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Newsline - June 5, 2000




ABM REMAINS BONE OF CONTENTION...

As was widely expected, the first summit between U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to resolve differences over U.S. plans to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to allow Washington to implement a limited national missile defense system. Following five hours of talks in the Kremlin on 4 June, the two leaders indicated at a joint press conference that little headway had been made toward removing those differences. Clinton made clear that Moscow disagrees with the U.S. view that the proposed system does not "pose a threat to strategic stability and mutual deterrence." Putin said bluntly that "there really are many problems" over the issue, adding that Moscow is against having a "cure that is worse than the disease." According to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, however, Putin was "clearly sensitive" to the threat from so-called rogue states. Summing up the talks on missile defense, Talbott commented that they had produced "neither a dead end...nor a destination." JC

...WHILE TWO SIDES DECLARE INTENT TO BOOST STRATEGIC STABILITY...

In a joint statement on the "principles of strategic stability," Clinton and Putin noted that the international community faces "a dangerous and growing threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including missiles and missile technology." They also stressed their desire to "reverse that process, including through existing and possible new international legal mechanisms." With regard to the ABM Treaty, they recognized the "essential contribution" of that document to "reductions in offensive forces" and "reaffirm their commitment to that treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability." At the same time, the two sides noted that they "recall the existing provision of the ABM Treaty to consider possible changes in the strategic situation...and, as appropriate, to consider possible proposals for further increasing the viability of the treaty." JC

...AND CLINTON SAYS HE'S NOT OPPOSED TO JOINT ABM DEFENSE SYSTEM

In response to a question posed during a live interview with Ekho Moskvy later the same day, President Clinton stated that he has "no objection to working with Russia on a joint missile defense that would intercept a missile directed at Russia or the United States from a hostile power in the Middle East or anywhere else in the so- called boost phase." That statement referred to a proposal made by President Putin during an interview with NBC broadcast on 2 June and later elaborated on by a Kremlin source (see below). Clinton, however, immediately qualified his response to Putin's proposal by arguing that such a system would take 10 years or more to develop. The U.S., the other hand, expects to face a threat from a rogue state in the next five years and believes that "the other technology for the limited national missile defense" can be available within that period. And echoing a comment he had made at his earlier press conference with Putin, Clinton stressed that he does not want to scrap the ABM treaty "or the theory of mutual deterrence or strategic stability." JC

KREMLIN SOURCE EXPLAINS PUTIN'S JOINT ABM PROPOSAL

Unnamed military-diplomatic sources had been quoted as saying on 2 June that Putin's proposal for a joint ABM system concerns "only non-strategic anti-ballistic missile systems designed for fighting non-strategic missiles" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 June 2000). Later the same day, Reuters quoted an unidentified Kremlin source as explaining that Putin's proposal foresees "boost phase interception," whereby missiles would be shot down immediately after launch rather than intercepted in space. With Moscow's participation, such a defense shield could be deployed on Russian territory, the source argued, adding that if Washington refused to consider the Russian proposal this would indicate that U.S. plans for its own defense system are targeted not just at "rogue states" but also Russia. JC

AGREEMENTS SIGNED ON PLUTONIUM CUTS, EARLY WARNING CENTER

In addition to the joint statement on the "principles of strategic stability," Presidents Clinton and Putin signed two agreements aimed at reducing the global nuclear threat. One agreement reduces each country's weapons-grade plutonium reserves by 34 tons over 20 years. That project is estimated to cost $5.75 billion, of which $1.75 billion is foreseen for the disposal of the Russian stockpile. AFP quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying they hope next month's G-7 plus Russia summit in Japan will help meet the costs of the Russian part of the project. The second agreement provides for the establishment by fall 2001 of an early warning center in Moscow. That center will allow Russian and U.S. military experts to exchange information on launches within minutes to allay "uncertainties" about the intention of those launches. A senior U.S. official was quoted by AP as saying that information about launches by other countries will also be exchanged but only if the missile or spacecraft crosses either Russian or U.S. territory. JC

CLINTON CALLS ON RUSSIA TO INTEGRATE MORE FULLY INTO WORLD ECONOMY

In a more than 40-minute speech to members of the State Duma on 5 June, U.S. President Clinton touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the World Trade Organization to Chechnya. Clinton called on Russia to "make an all-out effort to take the needed steps to join the WTO" to "finish putting in place the institutions of a modern economy, with laws that protect property, that ensure openness and accountability, that establish an efficient, equitable tax code." On Chechnya, Clinton said that he wished to pose a question as "a friend," that is, "whether any war can be won that requires large numbers of civilian casualties and has no political component bringing about a solution." Response to Clinton's speech was varied, with Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii shouting "shame" at the end while others applauded. Unity leader Boris Gryzhlov, for his part, assessed Clinton's speech positively. JAC

CLINTON RAISES ISSUE OF PRESS FREEDOM

At a news conference following talks with his Russian counterpart, President Clinton told reporters that he stressed the importance for the U.S. of protecting the rights of independent media. He also said that he agreed with Putin when the latter said Russia will not have a future if it suppresses civil liberties and freedom of the press. During his call-in show at Ekho Moskvy, Clinton condemned the 11 May police raid of Media-Most headquarters, saying that he would never send U.S. tax police to check on CNN. "Of course, when you read something that you believe is untrue or unfair, you can get angry," Clinton admitted, but he said the U.S. "has bent over backwards in favor of freedom of the press." JAC

...AS ALBRIGHT DROPS BY RADIO LIBERTY...

Also on 4 June, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited the Moscow bureau of RFE/RL. Among the themes discussed, according to the bureau, were freedom of the press and of speech, ecological problems, the administrative reform of the federation, democracy in Russia's regions, the war in Chechnya, human rights, and the development of civil society. U.S.-Russian relations were also touched upon, but Albright did not comment on the summit. JAC

...AND MEDIA-MOST WINS COURT VICTORY

A court in Moscow has declared that the police raid on Media-Most headquarters earlier in the month was illegitimate, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 3 June. The court ordered that documents seized during the search be returned. According to "Kommersant- Daily," the Prosecutor-General's Office has already stated that it will appeal the court's decision. JAC

FAMOUS EYE SURGEON KILLED IN CRASH

Internationally renowned eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov was killed in an helicopter crash in Moscow on 3 June. Aviation specialists believe that the crash was caused by mechanical failure, Interfax reported. Fedorov first achieved fame by pioneering the method known as radial keratotomy, a cornea operation to improve near-sightedness. Fedorov also formed his own political organization, which attracted some 4 percent of the vote in the 1995 State Duma elections but less than 1 percent of the vote in 1999 State Duma elections. Fedorov ran for president in 1996 but finished with less than 1 percent of the vote. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov called Fedorov's death "an incalculable loss for all of Russian medicine," while President Putin said it was a "huge loss for Russia." JAC

PUTIN FILLS SPOTS IN ADMINISTRATION...

President Putin signed decrees on 3 June naming deputy chiefs of his administration and reorganizing six directorates into two, the Territorial and Domestic Policy Directorates, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition, two other directorates, the Control Directorate and the State and Law Directorate, have been maintained. Dmitrii Medvedev, Putin's presidential campaign manager, was reappointed first deputy head of the presidential administration. Other deputy heads are Viktor Ivanov, Aleksandr Abramov, Igor Sechin, Vladislav Surkov, Dzhakhan Polleva, and Dmitrii Kozak. According to Interfax, the resignation offered earlier by deputy head of the administration Igor Shabdurasulov is still being considered. JAC

...AS KASYANOV ASSIGNS DEPUTIES' DUTIES

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed a decree on 2 June distributing responsibilities between himself and his deputies. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Kudrin, who is also finance minister, will oversee the work of the Economic Development and Trade, Tax, and Anti-Monopoly Policy Ministries. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko will oversee the work of the Energy, Natural Resources, Transportation, and Federation Affairs Ministries. Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko will manage the work of the Labor, Health, Education, Culture, and Media Ministries. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov will oversee the Atomic Energy and the Industry, Science, and Technology Ministries. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Gordeev will head the Agriculture Ministry and will also oversee the Bread Inspectorate. In Kasyanov's absence, both Kudrin and Khristenko will fill in for him. Kasyanov will himself oversee the Ministry for Property Relations as well as the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Defense, Justice, and Emergencies Ministries JAC

FOREIGN INVESTMENT FIGURE CORRECTED

The State Statistics Committee has significantly revised its earlier estimate of foreign investment in the first quarter of 2000 from $4.961 billion to $2.445 billion, Interfax reported on 2 June. Despite the downward revision, foreign investment in the first quarter still showed an increase of 57 percent compared with the same period the previous year. JAC

CHECHEN MUFTI, RUSSIAN FSB PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR FORMER SENIOR CHECHEN OFFICIAL

The Federal Security Service undertook to protect former Chechen presidential administration chief Apti Batalov as long as he remained in Moscow, Interfax reported on 2 June. Batalov had been held in custody for several weeks in Moscow's Lefortovo prison after being apprehended by Russian security officials in late April and was released last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 April and 2 June 2000). Batalov told journalists in Moscow after his release that his life is in danger, that his brother Ruslan has disappeared, and his brother's common-law wife has been found dead. Chechen Mufti Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov collected Batalov from a Federal Security Service "safe house" in Moscow on 2 June and undertook to guarantee his safety. The two men then departed for an unknown destination, Interfax reported. LF

CHECHENS ANNOUNCE NEW ATTACK ON GROZNY

Chechen fighters led by field commander Arbi Baraev launched a new attack on Grozny during the night of 1-2 June, Reuters reported, citing the Chechen website . Russian military officials told Interfax on 3 June that there are currently up to 500 Chechen fighters in Grozny. The Russian government's Grozny office was subjected to heavy artillery fire late on 2 June, but no one was injured. LF

BROTHER APPEALS TO CHECHEN PRESIDENT TO SURRENDER

In an interview broadcast on 3 June by Russian Public Television, a man identified as Aslan Maskhadov's elder brother, Lechi, appealed to the Chechen President to end his war against Russia, Reuters reported. Lechi Maskhadov said that Chechnya's striving for independence since 1991 has led only to "murders and banditry." He added that all Chechens who could afford to do so had already left Chechnya, leaving behind "only us poor." LF

'PUTIN' FINDS BLACKMAIL DOESN'T WORK WITH 'CLINTON'

The puppet modeled after President Putin reappeared on the popular "Kukly" show broadcast on 4 June, suggesting that an earlier announcement by Media-Most's NTV that the puppet had been pulled because of political pressure may have been a publicity stunt (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May 2000). In the 4 June episode, the Putin puppet tries to recruit U.S. President Clinton's puppet for Russia's intelligence service, offering him the codename "Saxophonist." The Putin figures then tries to blackmail Clinton, telling him that he will let the American people know that Clinton avoided the draft. And the Clinton puppet responds, "Blackmail? The American people already know all about me.... Sure, I'll work for you, but what I want is money." JAC




ARMENIAN LEADERS REASSURE WORLD BANK...

Recently appointed Prime Minister Andranik Markarian assured World Bank regional director Judy O'Connor in Yerevan on 2 June that his cabinet will continue the strategy of economic reforms agreed on by the bank and the two previous governments, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported, citing Markarian's press office. The premier said he hopes that the World Bank will release the promised structural adjustment loans that are to cover about half of the government's budget deficit. Release of two separate loan tranches totaling $55 million is conditional on the privatization of four energy distribution networks, which the parliament voted in late April to suspend (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 2000). Government officials have said the privatization will go ahead, despite legislators' opposition. LF

...AND IMF

Also on 2 June, President Robert Kocharian met with a senior IMF delegation headed by the deputy director of the fund's European department, Thomas Wulf. Wulf was said to have expressed concern over Armenia's most recent macroeconomic indicators, including first quarter GDP growth of less than 1 percent. Kocharian attributed those disappointing figures to the tense political situation during the first few months of the year and expressed confidence that the situation will improve over the next few months. The IMF and the Armenian authorities have reportedly been negotiating a new Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility, a low-interest loan designed to strengthen the country's highly unfavorable balance of payments. Both Kocharian and Markarian responded to expressions of concern over corruption, vowing to implement a comprehensive "anti-corruption program" intended to create a more favorable business climate in Armenia. LF

ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE CLEARED OVER PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS

The military prosecutor investigating the 27 October Armenian parliament shootings has closed the criminal case brought against presidential aide Aleksan Harutiunian in connection with that incident, citing a lack of evidence, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 2 June. Harutiunian had been taken into custody in late December and charged with "inciting" the five gunmen who perpetrated the killings, but he was released in mid-April after a Yerevan court ruled that there were no grounds for detaining him further. Also on 2 June, Armenian National Television Deputy Director Harutiun Harutiunian (no relation to Aleksan) was released from pre-trial detention after similarly spending almost six months in jail on charges of complicity in the 27 October killings. But the charges against him have not been dropped, and he was required to sign a pledge not to leave Yerevan or to divulge details of the investigation. Two other persons accused of "helping" and "inciting" the killers are also likely to be freed shortly, following the retraction by the gunmen's leader, Nairi Hunanian, of his previous testimony. LF

RANSOM DEMANDED FOR UN OFFICIALS IN GEORGIA

The as yet unidentified men who on 1 June abducted two Danish army officers serving with the UN observer force in Georgia, two employees of the Halo anti-landmine NGO, and their Abkhaz interpreter in Abkhazia's Kodori gorge, released one of the Halo employees on 3 June. Interfax quoted Veselin Kostov, who is political secretary at the UN mission in Georgia, as saying that the kidnappers are demanding a ransom for the release of the remaining four hostages. He did not cite a figure, but unofficial reports say the sum is between $300,000 and $500,000. In a telephone conversation on 3 June, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba pledged to coordinate the efforts of their respective security bodies to obtain the hostages' release. Abkhaz Security Service chief Raul Khazhimba on 2 June blamed the kidnapping on Georgian guerrillas operating in western Georgia, but a spokesmen for the guerrillas denied responsibility. Kodori Governor Iveri Chelidze, who mediated in previous abductions in Kodori in July and October 1999, is trying to establish contact with the abductors. LF

COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMISSIONER MEETS WITH CHECHEN REFUGEES IN GEORGIA

Alvaro Gil-Robles, who is the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, met on 4 June with Chechen refugees now living temporarily in Georgia's Pankisi gorge, which borders on Chechnya, Interfax reported. Some of the refugees complained that the humanitarian aid they receive is inadequate. Local residents have complained that the so- called refugees included Chechen fighters. On 2 June, former Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani warned that the presence of Chechen fighters on Georgian territory could provoke Moscow to launch air strikes against Georgia, Interfax reported. He claimed those fighters engage in abductions and drug trafficking. LF

KYRGYZ PROTESTERS TAKE PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES TO COURT

Several permanent participants in the ongoing picket in Bishkek have brought a libel suit against parliamentary deputies, including speaker Abdygany Erkebaev, who claimed in an open letter to the U.S. Congress in April that the demonstrators were being paid to stage their protest, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 3 June. Participants in the picket, which entered its 81st day on 4 June, are demanding the release of arrested opposition Ar-Namys party leader Feliks Kulov and the annulment of the parliamentary poll held in February- March. Some 30 voters from the southern town of Kadamjai joined the core of permanent protesters on 3 June to demand repeat elections in their constituency after the Osh Oblast court upheld a local court ruling that their candidate, Nooman Arkebaev, was defeated in the 12 March runoff. Also on 3 June, Kulov's lawyer Lyubov Ivanova told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek that Kulov's trial on charges of abusing his official position while he occupied the post of national security minister may begin before the end of this month. LF

TAJIK AMBASSADOR TO KAZAKHSTAN RETURNS 'TEMPORARILY' TO DUSHANBE

Sadullodzhan Negmatov, in whose official car Kazakh security officials found some 86 kilograms of heroin in a search late last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 26 May 2000), has returned to Dushanbe, Interfax reported on 3 June, citing the Kazakh Foreign Ministry. Kazakhstan's National Security Committee had reported the previous day that Negmatov had "fled" Kazakhstan. Five Tajik citizens remain in custody in Almaty in connection with the drug haul. The Tajik Foreign Ministry has formally denied that Negmatov is in any way involved in drug smuggling. LF

KYRGYZ SECURITY OFFICIAL ANTICIPATES ISLAMIC MILITANT INCURSION

General Bolot Januzakov, who is secretary of the Kyrgyz Security Council, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 2 June that 2,000-5,000 Islamic rebels are being trained at military bases in the Tavildara province of neighboring Tajikistan and could invade Kyrgyzstan at any time. He said that although Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Djuma Namangani is currently in Afghanistan, most of the approximately 800 people who accompanied him there from Tajikistan in late April were elderly people or children. Namangani's fighters remained in Tajikistan, he added. Djanuzakov said that Kyrgyzstan is capable of repelling any attack by the militants. LF

REGIONAL OFFICIAL ASSASSINATED IN TAJIKISTAN

Sergei Davlatov, a member of the ruling People's Democratic Party, was shot dead by unidentified assailants on 3 June while returning from Dushanbe to Garm Oblast in eastern Tajikistan, where he held the post of local governor, AP and Reuters reported. His driver and bodyguard were also killed. Davlatov had earlier supported the United Tajik Opposition. LF

OSCE CHAIRWOMAN VISITS UZBEKISTAN

On the final leg of her tour of the Central Asian states, Austrian Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairwoman in Office Benita Ferrero-Waldner held talks in Tashkent on 2 June with Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov on the domestic political situation and the situation in neighboring Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported. Karimov assured Ferrero-Waldner that the Taliban claims that Uzbek war planes violated Afghanistan's airspace several days earlier are untrue. Ferrero-Waldner also discussed with Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov bilateral cooperation between Uzbekistan and Austria and between Uzbekistan and the OSCE, Interfax reported. LF




BELARUSIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS HOLD CONGRESS

At its congress in Minsk on 3-4 June, the opposition Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Popular Hramada, BSDP) re-elected Mikalay Statkevich as leader of the party, Belapan reported. The forum also reaffirmed that the party will participate in this fall's parliamentary election only if the authorities give the opposition access to the state media, expand the powers of the current legislature, and include opposition representatives in electoral commissions at all levels. The delegates gave the BSDP Central Committee the right to convene "a second session of the congress" in July in order to make a final decision on the party's participation in the parliamentary ballot. JM

EXILED OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS ON BELARUSIANS TO OPPOSE UNION WITH RUSSIA

The Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian Popular Front has disseminated an appeal by its exiled leader, Zyanon Paznyak, to oppose the Belarusian- Russian union state, Belapan reported on 2 June. Paznyak calls on Belarusians to sign a letter stating that the Belarusian-Russia union treaty is illegitimate. He urges Belarusians not to participate in any elections organized by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime and pledges that free parliamentary elections in Belarus will be held by the Belarusian Popular Front and "organizations of the national liberation movement." Paznyak also casts doubt on the intentions of the OSCE Minsk mission, saying that its purpose is to create a "colonial" opposition in Belarus. "Is Belarus not just a bargaining chip in trading between Russia and Germany for Kaliningrad Oblast (Eastern Prussia) and oil and gas pipelines through Belarus?" Paznyak writes. JM

UKRAINE CHARGES EX-PREMIER WITH CONTRACT KILLINGS

Ukraine's Deputy Prosecutor-General Mykola Obykhod announced on 2 June that the Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case against former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko on charges of arranging three contract killings, Interfax reported. Obykhod said Lazarenko ordered the killing of prominent lawmaker Yevhen Shcherban, who was gunned down along with his wife in Donetsk in 1996. Obykhod added that Lazarenko wanted to get rid of a competitor and that people close to him allegedly transferred money to the killers. According to Obykhod, Lazarenko had also plotted the assassinations of two high-ranking government officials, but both plots failed. JM

UKRAINE, KAZAKHSTAN WANT TO BOOST COOPERATION

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev, have spoken out in favor of boosting bilateral economic cooperation, Interfax reported on 3 June. Kuchma said the prospects for developing cooperation in the energy sector, metallurgy, and machine building are good. Nazarbaev noted that Kazakhstan and Ukraine are engaged in no political or economic disputes. He said that next year Kazakhstan will complete the construction of the Severokaspii-Novorossiisk oil pipeline, after which Kazakhstan "will be able to ensure the operation of Ukraine's refineries." Both presidents attended celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the town of Dniprodzerzhinsk, Donetsk Oblast, where Nazarbaev graduated from a vocational school in 1960 as a trained metal worker. JM

CRIMINAL CASE LAUNCHED AGAINST ESTONIAN STATISTICS DEPARTMENT

Tallinn Police on 2 June launched a criminal investigation into the Statistics Department over allegations of a secret database compiled from the findings of the 2000 census, BNS reported. A watchdog group claimed that the scanning of census forms into computers constitutes the creation of an illegal database. The Statistics Department, for its part, has denied any wrongdoing, saying it is only storing the documents. Interior Minister Tarmo Loodus on 1 June suggested the activities were illegal, while Statistics Department head Rein Veetousme responded that there is a misunderstanding about the situation. Veetousme told BNS that all activities involving data from the census are in strict compliance with the law. "Postimees" added that Finance Minister Siim Kallas is defending the Statistics Department against accusations by Loodus. Kallas is from the Reform Party, while Loodus belongs to the Pro Patria Union. MH

THOUSANDS PROTEST IN ESTONIA'S NORTHEAST

An estimated 5,000 protestors formed a human chain from Narva to Johvi on 3 June, ETA reported. The chain, which ran for about 50 kilometers, was formed to protest unemployment and further job cuts in the region, especially in sensitive sectors such as mining and energy. Trade unions urged the government to consider the social problems that may be caused by the privatization and restructuring of the energy sector, which analysts predict will be accompanied by massive job cuts. Head of the EAKL trade union, Kadi Parnits, has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Mart Laar over the situation in the northeast. MH

LITHUANIAN OMBUDSMAN RULES GENDER DISCRIMINATION IN CANCER TREATMENT

The Office of the Ombudsman for Gender Equality ruled on 2 June that the national health service is discriminating against males in the funding of cancer treatment. The charge, made in April, claims that the health service pays in full for drugs treating breast cancer while offering only partial payment for drugs fighting prostate cancer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 April 2000). However, Health Minister Raimundas Alekna claimed there can be no comparison between breast and prostate cancer, adding that the prostate cancer treatment in question is only an alternative, LETA reported. Health care officials contradicted that argument. MH

BREAKTHROUGH EXPECTED IN TALKS ON SAVING POLAND'S COALITION

Krzysztof Janik, secretary of the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), told Radio Zet on 5 June that the AWS and its coalition partner, the Freedom Union (UW), may soon reach a breakthrough in negotiations on how to settle the current cabinet crisis. Over the weekend, the AWS and the UW held a series of talks but failed to agree on a new premier, Polish media reported. The AWS formally proposed its leader, Marian Krzaklewski, to head the cabinet. Some Polish commentators speculated, however, that the UW has demanded that Krzaklewski abandon his presidential bid if he wants to become premier. The AWS did not confirm that this but issued a statement on 4 June saying that Krzaklewski will continue to be its candidate in the presidential election this fall. JM

MORE CANDIDATES JOIN POLAND'S PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski announced on 4 June that he will run in this fall's presidential elections, PAP reported. Olszewski served as prime minister for six months in 1992. He was voted out of office after his interior minister had released a list of the names of prominent Polish politicians, including President Lech Walesa, who allegedly collaborated with the communist-era secret police. Olszewski later set up a right-wing party called the Movement for the Reconstruction of Poland. The previous day, the Polish Socialist Party decided to field its leader, Piotr Ikonowicz, in this year's presidential ballot. JM

HAVEL UNDERGOES SURGERY AGAIN

Doctors at the Prague Central Military Hospital have operated on President Vaclav Havel to remove an abdominal hernia. The 5 June operation had been planned long in advance. Havel had suffered from the hernia since he underwent an emergency operation for a perforated colon in Innsbruck, Austria, two years ago. The Austrian surgeon who performed that operation was part of the medical team that operated on the president on 5 June, CTK reported. MS

CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER WANTS 'EARLY REFERENDUM' ON EU MEMBERSHIP

Civic Democratic Party Chairman Vaclav Klaus said on 4 June that a referendum on the Czech Republic's accession to the EU must be held as soon as possible, CTK reported. Klaus, who is known to be cool about EU membership, said the plebiscite is necessary because by joining the union, the Czech Republic "will voluntarily give up parts of its sovereignty." A bill providing for referenda was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in December 1999, but the Senate's Constitutional Commission recommended the following month that the upper house return the bill to the lower one. According to the commission, the bill must deal only with the referendum on EU entry, the results of which will be binding. MS

CARNOGURSKY TO QUIT SLOVAK PARTY LEADERSHIP

Jan Carnogursky, leader of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), said on 4 June that he will not seek re-election as KDH chairman at his party's national conference in October. He said he took his decision in the wake of "consideration of the situation in the KDH and on the Slovak political scene." He said that for now he will remain in the cabinet as justice minister and that delegates at the conference will decide whether he should stay on, CTK reported. Carnogursky also said the KDH leadership has agreed that Pavol Hrusovsky should replace him as party leader. But CTK commented that it is likely that Jan Figel, a member of the KDH liberal wing, will challenge Hrusovsky for that post. MS

SLOVAKIA TO PROSECUTE FORMER SECRET POLICE CHIEF

General Alojz Lorenc, the last chief of the communist Czechoslovak secret police, is to stand trial in Slovakia, AP reported on 3 June, citing local media reports. He is to be charged with responsibility for the arrest of some 300 dissidents in 1988- 1989 and with the destruction of secret documents. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in jail. A Czechoslovak court convicted Lorenc for abuse of power and sentenced him to four years in 1992. But he appealed that sentence and, after the split of the federation, fled to native Slovakia, where Vladimir Meciar's cabinet made no attempt to prosecute him. MS

HUNGARY MARKS TRIANON TREATY ANNIVERSARY

Some 5,000 people attended a rally in Budapest on 4 June organized by the far- right Justice and Life Party (MIEP) to mark the 80th anniversary of the Trianon treaty, under which Hungary was forced to agree to the loss of some 70 percent of its territory. MIEP Chairman Istvan Csurka told participants that "only the Bolsheviks and the liberals accepted Trianon." He called on the demonstrators "not to lose hope" and commented that borders have been changing all around Hungary, while Hungarians living beyond borders have failed to achieve autonomy. Not long ago, he said, the "world powers bombed another country" for the purpose of securing the same right. Smaller rallies were organized by the coalition Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Alliance in Debrecen and its coalition partner, the Independent Smallholders Party, in Zebegeny. MS




MODERATE SERBS LEAVE KOSOVA COUNCIL...

Father Sava, who is a leader of the moderate Serbian National Council (SNV) in Kosova, said at the Gracanica monastery on 4 June that the SNV's 62 members have suspended their participation as observers in the UN's transitional advisory council for the province. Sava added that the SNV will consider rejoining the UN's council after a delegation of SNV members returns from an upcoming meeting with the UN Security Council in New York, AP reported. The monk stressed that the recent deaths of eight Kosova Serbs in four incidents within a week or so have demonstrated the unwillingness or the inability of the UN's representatives in Kosova to combat "Albanian terrorism" and "take on the ethnic Albanian leaders suspected of involvement...in ethnic violence and organized crime," London's "The Guardian" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 June 2000). "What we have...is not only individual acts of revenge, but attempts to organize the expulsion of Serbs from [Kosova], as well as other non-Albanian communities...in order to create better preconditions for the declaration of independence" of the province, Sava added. PM

...CALL FOR STRONGER POLICE PRESENCE

Sava also said in Gracanica on 4 June that "the [international community's] entire strategy has to be changed. KFOR is a military force. They are not trained to fight against the Mafia and organized gangs. There are not enough policemen, especially policemen trained to fight organized crime," AP reported. Sava added that Kosova needs specially-trained anti-terrorism units that will be able to "identify perpetrators and groups who are trying to destabilize the situation." The monk did not say where he expects the understaffed UN police force in the province to find such forces. But he added that the SNV "cannot allow the international community to stand by and do nothing. They should fight this organized crime just as they fought [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic and his state terrorism," Reuters reported. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WANTS KOUCHNER TO RESIGN

Vladan Batic, who is one of the leaders of the Alliance for Change in Serbia, said in an open letter that Bernard Kouchner, who is the UN's chief administrator in Kosova, should resign if he is unable to better defend the interests of the province's Serbs, "Danas" reported on 5 June. Batic added that resigning is the only morally appropriate thing for Kouchner to do if he cannot better protect all the inhabitants of the province, as he promised to do in 1999 when he arrived in Kosova. PM

KOUCHNER SHUTS DOWN ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE DAILY

UN police and KFOR soldiers occupied the Prishtina offices of the daily "Dita" on 3 June. Kouchner ordered the newspaper temporarily closed down because it published an article in April alleging that Serbian UN worker Petar Topoljski committed atrocities against Kosovars during the 1999 conflict. UN officials have suggested that there was a link between the article and the murder of Topoljski in May (see "RFRE/RL Newsline," 18 May 2000). A spokeswoman for Kouchner stressed that persons seeking justice must use the legal system and not take the law into their own hands, AP reported. "Dita's" publisher Behlul Beqaj, who is a long-standing political adviser to Kosovar leader Hashim Thaci, argued that the paper published "facts" and that "if we cover up the facts, we will provoke more hatred." Beqaj stressed that journalists have a "moral, professional, and national responsibility" to present evidence against "criminals," dpa reported. PM

BELGRADE PROTESTS TO SKOPJE

Officials of the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry presented a demarche to the Macedonian ambassador on 3 June to protest the recent visit by Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski to Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2000). The Macedonian government rejected the note, saying that Belgrade had been officially informed in advance of the visit, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Georgievski and Thaci discussed the opening of a Macedonian commercial office in Prishtina and possibly a diplomatic mission as well. Belgrade insists that Kosova is an integral part of Serbia and that Kosova's foreign relations are Belgrade's affair. PM

JUL'S BELGRADE OFFICE RANSACKED

Unknown persons broke into and ransacked the offices of the United Yugoslav Left (JUL) in Belgrade's Zvezdara district on 3 June. The ultra-leftist party, which is headed by Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, issued a statement blaming the opposition: "This is the way those who call themselves the democratic opposition are trying to teach democracy lessons to JUL with the help of their shock troops whom they call [the student movement] Otpor (Resistance).... Like their NATO mentors did a year ago, they are waging their dirty little war against our country and our people, targeting those who prove all the time how much they care about this people and this country," Reuters reported. PM

SERBIAN REGIME MAKES MORE ARRESTS

A court in Pozarevac ruled on 3 June that opposition supporters Momcilo Veljkovic and Radojko Lukovic must remain in detention for another month in a case stemming from a brawl with several bodyguards of Milosevic's son (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 2000). The judges argued that freeing the men would "upset the public," "Danas" reported. Pozarevac is the hometown of the Milosevic family and known among opposition supporters as the "forbidden city." Meanwhile, police in several towns in various parts of Serbia continued to arrest and detain Otpor and other opposition activists. On 2 June, some 20 Otpor members were detained in Smederevska Palanka alone. In Ivanjica in south-central Serbia, police detained an 11-year- old boy who waved an Otpor flag in public. Police also questioned his father, who is an Otpor supporter. PM

ALBRIGHT BACKS DJUKANOVIC

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic in Berlin on 3 June that Washington is concerned following the recent slaying of a Djukanovic aide (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 June 2000). PM

BULATOVIC: DJUKANOVIC ACTING UNDER WESTERN ORDERS

Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, who is Milosevic's chief backer in Montenegro and Djukanovic's arch-rival, said in a telephone interview from Belgrade on 3 June that "the Montenegrin authorities are acting under direct instructions of the governments that attacked Yugoslavia" in 1999, Reuters reported. He stressed that NATO's aim is to "destabilize Yugoslavia." In Montenegro, representatives of Milosevic's Socialists arrived from Serbia to make joint campaign appearances with Bulatovic's backers in connection with the upcoming local elections in Podgorica and Herceg Novi, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 3 June. PM

PLAVSIC SETS UP NEW POLITICAL PARTY

Former Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic narrowly lost a vote of confidence at a meeting of her Serbian National Alliance (SNS) in Banja Luka on 3 June. Many SNS members blame her for the party's poor showing in the April municipal and local elections. On 4 June, Plavsic said that she and her backers have agreed to form the Serbian National Alliance--Biljana Plavsic. She blamed interference from leading Belgrade politicians, including the Socialists' Nikola Sainovic and the Radicals' Vojislav Seselj, for her defeat, "Oslobodjenje" reported. It is unclear if Dragan Kostic, who is the SNS's new leader, will keep the party in the governing coalition. Elsewhere in Banja Luka, Socialist Party delegates re-elected Zivko Radisic as their chairman on 3 June. PM

FIRST MUSLIMS RETURN TO SREBRENICA AREA

Some 80 Muslim families returned to the village of Suceska near Srebrenica on 3 June, Reuters reported. They are the first sizeable group of Muslims to go back to the area since the massacres of Muslims by Serbian forces in 1995. One elderly Muslim couple has returned to Srebrenica "to die." PM

LOW TURNOUT IN ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS

Less than 45 percent of the more than 17 million registered voters cast ballots in the first round of the local elections held on 4 June, according to the latest figures available from the Central Electoral Bureau. Exit polls indicate that in Bucharest, the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania's mayoral candidate, Sorin Oprescu, has a large lead (44 percent) over Democratic Convention of Romania and Democratic Party candidates Calin Catalin Chirita and Traian Basescu (17 percent each). A runoff, however, will be needed. The polls also indicate that in Cluj, extreme nationalist Mayor Gheorghe Funar, running on the Greater Romania Party ticket, has secured re-election with more than 50 percent support. Also re-elected is Iasi Mayor Constantin Simirad, leader of the Moldovans' Party, who is reported to have nearly 52 percent support. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REPLACES RADIO-TELEVISION LEADERSHIP

The parliament on 2 June voted to dismiss Tudor Olaru as chairman of the Teleradio-Moldova company, Constantin Rotaru as director of national radio, and Arcadie Gherasim as director of state television, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The Party of Moldovan Communists accused the three of a "lack of professionalism" and of condoning biased reporting. The move was supported by the opposition For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc (PDAM), a member of the opposition Alliance for Democracy and Reforms (ADR) umbrella organization. ADR Chairman Alexandru Mosanu responded that the ADR still exists but might decide to expel the PDAM from its ranks. Communist deputy Iulian Magaleas was appointed new Teleradio-Moldova chairman. The new television director is Anatol Babel, editor-in chief of the PDAM's daily organ, while the new radio director is Vasile Gribincea, until now deputy editor in chief of the station's news department. MS

BULGARIA SAYS MEDICS TORTURED IN LIBYA

Justice Minister Teodosii Simeonov told journalists in Sofia on 2 June that the six Bulgarian nationals on trial in Libya for allegedly infecting children in a Benghazi hospital with the HIV virus have been tortured, Reuters reported. He said one of the accused, a nurse, had confessed but later withdrew the confession, saying it was made under duress. Simeonov added that the transcript of the interrogations were written in Arabic and Bulgarian suspects were forced to sign them without understanding their content. He also said that during the investigation "there was pressure to convert to Islam." In response, Libya called on Bulgaria to "avoid controversy" and not to interfere with the justice system. Meanwhile, on 4 June, the trial was postponed for the fourth time. It is to be resumed in September. MS




LANGUAGE AND ETHNICITY IN KYRGYZSTAN


By Nick Megoran

Two recent events in Kyrgyzstan--the adoption of a law making Russian an official language of the republic and the announcement that Bishkek will resettle displaced Afghan Kyrgyz--highlight the continuing tensions between civic and ethnic nationalism that have marked Kyrgyz politics since independence.

The language law is clearly a step toward the goal of creating a civic society for all, regardless of ethnicity, which is enshrined in President Askar Akaev's oft-quoted slogan: "Kyrgyzstan is our common home." But the acceptance of the Afghan Kyrgyz suggests that Kyrgyzstan remains primarily the ethnic homeland of the Kyrgyz. This second trend is highlighted by the continuing use of the legendary Kyrgyz warrior-hero "Manas" as a cornerstone of state ideology.

The tension between these two approaches has its origins in linguistic imperialism during the Soviet times. Although Kyrgyz is a rich and ancient language, Soviet officials relegated it to second place behind Russian. Knowledge of Russian became the key to social advancement, and Russian education was given more priority in development planning.

CPSU General-Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of "glasnost" was seen by many as an opportunity to reverse some of these past injustices and restore a sense of dignity to the Kyrgyz people. It also facilitated the adoption in 1989 of a law making Kyrgyz the state language. The intention was that intellectual and political life in the republic should be slowly switched into Kyrgyz.

The celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the language law in fall 1999 clearly showed, however, that this intention was not fulfilled. In spite of upbeat talk (government newspapers ran headlines such as "Kyrgyz language is becoming an Internet language"), few non-Kyrgyz tried to learn the language. Moreover, many Kyrgyz themselves remained more comfortable with the Russian language in the workplace. One independent newspaper warned that Kyrgyz was becoming "the language of the old and the villagers," and professor of linguistics Sherali Japarov warned that Kyrgyz may soon end up a dead language, just like Latin and Sanskrit.

The passage in late May of legislation giving Russian the status of "an official language" was thus recognition of the failure of the 1989 law to achieve its aims and an affirmation of the status quo. Although presented as a measure to stem the outflow of Kyrgyzstan's Slavic population, the move has essentially two political goals: garnering support from the Russian-speaking population in the run-up to the presidential vote this fall, and winning Moscow's support for Bishkek.

The Russian language law has indeed won plaudits from Russian speakers, but at the same time it has generated a strong reaction from Kyrgyz nationalists who worry about the fate of their language. This was predictable, and it may well be that President Akaev's intention is to win support from urban Kyrgyz communities and the non-Kyrgyz population as well as to present himself as a liberal, intelligent leader who alone blocks the nationalist hordes.

Indeed, the pro-Russian factor may have been important in determining Bishkek's latest actions. Kyrgyzstan's relationship with the West has soured following sharp Western criticism of Kyrgyzstan's March parliamentary elections. As a result, many in Kyrgyzstan view Putin as a potentially more reliable and understanding ally. And perhaps it is no coincidence that also in the same week as the language law passed, the Soviet-era Komsomol youth league was re-launched, and a pressure group campaigning for Kyrgyzstan's entrance into the Russia-Belarus union was founded.

But the most important reason for Bishkek's actions may lie in the increasing self-confidence among the Kyrgyz as a nation. Since 1989, the Kyrgyz have achieved dominance in the country, as wealth and political power have shifted into their hands and educational possibilities increased. They feel less threatened by other groups--who have generally accepted their hegemony--and are therefore secure enough to countenance the language law. Such a scenario would be harder to imagine in contemporary Uzbekistan, where state nationalism is very strong, or in Kazakhstan, where Turkic domination over the Slavic population is less firmly established.

Many foreign observers saw violent conflicts between Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, and Tajiks in the early 1990s as augurs of even worse conflicts. But Kyrgyzstan has generally avoided the level of ethnic tensions that has existed over its borders in Eastern Turkestan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan over the last decade. This is because it has been able to tread a careful path between asserting the repressed ethnic identity of the Kyrgyz while seeking to develop a state with a strong and inclusive civic identity. Anthropologist Nienke van der Heide has commented on the way Kyrgyzstan's leaders move between these two contradictory doctrines. This approach-- putting Manas in charge of the "common home," so to speak--is surely one that bodes well for the future. The author is a PhD candidate at the Department of Geography, Cambridge University.


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