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Newsline - July 18, 2000




UPPER, LOWER HOUSES BREAK DEADLOCK ON CONTROVERSIAL BILL

After declaring that talks had collapsed on 14 July, the Conciliatory Commission formed to draft amendments to the bill reforming the upper legislative chamber managed to agree on 13 new amendments when it reconvened on 17 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2000). According to Russian Regions faction leader Oleg Morozov, deputies and senators finally reached agreement on the procedure by which regional leaders will appoint their representatives to the new Federation Council: A governor's appointment or dismissal of a representative can be blocked by a two-thirds majority in the regional legislative assembly. Prior to the commission's 17 July meeting, Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev said he had received a telephone call from President Vladimir Putin over the weekend. According to Stroev, senators took into account the president's wishes when they decided to resume the commission's deliberations. The Duma will vote on the new version of the bill reforming the Federation Council on 19 July. JAC

PUTIN, JIANG URGE WASHINGTON TO ABANDON NMD...

Following more than two hours of talks in Beijing on 18 July, Presidents Putin of Russia and Jiang Zemin of China issued a statement appealing to the international community to take "all necessary measures" to prevent the U.S. from establishing a limited national missile defense system. "The American plan is a source of enormous concern," the statement read. "Russia and China believe the aim of this plan is to achieve unilateral superiority in military and security matters." In particular, the two presidents noted that involving Taiwan in any NMD system put in a place by a "foreign country" would be "unacceptable" and "could gravely endanger the stability of the region." They also urged that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty remain unchanged, saying that the violation of that accord would lead to a new arms race. JC

...DECLARE 'NEW STAGE' IN SINO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

Jiang announced in Beijing on 18 July that relations between China and Russia have entered "a new stage of development." Putin endorsed that viewpoint, saying he hopes to build on the strategic partnership proclaimed last year by Jiang and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Besides the statement on ABM, the two leaders signed a banking accord and intergovernmental agreements on joint energy development and the joint construction of a fast neutron experimental reactor, Reuters reported, citing China's official news agency Xinhua. The 60-megawatt reactor is expected to be built near Beijing, according to ITAR-TASS. Also on 18 July, Putin met with Premier Zhu Rongji and was scheduled to hold talks with parliamentary speaker Li Peng, dpa reported. He will leave the Chinese capital for Pyongyang on 19 July. JC

BEREZOVSKII CONFIRMS POST-DUMA PLANS...

In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 18 July, Boris Berezovskii said that after he officially resigns as a State Duma deputy on 19 July, he will start forming a "Duma opposition" with "a group of potential accomplices in the Duma, some of them in the pro-Kremlin Unity" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2000). He slammed the current Duma, calling it "the Kremlin's legal department that obediently follows all orders and instructions." Berezovskii's colleagues appeared suspicious of his departure. According to "Segodnya" on 18 July, most deputies said that Berezovskii's real motives for quitting are different from those he has publicly declared. They also told the daily that they "would have stripped Berezovskii of his immunity instantly if they had received an appropriate request from the Prosecutor-General's Office." Duma deputy (Yabloko) Sergei Mitrokhin told "Vedomosti" the same day that "Berezovskii decided to turn [his likely loss of immunity] into a PR stunt and repeat his loyalty to a number of governors on whom his businesses in the regions depend." JAC

...AS HIS COLLEAGUES, EXPERTS OUTLINE HIS REAL GAME PLAN

According to "Segodnya," former Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov believes that Berezovskii was made "uncomfortable" by his recent interview with prosecutors on the Aeroflot case: "Berezovskii fears that he may be indicted and he is taking preventive steps now. He needs the whole matter moved onto the political plane," Skuratov suggested. "Nezavisimaya gazeta," which is controlled by Berezovskii, speculated that Berezovskii has hired former first deputy chief of the presidential administration Igor Shabdurasulov to form a large media holding from Berezovskii's media companies because Berezovskii "wants all of his media structures to support his political ambitions." Igor Bunin, director of the Center of Political Technologies, suggested to "Vedomosti" that Berezovskii might have agreed with Putin "to personify constructive opposition" or he might "have decided to abandon his previous efforts to form a constructive opposition and instead will create a political movement hostile to Putin." But, Bunin added "In this case, he does not really need to leave the Duma." JAC

BEREZOVSKII PREDICTS NEW CRISIS IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA

Among the reasons Berezovskii cited on 17 July for his decision to quit the State Duma was the situation in his constituency of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Interfax and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. Berezovskii said that while the situation in that North Caucasus republic cannot be compared to the tensions in Chechnya, "the sources of confrontation still exist and threaten to develop into a real conflict at any time." Berezovskii admitted that he had not been able to alert the Russian leadership in good time to the impending crisis in Chechnya and now finds himself in a similar situation vis-a-vis Karachaevo-Cherkessia. He added that he does not want "to shoulder the responsibility for what is going to happen there in the near future." LF

TOP COMMUNIST OFFICIAL STARTS NEW 'CENTER LEFT' MOVEMENT...

State Duma Chairman (Communist) Gennadii Seleznev launched what he is describing as a new "center-left" movement, Rossiya, at a conference in Moscow on 15 July. According to the Chairman of Rossiya's organizing committee, Valentin Tsoi, the movement already has 114,000 members and by mid September hopes to increase this number to 160,000 and by mid-May of next year to 320,000, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 18 July. Addressing reporters and referring to himself in the third person, the Duma chairman said "Seleznev is not trying to cause a schism in the ranks of the Communist party." JAC

...AS ROLE OF KREMLIN IN MOVEMENT'S EMERGENCE QUERIED

"The Moscow Times" reported the same day that "many observers have speculated that the Kremlin is behind the formation of Rossiya" in order "to weaken the Communist Party and create an obedient opposition." Seleznev was one of the few Moscow- based politicians not to criticize the Kremlin for the recent arrest of Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinskii (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2000). Addressing the conference, Seleznev said that the movement supports the president's efforts aimed at strengthening the system of government in the country, ITAR-TASS reported. He added that Rossiya is a "movement for Article 7 of the constitution," explaining that the implementation of this provision will transform Russia into a social welfare state. JAC

CHECHEN PRESIDENT PREDICTS PEACE TALKS WITH MOSCOW

In a telephone interview on 18 July with an AFP correspondent in Nazran, Aslan Maskhadov predicted that Moscow will petition for peace talks with the Chechen leadership within three-four months after finding itself in the same situation as in the summer of 1996. He did not elaborate. In August 1996, the Chechens succeeded in retaking Grozny from Russian forces. Maskhadov, who revealed he is currently in southeastern Chechnya, said his men are ready to launch a large-scale offensive to recapture Chechnya's main towns. LF

RATE OF NEW HIV-INFECTIONS ACCELERATES

The number of new cases of HIV-infection registered during the first six months of 2000 was higher than for all of 1999, while the number of HIV-infections in 1999 was 2.5 times greater than during the period starting with the first registered case in 1987, First Deputy Health Minister Gennadii Onishchenko told Ekho Moskvy on 17 July. Onishchenko noted that while the total number of HIV-carriers--51,000--is much smaller than in countries such as the U.S. or England, Russia cannot afford to be complacent, given the rate of growth of the new cases in recent years. Some regions of Russia have been particularly hard hit by the diseases, including Sverdlovsk, Irkutsk, and Kaliningrad Oblasts (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 28 June 2000). JAC

ANOTHER OIL COMPANY UP FOR SALE

The Russian government will sell its 85 percent stake in ONAKO oil company this year, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced on 17 July, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. LUKoil and YUKOS are the most likely participants in the future auction, having previously expressed an interest in the government's stake, but, according to the daily, it is not impossible that foreign companies, and particularly those operating in Kazakhstan, will want the stake. The newspaper suggested that the asking price for the stake may reach $300-$400 million. JAC

GOVERNMENT FULFILLS PART OF LONDON CLUB AGREEMENT

The government on 18 July will officially offer to exchange certain kinds of Soviet-era debt owed to London Club creditors for Russian eurobonds maturing in 2010 and 2030, Prime Minister Kasyanov announced the previous day. The offer is required by the agreement reached between Russia and the London Club earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 February 2000). JAC

MUSHROOM SEASON GETS OFF TO DEADLY START

Health authorities in Russia are reporting an unusually high number of deaths from mushroom poisoning during this year's mushroom season, the "Los Angeles Times" reported on 16 July. The season begins in July and ends in September, and almost 30 deaths have already occurred in Belgorod, Voronezh, and Volgograd Oblasts. According to "Komsomolskaya pravda," more than 300 people have been hospitalized after eating mushrooms. First Deputy Health Minister Onishchenko said on 17 July that some of the poisonings were due to the fact that a local variety of the so-called "death cap" mushroom has mutated to look like a more ordinary, non-lethal variety. In Voronezh, where the bulk of the deaths have occurred, local policemen are patrolling the forests, stopping mushroom foragers and checking their baskets. According to Onishchenko, the policemen loudly proclaim, "Don't believe the mushrooms, they're poisonous." JAC




OSCE CHAIRWOMAN VISITS YEREVAN

Benita Ferrero-Waldner met in Yerevan on 16 and 17 July with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian to discuss the Karabakh peace process. She also had a telephone conversation on that subject with Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, who reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful solution of the conflict, according to ITAR-TASS. Ferrero-Waldner said that talks between President Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, have yielded agreement on a number of elements of a settlement, but she added that it is too early to reveal what those elements are. She said that the time is now propitious for resolving the conflict but that doing so depends on the two sides' political will and readiness to compromise. Ferrero-Waldner also attended the formal opening on 17 July of the OSCE office in Yerevan. She flew to Baku later that day for talks with Azerbaijani leaders. LF

POLL RESULTS SHOWS ARMENIANS THINK PRESIDENT IS IN CHARGE

According to an opinion poll commissioned by the daily "Hayots ashkharh," the results of which the newspaper began publishing on 14 July, 20 percent of the 1,000 people polled believe that President Kocharian rules Armenia, 18 percent believe real control lies with the mafia, 13 percent with the government, 11 percent with the bureaucracy, 9 percent with the army and law enforcement agencies, and 4 percent with the parliament, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF

AZERBAIJANI TV STATION DEFIES AUTHORITIES

In defiance of warnings from the Azerbaijani prosecutor-general, the private television station ANS TV on 17 July rebroadcast an interview first aired on 14 July with Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev, Groong reported, citing the BBC World Service. Caucasus Press reported the next day that Russian Security Council secretary Sergei Ivanov has asked the Azerbaijani leadership to investigate how the interview was filmed and taken out of Russia. Ivanov said the film footage, in which Basaev calls for a war to drive Russia out of the Caucasus, could be construed as propagating war, which is a violation of Russian law. LF

AZERBAIJAN RESUMES OIL EXPORTS VIA RUSSIA

Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR resumed pumping oil into the Baku- Novorossiissk export pipeline on the evening of 14 July, Interfax reported three days later. It had suspended exports late last month in order to cover domestic needs and build up a reserve of heating oil for the coming winter (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June 2000). The resumption of exports coincided with a visit to Baku by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and presidential envoy for the Caspian Viktor Kalyuzhnyi. It is not clear whether during his talks with Azerbaijani officials, Kalyuzhnyi raised the question of Baku's refusal to pay a $29 million fine imposed by Transneft for Azerbaijan's failure to comply with a 1996 commitment to minimum oil exports via Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 10 July 2000). LF

WAS GEORGIAN REBEL COLONEL SHOT IN COLD BLOOD?

According to Elene Tevdoradze, who is chairwoman of the Georgian parliamentary committee of human rights, the official account of the events that preceded the 9 July shooting in Zestafoni of Colonel Akaki Eliava and one of his deputies is inaccurate. "Rezonansi" on 18 July quoted Tevdoradze as saying after meeting with three of Eliava's supporters who are still in custody that they had not taken any hostages at the Zestafoni police headquarters. Georgian officials say Eliava was shot because he had taken four hostages and attempted to escape with them (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July 2000). On 17 July, an independent pathologist said after examining Eliava's body that it showed signs of bruises and bleeding on the chest, head, face, and right knee that could have been caused by blows from a heavy blunt object, Caucasus Press reported. Also on 17 July, Ombudsman Nana Devdariani issued an appeal for the release of two of Eliava's three detained supporters, arguing that their arrest on charges of illegal arms possession was illegal as they were unarmed at the time. LF

GEORGIAN INTERIOR MINISTER CANCELS UKRAINE TRIP

Kakha Targamadze will not attend a planned meeting in Kyiv of Russian, Ukrainian and Georgian interior ministers, Caucasus Press reported on 18 July. The agency attributed Targamadze's decision to his reluctance to leave Georgia while President Eduard Shevardnadze and parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania are both abroad as well as to rising tensions in western Georgia in the wake of rebel Colonel Eliava's death. LF

GEORGIA TO INTENSIFY DEFENSE COOPERATION WITH ESTONIA...

A visiting Estonian delegation headed by Lauri Altman, who is adviser to Defense Minister Juri Luik, held talks in Tbilisi on 17 July with Deputy Defense Minister Grigol Katamadze, Caucasus Press reported. The two sides focused on sharing experiences in air defense and army reform, and the possibility of junior Georgian officers undergoing training in Estonia. Caucasus Press quoted Altman as saying that Estonia considers Georgia "a partner country" with which it hopes to expand cooperation in the light of their shared aspiration to NATO membership. LF

...AND BULGARIA

Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Katamadze told Caucasus Press on 17 July that during Georgian Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze's visit to Bulgaria the previous week, agreement was reached that Sofia will present the Georgian navy with two de-commissioned landing craft. BTA on 11 July quoted Bulgarian Defense Minister Boyko Noev as saying that "it is in Bulgaria's best interests that Georgia develop as a strong and stable state under the leadership of President Shevardnadze." LF

COUNCIL OF EUROPE ALLOCATES FUNDS FOR GEORGIAN BORDER GUARDS

The chairman of Georgia's State Border Guard Department, Valerii Chkheidze, told a press conference in Tbilisi on 17 July that the Council of Europe will provide 1 million euros ($1.06 million) for equipment for his force, Caucasus Press reported. LF

BALCEROWICZ ACCEPTS GEORGIAN POST

President Shevardnadze said on 17 July that Polish economist and former Deputy Premier Leszek Balcerowicz has accepted a post as his economic adviser, Russian agencies reported. Balcerowicz will come to Georgia next month, together with a team of fellow Polish economists, to study the situation there. LF

'JE MEURS DE SOIF AUPRES DE LA FONTAINE...'

Tbilisi Mayor Vano Zodelava has ordered the immediate repair of all non- functioning fountains in Tbilisi, Caucasus Press reported on 17 July. Temperatures in the city recently reached 40 degrees Centigrade, and the hot weather is expected to continue at least until the end of the month. LF

KAZAKHSTAN REVOKES U.S. COMPANY'S REFINING CONCESSION

Kazakhstan's government on 11 July revoked the five-year license issued to the U.S. company CCL Oil in 1997 to operate the Pavlodar oil refinery, Interfax reported quoting Deputy Minister of Energy, Industry and Trade Kanat Bozumbaev. The Office of the Prosecutor-General said that decision was prompted by CCL Oil's failure to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the refinery, which last year produced only 640,000 tons of oil, down 60 percent on the 1998 level. The refinery is capable of processing between 6-7 million tons of crude annually, with yields of up to 80 percent. The state's 87.9 percent stake in the refinery has been transferred to the Energy, Industry, and Trade Ministry, which intends to appoint a new management shortly. LF

TURKMENISTAN REFUSES PERMISSION TO REOPEN, RESTORE ARMENIAN CHURCHES

The Turkmen government and the Moscow Patriarchate both oppose either the reopening of Armenian churches in Turkmenistan or the restoration of a 19th-century church in the town of Turkmenbashi, Keston News Service reported on 17 July. There are an estimated 40,000 Armenians in Turkmenistan. LF

TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN DISCUSS DELIMITING COMMON BORDER

A special Tajik government commission headed by Security Council Secretary Amirqul Azimov held talks in Tashkent from 10-13 July on preparations for the first stage of delimiting the two countries' common border, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 17 July. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, signed a protocol on border delimitation last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 2000). Technical work along the border is expected to take at least 18 months. The Uzbek cabinet has also abrogated customs duties on Tajik vehicles transiting Uzbekistan. During a telephone conversation on 17 July, Rakhmonov and Karimov assessed the implementation of previous bilateral agreements and agreed to convene a meeting of elders and representatives of the intelligentsia and law enforcement agencies of regions on either side of the border, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. LF




BELARUS'S DEMOCRATS TO BOYCOTT PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

The Coordinating Council of Democratic Forces of Belarus said on 17 July that it will boycott the 15 October parliamentary elections, which it called an "electoral farce," Belapan reported. The council noted that when President Alyaksandr Lukashenka set the date for the elections, he ignored all four requirements made by the Belarusian opposition and the international community (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2000). The council added that the current legislature has no real powers and that the ruling regime continues to stifle freedom of expression, ban mass protest actions, and keep political opponents in prison. According to the council, the electoral legislation in force curbs the opposition's participation in electoral commissions and reduces the possibility of independent monitoring of the elections. JM

POLL SHOWS BELARUSIANS DISCONTENTED WITH LUKASHENKA'S RULE

The Independent Institute of Socioeconomic and Political Studies and the Social and Economic Research Center recently asked some 1,500 Belarusians: "Are you satisfied with how Alyaksandr Lukashenka ruled the country during the [past] six years?" Twenty- two percent said they are "rather satisfied," while 32 percent said they are "rather dissatisfied." Forty-five percent were "partly satisfied and partly dissatisfied," while 1 percent did not give a definite answer. The same poll showed that 31 percent of respondents want to emigrate from Belarus, of whom 10 percent would like to go to the U.S., 9 percent to Germany, 3 percent to Russia, and 2 percent to Poland. JM

LUKASHENKA SPEAKS AGAINST 'PRESSURIZING' IRAQ

The Belarusian president on 17 July told the visiting Iraqi deputy minister and finance minister, Himmet Al Azzawi, that Belarus "is categorically against any state pressurizing Iraq" and supports the regulation of the Iraqi problem only under the aegis of the UN, Belarusian Television reported. "Your courageous position wins our respect and sympathy, particularly in today's international conditions, where the honest and courageous word is a real rarity," the Iraqi visitor responded. Al Azzawi and Belarusian officials discussed economic cooperation and bilateral trade. Belarus exports tractors, spare parts, and tires to Iraq. Last year's trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $6 million. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT EXPECTS RENEWAL OF IMF LOAN IN SEPTEMBER

Leonid Kuchma on 16 July said he expects that the IMF will resume its suspended $2.6 billion loan program to Ukraine in September, Interfax reported. Kuchma added that there have already been two international audits of Ukraine's National Bank showing that the bank did not misuse IMF funds. Western media, in particular the "Financial Times," have alleged those funds were misused. Meanwhile, Premier Viktor Yushchenko told journalists the next day that Ukraine cannot stop accepting IMF credits. He said that while Ukraine undergoes the transition from the command system to a market economy, the country is witnessing a decline in budget revenues and needs IMF support to make social payments in order to prevent too large a drop in living standards. JM

RUSSIA WORRIED BY KYIV'S LACK OF RESPONSE TO 'ANTI-RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN' IN LVIV

Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Ivan Aboimov said on 17 July that Russia is disturbed by the lack of a reaction from Kyiv to the "anti-Russian campaign" in Lviv following the tragic death of composer Ihor Bilozir in May (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 6 and 13 June 2000), Interfax reported. Aboimov noted that the absence of an official assessment of the situation in Lviv is seen by Ukrainian radicals as "the Ukrainian authorities' encouragement of such acts also in the future." Aboimov presented a video tape showing an attack by Ukrainian radicals on the cafe where Russian-speaking guests brawled with Bilozir over his singing of Ukrainian songs. The Lviv City Council has subsequently banned performing Russian music in public, while the Lviv branch of the Ukrainian Republican Party has begun organizing so called "detachments for Ukrainianization." JM

LATVIAN CONSULATE FIREBOMBING DAMAGE EXCEEDS $3000

Latvia's consulate general in St. Petersburg told LETA on 17 July that vandals caused damage totaling about 2,000 lats ($3,300) when they attacked the consulate three days earlier. The consulate was hit by a rock and a Molotov cocktail, resulting in damage to the facade and a window. Officials say they will request compensation from the Russian government, which has paid for the damage inflicted during two other attacks by vandals in the past few months. Latvian consular officials are also calling for the Russian government to provide guards to protect the building at night. MH

LITHUANIAN NAZIS INTEND TO RUN IN OCTOBER ELECTIONS

Members of the unregistered Lithuanian National Social Party told "Respublika" that they will field up to 10 candidates in the upcoming general elections in October, BNS reported on 17 July. The party's leader, Mindaugas Murza, said that those candidates will take part in that part of the ballot to be decided in single-mandate constituencies. "To do that," he said, "we only need to collect 1,000 voter signatures and put up collateral." The neo-Nazi party failed to gain official status after the Justice Ministry refused to register the party earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 2000). MH

POLISH EDUCATION MINISTER RESIGNS OVER REFORM MISCALCULATION

Miroslaw Handke tendered his resignation on 17 July, saying he had underestimated the cost of the education reform introduced last year. A ministry spokeswoman said Handke feels responsible for the miscalculation of payments to local governments for pay increases to teachers. Local governments still lack some 800 million zlotys ($186 million) to implement those raises-- an amount equal to what the ministry already allotted them for that purpose. "To err is human," Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek commented, accepting Handke's resignation and appointing Senator Edmund Wittbrodt as new education minister on 18 July. JM

POLAND'S PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL ADMITS COLLABORATION WITH COMMUNIST SECRET SERVICES

Andrzej Olechowski, an independent presidential candidate, told the Lustration Court on 17 July that he consciously collaborated with the security service of the communist Polish People's Republic, Polish Radio reported. Olechowski explained that he began collaborating with the economic intelligence service in 1972. He said he worked for the service only while he served abroad as a UN employee and that in this capacity he supplied information about the world economy and the perception of the Polish economy in the world. According to a July poll conducted by Demoskop, Olechowski has 9 percent support and is in second place behind the incumbent president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, who has 64 percent backing. Under Poland's legislation, all presidential candidates must submit declarations on whether they collaborated with the communist-era secret services. JM

CZECH PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN PRAISES TEMELIN NUCLEAR PLANT

Parliamentary chairman and opposition Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus said on 17 July that he hopes no referendum will be held on the activation of the Temelin nuclear power plant because it would lead to "lobbying" and "pressure from abroad," AP and CTK reported. Klaus visited the plant and praised it as an example of "top world technology". On 14 July, a spokesman for the plant said the loading of nuclear fuel in the first reactor has been successfully completed. The same day, the Friends of the Earth environmental movement filed criminal charges against the Czech Republic's State Nuclear Safety Commission. MS

KAVAN DISCOVERS GRANDMOTHER'S NAME AT ISRAELI HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

Visiting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan discovered his grandmother's name in a list of Czech Jews who died in Nazi camps, AP reported on 17 July. Kavan, whose father is Jewish, surprised his tour guides at the Yad Va'Shem Memorial when he told them that he lost family members during the Holocaust. A quick database search revealed his grandmother's name and listed her place of death as Buchenwald. The same list also includes the names of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's relatives who perished in Nazi camps. MS

SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER WARNS LEXA

Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner said on 17 July that fugitive former Slovak Intelligence Service Ivan Lexa "is putting his life at risk" by remaining in hiding, CTK reported. Lexa, who disappeared earlier this month, is wanted by the police and by Interpol. Chief police investigator Jaroslav Ivor said charges can be brought against Lexa even in his absence. Lexa is wanted on suspicion of having participated in the kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son in 1995 and for other offenses. MS

CORRECTION:

Lubomir Harach heads the Democratic Union and not the Democratic Party, as "RFE/RL Newsline" incorrectly reported on 17 July. MS

TESTIMONY ON HUNGARIAN OIL MAFIA TO BE MADE PUBLIC

The parliamentary committee investigating alleged illegal oil deals between 1992-1996 has announced it will make public Zsolt Nogradi's 8 June testimony to the committee. According to that testimony, Interior Minister Sandor Pinter, other high-ranking politicians, and police officials had contacts with the mafia involved in those illegal deals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 14 June 2000). By deciding to make public the 33-page document, which contains the names of some 200 persons, the committee ignored a recommendation by the ombudsman for data protection. MSZ




THACI REJOINS UN COUNCIL IN KOSOVA

Hashim Thaci, who was commander of the former Kosova Liberation Army and is now a leading Kosovar politician, has agreed to end his recent "suspension" of cooperation with Bernard Kouchner's UN- sponsored advisory council, Reuters reported on 17 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 2000). Thaci told reporters that he and Kouchner continue to disagree over the "temporary" administrative arrangements that Kouchner made with the Serbs. But Thaci added that he and Kouchner "made progress" on several other issues, including various social questions such as benefits for war invalids and pensioners. He stressed that there should be no need for the special arrangements for the Serbs after the local elections slated for October. "After the free elections, there will be a new reality," he said. Kouchner's spokeswoman said: "We're very happy. Now the work can restart and we can tackle the real problems and move toward elections." PM

EVERTS, IVANOVIC REACH UNDERSTANDING ON SERBIAN ROLE IN ELECTIONS

Oliver Ivanovic, who is leader of the hard-line Serbs in northern Mitrovica, said on 17 July that he has promised Daan Everts, who heads the OSCE mission supervising the October ballot, that he will not disrupt the vote. Everts called Ivanovic's assurances "progress," adding: "Mr. Ivanovic has promised that he would do what he can to avoid any violence or intimidation and let people at least have the freedom of choice, so those who want to register...[can] do so," AP reported. For his part, Ivanovic confirmed that he "condemned any violence." He added, however, that he regrets that Everts was unable to promise in return that "significant numbers" of Serbian refugees will return to Kosova soon. PM

FRENCH, SERBS CLASH IN MITROVICA

An angry crowd of Serbs surrounded a UN police station in northern Mitrovica on 17 July to protest the arrest of a Serb who had allegedly set fire to several cars, AP reported. French troops then fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. A UN police spokesman said in Prishtina that "a police officer was briefly detained [by the Serbs], but later he was released unharmed." The Serbs had hoped to exchange him for the imprisoned man. The spokesman said on 18 July that the situation in Mitrovica is calm, Reuters reported. PM

ROBERTSON ARRIVES IN KOSOVA

NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson and a delegation of NATO diplomats arrived in Prishtina on 18 July. They are slated to meet with ethnic Albanian and Serbian leaders. The previous day, Robertson met with Croatian President Stipe Mesic and other leaders in Brussels and praised the progress toward Euro-Atlantic integration that Croatia has made under its new government. On 19 July, Robertson and his delegation are slated to arrive in Sarajevo. PM

EU BROADCASTING EQUIPMENT FOR KOSOVA SERBS

The European Broadcasting Union said in a statement in Geneva on 17 July that it has delivered camera equipment to a team of three Serbian journalists working for the UN's new public television (RTK) in Gracanica, AP reported. The $53,000 project will also provide equipment for a similar bureau in Mitrovica. The UN aims to establish studios for RTK in many parts of Kosova and train journalists in accordance with high professional standards. PM

SERBIAN COURT SENTENCES KOSOVARS

A court in Pozarevac on 17 July sentenced 20 Kosovars to two years imprisonment each on charges of "terrorism," the private Beta news agency reported. PM

DJUKANOVIC WILLING TO MEET MILOSEVIC...

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told the Belgrade daily "Glas javnosti" of 17 July that he is willing to meet with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, provided an agenda for the talks is agreed on beforehand. He added that he does not see at present any chance for the Serbian opposition to unseat Milosevic. Djukanovic said that he has rejected recent suggestions by several opposition leaders that he run against Milosevic in eventual direct elections for the Yugoslav presidency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 2000). Milosevic will determine the outcome of the elections, Djukanovic stressed, adding that Montenegro will boycott any vote because it does not accept his recent changes in the federal constitution. PM

...BUT VUJANOVIC SKEPTICAL ON SERBIAN PARTIES

Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said that "there is no need for further dialogue" with the three governing parties in Milosevic's coalition. "We had a dialogue with them [in 1999]. We talked about the possibility of their influencing the government of Serbia, being a constituent part of that government, to respond to our platform [on redefining relations between Serbia and Montenegro]. These talks had no result and clearly showed [the Serbian parties] had no wish to talk," the private Montenafax news agency reported from Podgorica on 18 July. PM

MILOSEVIC PARTY CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY

Officials of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) marked that organization's 10th anniversary by praising what they claimed is its excellent record. A party spokesman said in Belgrade on 17 July: "The Socialist Party of Serbia has during these 10 years achieved exceptional results despite constant and powerful media and economic pressures, political blackmail, and finally the brutal NATO bombing and aggression" in 1999, Reuters reported. The Milosevic-run daily "Politika" hailed the SPS as "the strongest leftist party in the Balkans." But Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement--which is as critical of NATO as is the Milosevic regime--said in a statement that "a chain of human and national tragedies is the achievement of the Socialist Party's decade-long reign, which also resulted in economic collapse, a moral collapse and no sign of a decent future." The statement added that Milosevic has transformed Serbia into a country as isolated as the late Albanian dictator "Enver Hoxha's Albania," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

BOSNIAN MUSLIMS PROTEST EVICTIONS

Several dozen Muslim displaced persons blocked a road near Maglaj to protest orders for them to leave Serbian-owned homes in Bakotici where they have been living since the 1992-1995 war. A local government spokesman told Reuters that "the problem is linked" to the eviction of several dozen Bosnian citizens of Middle Eastern origin from the nearby village of Bocinja. Those men traveled to Bosnia as Islamic fighters during the war and subsequently acquired Bosnian citizenship by marrying local women. Many representatives of the international community have called for the eviction of the former Islamic fighters, whom they suspect of having links to terrorist organizations based elsewhere in the Muslim world. The Sarajevo daily "Avaz" reported on 18 July that the authorities have declared a state of emergency in the area. PM

CROATIA JOINS WTO

On 17 July, Croatia formally became the 137th member of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

DISAPPOINTMENT IN SLOVENIA WITH EU

Guenter Verheugen, who is the EU's commissioner for enlargement, said in Ljubljana on 17 July that Slovenia is a "front-runner" for EU membership in terms of popular consensus for joining the EU "and not only in that respect," Reuters reported. He added, however, that Slovenia must speed up privatization and cut bureaucracy. The Ljubljana daily "Delo" wrote the next day that Verheugen disappointed the Slovenian public, which had hoped for better news and concrete information on Slovenia's admission to the EU. PM

CONSTANTINESCU QUITS ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE

President Emil Constantinescu, speaking on national television on 17 July, said he will not run for a second term. Constantinescu said that a "Mafia-type system with links to official institutions" is dominating and destroying the country's economic and political structures and that his attempts to fight corruption have been presented by his opponents as part of an election campaign. Alluding to his predecessor, Ion Iliescu, Constantinescu pledged not to seek a parliamentary seat and will thus forego parliamentary immunity. He also said he will not seek the leadership of any political party. Constantinescu said "political competition" among parties and individuals has "deteriorated into a blind struggle for power-seeking personal or group interests. " This is a time when "people buy and sell principles, ideologies, seats in the parliament and the cabinet, making use to that end of lies, blackmail, vulgarity, and manipulation" he commented. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER REJECTS MINISTER'S RESIGNATION

Mugur Isarescu on 17 July rejected the resignation of Finance Minister Decebal Traian Remes, who had wanted to protest the National Liberal Party's decision to continue talks with the Alliance for Romania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2000). Government spokeswoman Gabriela Vranceanu said Remes has been "carrying a great part of the burden of unpopular but necessary economic decisions" and his presence in the cabinet is required even more "at a time when some of the positive effects" of those policies are beginning to become apparent. The premier, Vranceanu said, will not accept "a resignation that has nothing to do with the cabinet and its policies." MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT WANTS 'DOUBLE REFERENDUM'

Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea told journalists on 17 July that President Petru Lucinschi will not promulgate the law on changing Moldova's semi-presidential system into a parliamentary one, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Lucinschi says that the law, which was passed on 5 July, contravenes the results of the 23 May 1999 non-binding referendum, which approved Lucinschi's initiative to transform Moldova into a presidential republic. Golea also said Lucinschi may ask the parliament to approve a referendum on both the 5 July constitutional amendment and his own initiative to increase the presidential prerogatives. Last week, the Constitutional Court ruled that the latter is in line with the provisions of the basic law. But parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov and Party of Moldovan Communists leader Vladimir Voronin were quoted by Infotag as saying the parliament will examine Lucinschi's initiative "in six months." By then Lucinschi's term will have expired. MS

ISRAEL TO REMOVE MONUMENT HONORING BULGARIAN KING

A semi- governmental Israeli organization has announced it will remove a monument it erected in Israel to honor King Boris III for having saved the lives of Bulgarian Jews, dpa reported on 17 July, citing the Israeli daily "Ha'aretz." The Jewish National Fund said that an expert commission has established that the king failed to act to prevent the 1943 deportation of more than 11,000 Macedonian and Thracian Jews to the Treblinka Nazi death camp (at the time Bulgaria had occupied Macedonia and Thracia). The commission also said that King Boris had supported Bulgaria's joining the Tripartite Pact of Germany, Italy, and Japan in March 1941. The monument honoring the king was erected in Israel's Bulgaria forest at the request of Jews from Bulgaria who said Boris had been instrumental in saving their lives. MS




CONFRONTING EVIL


by Patrick Moore

There are times when things must be called by their proper name and acted on accordingly.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement on 10 July marking the fifth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre that "the tragedy of Srebrenica will forever haunt the history of the United Nations. This day commemorates a massacre on a scale unprecedented in Europe since the Second World War--a massacre of people who had been led to believe that the United Nations would ensure their safety."

Annan stressed that "we cannot undo this tragedy, but it is vitally important that the right lessons be learned and applied in the future. We must not forget that the architects of the killings in Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although indicted by the [Hague-based] International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, are still at large. This fact alone suggests that the most important lesson of Srebrenica--that we must recognize evil for what it is, and confront it not with expediency and compromise but with implacable resistance--has yet to be fully learnt and applied."

As the secretary-general noted, those most to blame for the evil are still at large. These include not only Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, but especially the one man most responsible for the destruction of the former Yugoslavia and for all the tragedies that accompanied it--Slobodan Milosevic.

It will perhaps be to the undying credit of the Hague- based tribunal that it issued a public indictment in May 1999 against Milosevic and four of his top cronies. At a stroke, the court ensured that they could not considered respectable negotiating partners. There would thus be no repeat of the tragicomic developments during the Croatian and Bosnian conflicts, when Western diplomats and politicians beat a steady path to Milosevic's door and hailed him as "the man who can deliver."

In fact, the question inevitably arises as to why it took the international community so long to realize who Milosevic really is and treat him accordingly. Perhaps a deep, public discussion of this issue would help avoid some future tragedies elsewhere. Certainly such a discussion could prove more fruitful than the current, often sterile debate regarding which bombs hit which targets in 1999.

Milosevic's aggressive intentions were clear from his rhetoric in the 1980s, just as Hitler's were in the 1930s. But just as it took several international crises before the Allies became willing to stop Hitler by force, so long months passed and thousands of peoples died before even the first timid steps were taken to contain the Serbian dictator's aggression, let alone halt or reverse it. In the end, it was Croatian and Muslim ground troops that sent the Serbian forces fleeing. NATO air strikes helped deliver the peace in Bosnia, but it was not until Kosova in 1999 that the Atlantic alliance showed that the lessons of the previous decade had been learned.

Even then, what remained was a "Saddam Hussein peace," with the dictator still in power. Milosevic continues to proceed at home with policies that have led to the gradual destruction of Serbia's best traditions in public life, society, culture, and the economy.

His policies have already led to four lost wars and an end to centuries-old Serbian settlements in the south and west, just as Hitler's policies cost Germany the results of centuries of colonization in the east. It now seems clear that Milosevic's next victim outside Serbia's borders is Montenegro. The question is whether NATO will act before he has an opportunity to cause further destruction and bloodshed.

At least one leader of a NATO country has drawn the necessary conclusions and had the courage to say so in public. Just one day after Annan's remarks about the need to face up to evil, Czech President Vaclav Havel said in Dubrovnik of the Montenegrin crisis: "Apart from political options, there are alternatives, which consist of a demonstration of force. The international community [previously] looked on events [in former Yugoslavia] with surprise and abhorrence and reacted too late. It should not be repeated a fifth time."


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