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Newsline - June 21, 2001




DUMA APPROVES NEW CRIMINAL PROCEDURES CODE ON SECOND READING

The Duma on 20 June voted 290 to two to approve on second reading a new Criminal Procedure Code, Russian agencies reported. Prosecutors, appellate courts, and law-enforcement agencies opposed the measure because it gives courts, rather than prosecutors, the right to issue arrest warrants and search orders. Prior to the vote on the code, the Duma failed to approve two Kremlin-supported amendments, of which one would have prevented investigators from launching a case without the approval of prosecutors, while the other would have allowed the prosecution to set punishments without court hearings if the person charged acknowledged his guilt. The new code is significantly more liberal than the Soviet-era code it replaces, but human rights groups have noted that it still has many illiberal provisions. For example, it stipulates that the accused must prove his innocence rather than be presumed innocent. VY

CENSUS MIGHT BE DELAYED

President Vladimir Putin has named Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov chairman of the Census Commission and asked that group to consider postponing the census from October 2002 to January 2003, ITAR-TASS reported. State Statistics Committee Chairman Vladimir Sokolin said the delay is needed because of "the national importance of the census." Sokolin also indicated that the census will cost Russia some 3.2 billion rubles ($106 million). PG

THREE-FOURTHS OF RUSSIANS BACK MAKING 22 JUNE A DAY OF MOURNING

A poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 20 June found that 74 percent of Russians back making 22 June, the anniversary of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, a day of mourning in honor of the memory of victims of World War II. At the same time, 15 percent of the sample oppose this, and 6 percent are not interested in the question, the pollsters found. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry convened a conference on the 60th anniversary of the German invasion, and Russian officials announced plans to begin preparations for the celebration in 2005 of the 60th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II, Interfax reported. PG

PUTIN SAID TO BACK REDUCTION IN TAXES ON PROFITS

Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said on 20 June that Putin supports the reduction of taxes on business profits, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. Regardless of whether the final tax rate is cut to 25 percent as the Kremlin wants, or 23 percent as the Duma prefers, Gref said, the reduction will transform Russia from "a tax hell into a tax paradise." But Western analysts said that the rate cut, while likely to pull some capital out of the shadow economy, will not be sufficient in itself to solve Russia's capital flight and tax-avoidance problems. VY

PUTIN CONFIRMS MOSCOW WILL SUPPLY IRAN WITH ARMS...

President Putin told American journalists that Moscow will provide weapons to Iran, according to the full transcript of the interview they conducted on 18 June as published by strana.ru on 19 June. Putin said that these weapons would be of a defensive nature and thus should not disturb Israel or the United States. He said that some of the American objections to Russian sales reflected a desire by American companies to "make deals there." He said that he provided U.S. President George W. Bush with the names of the Americans involved. VY

...CRITICIZES SPY AGENCIES FOR 'COLD WAR' MENTALITY...

Putin also told the American journalists that both Russian and American intelligence services continue to be driven by Cold War priorities and "a misunderstanding of both prospects for the development of international relations and the real threats of today's world." He said that the intelligence services of both countries still prefer confrontation to working together against common threats. But he said that U.S.-Russian cooperation on Afghanistan provided a positive example of what might be achieved if they work together on other issues. VY

...BUT REAFFIRMS PRIDE IN HIS KGB PAST

At the same time, Putin reaffirmed that his work with the KGB in the past served as a genuine education because he had the chance to work with a wide range of completely different people. He also said that the KGB taught him the importance of finding useful partners for joint work. VY

NAZDRATENKO WANTS FISHING MINISTRY CREATED

Yevgenii Nazdratenko, the former Primorskii Krai governor who heads the State Fisheries Committee, on 20 June called for the creation of a fishing industry ministry, Interfax reported. He also advocated continuing to fish for several years in the Sea of Okhotsk, said that Moscow does not recognize Norway's latest decisions about ecological protections in the Spitzbergen archipelago, and suggested that Russia will remain the world's largest exporter of black caviar, the news agency said. PG

...COMMENTS ON ELECTION

Nazdratenko also offered his reaction to the recent election in Primorskii Krai, where he was governor until recently (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 20 June 2001). According to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, Nazdratenko declared that he played no role whatsoever in the recent election process and expressed his belief that the krai needed a new leadership team. He added that the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern federal district, Konstantin Pulikovskii, had behaved "stupidly" by trying to push forward his first deputy Gennadii Apanasenko, but the residents of Primore are "proud" and "independent" people, and "they showed that this absolutely [wasn't going to happen], but this occurred absolutely without my participation." JAC

A BUSY LEGISLATIVE DAY AT THE DUMA

Duma deputies on 20 June refused to take up a measure proposed by Duma Deputy Speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky calling for an end to sanctions on Iraq, Interfax reported. The parliamentarians also rejected a proposal by deputy (LDPR) Aleksei Mitrofanov to form a commission to investigate the behavior of the Communist and Agrarian-Industrial groups on 15 June during the debate on the Land Code. Meanwhile, the Duma International Affairs Committee prepared a draft Duma declaration in defense of the Patriarch Orthodox Church in Estonia, and the Legislation Committee proposed setting higher punishments for sexual contacts with minors, Interfax reported. On the same day, Putin sent to the Duma for consideration additional parts of the draft Civil Code, the news agency said. PG

MORE MOVES IN THE DUMA

A group of Unity deputies including Aleksandr Chuev, Pavel Kovalenko, Petr Rubezhansky, and Rem Khramov, said that candidates for the post of speaker ought to enjoy the support of the majority of Duma deputies, Interfax reported. The current speaker, Gennadii Seleznev, belongs to the Communist faction. The group also seeks the removal of the chief of the Duma apparatus, Nikolai Troshkin. PG

BEREZOVSKY SAYS HE'LL 'FIGHT FOR POWER'...

In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 20 June, self-exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky said that he plans to return to politics in Russia and found a new right-wing party. He said he devotes 90 percent of his time to Russian issues and does not "feel like an emigre." He also said that "all of [his] business activities were indeed founded on politics." PG

...AS ONE UNIONIST SAYS HE MAY HAVE BACKED MINERS' STRIKE

Ivan Mokhnachuk, the head of the Russian Coal Union, said that Berezovsky may have financed recent strikes by coal miners, including picketing at the Duma, NTV reported, according to Interfax on 20 June. Meanwhile, the picketing in Moscow continued. PG

MOSCOW SEEN EARNING $20 BILLION OVER 40 YEARS FROM OIL TRANSIT

The Russian government will take in more than $20 billion in taxes and fees over the next 40 years from the pipeline carrying oil from Kazakhstan's Tengiz field to Novorossiisk, AP reported on 20 June. Meanwhile, Viktor Kalyuzhnyi, the presidential envoy to the Caspian region, said in Ankara on the same day that Moscow wants to see multiple pipelines carrying oil and gas from the Caspian basin states, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. PG

LUKASHENKA SEEKS GAS, SUPPORT IN MOSCOW

Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka met with President Putin, Prime Minister Kasyanov, and other senior Russian leaders on 20 June to secure more gas for his country and more support for himself in the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus, Russian and Western agencies reported. PG

MOSCOW HAS NO INFORMATION ABOUT U.S. SUPPORT FOR UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION PRESS

In response to a Duma inquiry, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it does not have any information that the United States is financing the opposition press in Ukraine, Interfax reported. The ministry said that American and European officials have talked about the creation of a Fund for the Development of Ukrainian Mass Media to which Washington has contributed $750,000. PG

GAZPROM SAID EXPORTING CAPITAL TO UKRAINE

According to an article in "Vremya MN" on 20 June, the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has been exporting Russian banking capital to the Ukraine. The paper said that much of the money was exported during the time when current Russian Ambassador to Kyiv Viktor Chernomyrdin was Gazprom head in the early 1990s. PG

RUSSIA REGAINS CONTROL OF SEVASTOPOL HARBORS

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on 20 June that Russia is again in charge of the inner and outer harbors of Sevastopol, RIA-Novosti reported. Ukrainian officials were formerly in control of both. Ivanov's comments came after his meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Kuzmuk. The two men also agreed to modernize the Black Sea Fleet and reduce its size, Interfax-Ukraine and "Izvestiya" reported on 20 June. VY

RUSSIANS TO PARTICIPATE IN G-8 SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS

Russian security officials are investigating apparent threats against U.S. President Bush and will participate in security arrangements at the G-8 meeting in Genoa, Italy, next month to help avert such threats, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 June. Meanwhile, "Vedomosti" reported the same day that security around Putin is also being stepped up, lest he "be turned into a Russian Kennedy." PG

IVANOV SEES INCREASING COOPERATION WITH U.S.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 20 June that cooperation between Moscow and Washington has increased since the summit between Putin and Bush last weekend, Russian and Western agencies reported. He said that the two countries have problems and differences but have many positions in common. Meanwhile, Russian Security Council aide Igor Sergeev said after meetings in Washington the same day that he is convinced that the American government is divided on what to do about NMD, Interfax reported. PG

RUSSIA, U.S. LIBERALIZE SHIPPING RULES

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and his Russian counterpart Sergei Frank on 20 June signed a bilateral accord that will make it easier for the ships of each country to use the ports of the other, RIA-Novosti reported. Among its provisions is the lowering of the advance notice requirement from seven days to three days. VY

MOSCOW INTENDS TO STEP UP TALKS WITH U.S. ON BERING SEA

Moscow intends to hold more talks with the United States about revising an earlier accord about economic exclusion zones in the Bering Sea basin, Interfax reported on 20 June. The Soviet-American accord signed earlier by then-Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze "clearly restricts the economic interests of Russia" because it sets the Russian economic zone at 180 miles while allowing the U.S. an exclusion zone of 220 miles, State Fisheries Committee head Nazdratenko said. PG

COULD RUSSIA COMMAND A NATO MANEUVER?

Kaliningrad administration chief Vladimir Yegorov told Interfax/BNS on 20 June that many European governments have suggested to him that Russia might in the future lead the BALTOPS maneuvers organized by NATO for Baltic Sea states. He said that he has reported this suggestion to Moscow. PG

GERMANS FLY OVER RUSSIA UNDER OPEN SKIES TREATY

German inspectors on 20 June flew over the Northern Urals and central regions of Russia as part of the Open Skies Treaty that allows countries to fly over each other's territory as part of a confidence-building measure, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

RUSSIAN MISSILES TO BE LAUNCHED FROM FRENCH GUYANA

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said in Paris on 20 June that the European Space Agency (ESA) has accepted Moscow's proposal for launching Russian satellites from a pad in French Guyana, Prime-TASS reported. The ESA plans to invest $250 million in the Russian project, which will allow for the carrying of super-heavy satellites into orbit. VY

IMF OFFICIAL FINDS GROWING 'NORMALCY' IN MOSCOW

Stanley Fischer, the first deputy director of the International Monetary Fund, said on 20 June that "there is a growing sense of normalcy and confidence" in Moscow, but he warned about the dangers of inflation and overconfidence on the part of the government, AP reported. PG

PROSECUTORS AGAIN SUMMON TV-6 DIRECTOR

The Prosecutor-General's Office on 20 June called Arkadii Patarkatsishvilii, the chairman of the director's council of TV-6, for questioning and said that if he does not appear within a week's time, prosecutors may seek his arrest, Russian agencies reported. Investigators want to question him in connection with the flight of Nikolai Glushkov, who had been arrested for crimes committed while he was first deputy general director of Aeroflot. PG

'SOVETSKAYA ROSSIYA' JOURNALIST VICTIM OF KNIFE ATTACK

"Sovetskaya Rossiya" journalist Aleksandr Frolov was hospitalized on 19 June following a knife attack by an unidentified assailant, Interfax reported. A criminal investigation has been launched. PG

VOLGA COULD 'CEASE TO EXIST AS A RIVER'

Aleksandr Kosarikov, the deputy chairman of the Duma's Environmental Affairs Committee, told AP on 20 June that the Volga River is now threatened by pollution and could "cease to exist as a river," becoming instead "a technological canal." Kosarikov has introduced legislation that will establish quotas for water use and force companies who want to draw water from the river to pay for quotas to do so. PG

SHOIGU SAYS GLOBAL WARMING THREATENS RUSSIAN NORTH

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview published in "Gosudarstvennaya sluzhba" on 20 June that global warming threatens the Russian North and other regions around the world, Interfax reported. Most buildings in the Far North rest on permafrost, Shoigu said, and if that melts, many of them will collapse. PG

MOSCOW ACKNOWLEDGES CHECHEN FUGITIVES AFRAID TO GO HOME

Vladimir Pavlenko, the head of the department of crisis situations at the Ministry for Federation Affairs, Nationality and Migration Policy, acknowledged on 20 June that many displaced persons from Chechnya are afraid to go home, Interfax reported. His admission came on the United Nations' World Refugee Day. PG

MOSCOW OFFICIAL CLEARED OF BRIBERY

A Moscow city court on 20 June found Igor Aleksandrov, the head of the Moscow Registration Chamber, not guilty of taking bribes and other crimes, Interfax reported. But the court found Aleksandrov's deputy, Aleksandr Sevostyanov, guilty of fraud. Moscow officials welcomed the clearing of Aleksandrov. PG

ACCUSED SPY'S COLLEAGUES CALL FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION

Seventeen members of the Russian Academy of Sciences on 20 June published an open letter in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" calling or an independent review of the accusations against Valentin Danilov, who is charged with spying for China, and also for an open trial. The authors of the letter said that the charges against Danilov look "ridiculous," but acknowledged that only an independent investigation could determine all the facts of the case. PG

KALUGIN APPEARS AS WITNESS IN TROFIMOFF TRIAL

Retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin testified on 20 June in the espionage trial of former U.S. Army Colonel George Trofimoff, ITAR-TASS reported. "Rossiiskaya gazeta" commented the same day that "some people in our country still feel compassion for a defector like Kalugin who continues to betray his former colleagues, including a poor old man like Trofimoff, even though many CIA and Western intelligence officials have negative views about him." Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (FSB) counselor Vadim Kirpichenko told lenta.ru on the same day that Kalugin outranks Trofimoff and therefore by testifying he is in fact incriminating himself. VY

POWER OUTAGES SPREAD AROUND THE COUNTRY

Lights are going off in cities and towns around the country in an unpredictable way, according to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 20 June. It notes recent outages in Kamchatka, Moscow, Voronezh, Arkhangelsk, and Kemerovo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2001). PG

TELEPHONE RATES UP AND DOWN

Russian telephone companies plan to raise intercity rates an average of 33 percent as of 1 July, Interfax reported on 19 June. But "Vremya MN" reported on 20 June that Rostelekom is cutting charges for most international telephone calls as of the same date. Changes in these prices are likely to affect both telephone usage and Internet connectivity. PG

WINTER GRAIN HARVEST UP 8 MILLION TONS FROM 2000

An Agriculture Ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 20 June that Russia expects to take in some 30 million tons of winter grain crops in 2001, 8 million more than last year. PG

BOLSHOI THEATER SAID FALLING APART

In an open letter to Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi published in "Izvestiya" on 19 June, Gennadii Rozhdestvenskii, who resigned as the Bolshoi's artistic director last week, said that technical problems at the theater border on sabotage and that media attacks on Rozhdestvenskii appeared designed to force him out. He also complained that Culture Ministry officials are lowering the cultural level of programs at the theater in order to increase audiences and incomes. PG

GOVERNMENT COMPENSATES VICTIM OF STALIN-ERA COLLECTIVIZATION

Petr Akinshin, a resident of Kursk Oblast, received $344 from the government as compensation for property taken from his father during forced collectivization in the early 1930s, "Izvestiya" reported on 19 June. PG

POVERTY DETERS WOMEN FROM HAVING MORE CHILDREN

A recent survey found that 87 of 123 women in the Moscow region said they would like to have a third child but that they are too poor to afford it and fear becoming an object of ridicule if they go ahead, "Nezavisimaya gazeta-Nauka," No. 6, reported. The supplement also reported that most Russian pensioners now fall below the $1 a day income that is the international standard of absolute poverty. PG

BRIBES FOR ADMISSION STABILIZING AT MOSCOW UNIVERSITIES, RISING IN REGIONS

According to an article in "Izvestiya" on 20 June, applicants who want to be accepted at the most prestigious universities in Moscow must pay a bribe of $10,000-15,000, the same as last year. But applicants at provincial universities now have to pay $7,000-9,000, 50 percent more than last year. Applicants to technical schools have seen the greatest increase in the level of required bribes, the paper said. In 1999, bribes to get into these institutions were not needed. Now, students must pay $5,000-$6,000 to be accepted. PG

SYPHILIS CASES IN RUSSIA UP 500 PERCENT IN DECADE

According to an article in "Kommersant-Daily" on 20 June, the number of syphilis cases in Russia has increased five times since 1991. The paper noted that there are now more than 1 million Russians suffering from venereal diseases. Meanwhile, doctors told Interfax the same day that "in certain regions of Russia every 500th resident is ill with syphilis and that in the near future the number of HIV-infected people may be 500,000." PG

VODKA PRODUCTION SLOWLY RESUMING

Pavel Shapkin, the head of the National Alcohol Association, told Interfax on 20 June that Russian distilleries are beginning to resume production after an almost three-week break caused by the government's failure to provide the necessary tax stamps. But he said that most distilleries still do not have the stamps they need and hence cannot sell their product beyond the borders of the oblast where they produce it. PG

BEAR LEADS TRAPPERS TO DESERTER IN KAMCHATKA

ITAR-TASS reported on 20 June that a bear fleeing from trappers led them to the dugout in Kamchatka where a badly injured deserter has been hiding out for six years. The deserter had been living on what he could find in the woods and on vodka he stole from local villages, the news service said, but recently he suffered burns from a fire in his hut. The deserter has been transferred to a special burns unit in Moscow, and officials say that he is unlikely to face prosecution because of his serious injuries. PG

ULTRANATIONALIST GROUP BANNED IN PSKOV

An oblast court recently decided to ban the activities of the Pskov region's most active ultranationalist group, the Union of the Venedy of Pskov, RFE/RL's Pskov correspondent reported on 16 June. Last year, a group of young people from Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party and the Union of Venedy attacked a local Baptist and a Christian Evangelical church as well as the Latvian Consulate with rocks and eggs decorated with Swastikas and insulting slogans. In addition, Latvia's state flag was torn down. All of the activities were captured on videotape by one of the organizers of the raids, Georgii Pavlov, the leader of the union, who was sentenced by the court to 5 1/2 years in prison. The oblast court also ruled that the group's name will be removed from a list of public organizations maintained by the local Justice Ministry department. JAC

ANOTHER U.S.-RUSSIA SUMMIT IN THE WORKS

A delegation of representatives from the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug have returned from Nome, Alaska, where they completed work on the Alaska-Chukotka summit, the website strana.ru reported on 19 June. According to the site, Russian representatives suggested that an easing of the current U.S. visa system would help indigenous peoples of Chukotka receive an education in Alaska, strengthen small businesses, develop tourism, and more broadly contribute to the development of cooperation between Alaska and Chukotka. In August of this year, the governors of Chukotka and Alaska will meet to sign an agreement on the development of international tourism in Chukotka, the problems of delivery of humanitarian aid from Alaska, and the exchange of students and other specialists at various levels between the two regions. On 20 June, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that in the small Chukotka village of Nunligran local stores and hospitals lack the most basic supplies such as food for infants, milk, and medicines. Many residents are out of work and those who do work are not receiving their wages. JAC

SIX MORE ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH GUDERMES BOMBINGS

Chechen security officials arrested a further six people on 20 June on suspicion of involvement in the three car bombings in Gudermes the previous day that killed three people and wounded 37 more, many of them police officers, Russian agencies reported. Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov told Interfax on 20 June that the bombers' objective was to "sow panic" among the Chechen civilian population and frighten people into leaving the republic. He implicitly blamed the police for failing to "normalize the situation" by identifying and arresting the perpetrators of countless earlier murders and terrorist bombings. But "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 21 June quoted Chechen Prosecutor-General Viktor Dakhnov as saying he believes the explosions were directed explicitly against the Chechen police, and that they were organized by field commander Arbi Baraev. LF




SIX DEFENDANTS IN ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS TRIAL AMNESTIED

Six men accused in connection with the October 1999 parliament shootings were cleared of criminal charges on 20 June under the amnesty declared to mark the 1,700th anniversary of Armenia's adoption of Christianity, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The six include three police officers who were on duty at the parliament building on the day of the shooting but failed to prevent the five gunmen from entering the parliament's main chamber. Also on 20 June, members of the ad hoc parliament commission charged with investigating possible official interference with the trial inspected the two Yerevan jails where the remaining defendants are being held. LF

ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI TALKS SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST...

Following the 19 June meeting at which Armenian President Robert Kocharian briefed political party leaders on the continuing Karabakh peace process, Orinats Yerkir (Law-Based Country) parliament faction leader Artur Baghdasarian told Armenian National Television that the next meeting between Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliyev will take place in August, Groong reported. Both Baghdasarian and National Democratic Union Chairman Vazgen Manukian said that the postponement of the talks scheduled for Geneva this month was due to Azerbaijan's reneging on an earlier agreement. LF

...BUT AZERBAIJAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER REMAINS PESSIMISTIC

Speaking at a conference on the Karabakh conflict in Baku on 19 June, Vilayat Quliev said the OSCE Minsk Group charged with mediating a solution to the Karabakh conflict has proven incapable of doing so, according to "Zerkalo" on 20 June, as cited by Groong. "There is a vicious circle: the Minsk Group co-chairmen place their hopes on the talks between the two presidents and base their activity on the results of those talks while the presidents and public in the two countries are waiting for results from the Minsk Group," Quliev observed. He said there appears to be no way out of this "vicious circle," given that the Minsk Group has not put forward any new proposals since November 1998. He implied that a solution to the conflict depends not merely on an agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also on Armenia securing approval for such an agreement from its "patrons," by which he presumably meant Russia. Quliev also again rejected any economic cooperation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, branding Armenian proposals to embark on such cooperation "a well-thought-out step which is intended for the European mentality," according to the independent daily "Ekho," as cited by Groong. LF

GEORGIA UNABLE TO MET FOREIGN DEBT REPAYMENTS

The Georgian government has decided to freeze payments on its $16 million debt to Armenia following failure to reach agreement on rescheduling, Caucasus Press quoted Finance Minister Zurab Nogaideli as saying on 20 June. He said that talks with Russia on debt rescheduling were similarly unsuccessful, but that agreement of restructuring debts has been reached with Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan. By 1 September, Georgia must also conclude rescheduling agreements with the U.S., the Netherlands, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Georgia's total foreign debt is $1.6 billion, of which $500 million is due in the next two years. LF

FEW TAKE ADVANTAGE OF KAZAKHSTAN'S AMNESTY ON REVERSING CAPITAL FLIGHT

To date, few people have taken advantage of the window of opportunity that began on 14 June to return illegally exported capital to Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2001). According to spokesmen for Kazakh banks, no large sums of money have been brought back into the country. LF

KAZAKHSTAN REGISTERS INCREASE IN TRADE WITH EU

Kazakhstan's trade turnover with the EU rose by almost 40 percent in 2000, paralleling a 43 percent overall increase in foreign trade to nearly $16.5 million, Economic and Foreign Trade Ministry official Zaure Abdildina reported on 20 June, according to Interfax. Trade with EU member states stood at about $3 billion, and Italy, Germany, and the U.K. were the largest EU trade partners. Trade with the EU accounted for 22 percent of Kazakhstan's total trade turnover last year. LF

TWO ISLAMIC MILITANTS SENTENCED TO DEATH IN KYRGYZSTAN

A military court in Kyrgyzstan's southern Batken Oblast on 22 June sentenced to death two members of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The two men, one of whom is a Russia and one a Tajik citizen, were captured during clashes in Batken in August 2000 during fighting between Kyrgyz army forces and an invading IMU force. Reuters on 20 June quoted court officials as saying that the sentence is not subject to appeal and will be carried out once a moratorium on the death penalty expires late next year. LF

TAJIKISTAN DENIES REPORTS OF BOMBING

Tajik Interior Minister Khumdin Sharipov told Asia Plus-Blitz in Dushanbe on 21 June that foreign media reports that an unidentified aircraft bombed the Hait district of Gharm Oblast on 20 June are untrue. AFF reported on 20 June that two combat helicopters overflew Hait and dropped at least two bombs before entering Kyrgyz airspace. Kyrgyz National Security Service Director General Bolot Djanuzakov told RFE/RL on 20 June that Bishkek was not responsible for the bombing. LF




BELARUS'S DEMOCRATS HAVE ONLY ONE REPRESENTATIVE IN TERRITORIAL ELECTORAL COMMISSIONS

According to the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the "Vyasna" human rights center, the authorities included only one representative of Belarus's democratic forces in territorial (formed at the oblast and raion levels) electoral commissions, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 20 June. Belarus's democratic parties and NGOs proposed more than 600 candidates to territorial electoral commissions throughout Belarus, but the authorities agreed only to one of those candidates, in Verkhnyadzvinsk Raion of Vitsebsk Oblast. "The current executive authorities selected [for electoral commissions] a majority of those people who have already become skilled hands at falsification in previous electoral campaigns," commented Vyachaslau Siuchyk, who coordinated democratic parties' efforts to include their representatives in electoral commissions. Siuchyk added that the authorities have now begun manning voting-precinct commissions "basically on the same principles" as territorial ones. JM

PARLIAMENT SAYS UKRAINE HAS NOT BECOME DEMOCRACY YET

The Ukrainian legislature on 20 June held hearings devoted to the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the country's constitution, Interfax reported. In a draft document including conclusions from the hearings, lawmakers said Ukraine has so far failed to fulfill the main constitutional tenet of becoming a democratic country ruled by law. The document also noted that human rights in Ukraine are violated on a mass scale. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT NOTES EU'S 'UNAMBIGUOUSLY POSITIVE SIGNAL'

Leonid Kuchma on 20 June said the EU made an "unambiguously positive signal" with regard to Kyiv for the first time in Ukraine's 10 years of independence, Interfax reported. Kuchma was commenting on his meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson in Kyiv, who told the Ukrainian leader that the recent EU summit in Goteborg decided to offer Ukraine broader political cooperation. Kuchma added that he assured Persson of Ukraine's determination "to follow the path of European choice." JM

UKRAINIAN INVESTIGATORS CHARGE 19 PEOPLE OVER ANTIPRESIDENTIAL RIOTS

The Security Service of Ukraine has concluded its investigation into the antipresidential protest on 9 March and charged 19 people with the organization of and participation in mass disorders that led to many injuries among both protesters and police officers, Interfax reported on 20 June. The 19 people, who are currently under arrest, face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty in court. Those arrested include Andriy Shkil, the leader of the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian Self-Defense. JM

CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS RESORT TO FISTICUFFS OVER PROPOSED OUSTER OF PREMIER

Crimean Premier Serhiy Kunitsyn on 20 June refused to report to the legislature of the Crimean Autonomous Republic on the performance of his cabinet, saying that he delivered such a report earlier this year, Interfax and the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. In response, 55 lawmakers in the 100-seat Crimean legislature endorsed an appeal to Ukrainian President Kuchma to dismiss Kunitsyn. The voting was preceded and followed by turmoil and fistfights among Kunitsyn's opponents and supporters. The peninsula's Acting Deputy Premier Oleksandr Ryabkov and Acting Economy Minister Hennadiy Hovorushchenko were injured while Kunitsyn, who remained seated during the fracas, left the session hall unscathed. "Unfortunately, our parliament is no exception to [such practices characteristic of] all parliaments of the world," Crimea's parliamentary speaker Leonid Hrach commented on the incident. JM

THOUSANDS OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX PROTEST PAPAL VISIT

Some 3,000 Orthodox believers as well as priests and nuns staged a march in Kyiv on 21 June, protesting Pope John Paul II's trip to Ukraine that will take place from 23-27 June, Reuters reported. Participants in the peaceful march, mostly elderly women, carried icons and banners reading "No to the Pope's Visit to Ukraine", "Orthodoxy or Death," and "Defend Orthodoxy from the Pope, Forerunner of the Anti-Christ." "The pope plans to stage a show and pray at stadiums to blind the Ukrainian people. During his visit we will pray to be saved from the Catholic evil," the agency quoted protest organizer Valentyn Lukyanyk as saying. The pope's visit is opposed by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate, while leaders of the two other Orthodox churches in Ukraine announced that they will meet with the pontiff in Kyiv. JM

OSCE MISSION IN ESTONIA MAY CLOSE SOON

Doris Hertrampf, the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Estonia, told Prime Minister Mart Laar during talks in Tallinn on 20 June that in view of Estonia's successful development it may soon be possible to end the work of the OSCE mission there, BNS reported. The talks discussed the implementation of the state integration program and recently approved regulations for the enforcement of the language law, which concern language proficiency requirements in the private sector. Education Minister Tonis Lukas, who attended the meeting, presented the language law implementation regulations. Hertrampf is scheduled to report soon to the permanent council of the OSCE in Vienna regarding her work in Estonia. SG

GREATER COOPERATION BETWEEN RIGA AND MOSCOW

Riga Mayor Gunars Bojars asserted on 20 June that talks between a Riga City Council delegation he headed and Moscow city government officials exceeded all expectations in terms of favorable attitude and readiness to cooperate, BNS reported. At a lunch hosted by Moscow Deputy Mayor Valerii Shantsev it was agreed to set up a working group for cooperation between Riga and Moscow and to soon sign a protocol on cooperation between the capitals in the areas of tourism, economy, trade, education, and culture. Noting that "meetings of Moscow and Riga [officials] of such ranks have not taken place for the last 10 years, may be even longer," Bojars said that the delegation unexpectedly received many proposals to work with Moscow. He also held talks with Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev. SG

LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS

In perhaps the shortest Lithuanian government meeting ever -- less than five minutes -- Rolandas Paksas on 20 June read only a short statement declaring his resignation as prime minister, ELTA report. It had been expected that the meeting would approve the agreement between the Russian oil company YUKOS and Mazeikiai Nafta (Oil) as well as select a model for privatizing the state-owned Lithuanian Gas. Paksas proposed that Finance Minister Jonas Lionginas be appointed acting prime minister, but President Valdas Adamkus decided to appoint Economy Minister Eugenijus Gentvilas, the deputy chairman of the Liberal Union. Adamkus accepted Paksas's resignation in the Vilnius hospital he had been rushed that morning with suspected appendicitis. The president's appendix was successfully removed later that evening. The future of the next government remains uncertain. The New Union (Social Liberals), the other major party in the ruling coalition, which created the crisis by demanding that Paksas resign, has not decided whether it will continue with the current coalition or make a new one with the Social Democrats. SG

POLISH LAWMAKERS ACCUSE TELEVISION OF POLITICAL BIAS

A group of 80 legislators from the Solidarity Electoral Action of the Right, Law and Justice, and Civic Platform electoral committees have accused Polish Television of meddling in the ongoing election campaign, Polish Radio reported on 20 June. The legislators demand in a written statement that the Polish Television Program and Supervisory Council explain its "shocking decision" to air a documentary accusing Justice Minister Lech Kaczynski of involvement in a financial scandal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2001). PAP reported the same day that the board of the Association of Polish Journalists in Polish Television said the documentary testifies to the fact that public television is being used for "political manipulation." JM

GERMANY'S SLAVE-LABOR FUND DISMISSES POLISH COMPLAINT ABOUT EXCHANGE RATE

The German foundation compensating surviving Nazi-era slave and forced laborers on 20 June rejected a Polish charge that initial payments will be less than expected because the money was changed into zlotys at a poor exchange rate, AP reported. The Polish-German Reconciliation Foundation, which is responsible for distributing compensations among some 500,000 claimants in Poland, complained that the exchange rate of the first compensation installment received this week was lower than last week, when the money transfer was ordered. In reply, the Berlin-based foundation said the Polish side asked to be paid in local currency, which made the amount subject to exchange-rate movements. "In most Eastern European countries, the payments are being made in [German] marks," the foundation said in a statement. JM

BELGIUM PROTESTS POLISH BAN ON MEAT IMPORTS

Belgium on 20 June protested a ban on its meat imports to Poland and on transit of Belgian meat products to Russia, PAP reported. The Belgian Foreign Ministry pointed out that this week Poland lifted its ban on meat imports from Finland, Sweden, and Denmark without clarifying its criteria. "From a political point of view, this [ban] will do [Poland] an ill service, particularly since Belgium is taking the EU presidency for the second half of the year," PAP quoted a European Commission official as saying. In February, Poland banned meat imports from most of Europe to protect the Polish market from foot-and-mouth disease. JM

CZECH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REBUFFS PREMIER OVER BANK GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENT...

The Constitutional Court on 20 June ruled that President Vaclav Havel acted in line with constitutional provisions when he appointed Zdenek Tuma as governor of the Czech National Bank and Ludek Niedermeyer as Tuma's first deputy on 29 November 2000, CTK reported. Premier Milos Zeman, who opposed the appointments, wanted the court to rule that they were invalid because Havel had not submitted the appointments to him to be cosigned. The court ruled that Havel had appointed national bank governors and other members of the bank's board for eight years without the government or any of Zeman's predecessors complaining about it. In a separate ruling, the court heeded an appeal by Havel against one of the provisions of the law on the National Bank that stipulates that the bank must guarantee price stability, but rejected other complaints by Havel against the law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 2000). MS

...HAVEL HAILS DECISION AS PROOF OF COURT'S INDEPENDENCE

President Havel told CTK after the court's ruling that the decision was "solid" and "additional proof of the importance for a Constitutional Court to exist and to be a really independent institution that is obviously immune to possible political pressure." Zeman said the court's ruling was passed by a narrow majority of judges and Civic Democratic Party (ODS) leader Vaclav Klaus questioned the impartiality of Constitutional Court Judge Vladimir Klokocka, who wrote the opinion of the majority. The ODS and Zeman's Social Democratic Party had backed the law on the National Bank as part of the "opposition agreement" on Czech constitutional reforms. MS

CZECH PRIVATIZATION PROCEEDS FALLING SHORT

Proceeds from the sale of state-controlled firms will fall below expectations and fail to provide revenues needed to balance the Czech government's deficit-saddled budget, dpa reported on 20 June, citing the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes." The daily said privatization will yield about 70 billion crowns ($1.75 billion) in 2001, which is 100 billion crowns less than expected. The government is trying to sell controlling stakes in the leading telecommunication concerns Cesky Telekom and Ceske Radiokomunikace, as well as the third-largest bank -- Komercni banka -- alongside CEZ, the country's top electricity producer, the leading chemicals concern Unipetrol, and the spirits producer Becherovka. Three foreign bids were submitted for Komercni banka but "Mlada fronta Dnes" says the bank could sell for as little as 22 billion crowns, whereas the government expected at least 40 billion crowns. MS

SLOVAK LEADERS AGREE TO COOPERATE 'ON WAY TO NATO'

President Rudolf Schuster, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, and parliament Chairman Jozef Migas agreed at a meeting hosted by Schuster on 20 June to coordinate their approaches as Slovakia attempts to gain NATO and EU membership, CTK reported. They said their differences, as reflected in Schuster's recent State of the Nation speech, should not prevent their working together for aims on which all three are agreed. "When we are on the way to the finale...it is very important to harmonize our steps," Schuster said. The president told journalists he "appreciates" the fact that Dzurinda has reacted in a restrained manner to his criticism and that he "would be glad" if the government fulfilled its promises to revitalize the economy and reduce unemployment. Dzurinda said he has "always tried his best" to maintain good relations with Schuster and that senior state officials "have no right to have personal problems." MS

SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES BILLS RELATED TO PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION REFORM

The cabinet on 20 June approved a number of draft bills related to the envisaged reform of the public administration system, which is one of the EU conditions for Slovakia's accession to the union. However, the cabinet remains divided over the number of new administrative regions that will be set up, CTK reported. MS

MECIAR'S PARTY CONTINUES TO LEAD IN SLOVAK POLLS...

A public opinion poll conducted by the UVVM institute shows the HZDS leading the field in Slovak party preferences with a backing of 26.1 percent, CTK reported on 19 June. The Smer (Direction) party led by Robert Fico is second, with 16.5 percent, followed by the SMK (13.2) and the SNS (11.7 percent). Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union is supported by 9.1 percent, a loss of over 3 percentage points from last month. If elections were held now, the 5 percent threshold would also be crossed by the Christian Democratic Party (6.8 percent) and by the Alliance for a New Citizen headed by media tycoon Pavol Rusko (5.5 percent). MS

...AS DO OPPOSITION LEADERS

A poll conducted by the Slovak Statistical Office largely confirms these findings, CTK reported on 20 June. According to this poll, 17.6 percent of respondents consider HZDS leader and former Premier Vladimir Meciar to be the most trustworthy Slovak politician. Meciar is narrowly followed by Fico (17.3 percent). In third place is SNS leader Anna Malinkova (12.8 percent). They are followed, with a considerable gap, by Deputy Premier Ivan Miklos (8.8 percent), Parliamentary Deputy Chairman Bela Bugar (8.7), President Schuster (7.5) and Premier Dzurinda (7 percent). MS

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT NOT TO INTERFERE IN DISPUTE OVER JEWISH COMPENSATION FROM GERMANY

The cabinet on 20 June decided not to interfere in the dispute between Slovakia's Central Association of Jewish Communities and the German government over the compensation claimed by the association from Germany, but affirmed that the association is the sole entity entitled to raise that claim, CTK reported. The cabinet said the association "is explicitly authorized to make all claims and take all necessary legal action." On 28 March, a Berlin court ruled that the association is not entitled to claim it represents all those deported to Nazi concentration camps from Slovakia and claim compensation on those grounds. Slovakia was the only state in Nazi-ruled CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE that paid Germany to deport its Jews to the extermination camps and the association wants that sum (500 Reichmarks per deportee) to be paid to it. Almost 58,000 Slovak Jews were deported in 1942, of whom 282 survived. MS

ORBAN, MARTONYI DEFEND HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW

During his weekly interview with Radio "Kossuth" on 20 June, Prime Minister Viktor Orban defended the Status Law passed by the parliament one day earlier despite strong objections from Romania and Slovakia. Orban said he was "surprised" to hear objections from the two countries. Orban claimed that both Slovakia and Romania have their own "status laws" supporting ethnic minorities abroad. He remarked that "the way of thinking observed in Slovakia and Romania differs from the mentality of quite a few countries in the region, including our own thinking and perhaps our set of values." Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said that, as the Status Law was passed by the parliament with a 92 percent majority and was supported by ethnic Hungarians abroad, "it reflects a shared national feeling" that should be "duly respected" by Hungary's neighbors. He said Hungary will "do its best to clarify misunderstandings" surrounding the law. MSZ

KOSTUNICA'S BUDAPEST VISIT STRENGTHENS BILATERAL TIES

Hungarian and Yugoslav government officials on 20 June signed bilateral agreements on investor protection and avoiding double taxation, visiting Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Madl told reporters in Budapest. The two presidents said their countries will soon conclude a free-trade agreement, will open new border-crossings, and develop infrastructure. Madl said a pending bill on ethnic minorities in Yugoslavia contains promising guarantees that ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina can preserve their ethnic, linguistic, and cultural identity. Kostunica said the bill will rule out discrimination and "in some respects will surpass European norms." Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi and his Yugoslav counterpart Goran Svilanovic announced that a Hungarian consulate will be opened in Subotica on 18 August. MSZ

HUNGARIAN EX-COLONEL FOUND GUILTY OF 1956 MASSACRE

The Gyor-Moson-Sopron County Court found retired border guard Colonel Istvan Dudas guilty of a crime against humanity for his part in the 26 October 1956 massacre in Mosonmagyarovar, Hungarian media reported on 20 June. Dudas was sentenced to three years in prison for not preventing the troops under his command from firing on an unarmed crowd, killing 50 and wounding over 200. The court decided, however, to take into consideration the long time that has elapsed since the event, Dudas's age and poor health, and a general amnesty granted in 1993, and suspended the sentence. MSZ




SOLANA TRIES TO BREAK MACEDONIAN IMPASSE

Javier Solana, the EU's chief security policy official, is slated to arrive in Skopje on 21 June to provide a fresh impetus for the all-party peace talks, which appear to have stalled among mutual recriminations, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2001). Solana will leave Macedonia for Israel that same evening and return to Skopje the next day. On 20 June, President Boris Trajkovski blamed ethnic Albanian leaders for introducing what he called new and unacceptable demands aimed at "federalizing" the country. He added that the Albanians "wanted only to prolong the talks, hoping maybe for international intervention," Reuters reported. Ethnic Albanian leaders, for their part, claimed that Macedonian politicians are unwilling to implement change or do anything more than talk, the BBC reported. One top official of the Party of Democratic Prosperity called for foreign mediation, Reuters reported. The EU hopes that these charges and countercharges are little more than political posturing in the run-up to a 25 June deadline that Brussels has set for the all-party talks to conclude a deal. PM

ROBERTSON SAYS NATO ROLE IN MACEDONIA IS NOT 'ARMED INTERVENTION'...

NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said in Washington on 20 June that NATO ambassadors agreed only to supply assistance to help collect arms in Macedonia -- if asked -- and then to leave, all within a short period of time, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2001). He stressed that NATO assistance will be offered "when, and only when, there is a durable cease-fire and an agreement between all of the parties in the [government] coalition -- and indeed an agreement by the armed extremists that they will proceed toward disarmament." Robertson stressed that "this is not some military force going in to fight. It is an offer by the NATO countries to be prepared to put in place a NATO-led force that will take the arms and uniforms of all the armed groups who will by that time have indicated that they wish to disarm." PM

...AND STRICTLY RULES OUT POLICING DEMARCATION LINES

Robertson said in Washington on 20 June that "there are no circumstances, no circumstances where NATO troops are going to go to Macedonia to foist any internal demarcation lines that might exist there or any partition of Macedonia at all," Reuters reported. "This [idea] seems to have surfaced...inside the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. But I have made it clear in a letter to the president [of Macedonia] that under no circumstances would NATO be involved in demarcation or partitioning." Elsewhere, an unnamed NATO official told the "Financial Times" of 21 June that "we cannot afford to have Macedonia become another Kosovo in which the ethnic hatred is...so entrenched and the province is run by an international protectorate." PM

NATO DRAFTING PLANS FOR MACEDONIAN FORCE

The "Financial Times" reported from Brussels on 21 June that the Atlantic alliance is preparing an "operational plan" slated to be ready by 27 June. It envisages a battalion of between 3,000 and 5,000 troops divided into three units that could be sent to Macedonia "as soon as possible." British, Spanish, Dutch, Greek, Czech, and Norwegian troops are expected to make up the lion's share of the force. The U.S. is expected to provide communications and logistics support. An unnamed "senior NATO diplomat" told the daily that "the Americans will put their boots on the ground." Russia will be kept constantly informed of NATO's plans. PM

WHAT ROLE FOR THE U.S. IN MACEDONIA?

Balkan expert Mark Thompson, who works for the NGO International Crisis Group, told the BBC's Serbian Service on 21 June that the key to ending the Macedonian imbroglio is greater U.S. involvement. He stressed that American leadership was essential for dealing with the previous crises in the former Yugoslavia. In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on 20 June that "we are...looking for others who are respected by both sides to come play a role in bridging these differences," Reuters reported. He did not indicate who such a mediator might be. He indicated that a settlement should include constitutional changes to address basic Albanian grievances. Powell stressed that "we're pressing that as hard as we can, because...only through a political solution will they be able to keep moderate Albanians and Macedonians from joining the extremists." PM

POWELL SAYS IT'S TOO EARLY TO COMMIT TROOPS

Powell, a former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Washington on 20 June that "we have roughly 700 people in Macedonia already, and they at some point could become a part of that [disarmament process]," dpa reported. He pointed out that some of the 5,400 U.S. troops in Kosova are helping patrol the border with Macedonia to prevent any infiltration of Albanian guerrillas. Powell added: "I think we are involved militarily, we are involved politically, we are involved diplomatically, and we are doing everything that has been asked of us so far. But we have not yet made any commitment of troops to the purpose of this potential disarmament mission, because we really don't need to make such a contribution yet." PM

MACEDONIAN POLICE ARREST 30 ALBANIANS IN SKOPJE

Police arrested 30 men in Skopje near the historical fort on 20 June, dpa reported. Police officials said that the men came from Albania, were driving stolen cars, and are suspected of links to the National Liberation Army (UCK). PM

YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT HAILS RUSSIA AS COUNTERBALANCE TO U.S.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica told the Russian weekly "Obshchaya Gazeta" that his country "has always held the view that Russia's presence is the alpha and omega of stability and balance in Southeastern Europe," Interfax reported from Moscow on 20 June. He added that "the major decisions concerning the Balkans have [always] been adopted with Russia's participation... I am sure that Russia's presence will also be necessary in the future." He stressed that "to avoid new crises, Russia should share responsibility for the Balkans' fate equally with the U.S. in both diplomatic and peacekeeping aspects" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 May 2001). PM

FLOODS FORCE THOUSANDS TO FLEE HOMES IN BOSNIA

Heavy rainfall continues to batter much of Bosnia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Banja Luka on 20 June. Officials have declared a state of emergency in several regions, and police in both the federation and the Republika Srpska are out in force to clear roads and assist stranded motorists (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2001). The Tuzla, Brcko, Banja Luka, Doboj, and Zenica areas have been particularly hard hit. Several thousand people have been forced to flee their homes, at least 10 of which have been destroyed by the flood waters, dpa reported. PM

ELECTION OF SPLIT MAYOR SIGN OF CHANGE IN CROATIA?

Social Liberal candidate Ivica Skaric was re-elected mayor by the City Council on 20 June with the votes of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), AP reported. The Social Democrats, who have the largest number of seats, had insisted that Skaric step down in favor of a Social Democrat. The Social Liberals and Social Democrats are the two largest parties in the national governing coalition. National Social Liberal leader Drazen Budisa is widely believed to be waiting for an opportunity to end that coalition and form a new one with the HDZ and other conservative parties. PM

BANDIC, SRICA HEAD GOVERNMENT IN CROATIAN CAPITAL

The Zagreb City Council re-elected Social Democrat Milan Bandic as mayor on 20 June, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The new council president is Velimir Srica of the liberal Croatian People's Party. Srica is a U.S.-educated IT specialist. PM

CROATIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS RELUCTANT TO FACE TOUGH QUESTIONS?

Veteran journalist Mirjana Rakic resigned as moderator of Croatian Television's talk show "Forum" after Prime Minister Ivica Racan, Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic, and several other top officials cancelled a planned appearance, AP reported from Zagreb on 20 June. They were slated to discuss the government's record after 500 days in office. The officials cancelled after Rakic changed the format to include a panel of critical journalists. "Vecernji list" wrote that the cancellation raises doubts about the government's commitment to freedom of the media. Rakic said later that she has never worked harder on a program and achieved so few results, "Jutarnji list" reported. PM

ALBANIA GETS READY FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS

Albanians prepare to vote on 24 June after what many experts regard as the most peaceful and orderly campaign in the post-communist history of that country, dpa reported. The news agency notes that opposition leader Sali Berisha deserves much of the credit for the change in the political atmosphere, because he stopped his confrontational tactics after a visit to the U.S. in February. Latest polls give 46 percent to the governing Socialists and 42 percent to the opposition (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 June 2001). Campaigning has centered on economic issues. PM

HUNGARIAN LEADER IN ROMANIA SALUTES STATUS LAW...

Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) Chairman Bela Marko on 20 June told journalists that the positions adopted by the Romanian authorities and by political parties toward the Status Law passed by the Hungarian parliament one day earlier "create an artificial conflict that does not serve Romanian interests and the future of our relations with Hungary," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The law, Marko said, is aimed at helping ethnic Hungarians abroad to preserve their identity. He said the UDMR will not be directly involved in issuing identity cards attesting to Hungarian ethnicity but "will be involved in preparations for the law's implementation." Marko said he will himself request such a card, "but never the double Romanian-Hungarian citizenship... I am a Romanian citizen, wish to remain one, and, as a Romanian citizen I want to be able to preserve my cultural, traditional Magyar identity," he said. MS

...TRIGGERING WRATH OF CHAUVINIST PARTY

The Greater Romania Party (PRM) on 20 June said in a press release that "more emphatically than ever in the past," the PRM demands that the UDMR be outlawed because it allegedly endangers national security. The PRM said it will submit in the parliament a draft bill stipulating that Romania unilaterally abrogate the basic treaty with Hungary if Budapest "perseveres in its plans." It said the Status Law is "a racial law" and that the PRM members of the Romanian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe -- the party's chairman, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, and Senator Ilie Ilascu -- will initiate a motion in Strasbourg condemning the law. Also on 20 June, Gheorghe Funar, the nationalist Cluj mayor and PRM secretary-general, announced that "archeological excavations" will be resumed in the city's center. The excavations, which have been conducted around major Hungarian historical monuments, led to clashes in 1994. MS

WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN FOR ROMANIA

The World Bank on 20 June approved a $50 million three-year loan to Romania for improving social security, Finance Minister Mihai Tanasescu told journalists. Tanasescu also said that an agreement on the "letter of intent" stipulating the conditions under which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would resume lending to Romania might be signed the next day. A Romanian Radio report on 21 June said Premier Adrian Nastase met in Bucharest with Neven Mates, the IMF's chief negotiator for Romania. A 20 June Mediafax report said that at its last meeting, the World Bank's Executive Board approved the "Strategy of Assistance to Romania" up to 2004. In the event that privatization efforts are pursued and intensified, the strategy provides lending of up to $995 million in that period. If privatization is "hesitant or will regress," lending will not be higher than $60 million. MS

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS FOOLING COUNCIL OF EUROPE?

The Chamber of Deputies' Judicial Commission on 20 June changed the government-proposed amendment of the Penal Code aimed at decriminalizing homosexual relationships. The commission restored to the code the punishment of same-sex relations "if they occur in public," but moved that provision from Article 200 to Article 201. There is no definition of what "in public" actually means. The amendment is yet to be approved by the plenum. UDMR Deputy Ervin Szekely, the only member of the commission to have opposed the decision, told Mediafax its members believe "they can thus fool the Council of Europe," which has insisted on decriminalizing homosexual relations. MS

...INTRODUCE AMBIGUITY IN LAW ON FORMER STATE LEADERS

A mediation commission of Romania's two chambers of parliament on 20 June decided to strike out a provision in a draft bill on the rights of former heads of state that specifically mentioned former king Michael among those to whom the provisions of the law apply, Mediafax reported. The law entitles former heads of state to an official residence and monthly stipends of 75 percent of the incumbent president's wages. The decision was taken in view of the opposition of the PRM. Social Democratic Party Senator Ionel Olteanu said the concession to the PRM is not significant, since his party has clarified that the law's provisions will apply to the former monarch, but observers say the law could be interpreted differently if the government majority in the parliament changes. MS

VORONIN, SMIRNOV, FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON TRANSDNIESTER STATUS...

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin and separatist leader Igor Smirnov failed to reach any agreement on the status of the breakaway region during their meeting in Chisinau on 20 June, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Smirnov said after the meeting that "the Moldovan leadership is repeating the mistakes of its predecessors, failing to take into account the actual reality." He said he has "no less than 11 objections" to the first article in the draft proposed by Voronin on Transdniester autonomous status. Smirnov said Voronin is disregarding agreements reached in the past and repeated that a resolution of the conflict is possible only by "creating a common state on an equal, treaty-regulated basis." He also said Voronin has failed to address the Tiraspol proposal that Chisinau "withdraw" from the OSCE 1999 Istanbul summit resolutions. MS

...EXCHANGE UNFRIENDLY REMARKS

Voronin said he has expressed to Smirnov his "surprise" that, following their 16 May agreement on the mutual recognition of official documents, Transdniester decided to issue its own passports. He emphasized again that "a state cannot have two passports." Voronin also said Tiraspol's position on the OSCE summit fails to take into account that those accords were signed by all OSCE members . He said the issue of checkpoints in the demilitarized zone was not raised but that he will go ahead and dismantle "at least six of the 10 existing points." Smirnov replied that Moldova cannot do that unilaterally, as the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Joint Control Commission. The two leaders did, however, agree to cooperate on "public order maintenance" and to have experts from the two sides' interior ministries pursue the matter further. The next negotiating round was scheduled for 8 August in Tiraspol. MS

MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS POWELL

Foreign Minister Nicolae Cernomaz, currently visiting the United States, on 20 June told journalists at RFE/RL's Washington bureau that he met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Cernomaz said they discussed the problem of human- and drug-trafficking from Moldova to Western Europe and that Powell told him he will ask the EU to help Moldova cope with those problems. Cernomaz said much of the trafficking originates from Ukraine. MS

FINAL RESULTS RELEASED ON THE BULGARIAN BALLOT

The Central Election Commission on 20 June announced that the National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) garnered 42.74 percent of votes in the 17 June parliamentary elections and will have 120 seats in the 240-member new parliament, BTA reported. The United Democratic Forces (ODS) coalition has 51 seats, having been backed by 18.8 percent of the electorate. The Coalition for Bulgaria, whose main component is the Bulgarian Socialist Party, was supported by 17.15 percent of voters and has 48 seats. The ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms has 21 seats, having garnered 7.45 percent of the vote. Nine deputies were elected in two constituencies and will have to decide which constituency they want to represent. MS

SIMEON TO DECIDE ON BULGARIAN PREMIERSHIP 'THIS WEEK'

Former King Simeon II on 20 June said he will decide "later this week" whether to take over the premiership himself, AP reported. Bulgarian legislation would enable him to do that, although he did not run for a seat in the parliament. The NDSV on the same day urged the outgoing government to suspend important privatization deals in progress and not to sign additional clauses on already closed privatization projects. Observers say the NDSV is thus hinting that it suspects irregularities in the ODS-supervised privatization process. On 20 June, Simeon met with leaders of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and received their blessing for success. He agreed with Patriarch Maxim to set up a working group to resolve the split in the church between Maxim's supporters and dissenting clergy who accuse him of having collaborated with the communists and therefore demand his ouster. MS

EU RAPPORTEUR SAYS 2007 'REALISTIC DATE' FOR BULGARIA'S ACCESSION

In a report prepared for the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Jeffrey van Orden, EU rapporteur for Bulgaria, said he considers the year 2007, which is being advanced by Bulgaria's outgoing government as the country's target date for accession to the EU, to be "realistic," BTA reported on 20 June. Van Orden wrote that the resolution to be adopted by the European Parliament should commend the country for "serving as a model" for the viability of the "catching-up principle" in the negotiations with the EU. But van Orden also said Bulgaria is not yet a functioning market economy and more effort is needed to strengthen state administration and intensify the struggle against corruption. The rapporteur emphasized Bulgaria's positive role as a "stabilizing factor in the Balkans." The report is to be submitted to the European Parliament in the fall. MS

EU TRYING TO ENSURE FAIR TRIAL FOR BULGARIANS IN LIBYA

Swedish Ambassador to Bulgaria Sten Ask on 20 June told journalists that the EU is trying to ensure a fair trial for the six Bulgarian medics accused in Libya of having deliberately infected children with the HIV virus, AP reported. The ambassador said the EU "shares the concern of the Bulgarian government" and that it had already sent Libya a memorandum on the case last year. MS




There is no End Note today.





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