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Newsline - May 15, 2001




RUBLE FALLS TO NEW LOW AGAINST DOLLAR...

The official ruble exchange rate fell on 14 May to 29.028 to the U.S. dollar, the first time it has closed below 29 to one and the lowest rate since redenomination in January 1998, Interfax-AFI reported. PG

...BUT PUTIN UPBEAT ON ECONOMY...

President Vladimir Putin told the Russian cabinet on 14 May that the economy is still growing but that the government needs to work more with entrepreneurs to ensure that it will continue to do so, Interfax reported. The same day, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov pledged to improve the investment climate in the country and to treat foreign and domestic investors equally, Russian agencies said. But an analysis in "Kommersant-Dengi," No. 17-18, was more negative, asking: "Will the Russian government be able to emerge from the recession?" And another analysis in "Vek," No. 18, said that the prospects for further radical economic reforms are thus not good. PG

...AS KASYANOV SAYS INFLATION WILL FALL

Prime Minister Kasyanov said that inflation will fall and that the kind of inflation Russia is experiencing now is qualitatively different than that which it experienced in 1998, Interfax reported. But Arkadii Dvorkovich, the deputy economic development and trade minister, said that there is a danger that inflation could get out of hand unless the government manages the situation well. PG

CABINET CHANGES TO TAKE PLACE SOON

Prime Minister Kasyanov said on 14 May that changes in the structure and personnel of his cabinet will take place in the second half of May, Russian agencies reported. He said these "fine-tuning" changes, which reflect his judgment about the cabinet's work over the past year and close consultations with President Putin, are intended to "improve the work of the Council of Ministers." PG

ONLY ONE RUSSIAN FAMILY IN SIX BETTER OFF NOW THAN IN 1991

According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by "Ekonomika i zhizn," No. 18, only one Russian family in six feels itself to be materially better off now than it was in 1991. Meanwhile, on 14 May, Anvar Shamuzafarov, the head of Gosstroi, said that the government will reduce subsidies to only 15 percent of housing costs by 2004 but that it has already introduced programs to help the poorest segments of the population, Interfax reported. PG

OMBUDSMAN SAYS RUSSIA 'NOT READY' FOR HUMAN RIGHTS RESPONSIBILITIES

Oleg Mironov, the presidential representative on human rights, said on 14 May that Russia is still not yet ready to "accept the idea of human rights and approach international European standards in this area," Interfax reported. He said that largely as a result of the country's economic problems, Russia has not fulfilled all the obligations it accepted when it joined the Council of Europe. PG

LESIN SAYS NTV TO BE INDEPENDENT OF STATE...

In an interview published in "Izvestiya-Media" on 14 May, Media Minister Mikhail Lesin said that the state will not try to influence the new owners of NTV. He also said that there are threats to press freedom in Russia, that the government needs its own media outlets, and that many papers may have to consolidate or close later this year, giving rise to a crisis in the print media. PG

...NTV PROMISES TO BE MORE PROFESSIONAL...

The NTV press service on 14 May said that the station will be more professional and plans to put on a series of new shows this fall, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Boris Jordan, the news general director of the station, said that he will work to make the station more profitable and attractive for investors and pledged that he will resign if he is given any orders from the state, "The Washington Post" reported on 14 May. PG

...AND KISELEV TAKES CHARGE AT TV-6

Yevgenii Kiselev was confirmed as the general director of TV-6 on 14 May by a stockholders meeting, Russian agencies reported. Several managers of the station resigned, and several shareholders, including LUKoil-Garant announced that they plan to sue the station over the shift in management, Interfax reported. PG

DUMA AGREES TO EXTEND SESSION INTO JULY

Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said on 14 May that the lower house of the parliament will meet until 5 July, Russian agencies reported. His commitment came after Prime Minister Kasyanov asked the lawmakers to remain in session until 12 July to deal with a heavy workload. PG

FEDERATION COUNCIL MEMBERS REJECT ZHIRINOVSKY'S CALLS FOR ITS ABOLITION

Members of the upper house of the Russian parliament on 14 May rejected a call over the weekend by Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky for the abolition of the chamber, Interfax reported. Senator Mikhail Odintsov said that "in the conditions of Russia, with its territory and multinational population there must be a bicameral legislature." Pskov Oblast's representative, Mikhail Margelov, said that the chamber will exist unless the constitution is changed. He added that Zhirinovsky would have the power to destroy the upper chamber "only when he has washed his boots in the waters of the Indian Ocean." And Sakhalin Oblast's representative, Valerii Goreglyad, said that a federal state requires a bicameral legislature. PG

STROEV BACKS PAY BOOST FOR MILITARY...

Yegor Stroev, the speaker of the Federation Council, told Interfax on 13 May that he supports raising military pay and benefits and will call on his chamber to develop a complex program of social guarantees for soldiers and sailors of all ranks. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kasyanov signed a decree requiring the Defense Ministry to recover the costs of training foreign military specialists in Russia, the news agency said. PG

...AS DEFENSE MINISTRY FIGHTS SUICIDES, STRESS

The Defense Ministry is developing a special set of measures to combat suicides and to reduce stress among soldiers and their families, Interfax reported on 14 May. Among the measures planned are the holding of special two-week seminars for retraining military psychologists, the news service said. PG

CONSTITUTIONAL ACT OF RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION STATE TO BE ADOPTED AFTER BELARUS VOTE

Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev told Interfax on 14 May that the constitutional act of the Russia-Belarus Union State will be adopted after the presidential elections in Belarus. A draft has been prepared, and its adoption is required to make the actions of the parliamentary assembly and government of the union fully competent, he said. PG

ROGOZIN SAYS MOSCOW MAY PROPOSE MOVING UN HQ

Dmitrii Rogozin, the chairman of the Duma International Relations Committee, told Interfax on 14 May that Moscow may propose moving the headquarters of the United Nations from New York to St. Petersburg because of America's failure to pay its dues. "If the position of the Americans does not change and if as a result the international civil servants working in New York feel ever more uncomfortable, I think we will raise the question of moving the central UN headquarters to the 'Venice of the North,' St. Petersburg," Rogozin said. PG

U.S. IDEAS ON NMD DESCRIBED AS 'LAUGHABLE'

Marshal Igor Sergeev told RIA-Novosti on 14 May that American ideas about missile defense are "laughable" but warned that Washington almost certainly will ignore Russia's views on the matter and go ahead. He said that Russian negotiators had not received any response last week from visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz to whom they proposed the creation of a joint group "to talk about missile threats in terms of science, not politics." Also on 14 May, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he will discuss the issues of missile defense when Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov visits Washington on 18 May, dpa reported. PG

MOSCOW CRITICIZES LATVIA ON KONONOV CASE

Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said that the actions of the Latvian authorities against Vasilii Kononov represent "a new challenge to all who respect the achievement of those who struggled with Nazism," Interfax reported. Yakovenko said that the charges of military crimes against the 78-year-old "partisan anti-fascist" are without foundation. PG

MILOSEVIC DEFENSE GROUP FORMED IN MOSCOW

A group of 24 prominent Russians, including members of both houses of the Federal Assembly, have formed a committee to defend former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is now "a political prisoner," in the words of the group, Interfax reported on 14 May. PG

SHARANSKY SAYS PUTIN RECOGNIZES DUAL RUSSIAN-ISRAELI CITIZENSHIP

Visiting Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and former Soviet-era dissident Natan Sharansky said on the "Ekho Moskvy" radio station on 13 May that President Putin has told him that "Russia recognizes dual citizenship just in the same way as Israel." PG

PARDON COMMISSION READY TO HEAR FROM TOBIN

The presidential pardon commission said it is prepared to consider a request for a pardon from American exchange student John Tobin, who was convicted of drug possession and sentenced to 37 months in prison, Interfax reported on 13 May. Tobin has not yet made any such request. PG

MOSCOW DENIES ISLANDS COMPROMISE WITH JAPAN

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yakovenko on 14 May denied Japanese claims that Russian President Putin confidentially promised former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori at their March meeting that he is willing to return to Japan two of the four disputed Kurile Islands, Interfax reported. Yakovenko indicated that in addition Moscow is upset that Mori released information about confidential talks. VY

PUTIN, VENEZUELA LEADER AGREE TO KEEP OIL PRICES HIGH

President Putin said after his meeting with visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that the two have agreed on the most important issue, the need to keep oil prices high, Russian and Western agencies reported on 14 May. The two also agreed to create a bilateral commission to coordinate prices in the future. Chavez said that he hopes the combined efforts of OPEC and Russia will prevent any decline in prices, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. VY

SHOIGU BRINGS ASSISTANCE TO MONGOLIA

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu brought with him to Ulan Bator a large supply of humanitarian assistance for a country that has been suffering from severe drought and cold, Interfax reported on 14 May. His Mongolian hosts requested that Russia help them prepare emergency service workers, the news agency said. PG

PROSECUTORS ALONG RUSSIA-CHINA BORDER TO COOPERATE

On 14 May, Russian border guards killed a man attempting to cross the Russian-Chinese frontier illegally, while prosecutors from the border regions of Russia and China signed a cooperation accord in Vladivostok, Interfax-Eurasia reported. PG

FIRE HIGHLIGHTS SPY SATELLITE GAP

An 11 May fire at the Kaluga ground control facility that interrupted Russia's links with four "Oko" spy satellites highlighted the gaps in Russia's early warning system even though officials were able to restore the uplinks within 24 hours, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 14 May. Without these four satellites, Russia cannot effectively monitor a possible U.S. launch and thus is in a weaker position to negotiate on NMD issues. VY

NO ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING SERVICE IN NEAR FUTURE

Mikhail Fradkov, the director of the Federal Tax Police, said on 14 May that he is in no hurry to create a special financial agency to combat money laundering, Interfax reported. Instead, he suggested that he plans to revamp existing analytic units to help other law-enforcement agencies deal with the problem. Fradkov's approach marks a sharp departure from that of his predecessor, Vyacheslav Soltaganov, who actively sought to create a special financial intelligence unit to fight money laundering. VY

NO PROGRESS IN CHECHNYA UNDER FSB

According to an article in "Vek," No. 18, Moscow has not succeeded in making any significant progress in reducing the scale of Chechen attacks against the Russian authorities or in winning over the Chechen people to Moscow's side since the Federal Security Service was put in charge of the operation at the start of 2001. Morale in the Russian forces has if anything fallen, the journal said, but "to be fair, it should be noted that only the naive could have expected a miracle [in Chechnya], and only careerists could have promised it." Meanwhile, the Moscow Helsinki Group appealed to President Putin to end the war lest the continuation of the conflict lead "to the total extermination of the civilian population in Chechnya," AFP reported on 14 May. PG

KASYANOV SAYS 'KURSK' TO BE RAISED THIS YEAR

Prime Minister Kasyanov said on 14 May that the operation to lift the "Kursk" submarine will begin in July and end in September this year, ITAR-TASS reported, but he said he does not rule out a delay if Western partners do not come forward quickly. Also on 14 May, one of those partners, the Dutch firm Smit Tak, said that it does not understand why Russian officials said two days earlier that the "Kursk" will be raised this year, Interfax-North-West reported. PG

SECRET SERVICES TRY TO IMPRESS KREMLIN WITH VICTORIES OVER IMAGINARY CONSPIRACIES

According to an article in "Versia," No. 16, Russia's secret services are trying to impress the Kremlin by uncovering left-wing conspiracies, which they said "have no basis in reality." PG

RUSSIAN ENERGY GRID SEEN AT RISK OF FAILURE

Experts from the international consulting firm Arthur Anderson said in Moscow on 14 May that as a result of the lack of investments in Russia's electric power grid in recent years, the grid could fail large groups of citizens by the winter of 2002-3 unless the management of the grid improves or new production facilities come on line, Interfax reported. PG

KURSK AES DIRECTOR ATTACKED

Yurii Slepokoni, director of the Kursk atomic energy station, was shot and wounded on 13 May, Interfax reported the following day. An investigation has been launched into the shooting. PG

4,000 TONS OF NUCLEAR WASTE COULD BE KEPT IN KRASNOYARSK

Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said on 14 May that Russia has the ability to store 4,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Interfax reported. He said that his ministry needs modifications in existing legislation to allow it to import such spent fuel. PG

ALL-RUSSIAN UNION OF YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS SET UP

A constituent congress of the Union of Youth Organizations of the Russian Federation took place in Moscow on 13 May, Interfax reported. The head of the organizing committee, Duma deputy (KPRF) Iosif Kobzon, said that the group will unite more than 125 young organizations from some 40 regions of the country. Kobzon added that President Putin supports this effort. PG

MOSCOW POLICE WORK TO CLEAN DIRTY CARS

As part of a month-long campaign, the Moscow city police have identified some 50,000 dirty or damaged cars and directed their owners to clean or repair them, Interfax-Moscow reported on 13 May. PG

DESIGNERS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, AIRCRAFT DIE

Sergei Afanasev, who oversaw the construction of Soviet nuclear weapons after World War II, died on 13 May at the age of 83, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Aleksei Tupolev, the son of the great Soviet aircraft designer, and himself the designer of the Tu-160, has also passed away, Russian agencies reported. President Putin on 13 May extended his sympathies to Tupolev's family, Interfax reported. PG

RUSSIANS, READING LESS, DEPEND MORE ON TELEVISION

Thirty percent of Russians do not read books, newspapers, or magazines, and more than 10 million Russians are now illiterate, the Russian Book Union told "Rossiya," No. 17. But Oleg Dobrodeev, the head of the All-Russia State Teleradio Company VGTRK, said that television is perfectly suited to provide them with all their needs, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 14 May. PG

WORKERS BLOCK BRIDGE IN KRASNOYARSK OVER WAGE ARREARS

Some 200 workers from the Sivinit factory in Krasnoyarsk constructed a blockade across a city bridge on 14 May to protest a 6-month backlog of unpaid wages, Russian agencies reported. According to Interfax-Eurasia, the blockade of one of the city's major thoroughfares lasted for some two hours and was only stopped when representatives from Krasnoyarsk Krai's administration arrived to discuss the problem. Sivinit, according to ITAR-TASS, is one of Russia's largest producers of synthetic cord for tire factories as well filaments for light-bulb producers. In 1999 the factory was declared bankrupt and it has subsequently operated under outside management. The head of the factory's trade union committee, Galina Ivanova, told the agency that the wage debt has reached some 38 million rubles ($1.3 million) in part because the products are being sold at less than cost. She added that, in her opinion, the only way out of the present crisis is to sell the factory to a new owner. JAC

PARTIES GET TOGETHER IN ONE REGION

The local branches in Nizhnii Novgorod of Unity, Fatherland-All Russia, and the Union of Rightist Forces have announced their plans to created an interparty coalition, REN-TV reported on 12 May. There is also discussion of the local Agrarian party joining the three-party group. JAC

FORMER NAZDRATENKO ALLY LEADS IN POLLS

According to a poll conducted among 1200 voters in 14 cities in Primorskii Krai by the Center for Political Research "Region," former acting Governor Valentin Dubinin is leading in the race to become governor of that region, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 14 May. Former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov, who had been leading, is now in second place with the support of 13.1 percent of those polled compared to Dubinin's 19.5 percent. First deputy presidential envoy to the Far Eastern federal district Gennadii Apanasenko, who some sources believe is the Kremlin's top choice, is now in fourth place with 9.4 percent. Of those polled, some 13.8 percent said that they will vote against all candidates, while 8 percent said they have not yet made up their mind about the 27 May election. JAC

RUSSIANS ACCUSED OF FAILING TO INVESTIGATE MASS KILLING IN CHECHNYA

Human Rights Watch released on 15 May a 24-page report accusing the Russian authorities of failing to investigate adequately the deaths of 51 persons whose bodies were found in a mass grave on the outskirts of Grozny in February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 February and 1 March 2001). Of 19 victims identified by relatives, 16 had last been seen alive when Russian troops took them into custody. The remaining bodies were reburied before an autopsy could be performed to determine the cause of death. LF

RUSSIAN MILITARY COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA TO TAKE VACATION

Colonel General Valerii Baranov, whose promotion was announced by "Izvestiya" on 4 May, has handed over command of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya to Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, commander of the North Caucasus Military District, while he takes a total of 45 days vacation, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 May. In August 1996, Chechen forces launched a successful bid to retake Grozny shortly after the Russian troop commander similarly departed on an extended vacation. LF

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST STABBED TO DEATH IN NORTH CAUCASUS

Father Igor was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant in a new church in Tyrnyauz, Kabardino-Balkaria, after the morning service on 13 May, Glasnost-North Caucasus reported the following day. LF




GUNMEN'S LEADER DESCRIBES ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS

At his ongoing trial in Yerevan, Nairi Hunanian described on 14 May how he and four other gunmen shot down eight senior politicians in the Armenian parliament on 27 October 1999, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Part of Hunanian's testimony was at odds with the televised report of those shootings. Hunanian said in court that he and his accomplices had planned to take hostage all parliament deputies present and then demand the resignation of Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian, and that the killings were spontaneous and unpremeditated. But, Hunanian continued, his brother Karen lost his nerve, stormed into the parliament chamber and opened fire at Sargsian, after which Nairi Hunanian shot parliament speaker Karen Demirchian. Hunanian said he then tried to contact various politicians to summon them to the parliament building for negotiations. He surrendered the following morning after negotiations with President Robert Kocharian (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 1999). LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION POLITICIANS CONDEMN POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST DEMONSTRATORS

The Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (ADP) released on 14 May a list of 72 people injured on 12 May when police forcibly intervened to prevent an unsanctioned rally that the party convened in Baku, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 2001). Five leading ADP members and Liberal Party of Azerbaijan Deputy Chairman Elhan Abbasov were detained for five days, and a further five leading members of the ADP and other opposition parties were fined up to 110,000 manats ($20). ADP General Secretary Sardar Djalaloglu said on 14 May that the police intervention constituted a violation of human rights, and that legal action should be brought against President Heidar Aliyev for his failure to guarantee those rights. The Liberal Party issued a statement condemning the violence and demanding the immediate release of Abbasov. LF

MORE VIOLENCE AGAINST RELIGIOUS MINORITY IN GEORGIA

Unknown persons set fire early on 12 May to a home in the Samgori district of Tbilisi used by Jehovah's Witnesses as a place of worship, AP and Interfax reported. AP quoted the Jehovah's Witnesses as blaming the incident on unfrocked Georgian Orthodox priest Basil Mkalavishvili, who with his followers has resorted to physical violence against Jehovah's Witnesses in Georgia on numerous previous occasions. But Father Basil denied any involvement in the blaze and threatened to sue the Jehovah's Witnesses for slander, Caucasus Press reported on 14 May. LF

FOUR KILLED IN SHOOT-OUT IN SOUTH OSSETIA

Two men identified by police as Chechen gunmen, one Ossetian policeman, and a hostage were killed during the night of 13-14 May in a shoot-out in Tskhinvali, capital of Georgia's breakaway unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, Caucasus Press and Russian agencies reported. Police flagged down the car and opened fire when the gunmen refused to show any identification. Two of the gunmen escaped and took a local resident hostage in his home; they and the hostage were killed when police surrounded and opened fire on the house. LF

STALIN'S SAMOVAR RECOVERED IN GEORGIA

Police discovered Joseph Stalin's copper samovar in the basement of a house in his hometown of Gori on 14 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The samovar had been stolen from the Stalin museum in Gori four days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 2001). LF

KYRGYZSTAN APPEALS FOR HELP IN CLEARING MINES ON BORDER WITH UZBEKISTAN

Parliament deputies and NGO representatives issued an appeal on 14 May to the international community for assistance in minimizing the threat posed by land mines planted by Uzbekistan along its borders and on contiguous territory in Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-TASS reported. The appeal said Uzbekistan has not marked those minefields to warn civilians to avoid them, nor has its made available to Bishkek maps showing where the mines are laid. The appeal says that approach violates a UN convention. Also on 14 May, a spokesman for Kyrgyzstan's Defense Ministry denied Russian media reports earlier this month that the civilian population of south Kyrgyzstan's Batken Oblast is being evacuated in anticipation of renewed incursions by Islamic radicals, ITAR-TASS reported. The German government is to give Kyrgyzstan's armed forces logistical and medical equipment worth 250,000 German marks ($112,000) to help repulse any such incursion, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 May. That equipment will be used by Kyrgyz troops in Batken. LF

TWO CANDIDATES BARRED FROM CONTESTING BY-ELECTIONS IN TAJIKISTAN

Only three candidates have been registered for the 27 May by-elections for three vacant seats in the Tajik parliament, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 15 May. They are former Minister of Justice Shavkat Ismoilov of the pro-presidential People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan, presidential administration official Fayzullo Amiraliev, and businessman Karim Qodirov. Opposition Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) candidate Sabzali Sharipov was barred from running due to unspecified irregularities in the list of signatures collected in his support. The IRPT recently accused the Tajik authorities of persecuting and arresting its supporters under the guise of a crackdown on the banned radical Islamist Hizb-ut-Tahrir party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 2001). LF

TAJIKISTAN HOPES FOR $20 MILLION FROM DONORS CONFERENCE

Ibrohim Usmonov, the chairman of the Tajik parliament's Committee on International Affairs, told Asia Plus-Blitz on 15 May that the Tajik government hopes that the UN-sponsored donors conference in Tokyo later this month will raise $20-25 million to fund reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed during the 1992-1997 Tajik civil war. Ivo Petrov, the UN secretary-general's envoy to Tajikistan, told journalists in Dushanbe on 2 May after talks with President Imomali Rakhmonov that the UN will offer donor states a choice of 12-15 projects to be funded. He said that while touring European capitals to solicit support for the donors conference he consistently pointed out that reconstruction in Tajikistan is an important component of preserving security and stability in Central Asia. LF




WAR OF FLAGS MARKS BELARUS'S NATIONAL SYMBOLS DAY

The opposition Youth Front marked Belarus's Day of National Symbols by hanging out white-red-white flags in two dozen Belarusian cities this past weekend, Belapan reported on 14 May. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka decreed the holiday following the 14 May 1995 referendum that introduced a Soviet-style coat of arms and a red-green flag to replace the national symbols of independent Belarus. According to Youth Front leader Pavel Sevyarynets, the action called "The City Is Ours" involved some 300 Youth Front activists who hoisted some 120 flags. In Vitsebsk, a Soviet-style national flag with a photo of President Lukashenka attached to it was hoisted over a public toilet on the city's central square. "We combine the 'City Is Ours' campaign with spreading newspapers, leaflets, and graffiti. The aim is to show that the city will vote against Lukashenka for an independent and democratic Belarus," Sevyarynets commented. JM

BELARUSIAN TRADE UNIONIST ON HUNGER STRIKE

Alena Zakhozhaya, a Belarusian Free Trade Union (BFTU) activist at the Belshyna state-run tire factory in Babruysk, has been on a hunger strike for 13 days, demanding that the factory management provide the BFTU factory branch she heads with a legal address, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 14 May. A formal address is necessary for legally pursuing the activities of a trade union organization. Zakhozhaya is continuing her protest without leaving her workplace. Independent trade union activist Syarhey Antonchyk on 14 May met with Ivan Bambiza, head of the Belnaftakhim State Concern, to which Babruysk's Belshyna is subordinate. "Bambiza said: 'Let Zakozhnaya obtain the legal address [she needs] by pitching a tent in front of Belshyna.' In short, it was a cynical answer," Antonchyk told RFE/RL. JM

UKRAINIAN INVESTIGATORS KNOW WHO KILLED GONGADZE?

"As far as I am informed, [investigators] have practically traced the assassins [of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze]," the "Ukrayinska pravda" website quoted President Leonid Kuchma as saying on Russia's ORT television channel on 14 May. Kuchma did not elaborate. The same day the Left Center parliamentary group addressed the Prosecutor-General's Office with a long list of unanswered questions regarding the Gongadze case and the eavesdropping on Kuchma's office by former bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko. Left Center noted that eight months after Gongadze's death the public still does not know who killed Gongadze and for what reasons. Meanwhile, Myroslava Gongadze has said the body of her husband can finally be buried, since there are no reasons to distrust the recent findings of U.S. experts who confirmed that the beheaded corpse found near Kyiv last year is that of Heorhiy Gongadze. JM

UKRAINIAN, TURKMEN PRESIDENTS SATISFIED WITH COOPERATION ACCORDS

Ukrainian President Kuchma and his Turkmen counterpart Saparmurat Niyazov expressed satisfaction over nine cooperation accords they signed in Kyiv on 14 May, Interfax reported. Apart from an agreement of Turkmen gas supplies in 2001-2006 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 2001), both sides signed an accord on mutual economic cooperation in 2001-2010, as well as a number of intergovernmental agreements. Kuchma said the signing of the accord on Turkmen gas deliveries to Ukraine in 2001-2006 is a "historic" event. "Everybody perfectly understands what gas means for Ukraine's economy: it means not only economy but also politics, and energy security," Kuchma added. "There is no area that we dropped out of our cooperation," Niyazov commented on the Ukrainian-Turkmen accords he signed with Kuchma. JM

APPOINTMENT OF NEW UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAID TO BE 'VERY COMPLICATED'

Roman Bezsmertnyy, the presidential permanent representative in the parliament, told Interfax on 14 May that the process of nomination of a new prime minister will be "very complicated." According to Bezsmertnyy, there will be several variants for tackling this problem, which will be "contradictory to a significant extent." President Kuchma earlier pledged to propose a candidate for the post of prime minister by the end of May. Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko noted that the parliament can approve a new prime minister no earlier than in June. JM

BALTIC STATES, U.S. SIGN AGREEMENT ABOUT MODERNIZING AIR CONTROL

U.S. Trade and Development Agency Regional Director Ned Cabot and the heads of Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian aviation control agencies signed an agreement in Riga on 14 May calling for developing a plan to introduce in the Baltic states satellite technology standards that meet the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization, BNS reported. Under the agreement the U.S. will contribute $650,000 and send air navigation experts to draft the plan, which is to be developed in 15 months. Cabot said that the plan is the most extensive satellite technology research program in Europe this year. It will start with studies but the actual commissioning of the program could take four or five years and require investments of several tens of millions of dollars. SG

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT CREATES TASK FORCE FOR PROMOTING REPATRIATION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES

Members of the Latvian parliament have established a task force for the promotion of repatriating people to their ethnic homelands, BNS reported on 14 May. The task force consists of seven deputies from the For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (TB/LNNK), People's Party, and Social Democrats, and is headed by TB/LNNK deputy Juris Vidins. Vidins said that the aim of the task force is to urge the country's executive bodies, including the Foreign Ministry, to take a more active stance in solving the problems of repatriation and to increase the funding of the repatriation fund. He expressed regret that no Latvian institution has reacted to Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement that it would be beneficial for Russians to return to Russia, as the country lacks workers and its demographic situation has worsened. At the beginning of the year there were more than 551,000 registered noncitizens in Latvia, most of whom are ethnic Russians. SG

IMF URGES LITHUANIA TO SPEED UP TAX AND PENSION REFORMS

International Monetary Fund (IMF) envoys Patricia Alonso-Gamo and Mark Horton told parliament Chairman Arturas Paulauskas on 14 May that Lithuania should pass necessary legislation on tax, pension, and other economic reforms, ELTA reported, They said that uncertainty about these reforms has a negative impact on the development of business and investments in Lithuania. The IMF officials stated that Lithuania made clear progress during the past 18 months, but that it needs to improve fiscal policy as well as the funding of municipal budgets and administration. The Lithuanian government and the IMF are expected to sign a funding agreement in July that will be in operation until the end of 2002. SG

POLAND'S JARUZELSKI GOES ON TRIAL FOR 1970 KILLINGS

General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland's former Communist leader, went on trial in the Warsaw Provincial Court on 15 May, on charges of ordering the shooting of workers in Polish coastal cities in 1970, AP reported. In 1970, when Jaruzelski was defense minister, riot police and military troops killed 44 shipyard workers who were protesting price hikes. Hundreds of witnesses are expected to testify, and the trial is likely to last at least one year. Jaruzelski could get 25 years if convicted, but the case is widely seen as more of an effort to achieve moral justice than to put the 77-year-old general behind bars. Eight former Communist officials stand trial along with Jaruzelski. JM

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER HOSPITALIZED ON U.S. VISIT

Jan Kavan, 54, was hospitalized in Washington on 14 May, suffering from chest pains, CTK and Reuters reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil later said Kavan's condition is "not serious" and that there was a "99 percent" chance he would leave the hospital on 15 May. Pospisil said that "because of his medical history, such problems must be treated with a great deal of sensitivity" in Kavan's case. He had quadruple bypass heart surgery in December 2000. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, with whom Kavan was scheduled to meet on 14 May, both said they would reschedule the meetings. MS

NATO TO AID MODERNIZING CZECH MILITARY AIRFIELDS

NATO will spend some 5 billion crowns ($131 million) over the next five years to upgrade military air bases in the Czech Republic, CTK and dpa reported on 14 May, citing the daily "Pravo." The daily reports that a high-ranking Czech officer said the country's military airfields must be improved to meet NATO requirements and to be able to handle alliance troop movements in the event of war. At present, the official said, U.S. planes cannot land on Czech military airports because their condition is "unsatisfactory." "Pravo" reported that NATO also wants the Czech Republic to improve highways and bridges to accommodate military logistics. MS

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPOINTS COMMISSIONER FOR ARMY REFORM

The government on 14 May appointed Jaroslav Skopek as governmental commissioner for the preparation of reform in the army and its professionalization, CTK reported, citing Defense Minster Jaroslav Tvrdik. Skopek is to submit a program by 31 July. MS

SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER RESIGNS

Ladislav Pittner resigned on 14 May, saying he was doing so for the sake of preserving the unity of the government coalition, CTK reported. Pittner has been repeatedly criticized by coalition partners, who accuse him of having aroused overoptimistic expectations that those guilty of mismanagement or illegalities under the previous government would be punished. On several occasions, the hasty actions of the ministry against suspects led to their dismissal in court. On handing his resignation to President Rudolf Schuster, Pittner said the courts are "dragging their feet" on lawsuits he initiated. Premier Mikulas Dzurinda said on 4 May, upon dismissing former Deputy Premier Pavol Hamzik, that the move is just "the beginning of a government reshuffle." Observers say that the changes are aimed at improving the cabinet's image ahead of the parliamentary elections, which are due in 18 months. MS

MORE TO COME?

The post left vacant by Pittner is sought by both Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic Christian Union, who nominated Ivan Simko for the position, and by the Christian democrats, who nominated Deputy Chairman Vladimir Palo, CTK reported. Observers remark that this could lead to renewed coalition tension. Meanwhile, the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), the second-strongest formation in the ruling coalition, on 14 May called for a thorough cabinet reshuffle, which, it said, "must affect all coalition members." SDL Chairman Jozef Migas told journalists that the Coalition Council will discuss proposals for changes later this week. Observers said that among ministers targeted by the SDL are Finance Minister Brigita Schmoegnerova (herself a member of the party) and deputy premier in charge of the economy Ivan Miklos, widely regarded as the architect of Slovak reforms. The Migas faction in the SDL opposes the government's austerity measures and though Migas is parliamentary speaker, last year he broke coalition ranks and voted against the government in a no-confidence vote. MS

SLOVAK PREMIER HAS NO COMMENT ON RUSSIAN PROTEST...

Dzurinda refused on 14 May to comment on a protest by the Russian Embassy against a booklet distributed last week to participants at the Bratislava summit of NATO candidate countries, CTK reported. The booklet, issued by the Slovak Society for Foreign Policy and the Center for International Studies, said that although Russian President Putin cannot veto NATO enlargement, Russia is trying to disqualify candidates for membership in the organization by supporting antireform forces, exploiting national and religious disputes, and enlisting the help of organized crime. Dzurinda said that it is "not his task" to "comment on either statements issued by nongovernmental organizations, or by the Russian Embassy." MS

...MEETS LATVIAN PREMIER

Dzurinda conducted talks on 14 May with Latvian Premier Andris Berzins, who attended the Bratislava summit, CTK reported. They discussed bilateral -- particularly economic --relations, and NATO expansion. Berzins told journalists after the meeting that it would not "make sense" for the three Baltic states to be separately invited to join NATO, but that if Lithuania alone is invited to join in 2002, it would be "a disappointment, but not a catastrophe." Dzurinda reiterated the position expressed during the summit that the more countries that are invited to join, the better for both candidates and European security at large. Berzins was also received by Slovak President Rudolf Schuster and Parliamentary Speaker Migas. MS

IMF REPORT PRAISES SLOVAK REFORMS, WARNS OF PITFALLS AHEAD

An IMF report issued on 14 May after a visit of a fund delegation to Slovakia praised the government's efforts to complete the privatization of the economy, but warmed that economic progress might stall unless reforms continue, AP reported. The report predicted that Slovak GDP will grow by more than 3 percent in 2001 due to a revival of domestic demand, but noted that the Slovak economy is vulnerable to a possible global economic slowdown. If global economies underperform, the report said, the Slovak government should allow the crown to depreciate and ease monetary policy. The cabinet should also be ready to restrain spending and push for direct foreign investment to build fixed capital, the report said. The IMF expressed concern about the more than 20 percent unemployment rate and suggested that the government reform social security to make it economically attractive for companies to hire more workers. MS

KOVACS REMAINS IN RACE FOR HUNGARIAN PREMIER

Opposition Socialist Party (MSZP) Chairman Laszlo Kovacs denied media reports on 14 May that he will soon announce his withdrawal from the contest that will establish who the MSZP candidate for premiership will be in the 2002 elections. The MSZP Steering Board will decide on 21 May who the nominees are and the party's 9 June convention will choose the candidate. Kovacs's only remaining rival for the post is former Finance Minister Peter Medgyessy. MSZ




KOSTUNICA TO FACE QUESTIONS ON HAGUE IN BERLIN

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica was to pay a one-day visit to Berlin on 15 May. He will meet with President Johannes Rau, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, and Wolfgang Thierse, the speaker of the lower house of the parliament. His most important talks, however, will be with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who is especially concerned with Belgrade's unwillingness to cooperate with The Hague-based war crimes tribunal, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 May 2001). Montenegro will also be on the agenda. Kostunica said that his visit to Germany is as important as his recent trip to the U.S. He will tell his hosts that he knows that the international protectorate over Kosova will continue for "some time," but believes that his main problem is Montenegro, "Vesti" reported. He stressed that not only President Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia is to blame for the region's problems, but also the international community and the other former Yugoslav republics. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" noted that Kostunica saved his two most difficult trips -- the U.S. and Germany -- for last. PM

EU SETS DATE FOR SERBIAN DONORS CONFERENCE

The EU Commission agreed in Brussels on 14 May to hold a donors conference for Serbia there on 29 June. The Belgrade daily "Danas" wrote that the decision means that Serbia has just over one month to prove to the U.S. and others that it is prepared to cooperate seriously with The Hague, which seeks Milosevic's extradition. PM

NATO TO LET SERBIAN TROOPS INTO TENSE PRESEVO ZONE

NATO ambassadors agreed in Brussels on 14 May to readmit Serbian forces to Sector B of the demilitarized ground safety zone (GSZ) along the Presevo valley's border with Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 2001). It is a center of ethnic Albanian guerrilla activity and the only segment of the GSZ to which the Atlantic alliance has not allowed Serbian forces to return in recent weeks. The ambassadors agreed that KFOR peacekeepers will oversee a "phased and controlled" entry of Serbian forces on 24 May. Ethnic Albanians on both sides of the border have warned of trouble, noting that the national commanders of Serbian forces are the same men who led the ethnic-cleansing campaign in Kosova in 1999. Guerrilla leader Ridvan Cazimi said recently that if NATO yields control to Yugoslav forces, "armed ethnic Albanians will defend themselves and it will be the beginning of a war," Reuters reported. PM

SERBIAN TANKS MOVE ON ETHNIC ALBANIAN VILLAGE

Serbian army and paramilitary police units, backed by tanks, moved on the village of Oraovica on 15 May, AP reported. It marked the fourth day of Belgrade's attempt to retake the rebel-held village in the Presevo valley just outside the GSZ. Reporters saw several destroyed guerrilla bunkers, abandoned weapons, and bloodied uniforms. PM

UN SETS DATE FOR KOSOVA ELECTIONS...

Hans Haekkerup, who heads the UN's civilian administration in Kosova, said in Prishtina on 14 May that general elections will take place on 17 November. He stressed that the vote will give Kosovars a "chance to influence their lives. This means that you, the people now -- for the first time in your history -- [will] be able to decide upon day-to-day affairs in Kosovo," AP reported. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that "the elections to the provisional self-government will mark a significant return of authority to Kosovo's people." He called on "all communities of Kosovo to engage fully in the preparations for the elections, and to make them a success." Numerous Kosovar and foreign leaders have argued that the elections are necessary to bring needed stability and direction to the province (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 1 May 2001). Haekkerup added that he will promulgate rules for the elections himself because Albanian and Serbian representatives could not reach agreement, Reuters reported. PM

...BUT SERBIA BALKS

Kostunica said in Belgrade on 14 May that he "does not commit himself" to taking part in the electoral process in Kosova. One of his foreign policy advisers, Predrag Simic, told the BBC's Serbian Service on 15 May that he is "not sure" what Belgrade's policy will be. He noted that many Serbs fear that the elections are a first step toward independence from Yugoslavia. Haekkerup said in Prishtina, however, that "the question of a final political settlement is in the future." PM

SERBIAN MINERS THREATEN STRIKE

Representatives of the 17,000 coal miners at the Kolubara mine -- Serbia's largest -- negotiated with the authorities on 14 May in a bid to stave off a strike, Reuters reported. The miners, who played an important role in the overthrowing of Milosevic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2000) now say that Serbia's new leaders are as bad as the old ones. Union leader Dragan Vucetic argued that "we all protested against the former authorities who ruled by decrees, and now our authorities, for whom we fought, are doing the same... The talks with representatives of the government and the management are very difficult. If they do not fulfil these demands we will stop [work]." Miners are unhappy with a government decision to freeze wages until productivity rises to the point that pay increases can be justified. PM

MONTENEGRIN LEADER SLAMS DJINDJIC REMARKS

Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Dragisa Burzan said in Podgorica that Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic's recent criticism of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic proves that the Belgrade leadership is united in wanting to turn Montenegro into a mere "Serbian region," "Danas" reported on 15 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 2001). PM

ANNAN HAILS MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT...

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York on 14 May that he "joins the European Union, NATO, and others in expressing his strong support of the current efforts of all the political parties [in Macedonia] to demonstrate their commitment to peace and stability in the country and participate constructively in the new government" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 2001). Annan "considers such a government essential to arriving at a sustainable solution to the very difficult situation facing the country," Reuters reported. PM

...AS DOES RUSSIA

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement in Moscow on 14 May that the formation of a new Macedonian government represents an "important step" for that country, Reuters reported. The statement added: "One of the main tasks before the new government is halting violence. There must be a clear understanding: terrorism and national extremism are evil for all, whatever their source. Russia looks with understanding on any action of the Macedonian leadership, including force, aimed at liquidating the groups of Albanian extremists with the goal of protecting the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity." PM

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT, MACEDONIAN AMBASSADOR HAVE SHARP EXCHANGE

Albanian President Rexhep Meidani said in New York on 14 May that Macedonian authorities have used excessive force in dealing with ethnic Albanian insurgents, AP reported. Macedonian Ambassador to the UN Naste Calovski then asked Meidani: "Who is financing the rebels?" Visibly irked by the tone of the ambassador's remarks, Meidani replied that he is not the person to ask. He stressed that "if an Albanian policeman is killed in Albania, I wouldn't order the army to shell the entire area." He noted that armies have not bombarded entire towns in either Northern Ireland or the Basque country. Meidani also noted that a continued U.S. presence in the Balkans gives the region an example of democracy and a measure of confidence. "It would be a big mistake if there is a decision to decrease the American presence," he added. PM

CROATIA SENTENCES YUGOSLAV ARMY OFFICER

On 14 May, a court in Osijek sentenced Dragoljub Arandjelovic in absentia to 20 years in prison for his role in the bombardment of Ilok and several other Slavonian cities during the 1991 conflict, "Vecernji list" reported. PM

THREE EX-YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS TO COMBAT CRIME

Police and border guard officials from Bosnia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia signed an agreement in Sarajevo to cooperate in fighting illegal immigration and organized crime, "Oslobodjenje" reported on 15 May. Jacques Klein, who heads the UN's mission to Bosnia, was also present. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER TELLS NATO MILITARY REFORM IS UNDERWAY

Adrian Nastase on 14 May told the "19+1" meeting in Brussels that 4,000 officers will be discharged from the army by end 2001, of whom 306 are generals. Nastase said the number of generals is thus going to be reduced by 68 percent. He said those discharged will benefit from social protection programs agreed upon with the World Bank. The premier also pledged that military allocations from the budget in the next years will be at least 2 percent of the GDP. Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, who accompanied Nastase at the meeting at NATO headquarters, said that after the July 1997 Madrid summit Romania was a "front-runner" for NATO membership, but is now in "a shadowy area" together with Bulgaria. He also said the decision on further NATO enlargement will be primarily political but economic performance criteria will also be taken into consideration, Romanian radio reported. MS

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES AGREE TO MUTUALLY SUPPORT MOTIONS

The National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Party agreed on 14 May to mutually support in the parliament each other's "simple motions." Simple motions are resolutions for debates, but are not motions of no-confidence. The PNL intends to submit a motion on the government's economic policies and the Democrats plan one on political interference in judicial matters. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) announced it will not support the PNL motion and is "still examining" that of the Democrats. Gyorgy Tokay, a deputy representing the UDMR, said the PNL cannot expect the backing of the UDMR after having recently called it an "anachronistic party" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 2001). MS

ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER SENTENCED AGAIN

Miron Cozma, a leader of Romanian miners who is serving an 18-year prison term handed down in 1999 for "undermining state power" in September 1991, was sentenced on 14 May to one year in prison for having physically attacked former Valcea County Prefect Nicolae Curcareanu during clashes between police and miners in January 1999, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN ROMA FIND STRANGE PATRON

Deputies representing the xenophobic Greater Romania Party (PRM) on 14 May submitted a draft "Bill on the Emancipation and Integration of the Roma," Mediafax reported. PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor has in the past called for the Roma's isolation and internment in camps. The bill stipulates that a National Agency for Roma Emancipation and Integration be set up and that taxes levied on Roma "who are integrated in the production process" be reduced. It also calls for the "obligatory schooling" of the Romany population and says local authorities must grant those Roma who do not own land "at least 400 square meters" to encourage them to settle down and end migration, Mediafax reported. MS

CLUJ MAYOR WANTS REFERENDUM ON LAW IMPLEMENTATION

Gheorghe Funar, PRM nationalist mayor of Cluj, on 14 May said he wants a referendum to be conducted in the city on whether to implement the provisions of the Local Public Administration Law, which requires among other things that bilingual street signs be placed in localities where minorities represent 20 percent or more of the population. Funar claims that ethnic Hungarians make up "no more than 11 percent" of the population in Cluj, although the 1992 census results indicate that Hungarian ethnics make up nearly 23 percent of the inhabitants, Mediafax reported. Funar also said he will open special offices where Hungarian ethnics will be encouraged to register as such. UDMR leaders in Cluj have recently called on Prefect Vasile Soporan to ensure that the provisions of the recently passed law are implemented by the local authorities. MS

TIRASPOL ACCUSES MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT OF 'DELIBERATE PROVOCATION'

Major General Vladimir Antiufeev, who is in charge of security affairs in the Tiraspol separatist region, told local journalists on 13 May that Vladimir Voronin's attempt to visit the Noul Neamt monastery (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 2001) was a "deliberate provocation" that might "negatively impact the ongoing negotiation process," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Antiufeev said he informed Valeriu Pasat, director of the Moldovan Intelligence and Security Service, on 11 May that in order to visit the monastery Voronin must receive the personal permission of separatist leader Igor Smirnov. Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev said on 14 May that the refusal of the separatists to allow Voronin to visit the monastery has "unmasked their true face" before international organizations and those trying to mediate in the conflict. MS

IMF SUSPENDS CREDITING MOLDOVA

The IMF has decided to suspend crediting Moldova until it gets a "clear view" of the policies of the country's new government, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 May. Hassan al-Atrash, IMF representative in Chisinau, said "the program of the government formed by the Communists includes provisions incompatible with the accords earlier concluded between Moldova and the IMF." He named among these state price controls, measures to support domestic producers, and the restoration of the state monopoly on wine and tobacco production. Al-Atrash said the IMF will wait for "concrete steps" by the government in order to understand what its intentions are. He noted that if the IMF decides to suspend crediting Moldova, the country will be deprived of any foreign funding by the end of 2001. MS




LET US USE THIS CHANCE!


The following is Part I of a three-part abridged version of the speech Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel delivered on 11 May to the Bratislava summit of NATO candidate countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the Czech Republic -- and probably most of the countries of Central, Eastern or Southern Europe that have freed themselves from Communism -- you often hear it said that we belong, or want to belong, to the West; that we share Western values and, indeed, helped to shape them during our long history; that our affiliation to the West was severed by force, partly in a way with the West's tacit consent; and, that the West is therefore duty bound to do everything within its power in order that we soon return into the fold. We do not see this merely as a matter of equity toward our nations, or as a reparation for the West's onetime participation in the division of Europe, but also as a vital interest to the West itself, because any attempt at its permanent division would inevitably have tragic consequences in the future.

What is actually understood by the term "West" in this context?

First, it is a territory on this planet that is fairly clearly delimited in geographical terms and can be described as the Euro-Atlantic or Euro-American region. However, just as it is important to delimit it geographically it is of equal, or in certain respects even greater, importance to define it in terms of its values or its culture. The West has had, in essence, a common political and economic history emanating from the same set of spiritual sources. For many centuries the character of its civilization and its inner ethos equipped it to exert a major influence on all the other regions and to eventually predetermine the shape of the entire planetary civilization of today. In the course of history, it is now known that the West exported into the rest of the world not only many wonderful accomplishments but also values that were often more than questionable -- from the principle of forcible liquidation of other cultures or suppression of other religions up to the cult of incessant economic expansion regardless of its qualitative effects. However, the key factor in the present circumstances -- particularly for us -- is that the West deepens and propagates fundamental political principles such as the rule of law; respect for human liberties, for inalienable rights and for human dignity; a democratic political system; political pluralism; civil society; and, market economy. It is true that these values are now also professed by many other countries; but, such countries belong to other geographical zones of the world and to other continents and therefore -- if only for this purely external reason -- cannot be considered part of the West.

The European post-communist countries truly belong to the West -- geographically, historically, culturally as well as in terms of their values. Thus they have every right to stress that they were torn out of the Western community by force and that their natural place is within that community... Dear friends,

One of the important regional groupings in the world of today is the North Atlantic Alliance [NATO]. We all know that it was established in order to protect the Western world from Soviet expansionism and to contain communism.

The alliance completed this task long ago. The Cold War and the Warsaw Pact receded into history and many people for quite a while have, therefore, been asking the question: What is the purpose of NATO now? Once, while still under communism, I shared with many others -- both dissidents in the Soviet bloc and numerous Western politicians -- the belief that once the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, and the Soviet hegemonic policy broken, NATO would also lose its raison d' etre and should be dissolved as well, to give way to a quest for a new, pan-European security organization that would be built up, so to speak from scratch, as a joint effort of Western democracies and post-communist nations without being encumbered by any Cold War past.

Very soon, however -- as early as in the watershed days in the late 1980s -- I came to understand that something like that would be not only unrealistic, but also, for a number of reasons, very costly, impractical and, indeed, outright dangerous. The only viable course of action was to transform NATO -- a functioning and time-tested organization -- and to gradually enlarge it. On one hand, NATO had to avoid remaining entrenched in the form it had taken in the 1980s and turning into a club of Cold War veterans; on the other hand, allowing it to disappear from the map of the world would have amounted to creating a security vacuum in the entire Euro-Atlantic region for the lengthy period of time that would have been needed to build a new structure.

After the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the fall of communism, NATO obviously has had other tasks than those it had during the Cold War and must face entirely new types of danger. Previously, it used to have a visible and powerful strategic adversary; now, and even more so in the future, it must be prepared for new threats, such as rather unpredictable local conflicts that might grow into major confrontations; unexpected attacks from various directions involving the use of the most sophisticated weapons; or, a wide range of threats coming from the borderland between organized crime, terrorism, and civil war. In this context -- the present situation already supplies proof of that -- the alliance will be required to perform, as the need may arise, also the role of peacekeeping troops guaranteeing, to the extent possible, cessation of hostilities in troubled regions. NATO's transformation and modernization, and the demands involved in its enlargement, necessarily require far-reaching changes in military doctrine; in the institutions and structures of the alliance; in the character of its armed forces; and, in the manner of their management, as well as a redirection of emphasis toward other weapon systems...

Two years ago, NATO manifested this most visibly when taking in three new countries that were once members of the Warsaw Pact and lived under Soviet domination before the fall of communism. This enlargement was an act of historic significance. It was the first real proof that the West realizes what actually happened once the Iron Curtain crumbled and knows that the curtain was not its authentic eastern boundary.

Thus, NATO is beginning to change from the principal instrument of defense of the democratic world against Soviet expansionism into a security organization of a truly regional character, one of the many components of a future multipolar world order. In other words, NATO recognizes its present identity, as well as the territory across which it can and should expand. This territory -- the one that we call the "West" -- extends from Alaska in the west to Tallinn in the east. This is by no means a small piece of land. Allow me, however, to point out that it is comparable with the state called the Russian Federation in terms of area, and smaller than another state called the People's Republic of China in terms of population.


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