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Newsline - June 13, 2000




MUFTI NAMED AS INTERIM CHECHEN LEADER

President Vladimir Putin has appointed Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov to head the temporary administration in Chechnya, Russian media reported on 12 June. The only Chechen to have been invited to the banquet following Putin's inauguration last month, Kadyrov had been considered one of the most likely candidates for that post. Kadyrov, who has escaped seven assassination bids in recent years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1999 and 2 May 2000), split with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov last fall and has since repeatedly called on Maskhadov to step down. Putin's aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii characterized the mufti as "an experienced, strong-willed tough leader," adding "that is exactly what Chechnya needs today to complete the process of liquidating rebel formations and begin restoration," according to Interfax. Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, who commands the joint federal forces in Chechnya and has said several times that Kadyrov is the most qualified candidate as Chechen leader, similarly expressed approval of Kadyrov's appointment. LF

FORMER CHECHEN LEADER HAILS PRESIDENTIAL RULE

In his first interview since being appointed Russian ambassador to Tanzania in March 1997, former pro-Moscow Chechen leader Doku Zavgaev told ITAR-TASS on 12 June that Putin's decree imposing direct rule on Chechnya "is consistently pushing the situation toward peace and stability." Zavgaev said he has no doubts that the new administrative model will prove effective. But at the same time, he ruled out his return to Chechnya to take up a post in the new administration. LF

FRENCH PHOTOGRAPHER FREED IN CHECHNYA

Russian security officials on 12 June secured the release of Brice Fletiaux, who was abducted in Chechnya in October 1999 by a Chechen field commander who had demanded a $.5 million ransom for his release. LF

YAKOVLEV SPEAKS OUT AGAINST NEW ABM SYSTEMS...

In an interview with Russian Television on 11 June, Colonel-General Vladimir Yakovlev, commander in chief of Russia's Strategic Rocket Force, warned of the "nuclear anarchy" that would result if new anti-ballistic missile systems were to be deployed. "Ideally, we would not like to develop an ABM system. Such a system incites other countries to develop their arsenals or try to circumvent the system," he commented. At the same time, Yakovlev conceded that an ABM system could be built with the U.S. if a political decision to that effect were taken and if the system itself were directed "only against a specific potential threat to either the territory of Russia or Europe." Yakovlev also revealed that Russia has information about five to eight states on the "threshold" of acquiring nuclear capability. He declined, however, to name those states, saying only that 2015-2025 would be about the right time to do so, Interfax reported. JC

...WHILE COHEN ARRIVES TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PUTIN PROPOSAL

U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen arrived in Moscow on 12 June, saying he wants to find out more about President Putin's proposal for a joint European missile defense system. Reuters quoted Cohen as saying that based on what he has heard to date, the proposal does not "really effectively deal with the issue that [the U.S. is] confronting." At the same time, he said Washington and Moscow could look for ways to cooperate on joint projects, adding that "we certainly could work with the Russians on theater-missile defense programmes." At a 13 June meeting in the Kremlin, President Putin pressed for such cooperation, according to AFP and ITAR-TASS. Moscow and Washington, he suggested, should "consider together the problems that are of concern to Russia and the U.S.," including a joint missile defense system. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev also took part in that meeting. JC

PYONGYANG LOOKS TO CLOSER TIES WITH MOSCOW

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, speaking on state radio on 12 June, said he hopes that ties between Pyongyang and Moscow will improve, Reuters reported, citing the Tokyo-based Radiopress monitoring agency. "The relationship between the two countries is entering a new stage of development as hoped for by the people of both countries," Kim commented. The Kremlin recently announced that Russian President Putin will soon visit North Korea. That visit is expected to take place in mid-July, shortly before the G-8 summit in Japan. JC

RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SECRETS MISSING FROM LOS ALAMOS

Citing the Website of "The New York Times," Western agencies on 12 June reported that the FBI is searching for two hard drives missing from the Los Alamos nuclear research laboratory that include classified U.S. and Russian nuclear information as well as other sensitive data. According to the newspaper, the hard drives were discovered to have gone missing from a vault at the laboratory, which had been evacuated for five days in mid-May during nearby wildfires. Energy Department officials first learned about their disappearance at the beginning of this month. The New York daily also reported that the hard drives contained data used to respond to nuclear accidents and terrorist threats as well as information about Russia's nuclear weapons program. JC

YABLOKO, SPS TO MERGE...

Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) leader Boris Nemtsov told NTV on 11 June that the SPS and Yabloko are poised to unite. He added that the ultimate goal is to have a single party list for the State Duma elections in 2003 and to endorse joint candidates for future presidential and gubernatorial elections. The same day, the website reported that Yabloko's central council decided to support Nemtsov's suggestion to create a "democratic coalition" and nominate joint candidates for upcoming elections. On 13 June, Duma deputy speaker Vladimir Lukin of Yabloko announced that the agreement merging the two organizations will be ready for signing on 14 June. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told Ekho Moskvy on 11 June that his Russian Social Democratic Party might temporarily join forces with Yabloko and SPS. JAC

...AS FATHERLAND TO BECOME A PARTY

Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's Fatherland movement will hold a congress at the end of the year to decide on whether to turn the movement into a party, Interfax reported on 10 June. Luzhkov told reporters the same day that Fatherland will participate in the next State Duma and presidential elections in Russia. He added that Fatherland also plans to participate in elections to local self-rule bodies in order to establish itself in the regions. JAC

PUTIN OVERTURNS ANOTHER GOVERNOR'S DECREE

President Putin signed a decree on 13 June suspending a resolution of Tver Governor Vladimir Platov because it runs counter to federal regulations, ITAR-TASS reported. Platov's decree of 28 September 1999 set electricity tariffs for the population of the oblast. The same day, Putin met with Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais to discuss the situation in the country's energy market. Last month, Putin signed decrees overturning orders in Ingushetia and in Smolensk, and Amur Oblasts (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 17 and 24 May 2000). JAC

CENTRAL BANK EXPECTED TO RETAIN ITS INDEPENDENCE

State Duma deputies are likely to reject two bills that would alter the legal status of Russia's Central Bank when they consider the legislation on 21 June, Duma Banking Committee Chairman (People's Deputy) Aleksandr Shokhin said last week, "The Moscow Times" reported on 13 June. According to the daily, the two bills would limit the bank's dealings with its property and bring the bank's pension schemes for its more than 60,000 employees into line with federal legislation. Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko has fought the proposals, saying they encroach on the bank's independence and could be used by the government's creditors abroad to seize bank property. Last week, Gerashchenko expressed a view on the future course of the ruble contrary to the government's (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2000). JAC

PUTIN SAYS PAST DECADE CAUSED RUSSIANS TO SHED THEIR ILLUSIONS

Addressing a banquet to celebrate the Day of the Adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Federation on 12 June, President Putin called on Russians to make their country "a united and strong power." Putin also noted that 10 years ago, when the declaration was adopted, Russians "were more romantic and, I think many would agree, even naive. We thought we could build a new state simply and quickly. Now we know how hard it is reform the economy." Putin added that while many people lost hope when the changes were occurring, he has met throughout Russia "quite a number of other people, full of vigor and the desire to work, which means there are many possibilities to pull the country out of the crisis." JAC

GOVERNMENT TO SHED ANOTHER STRUCTURE?

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 10 June that it appears the government of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will not have a presidium. According to the daily, no final decision has yet been made, but since the number of total ministers has been reduced from 30 to 23, there "is no point in creating a narrower circle within this group." JAC

TATAR NATIONALISTS BURN NEW FEDERATION MAP

The moderate nationalist Tatarstan Public Center (TPC) held protest meetings in Kazan and Chally on the Day of the Adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Federation on 12 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. At the rally in Chally, some 500 people gathered to protest President Putin's recent creation of seven federal administrative districts and the prospect of Moscow's abrogating its power-sharing agreement with Tatarstan. TPC representatives also burned a map depicting the seven zones, claiming that Putin's move was inspired by an idea proposed by Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii. RIA-Novosti reported that a similar rally and map-burning ceremony took place in Naberezhnye Chelny. Some 100 people attended that meeting according to police figures (see also "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 14 June 2000). JAC




ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY REJECTS ELECTION LAW REFORM

Parliamentary deputies on 12 June voted down a bill co- authored by five minority factions that would have significantly increased the proportion of parliament mandates allocated under the proportional system, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The Communist, Dashnaktsutiun, and Orinats Yerkir parties as well as the National Democratic Union and the Right and Accord bloc (which have eight, eight, six, seven, and seven deputies, respectively) had proposed amending the present ratio of mandates allocated under the proportional and majoritarian systems from 56:75 to 101:30. If adopted, that amendment would have increased their chances of greater representation in the next parliament. LF

ARMENIA FREES AZERBAIJANI POW

The Armenian authorities on 12 June released an Azerbaijani serviceman taken prisoner in July 1999 near Goradiz, close to the Azerbaijani-Iranian border, Turan reported. LF

EMBATTLED AZERBAIJANI EDITOR TO SEEK POLITICAL ASYLUM ABROAD

Elmar Huseinov, editor of the newspaper "Bakinskii bulvard" and the journal "Monitor Weekly," told Turan on 13 June that he intends to approach an unnamed Western embassy in Baku to request political asylum. He said that decision was prompted by ongoing harassment from the Azerbaijani authorities. The Baku tax police sealed those publications' premises last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 May 2000). Employees were allowed to enter the offices again on the morning of 12 June, but the premises were sealed again after they left at the end of the day. Also on 12 June, a Baku district court rejected Huseinov's suit against the district tax office. LF

ADJAR LEADER, FORMER CP FIRST SECRETARY IMPLICATED IN GEORGIAN ASSASSINATION PLOT

Former Georgian Interior Ministry official Otar Melikidze has accused Adjar State Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze and former Georgian Communist Party First Secretary Djumber Patiashvili of participating in plans, foiled in May 1999, to assassinate Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and seize power in Georgia, Caucasus Press reported on 13 June, citing "Eco- Digest" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). Melikidze has since reportedly retracted that accusation, saying that he made it "under physical and psychological pressure." LF

GEORGIA REJECTS CHECHEN REFUGEES' REQUEST TO BE RESETTLED

Georgia's Minister for Refugees Valeri Vashakidze told Caucasus Press on 12 June that neither the Georgian government nor the UN High Commissioner for Refugees considers it expedient to build a tent camp elsewhere in Georgia for the Chechen refugees now living in Georgia's Pankisi gorge. Those refugees last week petitioned the Georgian government to resettle them anywhere in Georgia on the grounds that they are held responsible for an upsurge in criminal activities in the gorge (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2000). President Shevardnadze similarly said on 12 June that he does not consider the refugees' presence in the gorge a destabilizing factor. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW CANDIDATE FOR AGRICULTURE MINISTER...

Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on12 June that he will propose that the parliament endorse the candidacy of its Agriculture Committee Chairman David Kirvalidze as minister of agriculture, Caucasus Press reported. He characterized Kirvalidze as "a talented man and a good farmer." Kirvalidze has been one of the fiercest critics of former Agriculture Minister Bakur Gulua, a longtime Shevardnadze associate, whose reappointment to that post deputies rejected last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 2000). LF

...DENIES HIS HEALTH IS FAILING

In his traditional Monday radio broadcast on 12 June, Shevardnadze rejected as "psychological sabotage" rumors that he is gravely ill, Caucasus Press reported. He ordered the law enforcement agencies to take tough measures against persons who disseminate such rumors, which he described as intended to undermine Georgia's statehood. LF

GEORGIAN SPECIAL POLICE DISPERSE DISPLACED PERSONS' PROTEST

A Tbilisi special police unit used force on 12 June to disperse a group of some 300 displaced persons who were picketing the Constitutional Court, Caucasus Press reported. The displaced Georgians, who had fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war, were demanding payment of allowances overdue for the past four months and new initiatives by the Georgian government to restore its jurisdiction over Abkhazia. Minister for Refugees Vashakidze said the same day that the displaced persons' allowances for February will be paid by 14 June and that the Georgian authorities have earmarked 3.5 million lari ($1.8 million) to repay the arrears. Displaced persons receive 11 lari a month, LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY AGAIN ACCUSES GUERRILLAS OF SMUGGLING

Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on 12 June, parliamentary deputy Tengiz Jgushia again accused Dato Shengelia, one of the leaders of the "Forest Brothers" guerrilla organization operating in western Georgia, of controlling smuggling operations from Abkhazia to Georgia, Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2000). Jgushia added that neither regional governor Bondo Djikia nor the local police are able to prevent Shengelia and his estimated 50 men from "terrorizing" the population of the west Georgian region of Mingrelia. Local residents, Jgushia said, have been reduced to a state of "despair." On 13 June, "Alia" quoted Zurab Samushia, who heads the White Legion guerrillas, as denying that his men are engaged in smuggling. LF

BOMB DEFUSED IN GEORGIAN CAPITAL

Police in Tbilisi on 12 June found and defused a time bomb containing 1.5 kilograms of explosives under a staircase in a department store close to the city's main railway station, Caucasus Press reported. The Security Ministry has begun an investigation. LF

TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS KAZAKHSTAN

Ismail Cem met with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev in Astana on 12 June for talks focusing on Kazakhstan's possible agreement to export oil via the planned Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Energy analysts believe that the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian cannot produce enough crude to render the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline economically viable but that recent test drilling indicates that Kazakhstan's offshore Kashagan field contains reserves large enough to warrant the $2.4 billion investment the project will require (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 2000). Reuters quoted Toqaev as repeating Kazakhstan's earlier position that it will select export pipelines depending on which becomes operational soonest. He noted that the Caspian Pipeline Consortium project will be completed in late 2001, while Baku-Ceyhan cannot be finished before 2004 at the earliest. LF

DISPUTED KYRGYZ ROUNDTABLE HOLDS CONCLUDING SESSION...

The second and last session of the roundtable discussion between the Kyrgyz authorities, opposition parties, and NGOs was held in Bishkek on 12 June, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. The first round took place on 8 June. Addressing the gathering, President Askar Akaev solicited suggestions from opposition parties on measures to stabilize the political and economic situation. He said those suggestions will be incorporated into a development program for 2001-2002 that will be drafted by the end of this year. Akaev also admitted that irregularities were registered in a number of court cases connected with the conduct of the February-March parliamentary elections, prompting him to dismiss Asanbek SharshanAliyev as prosecutor-general. LF

...AS POLICE DETAIN, BEAT PICKET PARTICIPANTS

Police on 12 June detained 10 participants in the ongoing picket to demand the annulment of the election results, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Some of the detainees, including two women, were beaten. They were released after being held for four hours, according to the Kyrgyz Human Rights Committee. On 12 June, the demonstration entered its 89th day. Meanwhile, another group of demonstrators have appealed to the Bishkek City Court, which on 9 June rejected its suit against 23 parliamentary deputies who had published an open letter in April alleging that the picket participants were being paid for their ongoing protest. The judge ruled that under the Procedural-Criminal Code, a suit may be brought only against an individual but not against a group of people. LF

UZBEK PRESIDENT APPEALS TO PAKISTAN TO HELP MEDIATE END TO AFGHAN FIGHTING

Speaking at the 10-11 June summit in Tehran of the Economic Cooperation Organization, Islam Karimov asked Pakistan's Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf to promote a peace settlement between Afghanistan's warring Taliban and the Northern Alliance, Interfax reported. Karimov underlined that terrorism emanating from Afghanistan is a serious threat to his country's security and stability. LF




BELARUSIAN NGO LEADER REPROACHED FOR PARTICIPATING IN 'SOCIOPOLITICAL DIALOGUE'

The Supervisory Council of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BKhK), a prominent human rights group in Belarus, has accused BKhK Chairwoman Tatsyana Protska of having discredited the organization and made "inexcusable mistakes," "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" reported on 13 June. The council is demanding that Protska be dismissed. Carlos Sherman, a member of the council, said Protska made a mistake by joining the so-called "sociopolitical dialogue" initiated by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Alyaksandr Patupa, another member of the council, told the newspaper that the BKhK should not participate in the "sociopolitical dialogue," since this forum intends to legitimize Lukashenka's regime through elections but without introducing a democracy. Protska has suspended her chairmanship pending a BKhK congress in September. "I am accused of furthering the incorporation of Belarus into Russia," she commented. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT URGES LEGISLATIVE BASIS FOR AGRO- INDUSTRIAL REFORM

Leonid Kuchma on 12 June urged the government and the parliament to provide a legislative foundation for reforming the country's agro-industrial sector, Interfax reported. "The state should create transparent rules of the game in the agro-industrial sector in order to help farmers stand on their own two feet," he said. Responding to criticism that agricultural reform in Ukraine was launched too late, Kuchma said that "a year and a half ago it would not have succeeded." He added that "the awareness of land ownership" has begun to return to the countryside only recently. Under a presidential decree issued last December, the government has divided the land of some 11,000 collective farms into plots and distributed them among the farms' workers. The decree obliges the government to supply the plots' owners with ownership certificates by the end of 2002. JM

ESTONIAN AIR BEGINS INTERNET TICKETING

Estonias national air carrier Estonian Air has opened a travel agency on the Internet, ETA reported on 12 June. The website offers a wide range of services, including the purchase of tickets and the booking of hotel and rental cars all over the world. The agency uses the international booking system Amadeus and is located at www.ee.travelup.net. AB

NEW LATVIAN CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CASE INVOLVES GERMAN TV CHANNEL

The Riga Childrens Rights Protection Center has appealed to the Prosecutor-Generals Office to investigate the legality of recent erotic film footage shot in the swimming pool of the Natalija Draudzina High School in Riga, LETA reported on 12 June. Local photographer Ralfs Vulis shot the footage, which features nude female minors, for the German TV channel RTL. Riga City Council Chairman Andris Argalis has ordered the Riga School Board to reprimand the principal of the high school for renting out the schools swimming pool to the film crew. Earlier this year, pedophilia charges were brought against several former government ministers. Those charges were dropped following exhaustive investigations. AB

ANTI-COMMUNIST CONGRESS CONVENES IN VILNIUS

An international congress on evaluating the crimes of communism opened in Vilnius on 12 June, ELTA and BNS reported. Participants from 21 countries are attending the three-day congress, which formed a nine member international tribunal to provide a social, political ,and legal evaluation of the crimes of communism. Human rights activist Yelena Bonner and former Polish President Lech Walesa are in attendance, as well as Russian State Duma deputy Sergei Kovalev. Kovalev told the congress, It was my nation that tolerated communism, it was my nation that was fascinated with the idea of communism and welcomed it, and occupied the Baltic countries, and not only them. I would like to stress that although the main culprits are the Communists, we [Russians] cannot say either that we had nothing to do with it all. Please accept my apologies. By contrast, the Russian Foreign Ministry last week issued a statement claiming that the USSR sent its troops to Lithuania in 1940 at the request of that country's authorities and under then existing international law. AB

VOLATILE MARKET FORCES LITHUANIA TO SCALE BACK TELECOM IPO

The current state of the global high-tech market has forced the Lithuanian government to trim its initial public offering of Lithuanian Telecom stock to 3.15 litas ($0.78) per share, Reuters and ELTA reported on 10 June. The government also cut the size of the stake for sale from 35 percent to 25 percent, retaining a 10 percent share in the company. Analysts had expected the shares to stand at 3.60-3.80 litas during the subscription period, which ended on 9 June. The stock began trading in Vilnius and London on 12 June, with the average price reaching 3.19 litas and total turnover 11.129 million litas. AB

POLAND'S CABINET TO PRIORITIZE ECONOMIC GROWTH, NEW JOBS

Premier Jerzy Buzek said on 12 June that his minority cabinet will give priority to boosting economic growth and creating new jobs. Poland's unemployment rose to 13.5 percent last month, up from 9.5 percent in mid-1998. This trend has contributed to the unpopularity of Buzek's cabinet. A poll conducted by CBOS in early June showed that 51 percent of Poles were dissatisfied with the recently collapsed coalition of the Solidarity Electoral Action and the Freedom Union, while only 19 percent evaluated its performance positively. "There are good months ahead of our economy. We must stabilize growth by prudent financial policies," Reuters quoted Buzek as saying. Deputy parliamentary speaker Marek Borowski from the opposition Democratic Left Alliance said Buzek's position has strengthened and his cabinet has a good chance of surviving until the end of this year. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT PROPOSES 'PACT FOR THE EU'

Aleksander Kwasniewski on 12 June proposed that Poland's main political forces sign "a pact for the EU" in order to accelerate the passage of EU-oriented legislation, PAP reported. According to his proposal, the lower and upper houses of the parliament would create special commissions on European integration, the teams negotiating conditions of Poland's EU membership would be expanded to include representatives of the opposition, and Poland's best negotiators would be protected "against political shakeups." "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported last week that the parliament must pass 108 EU-oriented bills by the fall of 2001 if Poland is to stick to its pledge to be ready for EU membership by 2003 JM

CROATIAN PREMIER IN PRAGUE

Prime Minister Ivica Racan and his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman, met in Prague on 12 June to discuss the two countries' bid to join the EU, trade relations between the two countries, and ways for Croatia to pay its outstanding debt to the Czech Republic. The two leaders agreed to examine the possibility of facilities being offered to Czech investors in the Croatian tourist industry as a means of settling that debt (Croatia has long been a favorite vacation destination for Czechs). Racan also met with opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader Vaclav Klaus, who later said they had talked about "Croatia's efforts to free itself from the heritage of [Franjo] Tudjman's rule," CTK reported. MS

CZECH POLITICIAN WARNS AGAINST 'CREEPING ANTI-EU NATIONALISM'

Social Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Zdenek Skromach on 12 June said he is worried that nationalist rhetoric is creeping into the opposition ODS's statements in connection with EU membership. Skromach mentioned the recent speech of ODS Chairman Klaus, who denounced "kowtowing" to stronger neighbors and said this was "illustrative of a protectorate mentality" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2000). Skromach said that for some time it has been obvious that the ODS is "not interested in the quick integration of the Czech Republic into the EU" and has been voting against bills aimed at harmonizing Czech legislation with that of the EU legislation, CTK reported. He added that the ODS is unenthusiastic about EU integration because many EU countries are ruled by Social Democratic parties. MS

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN ILLEGAL OIL DEALINGS?

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an individual testifying at a closed meeting of the parliament's ad hoc committee on illegal oil dealings accused high-ranking politicians, the police, the Socialist Party, and Interior Minister Sandor Pinter of cooperating with criminals. On 9 June, Laszlo Pallag, the chairman of the committee and an Independent Smallholder deputy, said the witness claimed that from 1992- 1996 Pinter, who was head of the police force at that time, had known that oil shipments were being tampered with in Hungary's Bacs-Kiskun county and had accepted some 20-50 million forints ($75,000-$185,000) from criminals. The witness also charged that in 1994 the Socialist Party's treasurer received some 750 million forints on Pinter's orders. Ferenc Juhasz, deputy chairman of the oil committee, said he will call for a special meeting of the group at which Pallag will be asked to reveal the evidence he has gathered. MSZ




KOUCHNER UPBEAT ON UNMIK'S RECORD...

Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN's civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK), said in Prishtina on 12 June that UNMIK can be proud of its achievements during its first year of existence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2000). He argued that one cannot "make a Switzerland in 12 months" and stressed that "technically, politically, in terms of administration, in terms of human rights, of protection, we did a lot," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Kouchner also appealed for inter-ethnic tolerance: "Kosovo must join the democracies of Europe, every one of which respects and includes all of its minorities in their political bodies.... [That] was the reason for our engagement and coming in here." PM

...SEES UN IN KOSOVA FOR LONG HAUL

Kouchner said in Prishtina on 12 June that the local elections in October will lead to the "transfer of more responsibilities of government to the people" of Kosova, Reuters reported. Kouchner also appealed to members of the Serbian and Roma minorities to register and vote to ensure their voice in the province's future. The UN will nonetheless need to be present in Kosova for "many years" to come, he concluded. PM

...IS DOWN ON DIENSTBIER

Kouchner had sharp words for UN human rights envoy Jiri Dienstbier during his 12 June speech in Prishtina, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Kouchner slammed Dienstbier for allegedly criticizing UNMIK without first checking his facts. The former French cabinet minister called on Dienstbier to "shut up," adding that he will not receive the Czech diplomat. Kouchner noted that Czech President Vaclav Havel has also been sharply critical of Dienstbier for being outspoken but poorly informed (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 May 2000). PM

KOSOVAR DAILY REAPPEARS AFTER BAN

The Prishtina daily "Dita" appeared on 13 June after a recent ban (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 June 2000). Kouchner imposed the ban because the daily had published an article that UNMIK called "inflammatory." Kouchner argued that the article led to the death of a Serbian UN employee. "Dita" wrote on 13 June that it will continue to publish the names of persons it believes guilty of war crimes. PM

PRELIMINARY RESULTS IN MONTENEGRIN VOTE

Preliminary, unofficial election results show that President Milo Djukanovic's For A Better Life coalition scored a victory in the capital, Podgorica, with 28 out of 54 seats in the city council, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2000). In the smaller port town of Herceg Novi, the Yugoslavia coalition loyal to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is leading, with 19 out of 35 seats. Podgorica's Mayor-elect Miomir Mugosa said that Milosevic's support in Herceg Novi came primarily from "persons of Serbian nationality from Bosnia and Croatia" who moved to the port town in recent years. He added that the new arrivals gave their votes to "the man who destroyed all that they used to have in the places they came from before they moved to Montenegro." PM

MILOSEVIC GIVES LI PENG MEDAL

Milosevic presented the Order of the Great Star of Yugoslavia to visiting Chinese parliamentary speaker Li Peng in Belgrade on 12 June, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2000). The two leaders issued a joint statement, saying that UNMIK "is being abused for the interests of Albanian terrorists and their allies in NATO. Under the authority of the UN, genocide against the Serbian people and other non-Albanians is being carried out," AP reported. The two men called for the return of Serbian forces to the provinces. Li is the highest-ranking foreign official to meet with Milosevic since the Hague-based war crimes tribunal indicted him in May 1999 for atrocities in Kosova. PM

DRASKOVIC BACKERS VISIT CHINA

A delegation from Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) led by Belgrade Mayor Vojislav Mihajlovic returned from China on 12 June. SPO spokesman Predrag Simic noted that delegates held talks with government and business leaders in Beijing and Shanghai, "Danas" reported. PM

SERBIAN PRESIDENT UNVEILS MONUMENT FOR 1999 WAR

In Belgrade on 12 June, Milan Milutinovic dedicated a white obelisk topped by an eternal flame to honor the "victims of NATO aggression," Reuters reported. He noted that "even in the aggressors' countries" there is an increasing number of people who regard "NATO as the loser" of that conflict (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 2000). PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION FORMS MEDIA COMMITTEE

Representatives of all major opposition parties and coalitions, with the exception of the SPO, agreed in Belgrade on 12 June to set up a joint public relations committee. They also decided to establish a body of experts to draft the principles for a joint opposition slate in the local elections expected in the fall or winter, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In addition, opposition leaders called on the West to back up its offers of moral support for the opposition with concrete help. The G-17 group of economists especially wants to be able to show the electorate that it has firm plans and pledges from the EU's Stability Pact to carry out reconstruction. G-17 leaders called on the EU to organize a donors' conference for a post-Milosevic Serbia, "Danas" reported. PM

TUDJMAN GETS SQUARE IN SPLIT

The city council voted on 12 June to name a square after the late President Franjo Tudjman, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The council also agreed to remove the name of controversial writer and World War II government minister Mile Budak from a street. PM

POLICE INVESTIGATE CROATIA'S MAIN SOCCER CLUBS

Police have launched an investigation into irregularities in the business affairs of Dinamo Zagreb, "Jutarnji list" reported on 13 June. Top officials of Hajduk Split are already under investigation. PM

FORMER ROMANIAN PRESIDENT BALKS AT TESTIFYING OVER MONEY- LAUNDERING

Party of Social Democracy in Romania Chairman (PDSR) Ion Iliescu failed on 12 June to heed a summons by the Prosecutor-General's Office to testify in the investigation launched on behalf of the French authorities into the Adrian Costea money-laundering affair. PDSR Deputy Chairman Ioan Mircea Pascu said Iliescu's agenda was "too heavy" due to the ongoing electoral campaign. Pascu accused the investigators of "attempting to create a false image of unwillingness to cooperate" on Iliescu's part. He said the summons should have been "more amiably coordinated" with Iliescu and that the affair "is clearly being exploited for electoral purposes directed against our party," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Meanwhile, the Prosecutor-General's Office announced that it has again summoned Iliescu, who is now required to appear on 19 June. MS

ROMANIAN POLITICAL MAP ABOUT TO CHANGE?

National Liberal Party (PNL) Deputy Chairman Valeriu Stoica has said the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) can regain its political predominance "only if its structure and leadership become more pronouncedly liberal," RFE/ RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 12 June. He proposed the setting up of a new political alliance that would include the CDR, the Democratic Party, and the Alliance for Romania (APR), adding that those parties should run on joint lists for the parliamentary elections and support a joint candidate in the presidential ballot. Stoica also did not rule out that the PNL will again run in the parliamentary elections on lists separate from those of the CDR should it fail to resolve its problems. APR Chairman Teodor Melescanu responded that the PNL must "first distance itself from the government's and particularly from President Constantinescu's...erroneous economic policies" (see also "End Note" below). MS

NEW POLITICAL PARTY SET UP IN MOLDOVA

The Association of Victims of the Soviet Occupational Regime and Veterans of Romanian Army is to transform itself into a political party and will call itself the Romanian National Party (PNR). Party chairman Gheorghe Ghimpu said on 12 June that his formation will demand from the Russian Federation $10.7 billion in compensation for "the damage inflicted on Moldova during the Soviet period." Ghimpu added that the PNR may field its own presidential candidate in the elections due in the fall. He also said the party has 10,000 members, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT PUTS BORDER TREATY WITH UKRAINE ON BACKBURNER

The parliament has again voted against debating the 1999 treaty with Ukraine on settling the border dispute between the two countries. Under that treaty, the two states were to exchange small chunks of territory, giving Ukraine sovereignty over a portion of a highway to Odesa that passes through Moldovan territory in exchange for a small strip of land leading to the River Danube, where Moldova wants to build an oil terminal. The Party of Moldovan Communists said it has "other constructive proposals to make," while the Popular Party Christian Democratic called the treaty "a fiasco for Moldovan diplomacy." The Ukrainian parliament has ratified the treaty, and experts cited by Infotag said Moldova's refusal to do so might result in Ukrainian lawmakers' refusal to ratify an agreement recognizing Moldovan properties on Ukrainian territory. MS

BULGARIANS PRAY FOR MEDICS ON TRIAL IN LIBYA

Some 3,000 people gathered outside Sofia's main cathedral on 12 June to pray for the six Bulgarians who are due to go on trial in Libya on charges of deliberately infecting children with the HIV virus in a Benghazi hospital. The prayer was organized by popular television and radio personalities as well as the daily "24 Chasa," Reuters reported. MS




ELECTORAL YEAR KICKS OFF IN ROMANIA


By Michael Shafir

The final results of the first round of Romania's local elections were officially released on 8 June, four days after the ballot. Reactions, however, came sooner. Just one day after results were becoming known, politicians and political analysts, in a rare display of unanimity, agreed that the vote had produced a clear winner: the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). But there was less accord on the extent of the PDSR's victory and its implications for "electoral year 2000."

The ballot's outcome confirmed pollsters' predictions. Yet in the last few months, the PDSR and its leaders had become increasingly entangled in political and legal scandals, and some people--particularly among the ruling coalition and its sympathizers--were obviously hoping that these developments would either diminish or even fully obliterate the lead that the PDSR had built up in opinion polls. That hope was not realized, however.

The main reason seems to be the poor marks the main coalition partners are now receiving from an electorate that is clearly disillusioned with the change of government that took place in 1996. Another reason is the division within the ranks of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR). Four years ago, that political umbrella included the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD), the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Romanian Alternative Party, as well as some ecologist formations and several civic movements, the most important of which was the Civic Alliance (MAC). The PNTCD has in the meantime experienced several serious crises and splits, and two former PNTCD premiers are now the leaders of separate formations: Victor Ciorbea chairs the National Christian Democratic Alliance (ANCD) and Radu Vasile heads the Popular Party-National Right (PPDR). The Romanian Alternative has changed its name to the Union of Rightist Forces (UFD) and left the CDR. More important, the PNL chose to run on lists separate from those of the CDR in the local elections, as did one of the two green parties.

The ballot outcome shows that these divisions were insufficient to produce a new electoral map but sufficient to drastically alter political hierarchies on the right of the political spectrum, thereby weakening rightist forces. The ANCD, the PPDR, and the UFD are likely to sink into political oblivion or somewhere close to it, but the CDR--or rather what is left of it, which is, above all, the PNTCD-- has suffered an obvious blow.

MAC's non-participation in the election campaign (after suspending itself from the CDR to protest "politicking") also played a role in the defeat of the rightist forces. The PNL, on the other hand, has apparently succeeded in its goal of demonstrating to the PNTCD that it is at least as strong as its "sister party". In fact, it did better in the ballot than the PNTCD, having received 9 percent backing in the mayoral elections, some 7 percent in the ballot for county councilors, and nearly 8 percent in the vote for local councilors (compared with 8 percent, 7.4 percent, and 7.2 percent, respectively, for the CDR). It will now be difficult for the PNTCD to reject an expected PNL demand for parity on the lists for the parliamentary elections, in which the two parties will again run jointly if their alliance survives till then.

Local elections have only a limited use as barometers for parliamentary elections, particularly when turnout is low (less than 51 percent, in the case of the 8 June vote) and even more so when most mayoral races remain to be decided in runoffs on 18 June. The best yardstick is the outcome of the county councilor elections (where no runoffs are to be held) because the distribution of mandates employed in this case is similar to that used in the parliamentary elections.

Judging by this yardstick, the PDSR's victory is not that impressive. The party leads the field--as indeed it has done in all local elections held to date--with 27.4 percent of the vote, well ahead of the second-placed Democratic Party (9.9 percent). Still, it neither commands a majority, nor can it forge one at little expense. But a new leftist parliamentary majority might be in the offing. Come the fall parliamentary elections, the PDSR and the PD could easily include the third-placed Alliance for Romania Party (7.3 percent) and the Social Democratic Party (2.2 percent)-- if the latter manages to pass the electoral hurdle (currently 3 percent but it might be raised). Such a parliamentary alliance comes close to a majority and could be expanded into one by extending an invitation to another small formation.

It is to be hoped that such an offer will not be made to the extremist Greater Romania Party (6.6 percent). The other extremist formation represented in the parliament, the Party of Romanian National Unity, has, like the PNTCD, suffered numerous crises and splits and--as pollsters predicted--seems to be on its way out of the legislature, having gained 2.3 percent in the county councilor ballot. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, with 6.2 percent backing, performed somewhat less well than in the 1996 parliamentary election but remains the obvious choice of the bulk of Romania's Magyar population.

These, however, are just the opening chords. In the fall, the main theme is likely to be more or the less the same, but even more strident for the CDR.


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