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Newsline - October 6, 2000




RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER HAILS KOSTUNICA AS PRESIDENT...

Igor Ivanov held talks with Yugoslav opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica in Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's office in the federation parliament building in Belgrade, Reuters quoted RTR's Belgrade correspondent as reporting at mid-day local time on 6 October. Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered Ivanov to fly to the Yugoslav capital in a bid to defuse the tensions there following the Yugoslav Constitutional Court's decision to annul the 24 September presidential elections. RIA and Interfax quoted Ivanov as saying he had congratulated Kostunica on his election victory on behalf of Putin. RIA said that the Russian foreign minister had left his meeting with Kostunica to meet with Milosevic at his Belgrade residence. Earlier, Yugoslav Ambassador to Moscow Boris Milosevic had maintained that his brother, Slobodan, is still in Belgrade. JC

...AS PREMIER SAYS MOSCOW NOT CONSIDERING ASYLUM FOR MILOSEVIC...

Interfax on 6 October quoted Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov as saying that the question of asylum for Yugoslav President Milosevic "has not been raised and is not being discussed." Kasyanov added that "we are a long way from looking at the question in that way." There have been persistent rumors that Milosevic and his wife will try to flee, or have already fled, to Russia, among other places. JC

...AND DUMA SPEAKER SLAMS KOSTUNICA'S 'COUP'

State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev (Communist), in televised comments on 6 October, lamented the fact that "Yugoslav society is now split as a result of a coup" enacted by Yugoslav opposition leader Kostunica. Seleznev also expressed his fear that Kostunica will not be able to control the "chaos" on Belgrade's streets. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov was quoted by Interfax as saying the events in the Yugoslav capital do not constitute democracy. Rather, he said, "it reeks of marijuana, vodka, and dollars." NATO has achieved through Kostunica what it failed to do in last year's air raid campaign in Yugoslavia, Zyuganov added. Also on 6 October, deputies rejected a motion proposed by the Union of Rightist Forces to send the house's greetings to Kostunica as the new Yugoslav president. JC

RUSSIA URGES INDIA TO SIGN TEST BAN TREATY...

Speaking at India's Bakar Nuclear Research Center on 5 October, Russian President Putin urged New Delhi to sign both the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. At the same time, Putin said that Russia wants to broaden cooperation with India in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The 1998 deal between India and Russia on building a nuclear power station in Kudankulam, southern India, is "a major project but our cooperation will not end there," the Russian president commented. According to "The Moscow Times" on 6 October, the Kudankulam deal is estimated to be worth some $3 billion. JC

...AGREES TO SET UP WORKING GROUP ON AFGHANISTAN

In a joint statement issued at the end of Putin's four-day visit to India, Moscow and New Delhi pledged to set up a working group on Afghanistan, noting their "serious concern" about the situation in that country and condemning "terrorism in the Central Asian states," Interfax reported on 5 October. The two sides also stressed the need to expand the UN Security Council "to make it more representative and efficient"; Russia, for its part, expressed its support for India's being granted a permanent seat on the council. In addition, the statement noted that Russia and India have agreed to accelerate the conclusion of an agreement on implementing the Sakhalin-1 project, in which the Indian national oil and gas corporation is participating. JC

MOSCOW EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT U.S. WARNING

The Russian Foreign Ministry on 6 October expressed concern about Washington's warning to U.S. businesses over the dangers in making contact with the Russian military-industrial complex, ITAR-TASS reported. Anatolii Dolgolaptev, the chief of the League of Russian Defense Plants, had told Interfax on 5 October that the U.S. warning would not end large deals but only mean that "there will be less theft of our technological secrets." Moscow was reacting to a text inserted into the State Department's consular information sheet on Russia on 4 October warning U.S. businessmen that they could face serious risks if they enter into accords with Russia's military industrial complex. "Any misunderstanding or dispute," the new text said, "can attract the involvement of the security services and lead to investigation or prosecution for espionage." PG

MOSCOW TO CALL FOR WORLD INFO SECURITY SYSTEM

A Russian diplomat at the UN said on 5 October that Moscow intends to propose that the UN create an international information security system to supplement its own national plans in that area, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Security Council First Deputy Secretary Vladislav Shertyuk said Moscow plans to deal with the threats posed by "information weapons" now deployed against it. He added that the Russian government is currently preparing a federal program to implement the Information Security Doctrine, signed by President Putin on 8 September. PG

NTV COUNCIL URGES PUTIN TO KEEP NTV INDEPENDENT

The Public Council of independent NTV asked President Putin to use his "authority and influence to preserve NTV as an independent television channel," Interfax reported on 5 October. In an open letter to the president, the council said that a condition of that independence was that none of the stockholders has a controlling interest in the company. PG

MILITARY PROTESTS FORCED DELAY OF SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING

Sources at the Russian Defense Ministry told Reuters on 5 October that complaints by top commanders about planned cuts in military spending forced President Putin to delay a Security Council meeting last week. Putin on 30 September had criticized the military for failing to prepare for that meeting adequately. The next session is likely to be in the first half of November, the Security Council source told the Western news agency. One reason behind the protests was suggested in a comment by Colonel General Valerii Manilov, first deputy chief of the Russian Army General Staff, on 5 October. He said that the number of flag-rank officers might be reduced by 400, Interfax reported. PG

TAX POLICE SEEK TO BECOME A MINISTRY

Leonid Kuznetsov, the chief of the tax police's legal department, told Interfax on 5 October that the federal tax police service plans to transform itself into a financial police force and a ministry. The tax police have prepared a draft bill on the subject, he said, and the reaction of relevant institutions has been favorable. He added that the tax police believe the new legislation will reduce the number of organizations with the right to inspect financial and economic activities from 30 to 10, a reduction that he said would have a positive effect on the economy. PG

BYKOV MOVED TO LEFORTOVO

Anatolii Bykov, the former general director of Krasnyoark Aluminum Works, was transferred to Moscow's Lefortovo prison on 5 October, Interfax reported. He was re-arrested in Krasnoyarsk the previous day because the authorities suspect he had a role in the murder of businessman Pavel Struganov. PG

REGIONS FAIL TO MEET HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS

The Moscow Helsinki Group said on 5 October that none of the 60 regions of Russia surveyed so far currently meets international standards for human rights, AP reported. The group presented its conclusion in a four-volume, 1800-page report outlining conditions in those 60 regions. Over the next year, the group said, it plans to survey the remaining 29 regions. The worst violators identified so far, the authors of the report said, are Bashkortostan and Kalmykia. PG

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIMS OF FIRST CHECHEN WAR BELATEDLY BURIED

The remains of 124 civilians and Russian servicemen killed during the first (1994-1996) Chechen war were interred in a mass grave in Grozny on 5 October, Interfax reported. The bodies had been stored in refrigerated rail cars in Grozny pending a forensic examination in order to identify them. Interim Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov and Russian military commandant Ivan Babichev attended the burial ceremony, which was conducted by a Russian Orthodox priest and a Muslim clergyman. LF

RUSSIAN GENERAL SAYS CHECHEN COMMANDERS' WHEREABOUTS KNOWN...

First Deputy Chief of the Russian Army General Staff Colonel General Manilov told journalists in Moscow on 5 October that Russian forces are keeping close track of the movements of Chechen field commanders and of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, ITAR-TASS reported. He said Maskhadov is currently in Kurchaoi, Shamil Basaev in Nozhai-Yurt, Vakha Arsanov in the Argun gorge, and Khattab in Vedeno, while Chechen propaganda and public relations expert Movladi Udugov is in one of the Soviet successor states. LF

...UPDATES RUSSIAN CASUALTY FIGURES

Manilov also told journalists in 5 October that a total of 2,472 Russian servicemen have been killed since Russian forces entered Chechnya on 1 October 1999, Interfax reported. Of that number, 1,644 were Defense Ministry troops. Over the same period, 7,076 servicemen were wounded and 26 went missing in action. Manilov also said that the Chechen fighters currently number no more than 2,000. That figure, which Manilov first cited in August, is higher than the 1,500 estimated in June by Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya. In an interview with "Liberation" on 2 October, President Maskhadov said he can count on some 33,000 armed supporters. LF

JEWISH EMIGRATION TO ISRAEL DROPS BY 50 PERCENT IN LAST YEAR

Israel's Ambassador in Moscow Nathan Meron said on 5 October that the number of Jews leaving Russia for Israel in 2000 is "50-60 percent fewer than last year," Interfax reported. Meron said that he "cannot give the reason for such a drop." PG

'KURSK' SALVAGE FUNDING SET

The Russian government on 5 October allocated 23.8 million rubles ($880,000) for the initial phase of operations to retrieve the remains of the 118 sailors on the sunken nuclear submarine "Kursk," Russian and Western agencies reported. Slightly more than half of the money will go to a Russian military design company, while the remainder will go to a Norwegian subsidiary of the U.S. Halliburton oil service company and be used to pay off debts for repairs to a Russian research ship damaged during the investigation of the "Kursk" disaster. PG

GOVERNMENT ENDORSES EURASIAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY TREATY

The Russian government on 5 October approved a draft treaty for a Eurasian Economic Community, which would include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS reported. The new accord is to go into effect in April 2001 and is intended to transform the existing Customs Union among these countries into a common economic space, government spokesman said. The presidents of the five CIS Customs Union members are to sign the draft at their meeting in Astana on 10 October. PG

GAZPROM URGES EES TO BUY TURKMEN GAS

Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev told Interfax on 5 October that his government wants Unified Energy Systems to purchase gas from Turkmenistan to make up for reductions in Russian gas scheduled to be delivered to EES next year. PG

PUTIN ANNOUNCES SIMPLIFIED TARIFFS PLAN

President Putin said in Bombay on 5 October that Russia will introduce a simplified customs tariffs system on 1 January 2001, Interfax reported. "Instead of 10 customs tariffs, there will be one," the Russian leader noted. PG

CENTRAL BANK'S RESERVES DOUBLE IN 2000

The Russian Central Bank's gold and foreign exchange reserves rose from $12.456 billion on 1 January 2000 to $25 billion on 29 September, a record high for Russia, Interfax reported on 5 October. Meanwhile, Central Bank head Viktor Gerashchenko said that he opposes proposals to transform the Central Bank into a federal government body, the Russian news agency said. PG

GOVERNMENT CONTINUES PURGE AT BOLSHOI THEATER

Aleksei Fadeechev, the artist director of the Bolshoi Theater's ballet company, has been fired, Interfax reported on 5 October. Fadeechev told the news agency that he was handed an order canceling his contract, which had been valid until the end of the 2000-2001 season. Fadeechev had recently held Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi directly responsible for the "catastrophic" situation at the Bolshoi following President Putin's decree imposing direct government control over the theater and dismissing its management ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 2000). JC

MIRCORP FIGHTS BACK OVER AGING SPACE STATION

Following statements by government officials in favor of scrapping "Mir" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 October 2000), the Amsterdam-based company that has leased the space station rallied in its defense on 5 October. MirCorp said in a statement that it still plans to send "space tourists" to the station next year and beyond, AP reported. The company added that it is aware of "conflicting statements" about the station's future and noted that investors will meet again with Russian government officials to discuss financing. JC

ONLY 30 PERCENT OF RUSSIAN BIRTHS ARE 'NORMAL'

The Russian Academy of Medical Sciences told AP on 5 October that the number of normal births in the Russian Federation declined from 45.3 percent in 1992 to just 30 percent in 1999. An academy statistician blamed this decline on the spread of alcoholism, drug use, sexually transmitted diseases, and an overall decline in the health of citizens. She added that the lack of medical equipment, inadequate prenatal care, and parental medical problems now mean that 53 percent of newborns leave maternity clinics suffering from a chronic ailment or disease. PG




ARMENIAN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL MEETS WITH ARRESTED KARABAKH OFFICIAL

Armenian presidential human rights commission chairman Paruyr Hairikian met in Stepanakert late last month with Karen Babayan, former Stepanakert mayor and brother of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's former army commander and Defense Minister Samvel Babayan, Noyan Tapan reported. Both brothers are charged with involvement in the 22 March attempt to assassinate the unrecognized enclave's President Arkadii Ghukasian. Hairikian told his commission on 5 October that Karen Babayan informed him that during the six months he has been held in custody he has been systematically deprived of the right to take exercise or receive food brought by his relatives. Also on 5 October, the Armenian government newspaper "Hayastani Hanrapetutiun" criticized the conduct of Samvel Babayan's ongoing trial, noting that persons who have no connection with the attempted killing are being called as witnesses. LF

ARMENIA DENIES HOLDING 1,474 AZERBAIJANI PRISONERS

The Armenian National Security Ministry issued a statement in Yerevan on 5 October refuting claims made by Azerbaijani National Security Minister Namik Abbasov last month, Noyan Tapan reported. At a meeting on 21 September between Abbasov and representatives of local human rights organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Abbasov had accused the ICRC , the OSCE and the UN of "indifference" to the fate of Azerbaijani prisoners of war in Armenia, whose number he gave as 1,474. The ICRC walked out of that meeting to protest Abbasov's statement. Abbasov further accused Armenia of reneging on an earlier "all for all" agreement to exchange prisoners of war. The Armenian statement noted that Yerevan has released 10 Azerbaijani POWs this year, adding that two more Azerbaijanis are currently being held, one of whom it said is a "terrorist" who "offered his services" to the Armenian side. LF

U.S. SAYS RESTRICTIONS ON TWO AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES' POLL PARTICIPATION SHOULD BE LIFTED

Speaking in Washington on 5 October, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker criticized the decision by Azerbaijan's Central Electoral Commission to bar the opposition Musavat Party and the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan from contesting the 5 November parliamentary poll under the proportional system, dpa and Reuters reported. He said that exclusion "seriously jeopardizes the potential for the conduct of free and fair parliamentary elections," adding that "the participation of all major opposition parties is essential in offering the voters of Azerbaijan a real choice." He urged the Azerbaijani authorities to allow the two parties to compete through proportional lists as well as in single mandate constituencies. Reeker apparently did not mention the other five opposition parties, including the small but respected Liberal Party of Azerbaijan, that have been barred from competing under the proportional system. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT AMNESTIES 64 PRISONERS

Heidar Aliyev has decreed the release of 64 prisoners, including 42 found guilty of staging attempted coups in 1994 and 1995, ITAR-TASS and AP reported on 5 October quoting the presidential press service. Five of those amnestied are associates of former Prime Minister Suret Huseinov, who is serving a life sentence for allegedly leading a coup against Aliyev in October 1994. Aliyev amnestied 87 prisoners serving sentences for similar crimes against the state in late June, just days before the decision was due to be taken on admitting Azerbaijan to full membership of the Council of Europe (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2000). LF

GEORGIA UNVEILS SECURITY, FOREIGN POLICY CONCEPT

Speaking on 5 October in Tbilisi at the opening of an international conference on strategic cooperation, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili listed as the key tenets of Georgia's national security policy the adoption of universal human values, defining Georgia's role in the process of globalization, and protection of its national identity and cultural legacy, Caucasus Press reported. He further listed as foreign policy priorities integration with the EU, cooperation with the UN in conflict resolution, expanding economic cooperation within the framework of GUUAM, the CIS, and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and reforming the country's defense potential to bring it into compliance with international standards. LF

GEORGIA SUFFERS MAJOR POWER OUTAGE

Eastern Georgia, including Tbilisi, was without electricity for four hours early on 6 October following a failure at the main Tbilisi switching center, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. The outage affected radio, TV, transport and water supplies. LF

BELARUS, KAZAKHSTAN AIM TO EXPAND BILATERAL TRADE

Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev discussed the potential for expanding bilateral economic cooperation with his visiting Belarusian counterpart Uladzimir Yarmoshyn in Astana on 5 October, Interfax reported. Both men agreed that bilateral trade could and should be expanded from the present annual level of $60 million. Yermoshin said Belarus is ready to provide Kazakhstan with farm machinery and trucks, and to cooperate in the spheres of light industry and high technology. The two countries' first deputy premiers, Aleksandr Pavlov and Alyaksandr Papkou, signed inter- governmental agreements on economic and information cooperation, according to ITAR-TASS. LF

KAZAKH-U.S. OIL CONSORTIUM OUTLINES PLANNED PRODUCTION GROWTH

Nick Zana, Ddrector of the Eurasia Department of U.S. Chevron Overseas, told the annual international oil and gas conference in Almaty on 5 October that the Tengizchevroil consortium in which his company owns a 50 percent stake, plans to produce 10.4 million tons of oil in 2000, Interfax reported. Zana said that production will rise to 12 million tons in 2001 and to 17 million tons within the next two-three years. LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT DESIGNATES OSH SECOND CAPITAL

Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev on 5 October issued a decree designating the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan the country's second capital, Interfax reported. As such, Osh will house a second presidential residence. The city is currently celebrating the 3000th anniversary of its foundation. LF

MASSOUD MAY BE ALLOWED TO RETREAT TO TAJIKISTAN

According to senior Russian Federal Border Service official Lieutenant General Vladimir Makarov, anti-Taliban Northern Alliance units commanded by Ahmed Shah Massoud may be allowed to retreat from northern Afghanistan into Tajikistan if the Tajik government gives its permission for them to do so, Russian agencies reported quoting the 5 October issue of "Rossiiskie vesti." Makarov added that he does not believe the Taliban will launch an attack on neighboring CIS states in the near future. Also on 5 October, First Deputy Chief of Russian Army General Staff Colonel General Valerii Manilov said he sees no need to strengthen the Russian troop contingent in Tajikistan, Interfax reported. Manilov also said he does not think the Taliban are preparing to advance beyond the borders of Afghanistan, but warned that "we must consider all possible developments...so the situation does not take us by surprise." LF

TURKMENISTAN, UKRAINE AGREE ON DEBT

Visiting Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma assured his Turkmen counterpart Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat on 5 October that Kyiv will implement investment projects in Turkmenistan in payment of its 1999 debt for Turkmen natural gas, Interfax reported. He also invited Niyazov to visit Ukraine in May 2001. Also on 5 October, Ukrainian First Deputy Finance Minister Petro Hermanchuk and Turkmenistan's Central Bank chairman Seitbai Kandymov signed an agreement that sets Kyiv's state debt to Turkmenistan at $281 million. Negotiations on how that debt is to be repaid will resume after Niyazov's visit to Ukraine next year and after Kyiv reaches agreement with its Paris Club creditors. LF




CANDIDATES DENIED REGISTRATION SAY BELARUS HAS NO REAL CHOICE

A group of democratic candidates who had wanted to contest legislative seats on an independent ticket in the 15 October elections said they were denied registration for "far-fetched reasons," Belapan reported on 5 October. "The authorities have eliminated from the election campaign those candidates who could hamper the election of [government] proteges [and] have deprived the voters of the possibility to vote for change in the country, for the development of a market economy and democracy," the group said in a statement published in "Nasha volya." The group includes Children of Chornobyl Charitable Fund head Henadz Hrushavy, lawyer Hary Pahanyayla, human rights activist Aleh Volchak, and economist Leanid Zlotnikau. Meanwhile, presidential aide Syarhey Posakhau told the 4 October "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" that "most opposition candidates" have been registered and mentioned four names: Alyaksandr Fyaduta, Mikhail Chyhir, Mikalay Statkevich, and Uladzimir Navasyad. JM

BELARUSIAN PROVINCES GET READY FOR ANTI-ELECTION PROTEST

The Belarusian opposition is planning to hold rallies in 23 cities on 8 October to demand democratic elections and protest the 15 October legislative ballot, which it calls an "election farce." RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported that the authorities have given permission for rallies to be held in Hrodna, Slonim, Navapolatsk, Slutsk, Zhodzina, Homel, Rechytsa, Mazyr, and Zhlobin. However, they have banned protest actions in Svetlahorsk, Rahachou, and Baranavichy. The Svetlahorsk authorities said they will permit a rally to take place if the organizers change the nature of the protest. The Rahachou authorities said that rally organizers have already made known their position on the elections in leaflets and that there is no need to hold a rally in the city. JM

UKRAINIAN POLICE TAKES 'UNPRECEDENTED' MEASURES TO FIND MISSING JOURNALIST

Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko told the parliament on 6 October that police are taking "unprecedented" measures in their search for opposition journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, who disappeared on 16 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2000), Interfax reported. Kravchenko said the investigation of Gongadze's disappearance has taken on a "political character" and has attracted "international publicity." According to Kravchenko, Gongadze's publications in the Internet newsletter "Ukrayinska pravda," which have been critical of Kyiv, may have contributed to his disappearance. "For the first time in the history of crime detection, it was decided to allow the wife [of a disappeared person] to participate in investigative measures and to discuss their results," Kravchenko told the lawmakers. However, he did not report any significant progress in the investigation. JM

COMMONS SPEAKER ADDRESSES LATVIAN PARLIAMENT

In a speech to the Latvian parliament on 5 October, speaker of the U.K. House of Commons Betty Boothroyd reaffirmed British support for Latvia's EU aspirations. Boothroyd said at a press conference later that Latvia is a "special friend" of Britain's, LETA added. Her speech to the parliament, however, was marred by several deputies speaking loudly on their mobile phones, despite floor regulations prohibiting their use. Ironically Boothroyd was instrumental in banning electronic beepers in the Commons in 1997. Boothroyd retires as Commons speaker later this month. She is also due to visit Estonia. MH

LATVIAN HIV RATE CONTINUES TO RISE

In September alone, 29 new HIV cases were registered in Latvia, making a total of 302 new cases this year, according to the AIDS Prevention Center. Among the 794 people diagnosed with HIV, 66 have full-blown AIDS (18 diagnosed this year) and 21 have died of the disease (eight this year), BNS and LETA reported. More than 500 cases are thought to be owing to the use of contaminated needles among intravenous drug users. The AIDS Prevention Center in Riga reported that on 5 October, during a needle exchange campaign, an eight-year-old boy was registered as an intravenous drug addict. MH

VILNIUS CONFERENCE ENDS WITH CALL FOR ALL STATES TO EXPEDITE PROPERTY RESTITUTION

The Vilnius conference on the return of plundered Jewish cultural properties concluded on 5 October with a declaration calling for all states to expedite taking measures aimed at the return of such assets. The resolution also called on organizations and museums to take part in the effort by providing information on such plundered objects. President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Lord Russell Johnston, said that the success of the conference's aims "depended on the individual efforts of each country," ELTA reported. U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, praised the conference's work and expressed the hope that the restoration of the historical Vilnius Jewish quarter would create a "living museum" for the community, BNS added. MH

ANOTHER HUNGER STRIKE AT LITHUANIAN FACTORY

Three employees of the Inkaras footwear factory in Kaunas have launched a new hunger strike in protest at wage arrears. The three explained that "ineffective fulfillment of promises by the government and the poor economic situation of their families" is the reason they are reverting to this drastic protest method, ELTA reported. An earlier hunger strike ended on 1 September when all Inkaras employees received a small amount of their wage arrears (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2000). Recently, however, there has been a dispute among Inkaras workers on whether protestors and strikers would get their full wages first. MH

POLISH PRESIDENT POISED FOR RE-ELECTION...

The last polls to be made public before the presidential ballot on 8 October suggest that President Aleksander Kwasniewski will win in the first round. Kwasniewski was supported by 52 percent of voters (according to Demoskop), 55 percent (CBOS), 52 percent (PBS), and 60 percent (OBOP). Independent candidate Andrzej Olechowski came second among the 13 presidential challengers, with support ranging from 12-15 percent, while Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski is third with 7-12 percent backing. JM

...WHILE SOLIDARITY LEADER HOPES FOR SECOND ROUND

Krzaklewski on 5 October said he is sure to gain more than 20 percent of the vote on 8 October and face Kwasniewski in a second round two weeks later. He added that his victory in the elections is possible if the Solidarity camp unites. "If certain candidates refuse to transfer their votes [to me in the second round]..., I trust that the voters will do so," PAP quoted Krzaklewski as saying. He said Kwasniewski owns his popularity to "image tricks." JM

WARSAW WANTS TO BE CONSULTED BY BRUSSELS ON RUSSIAN GAS PIPELINE

Economy Minister Janusz Steinhoff said on 5 October that the EU should consult Poland on the routing of gas pipelines from Russia, PAP reported. Steinhoff was commenting on the EU's recently reported intention to finance a Russian project to build gas and oil pipelines linking that country with the EU in exchange for doubling gas supplies to Western Europe. "I am saddened by press reports on building a gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine," Steinhoff added. Russia asked Poland to agree to the construction of a gas pipeline that would cross Polish territory and bypass Ukraine, but Poland said it opposes the idea. "Poland is very interested in gas transit [from Russia]...but not at the expense of Ukraine," Steinhoff noted. JM

MAIN CZECH PARTIES TO CLOSE DEAL ON OMBUDSMAN?

Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Deputy Chairman Ivan Langer on 5 October confirmed that his party is proposing to the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) that it will support outgoing Justice Minister Otakar Motejl for the post of ombudsman in exchange for the CSSD's agreement to an ODS candidate for deputy ombudsman, CTK reported. Zdenek Skromach, leader of the CSSD parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies, confirmed that the representatives of the two formations will meet to discuss the issue. Freedom Union Chairman Karel Kuehnl said in response that he is "not surprised... Politics is trade for the ODS and this is nothing new." Kuehnl's deputy, Vladimir Mlynar, said he hopes the CSSD "will not agree to the bargaining" and that "there is some Social Democratic ethos still left in that party." MS

AUSTRIA CALLS AGAIN FOR TEMELIN LAUNCH TO BE POSTPONED

Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner on 5 October again called on the Czech Republic to postpone launching the Temelin nuclear power plant. She said Austria might refuse to agree to closing the energy chapter in EU negotiations with the Czech Republic unless Prague "carries out a comprehensive test on the plant's impact on the environment before it is activated." Also on 5 October, Austrian opponents of Temelin announced they will again block all crossing points between the two countries on 6 October in what is to be the most comprehensive blockade so far. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING

The parliament on 5 October approved a law against money laundering that obliges banks and other financial institutions to provide the financial police with details on clients who make transactions exceeding 100,000 crowns ($1,983). The law also abolishes anonymous bank accounts as of 1 January 2001. Also on 5 October, the parliament approved a law on judges but postponed until 2003 the implementation of those provisions that grant judges social and other special benefits; the reason for the postponement was the country's financial situation. The law, which goes into effect on 1 January 2001, states that judges salaries' will be 90-130 percent of the wages received by members of the parliament. MS

HUNGARIAN HIGH OFFICIALS PRESS FOR EU EXPANSION IN PARIS

Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi launched a diplomatic offensive in Paris on 5 October, arguing that the EU expansion must begin "with the small but stable group of most-prepared candidate countries, which includes Hungary." Regarding the EU's December summit in Nice, Martonyi said Hungary expects "a clear signal" on the future pace of negotiations. Martonyi and French Minister for European Affairs Pierre Moscovici agreed that the case of Romany families from Zamoly seeking political asylum in Strasbourg must not be confused with the overall situation of Roma in Hungary. MSZ




KOSTUNICA GREETS CITIZENS AS YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT...

Crowds of some 500,000 people amassed in Belgrade on 5 October to end the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (see "End Note" below). In the evening, opposition presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica addressed the crowd from the balcony of the parliament building and hailed what he called "liberated Serbia." "Serbia is running a victory lap at this moment and along that track there is no Slobodan Milosevic. Serbia hit the road of democracy and where there is democracy there is no place for Slobodan Milosevic," he added. Kostunica stressed that he is proud to be a Serb and a member of the Orthodox Church. PM

...OUTLINES PLANS AND VISION AT HOME...

In the evening of 5 October, Kostunica said in an interview on state-run television that "we don't need violence to communicate. I have a vision of a country without inner tensions... I guarantee that we will live in a normal state where there will be no revenge and there will be a normal dialogue between people of different opinions." He noted that he plans to name a Montenegrin as prime minister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2000). PM

...AND ABROAD

Turning to foreign affairs, Kostunica on 5 October hailed what said were the plans "of the EU" to lift sanctions against Serbia as early as 9 October. He referred to "the friendly peoples of Europe, the Greeks, the French, the Norwegians." He ruled out any cooperation with the Hague- based war crimes tribunal, which he called "an instrument for maintaining American influence and a NATO presence in the Balkans." Kostunica nonetheless added that he wants his country to be "open to the international community. Our life day after day, hour after hour, was too exciting and people now want some peace. That's what I felt in the campaign, and saw in the eyes" of people he has met around the country. PM

YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENT SESSION FOR PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION

The parliament is slated to meet in the afternoon of 6 October to inaugurate Kostunica as Yugoslav president, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. It is expected that Montenegrin deputies will attend. PM

NEW YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES SET UP 'CRISIS COMMITTEE'

The leaders of the democratic opposition have established a committee to deal with pressing issues affecting "public order and peace," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 6 October. The committee includes departments to deal with the army, police, economy, and supply, as well as other, unspecified "vital" matters. Virtually all of the Milosevic- controlled media have deserted him and issued statements pledging to report the news "objectively." The headline of the formerly pro-Milosevic daily "Politika" reads: "Dr. Vojislav Kostunica, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Addresses The Nation. Serbia Is On The Road To Democracy." PM

LAST HURRAH OF MILOSEVIC'S YUGOSLAV ARMY?

Top military officials discussed the changing political and security situation well into the night of 5-6 October in Belgrade. The generals did not issue any official statement afterward. Tanjug news agency reported, however, that unnamed "army sources" told it that the army will not use violence if it is not attacked. Observers note that the army consists primarily of conscripts, whom the former regime cannot rely on. Most of the top generals are political appointees of Milosevic and are likely to be replaced very soon. PM

SOME SERBS STILL FEAR MILOSEVIC

Several hundreds of thousands of people remained in Belgrade's streets and squares throughout the night of 5-6 October at the request of opposition leaders, who said that they fear that Milosevic might try to retake control of the capital, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Zoran Djindjic, who is campaign manager of the united opposition, told an RFE/RL correspondent that he does not rule out the possibility that Milosevic might try to launch a "counter-coup." Djindjic stressed, however, that this possibility is becoming increasingly unlikely because most of Milosevic's supporters have deserted him. Djindjic suggested that Milosevic is hiding with his hard-core loyalists in the Bor region of Serbia. PM

SOME FOREIGN FRIENDS DESERT EX-YUGOSLAV LEADER

Cypriot authorities have ordered that Milosevic be arrested if he flees to Cyprus, Reuters reported from Nicosia on 6 October. Spyros Stavrinakis of the Central Bank of Cyprus added: "We have given instructions to all banks to closely monitor all transactions which are directly or indirectly connected with Yugoslav entities." Cyprus is well known as a haven for Yugoslav bank deposits and companies. In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that "Greece will not welcome persons seeking political asylum. Greece does not offer its territory, its airports for visits by elements in Mr. Milosevic's government." An unnamed "senior government official" was even more blunt: "If [Milosevic] arrives in Greece, he will be arrested and handed over [to the Hague- based tribunal] for trial." PM

PRAISE FOR NEW YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT FROM FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS...

Rival Bosnian Serb leaders Zivko Radisic and Milorad Dodik both said in Banja Luka on 5 October that the change of government in Belgrade will be good for democracy and the Republika Srpska, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Croatian President Stipe Mesic said in Zagreb, however, that Serbia "needs a catharsis" of its political emotions and to prove to its neighbors that it does not covet their territory, the BBC reported. Mesic stressed that he hopes that Kostunica will be the leader of a "European Serbia" that will pursue the same sort of forward-looking policies as its neighbors. PM

...AND FROM WESTERN LEADERS

Speaking in Washington on 5 October, U.S. President Bill Clinton said that the "United States stands with people everywhere who are fighting for their freedom. We believe in democracy. I have said before, the opposition candidate, who according to all unbiased reports clearly won the election, obviously also has strong differences with us. This is not a question of whether he agrees with us. All we want for the Serbian people is what we want for people everywhere: the right to freely choose their own leaders... It's been a hard-core dictatorship... I think the people are trying to get their country back," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair said that "the prize, not just for the Serbian people, but for the rest of Europe, is the prospect of Serbia being welcomed into the Europe of nations," AP reported. Similar messages of support for the new Belgrade authorities came from Paris and Berlin. PM

KOUCHNER RAISES KOSOVA ISSUES WITH NEW YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES

Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN's civilian administration and whose replacement Kostunica has demanded, said in Prishtina on 5 October that he is in contact with the former opposition, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 October 2000). "I intend to start a meaningful dialogue with the new government in Belgrade to begin work on resolving crucial issues facing Kosovo, first of all that of detainees in Serbia and the thousands of missing people," he stressed. He called the changes in Belgrade the "realization of a dream" but argued that "the attention of the international community must not be diverted from the tasks at hand here in Kosovo." Asked whether he thinks the new government can help improve relations between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians, Kouchner replied: "It's difficult to expect a worse relationship" than the one that currently exists between the two peoples. PM

ROMANIA REACTS TO YUGOSLAV EVENTS

President Emil Constantinescu said on 5 October that Romania is "ready to resume dialogue and cooperation with Yugoslavia and to back Serbia's reconstruction as a result of the triumph of the Serbian people's democratic choice," Romanian Radio reported on 6 October. Constantinescu, who is paying a visit to Italy, discussed the situation in Yugoslavia with his Italian counterpart, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. He is also due to meet with Pope John Paul II on 6 October. The same day, presidential counselor General Constantin Degeratu and Defense Ministry spokeswoman Cristina Dumitrescu both denied an AFP report that Romania has agreed to grant Yugoslav military airplanes access to its airspace. Degeratu said that Romania has taken "all necessary measures" to prevent "any threat to its national security as a result of the special situation in Yugoslavia." MS

FORMER ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO SEEK THAT OFFICE AGAIN

Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) chairman Ion Iliescu on 5 October officially launched his bid to regain the country's presidency, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. In his speech, Iliescu insisted on the need to return to "Romanian values," mentioned the Church and the army as "pillars" representing such values, and called for Romania's "dignified" integration into NATO and the EU. He promised to raise living standards, boost investments, eliminate corruption, reform the tax system, and support medium-sized enterprises. One day earlier, Iliescu had announced that Adrian Paunescu, a former Ceausescu court poet who earlier was deputy leader of the Socialist Labor Party, has joined the PDSR and may run for a seat in the parliament on its lists. MS

MOLDOVA 'SURPRISED' AT ROMANIA'S AGREEMENT TO GRANT CITIZENSHIP TO ILASCU

Moldova on 5 October said it is "surprised" by the recent decision of the Romanian authorities to grant citizenship to Moldovan deputy Ilie Ilascu, who has been imprisoned by the Tiraspol authorities since 1992 on charges of "terrorism." Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea said Moldova was not informed about the decision in advance and that the parliament must now examine whether the move violates legislation barring foreigners from becoming members of the parliament, Reuters reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PREMIER IN U.S.

Dumitru Braghis, currently on a visit to the U.S., said after talks with government officials on 5 Octobers that Washington is ready to extend help to "socially vulnerable" sectors of Moldova's population. He said he cannot provide an exact figure but believes approximately $4 million will be granted to partly cover the cost of electricity, gas, and heating supplies to the needy. Braghis also said that IMF officials had "positively reacted" to Moldova's request to restructure the country's debt. He said he will meet again with IMF and World Bank officials to work out details of a proposal that would then be submitted to the parliament for approval, Infotag reported. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS BORDERS SEALED TO YUGOSLAV WAR CRIMINALS

President Petar Stoyanov, responding to the events in Belgrade earlier on 5 October, has ordered chiefs of the army, police, and border guards to take special measures to prevent suspected war criminals from fleeing across the border from Yugoslavia, AP reported. The agency, citing Bulgarian television, said the government is determined to prevent "any attempt by people who are indicted by The Hague [war crimes tribunal] from slipping into Bulgaria." MS




SERBIA'S SWIFT REVOLUTION


By Patrick Moore

People power has triumphed in Belgrade. Opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica has declared himself Yugoslav president before cheering crowds, and Serbia's new leaders are turning their attention to the business of governing.

Some half a million people amassed in Belgrade on 5 October to end the 13-year rule of Slobodan Milosevic. Tens of thousands of Serbs arrived in the capital from the provinces, where many citizens had begun to lose their fear of the regime and its police in recent days. Perhaps the decisive moment came on 4 October, when the miners at Kolubara and thousands of their local supporters refused to yield to police intimidation and prompted the police to withdraw.

The protesters in Belgrade and elsewhere in Serbia demanded that Milosevic recognize Kostunica's victory in the 24 September elections and step down. The Constitutional Court's 5 October decision to annul the election provided the spark that set off the crowds' anger, which in turn saw the revolt through to its successful conclusion.

The fact that the demonstrators brought down the regime in less than a day shows how bankrupt Milosevic's rule had become. In any event, the 24 September ballot cost him whatever legitimacy he once had. He has now become politically irrelevant and without any serious source of support. In that respect, it does not matter whether he has fled the country or is in hiding.

This is because what were once his main sources of backing have gone over to the opposition, been taken over by the opposition, or chosen to remain silent. The state-run media have switched sides, as have many of the police. Munich's "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" shows a photo of a riot policeman in full gear--sporting an opposition anti-Milosevic "He's finished!" sticker on his shield. The largely conscript army, for its part, remains in its barracks.

There are two immediate reasons why this protest succeeded whereas numerous Belgrade demonstrations in recent years had failed. First was the arrival of a critical mass of citizens from the provinces. Those citizens were angry at being cheated out of their vote and intended to put an end to the regime then and there. The people from outside Belgrade gave the democratic movement a broad base that went beyond Belgrade's intellectuals and politicians. Illustrative of this was the fact that the determined crowd apparently ignored the pleas by newly elected Mayor Milan Protic--a U.S.-educated expert on Balkan history--for non-violence.

The second reason for the revolution's success was that the army and police did not intervene in any serious fashion. Police were present and used tear gas on more than one occasion. But they soon withdrew or joined the protesters. The police and army may have been under orders not to inflame an already tense situation. But it appears that, in any event, they realized that Milosevic was finished--and that Kostunica would soon be their new boss.

Now that the Serbian people have retaken control of their country, its future is entirely in their hands. The government's work must soon begin in earnest.

It has a host of tasks ahead of it in both the domestic and external fields. Its first job at home will be to preserve the unity that saw it to victory on 24 September and 5 October. If the former opposition reverts to its former in- fighting, then it will soon prove itself unequal to its tasks. That may give a political opening to forces that are now marginalized, such as the backers of Milosevic, the Radicals' Vojislav Seselj, or the Serbian Renewal Movement's Vuk Draskovic.

The new government's second domestic priority will be to carry out its election program, the Contract with Serbia. Some tasks will prove fairly quick or easy, such as depoliticizing the media, military, police, and judiciary. The real difficulty will be implementing deeper political and economic reforms. These will involve taking on solidly entrenched political and economic structures that often date from pre-Milosevic times and frequently have links to organized crime.

The third internal issue will be renegotiating the constitutional relationship between Serbia and Montenegro. Both republics now have democratic governments, but the relations between them are frosty. It will take much effort and tact on both sides to reconstruct a mutually beneficial relationship.

The most important set of external issues involves the other former Yugoslav republics, as well as Kosova. Kostunica will be hard pressed to square the circle between his desire to keep Kosova a part of Serbia with the determination of the Kosovars to become independent.

As to relations with the other former republics, the new government will need to address Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Macedonian demands for a fair division of the former Yugoslavia's assets and properties. Kostunica, in particular, will have to deal with suspicious leaderships in Zagreb and Sarajevo that regard him as a die-hard nationalist and remember his opposition to the 1995 Dayton agreement. And if the new Belgrade government wants good relations with the former Yugoslav republics and with the international community, it will sooner or later have to address the question of cooperating with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal.

The international community seems eager to welcome a democratic Serbia back to its ranks with open arms. The new government will need to take advantage of this abundance of good will and show quickly that Serbia has indeed entered a new era.

In short, the Serbian revolution has triumphed. Its leaders' work has only just begun.


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