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Newsline - June 22, 2001




PUTIN SPEAKS ON 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF GERMAN INVASION OF USSR

President Vladimir Putin on 22 June delivered a nationwide address on television on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. "Russia," he said, "can never be understood without knowing what our people had endured during the war, without being aware of their lot on the war fronts and in the rear, and incomprehensible without this is our special attitude to the army and to the defenders of the Fatherland, why people, who had survived Nazi blockades, still have the habit of collecting stale bread, why our people abhor war, and whence the phrase that our old folk often say, and which the young people are repeating after them: 'We want no more war'" Meanwhile, on 21 June, the Communist Party (KPRF) appealed to the Russian people to reject the government's economic plans, Interfax reported. The appeal said that the Putin-Kasyanov-Gref program "in its essence is nothing other than a contemporary 'Plan Ost,' the plan for the post-war colonization of a defeated Russia." PG

PRIMAKOV SAYS PUTIN DISTANCING HIMSELF FROM YELTSIN

In an extract from his memoirs published in "Trud-7" on 21 June, Fatherland-All Russia leader and former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov said Putin has distanced himself from the entourage of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and is beginning to "break down his genetic ties" with Yeltsin himself. Primakov also said that Putin acted clumsily concerning NTV, pushing forward to head NTV people who are not only far from being journalists but who have less than perfect reputations. VY

KASYANOV NAMES SHOIGU TO HEAD SAKHA REBUILDING

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on 21 June replaced Anvar Shamuzarafov with Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu as head of the commission working to help Sakha (Yakutia) recover from recent floods, ITAR-TASS reported. Both Putin and Kasyanov had indicated that they were unhappy with the course of the recovery effort. PG

SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL SAYS GOVERNMENT CANNOT BEAR ALL COSTS OF SCIENCE

At a meeting of the Russian Security Council on 21 June, council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo said that the government cannot assume full responsibility for the funding of science in Russia, Interfax reported. He said it is neither possible nor necessary for the government to fund science the way the Soviet government did. Meanwhile, some 500 people took part in a demonstration calling for more money for Russian science, the news agency reported. PG

CABINET APPROVES RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE PROGRAM

The cabinet on 21 June approved a four-year program for promoting the use of the Russian language in Russia and in the former Soviet republics and Baltic countries, Interfax reported. The program is budgeted to cost 80 million rubles ($2.6 million) of which Moscow will provide 50.8 million. PG

FEDERATION COUNCIL MAY BE BYPASSED ON NUCLEAR WASTE MEASURE

Sergei Ryabukhin, the head of the legislative assembly in Ulyanovsk Oblast, told Interfax on 21 June that the Duma-approved bill on importing nuclear wastes may go to the president directly for signature without the Federation Council having a chance to vote on it. He said the reason for this is that the upper chamber is required by the constitution to take up measures within 14 days of their adoption by the Duma, but the council has not scheduled hearings until 28 July, eight days after the constitutional deadline. If the council does not take up such measures on time, Ryabukhin said, then they can go directly to the president for signature or veto. PG

DUMA APPROVES BILL ON POLITICAL PARTIES

The Duma on 21 June voted 238 to 164 to approve on third and final reading the Kremlin-backed bill on political parties, Russian and Western agencies reported. The bill specifies that to gain the status of a political party, an organization must have more than 10,000 members, branches in at least 50 percent of the federation units, and a minimum of 100 members in each branch. If the group does not meet those criteria, the bill says, it can be abolished by a decision of the Supreme Court. It also calls for state financing of parties that receive more than 3 percent of the vote in the preceding election, limits private contributions to political parties to 3,000 rubles ($110) a year per individual, and bans such contributions by foreigners and international organizations. PG

DUMA MOVES TO REDUCE ITS CONTROL OVER PRIVATIZATION

The Duma on 21 June approved on first reading a new privatization bill that will end the existing requirement for mandatory Duma approval of privatization projects, Prime-TASS reported. But the deputies did not give up all their powers over that process: they retained the right of veto over using privatization proceeds to fund the budget and over decisions concerning energy and power monopolies. VY

DUMA FAILS TO PASS BILL RESTRICTING FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF MEDIA OUTLETS

The Duma on 21 June failed to pass on second reading a bill that would have limited foreign investments in the country's main television stations, Russian and Western agencies reported. The same day, the deputies approved on first reading a measure that would increase charges for use of water resources, approved on second reading a measure allowing for the increase in the size of federation units and the inclusion of foreign countries into the Russian Federation, adopted on third and final reading the law restricting tobacco use, and unanimously approved a declaration expressing its concerns about what the deputies said are the violations against Orthodox believers in Estonia. (Meanwhile, a small group of demonstrators picketed the Estonian Embassy in Moscow to protest the same thing, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 June.) But the deputies refused to vote for investigating the actions of the Communists and the Agrarians during the 15 June session when the Land Code was being considered. Also on 21 June, a small group of coal miners again picketed the Duma building, Interfax reported. PG

LUKASHENKA VISIT TO MOSCOW PROVES DISAPPOINTING

Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka did not have a good visit to Moscow this week, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 June. He did not manage to schedule all the meetings he wanted, nor did he receive the backing he sought, nor the assistance he had hoped for, the paper said. The paper added that Russian leaders made it clear that they will not ignore Belarusian presidential candidates who are running against Lukashenka. In response, Lukashenka lashed out at the Russian media just before he left Moscow on 20 June, the paper noted. PG

RUSSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS CONDEMN VIOLATIONS IN CENTRAL ASIA

A meeting of Russian human rights groups have condemned Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for their violations of basic human and civil rights, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 21 June. The meeting concluded that the violation of these rights is leading to instability, noting that "the total persecution and defeat of the civil opposition in the early 1990s created inside Uzbekistan a vacuum which is now being filled by radical ideology, and for this [Uzbekistan's President Islam] Karimov himself is to blame." The human rights activists also criticized the Russian government for cooperating with Tashkent by arresting and extraditing persons who have fled from Uzbekistan. PG

MOSCOW HAS NO COMMENT ON DEPARTURE OF 46 U.S. DIPLOMATS

The Russian Foreign Ministry on 21 June refused to confirm or deny reports that 46 American diplomats who Moscow had ordered in March to leave Russia by 1 July have in fact left the country, ITAR-TASS reported. VY

SECURITY COUNCIL AIDE DOUBTS U.S. NMD CAN WORK

In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 21 June, Russian Security Council aide Igor Sergeev said that the American NMD plans are both flawed and confused and thus are unlikely to work anytime in the near future. PG

MOSCOW SEES PROGRESS IN TIES WITH POLAND

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that relations between Moscow and Warsaw have improved dramatically over the last year, Interfax reported on 21 June. His comments came at a meeting with his Polish counterpart Wladyslaw Bartoszewski at the Polish Embassy in Moscow. PG

MOSCOW WANTS POLAND, LITHUANIA INVOLVED IN KALININGRAD-EU TALKS

Foreign Minister Ivanov said on 21 June that Moscow believes that Polish and Lithuanian representatives should participate in Russia-European Union talks about Kaliningrad, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

NORWAY TO FUND ANTI-TB PROGRAM IN RUSSIA

The Norwegian government plans to spend 500,000 crowns ($55,000) on a program for fighting tuberculosis in Russia, Deputy Health Minister Georgii Petrov told Interfax on 21 June. Petrov said that he hopes this means that the International Working Group on the Struggle with Infectious Diseases of the Baltic Sea countries will step up its activities. PG

CATHOLICS, ORTHODOX CLASH OVER POPE

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the senior Roman Catholic prelate in Russia, said that a meeting between Orthodox Patriarch Aleksii II and Pope John Paul II would help resolve differences between the two churches and should be held as soon as possible, AP reported on 21 June. He said that his parishes have sent repeated invitations to the pope. But officials at the Moscow Patriarchate said that such invitations are illegitimate and an attempt to put pressure on the civil and religious authorities of Russia, Interfax reported the same day. Moreover, Russian Orthodox officials continued to speak out against the upcoming visit by the pope to Ukraine, but a poll conducted in Russia by the Public Interest Foundation found that 50 percent of those surveyed are indifferent to a papal visit to Ukraine and 48 percent said they would welcome a papal visit to Russia, AP reported. PG

RUSSIA MAY JOIN NATO MISSION IN MACEDONIA

Foreign Minister Ivanov said on 21 June that Russia might consider taking part in a NATO force in Macedonia to disarm ethnic Albanians there "if we are invited to participate on an equal basis," Russian and Western agencies reported. The same day, Defense Ministry officials said that Russia intends to cut the number of its peacekeepers in Bosnia this summer, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

POLTAVCHENKO WANTS TIGHTER SECURITY IN MOSCOW

Georgii Poltavchenko, the presidential envoy for the Central federal district, said that security should be tightened at facilities in the Moscow region that might become the targets for saboteurs, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 June. He called for inventorying such sites and making plans to protect them. PG

MOSCOW TO REDUCE NUMBER OF NORTHERN REGIONS ENTITLED TO PRIVILEGES

Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Mukhamed Tsikhanov said that Prime Minister Kasyanov has asked him to reduce the number of territories now classified as part of the North and thus eligible for special privileges, Prime-TASS reported on 21 June. Tsikhanov said that it is "abnormal" that 70 percent of the country's territory is now considered "northern" and thereby entitled to aid. VY

72 PERCENT OF RUSSIANS FAVOR ELECTED GOVERNORS

According to a poll conducted by monitoring.ru and reported by Interfax on 21 June, 72 percent of Russians say that the leaders of the regions and republics should be elected by popular vote. The poll found that the percentage backing elected governors is especially high in Primorskii Krai, where 85 percent said they favor that procedure. PG

INFLATION IN JUNE PREDICTED TO BE ABOUT 1.5 PERCENT

The State Statistics Committee on 21 June said that inflation in June is likely to be between 1.5 and 1.8 percent, Interfax reported. Interfax noted that the total inflation from 1 January 2001 through 18 June has been 11.9 percent. PG

EXPLOSION AT DEPLETED URANIUM PLANT IN UDMURTIA

An explosion on 21 June at a Russian plant in Udmurtia that processes depleted uranium killed one worker and injured several others, but officials said that there was no radiation leakage, ITAR-TASS reported. Officials of the Atomic Energy Ministry suggested that operator error was the most likely cause of the blast. PG

COURT RULES AGAINST AEROFLOT EMPLOYEES

A Moscow court on 21 June ruled that a 13 May warning strike by technicians seeking higher pay and better safety standards at Aeroflot was illegal, AP reported. The union has threatened to strike for 30 days beginning on 30 June, and Aeroflot officials announced that they have set up a crisis staff in the event the workers walk off the job then, Interfax reported. PG

RUSSIA SWAPS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FOR DEBT

Moscow and Rome have agreed to write off $78 million in Russian debts to Italy in exchange for technical documentation on the Russian corporate jet Ya-130, "Vedomosti" reported on 21 June. The paper said that this action may both hurt Russian competitiveness in this area and create a precedent because it is a rare example of intellectual property being swapped for debt. VY

DEPUTY PREMIER SAYS RUSSIA HAS INTRODUCED 17 OF 40 INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING STANDARDS

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on 21 June that the government has already introduced 17 of the more than 40 basic international accounting standards and thus has made Russia a more attractive place for investments, Interfax-AFI reported. He said that the remaining standards will be introduced before the end of 2003. PG

35,000 RUSSIANS DECLARE INCOMES ABOVE 1 MILLION RUBLES

Anna Komardina, the deputy head of the Tax Ministry department that handles individual tax returns, said that declarations this year showed that more than 35,000 Russians, including 7,300 in Moscow alone, had incomes between 1 and 10 million rubles ($33,000 to $330,000) in 2000, Prime-TASS reported on 21 June. She said that 125 had declared incomes above 10 million rubles and one return had reported an income above 2 billion rubles. PG

DEBT COMMISSION ASKS CABINET TO PULL COMPENSATION MEASURE

The Duma's Debt Commission on 21 June asked the government to withdraw its variant of draft legislation that would provide compensation for losses of deposits by citizens at Sberbank before January 1992 and to accept a variant prepared by the commission. The commissioners argued that their proposal takes into account social-political and not just financial considerations, Interfax-AFI reported. PG

BIRTHRATE UP SLIGHTLY

Health Minister Yurii Shevchenko said on 21 June that for the first time in recent years Russia's birthrate rose in 2000 to 8.7 per 1,000 population, up from 8.3 per 1,000 in 1999, Interfax reported. He added that infant mortality has fallen as well, from 18.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1995 to 15.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000. PG

MOST RUSSIANS SAY THEY'LL RESPOND TO CENSUS

A poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 21 June showed that 88 percent of Russians are prepared to take part in the Russian census when it is held either at the end of 2002 or the beginning of 2003. Sixty-two percent said they are concerned that the government may not do enough to protect them when unknown people claiming to be census-takers seek to enter their homes, and 39 percent said they do not plan to answer all questions honestly. PG

BEREZOVSKY SAYS 'IZVESTIYA' FAILED TO CARRY HIS INTERVIEW

In a letter to "Kommersant-Daily" published on 22 June, embattled media magnate Boris Berezovsky said that "Izvestiya" failed to carry the entire interview he gave to that paper and consequently he asked "Kommersant-Daily" to print it in full. That paper agreed and carried the interview the same day. PG

LONG PRISON TERMS FOR THIEVES WHO THREATENED VICTIMS WITH HIV

Two thieves who at the end of 2000 threatened to inject their victims with HIV-contaminated blood if they did not hand over money and goods have been sentenced to prison terms of seven and nine years by a Naberezhnie Chelny court, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 June. PG

RUSSIAN UNDERWORLD SEEKING TO MAKE ITSELF LEGITIMATE

In contrast to ordinary criminals who commit ordinary crimes, major underworld figures are seldom convicted of crimes and now seek to become a legitimate part of Russian society by participating in nominally above-board activities such as charities, according to an article in "Izvestiya" on 21 June. Prosecutors said that Russian criminals of this class are thus following in the footsteps of major criminals in other countries. PG

TALIBAN'S ACTIONS LEAD DRUG-TRAFFICKERS TO LOOK TO CENTRAL ASIA

According to an article in "Trud-7," the decision of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan to ban opium poppy cultivation is leading some Russian drug-traffickers to consider setting up new poppy plantations in the countries of Central Asia. PG

EURASIANISM SEEN AS NEEDED RESPONSE TO BRZEZINSKI

A panel discussion organized by the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy has concluded that Russia must adopt Eurasianism as its ideology and become a bridge between the European Union and the new Asian powers of China, Korea, and Japan, "Trud-7" reported on 21 June. Academy of Sciences Far Eastern Institute Director Mikhail Titarenko said that if Moscow does not do so, then "we will not be respected in either the West or the East, and [former U.S. National Security Adviser] Zbigniew Brzezinski will be right about our future disintegration." VY

MOSCOW SETS MINIMUM VODKA PRICES

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry on 21 June issued a regulation requiring that vodka cost at least 36 rubles ($1.25) per liter if it is to bear the required tax stamp, Interfax reported. PG

RUSSIAN DIGS TUNNEL FROM KALININGRAD TO LITHUANIA

Russian border guards have detained a man who built a tunnel from Kaliningrad to Lithuania in order to bypass border controls, Russian agencies reported on 21 June. Officials said that this was a rather unusual method of violating the border, adding that there have been more than 500 border violations since the start of 2001. PG

METAL THIEVES LEAVE LIFTS OUT OF ORDER IN KHABAROVSK

Some 155 elevators in apartment buildings in Khabarovsk no longer function because metal thieves have stolen key components to sell for scrap, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 21 June. Meanwhile, a metal thief in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast was wounded when a part of the military supplies he had stolen blew up, the agency said. PG

PRIMORSKII COURT REFUSES TO CANCEL DARKIN VICTORY

A local court in Vladivostok refused to cancel the registration of Primorskii Krai Governor-elect Sergei Darkin on 21 June, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Darkin had been accused of violating election rules by giving an unpaid interview to Ekho Moskvy radio on 20 May. On the same day, local law-enforcement officers conducted a raid on the weekly newspaper "Konkurent." According to Interfax-Eurasia, the search was conducted in connection with an investigation into charges of insulting a judge. On 4 May, the weekly published an article that criticized the recent decision made by the krai arbitration court, which accused the judge in the case of not being objective and having accepted a bribe. The officers confiscated the computer of the weekly's editor. JAC

BURYATIA TO BECOME A SIGNIFICANT ENERGY PRODUCER IN THE FUTURE?

Some experts are claiming that Buryatia could become the largest gas-producing region in Russia, Radio Rossii reported on 20 June. According to the specialists who carried out geophysical research of the delta of the Selenga River, gas reserves in the region could total 500 billion to 1 trillion cubic meters of gas and is, in their opinion, three to four times larger than the reserves recently discovered at the Kovytinskoye gas deposit in neighboring Irkutsk Oblast. To confirm the geologists' estimates, the government of Buryatia has signed an agreement with Gazprom-Vostok about the drilling of some deep wells, according to the station. JAC

MORE TEACHERS PROTEST IN SIBERIA

Around 100 workers in one raion in Tomsk picketed the building of the oblast administration on 21 June to both protest a plan of the oblast government to dismiss 10 percent of area teachers and demand payment of back wages, RFE/RL's Tomsk correspondent reported. Teachers in several raions in the oblast have not received their wages in some 2-3 months. Local authorities claim that they will be able to pay the teachers' wages following a sharp reduction in the size of local government. JAC

OLIGARCH/GOVERNOR IMPOSES VODKA MONOPOLY

Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich has signed a decree imposing controls over the production of alcohol on the territory of the autonomous okrug, so that wine and alcohol can only be produced by one enterprise, Chukotka Wholesale Trade, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 21 June. It will still be legal to import alcohol into the region, but local customers will only be able to buy it through Chukotka Wholesale Trade. JAC

CHECHEN ADMINISTRATION HEAD MARKS ONE YEAR IN OFFICE...

Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov told a news conference in Moscow on 21 June to mark the first anniversary of his appointment that the situation in Chechnya is gradually improving, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. He stressed that the recent appointment of Colonel General Gennadii Troshev to head the North Caucasus Military District has led to a stabilization of the situation. But at the same time, Kadyrov admitted that "we have failed so far to ensure 100 percent safety" for the Chechen population, and he called for an end to the repeated operations launched by Russian troops to identify and detain fighters among the civilian population. LF

...AS COMPATRIOTS UNVEIL NEW PEACE PLAN

Some 100 prominent Chechen intellectuals and public figures have signed a new proposal aimed at ending the current war, "Izvestiya" reported on 22 June. They argue that in order to do so it is necessary for Chechnya and Moscow to reach agreement on a shared "strategic purpose," and that only after such an agreement is reached will it be possible to begin withdrawing Russian troops from the region. They suggest that "establishing in Chechnya a civilized society based on democratic principles" could serve as such a strategic purpose, noting that the attempt to force the Kadyrov administration on Chechen society has failed. They also insist that Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov be included in any negotiations between Grozny and Moscow "regardless of his failures and mistakes." They propose that unnamed international organizations be invited to act as guarantors of any agreement reached. LF

FORMER GROZNY MAYOR ESCAPES ASSASSINATION

Beslan Gantemirov, who was named a chief federal inspector to the South Russia federal district earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2001), escaped injury when armed men attacked the house in Grozny where he was staying late on 21 June, Caucasus Press reported the following day. LF




ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CRITICIZES PRESIDENT OVER PARLIAMENT SHOOTING SUSPECTS' RELEASE

In a statement released on 21 June, the Hanrapetutiun (Republic) Party headed by former Premier Aram Sargsian criticized the release on 20 June of six men charged with abetting the five gunmen who perpetrated the October 1999 Armenian parliament shootings, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Sargsian's brother and predecessor as prime minister, Vazgen, was one of the victims of that attack. The Hanrapetutiun statement characterized the release of the six men as evidence that Armenian President Robert Kocharian is seeking "to prevent the crime from being fully solved" and repeated earlier claims that unnamed senior officials are dictating to the defendants what they should say in their testimony (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May 2001). The statement further called for the resignation of Kocharian and the government headed by Aram Sargsian's successor, Andranik Markarian, arguing that they are unable to "guarantee the country's security and future or to expedite justice." LF

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE SAYS SOLUTION TO KARABAKH CONFLICT WILL BENEFIT ARMENIA

"Aravot" on 21 June quoted President Kocharian's foreign policy aide Aleksan Harutiunian as saying that he is certain that Kocharian can resolve the problem, that doing so will not be a long, drawn-out process over "years," and that the final solution will be beneficial to Armenia. Harutiunian said a mutually acceptable settlement of the conflict can only be based on the so-called "Paris principles" agreed by Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliyev earlier this year. He denied that those principles include an exchange of territories. LF

OSCE SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS AZERBAIJAN

Jan Kubis held talks in Baku on 21 June with Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliyev and Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliev, according to ANS TV and Turan, as cited by Groong. Both Azerbaijani officials stressed the importance of the OSCE's efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict. The process of democratic reforms in Azerbaijan was also assessed. LF

AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES DEPLOYMENT OF SPEEDBOATS WILL EXACERBATE CASPIAN TENSIONS

Responding to concerns expressed in the "Tehran Times," Quliev said in Baku on 21 June that the two boats Azerbaijan will receive from the U.S. to patrol its territorial waters will not lead to armed confrontation in the Caspian, according to MPA, as cited by Groong. He noted that Turkmenistan has recently received similar, larger vessels. The first vessel was handed over in Baku on 16 June. LF

ADJAR LEADER ACCUSES GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER OF 'FASCISM'

Speaking on local television on 20 June, Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze accused Georgian parliament Chairman Zurab Zhvania of leading Georgia toward fascism, Caucasus Press reported. Zhvania refrained from commenting on that accusation, but the leader of the majority Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK) parliament faction, Revaz Adamia, on 21 June said Abashidze, who heads the opposition Revival Union, is acting on instructions from Moscow. In 1997, an Adjar official accused Zhvania of trying to recruit him in a plot to oust Abashidze (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 22 October 1997). LF

NEW GEORGIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL ESCAPES IMPEACHMENT

The Georgian parliament's commission on legal matters failed on 21 June to reach a decision on whether to launch impeachment proceedings against Prosecutor-General Gia Meparishvili, Caucasus Press reported. Parliament deputy (SMK) Koba Davitashvili had initiated a hearing on doing so after Meparishvili appointed as local prosecutors two persons who do not have the required qualifications. Meparishvili for his part refused to answer any questions put to him by the commission. Meparishvili was appointed prosecutor-general in February after his predecessor Djamlet Babalishvili resigned following a similar campaign by Davitashvili to impeach him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 February 2001 and "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 6, 9 February, 2001). LF

GEORGIAN FINANCE MINISTER, NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN FAIL TO RESOLVE DISPUTE

Meeting with President Eduard Shevardnadze on 19 June, Finance Minister Zurab Nogaideli and National Bank Chairman Irakli Managadze failed to resolve their disagreement over which institution is responsible for wage arrears to teachers, "Dilis gazeti" reported on 20 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 20 June 2001). Shevardnadze advised the two men to seek a ruling on the issue from the IMF. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION, FINANCE MINISTER COMMENT ON LEGALIZATION OF SHADOW CAPITAL

The 16 Kazakh opposition parties aligned in the Republican Forum of Democratic Forces issued a statement in Almaty on 21 June demanding that the government make public details of all illegally exported capital brought back to Kazakhstan within the framework of the current amnesty once the deadline for doing so has expired, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. They also demanded that embezzled funds be exempted from the process. Under the law legalizing the return of capital, the identity of persons bringing funds back into the country need not be divulged. Also on 21 June, Finance Minister Mazhit Esenbaev told journalists in Astana that since the amnesty began on 14 June, some 5.22 billion tenges (over $35 million) has been transferred from abroad to Kazakh banks, Interfax reported. LF

KYRGYZ LEGISLATURE CONTINUES TO DISCUSS CHINESE BORDER CONTROVERSY

Five deputies to the Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament) said on 21 June that the 1996 border agreement and 1999 amendments to it under which Kyrgyzstan ceded some 125,00 hectares of its territory to China should be revoked, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. They also demanded that President Askar Akaev, who signed the two agreements, and Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev should address parliament on the issue. But pro-government deputies including former Communist Party of Kirghizia First Secretary Turdakun UsubAliyev proposed postponing further discussion of the border accords until the government submits all the relevant documentation to the parliament. The formal record that the previous parliament ratified in 1998 the 1996 agreement has disappeared. LF

KYRGYZ JUSTICE MINISTRY ORDERS PUBLICATION OF NEW NEWSPAPERS POSTPONED

Deputy Justice Minister Erkin Mamyrov has ordered the state publishing house Uchkun not to begin publishing any new newspapers registered within the past two months until the process of reregistering existing media outlets has been completed, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 21 June. That process is due to end on 1 July. LF

KYRGYZSTAN-EU COMMISSION MEETS

A session of the Kyrgyzstan-EU cooperation commission in Bishkek on 21 June focused on the macroeconomic situation and investment climate in Kyrgyzstan and draft legislation on customs, tax rates, and tourism, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. LF

TAJIK INTERIOR MINISTRY SEEKS TO NEUTRALIZE 'TERRORIST' GANG

Interior Ministry troops armed with artillery, aircraft, and armored personnel carriers launched an offensive early on 22 June on the outskirts of Dushanbe aimed at neutralizing former field commander Rakhmon Sanginov, Reuters reported. The Interior Ministry claimed that Sanginov's men have perpetrated some 400 serious crimes including arms-trafficking and hostage-taking. It was supporters of Sanginov who took 15 local and foreign employees of a German relief agency hostage in eastern Tajikistan last week. Sanginov said he was forced to do so to draw attention to government reprisals against former opposition fighters (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 19 June 2001). LF




BELARUSIAN PROSECUTORS NOT TO PROBE 'DEATH SQUAD' ALLEGATIONS

The Prosecutor-General's Office has decided not to probe the allegations by former investigators Dzmitry Petrushkevich and Aleh Sluchak that top state officials organized a "death squad" and killed several opponents of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 12 June 2001), RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 21 June. "The leadership of the Prosecutor-General's Office resolved not to institute proceedings [against Petrushkevich and Sluchak], in order not to provide additional publicity to our former, immoral coworkers. Let this slander remain on their conscience," Prosecutor-General's Office spokesman Alyaksey Taranau commented. JM

BELARUSIAN FINANCE MINISTER FAILS TO INFORM LEGISLATOR ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL FUND

Finance Minister Mikalay Korbut on 21 June failed to give clear and specific answers to questions by legislator Ivan Pashkevich regarding the presidential fund, Belapan reported. Pashkevich asked Korbut what sum is deposited in the fund's account and in which bank as well as how the fund's resources are spent and who is authorized to spend them. "Earlier, the president said that there was up to $1 billion from arms sales in the fund's account," Pashkevich said in the Chamber of Representatives. Korbut replied that revenues from military equipment sales "do not go through the budget" but are accumulated in a Belarusbank account. "Those resources are used for maintaining the entire economy," Korbut said, adding that he does not know the total sum involved. Speaker Vadzim Papou switched off Korbut's microphone, saying that "no answer is an answer, too." JM

LUKASHENKA TO RETALIATE AGAINST 'UNFRIENDLY' RUSSIAN MEDIA

Belarusian President Lukashenka on 21 June slammed Russian media, accusing them of biased coverage of the situation in Belarus. Speaking to reporters in Moscow at the end of a two-day visit, Lukashenka noted that some media are describing political events in Belarus "in an uncivilized and ugly way." He threatened to retaliate against "unfriendly" media outlets following the presidential elections in September. "I will tell you frankly. Even if there are many more provocations on the part of the Russian media, we will not take any action before the election. But after the election we will draw the necessary conclusions and decide who should work in Belarus, which television channels should work in Belarus," Lukashenka said. Earlier this month, four Russian television channels went off the air in Minsk for a day after ORT aired a program featuring four potential presidential candidates from the Belarusian opposition. JM

BELARUS, LEBANON SIGN THREE ECONOMIC ACCORDS

Belarus and Lebanon signed agreements on trade and economic cooperation, the avoidance of dual taxation, and mutual protection of investments during Belarusian Premier Uladzimir Yarmoshyn's trip to Lebanon from 19-21 June, Belapan reported. JM

IMF MAKES LENDING TO UKRAINE DEPENDENT ON TRADE LIBERALIZATION, BUDGET DISCIPLINE

Following the visit of an IMF mission to Kyiv from 11-20 June, the bank issued a statement saying that the resumption of its loans to Ukraine is dependent on the country's further trade liberalization and observation of budget discipline, AP reported on 21 June. According to Interfax, the IMF also demands that the Ukrainian authorities reorganize or liquidate the loss-making Ukrayina Bank, the country's largest bank. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES TWO CODES, REGULATES JUDICIAL BRANCH

The parliament on 21 June approved a Budget Code and an Entrepreneurial Code, the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported. Interfax reported that the same day the parliament also passed a package of laws to regulate the functioning of the judicial branch after the so-called transitory provisions of the constitution expire on 28 June. JM

THREE-WAY TALKS SETTLE PRINCIPLES FOR RAISING MINIMUM WAGE IN ESTONIA

During talks between the Estonian government, trade unions, and employers in Tallinn on 21 June, it was agreed that the three parties would sign by the beginning of July an agreement on the computation of minimum wages that will bring minimum pay to 40 percent of average wages over the next five years, BNS reported. The meeting agreed that the Finance Ministry will make an analysis of the methods of minimum wage changes and present conclusions by 26 June. At present, the minimum is about 30 percent of the average wage and should increase to 32 percent next year and climb another 2 percent each successive year. The agreement will in effect mean the acceptance of the trade union proposal to raise the minimum monthly wage from the current 1,600 kroons ($87.60) to 1,850 kroons next year. SG

CATALONIAN GOVERNMENT PRESIDENT VISITS LATVIA

During a one-day official visit to Latvia on 21 June Jordi Pujol, the government president of Spain's autonomous district of Catalonia, discussed with Prime Minister Andris Berzins issues related to European Union enlargement and mutual relations between countries, BNS reported. Pujol outlined the historic process of the formation of Catalonian autonomy, putting a special emphasis on the fate of the Catalan language, which had been earlier excluded from use in any official capacity in Spain. Both the Spanish and Catalan languages have the status of state language in Catalonia today. Berzins stated that, should Latvia enter NATO and the EU, the country would provide additional guarantees for ensuring language and general state security. President Vaira Vike-Freiberga told Pujoj that a state does not lose its sovereignty and identity with its accession into the EU, but receives opportunities for modern advancement. SG

ALMOST TWO-THIRDS OF LITHUANIAN PEOPLE SUPPORT NATO BID

A poll of 1,056 persons, conducted by the Vilmorus public opinion firm on 7-11 June, indicated that 64 percent of the respondents support Lithuania's membership in NATO, ELTA reported on 21 June. The share of supporters in the previous poll in March had been 51.2 percent. Deputy Foreign Minister Giedrius Cekuolis asserted that the greater support was due to the successful session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Vilnius in May, optimistic statements made by U.S. President George W. Bush in Brussels and Warsaw, and intensive diplomatic action by Lithuanian officials. An additional 17.4 percent of respondents said they would back the NATO cause if they could be convinced that it is impossible to guarantee state security for a lower cost. Only 5.5 percent of the respondents denied the need to apply for NATO membership, and 4.8 percent said that they do not care either about the NATO bid or security prospects in general. SG

POLAND TO RECEIVE GAS FROM DENMARK, EVEN IF COSTLIER THAN RUSSIAN DEAL

Andrzej Lipko, head of the Oil and Gas Company (PGNiG), said on 21 June that the price of Danish gas under a recently concluded deal will be "slightly higher" than that exported from Russia, PAP reported. PGNiG announced earlier this week that it concluded a preliminary agreement with the Danish DONG company providing for exports of 16 billion cubic meters of Danish gas to Poland. Under the agreement, DONG is to deliver 2 billion cubic meters of gas annually for eight years via the planned BalticPipe gas pipeline (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 2001). The final signing of the agreement is scheduled for 6 July 2001. JM

POLAND'S CATHOLIC RADIO OBTAINS 'SOCIAL BROADCASTER' STATUS

The National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council has granted social broadcaster status to the Roman Catholic radio station Radio Maryja, PAP reported on 21 June. In accordance with a bill passed in January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 2001), social broadcasters are not allowed to air advertisements or receive payments for the dissemination of their programs. The advantage is that social broadcasters do not have to pay for their broadcasting licenses. Radio Maryja will save 1.8 million zlotys ($450,000) on the prolongation of its license for seven years as of 23 June. JM

POLISH AUTHORITIES ARREST HERO OF FINANCIAL SCANDAL

A Warsaw court on 21 June ordered the arrest for three months of Janusz Pineiro, the hero of a controversial documentary aired by Polish Television on 17 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 June 2001), PAP reported. Prosecutors suspect that Pineiro embezzled 2 million zlotys ($500,000). Pineiro was detained on 19 June after he had voluntarily arrived for interrogations at a prosecutor's office. Pineiro became a public figure after he alleged in the documentary that he had supplied money for the Center Alliance, the party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski and current Justice Minister Lech Kaczynski. The Kaczynski brothers deny Pineiro's allegations and intend to sue Polish Television for slander. JM

POLAND READY TO HELP NATO IN MACEDONIA

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said at the seat of NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium on 21 June that Poland is ready to take part in NATO operations in Macedonia if necessary, PAP reported. "We are at NATO's disposal if it chooses a strategy based on peacekeeping operations," Kwasniewski said following his meeting with SHAPE commander General Joseph Ralston. JM

FRENCH MINISTER URGES POLAND TO RECONSIDER EU LABOR RESTRICTION PROPOSAL

French Minister Delegate for European Affairs Pierre Moscovici on 21 June called on Polish officials to reconsider their rejection of the proposal to restrict access to the EU labor market for workers from new member states for a period of seven years, AFP reported. "I believe that it would be reasonable for Poland to think about these proposals," Moscovici told a news conference in Warsaw. "We are working on [this issue]," said Jan Kulakowski, Poland's chief EU negotiator. JM

GERMAN GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT ENDORSE POLAND'S EU ENTRY

Germany's federal government and the Bundestag are determined to actively support Poland on its path toward the EU, DDP reported on 21 June. The same day the Bundestag adopted a joint motion by the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Alliance 90/Greens, Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union, and Free Democratic Party, which calls for the intensification of German-Polish relations, especially in the areas of youth exchange, culture, and economy. The Party of Democratic Socialism did not support the motion. Speaking to the Bundestag, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer stressed that Germany has a "historical duty" to support Poland. JM

EU COMMISSIONER CALLS KLAUS 'BRILLIANT POPULIST'

Guenter Verheugen, the EU commissioner for enlargement, on 21 June warned in Brussels that delaying the accession of the best-prepared candidate countries to the union would play into the hands of "populists," such as Czech Chamber of Deputies Chairman Vaclav Klaus, CTK reported. Verheugen said Klaus is "an example of the populists who try to politically profit from anti-European stands" that are beginning to emerge among the candidate countries' populations as a result of procrastination on the enlargement. There are many such populists, Verheugen said, although "not all of them can argue so brilliantly" as Klaus has been doing for a number of years now. MS

LESS THAN HALF OF CZECHS WOULD VOTE FOR EU ACCESSION

According to the findings of the CVVM research institute, if a referendum on EU accession were held now, only 38 percent of Czechs would vote for the accession, CTK reported. The poll shows that 17 percent oppose accession and 38 percent have not yet formed an opinion on the matter. Among those opposing accession, 26 percent said EU entry would not be economically advantageous, 21 percent said they fear subsequent inequality, 12 percent said the EU has raised too many demands, and 9 percent cited the "loss of sovereignty" as the grounds for their negative attitude. MS

AUSTRIA SUBMITS REMARKS ON CZECH ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF TEMELIN...

The Austrian government on 21 June submitted to the Czech cabinet its remarks on the environmental impact assessment of the Temelin nuclear power plant conducted by Czech experts, CTK reported. The remarks emphasized that putting the controversial plant into operation would not be profitable, as there is currently a surplus of energy suppliers in Europe. Operating the plant would involve additional costs for safety equipment estimated at between 1 and 4 billion crowns (between $25 and $100 million). The shortcomings revealed during test trials at Temelin show that further large expenses would be needed before Temelin could become operational. The Austrian government said that the Czech estimations assess operations only under "normal" conditions and do not take into consideration the environmental impact of possible accidents or of spent nuclear fuel storage. Finally, the Austrian government said radioactivity could affect Austrian territory in the "remote possibility" of a nuclear accident. MS

...PROMPTING CZECH RESPONSE

In a response released on 21 June, the Czech Foreign Ministry said the Austrian position was just one among several issues that will be discussed at a public hearing in Vienna on 26 June. The ministry said it continues to consider the environmental assessment prepared by the Czech experts to be the most important and the most thoroughly prepared document ahead of the public hearing. The ministry said it "regrets" that the long, 180-page Austrian document was delivered only six days before the hearing and "only in German." MS

AUSTRIA WILL NOT PERMIT BORDER BLOCKADES

The Upper Austrian regional authorities on 21 June decided not to permit opponents of Temelin to resume blockades of the Wullowitz/Dolni Dvoriste border-crossing point, CTK reported. The opponents replied that they will block instead a highway lane about 500 meters from the crossing point from 5 p.m. local time to midnight on 24 June. They also said they will block the Weigetschlag/Studanky crossing point, because the authorities have not specifically forbidden blockades there. In its reaction to the Austrian assessment of Temelin's environmental impact, the Czech Foreign Ministry said it believes that "unlike in the past," Austrian police will not "stand by and watch" the blockade. It also said that "yielding to pressure" by Temelin's opponents "would make us conclude that Austria's earlier criticism of the alleged Czech unwillingness to provide all the relevant information" on Temelin "was only a pretext to cover the real intention -- to prevent Temelin from becoming operational." MS

HAVEL WELCOMES NATO, CZECH PARTICIPATION IN MACEDONIA PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS

President Vaclav Havel on 21 June told CTK that he welcomes the NATO proposal to send peacekeeping troops to Macedonia and the decision of the government to participate in the peacekeeping operations if asked to. The cabinet on 20 June decided to send up to 120 soldiers if the operations take place. Havel said Czech participation in such operations enhances the "country's authority" and is appreciated abroad more than in the Czech Republic. Also on 21 June, marking the 10th anniversary of the withdrawal of Red Army troops from Czechoslovakia, Havel told Czech Radio that many people have forgotten that Czechoslovakia was an occupied land and that the presence of the occupiers, "even if we did not always see them...had marked the time in a horrible way." MS

FORMER HIGH-RANKING STB MEMBER SPEAKS ON FALSE SCREENING CERTIFICATES

A former high-ranking member of the Czech communist secret police (StB), in an interview with "Mlada fronta-Dnes" on 21 June, said false screening certificates were "easy to get" in 1991-1992 and he himself had been offered one for 100,000 crowns (about $2,500 at the current exchange rate), CTK reported. Speaking under condition of anonymity, he said he knows people who had paid for the certificate (which he refused to do) and are currently in highly influential positions. "If someone discloses their identity, I believe [the informant] has grounds to worry," he said. The former StB member also said many of those who worked for that institution later became members of the FBIS (the former Czechoslovak post-communist secret service) and are now working for its Czech successor, the BIS. Those services, he said, "saw to it that the files were destroyed" and "now have them [the former StB agents] in their hand." MS

SLOVAKIA, YUGOSLAVIA DISCUSS HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW...

Visiting Yugoslav Minister For Nationalities and Ethnic Minorities Rasim Ljalic on 21 June discussed in Bratislava with Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan the Hungarian Status Law, CTK reported. They said they want their reservations on the law to be part of a "dialogue" with Budapest and do not envisage "joint action" on the matter. Kukan said the law cannot be implemented in Slovakia without a bilateral agreement on it being signed by Bratislava and Budapest. He said Slovakia wants the dialogue to be conducted on the base of "maximal rationality... Hungary's opinion differs from ours, but mutual relations are so good and we are so mature that we will manage to find a solution acceptable to both sides," he said. Ljalic said Belgrade is still studying the law and will discuss it with Hungary at a meeting of a joint commission for ethnic minorities, whose establishment was recently proposed by Budapest. MS

...AND CALL BILATERAL RELATIONS 'EXCELLENT'

The two ministers said Slovak-Yugoslav relations are "friendly and excellent, without controversies." They said the Slovak minority in Vojvodina plays the role of "a bridge" between their countries. Kukan praised Yugoslavia's preparations for a bill on ethnic minorities and Ljalic said the bill will protect the national identity of minorities in line with international standards. Ljalic also said he is very satisfied with Kukan's statement that "territorial integrity represents the basis of stability" in the Balkan region. MS

CENCOOP INITIATIVE DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET IN BRATISLAVA

Defense ministers from the countries of the CENCOOP Initiative met in Bratislava on 21 June to discuss promoting peace in Central Europe, the setting up of security zones in the region, and regional cooperation, CTK reported. Participants include defense ministers from Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Slovak Defense Ministry spokesman Pavol Vitko said the CENCOOP Initiative, which was established in 1998, focuses on participating in peacekeeping operations and preventing armed conflicts. He said that for the first time since the initiative was set up, the participants will define binding rules for cooperation among them. Meeting with Romanian Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu, Slovak Defense Minister Jozef Stank said an agreement on an engineering battalion formed by Slovak, Romanian and Ukrainian troops to cope with flood disasters will be signed in June, TASR reported. MS

FORMER SMALLHOLDERS DEPUTY ARRESTED IN HUNGARY

Detectives from the Prosecutor-General's Office on 21 June arrested independent parliamentary member Bela Szabadi on suspicion of fraud and misuse of funds during his tenure as political state secretary of the Agriculture Ministry, Hungarian media reported. Szabadi was recently expelled from the parliamentary group of the Independent Smallholders' Party (FKGP) and his parliamentary immunity was lifted on 19 June. His defense lawyer, Jozsef Szogyeni, claimed that by arresting him the Prosecutor-General's Office has restricted Szabadi's personal freedom without justification. If convicted, Szabadi could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison. FKGP Chairman Jozsef Torgyan said the judicial procedures that led to Szabadi's arrest "are similar" to those used in the show trials of the Stalinist era, when the country was ruled by communist dictator Matyas Rakosy. MSZ

HUNGARY DENIES OSCE CRITICIZED STATUS LAW

Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath told Hungarian media on 21 June that contrary to Romanian allegations that OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel has not criticized the Hungarian Status Law. Horvath said that in a letter addressed to Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, van der Stoel only asked Hungary to continue consultations with its neighbors on the implementation of the law. MSZ

HUNGARIAN ROMANY ORGANIZATIONS FORM ELECTORAL COALITION

The Roma Unity Party (REP), the Roma Party in Hungary, the Interest Association of Gypsy Organizations in Hungary, and the Hungarian Roma Civil Rights Movement have formed an electoral coalition aimed at winning seats in the 2002 parliamentary elections, Pal Ruva, REP spokesman told MTI on 21 June. He said the coalition's electoral platform aims at improving the welfare, working and living conditions of the Romany population in Hungary. Last year, some 50 Roma asked for political asylum in France, citing intolerable conditions, harassment, and lack of action by Hungarian authorities to stop their persecution. MSZ




MACEDONIAN ARMY OFFENSIVE ENDS CEASE-FIRE

On 22 June, government forces used artillery, tanks, and helicopter gunships in a dawn attack between Aracinovo and Nikustak near Skopje, AP reported. Government forces also fired at insurgents' positions near Tetovo and near Kumanovo. Macedonian army spokesman Colonel Blagoja Markovski said the sustained action was aimed at "crushing and destroying terrorists." Guerrilla leader Commander Hoxha said that there were three civilian casualties and "many" wounded near Skopje. He added: "I'm warning the government if they want war they're going to get one. We will defend ourselves." The offensive marks an end to the latest cease-fire and comes amid efforts by EU security policy chief Javier Solana to salvage a political settlement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2001). NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson has described the situation as "very close to civil war," RFE/RL reported. PM

ROBERTSON, U.S. OFFICIALS DISCUSS MACEDONIA

Robertson met with top officials in Washington on 20 and 21 June to discuss a possible U.S. role in a projected NATO mission to Macedonia to help collect arms from the rebels (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2001). His interlocutors included: Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Joseph Biden, and senators Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel, "The Washington Post" reported. Powell said that he and Robertson are "hopeful" that a political solution can be reached in Macedonia, adding that the Bush administration has not yet decided whether to participate in the NATO mission and, if so, in what capacity, Reuters reported. PM

A LIMITED ROLE FOR THE U.S. IN MACEDONIA...

An unnamed Bush administration official told "The Washington Post" of 22 June that "we're prepared to look at enablers," meaning possible U.S. logistical, intelligence, and communications support for the NATO mission to Macedonia. He added that "we see this as a good opportunity for the Europeans to mount an operation inside of NATO and with us alongside them." PM

...OR A MORE ROBUST ONE?

Senator Biden stressed, however, that "the bottom line is [that] without U.S. forces on the ground as part of a NATO force, the likelihood of success is diminished significantly. We're the only party trusted there," "The Washington Post" reported on 22 June. Former Balkan envoy Richard Holbrooke argued that the U.S. should be part of the NATO force because NATO's cohesion will be undermined if Washington restricts its involvement. Former Reagan administration defense official Richard Pearle recently told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "the notion of European leadership is an oxymoron... Only the U.S...has the stature and the credibility to foster a solution. In the current case in Macedonia, I believe that without very decisive American involvement, there will be no solution," the "Financial Times" reported on 22 June. PM

EU TO GO AHEAD WITH DONORS CONFERENCE DESPITE SERBIA'S RECORD ON WAR CRIMES

Gunnar Wiegand, a spokesman for the European Commission, told reporters in Brussels on 21 June that "the preparations for the [29 June] donors conference are continuing. There is no question of postponing it. The meeting is very important to ensure the stabilization and restructuring of the Yugoslav economy." Echoing the views of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Swedish diplomat Veronika Wand-Danielsson said that "to press [Belgrade] too hard [on cooperating with The Hague] would be counterproductive." The NGO Human Rights Watch has called for the conference to be postponed, citing Belgrade's failure to cooperate with The Hague-based war crimes tribunal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2001). The U.S., which has taken a tougher line than the EU regarding Serbia and The Hague, has not decided whether to attend the conference (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 5 January and 15 May 2001). PM

DEL PONTE CALLS FOR FIRMNESS TOWARD SERBIA OVER WAR CRIMES

Following talks with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Berlin on 21 June, Carla Del Ponte, who is The Hague tribunal's chief prosecutor, called on all members of the international community to put pressure on Serbia regarding cooperation with The Hague, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. She stressed that each individual country is obliged to support the tribunal and that no one has the right to make deals at its expense. PM

SERBIAN POLICE SAY MASS GRAVE HOLDS REMAINS OF 800 ALBANIANS

Captain Dragan Karleusa, a police official, said in Batajnica that the mass grave of Kosovar Albanians found there may contain the remains of 800 or more people, "The Times" reported on 22 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2001). Karleusa added that "there are no signs of gunshot wounds. Bones were broken, which tends to exclude suffocation. The victims' skulls were fractured. My opinion is that they were beaten to death, possibly with iron bars or hammers." PM

SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT RECALLS WAR OF 10 YEARS AGO...

Slovenia and Croatia will soon mark the 10th anniversary of their independence from a Yugoslavia controlled by former President Slobodan Milosevic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2001). Slovenian President Milan Kucan told Reuters in Ljubljana on 21 June: "The most difficult moment for me was the morning when Yugoslav army tanks appeared on Slovenian streets and we had to decide whether to respond by armed defense. As soon as we decided for arms, it was clear that there would be victims. But I was encouraged by the fact that the Yugoslav army was not fighting for something right, had no real motive for hostility, and that there was no ethnic conflict in Slovenia." The Slovenian authorities mobilized well-prepared units of the Territorial Defense and successfully fought a 10-day war against Belgrade's forces. Some 64 people were killed. PM

...AND DRAWS A BALANCE

Kucan told Reuters in Ljubljana on 21 June that "Yugoslavia was an historical anachronism [by 1991]. It was unable to establish a platform of democracy, human rights, and market economy...that would open its way to European integration... With Slovenia's independence we saved the world from yet another conflict and secured peace and security for us and others in this small part of Europe." He also recalled that "the most important moment was our admission to the United Nations [in May 1992] and the unfolding of the Slovenian flag in front of the United Nations building." PM

ONE MORE TERM FOR PETRITSCH IN BOSNIA...

The Peace Implementation Council, which is the international body overseeing the peace in Bosnia, voted in Stockholm on 21 June to extend by one year the mandate of High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch of Austria, Reuters reported. His Sarajevo office said in a statement that the vote marks "continued full support for his untiring efforts." The statement added: "The European Union Foreign ministers are favorably inclined to the proposed candidature of Lord [Paddy] Ashdown [of the U.K.] to succeed him next year." The Swedish EU presidency ends at the end of June, at which time the chair will pass to Belgium. In a separate statement, Petritsch promised to "reaffirm his commitment to the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement and fighting extremist nationalist forces." PM

...AND FOR UN MISSION TO BOSNIA

The Security Council voted unanimously in New York on 21 June to extend by one year the mandates of SFOR and the UN mission in Bosnia, RE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. That mission, which is currently headed by Jacques Klein of the U.S., deals with a variety of issues including refugee return, police work, and building government institutions. The Security Council resolution noted that "the situation in the region continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security," Reuters reported. The resolution called on member states to do more to help develop and train Bosnia's police. PM

MOST BOSNIANS LIVE IN POVERTY

Azra Hadziahmetovic, the first woman cabinet member in Bosnia and the minister for foreign trade and economic relations, told "Dani" of 22 June that 83 percent of Bosnia's population lives below the poverty line. PM

ROMANIA ESCALATES CONFLICT OVER HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW...

Prime Minister Adrian Nastase on 21 June told journalists that the cabinet has decided that the Hungarian Status Law "will not apply on Romanian territory." Nastase said the government has set up an interministerial commission to analyze and decide by 1 July what measures must be implemented to prevent any infringement of Romanian sovereignty through possible attempts to apply the law. Nastase said "if necessary, we shall introduce [in the existing legislation] elements that clearly establish what associations and foundations can, and what they cannot do on Romania's territory." He also said Romania is "no colony from which Hungary can recruit workforce" and "if necessary, we shall abrogate some bilateral treaties" regulating the labor movement between the two countries. He also said that in relations with the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania his Social Democratic Party will be guided by the principle that "national interest must prevail over any other interest." MS

...AS CLUJ NATIONALIST MAYOR BROUGHT IN CHAINS TO POLICE STATION

Nationalist Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar was brought in chains on 22 June to a police station in the town, after he refused to heed a summons to answer questions on several complaints launched against him by members of the local council. Mediafax said scuffles broke out between policemen and employees of the mayoralty. He is suspected of "abuse of office" for having locked council members out of the town hall and of "infringing public morality." The latter accusation stems from Funar's having placed one day earlier beef bones and toothpicks painted in the colors of the national flag on local councilors' tables. Funar said the gesture depicts the councilors' refusal to resign and "give up the bone," which in colloquial Romanian means "forego lucrative jobs." Against the background of the escalating conflict with Hungary, the authorities' decision to detain him may well backfire, as Funar is considered by Romanian nationalists to be the main hero in the "struggle against the Magyar hordes." MS

ROMANIA SUSPENDS INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS

The cabinet on 21 June decided to suspend international adoptions of Romanian children for one year, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The decision follows criticism by the European Parliament's rapporteur on Romania, Baroness Emma Nicholson, that government officials are involved in lucrative moneymaking from trading with adopted children. MS

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES EMERGENCY ORDINANCE ON DECRIMINALIZING SAME-SEX RELATIONS

The cabinet on 21 June approved an emergency ordinance abrogating Article 200 in the Penal Code that penalized same-sex relations. Emergency ordinances come in force instantly and must later be approved by the parliament, which is continuing its attempts to circumvent the EU demand that the article be abrogated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2001). MS

ROMANIAN LOWER CHAMBER STRIKES FORMER KING OUT OF BILL'S BENEFICIARIES

The Chamber of Deputies on 21 June heeded the recommendation of a commission of the parliament's two chambers, and deleted the mention of former King Michel from the draft law on former heads of state entitled to an official residence and state stipends (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2001). Premier Nastase said the law will apply to the former monarch, because he is "implicitly included" in it, even if not mentioned by name, Mediafax reported. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER SAYS AGREEMENT WITH IMF FINALIZED

Premier Nastase on 22 June said that an agreement has been reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new standby loan and that the IMF board of directors will approve the agreement in September, Mediafax reported. Nastase said a new round of talks is to be held in August but that those discussions will concentrate on the 2002 budget. MS

RESITA HUNGER STRIKE GROWING

Nearly 100 workers and members of their families have joined the hunger strike in Resita and four hunger strikers were hospitalized on 21 June, Romanian Radio reported the next day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2001). They are protesting against the U.S. Company Noble Ventures, which owns the plant and has failed to pay wages since April. MS

TURKISH PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA

Turkish President Ahmed Necdet Sezer, on a two-day visit to Romania, on 21 June discussed with President Ion Iliescu bilateral relations and the Macedonian conflict, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The two presidents said relations between their countries are "excellent" and bilateral trade is over $1 billion, with good chances of even further improvement. Sezer said Turkey is backing Romania's potential accession to NATO "jointly with Bulgaria." He agreed with Iliescu to coordinate their countries' efforts to enter the EU. MS

MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTRY ON CERNOMAZ'S MEETING WITH POWELL

The Foreign Ministry on 21 June said in a press release that, at their 20 June meeting in Washington, Foreign Minister Nicolae Cernomaz and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the possibility of a meeting between their countries' presidents, Infotag reported. The ministry said the sides are interested in "developing and accelerating relations" between them. Powell was cited as having told Cernomaz that the U.S. is ready to continue supporting economic reforms in Moldova and the country's democratic development. Powell said particular attention is being paid to the privatization problem in Moldova. Cernomaz and Powell signed an agreement on the preservation and protection of cultural assets. MS

MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER INTERVIEWED BY RFE/RL

In an interview with RFE/RL's Romania and Moldova Service, Cernomaz on 21 June said that during his current meetings with U.S. officials in Washington "the word communist was not pronounced even once." In response to a question, Cernomaz said the U.S. officials are not interested what party rules in Moldova but whether or not the country intends to pursue the course of reform. Cernomaz said the best description for Moldova's foreign policy is "pragmatic." Asked whether Moldova intends to join the Russia-Belarus Union, Cernomaz said: "This has been a successful electoral slogan of the party that won the elections, but whether it will be put in practice remains to be seen." He said that between Moldova and the two members of the union "is a huge territory called Ukraine" and that Chisinau is primarily interested in pursuing good relations with its immediate neighbors, "Ukraine among them." MS

MOLDOVAN NEGOTIATOR SAYS 'SOME PROGRESS' MADE AT VORONIN'S MEETING WITH SMIRNOV

Vasile Sturza, head of Moldova's negotiating team with the breakaway region, on 21 June said that "despite appearances" some progress was made at the 20 June summit between President Vladimir Voronin and separatist leader Igor Smirnov, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Sturza said that Smirnov's positions are "moving closer" to the Moldovan positions. He said Voronin had offered Smirnov "guarantees" for Tiraspol's acceptance of an autonomous status within Moldova. Among these guarantees Sturza included the "recognition of the right of Transdniester to self-determination" and the obligation to refrain from using military means in the event of a conflict between the sides, as well as not to send troops to the Transdniester territory without the consent of its leadership. MS

STRASBOURG COURT TO EXAMINE COMPLAINT BY BESSARABIAN CHURCH

The European Court of Justice in Strasbourg has decided to examine the complaint by the Bessarabian Church against the Moldovan authorities' refusal to register it, Flux reported on 21 June. The court ruled on 6 June on the "admissibility" of the case and is to start hearing it on 2 October. The Bessarabian Orthodox Church is subordinated to the Bucharest Patriarchate and successive Moldovan governments have refused to register it, claiming that to do so would be to interfere in the internal affairs of the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate. The Bessarabian Church's representative before the court, Deputy Vlad Cubreacov, said the sides can still reach an "amiable settlement" and have the hearings suspended if this occurs before 2 August. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, SOFIA MAYOR URGE KOSTOV TO QUIT

Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski on 21 June urged outgoing Premier Ivan Kostov to step down as the leader of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), saying the move would open the way for the SDS to enter coalition talks with the National Movement Simeon II (NDSV), Reuters reported. Kostov is against a coalition, while Sofiyanski is widely tipped in the media as a possible premier in a NDSV-SDS coalition. "I respect Kostov as a man, but not as chairman of the SDS," Sofiyanski told journalists. President Petar Stoyanov said that if the SDS leadership decides Kostov has to resign, he "should introduce the new [SDS] leader and stand behind him with all his political skills," AP reported. Reuters said the SDS is "on the verge of a split." Meanwhile, President Stoyanov announced on 21 June that the newly elected parliament will convene on 5 July. MS

WHO VOTED FOR THE KING?

According to an analysis of exit-poll results conducted by the MBMD Institute, the NDSV was supported on 17 June by all age groups and social categories, by both sexes, and by urban as well as rural residents, BTA reported. It garnered the support of 45 percent of those who in 1997 voted for the United Democratic Forces (ODS) alliance and of 28 percent of those who supported the Bulgarian Socialist Party. Only 39 percent of those who in 1997 voted for the ODS cast their ballot for the alliance in 2001. The ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) garnered in 2001 the support of two-thirds of Turkish voters and of 15 percent of the Roma who participated in the elections. Only 6 percent of those who voted for the DPS are members of the Bulgarian ethnic majority. MS

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT WARNS AGAINST GROWING DANGER OF MACEDONIAN CIVIL WAR

The government on 21 June said the danger of civil war in neighboring Macedonia is growing and the Defense Ministry confirmed reports that the army is conducting exercises in the vicinity of the border with that country, AP reported. "Bulgaria expresses its great anxiety that the political dialogue among the legitimate parties may be severed, and Macedonia will be faced with the prospect of a civil war," a government declaration said. The cabinet hailed the NATO decision to deploy troops in Macedonia to collect weapons of disarmed Albanian rebels if Slavic and ethnic Albanian leaders can reach an understanding and said "Bulgaria is ready to provide full support for a NATO peacekeeping operation in Macedonia." General Kiril Tzvetkov, the commander of ground troops, said an exercise being conducted by special units in the vicinity of the border with Macedonia was "routine" and denied that it has any link to the crisis in that country. MS




ALBANIA UNUSUALLY CALM BEFORE SUNDAY'S VOTE


By Jolyon Naegele

Despite several murders, a marketplace bombing and a low-intensity war near its border, the balloting in Albania on 24 June may mark the country's most peaceful parliamentary election since the collapse of the communist dictatorship of Ramiz Alia a decade ago.

Aldrin Dalipi, a spokesman for the Central Election Commission, describes the run-up to this weekend's vote as "the best election campaign we've had yet in Albania."

All 140 seats in parliament are being contested. Voters will directly elect 100 deputies to single-member constituencies from a field of 1,114 candidates. In addition, voters will also elect 40 deputies from 28 countrywide party or coalition lists.

The outcome of the parliamentary elections will set the stage for parliament's election of a president next year.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is monitoring the campaign and the election with 10 election experts, 18 long-term observers, and some 200 short-term observers. The OSCE says its monitors and observers are scrutinizing the performance of election commissions, campaign activities and their coverage in the media, electoral-zone boundaries, accuracy of voter lists, transparency of candidate nominations, and the allocation of parliamentary seats.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG), a private multinational organization, four weeks ago called on the Albanian government to "scrutinize all aspects of the electoral procedures in the ethnic Greek districts of southern Albania, especially Himara," prior to the elections. The appeal was made in an effort to ensure fairness and to avoid a repetition of the tensions that resulted from last October's local elections.

ICG says local members of the Greek community in the Himara district on the Ionian coast charged that those local elections were manipulated through widespread ballot-rigging and violence. Albania, in turn, accused Greece of interference by sending several Greek parliamentarians as observers and by referring to the Himara villages as "bastions of Hellenism."

In the 24 June election, the center-right opposition Union for Victory is challenging the ruling Socialist Party led by Fatos Nano. The Union for Victory is a coalition of former President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Movement for Legality, the Democratic Liberal Union, and the National Front.

Also in the running is the center-right New Democratic Party, a coalition formed early this year out of the "Reform Movement" -- a splinter group that left the Democratic Party together with the Democratic Party of the Right and the Movement for Democracy. Berisha's former aide, Genc Pollo, is now the New Democratic Party's political secretary.

Recent polls show the Socialists with a lead of only four percentage points (46 to 42 percent) over Berisha's Democrats.

Nano has promised to continue along the path of close relations with NATO and the EU. But Nano's allegedly domineering tactics have alienated his coalition partners -- the Social Democratic Party, the Human Rights' Protection Party, and the Democratic Alliance -- all of which are running separately.

Berisha says he will only recognize the results if the election proves to be free and fair. Analysts say that following a visit to the United States early this year, Berisha has put himself and his campaign into a less aggressive mode. But his election promises still have a familiar ring.

Berisha is in fact campaigning on a platform which, if elected, he would have little chance of implementing. At the Union for Victory's first rally of the campaign four weeks ago, Berisha called for a resolution of violent conflicts in the region through peaceful dialogue and independence for Kosova. In addition, he demanded the acceleration of highway construction linking the port of Durres with Tirana and linking Albania with Kosova, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Berisha has also called for the abolition of visas to Macedonia, improved public order, and an end to corruption.

All but the last two demands are largely or entirely in the hands of outside forces over which Albania has relatively little influence.

Ilir Babaramo is a Tirana-based political analyst who writes for "Gazeta Shqiptare." He told RFE/RL's Albanian Service this week that most voters regard the Democrats' campaign promises of less spending and more investment and the Socialists' pledges of integration with the EU as little more than "exaggerations and fantasy.

"In Albania like elsewhere, it's hard to keep campaign promises," Babaramo said. "Still, the campaign for the June 24 elections has been positive. If we compare it to previous elections, the campaign climate has been relatively calm and there has been no language of hatred. Nor have there been extremist attacks among Albania's political parties."

Babaramo warns, however, that one potentially big problem is that the major parties are sponsoring some 120 candidates on independent lists, in an effort to take advantage of election rules intended to help smaller parties and independents win seats.

"I think that unless the Election Commission comes up with a solution before the day Albanians cast their ballots, we will fall into a political crisis, and the two main political parties will be filing lawsuits against each other," Babaramo said. "That's because the Election Commission will declare invalid votes for independent candidates."

On 21 June, an OSCE statement said: "When so-called independent candidates are known to have clear party affiliations, they simply cannot be independent." The Central Election Commission said the same day that it will put a stop to this practice, and the OSCE welcomed the move.


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