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Newsline - September 20, 2000




MEDIA-MOST EDITORS ASK TO MEET WITH PUTIN...

Following recent charges by Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinskii that he was forced to sell his company under the threat of criminal prosecution, editors from Media-MOST's publications and radio and television programs have asked for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the battle for control over their company (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). NTV Director Yevgenii Kiselov told reporters that Media-MOST editors had previously arranged a meeting between Gusinskii and Putin last August but that meeting had been delayed because of the "Kursk" submarine tragedy. Afterwards, Putin said there would be no meeting because "it seemed to him that Gusinskii had instructed [his journalists] to cover the accident in a particular way." JAC

...WHILE GAZPROM PROMISES COURT ACTION

Alfred Kokh, the head of Gazprom Media, told reporters on 19 September that his company will file suit against Media-MOST in the next few days over that company's failure to pay its debts to Gazprom and for hiding its assets, Russian agencies reported. He also said that Gazprom intends to sell Media-MOST to foreign investors so there is little sense in talking about threats to media freedom. Renaissance Capital's Gene Moldavsky told "The Moscow Times" on 20 September that Media-MOST could fetch up to $2 billion if it were not embroiled in a dispute. Under the July sales agreement, Gazprom is to pay $300 million after forgiving a $473 million loan. JAC

SOME RUSSIAN POLITICAL FIGURES EXPRESS SHOCK OVER GUSINSKII AFFAIR...

Responding to Gusinskii's recent charges, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov spoke of his "disgust" over the state's methods of extracting money from private firms, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 19 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). And Yabloko's State Duma faction said it will request an investigation into the affair and ask the Duma to file a compaint with President Putin. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said the agreement between Gusinskii and Gazprom is "glaring evidence of state blackmail." Gorbachev heads the Public Council for Media- MOST's NTV, which has called on Gorbachev to request a meeting with Putin. JAC

...AS GOVERNMENT, LOYAL DUMA FIGURES APPEAR UNPERTURBED

When asked about Gusinskii during his trip to London, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said 19 September that "I have no information that this conflict cannot be solved in due course, through the courts including litigation." Boris Gryzlov, head of the pro-Kremlin Unity faction, took a similar line, saying that such disputes should be handled in court. For his part, State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev said that he does not take Gusinskii's claims seriously and declared that "one must pay one's debts before running away." JAC

KADYROV SEEKS RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM CHECHNYA

Akhmad Kadyrov, the pro-Moscow administrator in Chechnya, said through a spokesman on 19 September that he wants Moscow to withdraw its forces from Chechnya and turn over control of the region to him, Kadyrov's representative in Moscow, Shamil Beno, told the press, Reuters reported. "Withdrawing the troops today is possible and necessary," Beno said. "One, two months ago, it was not." Beno added that Kadyrov is also requesting that Moscow provide him with funds to set up a local police force. The Russian police operating there now, Beno said, are "the sledgehammer of a totalitarian regime." PG

PACE DELEGATION HEAD SEES PROGRESS IN CHECHNYA

Despite a suggestion that "it is too early yet to make final conclusions," Lord Judd, a deputy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said on 19 September that while in Chechnya he observed Russian officials working to normalize the situation there, Russian agencies reported. He said that he and his colleagues had very good discussions with Vladimir Kalamanov, the Russian president's human rights envoy to Chechnya. PG

UN PLANS REFUGEE CAMP IN INGUSHETIA

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees plans to set up a tent camp for 4,200 Chechen refugees, the Republic of Ingushetia's website reported on 19 September. The camp is being set up, local officials said, because the refugees do not want to return to Chechnya "for the time being." PG

MOSCOW SUSPENDS LASER TECHNOLOGY CONTRACT WITH TEHRAN...

Following requests by U.S. President Bill Clinton earlier this summer, Moscow has agreed to suspend a contract to supply Iran with laser technology, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart announced on 19 September. Washington believes that the technology, which creates nuclear combustion by separating uranium isotopes, could be used to build nuclear weapons. Lockhart said Clinton raised the matter with President Putin during their meetings in Okinawa, Japan, in July and in New York earlier this month. JC

...SAYS IT WON'T DEFY UN OVER IRAQ FLIGHTS

Deputy Foreign Minister Vasilii Sredin, who is President Putin's envoy to the Middle East, said on 19 September that not one Russian airplane would fly to Baghdad without the permission of the UN Sanctions Committee. Sredin's comment was made two days after a Russian airplane arrived in Iraq with both humanitarian aid and oil experts on board (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS quoted a source at the Russian Transport Ministry as saying that no talks on resuming passenger flights to Baghdad are planned for the near future. Aeroflot and Vnukovo Airlines are currently vying for the right to relaunch such flights. JC

KASYANOV LOBBYS IN LONDON FOR MORE INVESTMENTS

On the second day of his visit to the British capital, Russian Prime Minister Kasyanov met with Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and representatives of the Confederation of British Industry. Noting that the current situation of Russia's raw material monopolies is one of the main barriers to the country's economic development, Kasyanov said the government plans to make "crucial decisions" on the reform of Gazprom, United Energy Systems, and the Ministry of Railways before the end of the year. Kasyanov also announced that British Prime Minister Tony Blair intends to visit Moscow by year's end accompanied by a group of British businessman. At his meeting with Blair the previous day, Kasyanov handed over a message to the British premier from President Putin noting that bilateral economic cooperation is lagging behind the two countries' political ties. JC

COURT REFUSES TO RELEASE ALLEGED U.S. SPY PENDING TRIAL

The Moscow City Court on 19 September ruled that former U.S. naval officer Edmund Pope, who is accused of spying, must remain in custody pending his trial. Pope's lawyers had appealed for his release on the grounds that the defendant requires medical treatment; in the past, Pope has suffered from a rare form of bone cancer. The court ruled, however, that there are no grounds to release the defendant, noting the gravity of the crime of which he is accused and referring to a prison doctor's report stating that the defendant is well enough to withstand investigation. Pope's trial is expected to begin next month. Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that Russia's failure to provide medical information about Pope or allow an independent medical examination is "outrageous." JC

PUTIN ORDERS RECOVERY OF 'KURSK' CREW BODIES

Meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who heads the government commission investigating the causes of the sinking of the "Kursk" nuclear submarine last month in the Barents Sea, President Putin ordered that the bodies of the 118-strong crew be brought to the surface for identification and burial. Putin and other officials had promised shortly after the disaster to recover the bodies, but both Russian and Western experts have since argued that the venture would be risky for the divers and expensive, while Klebanov himself recently said he doubts that all the bodies can be retrieved (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 September 2000). Meanwhile, a deal with the Norwegian company Stolt Offshore, which Russia wants to take part in recovering the bodies, has still not been reached because of differences over how much the operation will cost. JC

GOVERMENT HOLDS SUCCESSFUL PRIVATIZATION TENDER

Evrotek, a company closely connected to Tyumen Oil Company, has won the tender for an 85 percent stake in the Onako oil company, Russian Federal Property head Vladimir Malin announced on 19 September. Evrotek bid $1.08 billion, more than double the starting price of $425.25 million. The next highest bid of $1 billion came from Profit House, an alliance of YUKOS, Sibneft, and Stroitransgaz, "Segodnya" reported on 20 September. Before the announcement of the tender's results, some analysts had feared that the Kremlin might intercede on Profit House's behalf. Gennadii Krasovskii, an analyst with Troika Dialog, told "The Moscow Times" on 20 September that "this is the first time in [the history of] Russian privatization that a company was sold for its real value." Results of a special auction for 0.87 percent of Surgutneftegaz will be announced by the end of November, Malin told reporters. JAC

RUSSIA'S DEBT RATING BOOSTED

Thomson BankWatch upgraded Russia's sovereign debt rating as well as the senior debt ratings of Sberbank, Vneshekonombank, and the International Moscow Bank to B minus from CCC. According to the bank rating agency, Russia's rating is likely to be upgraded again once a restructuring agreement is reached with the Paris Club on Soviet-era debt. The agency cited Russia's "improved fiscal and external sector positions" as well as "greater political stability." The agency also noted that "even though much of the economy's revival can be traced to strong commodity prices, there are signs that domestic demand is also strengthening" (for more information, see ). JAC

IMF SEES ECONOMIC GROWTH SLOWING NEXT YEAR...

IMF officials on 19 September confirmed earlier reports that the fund has revised its forecast for Russia's economic growth this year to 7 percent, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2000). The fund expects growth to slow in 2001 to 4 percent. IMF Research Director Michael Mussa told reporters that "after many years of dithering and delay important areas of structural reform are beginning to move forward in Russia." JAC

...GIVES BUDGET SEAL OF APPROVAL?

In an open letter published in "Vremya novostei" on 19 September, the IMF's Moscow representative, Martin Gilman, said that the Russian government's budget policy is playing a very positive role and is the foundation for macroeconomic stability in Russia in the medium term. Gilman added that the economic program approved by the Russian government on 26 July is comprehensive and will speed up reform in the country's economy. JAC

PASSAGE PREDICTED FOR BUDGET, AS COMMUNISTS CONTINUE TO HOLD OUT

Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told reporters on 19 September that his faction in the State Duma will continue to ask the government to increase budget revenues in next year's draft budget, using the bulk of the increase to benefit teachers, doctors, scientists, and engineers. The previous day, Prime Minister Kasyanov signed a decree raising the wages of state sector workers 20 percent as of the first of the year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). Also on 19 September, Gennadii Raikov, head of the pro-Kremlin People's Deputy group, said he thinks the budget will be passed with the necessary majority in its first reading on 6 October. Last week, Unity faction head Boris Gryzlov said his faction will support the document. JAC

PUTIN MEETS WITH SHARANSKY

President Putin met with Israeli political figure and head of the Israel be-Aliya party, Natan Sharansky, on 19 September, Russian agencies reported. According to Interfax, the two men discussed measures to expand Russian-Israeli cooperation including the use of the Russian community in Israel. The previous day, Sharansky attended the opening of the new Jewish Community Center, at which Federation of Jewish Communities head Berl Lazar officiated. JAC

DAGHESTANI WAHHABIS ARRESTED, TO BE RETURNED TO RUSSIA

Caucasus Press reported on 19 September that officials in an unnamed "neighboring country" have arrested three Wahhabis from Daghestan who are wanted under an Interpol warrant. The three will be returned to Russia in the near future, the officials noted. A Daghestani official said that they were involved in the Chechen invasion of Daghestan in August 1999. PG

NORTH OSSETIAN LEADER VISITS SOUTH

North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov travelled to South Ossetia's capital of Tskhinvali on 19 September to participate in the 10th anniversary of the self-declared independence of South Ossetia, Caucasus Press reported. Prior to making the trip, Dzasokhov talked by telephone with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. PG

EXHIBITION COMMEMORATING LATE MRS. GORBACHEV OPENS

Former Soviet leader Gorbachev, together with his daughter Irina, opened an exhibition on 19 September devoted to his late wife, Raisa, at Moscow's Museum of Contemporary History. On display are a collection of photos, newspaper articles, books, and souvenirs. The museum's director, Tamara Shumnaya, told AP that "You could say that only with the arrival of [Raisa Gorbachev] was the idea of a first lady created in the Soviet Union." With tears in his eyes, Mikhail Gorbachev addressed those gathered for the exhibition's opening, saying "We are grateful for how the hearts and minds of the people have changed towards Raisa Maximovna." JAC

RUSSIA'S ATHLETES WIN ANOTHER GOLD MEDAL

The Russian women's fencing team won a gold medal in the epee competition, ITAR- TASS reported on 19 September. According to "Segodnya" the next day, the Russian fencing team's success at the Olympics has come as surprise, since at the beginning of the tournament it was not expected to take even a bronze. In the quarterfinals the Russian team faced a very strong German team, during which one Russian team member, Maria Masina, confessed that "frankly speaking, there was a moment when I could barely lower my arms." Nevertheless, the Russian team made it to the finals when it defeated the Swiss team by 45 to 35. Also on 19 September, the Russian men's basketball team defeated Spain and the men's volleyball team defeated the U.S. (See the Olympic Medal Count below). JAC




ARMENIAN TV TO CARRY RUSSIAN, ENGLISH NEWS PROGRAMS

Armenian national television will begin to carry five- minute news programs in Russian and English as of 22 September, Snark reported on 18 September. The news service director said the move reflects Armenian Television's desire to help members of the Armenian diaspora who do not know any Armenian. The bulletins will be on the air every day at midnight. PG

IS THE KARABAKH ASSASSINATION TRIAL OPEN?

Snark reported on 19 September that its correspondent has been prevented from attending the trial of Lieutenant-General Samvel Babayan and 14 others charged with attempting to assassinate the president of Karabakh. But Noyan Tapan reported that the self-proclaimed Karabakh Foreign Ministry has issued a press release saying that "the trial is open and there are no restrictions on mass media representatives." Meanwhile, lawyers for the accused told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that the trial is unfair because of the absence of a key suspect. PG

SOME AZERBAIJANI PARTIES REGISTERED...

The Central Election Commission has registered the candidates of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party for those seats to be decided on proportional representative lists in the upcoming elections, Turan reported on 19 September. Meanwhile, the agency said, an appeals court has overruled the commission and registered candidates from the Communist Party. PG

...WHILE OTHERS ARE NOT

The Central Election Commission voted by 12 to two to reject the registration of the Musavat Party's candidate list, Turan reported on 19 September. Musavat party leader Isa Gambar complained to the U.S. and EU ambassadors about this exclusion. And Western democracy activists, including the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutes and Human Rights, expressed their concern about the exclusion of the Musavat candidates. PG

PRO-MUTALIBOV ACTIVISTS TO END HUNGER STRIKE

Sheyh Abdul Mahmudbeyli, the head of the campaign in defense of the rights of former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov, told Turan on 19 September that his group will soon end the hunger strike it began on 8 September. He added that the group will seek to organize larger demonstrations in support of Mutalibov. PG

MORE DRUGS FLOW INTO AZERBAIJAN FROM IRAN

Naib Akperov, a Baku police official responsible for combating drugs, told ANS television on 18 September that the flow of drugs from Iran into Azerbaijan recently increased significantly. PG

RUSSIA WITHDRAWS MORE WEAPONS FROM GEORGIA

The Russian military is withdrawing a third batch of weapons from Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 September. Russian forces have removed weapons from their base at Vaziani and plan to withdraw additional armored vehicles and ammunition before the end of the year. PG

EU GIVES GEORGIA BORDER PROTECTION EQUIPMENT

The EU mission in Tbilisi has presented special technical equipment to the Georgian border guards, Russian Public TV reported on 18 September. The equipment is to be set up along the Chechen-Georgian border, officials said. PG

GEORGIA TO INSIST ON CONTROLLING PICHVINI

Georgian Security Council Secretary Nugzar Sajaya told Caucasus Press on 19 September that Tbilisi will insist that Russia recognize that the village of Pichvini is on Georgian and not Russian territory. Meanwhile, Irakli Tsereteli, the leader of the Party of National Independence of Georgia, said he intends to seek NATO's help in defending the territorial integrity of Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. PG

KAZAKHSTAN'S INTERIOR TROOPS PUT ON HIGH ALERT

Interior Minister Kairbek Suleymenov said on 19 September that there are currently no grounds for trying to locate insurgents in southern Kazakhstan, Interfax reported. But he added that interior troops there have been put on high alert and their numbers increased. PG

KAZAKHSTAN PREMIER REFUSES TO RULE OUT PROPERTY REDISTRIBUTION

Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev said on 19 September that investors in privatization schemes who do not fulfill their contractual obligations will lose their property rights, Interfax reported. He said that he has told officials to identify what he called "virtual" owners and deprive them of their ownership rights. PG

INSURGENTS CONTINUE ATTACKS IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTAN

Islamist militants on 19 September continued their efforts to enter Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan, Interfax reported. Government troops reportedly repulsed them without loss. PG

KYRGYZ SECURITY OFFICERS SEARCH NEWSPAPER'S OFFICE

Some 30 officers of the Kyrgyzstan Security Ministry searched the offices of the Bishkek independent newspaper "Delo Nomer" on 19 September, reportedly looking for documents relating to the involvement of the country's security services in infiltrating the country's opposition political parties, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. PG

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTIES URGE AKAEV NOT TO RUN

The leaders of eight Kyrgyz opposition parties have sent a letter to President Askar Akaev urging him not to run for re-election, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 19 September. They argued that Akaev has already served the two terms allowed by the constitution and that by running, Akaev is violating the constitution and engaging in a "direct abuse of power." PG

UN CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL DROUGHT ASSISTANCE TO TAJIKISTAN

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Tajikistan, Matthew Kahane, appealed on 19 September to governments around the world to provide $76.6 million to help the 1.2 million people now affected by the drought in Tajikistan, AP reported. Kahane said that 1.2 million people are in desperate need of food, while many others have no access to safe drinking water. PG

UZBEK OLYMPIC OFFICIAL TO CONTEST DRUG CHARGE

A lawyer for Uzbekistan's Olympic track and field coach, Sergei Voynov, announced on 19 September that his client will plead not guilty to charges that he brought a banned performance- enhancing drug into Australia, AP reported. PG

OLYMPIC MEDAL COUNT--PART 1 COUNTRIES


Through 19 SEPTEMBER


Country_________Gold___Silver___Bronze___Total


Russia_____________3_______7_______6_______16
Georgia____________0_______0_______1_______1
Kyrgyzstan_________0_______0_______1_______1
Armenia____________0_______0_______0_______0
Azerbaijan_________0_______0_______0_______0
Kazakhstan_________0_______0_______0_______0
Tajikistan_________0_______0_______0_______0
Turkmenistan_______0_______0_______0_______0
Uzbekistan_________0_______0_______0_______0





BELARUSIAN JOURNALIST FINED FOR URGING ELECTION BOYCOTT

A Minsk district court on 19 September fined Viktar Ivashkevich, chief editor of the opposition newspaper "Rabochy," and Dzmitry Kastsyukevich, the newspaper's lawyer, for urging a boycott of the 15 October legislative elections in a special issue of their newspaper, Belapan reported. The court also ruled that more than 100,000 copies of the seized issue be confiscated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 September 2000). The court said the newspaper violated an article of the Administrative Offenses Code that prohibits calling for an election boycott. JM

OSCE ELECTION EXPERTS BEGIN WORK IN BELARUS

A technical mission of election experts from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has begun its work in Belarus, Belapan reported on 19 September. Mission head Elisabeth Rasmusson said the experts' goal is not to monitor the elections but to assess the election campaign, the behavior of the media, and the situation with human rights on the eve of the elections. Europe will also dispatch three representatives of its "parliamentary troika" to monitor the 15 October ballot (see "RFE/RL's Newsline," 11 September 2000). Meanwhile, Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetski, currently in exile in Lithuania, has called on the OSCE to cancel its decision to send technical observers to Belarus. Sharetski said the Minsk regime is presenting the OSCE technical experts to Belarusians as full-fledged monitors, thus creating the impression that Europe considers the 15 October elections lawful. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PRAISES CABINET FOR ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE...

Leonid Kuchma on 19 September said he is happy with the economic performance of Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet, Interfax reported. "We should look at the government's activity through statistics, which are positive," Kuchma said, noting that Ukraine's GDP is expected to rise from 3- 3.5 percent after a decade of economic slump. Kuchma added that industrial output grew 11 percent from last year and that a 0.2 percent growth was also registered in the agricultural sector. "Considering the situation of the economy, we should be pleased with these achievements," he said. JM

...BUT CHIDES GOVERNMENT FOR ENERGY PROBLEMS

However, the president criticized the cabinet for failing to resolve the problems in the fuel and energy sector. Kuchma recalled that Ukraine has not concluded an agreement on gas deliveries from its main supplier, Russia. Kuchma also slammed Deputy Premier Yuriya Tymoshenko for the protocol she signed on Turkmen gas deliveries in July during her trip to Turkmenistan. Kuchma said it was inadmissible for Tymoshenko to have signed the protocol and subsequently made known its terms when "Russia is forced to buy gas from Turkmenistan." "The East is a subtle thing, and it would be better if men, not women, traveled there," Kuchma added. JM

WORLD BANK PRESENTS NEW LOAN STRATEGY FOR UKRAINE

World Bank official Dusan Vujovich has presented a three-year aid strategy for Ukraine that the bank adopted earlier this month, Interfax reported. Kyiv may obtain $1.8 billion in credits from 2001-2003 if the government enhances transparency in private property rights, improves the protection of those rights, introduces discipline in the financial sector, upgrades social services and government regulations, and improves the monitoring of business activities. Vujovich said Ukraine will receive only $461 million if the bank deems the government's performance to be poor. "The real aid level will depend now upon tangible results of the implementation of the Ukrainian government's reform program," the agency quoted Luca Barbone, the bank's representative for Ukraine and Belarus, as saying. JM

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 2001 BUDGET

The government on 19 September endorsed the draft 2001 budget and sent it to the parliament for approval. The budget is balanced at 29.4467 billion kroons ($1.6 billion) and is based on a GDP growth of 5.5 percent and inflation at 4.1 percent, ETA reported. Finance Minister Siim Kallas said these figures are "cautious." Budget allocations for defense, education, and agriculture have all been increased. MH

ESTONIAN TRUCKERS SAY 'NO STRIKE'

The head of the Association of International Truckers in Estonia, Toivo Kuldkepp, said truckers in Estonia will not follow their counterparts elsewhere in Europe by striking and blocking traffic to protest fuel prices. Kuldkepp told the business daily "Aripaev" that "it would be strange to start protesting, as our excise has not even reached the minimum level required in Europe," according to ETA. Kuldkepp noted that in Estonia, taxes account for 40 percent of fuel prices, as opposed to 55-80 percent elsewhere in Europe. MH

LITHUANIAN INDUSTRIALISTS SUPPORT CENTRISTS

At a conference on 19 September, the Confederation of Lithuanian Industrialists, a powerful lobby group, announced it supports the platform of the centrist coalition of the Center Union, Liberal Union, and New Alliance (Social Liberals). The confederation's leader, Bronislovas Lubys, said the group will not conclude a formal agreement, as it did with the Conservatives in 1996, but will support the platform that is "closest to the industrialists' view towards the development of the economy," BNS reported. Lubys declined to state how much funding those parties will be granted. MH

JEWISH DEPUTY QUITS RULING LITHUANIAN FACTION OVER RESOLUTION

Emanuelis Zingeris, head of the parliament's Human Rights Committee, suspended his membership in the parliamentary faction of the ruling Conservatives on 19 September to protest a controversial resolution deemed offensive by the Jewish community. The resolution, whose passage was later suspended, legalized the declaration of the restoration of independence on 23 June 1941, during a rebellion against the withdrawing Soviet occupation. That rebellion, however, is associated with the start of persecution against Jews in Lithuania, BNS reported. Zingeris said it is "unethical" that members of the parliament--namely those from his own faction--pushed through the resolution, despite the fact that it had been removed from the agenda. Parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis asked President Valdas Adamkus to veto the resolution, but the parliament suspended its passage the same day. Zingeris stressed he is not quitting the party and will run, as planned, as a candidate in the 8 October elections. MH

FORMER SOLIDARITY LEADER TO PROPOSE SINGLE RIGHT-WING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

Lech Walesa announced on 19 September that he will send a letter to other right-wing presidential hopefuls proposing Peasant Party leader Jaroslaw Kalinowski as their single candidate. "If the elections were held today, Kalinowski would go through to face [incumbent President Aleksander] Kwasniewski in the second round. He would be the winner, because we would all back Kalinowski," PAP quoted Walesa as saying. Most polls conducted in Poland put Kalinowski's backing at below 10 percent, behind not only Kwasniewski but also Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski and independent candidate Andrzej Olechowski. JM

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER RESPONDS TO EU PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT

Jan Kavan, speaking in Brussels after talks with French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, said his country's target to join the EU "remains 2003 and we shall do everything possible to be ready to...fulfill by then [all the remaining] tough criteria of the aquis communautaire," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Vedrine handed Kavan a joint draft drawn up by the 15 EU members ahead of the report on the annual progress of candidate members. Vedrine said the draft should encourage the Czech Republic to "work further" on meeting the criteria for admission. He said 13 out of the 29 chapters in the aquis have been closed. Kavan also promised that Prague will "not allow Temelin to go on line...unless it meets security standards that correspond to tough EU standards." MS

FORMER CZECH COUNTERINTELLIGENCE SERVICE HEAD BECOMES SECURITY LIABILITY?

The former director of the Czech Intelligence Service (BIS), Karel Vulterin, is now working in a casino owned by the International Union of Students, which has links to the former Soviet KGB, "Pravo" reported on 19 September. The daily said that the BIS lists the union among extremist left-wing organizations and that the casino is frequently visited by employees of embassies from former Soviet republics. Chamber of Deputies Security and Defense Committee Chairman Petr Necas told "Pravo" that "experience shows these casinos are the place where most international money-laundering affairs are done." He said he would like to believe that Vulterin is "not misusing any information he came across" in his former position. Vulterin was dismissed as BIS head in 1999. MS

SIX HUNDRED FOREIGNERS DENIED ENTRY INTO CZECH REPUBLIC AHEAD OF MEETING

More than 600 foreign citizens have so far been denied entry to the Czech Republic ahead of the IMF/World Bank annual meeting in Prague next week, CTK reported on 19 September, citing border police. Almost half of those denied permission to enter were told that their cars were in too poor a condition. Two German citizens reportedly tried to smuggle in three machine gun cartridges, while one group was found to be transporting household waste that presumably was to be used in demonstrations. MS

SLOVAK COALITION PARTY APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

Jan Langos, leader of the Democratic Party, told journalists on 19 September that his formation has appealed to the Constitutional Court to rule whether the questions included in the referendum on early elections violate the basic law, CTK reported. The court cannot ban the referendum but can declare its results invalid after they are proclaimed. Langos said that legal experts consulted by his party concluded that the questions infringe on basic human rights and on the constitutional provision that the parliament is elected for a four-year term. MS

EU OFFICIAL SAYS HUNGARY IS VERY CLOSE TO MEMBERSHIP

EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen told reporters in Brussels on 19 September following talks with Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi that "our negotiations and relations with Hungary are a full success story." "Hungary is very, very close to membership," he added. Asked if Budapest's admission could be delayed by difficulties in EU negotiations with Poland, Martonyi argued that each country's membership bid must be treated individually. "None of the candidates has made a commitment to wait for any other," he noted. MSZ




NATO FOILED YUGOSLAV ARMY PLOT IN KOSOVA

The recent arrest of six Serbs in Gracanica by British and Swedish KFOR troops prevented Yugoslav army officers from carrying out what UN civilian administrator Bernard Kouchner called "an obvious attempt to destabilize Kosovo," London's "The Independent" reported from Prishtina on 20 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). Brigadier Rob Fry of the Royal Marines added that "the evidence is compelling to link [at least two of the six] to the Yugoslav Army Special Forces." Spanish General Juan Ortuno, who heads KFOR, said that the officers intended to use explosives "to create fear and intimidate the people of Kosovo" in the runup to the 24 September Serbian and Yugoslav elections. "The Daily Telegraph" quoted an unnamed "diplomat based in Kosovo" as saying that KFOR observed the men for "a few weeks." KFOR made the arrests when it did to prevent the officers from "blowing up something big," he added. PM

KOUCHNER ISSUES PRESS RULES FOR KOSOVA

Kouchner signed a set of rules for the Kosova printed media in Prishtina on 19 September, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He said that the regulations are aimed at preventing "encouragement of criminal activities and violence." Kouchner stressed that it is also important that journalists differentiate between fact and opinion. PM

MACDDONIA TIGHTENS CONTROLS ON KOSOVA FRONTIER

The government announced a series of measures on 19 September aimed at increasing security on the border with Kosova after a recent series of violent incidents along the frontier that left two Macedonian military men seriously injured, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

CRVENKOVSKI: MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION TO SEEK NEW ELECTIONS

Social Democratic leader Branko Crvenkovski said in Skopje on 19 September that the opposition will work in the parliament to form a "new majority" to force the government to hold new elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). He stressed that "we will cooperate with all political parties and individuals who are not satisfied with the rule of [Prime Minister] Ljubco Georgievski and think that it should end. Their number is getting larger by the day," the MIC news agency reported. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATE SAYS MILOSEVIC IS A 'COWARD'

Vojislav Kostunica called Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic a "coward" after people in a crowd in Pirot pelted the opposition presidential candidate with paint, "Blic" reported on 20 September. This was the latest in a series of physical attacks by presumed Milosevic supporters against Kostunica (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 2000). At the Pirot rally, a Bosnian Serb criticized the Yugoslav president for not defending the interests of Serbs living outside Serbia. Milosevic "wanted all Serbs to live in one country. All [refugees] came to Serbia but we received only canned goods and refugee identification cards, without citizenship and the right to vote," the man added. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION CONFIDENT OF VICTORY

Kostunica told 20,000 supporters in Nis on 19 September that Serbia will "return to Europe" following the elections. He added that he is confident that army personnel and police will not vote for Milosevic. In Belgrade, opposition campaign director Zoran Djindjic said that he expects the opposition to win the elections. He added, however, that it is likely that the authorities--who will be in charge of the polling places and ballot-counting--will falsify the results. Djindjic said that he hopes that Serbian citizens "will react in a suitable manner" if Milosevic tries to steal the elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The following day, "Blic" and "Glas" each published its own opinion poll showing Kostunica with a comfortable lead over Milosevic. PM

DRASKOVIC: SERBIAN OPPOSITION HAS 'NO CHANCE'

Vuk Draskovic of the Serbian Renewal Movement told "Die Welt" of 19 September that the elections will be a "catastrophe" because the opposition "does not have the slightest chance of winning." He argued that Milosevic will falsify the election results and use the army and police to intimidate his opponents. "Jane's Intelligence Digest" reported on 19 September that Draskovic's supporters are negotiating with Milosevic for their party's possible return to the government. Milosevic, the report added, will need Draskovic's support if Radical leader Vojislav Seselj joins the opposition. PM

SERBIAN PRESIDENT: OPPOSITION HAS 'NO CHANCE'

Milan Milutinovic said in Belgrade on 19 September that "the people know" that the opposition politicians are tools of NATO and will not vote for them. "The NATO coalition has no chance, because people in Serbia are not naive and know well what are empty tales and what is reality." Milutinovic added that Milosevic's leftist coalition is a "true defense against the destruction [of Serbia] by all those forces who want to impose so-called democratization" on the country, Reuters reported. PM

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS MILOSEVIC WILL NOT GO PEACEFULLY

Milo Djukanovic told Niksic Television on 19 September that the Yugoslav president will resort to violence rather than give up power, the Podgorica daily "Pobjeda" reported. Djukanovic stressed, however, that neither the army command nor its special forces can frighten Montenegro. He wished the Serbian opposition success in the elections, which he and his party are boycotting. Djukanovic stressed that Montenegro has no interest in "illegal" elections aimed at destroying its sovereignty. He also said that the "best thing that citizens can do for Montenegro is not to vote," Montena-fax news agency reported. Elsewhere, the BBC reported that the Belgrade authorities have given an unspecified number of members of the Serbian criminal underworld the choice between being jailed and joining special forces in Montenegro. PM

ROBERTSON: NATO IS 'VIGILANT' ABOUT SERBIA

NATO Secretary- General Lord Robertson told representatives of 14 non-EU European countries in Brussels on 19 September that "it does not look as if President Milosevic is preparing to give up power," Reuters reported. Robertson added, however, that the Serbian people "will make [their] choice and they will make it bravely--and we will be vigilant." PM

MORE COUNTRIES ENDORSE EU DECLARATION ON SERBIAN OPPOSITION...

Leaders of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Cyprus, Malta, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland appealed to Serbian voters to support the opposition. The leaders signed a recent EU declaration to that effect, Reuters reported from Brussels on 19 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). PM

...BUT NOT SLOVENIA

Slovenia, which is an EU applicant, did not sign the declaration. Prime Minister Andrej Bajuk nonetheless told Reuters on 19 September that "we have sent all kinds of messages to our neighbors to the south that they need to take a very strong step towards democracy.... [We urge them to] vote for democracy and the rule of law and integrate...into the world community. Yes, we agree [with the EU statement]." Foreign Minister Lojze Peterle said that Slovenia did not sign the EU declaration lest such a move somehow complicate eventual negotiations with Serbia and other successor states to the former Yugoslavia on dividing the assets and properties of that country, "Dnevnik" reported on 20 September. The Ljubljana daily also quoted Bajuk as saying that EU officials told him that Slovenia is "in a good position" for EU membership and will be "among the first candidates" to be included in the EU's next round of expansion. PM

ROMANIA SAYS NO PREPARATIONS TO INVADE YUGOSLAVIA UNDER WAY

The Defense Ministry press office on 19 September denied that NATO military maneuvers under way in Romania are in preparation for an invasion of Yugoslavia in the event the opposition there loses the upcoming elections, Romanian television reported on 19 September. The ministry says the "imagination" of Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic has nothing to do with reality. Two NATO maneuvers planned for this month have already ended, and a third one is about to finish. Maneuvers that will continue involve only Romanian forces. None of these [exercises] involve activities that could be linked to an "intervention force," the ministry said. MS

CZECH CITIZEN DETAINED IN CONNECTION WITH ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONIST MURDER

Czech businessman Frantisek Priplata was detained on 19 September as he attempted to cross the border to Hungary, Mediafax reported the next day. Priplata has been involved in the privatization of the Iasi Tepro company, whose trade union leader was murdered earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 2000). Mediafax reported that Priplata, who has a 51 percent stake in a Romanian company, had been authorized by Czech Zelezarny Veseli General- Director Zdenek Zemek to sign the contract under which Tepro was privatized. In an interview with the private channel Tele 7abc on 17 September, the sister of the murdered trade union leader alleged that President Emil Constantinescu's son Dragos was among those who had profited from the murder. Dragos Constantinescu responded by saying he had nothing to do with either Tepro's privatization or the murder. MS

ECOLOGIST ELECTORAL ALLIANCE SET UP IN ROMANIA

Three ecologist parties on 19 September set up the Ecologist Pole ahead of the November parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The Romanian Ecologist Party (PER), the Green Ecological Alternative, and the Party of Ecologist Convention will run on joint lists and nominate a joint presidential candidate. PER chairman Otto Weber will chair the Ecologist Pole. MS

WORLD BANK MISSION IN MOLDOVA

World Bank Regional-Director Roger Graw told President Petru Lucinschi on 19 September that there are "good chances" for renewing cooperation with the bank and with the IMF, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. On 15 September, the Moldovan government submitted to the parliament a revised version of the bill on the privatization of tobacco and wine industries. The passing of the bill, previous versions of which were rejected by the house owing mainly to Communist opposition, is an IMF and World Bank condition for resuming the disbursement of loans. To appease the opposition, the bill stipulates that a 34-35 percent "golden share" in enterprises in these sectors will remain in the hands of the government. The same applies to the privatization of the Moldtelcom state company. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS NEW COUNCIL OF EUROPE RAPPORTEUR

Lucinschi also met with Ernst Muehlmann, the new European Council rapporteur for Moldova, on 19 September. The president told Muehlmann that unlike other conflicts in Europe, the Transdniester dispute is a "purely political one and its solution is entirely dependent on the will of Russia and Ukraine." He also said Moldova cannot accept a solution based on the country's federalization, which, he said, would only end in "exacerbating existing differences between the different ethnic groups" in the country. MS

OLYMPIC MEDAL COUNT--PART 2 COUNTRIES


Through 19 SEPTEMBER


Country_________Gold___Silver___Bronze___Total


Ukraine____________2_______3_______3_______8
Bulgaria___________3_______1_______1_______5
Slovakia___________1_______3_______1_______5
Romania___________2_______1_______1_______4
Czech Rep._________1_______0_______3_______4
Belarus____________0_______1_______3_______4
Hungary___________1_______1_______0_______2
Poland_____________1_______1_______0_______2
Croatia____________1_______0_______0_______1
Lithuania__________1_______0_______0_______1
Yugoslavia_________0_______1_______0_______1
Estonia____________0_______0_______1_______1
Latvia_____________0_______0_______1_______1
Albania____________0_______0_______0_______0
Bosnia-Herzeg.______0_______0_______0_______0
Macedonia_________0_______0_______0_______0
Moldova___________0_______0_______0_______0
Slovenia___________0_______0_______0_______0





THE BITTER TASTE OF AN HISTORIC VICTORY


By Jan Maksymiuk

Over the past few months, all opinion polls conducted in Poland suggest that President Aleksander Kwasniewski enjoys the support of between 60 percent and 70 percent of Polish voters, meaning that he will easily gain re-election in the first round of the presidential elections scheduled for 8 October. The election victory of the post-communist incumbent will simultaneously mean a potentially humiliating defeat for Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski, whom the same polls give only some 10 percent backing.

Solidarity's recent 20th birthday celebrations have triggered many discussions in the Polish media about why Poles--who in 1989 formed a 10-million-strong trade union and overturned communism in Poland--now overwhelmingly prefer the post-communist incumbent over Solidarity's Marian Krzaklewski and Lech Walesa.

There have been many well-argued answers to the above question, but one of them has been voiced much more frequently that the others: namely, Solidarity has failed to deliver what it promised in the socioeconomic sphere for Polish workers. Of the famous 21 provisions of the August 1980 agreement between the striking workers in the Gdansk shipyard and the then communist government, only three could be considered strictly political demands: the legalization of free and independent trade unions, the right to strike, and freedom of speech, all of which have been established since the fall of communism.

As for the other 18 provisions, these were socioeconomic demands, characteristic of the workers' plight in a strictly controlled but in general socially-oriented communist economy. The August 1980 provisions thus show the real balance between the political and the economic expectations of Polish workers connected with Solidarity. Unfortunately, Solidarity's governments have failed to meet what many commentators call the "utopian" economic demands of the social revolution in Poland in the 1980s.

"Solidarity did away with the Communists by promising to realize their utopia. It succeeded [in deposing communism] because the Communist blockheads had never treated their utopia seriously and had not even checked what the results might be of the implementation [of their utopia]," prominent Polish journalist and dissident Stefan Kisielewski sarcastically commented in 1989. Today, many observers of the Polish political scene seem to share that view.

People in Poland primarily expected that Solidarity would replenish empty shop shelves and grant wage increases that allowed every Polish family to fully provide for its basic needs. Solidarity has achieved the former but failed to ensure the latter. A government survey in June found that 33 percent of Poles live below the poverty line, which is defined in Poland as the monthly per capita income of 378 zlotys ($84), while another 12 percent said they "are balancing on the poverty line." Unemployment in Poland amounts to some 3 million people, and it is unlikely that there will be any improvement in the labor market any time soon.

While other suggested reasons for the massive disappointment with Solidarity seem less significant than that mentioned above, they, too, may have played some role. According to sociological surveys, Poles tend to believe that Solidarity has been and continues to be used by its activists as a springboard for their political careers, while rank-and- file trade unionists see the trade union itself as being more involved in dealing with social discontent among workers than standing up for their rights. This could explain Krzaklewski's unimpressive support among the electorate. It is notable that the Solidarity Electoral Action--the trade union's political arm, consisting of sundry right-wing parties and groups--enjoys 19 percent backing, that is, twice the level of Krzaklewski's backing. This, in turn, suggests that voters differentiate between the Solidarity movement and its ambitious leader, who is aspiring to the post of president.

Political analysts say Solidarity must urgently redefine its role in Poland by drawing a fine line between its trade union goals and those of its activists, who, they note, are using the organization as a vehicle to promote their political ambitions. Otherwise, those analysts argue, the trade union credited by the world for paving the way toward dismantling communism in Eastern Europe will soon find itself on the sidelines of Poland's public life. The union's historic victory 10 years ago has since acquired a bitter taste for many of those who contributed to it. But what is much more distressing for Solidarity veterans, the union is currently finding little to offer to new generations of voters who are living off that victory's fruits.


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