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Newsline - October 2, 2000




PUTIN APPEARS TO ACKNOWLEDGE YUGOSLAV OPPOSITION VICTORY...

Following a 30 September telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the German government issued a statement saying that the two leaders "agreed that in the election victory of [Yugoslav opposition leader] Vojislav Kostunica, the will of the Serbian people for a democratic change in Yugoslavia has been clearly expressed." Earlier, during his visit to Russia last week, Schroeder had said that he and Putin concurred that Serbia and Yugoslavia appeared to have decided in favor of democratic change, but he made no explicit mention of an opposition victory (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2000). However, on 2 October, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that indicates a more guarded Russian response than that suggested by the German government statement two days earlier. The decision to hold a second round of voting (which the opposition says it will boycott) is lawful and based on the first-round results, the ministry statement said, urging all political forces to adhere to the country's legal framework so that the country can "properly" pass through this "difficult stage" of its history. JC

...OFFERS TO SEND FOREIGN MINISTER TO MEDIATE...

The same day that he spoke with German Chancellor Schroeder, Russian President Putin said he is prepared to send his foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, to Belgrade "for consultations with all participants in the political process," according to the Kremlin's press service. "If Belgrade finds it possible," he said, "Russia would be prepared to play a larger role in the process of settlement and coordination of positions." That offer was repeated on 2 October, as sources at the Russian Foreign Ministry told Interfax that Belgrade apparently did not "feel the need" to accept it. On 1 October, two Russian diplomats arrived in Belgrade for talks with the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry and leading Serbian politicians, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. JC

...RECEIVES ADVICE FROM ZYUGANOV, ZHIRINOVSKII

Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov sent a letter to President Putin on 29 September urging that Moscow denounce Western interference in Yugoslavia's internal affairs. Zyuganov commented that the West's bid to bring pro-Western forces to power in Belgrade coincides with the defeat of "Russia-oriented" forces in Afghanistan, meaning that "a very dangerous deterioration of Russia's military and strategic position is apparently at issue," Interfax reported on 29 September. The same day, Vladimir Zhirinovskii, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, said that Moscow must support incumbent Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic because Kostunica's victory would lead to Yugoslavia's breaking away from Russia and joining NATO. "It is not the Milosevic regime we should rescue, but a country that has to be our ally," he argued. JC

STATE COUNCIL PRESIDIUM HOLDS FIRST MEETING

The Presidium of the newly created State Council held its first meeting on 29 September, chaired by President Putin. Members of the presidium decided that the State Council itself will meet only four times a year to discuss two issues at a time, while the presidium will meet monthly, starting on 12 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Members of the Presidium are Tyumen Governor Leonid Roketskii, Tomsk Oblast Governor Viktor Kress, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Khabarovsk Krai Governor Viktor Ishaev, Daghestan's State Council Chairman Magomedali Magomedov, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, and St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev. Putin told members of the Presidium that the State Council will not take precedence over the upper or lower legislative houses but will instead assist federal authorities in "tackling important issues," Interfax reported. According to Luzhkov, the issue of the State Council's constitutional status was not raised. JAC

TOP ELECTION OFFICAL OBJECTS TO TATARSTAN ELECTION PLANS

Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov has accused Tatarstan's State Council of violating the federal election law by moving the republic's presidential election forward from March 2001 to December 2000, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 30 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 2000). Asked whether Tatarstan President Shaimiev would seek a third term, Veshnyakov told reporters the previous day that this is "a very complex problem." He added that his commission "will resolve this problem according to its origin." In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 29 September, Veshnyakov noted that the possibility of a two-year transition period exists during which "it is possible for regional leaders who have served two terms to participate in regional elections." He also noted that the presidential election laws in Tatarstan differ from federal legislation in two other respects: it sets the age restriction for candidates at 30 years, rather than 35, and it requires that a presidential candidate speak both Tatar and Russian. JAC

PUTIN RULES OUT RETURN TO TOTALITARIANISM...

In an interview with Russian Television and Indian journalists on 1 October, President Putin declared it "impossible" for Russia to return to a totalitarian regime, noting that a "whole generation of young people" who have experienced the past 10 years would "hardly be able to tolerate living under a totalitarian regime." He also remarked that there is "no social base on which forces wanting to return to the past could rely." Putin described Russia's basic values as "patriotism, love of one's motherland, one's home, and one's people, religious and cultural values--everything that forms the foundation of our life." Putin also commented on the "Kursk" submarine tragedy that occurred last August: "It forced us to think about the state of the armed forces and of relations between the state and society... It provided a good reason to make practical decisions and these decisions are being made." JAC

...COMMENTS ON RELATIONS WITH U.S., INDIA

In the same interview, Putin stressed that Moscow does not view the U.S. "either as its enemy or even as its opponent." While acknowledging that the two sides differ over many issues--most notably the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (which the U.S. wants to amend and which Moscow insists must remain unchanged)--Putin said that discussions on these issues are not "of a hostile or aggressive nature." The Russian president also touched on relations with India, which he is to visit beginning 2 October. He expressed the hope that India will coordinate its activities in the nuclear sphere with the international community, noting that Russia and India have long cooperated on "nuclear exploration for peaceful purposes." He also said that while he is not against Russia, India, and China "pooling efforts to promote common interests," he argued that such cooperation must be "open to other partners and transparent." JC

VEDRINE DENIES RUSSIAN-FRENCH TIES HAVE COOLED

At the close of his trip to Moscow last week, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told journalists that there has been no cooling in relations between Russia and France, adding that "climatic metaphors are not always suitable" to describe the state of ties between two countries, Interfax reported on 29 September. France's strong criticism of Moscow's campaign in Chechnya and Moscow's sharp response to that criticism "by no means characterize Russian-French relations in general," Vedrine added. He suggested that the two countries could work "very well" on various issues, including Afghanistan, the Middle East, and global security issues. JC

MOSCOW DENIES 'OFFICIAL' CONTACTS WITH TALIBAN...

Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii told journalists in Moscow on 28 September that the aim of his recent visit to Islamabad was not to establish direct contact with the Taliban, Interfax reported. But he admitted that it was "no coincidence" that his visit coincided with the upsurge in fighting in northern Afghanistan between the Taliban and President Burhanuddin Rabbani's Northern Alliance. Yastrzhembskii said he discussed with Pakistani leaders the situation in Afghanistan, where Moscow hopes Pakistan can act as "a stabilizing influence," and in Chechnya. On 29 September, Interfax quoted unnamed military-diplomatic sources in Moscow as saying that Russia has no formal contacts with the Taliban but very recently established "unofficial contacts" with them. LF

...WHILE DUMA DEPUTIES ARGUE TALKS ARE NECESSARY

Andrei Nikolaev (People's Deputy), chairman of the State Duma's Defense Committee, told journalists in Moscow on 28 September that for the sake of security and stability in Central Asia, Russia should embark on talks with the Taliban, either informally or through the Russian Foreign Ministry, Interfax reported. Duma deputy speaker Vladimir Lukin (Yabloko) likewise told Interfax on 28 September that he believes Russia will have to open official or unofficial talks with the Taliban sooner or later, given that they control most of Afghanistan. LF

RUSSIA TERMS PACE RESOLUTION 'A STEP FORWARD'

The Russian Foreign Ministry on 29 September issued a statement saying that a resolution passed late the previous day by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is "a step forward" but not "totally satisfactory," Interfax reported. That resolution restated the council's earlier demand for a halt to human rights abuses in Chechnya and for Moscow to seek a political settlement to the fighting there. But it also noted improvements, such as the creation of committees to collect information on human rights abuses. The resolution expresses the hope that by January 2001 the situation in Chechnya will have improved enough for PACE to consider restoring Russia's voting rights at the Council. Those rights were suspended in April in retaliation for Russia's conduct of the Chechen war. LF

CHECHEN WARLORD DEEMED SANE ENOUGH TO STAND TRIAL

Psychiatric tests have proved that Salman Raduev, former commander of the so-called General Dudaev army, is compos mentis and fit to stand trial, Interfax reported on 30 September, quoting the head of the Russian Prosecutor-General's North Caucasus office. Raduev, who has twice suffered serious head injuries, was apprehended by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in March of this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 14 March 2000). Raduev faces charges of terrorism and hostage-taking in connection with his role in the raid on a hospital in Kizlyar, Daghestan, in early 1996. ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October that FSB officers searched the home of Raduev's parents in Gudermes and impounded property. LF

TWO ISLAMIC FUNDS CLOSED IN DAGHESTAN

Authorities in Daghestan have suspended the operations of two Islamic charity funds they claim were fronts for supporting the activities of religious extremists, ITAR-TASS reported. One of the funds, Benevolix, was said to receive large sums in foreign currency from Baku to finance its activities. LF

RUSSIA, NORWAY AGREE TO JOINT ALERT OVER MARITIME EMERGENCIES

Meeting in Oslo on 29 September, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and his Norwegian counterpart, Jens Stoltenberg, signed a memorandum whereby one country will alert the other immediately of any accidents at sea so that the two can act as quickly as possible to "limit the damage and save lives," Reuters reported. Russian and Norwegian officials are still negotiating to conclude an agreement over the operation to rescue the bodies of the 118-strong crew of the "Kursk" nuclear submarine, which sank in the Barents Sea in August during maneuvers. Last week, it was announced that Russian officials had failed to reach an agreement with Norway's Stolt Offshore (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 September 2000). JC

JAPAN CHARGES NAVAL OFFICER WITH SPYING FOR RUSSIA

Lieutenant-Commander Shigehiro Hagisaki, who works for the Japanese Defense Agency's National Institute for Defense Studies, has been charged with selling defense secrets to a Russian military attache. Hagisaki was arrested last month during a meeting with Captain Victor Bogatenkov, who shortly afterward left Japan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 2000). JC

GUSINSKII A NO-SHOW AT PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE

Despite having received a summons, Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinskii failed to appear at the Prosecutor-General's Office on 29 September, Interfax reported. A Media-MOST official informed the prosecutor's office that Gusinskii is out of the country on a business trip until 31 October. JAC

EES ACQUIRES TV STATION STAKE

Unified Energy Systems has purchased a large stake in the RenTV television channel from LUKoil, "Vedomosti" reported on 29 September, citing an unidentified LUKoil source. According to the daily, the source declined to specify the exact size of the stake or the purchase price. LUKoil had owned a 75 percent stake. RenTV's share of the national viewing public is 3.5-3.7 percent, according to Gallup Media. JAC

UNITY STARTS RECRUITMENT EFFORT EARLY

A children's booklet that the local branch of the pro-Kremlin Unity party has donated to public schools in St. Petersburg contains an admiring biography of a local hero, President Putin, Reuters reported on 29 September. The agency noted the resemblance of the biography to Soviet-era books about "another talented, hard-working little Vladimir," namely Lenin. According to the text, no one knew when Putin was growing up that he would be president, but "everyone on the block knew that Vovka was not afraid of anybody and would never let anybody down." "The Moscow Times" noted that the text has only one page devoted to the Putin biography and another blank one on which children can write letters to the president. The daily also quoted a deputy director from one school where the book was distributed among first-graders as saying the children "mostly just look at the colorful pictures." JAC

PATRIARCH GIVES REGIONAL REFORMS HIS APPROVAL

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II told reporters on 29 September that he approves of President Putin's reform of how Russia's regions are governed, particularly the division of Russia's 89 regions into seven federal districts, Interfax reported. Aleksii declared "If the strengthening of vertical power leads to the preservation of a unified Russia, I approve of it." He continued, "Russia should be a great country of the world, one to reckon with, and its division into separate principalities is a tragedy." JAC

PUTIN SENDS HOLIDAY MESSAGES TO COMPETING RABBIS

President Putin sent a Rosh Hashana message on 29 September to the two rabbis who consider themselves head of the Russia's Jewish community, ITAR-TASS reported. The message was sent to Berl Lazar, head of the Federation of Jewish Communities, and Adolf Shaevich, chief rabbi of Russia and chairman of the Russia's Jewish Congress. Earlier in the month, Putin participated in the opening of new Jewish Community Center with Lazar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000). JAC

'TITANIC' FILM DIRECTOR INTERESTED IN 'MIR' SPACE STATION

Interfax reported on 29 September, citing an unidentified "source in space-related circles" that James Cameron, the director of the film "Titanic," is considering participating in a mission on the space station "Mir." Cameron has reportedly already undergone a medical examination at the Russian Institute for Medical and Biological Problems and doctors have okayed his undertaking a space mission. Cameron has not yet signed a contract with the company that operates "Mir." JAC

IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S SPACE DEBRIS

The Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan warned residents of the Ulaganskii and Turachak districts of the Altai Republic about falling space debris from a Proton rocket that took off on 2 October carrying a U.S. television satellite into orbit, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October. A source in the republic's Emergencies Ministry told the agency that warnings are necessary since a Proton rocket fragment weighing several dozen kilograms fell in the area last February. No one was injured in that incident, but the villager on whose land the fragment fell was awarded 10,000 rubles ($360) in damages. JAC




ARMENIAN PRESIDENT, PARTY LEADERS DISCUSS PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER'S FUTURE

Talks on 29 September between Robert Kocharian and leaders of parliamentary parties failed to resolve the impasse created by disagreement over whether the parliament's 26 September vote on speaker Armen Khachatrian's resignation was valid, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 and 28 September 2000). Kocharian had made clear on 28 September that Khachatrian could continue to occupy that post only if he had the support of a majority of deputies. "Haykakan zhamanak" on 30 September said that Kocharian assured the party leaders that he will not dissolve the parliament in the immediate future. Some deputies had predicted that disagreement over Khachatrian would eventually split the majority Miasnutiun parliamentary bloc, a development they argued would necessitate new elections. Khachatrian on 29 September showed no sign of willingness to step down. LF

MINISTER RULES OUT 2004 CLOSURE OF ARMENIAN NUCLEAR POWER STATION

Armenian Energy Minister Karen Galustian said in Yerevan on 30 September that the Medzamor nuclear power station is a key element in the country's energy system and need not be closed down for safety reasons in 2004 as earlier agreed with the EU, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 1998). Galustian said the plant, which produces approximately 42 percent of Armenia's electricity, could function until at least 2013. He added that the Armenian leadership does not have the hundreds of millions of dollars required to provide alternative sources of energy in the event of Medzamor's closure in 2004. LF

FORMER KARABAKH ARMY CHIEF REQUESTS POSTPONEMENT OF TRIAL TESTIMONY

Samvel Babayan, who together with 14 associates is accused of the 22 March attempt to assassinate Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, asked on 28 September for his testimony to be postponed to give him the chance to talk in confidence to the court chairman and public prosecutor, Noyan Tapan reported. Babayan had refused on 21 September to attend further court sessions, demanding that the trial be transferred to a court in Armenia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 2000). On 27 September Babayan said he would testify only at a closed court session. LF

AZERBAIJAN PRESIDENT'S IRAN TRIP TO BE POSTPONED AGAIN?

Heidar Aliyev told journalists in Baku on his arrival from London late on 29 September that he feels well, Reuters and Interfax reported. Aliyev added that he considers it imperative to discover the source of rumors circulated last week by the internet newspaper www.gazeta.ru that he had died (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2000). On 30 September, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev told Turan that Aliev's visit to Tehran, planned for 8-11 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 2000), may be postponed until 14-17 October. LF

AZERBAIJANI POLICE ATTACK OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATORS

Baku city police on 29 September attacked some 300 people congregated outside the Court of Appeal, which was considering appeals by four opposition parties against the Central Electoral Commission's refusal to register them to contest the 5 November parliamentary poll under the proportional system, Turan and Interfax reported. Some 20 members of the Musavat party were beaten, and one was temporarily detained. The court rejected the appeals of the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan and the National Congress and postponed until 2 October consideration of the appeals by Musavat and the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan. LF

COMMUNISTS REGISTERED TO CONTEST AZERBAIJANI POLL

The Central Electoral Commission on 30 September registered the list of candidates submitted by the Communist Party of Azerbaijan to contest the 25 party list seats in the new parliament, Turan reported. The Court of Appeal last month overruled the Commission's refusal to register the Communist candidates on the grounds that the documentation submitted by that party contained errors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 22 September 2000). LF

TWELVE PRISONERS ESCAPE FROM GEORGIAN JAIL

Twelve prisoners escaped from the hospital of a maximum security prison in Tbilisi during the night of 30 September-1 October, reportedly through a 25-meter tunnel they had secretly dug, Caucasus Press and Russian agencies reported. The 12 include Loti Kobalia, commander of the late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia's presidential guard, and former Finance Minister Guram Absandze, who is currently on trial on charges of involvement in the February 1998 attempt to assassinate President Eduard Shevardnadze. Shevardnadze condemned the jail break as "an unprecedented bandit act" undertaken with the connivance of prison staff, some of whom have been arrested, according to ITAR-TASS. Police erected road blocks on highways out of Tbilisi, but none of the escapees has yet been recaptured. LF

GEORGIAN REGIONAL OFICIALS SAYS RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS ENGAGE IN SMUGGLING

In a letter to Major General Sergei Korobko, commander of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, Bondo Djikia, governor of the west Georgian region of Mingrelia and Upper Svaneti, accused the peacekeepers, of cooperating with criminal groups engaged in smuggling stolen vehicles, Caucasus Press reported on 29 September. Those peacekeepers are all Russian servicemen. Korobko, in turn, claimed that the Georgian police connive with the smugglers. LF

SEVEN KILLED IN CHURCH BOMBING IN TAJIKISTAN

At least seven people died and 50 were injured by two bombs that exploded during a religious service at a Korean church in Dushanbe on 1 October, Reuters and AP reported. Tajik security and police officials have classified the bombings as an act of terrorism. LF

TAJIKISTAN FEARS REFUGEE INFLUX, BUT NOT TALIBAN ATTACK

Tajik Security Council Secretary Amirqul Azimov said in Moscow on 29 September that an estimated 100,000 fugitives from the ongoing fighting in northern Afghanistan are congregated on the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Azimov and Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov both said that if those fugitives crossed the border into Tajikistan, their presence would lead to destabilization and a humanitarian catastrophe, as Dushanbe does not have the resources to care for them. Almost half of Tajikistan's 6 million population is already threatened with hunger following this summer's severe drought. Azimov also said that the Tajik leadership is not concerned about a Taliban attack on its territory, given that the Tajik armed forces are, in his opinion, "the most efficient and mobile" in Central Asia, according to Interfax. Ivanov similarly said he sees no need for Moscow to increase its troop presence in Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

UZBEK DEFENSE MINISTER DISMISSED

President Islam Karimov on 29 September fired Lieutenant General Yurii Agzamov as defense minister, a post to which he had been appointed in February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 February 2000). No reason was cited for his dismissal. Karimov simultaneously appointed as Agzamov's successor his deputy, Major General Kodir Gulomov, who also held the post of head of Uzbekistan's armed forces academy. LF

FINAL OLYMPIC MEDAL COUNT--PART 1 COUNTRIES

Country_________Gold___Silver___Bronze___Total


Russia____________32______28______28______88
Kazakhstan_________3_______4_______0_______7
Georgia____________0_______0_______6_______6
Uzbekistan_________1_______1_______2_______4
Azerbaijan__________2_______0_______1_______3
Armenia____________0_______0_______1_______1*
Kyrgyzstan_________0_______0_______1_______1
Tajikistan__________0_______0_______0_______0
Turkmenistan_______0_______0_______0_______0

*Stripped of a bronze because of doping.





BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION HOLDS ANTI-ELECTION RALLY

Up to 15,000 people took part in the "Freedom March-3" in Minsk on 1 October, Belapan reported. The march and a subsequent meeting protested the undemocratic nature of the 15 October legislative elections and called for a nationwide boycott of that ballot. Police did not intervene, and the rally ended without any reported violence or arrests, except for the seizure of several horses that the organizers intended to use for a show depicting Belarus's historical coat-of-arms "Pahonya" (Knight-in-Pursuit), which was replaced by a Soviet-like symbol following the May 1995 referendum. So far, charges have not been brought against the horses. The opposition plans to stage similar protest actions in 23 Belarusian cities on 8 October. JM

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT URGES VOTES FOR FORMER LAWMAKERS

Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 29 September addressed the Congress of the Soviets of People's Deputies, which was convened by the authorities in Minsk. The official goal of the congress was to discuss the role of local government bodies, but the gathering was widely perceived as Lukashenka's attempt to mobilize the country for the 15 October legislative ballot, which the opposition is threatening to boycott. In a lengthy speech broadcast on radio and television, Lukashenka pledged to continue his current policies and double the average monthly wage within a year. He also appealed to the country to vote for those Chamber of Representatives deputies who choose to seek another legislative term. "I will tell you frankly: we badly need to have at least one-third of the old parliament in the new one, in order to maintain continuity," Lukashenka noted. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES FOREIGN MINISTER...

Leonid Kuchma has relieved Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk of his duties "in connection with his transfer to another position," Interfax reported on 30 September. The agency quoted Kuchma as saying the following day that he will appoint Anatoliy Zlenko as new foreign minister. Zlenko, who is 62, was the first foreign minister of independent Ukraine. He was replaced in 1994 after Kuchma was elected president. Kuchma praised Tarasyuk's performance but noted that the situation in Ukraine has changed and the country needs a new foreign minister, "a calm person, a diplomat to the roots." Zlenko has been Ukraine's ambassador to France since 1997. JM

...SPARKS SPECULATION ABOUT MOTIVES BEHIND RESHUFFLE...

Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz told Interfax that Tarasyuk was dismissed because of his "relatively" high degree of independence and his authority. According to Moroz, such people cannot remain long in power and should be replaced by "manageable" ones who are unable to aspire to "an independent role in the political establishment." Ukrainian Popular Rukh leader Yuriy Kostenko said Tarasyuk was ousted under pressure from Russia. Kostenko noted that Tarasyuk was seeking Ukraine's integration in "the European and Euroatlantic structures." Kostenko added that Russia perceived that policy as "extremely disadvantageous" to itself. JM

...AND ABOUT POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES

Mykhaylo Pohrebynskyy, director of the Kyiv-based Center of Political Research, said Ukraine's foreign policy is unlikely to change under a new foreign minister. "Ukraine has no choice, the policy will be pro-Western no matter who is minister. The only thing a new minister could change is establishing closer economic ties with Russia, but not political ties," AP quoted Pohrebynskyy as saying. Interfax quoted unidentified Ukrainian experts and analysts as saying Kyiv will hardly change its foreign policy in a radical way. They admitted at the same time that Ukraine's relations with Russian may improve under a new minister, because "they cannot be worse [than they are now]." According to Yuriy Kostenko, however, Ukraine's "multidirectional" foreign policy is likely to become "pro-Russian" under Tarasyuk's successor. JM

COALITION PARTY PULLS OUT OF TALLINN COALITION

The Coalition Party on 29 September announced it is pulling out of the ruling coalition in the Tallinn City Council, ETA reported. The party, which holds two seats in the 64-seat assembly, had earlier "suspended" its coalition membership owing to the sacking of several of its members by the Tallinn city government over allegations of corruption (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 2000). The party announced that move despite the fact that the coalition chose not to remove city council deputy chairman Peeter Lepp and Kristiina borough elder Juhan Hindov, both Coalition Party members, from their posts. The ruling coalition, which is composed of the national ruling coalition and a group representing Russian speakers, now has 34 seats in the city council, BNS added. MH

RESPONSES TO LATVIA'S CHARGING KALEJS

Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, congratulated Latvian prosecutors on filing war crimes charges against Australian subject Konrads Kalejs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 2000). However, Zuroff voiced concern that Kalejs may escape if Latvia does not pursue his extradition immediately, LETA reported. Prosecutor-General Janis Maizitis criticized the judge who on 28 September refused to issue an arrest warrant for Kalejs and thereby blocked any extradition attempt. Eric Fusfield of the American Jewish Congress said the bringing of charges against Kalejs is "obviously a very positive development," while leftist politician Janis Jurkans echoed objections to trying both Nazi and Soviet war criminals: " I do not want to live in the ashes of World War Two," BNS quoted him as saying. MH

NAZIS ATTEND BURIAL OF WAR CRIMES SUSPECT IN LITHUANIA

Nazi war crimes suspect Aleksandras Lileikis, who died on 26 September of a heart attack, was buried on 29 September in his hometown of Vaiguva (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 2000). About 100 people, including members of the unregistered National Social Union, attended the funeral, BNS reported. The leader of the National Socialists, Mindaugas Murza, placed a wreath from the party at the gravesite and told journalists "We defend Lileikis, because nobody proved he was guilty." Lileikis was charged with genocide over his role during Nazi-occupied Lithuania. Prosecutors accused him of handing over 75 Jews to Nazi death squads. MH

LITHUANIA GIVES U.S. 'DREAM TEAM' TOUGH GAME

The U.S. barely scraped by Lithuania in the semi-finals of the Olympics basketball tournament on 29 September. The final score was 85:83, and Lithuania might have clinched the match had it not been for a miss from the three-point range right at the end of the match. Lithuania went on to defeat the Australian team 89:71 to win their third consecutive Olympic bronze. MH

LITHUANIA SECOND-QUARTER GDP FLAT

The Lithuanian Statistics Department announced on 29 September that GDP in the second quarter of 2000 did not change compared with the same period in 1999. The report also stated that GDP growth in the first half of 2000 was 1.9 percent year-on-year, at 21.21 billion litas ($5.3 billion), ELTA reported. Although growth was registered in various sectors, including transportation and communications, a sharp slump in construction and a mild contraction in industry during the second quarter contributed to the flat GDP figure. The Central Bank later added that the current account deficit in the first half of 2000 was 900 million litas, down 250 percent from the same period in 1999. MH

POLISH PRESIDENT SLAMS GOVERNMENT REFORMS

At an election meeting in Radom on 30 September, Aleksander Kwasniewski sharply criticized the Solidarity-led government for the way it introduced reforms in the administration, health service, education, and social insurance sectors, PAP reported. According to Kwasniewski, these "justified and necessary" reforms were introduced by the government "in an incompetent and arrogant way." The president added that the reforms must be corrected by a new parliament and cabinet following next year's parliamentary elections. JM

POLAND CONGRATULATES YUGOSLAVIA'S KOSTUNICA ON ELECTION VICTORY

Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski on 29 September congratulated Yugoslav opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica on his victory in the disputed 24 September presidential elections. Bartoszewski "expressed hope that the election results would be respected by all participants of the Yugoslav political scene," the Polish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. JM

CZECH JUSTICE MINISTER PROPOSED AS OMBUDSMAN...

The ruling Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 29 September proposed that the parliament elect Otakar Motejl as ombudsman. Motejl, who has no party affiliation, would have to resign from the ministry if elected to that position. He has given his consent to the proposal and, according to the daily "Pravo" on 2 October, has already tendered his resignation as minister, CTK reported. The daily, however, quotes Motejl as saying the resignation has nothing to do with the CSSD's proposal but rather is prompted by his failure to have the parliament approve bills on reforming the justice system. President Vaclav Havel on 1 October said through his spokesman that he would support Motejl's appointment as ombudsman and accept his resignation as justice minister. MS

...CRITICIZED OVER DISMISSAL OF PROSECUTOR

The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) on 30 September accused the CSSD of having dismissed Senior Prosecutor Karel Brueckler last week in order to cover up the findings of the parliamentary commission that was investigating the sale of the Investicny a Pistovni banka in June. The ODS said it "sees a connection" between Motejl's decision to dismiss Brueckler and the fact that Motejl "supervised the work of the commission...and the CSSD attempted to hide the results of its findings from the public." ODS Deputy Chairman Ivan Langel told reporters that Motejl's decision amounted to "inadmissible interference" in the work of the judiciary. Brueckler had accused Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik of having given false evidence to the investigatory commission. MS

CZECH PREMIER'S CHIEF AIDE ADMITS 'CO-RESPONSIBILITY' IN 'OPERATION LEAD' SCANDAL

Miroslav Slouf, head of Premier Milos Zeman's team of counselors, said on 29 September that he will have to "admit some sort of co-responsibility" if Vratislav Sima, a former member of that team, is convicted in connection with the "Operation Lead" scandal, CTK reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 September 2000). Slouf, however, continues to claim he knew nothing about the attempt to discredit Zeman's adversary Petra Buzkova and says he will await the court's verdict on the affair before deciding how to act. Minister and Government Office head Karel Brezina said on 29 September that he was "misled" by subordinates when deciding to file a criminal complaint against the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes." Brezina had denied that the documents aimed at discrediting Buzkova were fabricated by the premier's counselors. MS

SLOVAK PREMIER SAYS LUSTRATION BEHIND COUNTRY'S PROBLEMS

In an interview with the "Profit" magazine on 29 September, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said that the problem of lustration is "not spoken much about by the people nowadays" and that "Praise God, it is behind us." Dzurinda was speaking in response to a question as to why the validity of the lustration law has not been renewed since the last elections. "We either dedicate ourselves to coping with unemployment and the EU integration process or we contribute to the further polarization of our society," he said. The Czechoslovak lustration law has not been applied in Slovakia since the federation split in1993, nor has its validity been renewed since 1996, when the law ceased to remain in force. MS

HUNGARY'S FIDESZ OPTS TO JOIN EUROPEAN PEOPLE'S PARTY

The National Board of the major coalition party FIDESZ announced on 30 September that it will join the conservative European People's Party (EPP) and quit the Liberal International, Hungarian media reported. Foreign Ministry State Secretary and FIDESZ deputy chairman Zsolt Nemeth said he hopes the EPP will respond positively to his party's intention to join. MSZ




SERBIAN GENERAL STRIKE BEGINS

Following some preliminary strike actions by students, workers, drivers, and other citizens in various parts of Serbia between 29 September and 1 October, the opposition's general strike began in earnest on 2 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 2000). BBC Television reported from Belgrade that transportation in the capital had come to a halt and that thousands of people had taken to the streets in a "festive atmosphere." Police limited their actions to removing license plates from vehicles participating in road blocks, the broadcast added. Opposition Mayor-elect Milan Protic encouraged demonstrators to continue their protests until Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic leaves office and lets Vojislav Kostunica replace him, Sky News Television reported. Reuters subsequently reported, however, that "most shops opened, major state institutions were unaffected [by the strike], and by late morning the city was almost back to normal." In Novi Sad on 1 October, Serbian President Milan Milutinovic said the opposition is trying to create "chaos, unrest, and conflicts," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

MILOSEVIC'S SERBIAN BASES OF SUPPORT ERODING?

Many observers inside Serbia and abroad agree that the success of the general strike will depend on whether the opposition can maintain the momentum of the protest. Other important issues are whether the opposition can attract supporters other than from the urban middle classes and whether it can shut down important, highly visible branches of the economy such as power and the media. Workers at the Kolubara coal mine near Lazarevac launched a protest on 29 September. By 2 October, police began allowing strike sympathizers to deliver food to the miners. Other strikes are taking place at the Kostolac mine and power plant and at the Pancevo refinery. PM

STATE-RUN SERBIAN MEDIA SHOW SIGNS OF DISLOYALTY

The strike committee at Radio-Television Novi Sad called on all employees on 1 October not to obey orders from the pro-Milosevic management and not to broadcast "false information," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The opposition's Press Center said in a statement that eight local radio stations in several parts of Serbia have stopped re-broadcasting the programs of Radio-Television Serbia. PM

YUGOSLAV MINISTRY KICKS OUT BBC JOURNALIST

On 29 September, Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic announced the expulsion of BBC correspondent Jacky Rowland for "twisting the words" of Serbs she interviewed during her coverage of the recent elections. The BBC management said that it hopes that Belgrade will "reconsider its decision," the BBC reported. PM

DEAL TO LET SERBIA'S MILOSEVIC 'OFF THE HOOK'?

Russian diplomats arrived in Belgrade following President Vladimir Putin's offer to mediate between Milosevic and the opposition, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 1 October (see also Part I). The next day, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in London that "Milosevic is left with absolutely no friends anywhere in the world," Reuters noted. London's "The Observer" reported on 1 October that "intense diplomacy" is under way at the instigation of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to enable "Milosevic [to] avoid prosecution for war crimes and escape into exile, if he agrees to hand power to Serbia's opposition." An unidentified "senior German diplomat" told the British weekly: "Officially [Germany is] in favor of [the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, which has indicted Milosevic]. But we need an exit strategy and that means getting him off the hook." PM

HAS MILOSEVIC REPLACED SERBIAN POLICE CHIEF?

The Podgorica daily "Vijesti" reported on 2 October that Milosevic has sacked Rade Markovic as head of state security in the Serbian Interior Ministry. His replacement is Zoran Janackovic, the daily added. Janackovic is the Yugoslav intelligence officer and ambassador to Macedonia, whom the authorities in Skopje are investigating for allegedly attempting to "destabilize Macedonia" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 September 2000). PM

MILOSEVIC WARNS YUGOSLAV OFFICERS OF 'PLOTS'

Speaking near Belgrade on 30 September, Milosevic told a group of newly promoted officers that "internal enemies" are allegedly ready to "call on foreign armies" for unspecified purposes, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He added that Yugoslavia "actively and continuously cooperates with the entire world." Milosevic stressed that Yugoslavia's annual "growth rate of 20 percent is the highest in the world." On 1 October, opposition leader Goran Svilanovic told Hungarian Radio that Milosevic can no longer count on the loyalty of the police and the army. PM

KOUCHNER CALLS KOSOVA VOTE COUNT 'LIE'

Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN's civilian administration in Kosova, said in New York on 29 September that the Milosevic regime's claim that it received some 140,000 votes in Kosova is "a lie," Reuters reported. Kouchner noted that only 45,000 people voted in Kosova on 24 September. PM

VIOLENCE IN KOSOVA

In Zvecan near the Trepca complex, about 50 rock-throwing Serbs clashed with police and fire-fighters on 1 October. It is not clear why the Serbs attacked fire-fighters, who were attempting to extinguish two blazes in different parts of the complex. A UN spokeswoman said that "we don't know whether the fires were caused by arson," AP reported. Meanwhile in Prishtina, a NATO spokesman said that peacekeepers found the body in Novo Selo Zaimovo the previous night of Sadri Berisha, a member of the civilian Kosova Protection Corps. Unknown persons shot him three times while he was in his car. PM

SOCIALISTS CLAIM VICTORY IN ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS

Officials of the governing Socialist Party said in Tirana on 2 October that their party swept the previous day's municipal and local elections, including--for the first time--Tirana, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Ilir Meta said: "These were not only the fairest, most democratic, and most transparent elections the country has ever had, but also the calmest." Turnout was about 61 percent. Final tallies are expected "in a few days." A spokesman for international monitors said that voting was peaceful and without any serious problems, except for some isolated disputes over voters' lists in Vlora and some other places. Opposition Democratic Party spokesman Edi Paloka, however, called the elections "entirely manipulated." Genc Pollo, who is a former Democratic leader who has broken with the party leadership, told the BBC that "Albania has passed a test in democracy." He added that the outcome shows that the Democrats in general and Berisha in particular failed to present a "credible alternative" to a Socialist leadership "widely seen as corrupt." PM

TENSIONS IN CROATIAN LEADERSHIP AFTER MESIC SACKS GENERALS

President Stipe Mesic and Defense Minister Jozo Rados met for two hours in Zagreb on 1 October to discuss Mesic's recent sacking of seven generals, "Jutarnji list" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 2000). Rados said afterward that Mesic conceded it "would have been better" had he consulted Rados before firing the men. The generals had written a politically charged letter to protest the government's recent arrest of alleged war criminals. Opinion polls suggest that a slight majority of the population supports Mesic but that many Croats fear the government is indeed "criminalizing" the 1991-1995 war for independence, as the generals charge (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 29 September 2000). Drazen Budisa, who heads the Croatian Social Liberal Party, said Mesic acted within his rights but that the sackings did not resolve the issues that the generals raised in their letter. The opposition Croatian Democratic Community called for new elections in the wake of the sackings. Mesic and Prime Minister Ivica Racan rejected the call. PM

SLOVENIA INTO NATO IN SECOND ROUND?

Speaking in Ljubljana on 30 September after returning from the U.S., Defense Minister Janez Jansa said that NATO has not yet determined the precise date for Slovenia's admission to the Atlantic alliance, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 2000). Jansa added that Slovenia will "most likely" be invited to join NATO after the alliance's summit in Prague in the summer of 2002. PM

ROMANIAN POLL CONFIRMS ILIESCU, PDSR LEAD

An opinion poll released by the Social Research Bureau on 1 October shows former President Ion Iliescu still ahead in the presidential race, with 35 percent backing. He is followed by Premier Mugur Isarescu (20 percent), Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor (12.3 percent), National Liberal Party (PNL) candidate Theodor Stolojan (12.1 percent), Democratic Party leader Petre Roman (9.3 percent), Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's (UDMR) Gyorgy Frunda (6 percent), and Alliance for Romania (APR) leader Teodor Melescanu (5.2 percent). In the parliamentary contest, the field is led by the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (38.2 percent), followed by the Democratic Convention of Romania 2000 (14.5 percent), the Democratic Party (12.1 percent), the PRM (10.5 percent), the PNL (9.8 percent), the UDMR (7.5 percent), and the APR (6.6 percent).MS

MOLDOVAN TIRASPOL PRISONER RUNS ON EXTREMIST ROMANIAN PARTY LISTS

PRM leader Tudor on 1 October announced that Moldovan parliamentary deputy Ilie Ilascu, who has been imprisoned in Tiraspol since 1992, has obtained Romanian citizenship and will run on the PRM lists for the Senate in Bacau county. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT 'RE-INTERPRETS' AUDIO-VISUAL LAW...

By a vote of 52 to 26, the parliament on 29 September passed an amendment to the audio-visual law aimed at resolving the dispute triggered by a recent court ruling, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. According to the amendment, the law's provision stipulating that a minimum of 65 percent of broadcasts must be in the "state language" applies only to domestically produced programs and not to re-transmissions of programs produced abroad. The court's ruling would have obliged the Audio-Visual Council to withdraw licenses from several stations that re-broadcast Russian-language programs and has caused tensions in relations with Moscow. The amendment was supported only by the Democratic Party (the former For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc) and the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM). MS

...AMID OPPOSITION PROTEST AGAINST DIACOV, VORONIN

Claiming that Parliamentary Chairman and Democratic Party leader Dumitru Diacov falsified the vote count, 26 opposition parties deputies demanded a vote of no confidence in Diacov and walked out of the legislature. The opposition deputies also accused PCM leader Vladimir Voronin of having "insulted national symbols" during the debate and demanded that the Prosecutor-General's Office launch an investigation. Replying to an opposition deputy, Voronin said the Moldovan flag is "a fascist flag." He later attempted to "clarify" the statement, saying he did not mean the current flag, which carries the Moldovan coat of arms since 1992, but an earlier version that is identical to the Romanian flag and "used to be carried by Romanian fascists headed by Antonescu in World War II." MS

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS CZECH REPUBLIC

Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova, during a two-day visit to Prague, on 29 September met with her Czech counterpart, Jan Kavan, and signed a memorandum on enlarging cooperation between their ministries. Kavan and Mihailova described bilateral ties as "good and problem-free." The two ministers agreed, according to Kavan, that it is "necessary that Vojislav Kostunica's victory in the Yugoslav presidential elections be confirmed." Kavan also said that Prague supports Bulgaria's bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. He thanked Sofia for its support of the Czech Republic's bid to be granted the presidency of the UN General Assembly in 2002, CTK reported. MS

FINAL OLYMPIC MEDAL COUNT--PART 2 COUNTRIES

Country_________Gold___Silver___Bronze___Total


Romania___________11______6_______9______26
Ukraine____________3______10______10______23
Hungary___________8_______6_______3______17
Belarus____________3_______3_______11______17
Poland_____________6_______5_______3______14
Bulgaria___________5________6_______2______13
Czech Rep._________2_______3_______3_______8
Lithuania___________2_______0_______3_______5
Slovakia___________1_______3_______1_______5
Latvia_____________1_______1_______1_______3
Yugoslavia_________1_______1_______1_______3
Estonia____________1_______0_______2_______3
Slovenia___________2_______0_______0_______2
Croatia____________1_______0_______1_______2
Moldova____________0_______1_______1_______2
Macedonia__________0_______0_______1_______1
Albania____________0_______0_______0_______0
Bosnia-Herzeg._____0_______0_______0_______0





There is no end note today.


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