported on 3 April, citing Bulgarian Foreign Ministry sources. The postponement follows a request by the Libyan lawyer representing the defendants, who said he needs more time to study the indictment and prepare his defense. MS




KALININGRAD'S FUTURE WHEN THE EU EXPANDS


By Ahto Lobjakas

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, once a favored Soviet bridgehead, spent most of the 1990s in quiet, decaying isolation. Though home to nearly 1 million inhabitants, it has been largely ignored by both Moscow and the EU.

When the EU admits Poland and the three Baltic states, the presence of a Russian island in the union will be a unique problem. "The Kaliningrad Puzzle," a report commissioned by the Finland-based think-tank Aland Islands Peace Institute, looks at how the EU should treat the Russian exclave.

Pertti Joenniemi of the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, who presented the report in Brussels last week, told RFE/RL that Kaliningrad's relative isolation in recent years means its problems are not easy to resolve. "Seen from a European Union perspective," he said, "one of the major problems is that there is no firm political leadership to lead Kaliningrad out of its crisis. There is a clash between the [local] government and the Duma opposition and that seems to stop any kind of progress."

Kaliningrad's problems are manifold. Joenniemi lists corruption, smuggling, and drug trafficking as endemic in Kaliningrad, and the exclave has seen the rapid spread of AIDS.

Many of the problems, according to the report, result from the years of neglect by the federal government in Moscow. In 1991, a free economic zone was established in Kaliningrad, but the region's poor starting position and uncompetitive economy left it increasingly dependent on imports. Kaliningrad's first post-Soviet governor, Yurii Matochkin, sought--unsuccessfully--to promote economic reform and open Kaliningrad to other countries in the region.

The current governor, Leonid Gorbenko, has favored a largely isolationist course and has taken no steps to initiate much-needed structural reforms. Foreign direct investment in Kaliningrad, while higher than in Russia as a whole ($70 per capita annually in the exclave, compared with $63 in Russia) is still much lower than in the neighboring Baltic states (for example, $563 per capita in Lithuania in 1999).

According to Joenniemi, the EU has regarded Kaliningrad as external to the union. Poland and Lithuania have responded to EU requirements for candidate countries by tightening their visa and trading policies toward the Russian exclave.

But the report warns that EU policies of isolation and indifference risk leaving Kaliningrad an economic backwater and a source of instability. To avert that risk, Joenniemi argued, the EU needs to develop a long-term strategy for Kaliningrad. "My proposal is that Kaliningrad [should be] provided with both a long-term and a short-term perspective," he told RFE/RL. "That it will in the long run approach the European Union, maybe even reach EU membership of some sort. I don't mean Russia as a whole, but Kaliningrad separately."

In the short term, the report says, the EU will need to find ways of providing Kaliningrad with development aid beyond the fairly limited ambit of TACIS, the aid program aimed at Russia and the CIS. Border policy must be amended to allow residents of Kaliningrad to travel more easily both to the east and west.

The idea that Kaliningrad could one day have a closer relationship to the EU than the rest of Russia is gaining ground beyond academic circles. Last year, during its presidency of the EU, Finland promoted closer cooperation with Kaliningrad. Sweden has promised to do the same during its presidency next year, and perhaps even go further. Last week, Swedish Trade Minister Leif Pagrotsky raised the issue of eventual EU membership for Kaliningrad in an article published in a leading Swedish daily.

And Russia itself seems not too averse to allowing greater cooperation between Kaliningrad and the EU. A 1999 official strategy paper for the development of relations with the EU says that while Kaliningrad must be recognized as part of Russia, it could also become a "pilot region" for Euro- Russian cooperation in the 21st century. The author is RFE/RL's correspondent in Brussels.


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