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Newsline - June 26, 2000




LOWER HOUSE APPROVES BILL REFORMING UPPER HOUSE...

State Duma deputies on 23 June approved the law on forming the Federation Council in its second and third readings. The votes were 302 in favor with 86 votes against and five abstentions and 308 votes in favor and 86 against with three abstentions, respectively. Under the law, each region will send two representatives to the upper legislative chamber. One will be selected by the governor and approved by the regional legislature, while the second will be elected from among candidates nominated by the regional legislature's speaker or by no less than one-third of the chamber's deputies. The new Federation Council is supposed to be in place as of 1 February 2001. Senators are expected to consider the bill on 28 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The bill is expected to face some opposition in the council since deputies failed to adopt the amendments to the bill that the senators had suggested. JAC

...AS LOSS OF COMMUNIST SUPPORT EXPLAINED?

However, since only 300 votes are needed to override a rejection by the upper house, senators may decide their opposition is futile. "Segodnya" reported on 24 June that according to its unidentified sources, the Communist faction in the Duma decided to vote against the law following a meeting between Communist Party head Gennadii Zyuganov and President Putin. Reportedly, Zyuganov tried to "bargain" with the Kremlin: his faction's support for the bill in exchange for the Kremlin's ceasing to back attempts to split the left wing. According to the daily, the formation of the Rossiya bloc, to be headed by State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev, is taking place "not without the participation of the presidential administration" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May 2000). The daily noted that during the controversy over the arrest of Media-Most head Vladimir Gusinskii, only Seleznev was absolutely loyal to the Kremlin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2000). JAC

SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES NEW INFORMATION POLICY...

The Security Council approved a new information security doctrine on 23 June. Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov said that the doctrine will be improved and then published. Addressing the 23 June session, Putin outlined four aims of the doctrine: safeguarding citizens' rights and freedoms, including protecting their privacy and guaranteeing the absence of censorship; helping Russia's media industry develop and place its products on world markets; guaranteeing the security of information and telecommunication systems, and "providing informational support for the state's activities," Russian agencies reported. Putin also pledged to protect journalists' rights, saying that "there can be no free democratic society without mass media." The same day, participants at the All-Russian Festival for the Press in Kazan learned that more than 200 journalists have been killed on the territory of the former Soviet Union during the last 10 years, including more than 100 in Russia alone, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

...AS DOCTRINE'S LIKELY IMPACT DEBATED

According to "Vremya MN" on 24 June, the document on information security does not contain any concrete suggestions. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" also concluded that the "doctrine does not envisage any amendments to the law on mass media" and "contains only recommendations, which officials may or may not implement." However, Gennadii Yemelyanov, head of the Information Security Division at the Security Council, told Interfax on 23 June that the doctrine calls for amending relevant legislation. He added that the Media Ministry and other agencies are working on proposals for improving existing legislation. In addition, Ivanov reportedly did not rule out the creation of a special ministry or committee to implement the new state information policy. JAC

COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIALS VISIT CHECHNYA

A Council of Europe delegation that included Secretary-General Walther Schwimmer visited the North Ossetian capital, Vladikavkaz, on 22 June, and inspected camps for displaced persons in Chechnya the following day. A planned meeting with interim Chechen leader Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov did not, however, take place. Schwimmer told journalists that conditions in those camps are "much worse than we expected," according to Interfax. He said a political solution is needed to the Chechen conflict that would create conditions for Moscow and the Council of Europe to assist the displaced persons in returning to their homes. On 24 June, Schwimmer and Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, who is chairman of the council's Ministerial Committee, held talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Interfax quoted Dini as expressing satisfaction after those talks that military activities in Chechnya have been scaled down and "the process of a settlement has gained momentum." LF

RUSSIAN MILITARY COMMANDER, CHECHEN LEADER MEET

Colonel- General Gennadii Troshev, who commands the joint federal forces in Chechnya, told Chechen leader Kadyrov during talks in Tsentoroi on 25 June that "the war as such in Chechnya is over" and that Moscow no longer needs to continue large-scale air and artillery strikes against the remaining Chechen fighters, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Reuters on 26 June, however, such strikes continue. LF

KADYROV PREDICTS 'TURNING-POINT' IN CHECHNYA

Kadyrov said in Gudermes on 23 June that he hopes it will be possible to end armed resistance in Chechnya within the next two months, after which "the irreversible process of normalization will start," ITAR-TASS reported. The following day, he denied Russian media reports that he has already stepped down as mufti. He said 250 Chechen imams (of a total of some 470) had pledged their support at a congress that day in Gudermes for his intention to end hostilities and disarm the remaining Chechen resistance fighters. The imams adopted an appeal to Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov to resign and beg the Chechen people for forgiveness and for Chechen fighters to lay down their arms. LF

CLINTON MOVES TO PROTECT RUSSIAN PAYMENTS UNDER URANIUM DEAL

U.S. President Bill Clinton has signed an executive order aimed at guaranteeing that creditors do not seize money paid to Russia under a 1993 uranium deal, AP reported on 23 June. Under that order, Russia can resume shipments to the U.S. of low-enriched uranium that has been blended down after being removed from nuclear weapons. That uranium is used in U.S. commercial reactors. Russia suspended the shipments last month because it feared payments might be seized by creditors seeking to collect past unrelated debts. The 1993 deal provides for the sale to the U.S. of more than 455 metric tons of recycled uranium. To date, some 73 metric tons have been shipped, according to AP. JC

PUTIN URGES DUMA TO RATIFY TREATY WITH PYONGYANG

President Putin on 24 June asked the State Duma to ratify the friendship treaty with North Korea that Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov signed during his trip to Pyongyang earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February 2000). Putin plans to visit North Korea again next month. JC

PUTIN PREPARES FOR TRIP TO NEW DELHI

Speaking after President Putin's meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Jaswanth Singh in Moscow on 23 June, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov said that preparations are under way for Putin's visit to India in early October, at which the two sides plan to sign a declaration on their strategic partnership. Noting that the current volume of trade between the country was "unsatisfactory" ($1.5 billion annually), Ivanov noted that Singh had proposed a "99-day program" aimed a boosting bilateral trade ties, according to dpa. The Russian foreign minister also noted that military cooperation will be expanded but will not be directed against any "third country." JC

RUSSIA, JAMAICA CALL FOR 'NORMALIZATION OF CUBAN ISSUE'

Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov and his visiting Jamaican counterpart, Paul Robertson, issued a statement on 23 June calling for the U.S. trade and economic sanctions against Cuba to be lifted. That embargo, the two sides argued, is a leftover from the Cold War. They also urged that the UN play a central role in resolving conflicts "on the global and regional levels." The two foreign ministers signed several agreements, including one on political consultations between their ministries and another on cooperation between the two countries' justice ministries, ITAR-TASS reported. JC

WERE RUSSIAN WORKERS HAPPY IN MAY?

For the first time in recent years, no strikes were recorded for an entire month, Interfax reported on 23 June, citing the State Statistics Committee. In May 2000, there were no strikes, compared with 22 in April, 83 in March, 210 in February, and 477 in January. In May 1999, 69 strikes were held and 4,700 people participated. Mikhail Delyagin, director of the Institute for Problems of Globalization, predicted the number of workers' protests will increase again in the fall, when the economic situation worsens. "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 June that the number of education workers who are unemployed increased 2.5 percent in May, while the figure for unemployed health sector workers inched up by 1.2 percent. JAC

DEFENSE MINISTRY OBJECTS TO EDUCATION REFORM

"Novye izvestiya" reported on 23 June that Russia's military leadership is vehemently opposed to the Education Ministry's plan to introduce a 12-year educational program for Russian students (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February 2000). At State Duma hearings, Colonel Viktor Koshushko, head of the Defense Ministry's Conscription Department, warned that if students attend secondary schools for an additional year, the shortfall in the number of conscripts will be 180,000, or 48 percent, of the necessary number. According to Kozhushko, some 62 percent of youths registered at military enlistment and recruitment offices throughout the country have deferments. JAC

SIX DEADBEATS FROM PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION REMAIN

According to the Central Election Commission, six candidates in 26 March presidential elections who failed to attract more than 5 percent of the total vote have not reimbursed the state for their campaign costs, as they are required to do by law, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 24 June. These candidates are former Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, film director and State Duma deputy (Fatherland-All Russia) Stanislav Govorukhin, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhironovskii, Movement for Civil Dignity head Ella Pamfilova, former Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov, and former deputy head of the presidential adminstration Yevgenii Savostyanov. Together, they owe some 1.8 million rubles ($64,000), which must be paid by 27 March 2001. JAC

TEENAGER LEARNS ABOUT POWER OF THE PRESS

"Izvestiya" reported on 24 June that the saga of 17-year-old Ana Provorovna, who was recently lost her place in medical school because of grammatical mistakes in a letter to President Putin, may be ending happily. That newspaper reported on 20 June that Provorovna had written a letter to Putin asking for a video camera to film her class's upcoming graduation ceremony, using paper of poor quality and making two grammatical mistakes. Local school officials responded by lowering her graduation marks. But after news of Provorovna's gaffes and her subsequent punishment was picked up from the newspaper by all of Russia's national television channels as well as by CNN, Vologda Governor Vyacheslav Pozgalev received a videocamera as well as a letter from the head of the Kremlin's department for citizen appeals, Mikhail Mironov. Whether Provorovna's educational honors will be restored is another matter: The deputy head of the Vologda's educational department said his department has launched an investigation into how Provorovna's marks were lowered, while Pozgalev has promised to conduct his own probe. JAC




FORMER ARMENIAN PREMIER DENIES ENERGY EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES

Hrant Bagratian, who served as Armenian premier from 1993- 1996, told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 24 June that allegations of fraud and mismanagement in the energy sector during that period are unfounded. In a report unveiled on 14 June, an ad hoc parliamentary commission estimated that Armenia incurred losses totaling $200 million since 1992 as a result of thefts and embezzlement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 2000). Bagratian denied that some 305,000 tons of fuel oil reportedly procured in 1992-1995 never reached Armenia or that the price of another 224, 000 tons was recorded as more than double the amount paid. For his part, he accused President Robert Kocharian, who served as prime minister from March 1997-March 1998, of condoning embezzlement and a joint venture with Russia's Gazprom that Bagratian claimed cost Armenia $80 million. LF

LAWYER BELIEVES ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT KILLERS ACTED ON ORDERS

Artashes Pahlavuni, the former lawyer of Nairi Hunanian, the leader of the five gunmen who shot dead eight leading Armenian officials in the parliament building on 27 October, was quoted by Noyan Tapan on 23 June as saying that he believes unknown persons hired the gunmen to commit the killings. Hunanian insists that he acted on his own initiative (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2000). Pahlavuni said he has resigned as Hunanian's defense lawyer, having originally agreed to represent him only for the duration of the preliminary investigation. LF

IRAN DISCUSSES TRANSPORTATION COOPERATION WITH ARMENIA, GEORGIA

Iranian Transport Minister Mahmud Hodjati held talks in Yerevan on 23 June with Armenian President Kocharian and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian on increasing Iranian exports via Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Hodjati expressed interest in transporting Iranian goods via Armenia and Georgia and then by ferry across the Black Sea to Bulgaria and Romania. That route is part of the EU's TRACECA program, in which Armenia wants Iran included. Hodjati said that the transport corridor requires a favorable business climate and improved customs administration and road infrastructure. He also said Iran is interested in participating in the EU- and World Bank-funded programs to upgrade highways in both Georgia and Armenia. Visiting Tbilisi on 21-23 June, Hodjati signed a Memorandum of Understanding with his Georgian counterpart, Merab Adeishvili, related to the TRACECA project, Caucasus Press reported. Hodjati also met with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. LF

GEORGIA, RUSSIA STILL AT ODDS OVER BASES CLOSURE

Talks in Tbilisi on 24-25 June between Georgian government officials and a Russian delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov resulted in agreement on "practically all" issues related to the first stage of the closure by mid-2001 of two of Russia's four military bases in Georgia, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. But, at the same time, Klebanov suggested that one of those two bases, in Gudauta, Abkhazia, should be transformed into a training center for the Russian peacekeeping force currently deployed in Abkhazia under the aegis of the CIS. The Abkhaz leadership has made clear its opposition to the closure of the Gudauta base (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2000). Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said that on 1 August Russia will begin withdrawing military equipment in excess of the quotas it is permitted under the revised Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, but he noted that unspecified issues remain unresolved. LF

MOSCOW AGAIN DEMANDS CLOSURE OF CHECHEN REPRESENTATION IN GEORGIA

In a statement released on 23 June, the Russian Foreign Ministry again called for the closure of what it termed the "illegal" Chechen representation in Tbilisi, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported. The statement claimed the presence in Tbilisi of that body poses a threat to the security and stability not only of Georgia but of the entire North Caucasus. It added that the representation employs more than 100 people. Georgian officials have previously responded to such Russian pressure by saying that the Chechen representation is not officially registered with the Georgian authorities and therefore its registration cannot be revoked. LF

GEORGIA DENIES IT PLANS TO DEPORT CHECHEN REFUGEES

Also on 23 June, Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii expressed concern over the situation in the Pankisi gorge close to the Chechen-Georgian frontier, which he said has been divided into zones of influence by some 800 Chechen fighters who are planning to transport 150 mercenaries and quantities of military supplies from Pankisi to Chechnya, Caucasus Press reported. He said "such a wide network of Chechen terrorists and separatists could exist in Georgia only with the connivance of the local authorities," according to Interfax. Meanwhile, Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Avtandil Napetvaridze rejected as "disinformation" media reports that Tbilisi and Moscow have held talks on forcibly deporting to Chechnya the estimated 8,000 Chechen refugees currently in the Pankisi gorge, Caucasus Press reported. LF

TURKISH CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF VISITS GEORGIA

General Hussein Kivrikoglu held talks in Tbilisi on 23 June with Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili, parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania, and President Eduard Shevardnadze, Caucasus Press reported. Those talks focused on Turkey's ongoing financial and material assistance to the Georgian armed forces and the optimum format for the proposed South Caucasus security pact. Meeting with Shevardnadze, Kvirikoglu said Turkish-Georgian military cooperation contributes to stability in the South Caucasus, according to Interfax. LF

MINISTER CLAIMS PLIGHT OF GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS DETERIORATING

Minister for Refugees Valeri Vashakidze told journalists in Tbilisi on 23 June that outstanding allowances owed to the Georgian displaced persons who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war have reached 13.6 million lari ($7 million). He added that he doubts that the Ministry of Finance will be able to make good on its commitment to pay those debts by the end of the year, Caucasus Press reported. Displaced persons in the west Georgian towns of Kutaisi and Zugdidi have staged recent protests to demand payment of their overdue allowances. Vashakidze also said that 1,140 families who fled Abkhazia are still waiting to be allocated accommodation in Tbilisi. LF

GEORGIAN INDUSTRIALISTS SEEK TO EXPEDITE TAX REFORM

Gogi Topadze, who heads the "Industry Will Save Georgia" parliamentary faction, told Caucasus Press on 23 June that his faction has begun collecting signatures for a petition demanding that the parliament begin debating the faction's draft bill on amendments to the tax code. The 15-member faction submitted that draft to the parliament's Committee on Legislation three months ago. Topadze also said that his faction has addressed an appeal to President Shevardnadze and parliamentary speaker Zhvania outlining proposed measures to overcome Georgia's worsening economic and budget crisis. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT AMNESTIES 87 PRISONERS

Heidar Aliyev on 25 June issued a decree amnestying 87 people serving prison sentences for crimes against Azerbaijan's sovereignty and independence, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Three of those released were aligned with Colonel Alikram Gumbatov, who in the summer of 1993 declared an independent Talysh-Mughan Republic on Azerbaijan's southeastern border with Iran. Twenty were among several hundred people sentenced for their participation in alleged coups in 1994 and 1995, but the alleged leader of the 1994 action, former Premier Suret Huseinov, was not among them. Also freed were some persons sentenced on political charges, such as slandering the president. The amnesty comes on the eve of a decision by the Council of Europe to grant Azerbaijan and Armenia full membership in that body. LF

ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN AZERBAIJAN

Several hundred people attended a rally convened in Baku on 24 June by the opposition United Azerbaijani Forces, which unite the Vahdat, Social Democratic, and Namus parties, Turan reported. The municipal authorities had given permission for the rally to take place. Participants accused the country's leadership of corruption and inability to resolve the country's problems. They also protested the recently passed law on the Central Electoral Commission and demanded the release of all political prisoners, including former Premier Huseinov and former Defense Minister Rahim Kaziev. LF

NAZARBAEV DENIES HE WILL REMAIN KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT FOR LIFE...

Nursultan Nazarbaev told journalists in Almaty on 23 June that he had not been informed in advance of the draft law already passed in the first reading by the parliament that would enhance his powers even after he retires as president, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 2000). Nazarbaev said that he does not want "to become a khan or a president for life," but he added that the constitution allows him to run for another term after his current term expires in 2006. He said that he does not consider the draft legislation "helpful" but that he has no right to oppose legislative initiatives. LF

...PRAISES CABINET...

Nazarbaev told the same press conference that there is no need for Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev's cabinet to resign, warning the media to desist from speculation on that possibility, Interfax reported. Rumors that Toqaev would be fired first surfaced early this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 February 2000). More recently, a spokesman for the premier denied rumors he is involved in corruption (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 2000). LF

...PLANS DEVELOPMENT FUND

Nazarbaev also said on 23 June that he has drafted a decree setting up a development fund drawing on some of the proceeds from the export of oil, oil products, and precious metals, Interfax reported. The fund will be used "for the benefit of generations to come" and to cushion the impact of adverse world economic developments, such as the devaluation of the Russian ruble in August 1998. LF

KYRGYZ COURT REJECTS OPPOSITION POLITICIAN'S APPEAL

The board of the Bishkek City Court on 22 June upheld the suspended sentence handed down last month on opposition El (Bei Bechara) Party Chairman Daniyar Usenov but commuted it from three to two years, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Usenov was found guilty of assaulting a fellow businessman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 2000). LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT CRITICIZES LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

Chairing a meeting in Bishkek on 24 June of senior law enforcement officials, bank directors, and oblast and district administrators, President Askar Akaev criticized the law enforcement agencies for their inability to lower the incidence of economic and organized crime, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. He noted that 14 senior officials have recently been arrested on suspicion of corruption, but none of them was proven guilty. LF

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY RESPONDS TO TAJIK DEMARCHE

In a statement issued on 22 June, the Russian Foreign Ministry conceded that some Russian media coverage of developments in Tajikistan is one-sided, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Noting that such bias does not benefit bilateral relations, the Russian statement added that the Russian government can hardly dictate to the media what approach they should take. Earlier this month, the Tajik Foreign Ministry had protested what it termed biased Russian media coverage (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 22 June 2000). LF

TURKMENISTAN BANS FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNTS

In a move that he said is intended to prevent capital flight, President Saparmurat Niyazov has signed a decree making it illegal for either individuals or businesses to hold foreign bank accounts, AP reported on 23 June, quoting the state news agency TDH. All hard-currency savings must be transferred to local banks within the next few months. LF

TURKMENISTAN, UZBEKISTAN HOLD BORDER TALKS

Following talks in Ashgabat on 23 June between Turkmen government officials and a visiting Uzbek delegation headed by Vice Premier Rustam Yunusov, the two sides issued a protocol saying neither has territorial claims on the other, ITAR-TASS reported. They agreed on the creation of an intergovernmental commission to delimit and demarcate their common border and prepare a draft treaty on the state border for signing by the two countries' presidents. LF

TEN SENTENCED IN UZBEKISTAN FOR CRIMES AGAINST THE STATE

The municipal court in the eastern city of Namangan on 21 June handed down sentences of between seven and 17 years in prison to 10 people, four of them women, on charges of undermining the constitution and organizing criminal groups, Reuters reported on 23 June. Those charges were based on the alleged support of the accused for the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Nosyrzhon Khodjiev, brother of the movement's leader, Djuma Namangani, was among those sentenced. He received a 14-year prison term. LF




BELARUS SAYS ELECTORAL CODE MEETS INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS

The Justice Ministry announced in a statement that the electoral code amended by the Chamber of Representatives on 22 June meets international standards, Belapan reported the next day. The ministry added that the code provides a sufficient legal basis for holding free and democratic elections. It noted that it was issuing that statement in connection with the recent visit to Minsk of European mediators and "with the heating up of the atmosphere by some politicians over the adoption of amendments to the electoral code." Representatives of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament commented that the conditions for holding democratic elections do not exist in Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 2000). JM

BELARUS-RUSSIA ECONOMIC INTEGRATION SAID TO LACK DYNAMISM

Belarusian Deputy Premier Leanid Kozik told a conference of the central Russian interregional association in Minsk on 23 June that the economic integration of Belarus and Russia lacks dynamism, Belapan reported. The association unites the city of Moscow and Russia's Bryansk, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kaluga, Kostroma, Moscow, Ryazan, Smolensk, Tver, Tula, and Yaroslavl regions with the city of Minsk and Belarus's Minsk, Vitsebsk, Homel and Mahileu regions. According to Kozik, neither country has created a functioning joint economic space or equal conditions for economic entities. Meanwhile, Aleksandr Blokhin, Russia's minister of ethnic and regional affairs, assured the forum that in the long term the Russia- Belarus unification will contribute to a 25 percent economic growth in Russia and a 40 percent growth in Belarus. According to Blokhin, Belarus is "packed with ultramodern production facilities" from which Russian companies can benefit. JM

TEN NEW DEPUTIES ELECTED TO UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT

According to preliminary results released by the Central Electoral Commission, the 25 June by-elections in 10 constituencies resulted in the election of 10 new deputies, Interfax reported. The 450-seat legislature lacked 10 deputies because of the departure of nine lawmakers to work in the government and the death of one in 1998. The newly elected lawmakers include former Economy Minister Serhiy Tyhypko, former Health Minister Rayisa Bohatyrova, former Naftohaz Ukrayiny head Ihor Bakay, and Taras Chornovil, the son of former Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil. JM

UKRAINE'S COMMUNIST PARTY WANTS TO OUST 'ANTI-POPULAR REGIME'

Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko told the party's congress in Kyiv on 24 June that Ukraine can be rescued from the "real threat of catastrophe" only if the current reform course is halted and the "anti-popular regime" removed, Interfax reported. According to Symonenko, the regime can be ousted only by means of a class struggle that should be lead by Ukraine's Communist Party, an organization of "genuine proletarian revolutionists." The next day, the congress appointed a 147-strong Central Committee, which immediately re-elected Symonenko as the party's first secretary. JM

LITHUANIAN WAR CRIMES TRIAL HALTED AGAIN

The trial of 93- year-old accused war criminal Aleksandras Lileikis, which restarted on 23 June, was halted just minutes after the defendant began giving testimony. Asked by the judge to state his personal details, Lileikis said hoarsely, "Lileikis. Aleksandras. Born in Lithuania. I cannot remember any more exact details," ELTA reported. A few minutes later, medics halted the session and told the court it was impossible to continue. This is the first trial in Lithuania to use video- conferencing equipment for the testimony of defendants unable to appear in the courtroom. The necessary legislation was adopted in February to revive the stalled war crimes trials. The presiding judge announced the session would continue on 27 June, but an hour after the proceedings concluded on 23 June, Lileikis was rushed to the hospital with high blood pressure. MH

ADAMKUS CRITICIZES CONSERVATIVES...

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, in a surprise television broadcast to the nation on 23 June, criticized political parties' campaigning for the upcoming October general elections. Adamkus reserved the harshest criticism for the Conservative government, which he accused of provoking tensions with Russia for the sake of that campaign: "Unfortunately, there is an increasing number of signs that attempts are being made to convert the foreign policy of the state into a tool of the election campaign." Adamkus added that the country's current foreign policy "throws us back to the circle of problematic states unable to communicate constructively with adjacent countries." Adamkus also attacked the parliament, which he accused of indifference to the "troubles of the people." MH

...LAMENTS STATE OF ECONONMY, CALLS FOR CLEAN CAMPAIGN

Adamkus also strongly criticized the country's economic recovery, which has been slower than expected: "The previous policy of unrealistic obligations and the failure to implement reforms [in a timely manner] has forced the state to remain indebted to farmers, businessmen, and municipalities [while] the latter has plunged into debt as well." The president warned that "disappointment is growing owing to huge mutual arrears and violations of laws... ." The president stressed the need for a civil election campaign: "I would like to see a constructive and correct electoral campaign, with parties competing on the basis of detailed programs...instead of rhetoric or emotions." The Conservatives criticized the president's address, accusing him of getting involved in the campaign itself, while the opposition called the address "overdue," ELTA reported. MH

POLAND HOSTS WORLD FORUM, CONFERENCE ON DEMOCRACY

Delegations from 108 states and 12 international organizations are in Warsaw for a two-day conference entitled "Toward a Community of Democracies." "We want to affirm our commitment to democratic principles and values in the world," PAP quoted Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek as saying on the eve of the conference, which opened on 26 June. The conference is sponsored by Poland, the U.S., the Czech Republic, Chile, India, Mali, and South Korea. Meanwhile, some 300 representatives of NGOs, political scientists, religious and trade union leaders from 85 countries launched a three-day forum on democracy, a parallel event to the conference, in Warsaw on 25 June. "You are the salt, the core of present-day democracy," Premier Jerzy Buzek told participants in the forum. The forum is a joint initiative of Freedom House, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, and Poland's Stefan Batory Foundation. JM

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE GETS HONORARY DOCTORATE IN GDANSK

Madeleine Albright on 25 June visited the Baltic port of Gdansk, the cradle of the Solidarity movement, and paid homage to victims of communism, Reuters reported. "I'm a born Czech, but I wanted to become a Pole because I was so excited about what was happening here [in the 1980s] while my own country was not able to make the kinds of brave steps that the Polish people were taking," Albright told a gathering at Gdansk University, where she received an honorary doctorate. At the Gdynia docks, she underscored Poland's new role as a NATO member by attending a ceremony to launch an ex-U.S. frigate, renamed Pulaski after a Polish-American hero of America's war for independence, that is to become part of the Polish Navy. JM

CZECH SENATE NARROWLY APPROVES ELECTORAL LAW AMENDMENT...

The Senate on 23 June approved by a vote of 40 to 38 and one abstention the amendment to the electoral law proposed by the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) under the "opposition agreement." The law was passed in January by the Chamber of Deputies. CSSD senate group leader Zdenek Skromach said he expects President Vaclav Havel, who has often said the bill violates the constitution, to veto the bill. A presidential veto could be overridden by simple majorities in both houses, however. Seven CSSD senators either voted against the bill, abstained, or were not present. Before the vote, Prime Minister Milos Zeman threatened to expel from the CSSD those senators who opposed the bill, CTK and Reuters reported. MS

...OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVES JEWISH RESTITUTION BILL

Also on 23 June, the Senate approved the law on returning Jewish properties confiscated during the Nazi occupation to their original owners. No votes were cast against the law, although a number of senators abstained, CTK reported. The bill was approved last month by the Chamber of Deputies. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT IN 'CRITICAL' CONDITION

President Rudolf Schuster is in a "critical" condition, doctors said on 26 June. Schuster underwent surgery for the second time in one week on 23 June, having previously been operated on for a perforated colon. The second operation was necessary because of what doctors described as an "infectious inflammatory process" caused by bacteria. Schuster developed pneumonia and "problems with blood coagulation," and doctors had to perform a tracheotomy on his neck to relieve breathing difficulties. Czech President Havel has dispatched to Bratislava a team of doctors who had treated him when he had similar problems. There have been demands that Health Minister Tibor Sagat resign following criticism of the quality of care for Schuster, who has been moved to two different hospitals since his initial hospitalization. MS

FRANCE VETOES SLOVAK OECD MEMBERSHIP

France on 23 June vetoed a resolution extending Slovakia an invitation to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Finance Minister Brigita Schmognerova said the veto was due to a conflict within the OECD over EU rules on the mandatory quota of European radio and television programs, Reuters reported. OECD rules ban discrimination of programs on grounds of their origins, but EU internal agreements mandate a minimum 50 percent of European content. French diplomatic sources said in Paris that France has always supported Slovakia's OECD membership but now wants Bratislava, a candidate for EU membership, to apply EU rules for radio and television broadcasts. MS

AUSTRALIA TO ASSIST HUNGARY WITH CYANIDE DAMAGE

Visiting Australian Deputy Environmental Minister Roger Beale on 23 June told Hungarian Environmental Minister Ferenc Ligetvari and government commissioner Janos Gonczy that his country is offering 300,000 Australian dollars ($177,000) to ameliorate the damage caused by the Romania-based Australian Esmeralda company when cyanide spilled into the Tisza River in January. In other news, Romanian Foreign Minister Petre Roman and his Hungarian counterpart, Janos Martonyi, agreed on 24 June to apply for EU funds for joint projects on environmental protection. The two ministers were attending a regional economic conference in Szeged of senior officials from countries of the Central European Initiative. MSZ




BRITISH TROOPS CAPTURE INDICTED BOSNIAN SERB

British SFOR troops, including members of the elite SAS, captured Dusko Sikirica in his home in Prijedor in the early hours of 25 June. He arrived in The Hague later that day. The Hague-based war crimes tribunal had indicted Sikirica and 12 other Bosnian Serb officials and guards on charges of responsibility for war crimes at the Keraterm concentration camp near Prijedor, where Sikirica was camp commander in 1992. In particular, the tribunal holds Sikirica ultimately responsible for one single incident in which 140 Muslim males were killed by machine-gun fire. Sikirica will join two of the 12 in the dock in The Hague. He is the 21st suspect to be arrested by NATO troops in Bosnia since 1995 and the eighth since Lord Robertson became the alliance's secretary-general in 1999. Some 27 publicly-indicted suspects and an undisclosed number of suspects wanted under sealed indictments remain at large, London's "The Guardian" reported. Approximately 40 suspects are in The Hague, including some who surrendered voluntarily. PM

MONTENEGRO'S DJUKANOVIC APOLOGIZES TO CROATIA

Croatian President Stipe Mesic and his Montenegrin counterpart, Milo Djukanovic, discussed "practical issues," including economic cooperation and cross-border traffic, in Cavtat, near Dubrovnik, on 24 June, the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" reported. Djukanovic also said: "I'd like to express in my name and behalf of Montenegro...my sincerest apologies to all citizens of Croatia and especially of Dubrovnik...for all the pain and suffering and material losses inflicted by Montenegrins" during the Belgrade-led campaign against Croatia in 1991. He added that "Montenegro has paid a dear price [for its participation in the conflict]. We have paid in the lives of our people, the severance of traditional good ties between Croatia and Montenegro, and our banishment from the international community," AP reported. Djukanovic was Montenegrin prime minister when Yugoslav forces shelled Dubrovnik and Montenegrin reservists and other forces pillaged Cavtat, the Dubrovnik airport, and several other places in the area. PM

QUALIFIED OPTIMISM FROM CROATIA...

Most leading Croatian politicians responded positively to Djukanovic's apology, "Jutarnji list" reported on 26 June. Most political leaders added, however, that Djukanovic's remarks were prompted by the pragmatic need to improve relations with Zagreb and that the question of Montenegrin responsibility for the 1991 conflict remains open. Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic said that Podgorica will now have to follow Djukanovic's words with concrete deeds. Opposition leader Vladimir Seks noted that Djukanovic did not offer to pay for war damages or to assist the Hague tribunal in investigating and indicting Montenegrins who committed atrocities during the conflict. PM

...WITH CRITICISM FROM OFFICIAL BELGRADE...

Belgrade's state- run Tanjug news agency sharply criticized Djukanovic on 24 June for his public apology. Tanjug charged that the Montenegrin "practically praised Mesic for his secessionist policies...which led to the tragic events in former Yugoslavia." The news agency added that Mesic had demanded as a precondition for the meeting that the Montenegrin apologize "for something that never existed--the alleged aggression against Croatia." Mesic was slated to be the rotating chairman of the former Yugoslav collective presidency in 1991, but then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his allies (including Montenegro) prevented Mesic from taking office. PM

...AND MIXED REACTION FROM OPPOSITION

The Democratic Party's Vojislav Kostunica said in Belgrade on 24 June that Djukanovic "during the war not only implemented but literally created the policy of Montenegro and Yugoslavia, but he is now representing himself differently.... He came to power by manipulating the deepest national and patriotic sentiments. Now he is denying all that and is starting a new ruse," dpa reported. Alliance for Change leader Vladan Batic said that Djukanovic "must have had his reasons [for apologizing]...probably related to the interests of Montenegro." Batic added that it is Djukanovic's right as president to make such an apology if he chooses. Predrag Simic, who is foreign policy spokesman for Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, hailed the apology as "not a move of a politician, but of a statesman who wants the past to become part of history, to take a new direction." Simic added that the apology "opens the question of the cause and the purpose of the war" for the citizens of Serbia and Montenegro. PM

SUSPECTS DENY ROLE IN ATTEMPT ON DRASKOVIC

The brothers Milan and Ivan Lovric told a court in Podgorica on 23 June that they had no role in the recent attempt on the life of Draskovic in Budva (see "REFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 2000). Their lawyer told AP that the prosecution must now cross- examine them about where they were on the night in question. PM

JOURNALIST BEATEN IN SABAC

Three bodyguards of Cedomir Vasiljevic, who is a local leader of Vojislav Seselj's Radicals, beat journalist Hanibal Kovac in Sabac on 23 June. Kovac told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service, for which he is a reporter, that his attackers beat him "very professionally." He added that they chastised him for his unspecified writings about their boss, adding "next time you'll be dead." He was treated briefly in the local hospital and then reported the incident to the police. He has heard nothing from them to date, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 26 June. PM

KOSOVA SERB MODERATES RETURN TO KOUCHNER'S COUNCIL

Father Sava, who is a leader of moderate Serbs in Kosova, said at the Gracanica monastery on 25 June that most members of the Serbian National Council (SNV) agreed to return to the advisory body set up by Bernard Kouchner, who is the UN's chief administrator in the province. Sava stressed that his supporters realize that they must be present at Kouchner's meetings if they are to have a say in the decisions made there, the VOA's Croatian Service reported. Four of the 83 delegates, including Kosova Serb political leader Momcilo Trajkovic, walked out of the meeting to protest the decision, the BBC's Serbian Service noted. The SNV said the decision to end its weeks-old boycott is contingent on the UN's written agreement to send special anti-terrorist police to areas where Serbs are threatened by violence and to add more Serbs to the UN-sponsored Kosova police force. The Serbs launched their boycott to protest what they called the UN's failure to protect Serbian civilians against attacks by ethnic Albanian extremists. PM

UNHCR KEEPS MITROVICA OFFICE CLOSED

A spokeswoman for the UNHCR said in Prishtina on 26 June that the refugee agency will keep its office in Serb-held northern Mitrovica closed pending a daily review of the security situation there. The UNHCR closed the office on 23 June after an unspecified number of rioters attacked humanitarian aid workers and their property, AP reported. The rioters destroyed five UN vehicles and damaged another 20. PM

KFOR: ILLEGAL ARMS BELONGED TO UCK

A KFOR spokesman said in Prishtina on 23 June that the weapons seized by NATO troops earlier that week in the Drenica valley were illegally "in the possession" of the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2000). He added, however, that there is no evidence that former UCK commander Agim Ceku, whose headquarters are near the bunkers where the arms were hidden, was aware that the weapons were there. The spokesman stressed that "to say that Ceku had overriding authority [in the UCK] is a misconception." Observers note that the UCK was not known for tight discipline and that many of the commanders have become bitter political rivals since the conflict ended in June 1999. Ceku is a professional military officer and a former leading general in the Croatian army. PM

END OF ROMANIAN DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION IN SIGHT...

The leadership of the National Peasant Party Christian democratic (PNTCD) on 24 June said its main partner in the Democratic Convention of Romania, the national Liberal Party (PNL), must decide by 15 July whether it will run jointly with the PNTCD on the lists of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR). If the PNL does not accept the PNTCD's offer of equal representation on the CDR lists for the parliamentary elections, the PNTCD will run alone. PNL First Deputy Chairman Valeriu Stoica said on 24 June that running jointly with the PNTCD would be "risky, since the PNTCD bears "the main responsibility for having compromised the CDR in the electorate's eyes." PNL Chairman Mircea Ionescu-Quintus said the PNL could run alone if it manages to "unify" around itself those opposition forces that would ensure the PNL "at least 15 percent" of the vote. MS

...AS PEASANT PARTY TRIES TO SET HOUSE IN ORDER

A relatively narrow majority of 46 out of the 77 members of the PNTCD's Leading Committee voted confidence in the party's interim-leadership on 24 June. The committee also decided that the PNTCD will initiate a constitutional amendment to simplify lifting the immunity of parliamentary deputies, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. PNTCD First Vice Chairman and Agriculture Minister Ioan Muresan, who has been accused by the opposition of being involved in illegal privatization transactions, said he is ready to renounce his immunity to prove his innocence. On 23 June, a Bucharest court canceled the sale of a state-owned tobacco company on suspicion of favoritism toward one bidder on the part of the Agriculture Ministry. MS

MOLDOVA TRANSFERS TO GAZPROM BONDS IN DEBT REPAYMENT

The Ministry of Finance on 23 June transferred to Russia's Gazprom $90 million in state bonds. The bonds have a seven- year maturity and yield 7.5 percent interest, to be paid quarterly. The Moldovan parliament had approved this arrangement earlier this year, but Gazprom had raised objections. The two sides reached agreement during last week's visit to Chisinau by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was accompanied by Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev, Infotag reported. Also on 23 June, President Petru Lucinschi signed a decree withdrawing the citizenship of 12 Moldovan residents who are also citizens of other (unnamed) countries, in violation of the Moldovan Constitution, and have refused to renounce their dual citizenship. MS

WORLD BANK APPROVES BULGARIAN LOAN

The World Bank on 23 June approved a $63 million loan to Bulgaria to improve the country's health care system, an RFE/RL corespondent in Washington reported. The total value of the project is $87 million, and the Bulgarian government will make up the difference. MS




CROATIA'S 'SOFTWARE' FOR NATO


By Christian Buric

Croatian foreign policy achieved some notable successes in May, reflecting how far the country has come in the short time that the new government has been in office.

The greatest success was Croatia's admission to NATO's Partnership for Peace program. But that was not all. Officials in Washington talked of Croatian membership in the WTO. Zagreb's relations with the EU improved, and Brussels is considering possibilities for Croatia's admission to EU- related programs. Previously, Zagreb's integration was partly made dependent on developments in other former Yugoslav republics. Now, however, the EU has acknowledged that Croatia deserves to be considered separately from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia on both economic and political grounds.

The governing coalition of six parties will thus be remembered for its swift attainment of some key foreign- policy goals. In no more than five months, Prime Minister Ivica Racan's government achieved things that former President Franjo Tudjman and his followers were unable to do in 10 years.

Stanko Nick, who is a political scientist and President Stipe Mesic's adviser for foreign policy, said in Zagreb that Croatia has never had a better political image than it does now, "Slobodna Dalmacija" reported on 27 May. Foreign Minister Tonino Picula told "Nacional" on 31 May that the reason for the change in Croatia's image is its development of democracy, human and minority rights, and the freedom of press. In the parliament, Mesic said he foresees Croatia's becoming a full member of NATO and an equal partner in the international community, "Jutarnji list" reported on 31 May.

Partnership for Peace does not include an automatic process of integration into NATO, however. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea told "Nacional" at the end of May that any decision about new NATO members will be made in two years at the earliest. Ensuring freedom of the press, transforming Zagreb's relations with the Croatian population of Bosnia, and promoting further democratization will be milestones on Croatia's possible path to Euro-Atlantic integration. Croatia will have to prove in the next few years that it can make some crucial contributions to NATO, Shea stressed, adding that it would be wrong if Zagreb is motivated only by the advantages it expects from being a member of the most powerful military organization of the world.

Shea also noted that the modernization of the Croatian army is a "hardware" problem and that it is more important to look at the Croatian "software," where, he explained, Zagreb has something to offer. This means that Croatia can be useful to NATO not only in traditional military and geopolitical terms. Croatian officers are experienced in fighting against Serbian forces, and Croatian knowledge of the situation in southeastern Europe can be very helpful for the peace process in Bosnia and for peacekeeping in Kosova. Croatia's cooperation with the alliance will strengthen NATO's Balkan flank and stabilize the whole region. And the two partners could even work together to promote the democratization of Serbia.

Another aspect of this "software" is promoting the development of a "common identity" between the Croatian army and NATO. Shea said that this aspect is much more relevant than introducing weapons compatible with NATO standards. Common identity is a prerequisite, for instance, for the Croatian army's participation in missions in hot spots and in peacekeeping operations.

"Software" for NATO is about political culture, too. According to Shea, civilian specialists on military questions are needed in the government, the media, and the universities. Political culture is of special interest regarding the civilian control of the military, which is one of the pillars of NATO. The army has to be integrated into society, and therefore it is necessary that civilians have a sound understanding of military affairs.

From Shea's comments, it follows that Croatia needs to gather, assemble, and package what it knows to eventually secure its place in the Atlantic alliance. This can be achieved by encouraging university projects dealing with security issues in southeastern Europe.

Moreover, the reorganization of Croatian military academies in accordance with the standards of the Bundeswehrhochschule that was set up in West Germany after World War II could be another step in the same direction. The fact that professors at the Bundeswehrhochschule are civilians guarantees that the army has links to civilian life. This would help prevent the Croatian army from becoming a "state within a state," as was the case with the German army before 1945 or in Yugoslavia during the Tito era.

Croatian civilian and military analysts will now have to pool their knowledge and present Croatia's "software" to the public and to NATO institutions. This kind of information- management can also be a useful strategy for approaching NATO in a more dynamic way than has been the case among most other former communist countries, possibly gaining an advantage over those Partnership for Peace members that have not sufficiently demonstrated that they have something to offer as well as something to gain. The author is a freelance writer and copy editor based in Munich, Germany.


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