Accessibility links

Newsline - May 5, 2000




PUTIN INAUGURAL TO BE INTERNAL AFFAIR

The Kremlin has decided that President-elect Vladimir Putin's inauguration on 7 May will be an internal affair and has not invited foreign leaders or even their ambassadors in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. On the one hand, officials said, Putin has already been acting president for four months; and on the other, they noted, neither he nor the Russian government wants to overshadow the upcoming commemoration of the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. The Russian cabinet has allocated only 6 million rubles ($210,000) for the low-key event. Meanwhile, officials said, cabinet members and all senior presidential officials will submit their resignations on 7 May, Interfax reported. PG

PUTIN PLANS TO FOCUS ON ECONOMY

President-elect Putin told a Belgorod conference on 3 May that he will focus on developing the Russian economy, Russian agencies reported. "Only on the condition that there has been economic growth in the country can one consider oneself a successful leader," Putin said. He noted that he is considering modification of customs duties to help farmers. At the same meeting, his economic adviser Andrei Illarionov said that private ownership of land should be unrestricted. PG

ULYUKAEV SAYS ECONOMIC CONCEPT READY

Aleksei Ulyukaev, the head of a department at the Strategies Center, told Ekho Moskvy on 4 May that the "conceptual core" of an economic program for Russian development over the next decade has been submitted for consideration by President-elect Putin, ITAR- TASS reported. He said that the program is intended to promote "bourgeois class consciousness" over individual interests. And he added that as such, the new program is not only directed at the president and the government but is to serve as "a signal to Russian business that it is high time to get out of the shade." PG

MOSCOW DOES U-TURN ON PRESIDENTIAL RULE FOR CHECHNYA

Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov said on 5 May that a presidential decree is being prepared under which presidential rule will be imposed in Chechnya later this month for two to three years, dpa reported, citing Interfax. President-elect Putin rejected that option in early April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 April 2000). Ivanov added that a law on the state of emergency, which will serve as the legal basis for presidential rule, will soon be submitted to the State Duma. Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, who chairs Russia's Council of Muftis, said in Moscow on 5 May that presidential rule is needed in Chechnya for up to two years to give time to prepare a new generation of leaders. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 5 May quoted Chechen militia commander Beslan Gantemirov as saying that "the strictest dictatorship" is needed in Chechnya for at least two years. He added that he is prepared to take on that role if asked by Putin to do so. LF

GANTEMIROV ACCUSES FORMER COLLEAGUES

Gantemirov, who despite his announced resignation apparently remains first deputy to Russian government representative in Chechnya Nikolai Koshman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 2000), has accused unnamed members of the Russian representation of engaging in "semi- legal" trade in petroleum products, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 5 May. He also said those representatives have "become entangled in intrigues" and forged dubious ties with "Moscow Chechen oligarchs." LF

FORMER CHECHEN OIL SECTOR CHIEF DETAINED

Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, who in 1996-1997 headed the Chechen state oil company and later served in President Aslan Maskhadov's government, was detained for questioning in Gudermes late on 3 May, Russian agencies reported. An Interior Ministry official told Interfax that Yarikhanov has not been charged with any crime and that his detention is intended to clarify what role he currently plays in Chechen politics. LF

MOSCOW DEMANDS TURKEY EXTRADITE CHECHEN IDEOLOGUE...

Kremlin Chechnya spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told journalists in Moscow on 4 May that over the past 10 days the Russian embassy in Ankara has twice demanded that the Turkish authorities detain and extradite to Russia former Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov, Russian agencies reported. LF

...DOUBTS OSCE CAN CONTROL CHECHEN-GEORGIAN BORDER

Yastrzhembskii has also queried whether the existing 12 OSCE observers deployed on the Georgian-Chechen border can adequately monitor the entire 80 kilometer border, Caucasus Press reported on 5 May. Another 30 OSCE observers are to be sent to the Georgian side of the border this month. LF

GOVERNMENT PROFITS FROM PRIVATIZATION

The Russian federal budget received 4.075 billion rubles ($150 million) from the use or sale of state property, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 May. State Property Minister Farit Gazizulin said that Moscow expects to earn 18 billion rubles from such actions this year and that the entire sum will be used to close the federal budget deficit. PG

PUTIN SIGNS START-II RATIFICATION DOCUMENT

President-elect Putin on 4 May signed the federal law ratifying the START-II treaty, ITAR-TASS reported. That accord requires Russia to reduce the number of its warheads to 3,000 by 2007 and the U.S. to cut back its warheads to 3,500. The ratification opens the way for negotiations on START-III, but Moscow has said it may disregard the provisions of the current treaty if the U.S. violates the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile accord. PG

DEFENSE MINISTRY CRITICIZES U.S. ABM POSITION FOR 'SLYNESS'

Colonel General Leonid Ivashov told Interfax on 4 May that the U.S.'s position on ABM modifications reflects a certain "slyness." He said that the Pentagon's claim that "a territorial defense system" represents the U.S. response to the nuclear programs of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq raises serious questions because "these countries in the near future will hardly acquire guaranteed means of delivering weapons to U.S. territory." PG

INTERIOR MINISTRY READY TO COUNTER SABOTAGE

The Interior Ministry does not rule out that some groups may try to sabotage the Russian president's inauguration, but ministry officials told ITAR-TASS on 4 May that they have taken all necessary measures to forestall such actions. On 3 May, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo discussed this issue with the leadership of the interim police departments in Chechnya. He suggested that the Chechens are preparing terrorist acts to coincide with VE Day on 9 May. PG

LEAKED MEMO SAYS SECRET SERVICES TO EXPAND ROLE

"Kommersant- Daily" on 3 May published what it said is an internal Kremlin memorandum outlining plans to increase the powers of the Russian presidency and of the secret services. "Russia will become an even more presidential republic," the newspaper commented, with the government "restricted to a modest role: carrying out economic tasks and not straying from the political line." To achieve that end, the newspaper concluded, President-elect Putin will rely on "totally KGB methods of control." "Kommersant-Daily" is controlled by Boris Berezovskii. PG

RUSSIANS SEE PUTIN AS EFFECTIVE BUT NEITHER HONEST NOR MORAL

According to the results of a ROMIR poll reported by AP on 4 May, 45.6 percent of the 2,000 Russians surveyed agreed that characterizing President-elect Putin as "effective" is very appropriate, with another 40.6 percent saying it is appropriate. At the same time, only 17.6 percent said "honest" is a very accurate description of Putin, with 37.1 percent saying that it is fairly accurate; 23.3 percent said "moral" is a very accurate way to describe Putin and 41.4 percent found it fairly accurate. PG

COURT OVERRULES PRESS MINISTRY WARNING TO TV-TSENTR

The Moscow Arbitration Court has ruled that a Press Ministry warning to TV-Tsentr earlier this year was invalid, Interfax reported on 4 May. In making that ruling, the court explained that the ministry had failed to cite specific violations of the law. In January, the Press Ministry had warned TV-Tsentr, which is controlled by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, over what it said was the station's bias in favor of the anti-Kremlin Fatherland-All Russia alliance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 January 2000). The ministry said it intends to appeal the ruling, while noting that a scheduled tender for TV-Tsentr's broadcast license will take place, as planned, on 24 May. JC

PRIMARY HELD IN ST. PETERSBURG FOR YAKOVLEV CONTENDER

The local branches of Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) held a "primary" in St. Petersburg on 4 May to decide on a single candidate to compete against incumbent Governor Vladimir Yakovlev in the 14 May gubernatorial ballot. Some 40 polling stations were set up throughout the city, many of them at metro stations. "The St. Petersburg Times" reported the next day that according to preliminary results, Yabloko's candidate Igor Artemev was leading against SPS candidate Yulii Rybakov, garnering 75 percent of the vote, compared with 25 percent for Rybakov. The newspaper also cited Gallup as predicting that Artemev, as the single candidate of Yabloko and the SPS, would win 11 percent of the vote and Yakovlev 61 percent on polling day. JC

DZASOKHOV SAYS EX-PRESIDENTS SHOULD BE IN FEDERATION COUNCIL

Aleksandr Dzasokhov, the president of North Ossetia, told ITAR-TASS on 4 May that he believes the countries' ex- presidents, including both Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev, should be included as honorary members of the Federation Council. "Because past experience is always helpful for current work," Dzasokhov said, they could make a significant contribution both in Federation Council meetings and as representatives of the Russian Federation abroad. PG

80 FORMER DEPUTIES STILL IN STATE-OWNED FLATS

Eighty former State Duma deputies remain in their state-owned flats in Moscow, despite having received three official warnings to move out, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 May. One consequence is that 177 members of the new Duma do not yet have apartments and remain in the Rossiya and Mir hotels. PG

ICE PROBABLE CAUSE OF MARCH YAK-40 CRASH

The crash of a Yak- 40 airplane carrying Sovershenno Sekretno President Artem Borovik and Alyans Gruppa chief Ziya Bazhaev was probably caused by ice on the wings of the aircraft (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 March 2000), investigators told Interfax on 4 May. The investigation will continue in order to rule out all other possibilities. PG

MOSCOW DEMANDS RELEASE OF HOSTAGES IN SIERRA LEONE

The Russian Foreign Ministry on 4 May demanded the immediate release of hostages, including four Russians, currently detained by rebels in Sierra Leone, Russian agencies reported. One of the Russians has been identified as Lieutenant Captain Andrei Ufimtsev, a member of the UN mission there. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze told Interfax that the UN Security Council is considering sending a rapid reaction force to Sierra Leone but that Russia will not send troops. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said later that Moscow has received assurances from Sierra Leone that all the hostages will be freed soon. PG

MOSCOW ANGERED BY HAVEL'S COMMENT ON CHECHNYA

The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement accusing Czech President Vaclav Havel of questioning Russia's territorial integrity and justifying "separatism and terrorism" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2000), CTK reported on 4 May. Earlier the same day, Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii expressed Russian concern over Havel's observation that "Chechnya has not always belonged to Russia and will not belong to it for long," ITAR-TASS reported. Yastrzhembskii said that such comments "arouse perplexity" and that "similar judgments are dangerous, including for the Czech Republic." PG

RUSSIA HELPS UAE MODERNIZE MILITARY VEHICLES

The Kurganmashzavod plant and the Steel Research Institute have delivered equipment to the United Arab Emirates that will allow UAE forces to upgrade their approximately 600 BMP-3 infantry combat vehicles, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 May. The upgrades will significantly improve the performance and extend the life span of these vehicles, the Russian companies said. PG

KHANTY-MANSI HEAD URGES REGIONAL GOLD ACCORD

Aleksandr Filipenko, governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, told ITAR-TASS on 4 May that he wants the six regions that produce gold and other valuable minerals to conclude an agreement with one another. His announcement came as officials said that the first 27 kilograms of gold have been produced at the Khalmeryinskii gold mine in Filipenko's region. PG

DETAINED TANKER'S OWNER PLANS LAWSUIT

The Novorossiisk shipping company, which owns the "Akademik Pustovoit," is preparing to sue Royal Dutch-Shell to recover $300,000 in losses suffered when the ship was detained in the Persian Gulf, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 May. The "Akademik Pustovoit" was detained while the Iraqi oil it carried was being offloaded. PG

AIR POLLUTION LEVEL UNACCEPTABLE IN 200 RUSSIAN CITIES

First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told the Russian cabinet on 4 May that air pollution in more than 200 Russian cities is now above approved standards, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

AIDS CASES RISE DRAMATICALLY IN RUSSIAN FAR EAST

During the last two months, the number of AIDS cases registered in the Russian Far East has risen from 347 to 569, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 May. Officials there said that the increase showed that AIDS has now spread beyond the circle of drug addicts. PG

RUSSIA NOW THIRD IN THEFTS OF CULTURAL ITEMS

Only the Czech Republic and Italy have more cultural items stolen each year than does the Russian Federation, Interfax reported on 4 May. But officials at the Russian Interior Ministry said that Moscow now solves "many more crimes of this sort than [do] other countries." Last year, 2,677 thefts of cultural valuables were registered in Russia. PG




ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY UNDECIDED ON PARTICIPATION IN NEW GOVERNMENT

The Miasnutiun bloc and its ally, the Yerkrapah Union of veterans of the Karabakh war, continued to discuss on 4 May whether Miasnutiun should propose new candidates for premier and ministers in the new government but failed to reach any decision, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Parliamentary deputy speaker Tigran Torosian told journalists he thinks Miasnutiun should begin consultations on potential candidates with the president. But observers believe Yerkrapah is reluctant to allow Kocharian's 2 May sacking of Prime Minister Aram Sargsian and Defense Minister Vagharshsak Harutiunian to go unchallenged. Also on 4 May, President Robert Kocharian, who has assumed the duties of acting prime minister, convened a cabinet meeting that focused on social and economic issues. LF

ARMENIA, IRAQ DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian met on 4 May in Yerevan with visiting Iraqi First Deputy Foreign Minister Nuri Issmail Taha al-Weiss to discuss expanding economic cooperation and opening embassies in Yerevan and Baghdad, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. They identified industry, energy, and trade as the most promising sectors for such cooperation. Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ara Papian told RFE/RL that the planned cooperation does not run counter to UN sanctions against Baghdad. LF

ARMENIAN CENTER-RIGHT FORMS NEW ALLIANCE

Four small center- right parties that split from the former ruling Armenian Pan- National Movement (HHSh) on 3 May aligned in a new opposition Union of Right-Wing Forces, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported the following day. They are former parliamentary speaker Hrant Bagratian's Azatutiun, former parliamentary speaker Babken Ararktsian's Armat, former National Security Minister Davit Shahnazarian's 21st Century party, and former Yerevan Mayor Vigen Khachatrian's Liberal Democratic Party. They pledged to seek the "constitutional" removal of the current Armenian leadership, which they accused of rolling back political and economic reform, bullying the opposition, and pursuing an "aggressive foreign policy." The new grouping will strive to restore "constitutional order," to achieve "the irreversibility of democracy," and ensure Armenia's "active participation" in regional integration processes, its leaders said. LF

THREE CANDIDATES IN RUNNING FOR GEORGIAN MINISTER OF STATE

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 4 May that "most probably" Gia Arsenishvili, who is governor of the east Georgian region of Kakheti, will be appointed to head the next Georgian government. As possible alternative candidates Shevardnadze named Tbilisi Mayor Vano Zodelava and the governor of Imereti in western Georgia, Temur Shashiashvili. In a lengthy open letter to Shevardnadze last year, Shashiashvili had threatened to resign from that post to protest the central government's neglect of the regions (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 44, 7 November 1999). LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY SAYS FORMER GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE PROSECUTED

Koba Davitashvili, who is deputy chairman of the parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee, told fellow deputies on 4 May that he has asked the prosecutor-general to begin legal proceedings against the outgoing Georgian government for its failure to fulfill the state budget, Caucasus Press reported. A professional lawyer, Davitashvili said the failure, which resulted in a budget deficit of 300 million lari ($150 million), constitutes a criminal offense punishable by three to five years in prison. LF

IRAN PROTESTS AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER'S STATEMENT

Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned Azerbaijan's ambassador in Tehran to protest a statement Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliev made last week in the U.S., Reuters reported on 4 May, citing IRNA. Guliev had claimed that Iran's ethnic Azerbaijanis have no access to education in their mother tongue. Tehran condemned that statement as "irresponsible and meddlesome" as well as "anti-Iranian." Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliyev is scheduled to travel to Tehran next month to attend an Economic Cooperation Organization summit. LF

KYRGYZ AUTHORITIES, OPPOSITION MEET

Representatives of several Kyrgyz opposition parties and NGOs met in Bishkek on 3 May with Security Council Secretary Bolot Djanuzakov and presidential adviser Askar Aitmatov to discuss preparations and the agenda for a planned roundtable between the two sides, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. The opposition demanded that topics for discussion include the outcome of the parliamentary elections held earlier this year, the arrest of opposition Ar-Namys party leader Feliks Kulov, how to ensure that the upcoming presidential poll is fair and democratic, and the social and economic situation in the country. They also insist that President Askar Akaev attend the roundtable. LF

KYRGYZ TRADE UNIONS PROTEST PRICE INCREASES

The Federation of Kyrgyz Trade Unions has appealed to the cabinet on 4 May to take "emergency measures" to counter what it terms "a devastating social and economic crisis," Interfax reported. The trade unions noted that the average monthly wage, which is the equivalent of $20, is the lowest in the CIS and that prices for food, gas, and electricity have risen by 300-500 percent over the past year. They demanded payment of public- sector wage arrears and the suspension of new electricity tariffs. Speaking on state television the same day, however, President Akaev said the most recent increases in energy prices are "inevitable" if the country is to live within its means. He instructed the cabinet to begin talks with the country's donors, including the World Bank, on the possibility of freezing energy prices until the end of the year. LF

UZBEK ISLAMISTS LEAVING TAJIKISTAN?

Armed detachments subordinate to banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Djuma Namangani are heading for the Tajik-Afghan border via Dushanbe under the escort of Tajik Defense Ministry forces, ITAR-TASS and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 4 May. The detachments will join the main contingent of Namangani's men, who are currently in Kunduz Province. Namangani had pledged last week to leave Tajikistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 2000). LF




MINSK SAYS U.S. LAWMAKERS INTERFERE IN DOMESTIC AFFAIRS OF BELARUS, RUSSIA

Belarus's Foreign Ministry has condemned the resolution on Belarus passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on 3 May, Belarusian Television reported the next day. The ministry said the resolution contains a "tendentious and biased assessment of the internal political situation in Belarus" as well as an "incorrect interpretation of the process of the broad dialogue in Belarusian society." According to Minsk, the resolution interferes in the domestic affairs of Belarus and Russia by calling on the U.S. executive to exert pressure on Belarus through the leadership of the Russian Federation. The 3 May resolution, in particular, condemns "egregious violations of human rights" by the Belarusian regime and appeals to the U.S. president "to raise the issue of financial support provided by the Russian Federation to the [Alyaksandr] Lukashenka regime at the highest levels of the Russian Federation Government." JM

OSCE STILL HOPES TO ORGANIZE DIALOGUE IN BELARUS

An OSCE troika of Foreign Ministry officials from Austria, Norway, and Romania arrived in Minsk on 4 May to try to organize a roundtable meeting with representatives of the government and the opposition, Belapan reported. "The Minsk visit underscores the continued concern of the OSCE about the slow process in the development of democratic institutions in Belarus," the organization said in a statement the same day. Meanwhile, Uladzimir Rusakevich, first deputy chief of the presidential staff, has proposed meeting with the Consultative Council of Belarusian opposition parties. Rusakevich is in charge of the so-called "sociopolitical dialogue" that is being conducted without the participation of the opposition. According to an RFE/RL Minsk correspondent, the opposition parties see Rusakevich's proposal as a propaganda move timed to coincide with the OSCE troika's visit, but they nevertheless agreed to meet with him after the troika leaves Minsk. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER UPBEAT ON RESUMPTION OF IMF LOANS

Viktor Yushchenko on 4 May expressed his belief that Ukraine and the IMF will find a compromise on resuming IMF loans, Interfax reported. Yushchenko suggested that this year, Ukraine might obtain $800 million from the fund. "We do not idealize Ukraine's moves, but we think that Ukraine has performed at a good level, which is enough to have a positive dialogue with the IMF," AP quoted Yushchenko as saying. The Ukrainian premier will visit Washington from 7-10 May. He plans to meet with IMF and World Bank officials, representatives of the U.S. administration, bankers, businessmen, and politicians. The IMF froze its $2.6 billion loan program for Ukraine in September 1999, charging the government with insufficient reforms and weak governance. Ukraine obtained $965 million from the IMF before the program was halted. JM

BALTIC POPULATIONS TO FALL SHARPLY OVER NEXT 50 YEARS?

A report by the UN Economic Commission for Europe suggests that the populations of Estonia and Latvia will sharply decrease over the next half century owing to low birth rates, LETA cited "The New York Times" as reporting. The UN report indicates that Latvia has the lowest birth rate on the Continent: 1.09 children per woman. More worrisome, the report predicts that if current trends continue, Estonia's population will decrease by 34 percent and Latvia's by 31 percent in 50 years. MH

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONFIDENT ABOUT EU MEMBERSHIP BID

In an interview at RFE/RL's headquarters in Prague on 4 May, Toomas Hendrik Ilves expressed confidence about Estonia's EU integration. At the same time, he admonished EU members for subsidizing exports to non-members: "I personally believe that the use of export subsidies on the part of rich countries to sell products in poor countries that will sooner or later become members of the European Union is probably not the best idea -- morally." Ilves, who is a former director of RFE/RL's Estonian Service, also reaffirmed that Estonia does not see Russia as a threat. The Estonian foreign minister is in Prague to attend a conference organized by the European Socialist Party on EU enlargement. MH

NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ABOUT TO BE APPROVED?

Andris Berzins moved one step closer to becoming the new Latvian prime minister when the four-party coalition signed a coalition agreement on 4 May. The four parties--Latvia's Way, the People's Party, For Fatherland and Freedom, and the New Party--all agreed to support the government, despite some misgivings expressed publicly over the past few days (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2000). A special session of parliament has been called for 5 May to vote on whether to approve the new government. MH

LATVIA CELEBRATES HISTORIC DECLARATION

Latvia on 4 May celebrated the 10th anniversary of the declaration by the Supreme Council of the restoration of independence, Some 200 former and current parliamentary deputies took part in a procession during which flowers were laid at Riga's Freedom Monument, LETA reported. In an address, parliamentary speaker Janis Straume criticized politicians for losing the trust of the people and reminded deputies that they represent those who elected them, according to BNS. MH

ZLOTY PLUNGES AFTER REPORT ON POLAND'S TRADE DEFICIT

The Polish zloty on 4 May plunged to 4.60 to $1 after the National Bank released data showing that Poland's current account deficit for March was $1.43 billion. The zloty later stabilized at 4.57 to $1 dollar, but the following day the zloty exchange rate fell again to 4.60 for $1. Grzegorz Wojtowicz of the National Bank's Monetary Policy Council said the high deficit is due to the recent payment of some $300 million in interest on loans from banks belonging to the so- called Paris Club, according to AP. Another member of the council, Cezary Jozefiak, said there have been no recommendations to increase bank interest rates. JM

EU COMMISSIONER WARNS CZECHS ON ENVIRONMENT

EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom on 4 May warned the Czech Republic that quick action is needed to meet ecological standards before gaining EU membership, Reuters reported. Wallstrom said in Prague that the Czech Republic has made progress in meeting EU norms "in some areas" but added that what has been achieved still falls shorts of requirements. "We ask for 100 percent, not just 90 percent" compliance, she said. The Czech Republic is asking for six "derogations," or delays in implementation, in its bid to meet EU environment standards. Wallstrom said it is important for Prague to improve water quality and the environmental standards for industry. MS

CZECH COURT RULES IN MEDIA DISPUTE

A Prague commercial court on 4 May ruled that the CET 21 company, which has the license for Nova TV, must renew its exclusive contact with the Czech Independent Television Company (CNTS) and use only CNTS services, CTK reported. CET 21 said it will appeal the decision. Last year, CET 21 broke its contract with CNTS and started broadcasting from its own studio. MS

CZECH PREMIER ORDERED TO APOLOGIZE

The Supreme Court on 4 May ordered Milos Zeman to apologize to opposition Civic Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Miroslav Macek for "damaging remarks," CTK and dpa reported. Zeman had accused Macek of corruption in connection with the privatization of a wholesale book company. The judge ruled that although the company's privatization infringed on regulations, it has not been proven that Macek committed a criminal offense. Zeman must apologize to Macek on the same Nova TV program on which he made his comments two years ago. MS

SKINHEADS ATTACK ROMANY FAMILY IN ORLOVA

A Romani family in Orlova, northern Moravia, was recently attacked by two skinheads, CTK reported on 4 May, citing Nova TV. The perpetrators beat the parents, who tried to protect their children. The report said that after the attack, Roma in Orlova stopped sending their children to school out of fear for their safety. MS

JOSPIN SAYS EU INTERNAL REFORM NOT TO DELAY EXPANSION

Visiting French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin told journalists in Budapest on 4 May that EU internal reforms are not expected to delay the enlargement process, adding that candidate countries would join a "renovated and well functioning organization." Jospin, whose country will take over the EU presidency in July, spoke after discussing EU issues with prime ministers of the four "Visegrad group" countries. At a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Jospin said that the accession of each country is an individual process and that the EU will not consider countries "in groups." EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen, however, said that the EU will eventually opt for the "wave accession" of groups of countries. Speaking at the World Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce in Budapest, Verheugen also urged setting a deadline for concluding membership talks. MSZ


XS
SM
MD
LG