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Newsline - June 8, 2001




RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN 2000 SAID BEST IN 30 YEARS

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry has concluded that the basic macroeconomic measures of the Russian economy in 2000 were "the best for the entire period of reforms," Interfax reported on 7 June. "For the first time in the last 30 years, the physical quantity of GDP rose 8.3 percent in comparison with the previous year, and the amount of industrial production increased by 9 percent," the ministry said in documents prepared for the cabinet. Among the other achievements of 2000, the ministry added, were financial stability, a decrease in energy use per ruble of GDP, and inflation close to predictions. PG

KASYANOV PRESENTS BALANCED 2002 BUDGET...

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on 7 June presented and the cabinet approved a draft 2002 budget that projects a modest surplus, Russian and Western agencies reported. The budget calls for spending more than 20 percent more on defense, education, and science. At the same time, the budget projects GDP growth at only 3.5 percent, inflation at 12-13 percent, and a ruble-dollar exchange rate of 31.5. But a discussion of the budget in "Izvestiya" the same day noted that it does not suggest that the government plans to move forward dramatically with reforms. In his presentation to the ministers, Kasyanov said that Russia must protect itself from economic shocks from abroad. Interfax reported. PG

...AND PLEDGES TO PAY DEBTS WITHOUT RESCHEDULING...

Kasyanov and other ministers said that Russia will seek to pay all its debts in the future without seeking restructuring, a possibility he said would be realistic if oil prices remain high. He also said that any revenue coming in above the budget forecast will be put into a reserve fund to help pay off debts the following year. PG

...BUT GERASHCHENKO SAYS INFLATION TO ACCELERATE

Russian Central Bank head Viktor Gerashchenko said on 7 June that inflation appears likely to increase and will certainly exceed Russian government projections this year, Interfax-AFI reported. He placed the blame for this not on monetary emissions but rather on rising prices for natural monopoly products and services like railway tickets. PG

PUTIN VETOES PENSION REFORM BILL

President Vladimir Putin vetoed a measure passed by the Federal Assembly that would have allowed pensioners to work part-time without losing benefits, Interfax-AFI reported on 7 June. His veto message said that Russia cannot afford all of the provisions in the measure. PG

KHRISTENKO SAYS CABINET NEEDS MORE THAN ONE DEPUTY PREMIER

In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 8 June, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said that the government needs to have several deputy prime ministers to help manage the cabinet's many responsibilities. PG

FSB TAKES CHARGE OF INTERIOR MINISTRY

According to an article in "Novye Izvestiya" on 7 June, generals from the Federal Security Service (FSB) are effectively taking over the Interior Ministry, despite the traditional mistrust between the police and the security organs. The paper added that this is in many ways a good step because the FSB is significantly less corrupt than the Interior Ministry has been. But the paper pointed to a danger: the imported FSB officers may assume total control of the Interior Ministry and their actions there may become a model for the takeover by the security agencies of other bodies. VY

MILITARY TOLD TO SPEED UP REFORMS, KEEP SAVINGS

According to an article in "Vremya Novostei" on 7 June, the government has told the military to speed up its troop cuts and reorganization and that if it does so, it may retain any savings for its own use. Under this new plan, the armed forces will lose some 600,000 personnel by 2005. PG

POCHINOK WANTS TO MAKE FAILURE TO PAY WAGES ON TIME A CRIME

Labor and Social Development Minister Aleksandr Pochinok said in an interview published in "Vremya MN" on 7 June that he believes new administrative and criminal penalties should be established for those employers who do not pay their workers in a timely fashion. He said that existing legislation governing nonpayments is difficult to apply and thus largely ineffective. PG

DUMA MOVES TO AMEND TAX CODE...

The Duma on 7 June passed on first reading a bill that amends provisions of the tax code affecting customs fees and duties, ITAR-TASS reported. Under the terms of the amendment, the levies will be imposed on brokers and persons who seek to transport goods into or through Russia. The Duma the same day also approved on first reading a law that will reduce the number of activities subject to licensing from 415 to 104, Interfax-AFI reported. PG

...DISCUSSES 'PERSONALITY CULT' IN KALMYKIA

Duma deputies on 7 June continued to discuss the situation in Kalmykia and the personality cult that has arisen around that republic's president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Interfax reported. The deputies took up the issue following ORT television reports in May about his extravagant behavior. PG

YAVLINSKY PROPOSAL FOR REFERENDUM ON NUCLEAR WASTE IMPORTS CRITICIZED

Many Duma members, including Unity and Peoples' Deputy parliamentarians, as well as representatives of the Kremlin on 7 June reacted negatively or at least coolly to the proposal by Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky that there be a national referendum on the importation of nuclear wastes for permanent storage, Russian agencies reported. Leaders of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) said that they might support the idea, however. PG

PAVLOVSKII WANTS EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

Gleb Pavlovskii, director of the Fund for Effective Policy and a Kremlin adviser, told Interfax on 7 June that early parliamentary elections would ensure that the parliamentary and presidential votes would not take place at the same time and that the larger parties would be in a better position to expand their share of Duma seats. He said that the country's political system is undergoing "a reconstruction" that will mean that "the political landscape will be very different by the fall of next year from what it is now." PG

YUSHENKOV SAYS NEMTSOV'S IDEAS ON CHECHNYA ARE 'FASCIST'

In an interview published in "Inostranets" on 5 June, Duma deputy Sergei Yushenkov explained his failure to join the SPS by arguing that its leader Boris Nemtsov has a variety of ideas with which he does not agree. Yushenkov said that Nemtsov's plan for Chechnya, for example, is "fascist" and resembles "what the Third Reich did. The only difference is that the Nazis didn't make public statements. They just acted." Yushenkov said that Nemtsov's plans specifies that "the governor of Chechnya should be anyone other than an ethnic Chechen. We have seen this kind of thing already in the Soviet Union, when the authorities always appointed a representative of the nonindigenous ethnic group as [Communist Party] second secretary." Yushenkov said he favors negotiations with Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov but does not believe that the time is ripe for discussing Chechen sovereignty. PG

TROSHEV REAFFIRMS HIS IDEAS ON THE DEATH PENALTY

Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, the commander of the North Caucasus Military District, said on NTV on 7 June that in his 4 June interview with "Izvestiya" he did not call for public executions of Chechen terrorists but simply said that he fully supports the idea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2001). He said that he was speaking "simply as a man" and not as a military commander. Troshev also said that Russia should offer rewards for the capture of terrorists just as the U.S. has done for Saudi terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. PG

ZHIRINOVSKY WANTS NATO TO ADMIT RUSSIA

Duma Deputy Speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said on 7 June that Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush should agree to admit Russia into NATO, Interfax reported. Zhirinovsky also said that the two should agree to keep the 1972 ABM Treaty intact and to reach a settlement on the Middle East. PG

RUSSIA, U.S. TO BUILD CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTRUCTION CENTER

Yurii Drozhzhin, a spokesman for the Russian Ammunition Agency, told ITAR-TASS on 7 June that Russian and American agencies have formalized their agreement to build a facility near Shchuchye in the Kurgan Oblast to destroy chemical weapons. The U.S. will contribute $880 million to the project, with Russia providing up to $400 million. Russian, American and European officials are scheduled to meet at the site on 8 June to reaffirm their commitment to destroying all chemical weapons, Reuters reported. PG

VORONTSOV URGES RUSSIAN-AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION

Ambassador Yulii Vorontsov, the president of the Russian-American Business Cooperation Council, said on 7 June that Moscow and Washington should work together to protect the environment, Interfax reported. He said that the two countries must recognize their joint responsibility in this area, which goes beyond "the objective geo-strategic interests" of either. PG

U.S. CONSIDERATION OF STEEL QUOTAS CRITICIZED

Representatives of major Russian steel producers on 7 June sharply criticized reports that the U.S. government is considering the imposition of antidumping levies on Russian steel, Interfax reported. But most of them said things are sufficiently bad in that marketplace already that they cannot get any worse even if the U.S. does impose such restrictions. PG

RUSSIA TAKES OVER AS CHAIR OF BALTIC SEA COUNCIL

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on 7 June assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Baltic Sea States at a ministerial meeting in Hamburg of the 11 countries in that body, Russian and Western agencies reported. Ivanov said that Russia will seek to promote cooperation among the member states, seek an improvement in the treatment of ethnic Russians in some of the council's member countries, and work to ensure that the council's program is consistent with European approaches. PG

RUSSIA, IRAQ EXPAND COOPERATION

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu on 7 June initialed an agreement in Baghdad with Iraqi Interior Minister Mamoud al-Ahmed to expand cooperation in dealing with emergency situations, ITAR-TASS reported. The accord calls for Russia to train Iraqi specialists at Russian institutions in search-and-rescue operations. PG

MOSCOW WRITES OFF PART OF ETHIOPIA'S DEBT

The Russian government has written off $4.8 billion of the debt Ethiopia owed to Moscow, Interfax-AFI reported on 7 June. That constitutes 80 percent of Ethiopia's debt to Russia, and Moscow restructured the remaining 20 percent, the news agency said. PG

MORE ENERGY PROTESTS IN FAR EAST

Residents of Partisansk in Primorskii Krai blocked the Trans-Siberian railroad for an hour to protest power shutoffs, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 7 June. Meanwhile, residents of the nearby city of Lesozavodsk blocked a bridge to traffic to protest the same thing. But Nakhodka Mayor Viktor Gnezdilov and Dalenergo agreed that power will continue to flow to the city's water-pumping station until 1 July to allow time for the city to pay its debts, the news service said. PG

NEWSPAPER SEIZED IN VLADIVOSTOK

Authorities in Vladivostok seized the entire print run of the newspaper "Dalekaya okraina" because local Interior Ministry chief Colonel Vladimir Krivoshvili said that the paper contained materials that violate election laws. The materials in question involved alleged criminal activities on the part of gubernatorial candidate Sergei Darkin. But the newspaper's editor, Vladimir Gilgenberg, said the authorities themselves acted illegally because they did not have the required court order to confiscate the issue. PG

RESERVES UP 20 PERCENT SINCE START OF 2001

Russia's reserves of gold and hard currency have increased by 20 percent since 1 January 2001, reaching $33.6 billion, the highest level since the end of the Soviet Union, Prime-TASS reported on 7 June. VY

IMPORTS PREDICTED TO GROW FASTER THAN EXPORTS

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry said that over the next four years, Russia's imports are likely to increase more rapidly than will its exports, Interfax reported on 7 June. The ministry added that imports are likely to grow more rapidly than the overall rate of GDP increases. PG

SOTSPROF AUTHORIZES ITS MEMBER UNIONS TO STRIKE

The Federal Coordinating Council of the Union of Unions of Russia (SOTSPROF) decided to allow its individual member unions to stage strikes at their discretion at any time between 19 June and 31 December 2001, Interfax reported on 7 June. This decision, SOTSPROF head Sergei Khramov said, frees the unions from having to notify management 10 days in advance of any labor action. PG

RUSSIAN COURT FREEZES NTV ACCOUNTS AFTER GUSINSKY SEEKS TO COLLECT...

A Moscow court on 7 June froze the bank accounts of NTV after embattled media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky's lawyers filed suit to collect 130 million rubles ($4.5 million) the station allegedly owes him, AP reported. Gazprom officials said Gusinsky's effort to obtain that money shows "his true attitude to the press and to the people who work in television." They added that they have concluded that "NTV's debts to [Gusinsky's] Media-MOST were created artificially and in violation of the law." PG

...AS JORDAN PLANS TO ISSUE SHARES TO CLEAR NTV DEBTS

Boris Jordan, the general director of NTV, said that by the end of the summer his company will issue shares intended to raise $75-80 million as part of an effort to clear the company's existing debt, gazeta.ru reported on 7 June. He said that he will also seek to cut costs and restructure NTV's debt to Gazprom. VY

GAZPROM SAYS UKRAINE, BELARUS, MOLDOVA OWE IT $3.5 BILLION

Aleksandr Nemudrov, the head of Gazprom's supplies and distribution department, said that Ukraine owes his company $2.5 billion, that Moldova owes $500 million, and that Belarus has a small debt as well, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 June. PG

AMERICAN INTEREST IN OPEN SOURCE INFORMATION SAID BEHIND RUSSIAN ACTIONS

According to an article in "Versiya," No. 20, Russian intelligence and security services have become increasingly sensitive to the possibility that the U.S. will use public information to develop intelligence about Russia and consequently they are seeking to restrict the public flow of such information. The article notes that several times in the last few years, American intelligence agencies have pointed to the potential significance of open sources. It adds that Russian intelligence services are only now trying to deal with that new threat. PG

RUMYANTSEV SAYS ECOLOGISTS SERVING COMPETITORS OF RUSSIA

Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said in an interview published in "Kommersant-Daily" on 7 June that protests by ecological activists and liberal politicians against the importation of nuclear wastes into Russia constitute "an action planned and paid for by Russia's competitors in the West." VY

NEW SUBMARINE A PRODUCT OF RUSSIAN SPYING

The Akula-2 class of midsized super-quiet nuclear submarines is the product not of Russian shipbuilding but rather of Russian espionage, both RBK and RIA-Novosti reported on 7 June. They were built according to technologies stolen from the U.S. Navy and Japan's Toshiba corporation almost 20 years ago. Two of the subs have already been built. Each carries 28 Granit cruise missiles. VY

SUPREME COURT RELEASES ROKHLINA, ORDERS NEW TRIAL

The Russian Supreme Court on 7 June voided the conviction of Tamara Rokhlina, ordered her released from jail, and called for additional investigations and a new trial, ITAR-TASS reported. Rokhlina, who is expected to be released in a day or two, was convicted last year of murdering her husband, Duma deputy Lev Rokhlin, in 1998. Meanwhile, prosecutors said that they plan to bring another appeal to the Supreme Court in an effort to have the 7 June decision itself voided. VY

SCIENTISTS SAY THEY'LL IGNORE NEW RULES

Russian scientists say that they will largely ignore a new Academy of Sciences directive that they report their contacts with Western scholars, "The Moscow Times" reported on 7 June. One scientist told the paper that he has seen the directive but "did not pay much attention to it." PG

AMERICAN EXCHANGE STUDENT'S SENTENCE REDUCED

The Voronezh regional court on 7 June decided to reduce the prison term of U.S. exchange student John Tobin, Interfax reported. Tobin, who was convicted of drug possession in April, is now to serve 12 months in prison rather than the 37 months the court of first instance sentenced him to. Tobin's lawyers said that they will appeal and seek the complete vindication of their client who continues to insist he is innocent of all charges. VY

DRUG USE UP 18 TIMES AMONG YOUNG SINCE 1991

Tatyana Dmitrieva, the director of Moscow's Serbskii Institute, said that over the last decade the number of regular drug users among Russian youth increased 18 times, Interfax reported on 7 June. That was more than twice the rate of increase of drug use among adults, she said, adding that the ever more youthful face of drug abuse in Russia is a matter of increasing concern. Meanwhile, health officials reported that approximately 25 percent of Russian young people begin smoking before the age of 10, the news agency reported the same day. PG

FEWER RUSSIANS GROWING THEIR OWN VEGETABLES

According to an article in "Izvestiya" on 7 June, only 34 percent of Russians now grow their own fruits and vegetables, down from 47 percent four years ago. Instead, they are purchasing food and then using their dachas simply for recreation. PG

POLL FINDS PATRIARCH POPULAR

Fifty-three percent of Russians have a positive attitude toward Patriarch Aleksii II, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 7 June. Seventy-four percent of those polled said that during the 11 years of his patriarchate, the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in public life has increased and that Aleksii made a major contribution to this development. PG

PATRIARCHATE INVESTIGATING BUSINESS ACTIVITIES OF HIERARCHS

The Russian Orthodox Church's management office is set to launch an investigation of links between senior churchmen and business activities, APN.ru reported on 7 June. The website agency said that the leak of this information points toward a power struggle within the church as hierarchs compete to be the successor to Patriarch Aleksii II. VY

HEAD OF HOUSE OF ROMANOV SEES NO RETURN TO MONARCHY

Prince Nikolai Romanov, who is the head of the House of Romanov, said in an interview published in this week's "Rossiiskie vesti" that he is convinced Russia will remain a republic. Acknowledging "Russia is unpredictable" and that "Russians respect both tsars and the whip," Prince Nikolai said "I nonetheless think that monarchy is an anachronism." PG

ONE RUSSIAN IN THREE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT 12 JUNE HOLIDAY IS FOR

According to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 7 June, 39 percent of Russians do not know what holiday their country will be marking on 12 June, the 10th anniversary of the Day of the Proclamation of the Declaration of the State Sovereignty of Russia. PG

ARE THERE 'CHINATOWNS' IN RUSSIA'S FUTURE?

An article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 7 June suggested that Chinese population pressure will ultimately lead more Chinese to resettle in Russian cities and in the Russian Far East. Indeed, the paper said, the Far East, "weakened by crises and political stability may repeat the fate of Alaska," a reference to a Russian territory sold to the United States. PG

MINISTER IN DAGHESTAN WOUNDED IN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

Magomedsalikh Gusaev, the minister for nationalities and the media in Daghestan's government, received leg wounds early on 8 June when a bomb exploded in his car as he was preparing to drive to work, Turan reported. His life is not in danger. LF

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL DENIES DISPLACED PERSONS WILL BE FORCIBLY RETURNED TO CHECHNYA

Vladimir Kalamanov, the human rights commissioner for Chechnya, denied on 7 June that displaced persons will be forcibly returned from Ingushetia to Chechnya, Interfax reported. "Kommersant-Daily" on 7 June had claimed that the previous day the chairman of the Chechen National Salvation Committee, Ruslan Badalov, had handed to a visiting OSCE official a petition signed by some 10,000 Chechen displaced persons appealing to European public opinion to prevent their forced repatriation. On 6 June, Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev complained to Russian Premier Kasyanov that the displaced persons are no longer being provided with hot meals or even with bread, and that the tents in which they have lived since late 1999 need replacing if they are to spend a further winter in Ingushetia. LF

PUTIN SAID TO HAVE LAMBASTED TOP BRASS FOR CHECHEN FAILURES

During his visit to Chechnya early last month, Russian President Putin criticized several top generals for failing to deliver the final victory over Chechen militants that they have been predicting regularly in recent months, Glasnost-North Caucasus reported on 7 June, quoting an anonymous FSB officer. That source said that since then over 20 senior officers serving in Chechnya have been removed from their posts, including former commander Colonel General Valerii Baranov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 2001). He also said that the fatal heart attack that FSB Deputy Director Admiral German Ugryumov suffered last week was triggered by the "psychological trauma" of Putin's criticism. LF




ARMENIAN PRESIDENT ADVOCATES DE JURE INDEPENDENCE FOR NAGORNO-KARABAKH

Speaking in Brussels on 6 June following his meeting with EC President Romano Prodi, Armenian President Robert Kocharian said that a settlement of the Karabakh conflict should provide for both de facto and de jure independence for the currently unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, RFE/RL's Brussels correspondent reported. Kocharian added that Armenia is currently discussing three "very important points" that could lead to a solution to that issue. He did not elaborate. LF

RUSSIAN STATE DUMA DELEGATION ARRIVES IN ARMENIA

A State Duma delegation headed by Chairman Gennadii Seleznev arrived in Yerevan on 7 June, ITAR-TASS And RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Seleznev said the Duma is prepared to help mediate a solution to the Karabakh conflict as the OSCE Minsk Group "has not fully realized its potential" for doing so. He also expressed the hope that Armenia will consider acceding to the Russia-Belarus Union. Armenian communists have been arguing in favor of doing so since 1997. LF

ARMENIAN CATHOLICOS SEEKS TO JUSTIFY EXCOMMUNICATION OF MOSCOW ARCHBISHOP

Catholicos Garegin II told a news conference in Echmiadzin on 7 June that his decision last month to defrock Archbishop Tigran Kyureghian, who headed the Moscow diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was justified given that Kyureghian had rejected his authority, and was trying to establish a separate church, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kyureghian had decided to form a splinter group named the Moscow Union of Armenian Churches that would recognize only the authority of the National Ecclesiastical Assembly, the church's supreme body. He insists that Garegin's decision to excommunicate him is invalid. LF

AZERBAIJANI COURT SENTENCES ALLEGED PKK INTERLOPERS

A court in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan on 6 June sentenced five men identified as members of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party to four-years imprisonment for crossing the Azerbaijani frontier illegally, Turan reported the following day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2001). The men were apprehended last September trying to enter Armenia from Nakhichevan, having crossed into Azerbaijani territory from Iran. LF

AZERBAIJANIS FROM ARMENIA FORM GOVERNMENT IN EXILE

Representatives of an estimated 3 million Azerbaijanis whose ancestors lived on territories that now comprise part of the Republic of Armenia have established a government in exile and are considering how to reclaim those territories, according to the Azerbaijani daily "Ekho" on 6 June, as cited by Groong. The government in exile is one of several bodies that claim to represent the interests of Azerbaijanis from Armenia (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 21, 8 June 2001). LF

ABKHAZ PRESIDENT PROPOSES CANDIDATE FOR PREMIER

Vladislav Ardzinba on 7 June proposed to the Abkhaz parliament the candidacy of his special adviser, Prosecutor-General Anri Djergenia, to replace Vyacheslav Tsugba as prime minister, Caucasus Press reported. A 60-year-old lawyer and graduate of Leningrad State University, Djergenia has served since 1995 as Ardzinba's representative in talks with Georgia on the optimum model for structuring relations between Abkhazia and the central Georgian government. Givi Lominadze, Abkhazia's former interior minister and the head of the Abkhazeti faction in the Georgian parliament, told Caucasus Press on 7 June that the confirmation as premier of Djergenia, whom he characterized as "a smart lad," would negatively impact bilateral relations. But Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze expressed his approval of Ardzinba's choice on 8 June, according to Caucasus Press. Referring to persistent rumors that Ardzinba is seriously ill, Shevardnadze said the Abkhaz president "had to find someone he could trust and who would be efficient at the Georgian-Abkhaz talks." LF

LEBANESE BUSINESSMAN ABDUCTED IN GEORGIA

Three unidentified gunmen kidnapped Lebanese businessman Sharbel Bashar Anu in a Tbilisi suburb on 7 June, Reuters and Interfax reported. His car was later found abandoned near Tbilisi Airport. LF

ARMED KABARDIANS INTERCEPTED AFTER CROSSING GEORGIAN BORDER

Georgian border guards surrounded and detained 13 Kabardians armed with machine guns who had crossed from the Russian Federation into Georgian territory late on 7 June, Caucasus Press reported. The men were taken to Tbilisi by helicopter for questioning. They are believed to have been heading for Chechnya. LF

GEORGIAN NAVAL COMMANDER REINSTATED

Former Georgian navy commander Otar Chkhartishvili has been reinstated in that post, from which he was dismissed in 1998 in connection with charges of embezzlement and abuse of power that were subsequently overturned, Caucasus Press reported on 7 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 March 2001). LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S UIGHURS OPPOSE UZBEK MEMBERSHIP OF SHANGHAI FORUM

The heads of two organizations representing Kazakhstan's Uighur minority held a press conference in Almaty on 6 June, at which they expressed their concern at the possibility that Uzbekistan will accede to the Shanghai Forum during that body's summit in Shanghai next week, RFE/RL's bureau in the former Kazakh capital reported. The Uighurs characterized the Shanghai Forum, which currently comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, as an "anti-Uighur" group. They also announced the disappearance on 24 May of Uighur activist Dilbar Samsakova. LF

KAZAKH-TURKISH ECONOMIC COMMISSION SESSION ENDS

A three-day session of the Kazakh-Turkish Joint Economic Commission ended in Astana on 7 June, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev noted at the closing session on 7 June that Turkey is Kazakhstan's second-largest trade partner after China, and that Turkish businessmen have invested some $400 million in the Kazakh economy since 1991. In addition to long-term economic cooperation, the two delegations also discussed the prospects for extending the Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline to the Kazakh port of Aqtau. Turkish Minister of State Abdulhalik Cay, who headed the Turkish delegation, told journalists that he has no doubts the pipeline will eventually be built. LF

ROYAL DUTCH/SHELL STRESSES COMMITMENT TO PROTECTING KAZAKHSTAN'S ECOSYSTEM

Meeting in Astana on 7 June with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Royal Dutch/Shell senior official Phil Watts said his company considers it important to preserve the ecological balance while exploiting Kazakhstan's oil deposits, Interfax and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Royal Dutch/Shell shares with Rosneft a 7.5 percent stake in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, and has a 14.29 percent stake in the Offshore Kazakhstan International Operating Company (OKIOC). Over the past two years, Kazakh authorities have accused both OKIOC and a second international consortium, Tengizchevroil, of violating ecological norms in drilling (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 April 2001). LF

KYRGYZ DEFENSE, SECURITY OFFICIALS VISIT TAJIKISTAN

On a working visit to Dushanbe on 6-7 June, Kyrgyz Defense Minister Esen Topoev and Security Council Secretary Misir Ashyrkulov met with Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov and Defense Minister Colonel General Sheraili Khairulloev to discuss regional security issues, the implementation of the recent decision of the CIS Collective Security Treaty signatories to establish a rapid reaction force to be partly based in Kyrgyzstan, and the prospects of a new incursion this summer by Islamist guerrillas. Asia Plus-Blitz quoted Ashyrkulov as saying he does not doubt Tajik statements that there are at present no fighters from the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in those regions of eastern Tajikistan that border Kyrgyzstan. LF

OSCE CHAIRMAN NOTES PIVOTAL ROLE OF TAJIKISTAN

Following talks in Dushanbe on 7 June with President Rakhmonov, OSCE Chairman in Office Mircea Geoana said Tajikistan "is a very important country for the OSCE and its stability is important for the strategic balance in the Central Asian region," AP reported. Geoana pledged support for Tajik environmental, human rights, and reform programs, but stressed that the volume of that aid will depend on the progress made toward democratization. LF

TAJIK NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN SOLICITS JAPANESE INVESTMENT

Speaking at a conference held in Tokyo on 5-6 June on economic aid to Central Asia, Tajik National Bank Chairman Murodali Alimardonov assured prospective investors that political stability in Tajikistan has been "completely restored," Asia Plus-Blitz reported. He said Dushanbe would welcome Japanese investment particularly in hydroelectricity, the mining and textile industries, and telecommunications. LF

NEW TURKMEN GAS FIELD COMES ON STREAM

Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov on 7 June inaugurated a new gas pipeline that connects the Byashkyzyl field in northeastern Turkmenistan with an export pipeline via Kazakhstan to Russia, AP and Interfax reported. The Byashkyzyl field has estimated reserves of 5 billion cubic meters; its exploitation, together with three neighboring deposits, will enable Turkmenistan to increase gas exports from 45 to 75 billion cubic meters by 2005, a spokesman for Niyazov said. LF




BELARUS TO DEVELOP TIES WITH RUSSIA'S KHANTY MANSI REGION

A delegation from the Khanty Mansi Autonomous Okrug (in Russia's Tyumen Oblast) arrived in Minsk on 7 June to discuss bilateral trade and economic contacts, Belarusian Television reported. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who met with Khanty Mansi Governor Aleksandr Filipenko and Surgutneftegaz President Vladimir Bogdanov, called for expanding cooperation between Belarus and Khanty Mansi. According to Belarusian Television, 75 percent of oil deliveries to Belarus come from Tyumen Oblast. Several Belarusian ministries signed protocols on cooperation with the government of the autonomous okrug. Filipenko told ITAR-TASS that both sides agreed to increase oil and gas supplies to Belarus as well as to expand the participation of Khanty-Mansi companies in developing Belarus's energy, oil, and chemical sectors. JM

BELARUS'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF

After the Chamber of Representatives scheduled presidential elections for 9 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2001), Central Election Commission Chairwoman Lidziya Yarmoshyna on 7 June briefed journalists on subsequent developments in the presidential campaign. Yarmoshyna said those seeking to run in the elections should apply to the commission no later than 15 June for the registration of their "initiative groups" for collecting signatures. An initiative group in support of a presidential candidate should consist of no less than 100 people. The commission is to register initiative groups by 20 June, and they will subsequently be able to collect signatures until 20 July. The registration of presidential candidates -- each of them needs to collect no less than 100,000 signature in his/her support -- should be concluded by 9 August. After that date, registered candidates will be allowed to launch their election campaigns. JM

GUUAM COUNTRIES SIGN CHARTER...

During their meeting in Yalta on 7 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2001), the presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova (GUUAM) signed a charter formalizing the hitherto loose alliance of their countries, Interfax reported. The charter says GUUAM's main goals are to promote the socioeconomic development of its members, resolve regional security problems, and fight international crime and narcotics trade. According to the charter, GUUAM's supreme body is the Summit of the Head of States, while GUUAM's foreign ministers -- who are to gather for sessions twice a year -- are empowered to perform executive functions. The charter also stipulates the creation of GUUAM's working body, the Committee of National Coordinators. JM

...BUT FAIL TO ADOPT FREE-TRADE ACCORD

The GUUAM leaders, however, stopped short of signing an agreement on a free-trade zone within their alliance, Interfax reported. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said some minor issues need to be discussed first, while Uzbek President Islam Karimov commented that the leaders recognize the need for a trade deal but added that the delay in signing the agreement is due to "formalities." Karimov noted that Moldova and Georgia, which are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), have no right to sign such an accord without approval from the WTO. The five presidents told journalists after the Yalta summit that GUUAM does not intend to create its own "military-political formation," adding that their alliance is not directed against the CIS as a whole nor Russia in particular. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT CONTINUES TO PUSH FOR NEW ELECTION LAW...

Following two presidential vetoes on bills stipulating a proportional party-list parliamentary election system (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 2001), the parliament on 7 June voted by 289 to 14, with one abstention, to pass in the first reading a new bill on legislative elections, Interfax reported. This time lawmakers proposed to elect 335 deputies under a proportional party-list system and 115 in one-seat constituencies. JM

...DEMANDS SACKING OF NATIONAL TELEVISION CHIEF

The parliament also passed a resolution urging President Leonid Kuchma to dismiss Vadym Dolhanov, chief of the National Television Company. The resolution states that Dolhanov's performance is unsatisfactory, adding that he is responsible for failing to provide objective and adequate reporting on the activities of the parliament and local legislative bodies. JM

UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX BELIEVERS PROTEST POPE'S UPCOMING VISIT

Some 3,000 people, including several hundred priest and nuns of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), staged a march in Kyiv on 7 June to protest Pope John Paul II's trip to Ukraine scheduled for 23-27 June, Interfax and Reuters reported. In a separate protest action, some 300 member of the Association of Ukrainian Farmers picketed the parliamentary building, demanding that they be given the right to private ownership of land. JM

ESTONIA'S CONSUMER PRICE INDEX INCREASES 0.7 PERCENT IN MAY

The Statistical Office announced on 7 June that the consumer price index increased by 0.7 percent in May compared to April and 6.9 percent compared to May 2000, ETA reported. The price of goods grew by 0.9 percent (food products by 1.1 percent and industrial goods by 0.8 percent) in April, while the price of services increased by 0.2 percent. The greater than expected price increases were primarily due to higher food costs and a 3.6 percent increase in the price of motor fuel. The only item whose price declined was communication, which fell by 0.6 percent in April. SG

WORLD BANK PROJECT FOR DEVELOPING LATVIA'S HOUSING SYSTEM SIGNED

World Bank director for the Baltic states and Poland, Michael Carter, and Latvian Minister for International Financial Affairs Roberts Zile on 7 June in Riga signed a Japanese grant agreement worth $495,000 for covering the expenses of preparing Latvia's World Bank housing development project, LETA reported. The total costs of the project are estimated at $5.3-6.3 million, of which $2-3 million will be donated by the Danish government, $2 million will be a World Bank loan, and $800,000 will be provided by the Latvian government. The goal of the project is to support the Latvian government's efforts to improve operations in the housing market by lessening the role of the state. The project should facilitate private initiative in apartment management, improve energy conservation by uniting owners in associations, and liquidate obstacles that hamper financing for people with low and medium incomes. SG

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT FORMS JEWISH HOLOCAUST COMMEMORATION COMMISSION

The parliament on 7 June formed a state commission for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Jewish Holocaust in Lithuania, ELTA reported. The chairman of the parliament's Human Rights Committee, Gediminas Dalinkevicius, was appointed the head of the new commission, which will embrace representatives from the parliament, government, presidential office, and Jewish community in Lithuania. The parliament also adopted a resolution denouncing genocide and highlighting the "duty of the Lithuanian state to remind the country of its painful historical moments in order to avert recurrence of the bloodshed of Holocaust victims." Lithuania will mark the Jewish Holocaust Day on 23 September with a series of events throughout the country. SG

POLISH PARLIAMENT AMENDS BANKING LAW TO MEET EU STANDARDS...

The Sejm amended the country's banking law on 7 June to bring it into line with EU standards, PAP reported. Under the amendment, EU-based banks will be allowed to open branches in Poland after they have obtained permission from the country's banking supervision commission. Hitherto they had been required to obtain permission from the finance minister, who consulted with the commission on the decision. After Poland joins the EU, EU-based banks will be able to operate in Poland without licenses. JM

...MULLS CUTTING PAY FOR TOP BANKING OFFICIALS...

Earlier the same day, the Sejm also discussed a motion by the left-wing opposition to cut salaries for the governor and top officials of the National Bank as well as for members of the Monetary Policy Council (RPP). The voting on the motion was postponed because the deputies did not know how much those officials earn. National Bank head Leszek Balcerowicz, who was on a trip to London, ordered a disclosure of the salaries, which have been kept secret. It turned out that Balcerowicz is paid 44,500 zlotys ($11,200) monthly, his deputies' monthly salaries range from 33,700 to 36,300 zlotys, and one RPP member earns 25,800 zlotys. JM

...REGISTERS NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION IN TREASURY MINISTER

Sejm Speaker Maciej Plazynski said on 7 June that the parliament has received a no-confidence motion in Treasury Minister Aldona Kamela-Sowinska. The motion -- signed by 120 deputies from the opposition Democratic Left Alliance and the Peasant Party as well as the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action -- blames Kamela-Sowinska for having made "economically ungrounded" decisions, in particular in privatizing the PZU national insurer and managing the Totalizator Sportowy state lottery. Premier Jerzy Buzek called the motion an "irresponsible" move, while Kamela-Sowinska said the charges against her are "irrational." JM

POLICE EXPEL PROTESTERS FROM POLISH PREMIER'S OFFICE

Police on 7 June removed by force a group of sugar industry workers and three parliamentary deputies from Prime Minister Buzek's office, PASP reported. The group was protesting what they see as the government's delay in the creation of the Polish Sugar holding to unite 49 nonprivatized sugar refineries. Lawmaker Gabriel Janowski told journalists that police officers beat him and injured his arm while forcing him out of the premier's office. Janowski staged a similar protest in February, when he was expelled by police from the Treasury Ministry after a two-week sit-in. JM

RUMSFELD ADVISES CZECHS AGAINST PURCHASING SUPERSONIC PLANES

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on 7 June recommended to Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik that Prague avoid purchasing supersonic fighters if doing so would threaten other planned military reforms and the modernization of the Czech ground forces, CTK reported. The two ministers met at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Tvrdik said that they agreed that U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Lisa Bronson and Czech Deputy Defense Minister Stefan Fuele will meet at a later date to discuss several aspects of the planned strategy for the Czech air force, including "a solution to the problem of the [Czech-made] L-159 fighter planes in the structure of the air force and as an export plane." Tvrdik said Rumsfeld remarked to him that the U.S. has previously indicated that it might be interested in purchasing L-159s for training purposes. MS

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTRY EXPERTS RECOMMEND NULLIFYING CESKY DUM CONTRACT

Lawyers in two departments of the Foreign Ministry are recommending that the controversial lease contract of the Cesky Dum complex in Moscow to a Rakovnik-based hotel company be nullified, CTK reported on 8 June, citing the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes." The daily said it has managed to get copies of the lawyers' recommendations and that they conclude that the lease contract is disadvantageous for the Czech state and must be replaced by a contract concluded after holding a public tender. Foreign Minster Jan Kavan said on Czech television on 5 June that an internal audit conducted by his ministry "did not confirm the serious suspicions reported [earlier] in the media." Kavan added that the audit "did, however, confirm the suspicion that the contract had a lot of shortcomings." MS

ASYLUM-SEEKERS IN CZECH REPUBLIC GROWING

Over 7,200 people have requested asylum in the Czech Republic this year, a 179 percent increase over the same period in 2000, according to data released by the Interior Ministry and reported by CTK on 7 June. More people requested asylum in the first five months of 2001 than over the entire year in 1999. In 2000, a total of 8,787 requests for asylum were submitted to the authorities. The data showed a marked increase in asylum-seekers coming from European countries. Out of the 1,596 requests for asylum registered in May 2001, 378 came from Ukrainian citizens, 276 from Romanians, 205 from Moldovans, 136 from Vietnamese, and 111 from Indians. Citizens of Belarus and the Russian Federation were also among those who applied for asylum in May. MS

CZECH COMMUNIST PRESIDENT PARDONED CONVICTED NAZI CRIMINALS

The Czech Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Communist Crimes (UVD) has recently obtained documents thus far kept secret showing that Czechoslovak President Antonin Zapotocky granted pardons to four Nazi war criminals condemned to death after the war, CTK reported on 8 June, citing "Mlada fronta Dnes." One of those pardoned was Max Rostock, a member of the SS and commander of a unit stationed in Kladno, who was sentenced to death for having personally participated in the 1942 massacre in the village of Lidice. Zapotocky also pardoned Richard Schmidt, sentenced to death for ordering an attack on the village of Beniky near Kosice, which was used by partisans as a camp; Ernest Hitzegrad, a Nazi police commander; and Kurt Max Walter Richter, a member of the Gestapo in Jicin. UDV Director Irenej Kratochvil said the documents "will help break the still-persisting myth...that the communists were staunch fighters against fascism." MS

SLOVAK PREMIER MEETS BUSH

Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said on 7 June after meeting U.S. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in Washington that his feeling "is that Slovakia finally has a good chance to become a NATO member," international agencies reported. Dzurinda said Slovakia and other former communist countries seeking NATO membership are "waiting for the new American leadership" to outline its views on NATO expansion and that President Bush's visit to Europe, scheduled for next week, "will be very, very important" for that purpose. Dzurinda was to meet with Secretary of State Colin Powell on 8 June. MS

SLOVAK NATIONALIST PARTY 'READY TO CONSIDER' CHANGING VIEWS ON NATO MEMBERSHIP

Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairwoman Anna Malinkova on 7 June said after a meeting with President Rudolf Schuster that if opinion polls show that at least 60 percent of Slovaks back NATO accession, the SNS would be willing to reconsider its present negative attitude toward NATO membership. She also said the SNS would accept the results of a plebiscite approving NATO membership. "If citizens support it in a referendum, we must accept it... But I [still] think that Slovakia's path should lead elsewhere," said Malinkova, as cited by CTK. She added that "Slovakia should not be a friend of some and an enemy of others." The latest opinion polls, conducted in May, show NATO membership support is 48.5 percent, while 41.6 percent of Slovaks oppose it. MS

SLOVAK, CZECH DEFENSE MINISTERS DISCUSS 'CERTIFICATES AFFAIR'

Defense Minister Jozef Stank is meeting his Czech counterpart Jaroslav Tvrdik at a meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council on 8 June and is to receive from him the list of Slovak military personnel who received forged screening certificates in 1991 and 1992, Slovak Defense Ministry spokesman Pavol Vitko announced on 7 June, according to CTK. Stank said he intends to check whether any of those persons are still in the Slovak army, and added that although no lustration law is in force in Slovakia, those found to be on the list might have to leave their posts. Deputy Jan Langos, who was federal interior minister at that time, told CTK on 7 June that former communist secret service officers are "a threat" to democratic countries, particularly the "big fish" among them who were working for the KGB. MS

SLOVAKIA LAUNCHES IMF-MONITORED PROGRAM

The IMF on 7 June announced that Slovakia has launched an economic growth program that will be closely monitored by the fund's staff members, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. The program is aimed at stimulating GDP growth of 3-4.5 percent this year and the next. Other goals include reducing inflation and strengthening the country's financial institutions. The IMF said that its monitoring of the program is not tantamount to an endorsement of all its aspects by the fund. MS

PREMIER SAYS HUNGARY CAN AFFORD 'UP TO 4 MILLION' MAGYAR SETTLERS

Viktor Orban on 7 June told a business forum in Budapest that Hungary's rapid development growth might soon lead to a labor shortage and that the 4 million-strong ethnic Hungarian population from neighboring countries could become a solution to those shortages. He said Hungary is prepared to amend its immigration regulations for that purpose and that the country, whose present population is 10 million, "could provide a home to as many as 14 million," Hungarian media reported. MS

NEMETH DENIES VERHEUGEN CONCERNED OVER HUNGARIAN 'STATUS BILL'

Foreign Ministry State-Secretary Zsolt Nemeth on 7 June denied the accuracy of a report aired on Duna TV, which claimed that Guenter Verheugen, the EU commissioner in charge of enlargement, has criticized the pending "Status Bill." In an interview with the Transylvanian publication "Kronika," Nemeth said Verheugen has not expressed any opinion on the bill. According to Duna, the commissioner told Nemeth that the bill might have made sense in the early 1990s, when the EU took up defense of the rights of minorities, but that now the problems of ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries could find a better solution within existing EU frameworks. MS

HUNGARIAN POLITICIANS HINT TORGYAN IS PARANOIAC

Zoltan Pokorni, chairman of the ruling FIDESZ, on 8 June said he "cannot grasp" what leads Hungarian Smallholders' Party (FKGP) Chairman Jozsef Torgyan to fear an assassination plot against him, Hungarian media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2001). FKGP parliamentary group Chairman Peter Szentgyorgyvolgyi -- a Torgyan political rival -- commented that "it is sad if a politician believes he is persecuted" and that "one can well imagine Torgyan's anguished state of mind." Bela Gyori, a spokesman for the extremist Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP), which has long been at odds with Torgyan, said there is no need to have Torgyan assassinated, as "he already is a political corpse." MS

HUNGARY'S MIEP IS READY TO DISCUSS CABINET FORMATION AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

MIEP leader Istvan Csurka on 7 June said his party will not nominate a candidate for premier in the 2002 parliamentary elections "in the interest of avoiding a possible FIDESZ-Socialist grand coalition." Csurka said he is "prepared to begin now talks with national forces" on forming a cabinet after the elections and that MIEP will accept "a role in the government, power, and responsibility." Csurka said the main prospective coalition ally for MIEP is FIDESZ. In his speech to the 7 June economic forum (see above) Premier Orban said in response to a question about the far right in current Hungarian politics that "one must pay attention" to the phenomenon, but warned against exaggerating its dangers, Hungarian media reported. MS




MACEDONIAN ARMY ATTACKS DESPITE REBEL CEASE-FIRE OFFER

Macedonian ground and helicopter forces attacked positions of the National Liberation Army (UCK) in the Kumanovo-Lipkovo region early in the morning of 8 June. An army spokesman said that the goal is to "eliminate terrorist groups" as well as to "save civilians who are used as a shield by the terrorists," Reuters reported. The spokesman told AP that the assault involves "all available means, including heavy artillery." The previous evening, the UCK offered a unilateral cease-fire and called on the government to respond. The government's position is that it refuses to deal with the UCK, which it calls "terrorist." Nikola Dimitrov, the national security adviser to President Boris Trajkovski, rejected any deal with "the terrorists who have shown they are ready to kill and destroy Macedonia." Trajkovski is expected to announce his own peace plan in the course of 8 June. PM

MACEDONIAN PRIME MINISTER WANTS TO 'DESTROY REBELS'

Ljubco Georgievski said on 8 June that "Macedonia must mercilessly confront the terrorists. Any delay would only mean deepening and a spreading of fighting," AP reported. "Without destroying them first, it is not possible to start a political dialogue" with ethnic Albanian representatives, he added. His remarks on Macedonian television preceded the arrival of EU security policy chief Javier Solana, who is expected to call for a negotiated, political solution (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2001). PM

ALBANIA SLAMS MACEDONIAN CALL FOR 'STATE OF WAR'

The Albanian government said in a statement on 7 June that Georgievski's proposal to declare a "state of war" will only make matters worse, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2001). The statement said: "The Albanian government shares the view of the EU and the United States that in the present situation, a declaration of a state of war will not only be inappropriate but it will also have negative effects." The Albanian government called for a solution to the crisis through dialogue and democratic reforms to raise the legal status of the ethnic Albanian population to "European standards." Referring to the rampage in Bitola against ethnic Albanian shops and property, the statement pointed out that "there is no valid reason that can justify the savage ethnic violence and hatred" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 8 June 2001). The statement added that "the government of Albania calls on the Macedonian authorities to take measures to secure the lives and properties of Albanians in Bitola," Reuters reported. PM

YUGOSLAV JUSTICE MINISTER SUGGESTS MILOSEVIC TO BE EXTRADITED WITH OR WITHOUT LAW

Echoing recent comments by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Momcilo Grubac said on 8 June that Belgrade must find a way to extradite former President Slobodan Milosevic or risk international isolation, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2001). PM

MICROSOFT SIGNS DEAL WITH YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES

Microsoft Vice President Michael Lacombe signed a letter of intent in Belgrade on 7 June to provide financing and know-how to the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities to help computerize their operations, AP reported on 7 June. In return, the authorities will help Microsoft establish its presence in Serbia and work to combat software piracy. A final agreement will be signed at an unspecified time in the future. PM

MONTENEGRIN PARLIAMENT GETS A SPEAKER

Legislators voted 42 to 22 in Podgorica on 7 June to elect Liberal Alliance leader Vesna Perovic as speaker of the Montenegrin parliament, "Pobjeda" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2001). PM

KOSOVAR SERB LEADER VOTED OUT

The assembly of the Serbian National Council (SNV) voted in Mitrovica to remove Oliver Ivanovic as vice president, "Vesti" reported on 8 June. Several other functionaries were also ousted. The reason for Ivanovic's ouster was that many felt that he had often acted on his own, without a mandate from the SNV, the daily reported. Ivanovic told "Blic" that his ouster was orchestrated by hard-liners who reject his "realistic" approach in dealings with the international community. He suggested that his rivals follow Milosevic's line and are unduly complicating matters for the new Belgrade authorities. The case recalls that of Father Sava Janjic, who was active in the SNV and a spokesman for Bishop Artemije until pressured to leave office in late 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 December 2000). PM

REPUBLIKA SRPSKA APPROVES AGREEMENT WITH BELGRADE

The parliament of the Bosnian Serb entity ratified the agreement between Banja Luka and Belgrade on special relations, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 7 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2001). PM

BOSNIAN KINGPIN ARRESTED IN CROATIA

Police in Rijeka jailed Fikret Abdic on 7 June after a county court issued a warrant for him to be placed in preventive custody for one month, "Oslobodjenje" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2001). The man who was once the kingpin of the Bihac pocket and one of the most powerful politicians in Bosnia is wanted for war crimes allegedly committed in 1993 and 1994. PM

WORK BEGUN ON HERZEGOVINA'S MOSTAR BRIDGE

Reconstruction work on the famous stone Old Bridge began on 7 June after several years of activity to prepare plans and materials. The bridge was designed by the Ottoman architect Sinan and built in 1566. Croatian gunners destroyed it in 1993 during their conflict with the Muslims. Funding for the reconstruction comes from a variety of sources, including the U.S., Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, France, and Croatia, AP reported. PM

STANDARDS & POOR'S IMPROVES ROMANIA'S RATINGS

Prime Minister Adrian Nastase on 7 June announced that the international rating agency Standards & Poor's has improved Romania's risk ratings from B-minus to B for long-term hard-currency loans and from C to B for short-term hard-currency loans. Ratings for loans in the national currency were improved from B-plus to B and from B to C for long- and short-term loans, respectively. Nastase said the decision of the international agency reflects an "acknowledgment of the cabinet's efforts to accelerate structural reforms, [and to] implement a consistent fiscal and monetary policy" as well as a "general improvement of Romania's international image," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

NEW ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HEAD SWORN IN

Nicolae Popa was sworn in on 7 June as president of the Constitutional Court, replacing Lucian Mihai, who recently resigned, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Popa's mandate is for three years -- the remainder of the term Mihai would have served had he completed his mandate. Four other judges on the Constitutional Court -- Nicolae Cochinescu, Petre Ninosu, Serban Viorel Stanoiu, and Ioan Vida -- were also sworn in at a ceremony attended by President Ion Iliescu. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DINES IN ROYAL COMPANY

Iliescu was the dinner guest of former King Michael at the Savarsin castle in Transylvania on 7 June, Mediafax reported. The castle was recently restituted to the former monarch and the private dinner was a return of the invitation extended by Iliescu to Michael shortly after the beginning of the monarch's present visit, which ends on 8 June. MS

MOLDOVAN PREMIER WANTS JOURNALISTS TO PROVIDE 'OBJECTIVE COVERAGE'

Vasile Tarlev told media managers in Chisinau on 7 June that the government does not intend to impose censorship, but is calling on journalists to "constructively cooperate" with it and "cover events objectively," Infotag reported. Tarlev said he wants "the media to be guided by the national interest" and to "support all good initiatives, domestic producers, and every measure aimed at economic rehabilitation and at creating new jobs." He said journalists must pay greater attention to the problems of youth, provide "analytical articles on economic problems, popularize achievements of Moldovan scientists," and contribute to the struggle against criminality. Tarlev also said objective information must be provided "to the entire population" and for this purpose he proposed that the main national television newscast be subtitled in the Russian language to reach wider audiences, including the Transdniester. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT PROHIBITS FOREIGN FINANCING OF MEDIA

The parliament on 7 June approved on first reading a bill prohibiting the financing of Moldovan publications by foreign governments or support received for that purpose in any other form, Infotag reported. The bill was submitted in the previous legislature but only came to debate now. Its provisions would not apply to children's publications, scientific publications, or periodicals published by the writers' and artists' unions. MS

MOLDOVAN 2000 ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE DATA RELEASED

At the beginning of 2001, Moldova's external debt was $1.58 billion, or $435 per capita, according to data released by the National Bank and published by Infotag on 7 June. Hard-currency reserves on 1 January 2001 amounted to $231.62 million, some $46 million more than one year earlier. Industrial output in 2000 was 2.3 percent higher than in 1999, but agricultural output in the same period dropped by 2.6 percent. While exports practically stagnated (0.4 percent more than in 1999), imports grew by 28.5 percent. The trade deficit was $349.75 million. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS SECOND PRESIDENTIAL TERM

Petar Stoyanov announced on 7 June that he will seek a second term in the presidential elections scheduled for the fall, AP reported. In a clear allusion to the growing popularity of former King Simeon II and his National Movement ahead of the 17 June parliamentary elections, Stoyanov said he decided to run "because I cannot be an onlooker when there is a very tangible risk that everything done so far would be wasted for the sake of nice promises and illusions." Stoyanov, who in 1996 ran as the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) candidate, will seek re-election as an independent. Simeon has been barred from running in the presidential contest by a court decision. A recent poll conducted by Alpha Research and cited by AFP has the National Movement Simeon II leading the field with 38 percent support, followed by the SDS with 25 percent. MS




There is no End Note today.





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