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Newsline - September 5, 2000




BEREZOVSKII SAYS KREMLIN THREATENS HIM OVER ORT SHARES

In an open letter to President Vladimir Putin published by Interfax on 4 September, Boris Berezovskii said that "last week a high-ranking Kremlin official gave me an ultimatum: either I hand over my block of [Russian Public Television] shares to the state within two weeks or I go the same way as [media tycoon] Vladimir Gusinskii--presumably meaning the Butyrka prison." Berezovskii said that "in presenting me with an ultimatum, you have actually put to society a very important question--whether or not non-state mass media have the right to exist in Russia." And he added that "if I comply with this ultimatum, then televised information in Russia will end and be replaced by television propaganda run by your advisers." Consequently, Berezovskii said, he has decided to transfer the 49 percent of ORT shares he owns to journalists and other representatives of the creative intelligentsia. PG

KREMLIN, MEDIA-MOST WELCOME BEREZOVSKII'S PLAN TO TRANSFER SHARES

A senior member of the presidential administration told Interfax on 4 September that the Kremlin welcomes Berezovskii's stated intention to transfer his ORT shares to "journalists and other representatives of the creative intelligentsia," Interfax reported. But the official said that "let us see, however, how firm Berezovskii's decision turns out to be." Meanwhile, a spokesman for Media-MOST also welcomed Berezovskii's move. PG

RUSSIA, JAPAN AGREE TO CONTINUE TALKS OVER KURILS...

Moscow and Tokyo will continue to seek a resolution to the dispute over the Kuril Islands, but Russia will not be pressured into securing an agreement by the end of this year. That was the message that emerged from the news conference given by Russian President Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori after their talks in Tokyo on 5 September. Both sides confirmed that negotiations on the ownership of the four islands, which were seized by the USSR in 1945, will continue, with the aim of signing of a treaty formally ending World War II hostilities between the two countries. But Putin remained non-committal about whether that treaty would concluded by year's end. "My view is that what is important is not a deadline but for both sides to have the goodwill to resolve this difficult problem," Reuters quoted him as saying. Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto had agreed to sign a peace treaty by the close of 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 1997). JC

...SAY ISLANDS ISSUE IS ONLY PROBLEM IN BILATERAL RELATIONS

"We have no problem in our bilateral relations except the territorial issue," Japanese Premier Mori told the 5 September press conference. Russian President Putin similarly praised the two countries' ties, noting that it is "very important and positive" that both "accept that a problem exists." The two leaders signed several agreements, including ones on joint efforts to aid the economic development of the Kurils, cooperation in the energy sector, and improving transport infrastructure in Siberia and Russia's Far East. And in a bid to boost Japanese investment in Russia, Putin vowed to improve the investment climate, saying "it is our obligation to remove all barriers to trade in Russia." JC

MANILOV WARNS ABOUT CLINTON'S NMD DECISION

Colonel General Valerii Manilov, the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said on 4 September that U.S. President Bill Clinton's postponement of a decision about a limited national missile defense system was like "a false-bottom suitcase," Reuters reported. By shifting the decision to his successor, Clinton is "saving face," according to the general. At the same time, Manilov noted that Clinton also asserted that "the decision will be taken regardless of the Russian position." Manilov added that there will be no threats from Iran, Iraq or North Korea for at least 10 to 15 years. PG

MOSCOW FORMALLY NOTIFIES CIS ON VISA SHIFT

The Russian Foreign Ministry has formally notified the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States about Moscow's decision to withdraw from the 1992 Bishkek agreement on visa-free travel by citizens of CIS countries within the CIS, Interfax reported on 4 September. The ministry release said that the accord "loses force for Russia 90 days following the CIS Executive Committee's receipt of this note." It also said that Russia intends to draft new visa exemption agreements with fellow member states of the CIS Customs Union (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) and with Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Moldova. Then Russian Premier Putin proposed the introduction of a visa regime with Azerbaijan and Georgia in November 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 1999). PG/LF

CHECHEN ADMINISTRATION TO MOVE BACK TO GROZNY

The pro-Moscow interim Chechen administration will move to Grozny from its present headquarters in Gudermes on 15 October, "Moskovskii komsomolets" and "Izvestiya" reported on 5 September. Two buildings in the Chechen capital are being renovated to house the Chechen administration and the federal representation in Chechnya, according to Chechen administration spokesman Taus Dzhabrailov. He said the Chechen administration believes that the move will encourage displaced persons to return to the capital. LF

RUSSIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY BRACES FOR CHECHEN ANNIVERSARY

Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo told journalists in Moscow on 4 September that precautions have been taken nationwide to prevent anticipated terrorist attacks to mark the 6 September anniversary of Chechnya's declaration of independence in 1991, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. But Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's press service denied that any such attacks are being prepared. LF

SCHOOL PRINCIPAL SHOT DEAD IN GROZNY

Olga Klimova was shot dead at her home in Grozny's Staropromyslovskii Raion on 4 September, together with her parents and sister, Russian agencies reported. Klimova was the principal of one of the city's schools and a department head at the Grozny Oil Institute. Her husband was abducted by unknown persons last year and his whereabouts are unknown. LF

SWISS COMPLAIN RUSSIA SLOW TO COOPERATE ON CORRUPTION CASES

Geneva State Prosecutor Bernard Bertossa told the "Tages- Anzeiger" on 4 September that he was not surprised by the recent resignation of Russian Prosecutor Nikolai Volkov who had been investigating Russian corruption cases, AP reported. "We have doubts about the will and capability of magistrates [in Russia] to open proceedings that may involve influential people," he said. "In the area that interests us prosecutors, nothing has changed for the better since Vladimir Putin became president. In terms of legal work, we still have no guarantee of effective and complete cooperation from the Russian side." PG

RYAZAN EXPLOSION TOLL RISES TO THREE

Another person has been reported killed in the 4 September explosion in a Ryazan market place, bringing the number of dead so far to three (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2000). Two women vendors were killed immediately in the blast, which was caused by a bomb, and an unidentified man died of injuries later in the hospital, AP cited NTV as reporting. Interior Minister Rushailo has ruled out a terrorist attack, saying that a turf war between local Afghan war veterans and a rival group from the North Caucasus was to blame for the incident. JC

KASYANOV SAYS INFLATION AT 1 PERCENT IN AUGUST

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said on 4 September that inflation had risen only 1 percent in August, ITAR-TASS reported. Kasyanov said that "we continue to keep the situation under control" and that "there is no reason to believe that the situation will change so much before the end of the year that the current positive trends in economic development will be jeopardized." PG

PUTIN REPORTEDLY PUTS OFF ROSNEFT SALE

State Duma deputy (People's Deputy) Yurii Ten, told "Vremya novostei" on 4 September that President Putin has decided to postpone the privatization of Rosneft because of the lack of investor interest to purchase the 25 percent of the company the government has offered, AP reported. Meanwhile, "Vedomosti" reported that the Russian authorities will use Rosneft to manage the government's production-sharing accords with foreign companies. PG

GAS, OIL EXPORTS TO POWER INCREASED NON-CIS TRADE TURNOVER

According to documents submitted to the Duma along with the draft budget, Interfax reported on 4 September, Russia's foreign trade turnover with countries outside the CIS may be between $102.2 billion and $104.8 billion in 2001. Much of that predicted rise reflects expanded oil and gas exports. PG

MOSCOW DENIES MEETING AFGHAN COMMANDER

A Russian Foreign Ministry official told Interfax on 4 September that no Russian official met with Afghan Uzbek General Dustum when the latter was in Moscow last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2000). The diplomat said that Dustum periodically comes to the Russian capital to "receive some treatment and meet with representatives of the Afghan diaspora." PG

MOSCOW CITY GOVERNMENT ASKS FOR SPECIFICS ON PROPERTY MISUSE CHARGES

The Moscow City government has asked the Office of the Russian Prosecutor-General to provide specific documents concerning the alleged misuse of federal property by the city authorities, Interfax reported on 4 September. A city spokesman said that no document has been forthcoming so far. PG

ANOTHER HEARING SLATED IN MOISEEV CASE

A Moscow city court will hold a hearing on 5 September in the case of Valentin Moiseev, a former Russian Foreign Ministry official who was found guilty of espionage in December 1999 but whose conviction was voided by the Supreme Court in July 2000, Interfax reported. PG




ARMENIA, GEORGIA DISAGREE OVER WHETHER DROUGHT WILL CAUSE FAMINE

A spokesman for the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture on 4 September rejected as "overly exaggerated" the International Committee of the Red Cross's prediction that this summer's drought may lead to famine in Armenia, Interfax reported. He admitted that the drought has caused $40 million in damage and the loss of 40,000 tons of crops, but he denied that there is a resulting threat of famine. In neighboring Georgia, where drought-related damage is estimated at more than $200 million, Agriculture and Food Minister David Kirvalidze said the Red Cross prognosis of famine "is true," according to Interfax. Both the Armenian and the Georgian leadership appealed last month to the international community for relief and food aid (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 2000). LF

KARABAKH CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY

The unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 2 September marked the ninth anniversary of its declaration of independence, Armenian agencies reported. Speaking at a reception to mark that date, Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasian affirmed that the declaration of independence did not constitute an end in itself. "We will never relinquish our people's dream-- reunification with Armenia," Noyan Tapan quoted him as saying. Ghukasian also unveiled a monument in Shushi to former Armenian Premier and Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian, one of the participants in the 1991-1994 fighting. On 3 September Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, who represented the Armenian leadership at the anniversary celebrations, signed an agreement with Nagorno-Karabakh Premier Anoushavan Danielian on inter-governmental cooperation in the spheres of industry, power engineering, trade, tourism, and the social sector, according to Snark on 4 September, as cited by Groong. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT DECRIES OPPOSITION TO KARABAKH PEACE

Speaking at Baku airport on 4 September before leaving for New York, where he will attend the UN Millennium Summit, Heidar Aliyev confirmed that he will meet later this week with his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, to resume their ongoing talks on approaches to resolving the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported. But Aliyev also accused unidentified forces of seeking to obstruct a solution to the conflict. The "Turkish Daily News" on 5 September quoted Aliyev as complaining that the international community refuses to hold Armenia responsible for its "occupation" of Azerbaijani territory. Turan said that Azerbaijan will demand at the summit that Armenia comply with four 1993 UN Security Council resolutions calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani territory. LF

ANOTHER AZERBAIJANI NEWSPAPER EDITOR INTERROGATED IN PLANE HIJACK CASE

Gunduz Tahirli, editor of the independent newspaper "Azadlyg," was questioned for almost three hours on 4 September about the abortive 18 August attempt by a member of the opposition Musavat party to hijack an Azerbaijani internal flight, Turan reported. On 5 September, National Security Minister Namik Abbasov denied that the health of arrested "Yeni Musavat" editor Rauf Arifoglu has deteriorated since his arrest on 22 August, "525 gazeti" reported. Arifoglu, who suffers from a duodenal ulcer, has declared an indefinite hunger strike. Meanwhile, a senior Azerbaijani airlines official on 4 September blamed the hijack on inadequate security screening at Nakhichevan airport, saying officials should have noticed the suspicious behavior of the lone hijacker, Mehti Huseynli. LF

SEVERAL DEPUTIES DEFECT FROM GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY FACTION

At least seven deputies representing the Union of Citizens of Georgia have quit that faction to form a new one, Caucasus Press reported on 1 September. They include the former chairman of the parliamentary Committee for Economic Policy and Reforms, David Gamkrelidze. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S POPULATION DOUBTS EXISTENCE OF INTER-ETHNIC HARMONY

The results of an opinion poll conducted in Almaty in mid-June indicate that few respondents are convinced by official denials that any tensions exist between the country's ethnic groups. The results of the poll were summarized by "Kontinent" in its August issue. The number of people polled was not specified. Only 4.2 percent of those questioned believed that inter-ethnic harmony exists in Kazakhstan, while 23.1 percent said it does not exist and a 30.7 percent could give no definite response but were inclined to doubt its existence. Asked to identify reasons for the deterioration in inter-ethnic relations, 24.1 percent of those questioned attributed that trend to the official policy of "Kazakhization" of the upper echelons of the country's leadership. Sixty-eight percent of the Kazakhs polled said they consider it appropriate that Kazakh be designated the sole state language, whereas 73.9 percent of the non-Kazakhs polled said there should be two state languages. LF

LULL REPORTED IN FIGHTING IN KYRGYZSTAN...

General Bolot Djanuzakov, who is secretary of the Kyrgyz Security Council, told journalists in Bishkek on 4 September that there was no fighting on Kyrgyzstan's southern border with Tajikistan that day or on 3 September. But he noted that on 3 September, Kyrgyz war planes continued to bombard suspected positions held by fighters from the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Djanuzakov put the number of invading militants killed since the first incursion on 11 August at 62. Some 30 Kyrgyz servicemen have officially been reported killed over that period, although some observers believe that figure is higher. Also on 4 September, First Deputy Defense Minister Nurdin Chomoev told a session of the upper chamber of the parliament that the fighting has depleted the Defense Ministry's budget, noting that $2 million was spent on the war in August alone. LF

...AS UZBEK TROOPS CONTINUE 'MOPPING UP'

Members of the Uzbek military group coordinating actions against the IMU said on 4 September that Uzbek helicopters had flown massive bombing raids that day against concentrations of IMU fighters hiding in mountainous border regions, ITAR-TASS reported. They attributed the fighters' continued presence in Uzbekistan to their anticipation of reinforcements and said that Uzbek troops will continue combing villages, caves, and ravines in the Sarias and Uzun Raions of Surkhandarya Oblast until all the IMU fighters have been eliminated. LF

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PROTESTS ASSASSINATION CASE SENTENCE

Representatives of several Kyrgyz political parties and NGOs have written to President Askar Akaev to protest the 16-year sentence handed down on 1 September to opposition Erkindik party chairman Topchubek Turgunaliev, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2000). TurgunAliyev was found guilty of masterminding a plot to assassinate Akaev. Erkindik's ruling board has accused presidential administration head Misir Ashyrkulov of fabricating the criminal case against TurgunAliyev and his alleged accomplices. It has also demanded Ashyrkulov's dismissal. LF

INCUMBENT QUALIFIES TO CONTEST KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL POLL

President Akaev on 4 September passed the mandatory Kyrgyz language examination for presidential candidates, despite some grammatical and spelling errors, Reuters and Interfax reported. Of the 19 presidential hopefuls, 12 have sat the language examination to date, of whom five failed. Only two candidates have been officially registered to contest the 29 October ballot: People's Party leader Melis Eshimkanov, who owns the opposition newspaper "Asaba," and Ata-Meken party leader Omurbek Tekebaev. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION CALLS FOR HALT TO NEW FIGHTING

The Islamic Renaissance Party has appealed to the Tajik government to cease its ongoing hostilities in Tajikistan's eastern Darband region against opposition forces led by United Tajik Opposition field commander Mullo Abdullo, ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2000). The IRP noted that in the past, the government has always sought a political solution to such clashes, which the IRP attributed to the government's failure to implement provisions of the 1997 peace agreement on the disarmament of armed opposition groups and their recruitment into either the army or the Interior Ministry forces. LF




BELARUSIAN STUDENT FINED OVER CALL TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONS

A Minsk court has fined Alyaksandr Kadukou, a student at the Belarusian State University, for distributing leaflets calling for a boycott of the 15 October legislative polls, Belapan reported on 4 September. Kadukou told the agency that Belarusian Television filmed his interrogation by a police officer, despite his protests. Kadukou added that the officer urged him to confess in front of television camera that he had been well paid by the opposition to distribute the leaflets. The court found Kadukou guilty of violating legislation on elections. The Electoral Code currently in force, however, does not prohibit campaigning for an election boycott. JM

UKRAINE TO LEASE GAS PIPELINES FOR $1.8 BILLION?

Deputy parliamentary speaker Stepan Havrysh on 4 September said the Ukrainian government is "viewing the possibility" of leasing the country's gas pipeline network to a Russian-Ukrainian joint venture for $1.8 billion over 25 years, Interfax reported. According to Havrysh, Ukraine's pipeline system is worth $20 billion. He noted that according to the current bill on oil and gas, which is to be amended in the parliament in the upcoming session, "such a transfer of gas pipelines on unfavorable conditions for Ukraine is impossible." In Havrysh's opinion, Ukraine's pipeline system might be privatized. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT URGES LAWMAKERS TO ADDRESS TAX DEBTS

Leonid Kuchma has sent a letter to the parliament urging deputies to speed up the adoption of bills intended to regulate debts to the state budget and state funds, Interfax reported on 4 September. Kuchma noted that 128,000 enterprises owe 15 billion hryvni ($2.75 billion) in unpaid taxes and other obligations, including 9.9 billion hryvni in fines for overdue payments. JM

ESTONIAN PREMIER'S ON-LINE BRIEFING MARRED BY IMPOSTOR

Mart Laar's first on-line news conference, which took place on his party's website (http://www.isamaaliit.ee) on 4 September, was marred by an impostor who answered some questions after the conference had finished. The secretary-general of the Pro Patria Union, Andres Ammas, said the party is trying to find out who the prankster was and how the interactive news conference was infiltrated, ETA reported. In some of the bogus answers attributed to Laar but given by the imposter, the decision to end the switch to summer (daylight savings) time was deemed a "mistake" and concern was expressed that Tallinn city council coalition is about to split. The local media were slow to issue retractions and in some cases offered none whatsoever. MH

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN REYKJAVIK

Valdas Adamkus paid a three-day visit to Iceland on 3-5 September en route to New York for the UN Millennium Summit. On 3 September, Adamkus met his Icelandic counterpart, President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, and discussed improving economic and cultural ties, ELTA reported. Prime Minister David Oddsson stressed Iceland's support for Lithuania's membership in NATO during a meeting the next day. Adamkus also met with visiting Chinese parliamentary chairman Li Peng, who was also visiting Reykjavik; their talks focused on bilateral relations and economic links. Li said that China does not feel threatened by Lithuania's aspirations to join the EU and NATO. MH

LI PENG CUTS SHORT LITHUANIAN VISIT

Lithuanian media are speculating why Chinese parliament chairman Li Peng curtailed his planned 5 September visit to Lithuania from two days to a few hours. Most believe that move was directly related to the second session of the international commission to evaluate communist crimes, which opened on 4 September at the Lithuanian parliament, BNS reported. Gediminas Kirkilas of the former Communist opposition Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) accused the Conservative-led government of "once again obscuring the country's international relations." Li, as speaker of China's parliament, was invited by his Lithuanian counterpart, Vytautas Landsbergis. Landsbergis, for his part, commented that "I do not think that every speculation and hint in the press should be commented on." MH

POLISH PRESIDENT SLAMS GOVERNMENT FOR 'ARROGANCE'

Aleksander Kwasniewski said at a 4 September re-election campaign meeting in Ciechanowiec, eastern Poland, that Jerzy Buzek's cabinet may be rightfully proud of being the longest-serving government in the Third Polish Republic, PAP reported. "However, this government must realize that it bears the greatest responsibility for successes, shortcomings, and first and foremost, for many an instance of arrogance, when it showed us bills that it thought would be successful but turned out to be nothing but a lot of wishful thinking," Kwasniewski noted. JM

POLAND TO LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO KATYN MASSACRE?

Leon Kieres, head of the National Remembrance Institute, has not ruled out the possibility of launching an investigation into the 1940 murders by the Soviet NKVD of some 22,000 Polish officers in the camps of Ostashkov, Katyn, Mednoe, and Kharkiv, PAP reported on 4 September. Kieres added that the decision on a possible probe will be made after his consultations with the prime minister and the justice minister. JM

POLAND SHRUGS OFF PROPOSAL FOR GERMAN REFERENDUM ON EU EXPANSION

Jan Kulakowski, Poland's chief negotiator in talks on EU accession, believes that last week's proposal by EU Commissioner Guenter Verheugen to hold a referendum in Germany on the admission of new members to the EU was a misunderstanding, PAP reported on 4 September, quoting Kulakowski's spokeswoman. Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobrowolski told the agency the same day that Verheugen's proposal is Germany's "internal affair." "We share the views expressed by [German Foreign] Minister Joschka Fischer, who is skeptical [about the referendum idea]," Dobrowolski added. JM

POLAND, AUSTRIA AGREE ON COMPENSATION FOR NAZI SLAVE WORKERS

Poland and Austria have finalized an agreement whereby a maximum of 550 million schillings ($40 million) will be paid in total compensation to former Polish slave workers under Nazism, dpa reported on 4 September. The sum will be distributed among 21,200 Polish survivors who were forced to work for the Nazis on the territory of Austria. Former slave workers will get 105,000 schillings, while those forced to work at Nazi industrial and agricultural enterprises will receive 35,000 schillings and 20,000 schillings, respectively. JM

CZECH PRESIDENT URGES 'GREATER UNDERSTANDING' OF AUSTRIAN TEMELIN APPREHENSIONS...

Vaclav Havel on 4 September urged his countrymen to display "greater understanding" toward "the concern of the citizens of Austria" over the planned launch of the Temelin nuclear plant, CTK and AP reported. Havel said it is necessary to take into consideration that Austria is "traditionally an anti-nuclear country" and that the citizens of that country "have a right to demonstrate and protest." Havel added that it is important that Austria's concerns be discussed by "professional experts." The European Parliament decided on 4 September that it will debate in "urgent procedure" a draft resolution submitted by the Greens calling on the Czech government not to activate Temelin. MS

...NOT WORRIED ABOUT VERHEUGEN REFERENDUM SUGGESTIONS

Havel also said he considers recent remarks by EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen to have been made "on the spur of the moment" and not to represent the official policies of Germany. Verheugen, a member of the ruling German Social Democratic Party, suggested in an interview last week that Germany should conduct a referendum on the EU's enlargement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2000). MS

CZECH POLICE CHARGE INTERNET VENDOR OF 'MEIN KAMPF'

The owner of a website selling Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" is to be charged with the "support and dissemination of a movement advocating the suppression of human rights and freedoms." Vit Varak faces a sentence of between three and eight years in prison if convicted. Police investigator Josef Stuchlik told CTK on 4 September that the sale of "Mein Kampf" via the Internet is no different from its sale in bookshops. In early June, the publisher of a Czech translation of "Mein Kampf," Michal Zitko, was charged with the same crime. Also on 4 September, the police opened an investigation to identify the author of a text sent via mobile phone networks that called for Roma to be killed. Earlier this year, the police launched an investigation against the anonymous person who had placed on the Internet a game on Romany extermination. MS

SLOVAK JUDGES WANT SUPREME COURT CHAIRMAN DISMISSED

The Slovak Association of Judges (SSS) is backing the government proposal that the parliament dismiss Supreme Court Chairman Stefan Harabin, CTK reported. SSS Deputy Chairman Anton Jacek told journalists on 4 September that last year Harabin lost the confidence of the association after attempting to have the parliament approve a law that would have given him exclusive powers over Supreme Court personnel policies. Jacek said such a law would have placed the court under the influence of the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and Slovak National Party, the two formations that had nominated Harabin to the post when they were in power. MS

INTERNATIONAL WARRANT ISSUED FOR LEXA'S ARREST

Bratislava district court judge Miroslav Lehotsky has issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Slovak Intelligence Service chief Ivan Lexa, CTK reported on 4 September. The warrant will allow Slovakia to ask Interpol to help trace, detain, and return Lexa to Slovakia. Lexa's parliamentary immunity was lifted last month. He is wanted on 11 charges, including participation in the 1995 kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER HAILS CABINET'S ACHIEVEMENTS

Speaking at the opening session of the parliament's fall session on 4 September, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his cabinet has managed to ensure both economic and fiscal stability. He added that wages have risen in real terms and families are better off than under the previous government. Orban urged legislators to support a two-year budget presented by the government, Hungarian media reported. MS

HUNGARIAN NATIONALIST DEMANDS BORDER REVISION

Addressing the same meeting of the legislature, Hungarian Justice and Life Party leader Istvan Csurka demanded the revision of the country's borders. He said that "now that EU [membership] has become an impossibility," the parliament should pass "an act of survival [of Hungarians] in the Carpathian Basin." Csurka said that Hungary must not allow into the country citizens of those neighbor states that refuse to grant autonomy to Hungarians living on their territory and are not prepared to conduct referenda on the "peaceful correction of borders." Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi responded that Europe is "on the brink of unification" and that instead of speaking of border revision, one should speak of "a continent without borders." MS




MILOSEVIC DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN ABDUCTION OF OPPONENT

The independent news agency Beta reported on 4 September that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told former Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov that he was not behind the disappearance of former Serbian President Ivan Stambolic. Gligorov was asked by Stambolic's wife, Kaca, to telephone Milosevic to find out if he has any information on Stambolic. Serbian opposition parties say they believe Milosevic is behind the disappearance of his former mentor turned foe, while state media say the abduction is related to Stambolic's business activities. Milosevic reportedly blamed Stambolic's family for not reporting his disappearance until seven hours after it occurred, saying that the delay would have given kidnappers time to leave the country. Witnesses say they saw Stambolic forced into a van at gunpoint while jogging in Belgrade on 25 August. PB

BELGRADE POLICE TAKE BRITONS, CANADIANS OUT OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

The lawyers for two British policemen and two Canadians arrested and charged with terrorism last month said their defendants have been moved out of solitary confinement cells, Reuters reported on 5 September. The four, who were working in Kosova, were arrested in Montenegro, where they said they were on vacation. They were reportedly found with detonation devices. No charges have been filed against any of them. The prosecution has 15 days after the end of the investigation into the case to decide whether to press charges against them. The investigation concluded on 28 August. Britain and Canada have repeatedly called on Belgrade to release the men. PB

SERBIAN POLICE RAID OTPOR OFFICES

Police raided the Belgrade headquarters of the student group Otpor (Resistance) on 4 September, confiscating election materials and computers, AP reported. Gradimir Nalic, a lawyer for Otpor, said the raid was the government's attempt to "strike at the heart of Otpor." Student leader Vukasin Petrovic said police burst into the offices and removed all campaign material and the group's computers before ransacking the premises. The state news agency Tanjug said the raid was part of "regular activities" during which propaganda belonging to the "illegal, mercenary, pro-NATO" Otpor organization was confiscated. It added that "measures in accordance with the law will be taken." Later the same day, Otpor offices in Mladenovac, near Belgrade, were also raided. PB

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER PLANS PRE-ELECTION VISIT TO BELGRADE

The Greek Foreign Ministry said on 4 September that George Papandreou will visit Belgrade before the 24 September elections to encourage all sides to make use of "the historical opportunity" and take part in democratic elections, AP reported. Greece, which was highly critical of the NATO-led bombing of Yugoslavia last year, is Belgrade's main ally within the EU. PB

UN SAYS IT WILL ALLOW YUGOSLAV VOTE TO BE HELD IN KOSOVA

The UN administration in Kosova (UNMIK) said on 4 September that it will not help organize Yugoslav federal elections in the Serbian province but will allow them to take place, Reuters reported. Bernard Kouchner, the head of the UN mission in Prishtina, said "these so-called elections are not fair, open, and democratic...and UNMIK will not support them. But we'll offer security for the people [who wish to vote]." Kouchner said Yugoslav officials have neither informed him of plans to open voting booths in Kosova nor asked for assistance in setting them up. Kouchner said the Yugoslav elections are a provocation to "undermine our very important elections" scheduled for 28 October. PB

UN SUSPENDS PRISON CHIEF AFTER BREAKOUT

UNMIK head Kouchner said on 4 September that he has suspended the director of a prison in Mitrovica from which 13 Serbs successfully escaped (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2000), Reuters reported. Kouchner said he feels "humiliated, frustrated, and guilty" about the jailbreak. He added that "people will be punished." The prison head is U.S. police officer Vincent Ducellier. Kouchner said the remaining 32 prisoners in the jail will be moved to other places. One of the escaped prisoners, Vekoslav Simic, who was being held for war crimes, has telephoned a relative in Mitrovica to say that all 13 of the escapees have fled Kosova, Reuters reported on 4 September. PB

SRPSKA WEEKLY PUBLISHES LIST OF INDICTED BOSNIANS

The independent weekly "Reporter" has published a Republika Srpska Defense Ministry list of 74 Bosnians thought to have been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, Reuters reported on 4 September. Of the 74 listed, 70 are Bosnian Serbs. The newspaper also names the towns where 64 of those on the list are reportedly living or hiding. Nine on the list have been publicly indicted by The Hague, but the others are believed to be on the sealed list of indictments. The newspaper did not specify why the list was drawn up but said it was based on information from Goran Neskovic, a lawyer for Momcilo Krajisnik, who is currently being detained at The Hague. Krajisnik is a former close associate of former Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. PB

POLICE UNCOVER FRAUD AMONG CROATIAN ARMY OFFICERS

Croatian military police have found that 70 out of 151 high-ranking army officers who have been investigated thus far have faked injuries to gain higher pensions and other perks, the daily "Jutarnji list" reported on 4 September. Ivica Pancic, the minister responsible for war veterans, said "one-third of the invalid certificates should be immediately canceled." The government began the investigation after noticing an unusually large number of invalid soliders from the wars of Yugoslav succession. PB

FARMERS BLOCK HIGHWAY SEEKING STATE FUNDS

A group of farmers used tractors to block the main highway in the Pakrac region of Croatia on 4 September to protest the government's failure to pay for wheat supplies, AP reported. Hundreds of farmers joined the protest and vowed to maintain the blockade until they are paid for this season's harvest. They also demanded protection from cheap agricultural imports. PB

ROMANIAN LEFTISTS TO RUN JOINTLY IN ELECTIONS

Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) leader Ion Iliescu and the leaders of the Social Democratic Party (PSDR), Alexandru Athanasiu and Tudor Mohora have reached an agreement to run on joint lists in the November parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 4 September. The PSDR will join the Social Democratic Pole, established earlier by the PDSR and the Romanian Humanist Party, and will receive between 10 and 20 places on joint lists, in accordance with 3.5 percent of the vote the PSDR received in the 2000 local elections. The PDSR and PSDR are to merge after the general elections. Also on 4 September, PDSR First Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase announced that former Foreign Minister Adrian Severin has joined the PDSR. Severin was expelled from the Democratic Party in 1998 and was elected chairman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly earlier this year. MS

GAGAUZ-YERI DEFIES MOLDOVAN LEADERSHIP OVER TRANSDNIESTER CELEBRATIONS

A delegation from the Gagauz-Yeri Autonomous region participated in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the breakaway region in Tiraspol on 2 September, RFE/RL's Chisinau Bureau reported. Mikhail Kendegelian, chairman of the autonomous region's Popular Assembly, said the Gagauz people "will never forget that when nationalist Moldovan forces started marching south in order to strangle our liberty-loving people, the Transdniestrians leaped to our help." Kendegelian added that "the friendship between Komrat and Tiraspol will last forever, having been cemented by the blood spilled in 1992." Dumitru Petrenco, counselor to Premier Dumitru Braghis, responded that Kendegelian's statements in Tiraspol "can be viewed only as a provocation" aimed at "undermining the process of a settlement of the Transdniester conflict." MS




THE STRUGGLE TO ESTABLISH THE WORLD'S LARGEST ORTHODOX CHURCH


By Taras Kuzio

During the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Moscow from 18-20 August, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II denounced calls to "confine the Church within the framework of the Russian Federation." The State Duma backed the ROC's geopolitical pretensions within the CIS by allocating 6 million rubles ($216,000) to the ROC in Ukraine this year.

In early August, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, asking Russia to return mosaics and frescoes from the Mykhaylivskyy Golden- Domed Cathedral in Kyiv. So far, he has received no response. The cathedral was built from 1108-1113 and destroyed on the orders of Josef Stalin in 1934. Some of the surviving treasures were looted by the Nazis but returned in the late Soviet era. The cathedral was rebuilt from 1996-1999 with Kyiv city funds and is now under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarch (UOC-KP).

The reconstruction of the cathedral has been seen as direct competition to the rebuilding of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, backed by Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. "Kommersant-Daily" deemed the Ukrainian cathedral's construction politically motivated because "Ukraine is pretending to be the successor to the whole tradition of Kyiv Rus." The ROC stands to lose the most from the unification of Ukraine's three Orthodox Churches into an independent (autocephalous) Church because Kyiv would resume its historical leadership among eastern Slavs as the direct descendant of Kyiv Rus and the Kyiv Metropolitanate (the city of Moscow was founded 600 years after Kyiv).

The ROC is also concerned about maintaining its influence. In the former USSR, two-thirds of ROC parishes were in Ukraine; today half of ROC parishes remain within Ukraine's borders. According to the Oxford-based Keston College, the ROC has a greater number of parishes outside the Russian Federation and within the former USSR (more than 9,000) than within the Russian Federation itself (7,000). In Ukraine, whose population is three times smaller than Russia's, there are two times as many Orthodox parishes as in the Russian Federation (14,000). This makes the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches potentially the largest Orthodox community of believers in the world.

Of the 14,000 Orthodox parishes in Ukraine, 8, 000 come under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarch and the remaining 6,000 fall under that of the UOC-KP and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). The combined total of nearly 15,000 ROC parishes within the former USSR gives the ROC the clout to back its historical claim of leadership within the Orthodox world as the "Third Rome." The "Second Rome" (Constantinople, known by its Turkish name of Istanbul) is therefore subordinate to itself. Ukraine, with its large Orthodox community, is key to the struggle between the ROC and the Patriarch of Constantinople for leadership and influence over the world's Orthodox believers.

Of particular concern to the ROC is Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew I's declaration in June that Ukraine lies within its canonical territory. That claim, which is backed by the Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Georgian Orthodox Churches, is based on Constantinople's non- recognition of the forcible transfer of the Kyiv Orthodox Metropolitanate to Moscow in 1686, making the ROC's control over Ukraine uncanonical in the eyes of Constantinople.

In 1924, Constantinople Patriarch Grygorii revived the Kyiv Metropolitanate by creating the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church (PAOC) at a time when 6 million Ukrainians lived in Poland. The UOC-KP and UAOC claim to be canonical descendants of both the Kyiv Metropolitanate and the PAOC and thus back Constantinople's jurisdiction over Ukraine. Ukrainian Orthodox Churches in North America came under the Patriarch of Constantinople's jurisdiction in 1995.

The ROC rejects any claims by Constantinople over Ukraine and describes its two rivals in Ukraine as "schismatics," demanding that they return to the bosom of the only "canonical" Church. As in Belarus, the ROC in Ukraine has allies among the left and pro-Slavic union political groups, and, ironically, its most ardent supporter is the Communist Party of Ukraine. It is therefore not surprising that the August Moscow synod refused even to discuss a request by President Leonid Kuchma, the metropolitan, and all but two of the bishops of the ROC in Ukraine to grant it autonomy.

Kuchma sees the granting of autonomy as a step toward the unification of the ROC in Ukraine with the UOC-KP and UAOC into an autocephalous Orthodox Church. All opinion polls conducted in Ukraine since 1992 give majority support among Orthodox believers to the UOC-KP. Confusion among many Orthodox believers is due to the fact that the ROC in Ukraine was registered as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in 1990, even though it has never possessed any kind of autonomous status and is merely an exarchate of the ROC. Some 200 of the 1700 Orthodox parishes in Galicia, for example, belong to the UOC (ROC).

In an interview in "Tserkalo Tyzhden" in August, Patriarch Filaret of the UOC-KP said he believes that 60-70 per cent of the ROC in Ukraine would agree to join a united Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The establishment of such a Church would make Ukraine home to the largest Orthodox Church in the world, and Constantinople would have found itself a new ally in its historical struggle with the ROC for leadership over Orthodox believers. Such a move would also seriously damage the movement for eastern Slavic union within Ukraine, as the autocephalous wing of Ukrainian Orthodoxy supports Ukraine's integration into Trans-Atlantic and European structures. The author is an honorary research fellow at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta.


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