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Newsline - September 22, 2000




PUTIN ORDERS PREMIER TO UNCOVER MEDIA MINISTER'S ROLE IN RECENT SCANDAL

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to look into the conflict between Vladimir Gusinskii's Media-MOST and Gazprom and determine "what part Media Minister Mikhail Lesin played in it," presidential spokesman Aleksei Gromov told Interfax on 21 September. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" the same day, the Union of Journalists has appealed to Putin to "comment on the matter and say how the prosecutors and organizers of this scandalous deal have been disciplined." Interfax on 22 September quoted Prime Minister Kasyanov as saying that he will meet with Lesin the next day to find out about the media minister's role in the dispute between Media-MOST and Gazprom. Kasyanov added that he will be not be able to comment on the dispute before 25 September. JAC/JC

...AS PROSECUTORS AID GAZPROM'S PURSUIT OF MEDIA-MOST

A Moscow court ordered its bailiffs on 21 September to seize the shares of Media-MOST pending the outcome of lawsuits filed recently by Gazprom Media, Interfax reported, quoting Gazprom Media head Alfred Kokh. However, AFP reported the same day that a court spokesperson said that Gazprom's request has been made but the court has not yet considered it. Kokh also reported that his company has filed two lawsuits against Media-MOST, one demanding payment of an overdue loan and another asking the company to honor the controversial sales agreement signed by Gusinskii in late July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 September 2000). Also on 21 September, a spokesman for the Prosecutor-General's Office announced that federal prosecutors have started a criminal investigation into whether Media-MOST officials have been transferring assets abroad--a charge that Kokh made recently. JAC

KREMLIN GIVES CHUBAIS GENTLE REMINDER?

The Moscow branch of the Federal Tax Police has brought criminal charges against the management of Unified Energy Systems (EES) for tax evasion totaling 3.2 billion rubles ($115 million), Federal Tax Police head Kuzma Shalenkov told reporters on 21 September. However, later the same day, Dmitrii Zhurba, EES's financial director, said the tax police have assured him that the case will be dropped. According to Reuters, the company admits that it owes the money but says it has been paying it off in installments, with some 1.5 billion rubles transferred last August. Following news of the investigation, EES share prices fell 3 percent initially on the Moscow stock exchange but closed less than 1 percent lower. Renaissance Capital's Harmut Jacob told the agency that nothing will likely come of the tax police's announcement: "This investigation is a very useful tool to see that [EES head] Anatolii Chubais stays in line with what the government wants during the process of restructuring" the company. JAC

ECONOMIST WARNS OF POSSIBLE SLUMP NEXT SUMMER

Presidential economic adviser Andrei Illarionov told reporters on 21 September that "it is possible that rate of economic growth [in Russia] could fall dramatically in the first half of next year and that growth could stop by the summer," Interfax reported. He said that GDP growth is slowing by 1.5- 2 percentage points every quarter. The same day, Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko announced that the bank may slightly reduce its key refinancing rate after the conclusion of the IMF-World Bank meetings. He also predicted that the ruble/dollar exchange rate will not fall below 30 rubles per $1 this year. JAC

PENSION HIKE ON SCHEDULE FOR NEXT YEAR

Next year, pensions will be raised on average 35-40 percent, Pension Fund head Mikhail Zurabov told reporters on 21 September. Also in 2001, according to Zurabov, pension reform will be speeded up and enter its "active phase." He added that the rate of increase in pensions over the next 10 years will depend on macroeconomic indicators, Interfax reported. According to the optimistic scenario, by 2010 the average pension should be no less than 3,000 rubles a month. JAC

DUMA DISCUSSES CHECHEN SITUATION...

General Aslanbek Aslakhanov, Chechnya's deputy to the State Duma, told his fellow deputies at hearings on 21 September that the situation in the North Caucasus is "critical" and that Chechens are being subjected to unimaginable cruelty, Interfax reported. He deplored the fact that Chechens are internationally perceived as "bandits" and that in contrast to the Kosova Albanians, they have not been able to seek asylum abroad. Interim Chechen administration head Akhmed- hadji Kadyrov highlighted the material and security problems facing Chechnya, which he said cannot be solved without large-scale financial assistance from "the whole federation." Kadyrov ruled out as "inappropriate" any talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, who he again said should leave Chechnya. But deputy Sergei Kovalev (Union of Rightist Forces) argued that talks should be started either with Maskhadov or other "legitimate authorities" recognized by Moscow, including the Chechen parliament, "no matter how difficult this is to swallow." Kovalev criticized the West for its reluctance to regard Maskhadov as a legitimate negotiating partner. LF

...AS PACE LISTS NEW DEMANDS

Lord Judd, who is the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's rapporteur on Chechnya, told State Duma deputies on 21 September that Russia must produce more evidence that it is trying to reach a political settlement of the Chechen conflict, Interfax reported. He also said that a date must be set for the reopening of courts in Chechnya, for an investigation into the numerous cases of missing persons, and for the return to Chechnya of displaced persons. He said he and other members of the PACE delegation were "unfavorably impressed" by conditions in the camps for displaced persons. Council of Europe General Secretary Walther Schwimmer similarly called on Moscow to make available to the council information on an estimated 18,000 persons listed as missing in Chechnya. Schwimmer later told a press conference that the Russian authorities should embark on unconditional talks with all Chechen groups that renounce the use of force to resolve the conflict. He characterized the appointment of Kadyrov as temporary Chechen administration head as "only a first step" toward enabling the Chechen people to make decisions concerning their future, noting that the next Chechen leadership should be chosen in free elections. LF

DETAILS OF SHPIGUN KIDNAPPING CLARIFIED

Major-General Gennadii Shpigun, who was kidnapped in Grozny in March 1999 and whose body was found in Chechnya earlier this summer, was abducted on orders from someone in Moscow, Glasnost-North Caucasus reported on 21 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999 and 9 June 2000). Chechen field commanders Shamil Basaev and Ruslan Gelaev were involved in the kidnap operation, for which the contractor offered $6 million but paid only half that sum. LF

RUSSIA CONFIRMS LASER DEAL WITH IRAN FROZEN

A Russian Atomic Energy Ministry spokesman said on 21 September that Moscow has put on hold a contract to sell laser equipment to Iran. Earlier this week, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart had announced the Russian move, noting U.S. concerns that such technology could be used to produce nuclear weapons (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2000). "We believe the equipment intended for Iran does not fall under the limitations of international export regulations," Interfax quoted the Russian ministry spokesman as saying. "Nevertheless, the topic is sensitive, especially for the United States, and a decision has been made to give the issue more thorough consideration." The technology was to have been supplied by the Yefremov Scientific Research Institute in St. Petersburg, which is subordinated to the federal Atomic Energy Ministry. JC

LAWYER SAYS PREPARATIONS FOR POPE'S TRIAL OVER

The lawyer for Edmond Pope, the retired U.S. naval officer charged with espionage, announced on 21 September that the preparations for his client's trial have now been concluded. Pavel Astakhov said his defense team has signed documents confirming they have reviewed materials submitted by the prosecution. Pope's trial is expected to begin next month. Earlier this week, his appeal to be released on bail was rejected by a Moscow court (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2000). JC

SOCHI HOSTAGE-TAKING MAY HAVE BEEN HOAX

The gunmen who had been holding several people in a hotel in Lazarevskoe, some 60 kilometers outside Sochi, released their hostages on 22 September. Earlier they had dropped their demands that all Chechens being held prisoner in Russia be released and that a $30 million ransom be paid. A Federal Security Service official told journalists that the incident appeared to have been the result of an all-night drinking binge. He noted that many of the people in the hotel were related to one another, and it was unclear who had been a hostagetaker and who had been a hostage. Viktor Kazantsev, presidential representative to the North Caucasus district, had been quoted earlier as saying that one of the gunmen was recently released from a psychiatric hospital, while another was known to be a drug addict. JC

POLICE OFFICER KILLED IN EXPLOSION IN DAGHESTAN

A police captain was killed and one woman injured by an explosion near the Interior Ministry building in Makhachkala on 21 September, Interfax reported. LF

REBELLIOUS JUDGE LOSES FINAL APPEAL

The appeals collegium of the Supreme Court has upheld the removal of Tatyana Loktionova as chairperson of Primorskii Krai's Arbitration Court, Interfax reported on 21 September. The Supreme Court in late August endorsed Loktionova's removal by a collegium of judges that acts as professional licensing body (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 28 June and 30 August 2000). Loktionova's husband is suspected of accepting two bribes totaling some $500,000 to influence Loktionova's rulings. Loktionova, for her part, claimed that she had come under pressure from Primore Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko to change some of her rulings, particularly with regard to bankruptcy cases. JAC

PUTIN WINS SOLZHENITSYN OVER

In an interview with Russian Television on 21 September, writer and Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn sang the praises of President Putin. Putin had met with Solzhenitsyn at the author's home outside of Moscow the previous day. According to Solzhenitsyn, Putin has a lively mind, is "quick to catch on," and "has no personal thirst for power." He is "genuinely and wholly involved in the interests of public affairs" and "fully understands all the colossal domestic and foreign problems that he inherited and must put right." Some of Solzhenitsyn's fellow former dissidents took the writer's warm praise of Putin badly: Aleksandr Podrabinek, a leading dissident in the 1970s, said "Having the greatest respect for Solzhenitsyn and the worst opinion possible of Putin, I find it really difficult to explain this," AFP reported. JAC

ACTIVISTS PROTEST NUCLEAR WASTE PROCESSING FACILITY

Activists from Greenpeace on 21 September launched a protest on the road leading to the Mayak nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Chelyabinsk Oblast, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported. According to Derek Taylor, head of the department for nuclear security at the European Commission, a large quantity of reprocessed fuel is not stored safely at the plant, and waste from the plant is thrown in a nearby river. Interfax reported that protestors, among whom were residents from a nearby village, carried signs saying, "We don't want to live in a nuclear waste dump!" JAC

COSMONAUT TITOV DIES

German Titov, the second Russian in space after Yurii Gagarin, has died at the age of 65, Russian agencies reported. Titov's body was found in the sauna in his flat on 20 September, and police believe carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of death. In August 1961, the 25- year-old Titov became the youngest man to fly in space and the first person to spend more than a day in orbit. In an interview with Reuters last year, Titov revealed that he realized the importance of the Gagarin's first flight only when "we were invited onto Red Square and I saw the ocean of people screaming, smiling, all happy, singing songs. And then I realized something extraordinary had happened." Titov was more recently a State Duma deputy from Moscow Oblast and a member of the Communist Party's Duma faction (for a recent photograph, see ). JAC




ARMENIA CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY...

Armenia on 21 September marked the anniversary of its 1991 declaration of independence with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yerablur military cemetery, concerts, and a firework display, but no military parade, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. In his address to mark the occasion, President Robert Kocharian affirmed his belief that the reforms that the country launched after declaring independence will lead to "serious success." Meeting with fellow former political prisoners to mark the anniversary, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian noted the contribution to restoring independence made by Armenian dissidents in the 1960s-1980s, according to Snark, cited by Groong. The presidents of Russia, the U.S., France, and Iran all sent congratulatory telegrams to the Armenian leadership. LF

...CALCULATES DROUGHT DAMAGE

Agriculture Minister Zaven Gevorgian told the parliament's Committee for State and Legal Affairs on 20 September that this summer's drought has caused damage totaling $40 million to grain, fodder, and potato crops and that $23 million are needed to compensate for those losses, Noyan Tapan reported. Losses in the Shirak region amount to 7.2 billion drams ($10.8 million), regional governor Feliks Pirumian told Noyan Tapan on 21 September. Some 35,000 families in the region have lost all or part of their crops, and some 40 percent of the region's livestock must be slaughtered for lack of winter fodder. LF

FORMER KARABAKH DEFENSE MINISTER REFUSES TO ATTEND COURT PROCEEDINGS

Samvel Babayan on 21 September said he refuses to attend further sessions of his trial on charges of plotting the assassination of Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported from Stepanakert on 21 September. Babayan, a former commander of the Karabakh armed forces and a political rival of Ghukasian, said he does not consider the enclave's Supreme Court authorized to hear his case, which he claims is politically motivated. Babayan's lawyer Zhudeks Shakarian had repeatedly demanded that the trial to be held in Armenia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 July 2000). On 21 September, the court heard the 170-page indictment, which claimed that Babayan charged his most trusted men with the 22 March attack. Ghukasian sustained serious leg wounds in that attack. LF

THREE MORE AZERBAIJANI POLITICAL PARTIES BARRED FROM ELECTIONS...

The Central Electoral Commission on 21 September rejected the applications of three more opposition parties to register their lists of candidates who were to have run in the 5 November parliamentary election for those seats to be allocated under the proportional system, Turan reported. The three parties are the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan, the National Democratic Party, and the Democratic Secular Azerbaijan Party. In each case, the commission ruled that fewer than the minimum 50,000 signatures required for registration were valid. To date, only four parties--the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan, the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front, the opposition Azerbaijan National Independence Party, and the Civil Solidarity Party--have been registered to contest the party-list seats, while a total of five parties, including Musavat and the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, have been barred from doing so. LF

...AS APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS BAN ON COMMUNISTS

In its first-ever ruling, Azerbaijan's Court of Appeal annulled the Central Electoral Commission's 14 September decision barring the Communist Party of Azerbaijan from registration to contest the party list seats in the 5 November ballot, Turan reported on 19 September. That decision was based on alleged irregularities in the documentation submitted by the party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 2000). LF

DATE SET FOR AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT'S IRAN VISIT

Heidar Aliev's visit to Iran, originally planned for September 1999 (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 41, 14 October 1999), has now been scheduled for 8-11 October, Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev told Turan on 15 September. Aliyev was due to be discharged on 21 September from the U.S. clinic where he has been undergoing a medical checkup. LF

AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS CHARGED WITH PLANNING COUP

Former Gyanja police chief Natik Efendiev and the former commander of the Terter military garrison, Rasim Alekperov, have been charged with plotting to overthrow the Azerbaijani leadership, Turan reported on 15 September. Efendiev left Azerbaijan for Turkey in 1997 and was extradited in January of this year (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 4, 28 January 2000). Alekperov was arrested in February. LF

GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR COOPERATION TO RESOLVE ABKHAZ CONFLICT

Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on 21 September, Irakli Menagharishvili criticized the UN Security Council's failure to endorse a draft UN document outlining the future division of responsibilities between Georgia and the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia, Caucasus Press reported. The Russian delegates to the Security Council had refused to endorse that document in July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 2000). Shrugging off that criticism of Russia's role, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the lack of progress in reaching a settlement of the Abkhaz conflict cannot be blamed on Russia because such a settlement depends, above all, on the "political will" of the Georgian and Abkhaz leaderships. Menagharishvili also said that since the UN cannot always resolve conflicts on its own, it should step up cooperation with the OSCE, and other European organizations in seeking such resolutions. LF

OFFICIAL PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR GEORGIAN ARRESTED GUERRILLA LEADER

Tamaz Nadareishvili, who is chairman of the Tbilisi- based Abkhaz parliament in exile, told Caucasus Press on 18 September that the arrest of "Forest Brothers" guerrilla leader Dato Shengelaia constitutes an attempt to destroy that guerrilla movement. Shengelaia was apprehended in the west Georgian town of Zugdidi earlier this month after threatening a local market administrator (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 September 2000). He has been charged with resisting the police and may face additional charges related to his alleged involvement in smuggling across the internal border between Abkhaz and the rest of Georgia. Nadareishvili warned that the Georgian displaced persons from Abkhazia will "do their best" to defend Shengelaia if any further charges are brought against him. LF

KYRGYZSTAN WITHDRAWS SOME TROOPS FROM SOUTH

Kyrgyzstan's Defense Minister Esen Topoev said in Bishkek on 21 September that an unspecified number of troops sent last month from the north of the country to strengthen the defense of the southern frontiers against incursions by Islamic militants will be withdrawn to their bases, Interfax reported. Topoev travelled to Batken the same day to tour the frontier region, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Interfax quoted Topoev as saying that there were no further clashes between Kyrgyz forces and militants during the previous 48 hours but a regional security official told RFE/RL on 21 September that a minor skirmish took place the previous night close to the Jyluu-Suu border post. LF

TAJIK SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR ROBBING UN OFFICIAL

Rustam Ubaidullaev, a 48-year-old Tajik who robbed a UN official at knifepoint in Dushanbe in February, has been sentenced to death by a Dushanbe city court, AP and Interfax reported on 21 September. Judge Murodzhon Soloheddinov said the harsh sentence reflected Ubaidullaev's numerous previous convictions for rape, assault, and illegal possession of arms. LF

TURKMENISTAN, UZBEKISTAN SIGN BORDER AGREEMENT

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and his visiting Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, signed a treaty in Ashgabat on 21 September defining their shared 1,867 kilometer border, AP and Interfax reported. Karimov noted that the two countries are the first in the region to conclude such an agreement. He and Niyazov are also scheduled to sign a 10-year economic cooperation agreement during Karimov's two-day visit, ITAR- TASS reported on 20 September, quoting Turkmenistan's ambassador to Tashkent Soltan Permukhamedov. LF

OLYMPIC MEDAL COUNT--PART 1 COUNTRIES


Through 21 SEPTEMBER


Country_________Gold___Silver___Bronze___Total


Russia_____________5_______8______10______23
Azerbaijan_________1_______0_______0_______1
Georgia____________0_______0_______1_______1
Kyrgyzstan_________0_______0_______1_______1
Armenia____________0_______0_______1_______1
Kazakhstan_________0_______0_______0_______0
Tajikistan_________0_______0_______0_______0
Turkmenistan_______0_______0_______0_______0
Uzbekistan_________0_______0_______0_______0





BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PARTY'S HEADQUARTERS RAIDED

The Minsk headquarters of the opposition Social Democratic Party (National Assembly) was raided by four masked people on the night of 21-22 September, Belapan reported. The attackers, who were in possession of a pistol, forced all those in the headquarters to lie down and then made off with all documents as well as hard and floppy computer discs. The party's leader, Mikalay Statkevich, is one of the very few opposition candidates registered for the 15 October legislative ballot. Statkevich has suggested he will not run unless the Central Electoral Commission also register his party colleagues who were denied registration by regional electoral commissions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 2000). JM

IMF MISSION CRITICAL OF UKRAINE'S 2001 BUDGET DRAFT

Julian Berengaut, head of an IMF delegation currently visiting Kyiv, said on 21 September that the government's prediction that budget revenues will total 9 billion hryvni ($1.65 billion) next year is "somewhat unrealistic," Interfax reported. Berengaut added that if this provision is approved by the parliament, the 2001 budget will in fact have a deficit equal to 5 percent of GDP instead of being balanced, as the government asserts. Berengaut refused to say if and when the fund will resume its suspended $2.6 billion loan package to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Premier Viktor Yushchenko commented the same day that the government has made "obvious progress" in its talks with the IMF mission. The 2001 budget draft foresees that the country will obtain $1.72 billion in foreign loans, including $1.13 billion under the IMF's suspended loan program (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY ELECTS ITS HEAD

The Supreme Council's pro-government majority elected Oleksandr Karpov as its leader on 21 September. Karpov, who heads the parliamentary caucus of the Popular Democratic Party, will replace Leonid Kravchuk of the Social Democratic Party (United). The pro-government majority elects a new leader for each parliamentary session. Karpov told Interfax that the majority currently numbers 171 deputies. He added that "one can be quite confident" that the majority will soon be reinforced by 15 other lawmakers, while "four or five" are now negotiating the possibility of access. The majority needs at least 300 votes to pass constitutional amendments in line with the 16 April referendum. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPOINTS COMMISSION TO EXAMINE JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE

The parliament on 21 September set up a 15-strong commission to look into the disappearance of opposition journalist Heorhiy Gongadze (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000), Interfax reported. The commission is headed by Oleksandr Lavrynovych of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine. More than 40 journalists accredited to the parliament asked the lawmakers not to appoint those deputies who have been criticized by Gongadze in his Internet newsletter "Pravda Ukrainy." Many Ukrainian journalist believe that Gongadze's disappearance is politically motivated. Meanwhile, Deputy Interior Minister Mykola Dzhyha said the same day that police rule out "political motives" in Gongadze's disappearance. "[Gongadze] is not a political or public figure who would be able to influence politics," Dzhyha noted. JM

NEW ESTONIAN MILITARY COMMANDER APPOINTED...

The Estonian parliament on 21 September confirmed Rear Admiral Tarmo Kouts as commander of the defense forces. The vote was 76 to three, ETA reported. Defense Minister Juri Luik, who is on a trip to Finland to discuss defense cooperation with Finnish officials, praised the vote. Interior Minister Tarmo Loodus said that head of the Rescue Services Harri Hein will be appointed to succeed Kouts at the Border Guards. Hein, however, will not return from a NATO training course in Hungary until the end of the year. MH

...STRESSES MOBILIZATION AS KEY ISSUE

Prior to the vote, Kouts stressed the need for a mobilization system, saying "it's impossible to form military units" without such a system, BNS reported. "NATO isn't so much interested in how many training centers Estonia has," Kouts commented, "but we're already being asked how many battalions or brigades [we have] and how quickly we can have [them] ready in a crisis situation." Kouts said he would like his predecessor, Lieutenant General Johannes Kert, to join his team. Since his dismissal on 28 August, Kert has not stated his future plans. MH

NORWAY REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR LATVIAN NATO BID

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who was on a state visit to Norway on 20-21 September, that Norway supports Latvia's bid to join NATO. In reaffirming his country's position, Stoltenberg added that he will try to discuss the topic with visiting Russian Premier Mikhail Kasyanov next week, BNS reported. At the Nobel Institute, President Vike-Freiberga stressed the advantage of NATO membership for the Baltic countries, saying it would give Russia "stable, peaceful, and predictable" relations with its neighbors. MH

LITHUANIAN RESOLUTION PROVOKES MORE ANGER AMONG JEWS...

The European Jewish Council announced on 21 September that it will boycott the 3-5 October international conference on plundered Jewish property, which is to be held in Vilnius, to protest a controversial Lithuanian parliamentary resolution. The council said the resolution adopted by the Lithuanian parliament on 12 September, which "de facto rehabilitated the pro-Nazi Lithuanian government of June 1941," was a "shame for a candidate of the European Union," BNS reported. The controversial resolution legalized the 1941 government's declaration of restoration of independence. Earlier, Israeli officials were reported to be contemplating similar action (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 2000). And according to a Foreign Ministry official, the Israeli government is reported to have issued a "demarche" over the resolution. MH

...AS LITHUANIAN DEPUTIES ATTEMPT DAMAGE CONTROL

Parliamentary deputy Emanuelis Zingeris, who quit the Conservative parliamentary faction in protest over the 12 September resolution, warned that "Lithuania will for months feel the consequences of the law it has initiated" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2000). "Those who boycott the forum will boycott the memory of 6 million perished Jews and their culture," according to Zingeris. The only deputy of Jewish origin, Zingeris had helped organized the conference. Parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, meanwhile, has sent a letter to the European Jewish Council saying that the resolution was not promulgated because a 19 September vote had "suspended" its passage. "It has not been accepted and will not be," ELTA quoted him as saying. MH

POLISH PARLIAMENT TOUGHENS ANTI-DRUGS LAW

The Sejm on 21 September voted by 367 to 18 with two abstentions to amend the 1997 anti-drugs law, PAP reported. The bill sets jail terms of up to three years for those possessing any quantity of drugs, including soft ones. It also stipulates up to two years in jail for owners of bars who fail to notify the police about drug transactions on their premises. It has so far been legal in Poland to carry small quantities of drugs for personal use. "Drug pushers have used this regulation to build big sale networks. This bill will make it impossible," Solidarity lawmaker Andrzej Wawak commented. The bill must now be approved by the Senate and signed by the president. Statistics suggest there may be up to 60,000 drug addicts in Poland (which has a population of some 39 million). JM

POLISH GOVERNMENT LIFTS DUTIES ON FUEL IMPORTS

The government is to lift import duties on fuel imports from all countries, PAP reported on 21 September. Government spokesman Krzysztof Luft said the move is intended to curb inflation and cushion the effects of an earlier increase in the excise tax on fuels. Earlier this month, the government set the zero rate duty on fuel imports from the countries of the EU, the European Free Trade Association, the Central European Free Trade Association, as well as Lithuania, Estonia, the Faeroe Islands, and Turkey. The 21 September decision applies to all remaining countries that sell fuel to Poland. JM

PROTESTERS BLOCK CZECH-AUSTRIAN BORDER CROSSINGS AGAIN

Six out of the seven border-crossing points between the Czech Republic and Austria were blocked on 22 September, CTK reported. Austrian, Czech, and German citizens protesting the planned launch of the Temelin nuclear power plant said they intend to block the checkpoints all day. This is the fourth blockade of the border this month. The Czech Foreign Ministry issued a statement criticizing the blockades and saying their only result will be to "irritate residents of each country who want to cross the border." The Czech Nuclear Safety Authority on 21 September denied media reports that it has postponed the launch of Temelin owing to a defective valve in one of the reactors, AP reported. MS

CZECH LOWER HOUSE PROLONGS LUSTRATION LAWS

The Chamber of Deputies on 21 September indefinitely prolonged the validity of two lustration laws that were to have become invalid on 31 December 2000, CTK reported. The bill must now be approved by the Senate and promulgated by President Vaclav Havel. The house decided that the laws will remain in force until bills on the civil service and the security services are passed. The lustration laws ban former high-ranking Communist Party members and those who served in or collaborated with the communist secret police from holding positions in the state administration. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT LIFTS FAR RIGHT POLITICIAN'S IMMUNITY

The parliament on 21 September voted 65 to 27 to lift the parliamentary immunity of Slovak National Party deputy Vitazoslav Moric, CTK and AP reported. Moric is to be prosecuted for incitement to racial and ethnic intolerance. In August, he had called for placing Slovak Roma in "reservations." During the 21 September debate, Michal Drobny of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia compared Roma to "locusts" and said they "must be isolated because co- existence is impossible." Also on 21 September, police announced that they have identified the four people who attacked a Romany family in Zilina last month. The four beat the family's mother, who later died from her injuries, and injured two of her eight children. TASR reported on 21 September that 60 young Roma have left Kosice for Norway, where they intend to ask for political asylum. The Scandinavian countries canceled visa requirements for Slovaks in August. MS




SERBIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR MASS GATHERINGS

Leaders of the opposition appealed to their supporters to hold large public meetings in Belgrade and several other cities on the evening of 24 September to await the results of the Serbian and Yugoslav elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 21 September (see "End Note" below). Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic said that the opposition intends to "steal the elections with the help of NATO." In Novi Sad, some 30,000 supporters turned out for the closing rally of the opposition's campaign. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said: "We have no armed forces if [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic goes on the warpath again. Our job is to win these elections through our campaign and then defend our ballots on the streets," AP reported. PM

BULATOVIC: MILOSEVIC MAY REMAIN YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT EVEN IF HE LOSES

Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic said in Podgorica on 21 September that Milosevic was elected Yugoslav president in 1997 for a four-year term and can stay in office until mid-2001 even if he loses the 24 September vote. He stressed that the four-year term "cannot be cut short," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

PAVKOVIC: YUGOSLAV ARMY READY TO DEFEND COUNTRY

General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who heads the General Staff, told Montenegrin Television that the army is prepared to face any "foreign intervention, " AP reported on 21 September. "As a serious army, we have to be ready to prevent any surprises," Pavkovic said. "If someone intervenes, there won't be peace." The general suggested that an opposition victory would mean subordination to the West, adding that the military will "defend the country's freedom.... A country cannot be free if it is colonialized and enslaved." In Belgrade, Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj accused Milosevic and his wife, Mira Markovic, of politicizing the army, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

ALBRIGHT WARNS YUGOSLAV LEADERS

Speaking in Washington on 21 September, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said: "I think that Milosevic is going to do everything he can to steal the election. I really think that.... We will not accept an election where victory is declared on the basis of manipulation or premature declarations of victory, and we are going to monitor it very carefully," Reuters reported. PM

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS MILOSEVIC WILL NOT LEAVE QUIETLY...

Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 21 September that he expects that Milosevic will declare a victory even if he loses. Djukanovic added that Milosevic will use force to stay in office if he deems that force is the only way for him to remain in power. The Montenegrin president told AP: "I don't expect Milosevic will ever concede to losing the ballot." PM

...AND GENERAL CLARK ENDORSES THAT VIEWPOINT

Speaking in Prague on 21 September, General Wesley Clark, who commanded NATO forces during the 1999 Kosova campaign, said he expects Milosevic to try to rig the election. The general added that Milosevic's eventual departure from office is likely to be a violent one, as was the case with the fall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989. Clark stressed that peace and stability in the Balkans require the replacement of Milosevic and the top Yugoslav military leadership, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. The general noted that it is likely that Milosevic may try to unleash violence in Montenegro. Clark added that "were I in Milosevic's position...I would not exclude international intervention," although the general pointed out that Montenegro is an internal part of Yugoslavia and not an independent state such as Bosnia. William L. Nash, who is the UN's chief administrator in Mitrovica, said in Prague that authorities in countries bordering Montenegro and Serbia should now "prepare [to receive] refugees." PM

CROATIAN PRESIDENT TELLS ARMY TO BE READY

Stipe Mesic told top officers at a regular meeting in Zagreb on 21 September that "Serbia is a European and a global problem, and we have to be prepared for all possibilities because Milosevic has not given up the idea of a Greater Serbia," Reuters reported. "As we all know, Yugoslavia is a destructive factor in this region," Mesic added. He noted that Croatia will, if necessary, coordinate any measures to defend its frontiers with "our allies." Croatian and U.S. forces will hold joint exercises in the Adriatic soon under NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Zagreb has denied any link between the timing of the exercises and the holding of the Yugoslav elections. PM

MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER HAILS KOSTUNICA OFFER ON ELECTIONS

Filip Vujanovic said in Podgorica on 21 September that Vojislav Kostunica, who is the Serbian opposition's candidate for the federal presidency, has "everything he needs to win" against Milosevic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Vujanovic added that he endorses Kostunica's recent statement that if the opposition wins, new federal elections may be held on a "basis of equality" between Serbia and Montenegro. PM

MILOSEVIC BACKER KILLS MONTENEGRIN POLICEMAN

A supporter of Milosevic shot and killed an off-duty policeman in a Podgorica restaurant on 21 September after the two quarreled, Reuters reported. PM

BOSNIAN SERB LEADER TELLS MILOSEVIC TO GO

In an open letter to Milosevic on 21 September, Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said that "it's time for you to go [because] your people don't want you any more and force doesn't help," AP reported. Dodik added: "Has anybody told you that communism has collapsed? Do you know that the Russians have better relations with the Americans than you [have] with the Russians?.... Your interests and the Serbs' interests part here. You go left. Let the Serbs go straight." The Bosnian Serb leader blasted Milosevic for isolating and discrediting his people like no other leader in Serbian history. In Milosevic's Serbia, Dodik charged, old people "rather die than live, and the young rather emigrate than put up with you. In your Serbia people look for escape in alcohol, apathy, or silence." PM

MACEDONIAN ELECTION CAMPAIGNING ENDS

Campaigning has ended in Macedonia in the runup to the second round of local and municipal elections, slated for 24 September, MIC news agency reported from Skopje on 21 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2000). The governing coalition did better than expected in the first round two weeks earlier and refused to call early general elections, as the opposition has demanded. As a compromise, Arben Xhaferri, who heads the ethnic Albanian party in the governing coalition, has suggested that general elections be held soon in ethnic Albanian areas of Macedonia. PM

NASH SAYS ECONOMIC ACTIVITY KEY TO KOSOVA PEACE

The UN's chief administrator in Mitrovica said in Prague on 21 September that it is important that more and more Serbs return to the southern areas of Kosova if the province is not to face de facto partition along ethnic lines. Nash noted, however, that an increasing number of ethnic Albanians live in northern Mitrovica and some Serbs live in the southern part of town. He stressed that he can get "an agreement at any time" between Serbs and Albanians to establish a joint "economic enterprise...ranging from a bakery to a cement factory." Both sides insist only on equal employment opportunities and a "neutral" management. Nash said to start up such businesses and create jobs, he needs investments and expertise from outside. PM

DEMOCRATIC PARTY ALSO CRITICIZES ROMANIAN PREMIER

Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Bogdan Niculescu-Duvaz has joined the National Liberal Party in criticizing Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 2000) for allegedly abandoning his independent stance and acting to serve the interests of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic. One day earlier, Isarescu stripped Transportation Minister Anca Boagiu of the Democratic Party of the right to sign documents on agreements with the World Bank. Niculescu- Duvaz said the Democrats would have withdrawn from the ruling coalition and brought about the cabinet's dismissal if there were no legislation prohibiting the government's ouster in the six months before parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA

Jan Kavan on 21 September met with Isarescu, President Emil Constantinescu, and Foreign Minister Petre Roman to discuss bilateral relations and the enlargement of NATO and the EU, CTK and Romanian media reported. Kavan said Czech investors continue to be interested in the Romanian privatization process. He also said he has "full confidence" in the Romanian authorities' investigation into the murder of Tepro Trade union leader Virgil Sahleanu. Kavan said there is "no evidence" that two Czech nationals were involved in the murder but "Prague will respect any decision by a Romanian court." On 21 September, Tepro employees called on Constantinescu, Isarescu, and the parliament to investigate the legality of the sale of Tepro to the Czech Zelezarny Veseli company. MS

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY WITHDRAWS COURT APPEAL

The Defense Ministry on 21 September said it is withdrawing an appeal against the Supreme Court sentence obliging the ministry to pay damages to the victims of the December 1989 uprising in Timisoara because of the army's involvement in the attempt to quash the anti-communist revolt, Mediafax reported. In February, the court had sentenced Generals Victor Athanasie Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac to 15 years in prison for their role. Chitac has been recently released from jail to undergo prostate cancer treatment. Stanculescu has been a fugitive since his sentencing. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BILL IN FIRST READING

The parliament on 21 September approved in the first reading the law on the election of the president, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The final reading of the bill is take place on 22 September. Under the draft law, each presidential candidate must be endorsed by at least 15 deputies. Candidates must be Moldovan citizens aged 40 or over, must be able to speak the "state language," and must have resided in Moldova for at least 10 years. To be elected, a candidate must garner the support of three-fifths of deputies. A run-off will be held among the two best-placed candidates. If neither gains a three-fifths majority, a third round is to take place within 15 days. In the event of the failure to elect a president on the third attempt, the parliament is to be dissolved and new parliamentary elections held. MS

BULGARIA CLOSES INVESTIGATION INTO MARKOV'S MURDER

Prosecutor Nestor Nestorov said on 21 September that the investigation into the 1978 assassination of dissident Georgi Markov has been closed, AFP reported. Markov died after being jabbed by an umbrella belonging to a passerby at a bus stop in London. The British authorities concluded he died from poisoning, after finding a pinhead-capsule of lethal substance in his leg. In 1990. a double agent who worked for both the Russian KGB and the British said the murder was carried out by the Bulgarian communist secret services with the help of the KGB. Oleg Kalugin, former KGB head, confirmed this had been the case. Nestorov said the investigation was being closed because "it happened more than 20 years ago." MS

OLYMPIC MEDAL COUNT--PART 2 COUNTRIES


Through 20 SEPTEMBER


Country_________Gold___Silver___Bronze___Total


Romania____________5_______2_______4______11
Ukraine____________2_______6_______3______11
Belarus____________0_______1_______6_______7
Slovakia___________1_______3_______1_______5
Bulgaria___________3_______1_______0_______4
Poland_____________2_______2_______0_______4
Hungary____________2_______1_______1_______4
Czech Rep._________1_______0_______3_______4
Estonia____________0_______0_______2_______2
Croatia____________1_______0_______0_______1
Lithuania__________1_______0_______0_______1
Yugoslavia_________0_______1_______0_______1
Moldova____________0_______1_______0_______1
Latvia_____________0_______0_______1_______1
Albania____________0_______0_______0_______0
Bosnia-Herzeg._____0_______0_______0_______0
Macedonia__________0_______0_______0_______0
Slovenia___________0_______0_______0_______0





NO EASY SOLUTION IN SERBIA


By Patrick Moore

Those who think that the defeat of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will pave the way for Serbia's quickly becoming a "normal" country should think again. Given the anti-Americanism prevalent among leading oppositionists, Washington especially should be aware of what the future is likely to hold.

Anticipation of change in Serbia is in the air in many Western capitals. The EU foreign ministers recently met in Brussels and promised to end sanctions against Belgrade once Milosevic is out. France's Hubert Vedrine patronizingly proclaimed that "one must never forget that the Serbs are Europeans."

This comes in the wake of increased political attention being paid to Serbia by several West European countries. Norway promised more aid to help repair the communist-era, rust-bucket infrastructure made worse by 10 years of neglect. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou went to Serbia itself on a mission, the purpose and results of which remain a matter of debate. Among the messages he carried, in any event, is that Serbia is welcome at the European table once it acquires a more respectable leadership.

Nor is the U.S. by any means idle. The "Washington Post" reported on 19 September that the U.S. is promoting the democratization of Serbia through a $77 million program. Most of the money goes to NGOs and other low-key civil society programs and not to support any specific candidate or party. The effort is long-term and modeled on similar programs that Washington has funded elsewhere to promote transitions from dictatorship to democracy.

One wonders, however, what the various donors' expectations are. The most important point is that, whatever the outcome, there will be no political about-face in Serbia as there was in Croatia at the start of the year. Croatia is historically a relatively open country with a high rate of emigration and return. Many people knew what was wrong with the previous regime and what Croatia had to do to enter Euro- Atlantic structures. They acted accordingly.

Serbian political culture, by contrast, is insular and narcissistic. It is very heavily into blame and denial. None of the leading opposition figures argues that the Serbian body politic should re-examine its values, attitudes, and relations with its neighbors. Instead, the opposition leaders agree that the regime is partly to blame for Serbia's problems, as are many foreigners, especially the Americans.

Many speeches by Vojislav Kostunica in recent weeks show that his orientation is nationalistic and anti-Western. According to Kostunica, Milosevic is bad not because he destroyed the former Yugoslavia and brutalized Bosnia or Kosova but because he lost the conflicts he started and thus opened the way for foreign troops to come into the region.

This, in turn, underscores another difference between Croatia and Serbia. Croatia paid lip service to Euro- Atlanticism, even under the late President Franjo Tudjman, and embraced it with open arms under the new administration of President Stipe Mesic and Prime Minister Ivica Racan.

Among Serbian opposition figures, however, anti- Americanism tends to be open and blatant. Like the regime, they often blame "NATO aggression" for many problems that are really of Serbia's own making. The opposition says it wants to rejoin Europe (many European countries belong to NATO), but closer examination reveals a lack of clarity as to what the opposition means by that. One suspects that what they really hope for is a return to the trade, travel, and subsidies of the 1970s. At a recent conference in Munich, one German diplomat summed up the apparent intellectual confusion among many in the Serbian opposition as "difficulty in coming to grips with modernity." In any event, a commitment to democracy, tolerance, and respect for one's neighbors seems lacking.

Exactly what the West might be letting itself in for by giving the opposition carte blanche was indicated by "Jane's Intelligence Digest" this week in an article on the shifting alliance patterns among Serbian parties. The main thrust of the article is that the Serbian Renewal Movement's Vuk Draskovic is moving back to an open alliance with Milosevic-- which many observers suspect has existed in practice all along--while the "democratic opposition" around Zoran Djindjic is cozying up to the Radicals' Vojislav Seselj, whom many suspect is on The Hague's secret list of indicted war criminals.

It is such problems that primarily the EU will have to deal with should the opposition win the elections and Milosevic somehow be sent packing. If Washington does not want to give the blame-and-denial crew in Belgrade any new excuse to blame the U.S. for its problems, it will let Brussels lead the way. Such an approach will enable the EU to prove whether it is finally able to formulate and carry out a coherent policy vis-a-vis a pressing problem in its own backyard without waiting for the U.S. to offer a solution, as it did in Bosnia and Kosova.


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