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Newsline - June 6, 2002


PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA MUST BE INTEGRATED INTO GLOBAL SECURITY SYSTEM
Speaking in Moscow on 5 June at a ceremony devoted to the 10th anniversary of the Russian Security Council, President Vladimir Putin said Russia must be fully integrated into the international security system because in the modern world no country can ensure its security alone, Russian news agencies reported. Nonetheless, he added, Russia must be prepared to defend its interests and must develop the potential to continue protecting them in the future. He also repeated his criticism of the law enforcement and security agencies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2002), saying they have failed to cope with organized crime and state corruption. "We have been weak in acting against extremism and drug trafficking, in protecting business and -- most importantly -- the interests and rights of our citizens," Putin said. VY

DUMA GIVES INITIAL NOD TO HATE-CRIMES BILL
Meanwhile, the State Duma passed a government-sponsored anti-extremism bill in the first reading on 6 June, Western and Russian news agencies reported. The controversial bill (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2002) is intended to clamp down on racist and nationalist crimes. The vote was 271 for, 141 against, and one abstention. President Putin and law enforcement officials have urged the Duma to pass the bill quickly, but liberal critics maintain that its vague provisions could lead to abuses by the authorities. According to regions.ru, Deputy Pavel Krasheninnikov (Union of Rightist Forces), who chairs the Legislation Committee, said that deputies' complaints will be addressed before the bill is presented for its second reading. RC

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL PRAISES PUTIN AND RECEIVES GORCHAKOV MEDAL
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan met in Moscow on 5 June with President Putin and highly praised his role in efforts to mediate between India and Pakistan during the recent regional-security forum in Almaty, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 6 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2002). "I was amused to hear them say President Putin failed to make peace...when the actual situation was that the two leaders failed to seize the opportunity offered by the conference," Annan said. While in Moscow, Annan also lauded Russia's peacekeeping role in the CIS, especially in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov presented Annan with the prestigious Aleksandr Gorchakov medal, named after an outstanding 19th-century Russian diplomat. Annan became the first non-Russian to receive the recently created medal, which previously had only been awarded to Putin, Boris Yeltsin, and former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov. VY

CHINESE, RUSSIAN LEADERS HOLD CONSULTATIONS BEFORE SHANGHAI GROUP SUMMIT
President Putin arrived in St. Petersburg on 6 June to meet with Chinese President Jiang Zemin prior to attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit on 7 June, ORT and Russian news agencies reported. Putin said before the meeting that the discussions would center on "the quality of Sino-Russian relations and acute international problems such as combating international terrorism and extremism, the conflict between India and Pakistan, and the situation in Afghanistan." Meanwhile, Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Maksim Medvedkov said in Beijing after talks there that China fully supports Russia's rapid accession to the World Trade Organization and believes that Russian membership will boost bilateral trade, RIA-Novosti reported on 6 June. VY

POLISH PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW, COMES OUT AGAINST KALININGRAD VISA-FREE CORRIDOR...
Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski arrived in Moscow on 6 June to meet with Russian President Putin, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 June. Flying from Seoul, South Korea, Kwasniewski stopped over in Novosibirsk, where he met with presidential envoy to the Siberian Federal District Leonid Drachevskii. In Novosibirsk, Kwasniewski expressed his opposition to Russian appeals for a visa-free corridor for Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast after Poland and Lithuania join the European Union in the next few years as expected. At the same time, he said he favors a liberal visa regime for Russians in the exclave. "We would like to do everything we can to strengthen contacts between neighboring countries, which means giving long-term multiple-entry, cheap, and maybe even free visas to students and young people," he said. DW

...AS RUSSIA STANDS FIRM
Moscow does not intend to back down in its dispute with the European Union over the Kaliningrad exclave, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Razov said, "Moscow's position is that it is necessary to preserve unhindered the movement of people between Kaliningrad Oblast and the rest of Russia." Razov rejected EU proposals to issue simplified Schengen visas to Kaliningrad residents, noting that only 230,000 of the region's 1 million inhabitants have foreign-travel passports and that EU statistics show that 3-5 percent of visa applicants are rejected. Razov said Russia cannot permit a situation in which the right of Russian citizens to travel between areas of Russia would depend on "the good or bad will of an EU bureaucrat." RC

GOVERNMENT INTRODUCES LICENSING OF AUDIO AND VIDEO PRODUCTION
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a decree regulating the licensing of audio and video production duplication rights, abnews.ru reported on 6 June. According to the document, the Media Ministry will be responsible for licensing the production and duplication of multimedia works on any medium, while the Culture Ministry will license multimedia products designed for presentation to mass audiences. The document requires that all video and audio productions should bear the name of the license holder and the license number. VY

HEAD OF IMMIGRATION SERVICE WELCOMES CITIZENSHIP LAW
The head of the Federal Immigration Service, Lieutenant General Andrei Chernenko, said the new citizenship law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2002) that came into force on 5 June will "cut off a huge source of corruption" and put a safe barrier "against the entry into the country of criminals and HIV-infected persons," "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported the same day. Chernenko said he disagrees with those who say that the tougher citizenship law is "immoral." "It was immoral to sign the Belovezha accords [the 1991 agreement signed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus that disbanded the USSR], which separated compatriots," Chernenko said. Chernenko's views are typical of many who, like him, spent their entire careers within the security organs and the Interior Ministry. VY

KOZAK ENDORSES SYSTEM OF FEDERAL DISTRICTS
Dmitrii Kozak, the deputy chief of President Putin's administration who oversees the government's federal policies, praised the system of federal districts on 5 June, but cast doubt over efforts to combine certain subjects of the federation into larger entities, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. "I believe the system of federal districts with their current functions operates effectively," Kozak told journalists. "It performs the function of coordination between executive bodies across Russia." Asked about merging regions, Kozak said that no studies have been done on the matter and that the process of merging regions is "regulated by the Russian Constitution." RC

YAVLINSKII LOSES DEFAMATION LAWSUIT TO BASHKORTOSTAN PRESIDENT
Moscow's Kuntsevo Municipal Court ruled on 5 June that Yabloko faction leader Grigorii Yavlinskii must publicly apologize to Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov for statements published during the 1999 election campaign in the republic and pay him 20,000 rubles ($645) compensation, RIA-Novosti reported. Specifically, Yavlinskii was ordered to publish a statement in the regional newspaper "Izvestiya Bashkirii" renouncing his assertion that Rakhimov is ruling a "feudal, patronage-based regime" characterized by "lying, stealing, and making concessions to bandits." These assertions were included in a flyer distributed by Yabloko throughout the republic. Yavlinskii's lawyer, Dmitrii Steinberg, called the verdict absurd and said he will file an appeal. He said that the court was trying to compel Yavlinskii to renounce his political convictions and that it is illegal to force him to issue an apology in a newspaper in which his initial statements did not appear. VY

DUMA SAYS CYRILLIC ALPHABET SHOULD BE MANDATORY FOR ALL RUSSIA'S PEOPLES
The State Duma adopted on 5 June in its first reading a bill making the Cyrillic alphabet obligatory for all ethnic groups in the Russian Federation, RIA-Novosti reported. Deputy Anatolii Nikitin (Communist) of the Nationalities Committee introduced the bill as an amendment to the law on the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation. The amendment stipulates that all state languages of the federation and its constituent republics should use Cyrillic and that the use of any other graphical basis for alphabets must be affirmed by federal law. The government's representative in the Duma, Andrei Loginov, said he supports the amendment because "if everyone invents their own alphabet, it would bring the state to chaos." VY

RUSSIA JOINS INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL-MONITORING BODY
Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin applauded on 6 June Russia's entry into the Egmont group, a body that unites the financial-monitoring services of more than 60 countries and organizations to combat money laundering, Russian news agencies reported. Kudrin said membership in the group will help remove Russia from "the blacklist" of countries suspected of facilitating shady transactions, ITAR-TASS reported. He added that it will also help boost investor confidence in the Russian economy. RC

TAMBOV DUMA REJECTS SALE OF FARMLAND
Legislators in Tambov Oblast passed a resolution condemning a government-sponsored draft law that would legalize the sale of agricultural land, smi.ru reported on 5 June, citing the newspaper "Tambovskoe vremya." Lawmakers said the bill would lead to "the destruction of -- first of all -- the most effectively working agricultural enterprises," the website reported. They argued that the sale of agricultural land would reduce the rights of landowners, lead to a sharp increase in crime, and flood the courts with legal disputes. Meanwhile, the Duma on 5 June rejected a motion put forward by leftist deputies calling for a "national discussion" of the land bill before it comes up for its second reading, with 144 deputies voting in favor, polit.ru reported. RC

SAUDI ARABIA DENIES SUPPORTING CHECHEN RESISTANCE
Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Russia Muhammad Hasan Abdelvali has categorically denied that his country is providing aid to Chechen fighters, Interfax reported on 5 June. "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia...has never provided and is not providing any assistance to any side that has any relation to the conflict in the Chechen Republic, in Chechnya, outside it, or on the territory of Russia in general," the ambassador said. He said the war in Chechnya is Russia's internal affair. He also denied that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is interested in creating a zone of influence in the North Caucasus. Abdelvali acknowledged that the Saudi Red Crescent Society has provided $2.2 million in humanitarian aid for Chechen displaced persons in Ingushetia, but explained that the aid is being dispensed under an agreement signed between that society, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, and the government of Ingushetia. He also said it is desirable for the international community to differentiate clearly between "terrorist activities that threaten...the lives of innocent civilians and those who fight various occupation forces." LF

CHECHEN SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS ACQUITTAL OF RUSSIAN OFFICERS IN 'FRIENDLY FIRE' CASE
The Chechen Supreme Court on 5 June overturned the March acquittal by a Moscow district court of two Russian Interior Ministry officers charged with negligence that resulted in the deaths of 22 servicemen in an ambush in Grozny in March 2000, Russian agencies reported. The Chechen court ordered further investigation into the case. The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office had immediately challenged the acquittal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 and 27 March 2002). LF

LAWYER ACCUSES JUDGE IN ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS TRIAL OF OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE
Russian lawyer Oleg Yunyshev, who represents the family of slain Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian, told journalists in Yerevan on 5 June that Samvel Uzunian, the judge presiding over the trial of the five gunmen who shot Sargsian and seven other senior officials in October 1999, is obstructing the course of justice, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Specifically, Yunyshev said Uzunian has rejected the conclusion of Russian forensic experts that the video footage of the murders may have been edited before being broadcast, and that he has refused to publish a video made the day after the shootings on which, Yunyshev claimed, presidential adviser Aleksan Harutiunian implicated President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian in the killings. Yunyshev said he will demand Uzunian's replacement if the latter continues to reject his request to publicize those materials. LF

FORMER ARMENIAN DISSIDENT ANNOUNCES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY
Self-Determination Union Chairman Paruyr Hairikian told journalists in Yerevan on 5 June that his party has nominated him as its candidate for the presidential election due in March 2003, according to Noyan Tapan and Armenpress, as cited by Groong. He said that "there is an electorate that wants me to compete" for the presidency, and that businessmen whom he declined to name have begun raising funds to finance his campaign. Hairikian, who spent 17 years in Soviet labor camps between 1969-1987, ran for president in 1991 and 1998; in 1996, he registered for the ballot but then withdrew his candidacy in favor of joint opposition candidate Vazgen Manukian. He resigned three months ago as chairman of the presidential commission on human rights, saying he intended to return to politics full time (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 March 2002). LF

ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH EU OFFICIALS
Vartan Oskanian held talks in Brussels on 4 June with European Union foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana and with External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 5 June, quoting the Foreign Ministry press office. The talks focused on energy issues, including the EU's demand that Armenia close down the Medzamor nuclear-power station by 2004, the Karabakh conflict, and measures aimed at improving Armenian-Turkish relations. LF

TEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH CLASHES IN AZERBAIJANI VILLAGE
Police have arrested 10 people, including members of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan from other parts of the country, in connection with the 3 June clashes in Nardaran between police and angry residents, Turan reported on 6 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 June 2002). The situation in the village, which is cordoned off by police who refuse entry except to residents, remains tense. Islamic Party of Azerbaijan Senior Deputy Chairman Hadji-aga Nuriev told journalists in Baku on 6 June that an unnamed member of the presidential administration traveled to Nardaran the previous day to meet with residents, who demanded that all detainees be released, that those responsible for the 3 June bloodshed be punished, and that they be consulted over the appointment of a new local administrator. Nuriev denied allegations expressed on 5 June by a senior Interior Ministry official that Iranian intelligence services were involved in the disturbances. Referring to an Interior Ministry appeal to Nardaran residents to surrender their weapons, Nuriev said they do not possess any. LF

AZERBAIJANI JOURNALIST ASSAULTED FOR INSULTING PRESIDENT'S SON
Mubariz Djafarli, who writes for the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," was attacked and beaten late on 4 June by two men who alluded to his less-than-flattering references in a recent article to President Heidar Aliev's son Ilham, Turan reported on 5 June. The Committee for the Rights of Azerbaijani Journalists has demanded that the Prosecutor-General's Office open an investigation into the attack. LF

EXXONMOBIL TO PULL OUT OF AZERBAIJANI CONSORTIUM
A spokeswoman for ExxonMobil said in Baku on 5 June that in 2003 the company will end its agreement with Azerbaijan's state oil company Socar to jointly develop the Oguz offshore Caspian oil field, Reuters reported. That $2 billion agreement was signed in 1997 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August and 10 November 1997). A test well drilled last year failed to yield commercially viable quantities of oil or gas. But a Socar official said in February that Exxon should drill a second well (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 February 2002). LF

GEORGIA, RUSSIA TO CREATE JOINT GROUP FOR BILATERAL SECURITY ISSUES
Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo told journalists in Moscow on 5 June following talks with his Georgian counterpart Tedo Djaparidze that the two countries will set up a group of experts to address security-related issues that have long imperiled bilateral relations, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. Those issues include the situation in the Pankisi and Kodori gorges, the Abkhaz conflict, and the presence in Georgia of refugees from Chechnya. The group will report to the two countries' security councils, which on the basis of its conclusions will make concrete proposals to Presidents Vladimir Putin and Eduard Shevardnadze. No time frame for doing so was indicated. LF

GEORGIAN OPPOSITIONIST ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF NEW POLITICAL MOVEMENT, PARLIAMENT FACTION
Former parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania formally announced on 6 June that he and his supporters will quit the Union of Citizens of Georgia parliament faction and form a new faction and political movement, which will provisionally be named "Democrats," Caucasus Press reported. The parliament faction, which will number some 25 deputies, will be headed by former parliament Defense and Security Committee Chairman Giorgi Baramidze. LF

RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES VOLUME OF KAZAKH OIL EXPORTS
The Russian government has approved a draft bilateral agreement stipulating the amount of oil Kazakhstan will export via Russia over the next 15 years, Russian agencies reported. Under that agreement, Kazakhstan will export annually no less than 15 million tons of oil via the Atyrau-Samara pipeline and no less than 2.5 million tons via the Makhachkala-Tikhoretsk pipeline. In July 2001, Kazakhstan's oil-export agency said it planned to export 13 million tons and 1.2 million tons, respectively, by those two routes by the end of the year. Kazakhstan plans to increase oil extraction by 300 percent over the next 15 years but has not yet made a firm commitment to any proposed additional export-pipeline route. LF

BELARUS URGED TO SEEK EXTRADITION OF ACCUSED WAR CRIMINAL
The U.S.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to Belarusian Ambassador to Israel Henadz Lavitski on 5 June, urging the Belarusian government to seek the extradition from the United States of a U.S. citizen accused of helping kill as many as 3,000 people in German-occupied Belarus while working for the Nazis in World War II, AP reported the same day. The United States Justice Department has claimed that 79-year-old Michael Gorshkow was a Gestapo interpreter and interrogator who took part in the mass killing of Jews and other civilians while posted at the headquarters of the German security police in Minsk in February 1943. The letter challenged Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to follow through on statements condemning Nazi actions. "We call upon the government of Belarus to take the practical measures necessary to bring the murderers of Belarus Jewry to justice as quickly as possible," the letter said. The U.S. Justice Department asked a court last month to revoke Gorshkow's U.S. citizenship. CB

EU CRITICIZES BELARUS'S TREATMENT OF OSCE...
The European Union criticized on 5 June the treatment by Belarus of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe mission in Minsk, including the Belarusian government's refusals to renew the visas of a number of OSCE officials, AFP reported the same day. Two acting heads of the mission have left Belarus since 15 April, and a human-rights officer was recalled on 4 June, leaving only one international officer at the mission (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2002). The EU rotating presidency, currently held by Spain, said on 5 June that the OSCE has a fundamental role to play in Belarus in supporting democratic consolidation and economic and social progress. The EU urged Belarus to accept a new head of the mission and to remove obstacles hindering relations between the former Soviet republic and the OSCE. The Belarusian government has justified its actions by accusing OSCE officials of supporting the opposition. CB

...AS OPPOSITION PARTIES URGE GOVERNMENT TO CHANGE TUNE IN RELATION TO OSCE
Belarus's Consultative Council of Opposition Parties, which unites the country's eight most prominent opposition parties, demanded that the government stop its "attacks" on OSCE officers serving at the Minsk mission, Belapan reported on 5 June. The council said that the OSCE has done a great deal to improve the country's relations with the international community and to promote dialogue between the government and the opposition, adding that the government should respect the OSCE mandate that it once approved. "The presence of the OSCE AMG [Advisory and Monitoring Group] in Belarus offered citizens certain guarantees of protection from the despotism of the authorities and fueled hopes for a civilized solution to the political crisis and for a gradual integration of Belarus into the European community," the council said. CB

WORLD CUP MAY REACH BELARUS EARLIER THAN EXPECTED...
Belarus's state-run television station may begin broadcasts of World Cup soccer matches as early as 8 June, a source close to the management of Belteleradiokompaniya told Belapan on 4 June. It had previously been reported that broadcasts would not begin before the start of the second round on 15 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2002). The source said that Germany's Kirch Media, which owns the worldwide rights to broadcast the games, offered Belarus a deal to begin broadcasting games on 8 June for $320,000, the same price they would have had to pay to begin televising games at the start of the second round. A contract has reportedly already been signed, and the German company is now waiting for Belarus to pay up. One of the conditions of the deal was reportedly that the games be televised in Belarusian only. CB

...AS FANS THREATEN NIGHTLY PROTESTS
Soccer fans in Minsk announced on 5 June that they will play soccer in a central square of the Belarusian capital every night until the national television channel begins broadcasting World Cup matches, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Contrary to statements by a Belteleradiokompaniya source that a contract has already been signed with Kirch Media to begin showing games on 8 June, an executive at the German media giant said he doubted the Minsk-based television channel would be able to get a transmission license even before the start of the second round on 15 June, ITAR-TASS reported. CB

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WARNS OF 'SURPRISES' DURING ENTRANCE EXAMS
President Lukashenka warned the heads of higher-educational institutions throughout the country on 4 June that the country's secret service will help a special governmental commission to monitor entrance examinations, Belapan reported the next day. In his warning, Lukashenka said: "This is not tyranny. This is a real tightening [of requirements]. Order and discipline must rule. I strongly urge you [heads of institutions] to be ready for surprises during entrance examinations. [Surprises] will occur, which is why I don't promise anyone anything, especially at prestigious departments. I say this frankly. [Examinations] will be closely monitored, including with the aid of the secret services." State Control Committee Chairman Anatol Tozik, who also heads the governmental commission for monitoring entrance examinations, said the commission will monitor exams in all state and private educational institutions. CB

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT COULD FACE LAWSUITS IN CASE OF DOWNED AIRLINER
The relatives of Russian passengers killed when a Ukrainian missile hit a Russian commercial airliner on 4 October may sue the Ukrainian government for as much as $100,000 per victim, AP reported on 5 June. All 78 people aboard a Sibir Airlines Tu-154 en route from Israel to Russia were killed when the plane crashed into the Black Sea after being hit by a missile fired by the Ukrainian Navy during training exercises (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 2001). Ivan Ivanov, a representative of the Kyiv-based law firm Sikoilo-Matveev-Gabasov Partners, said the final amount that will be sought by victims' relatives still has not been decided. "It will definitely be higher than the sum named earlier [$20,000 per victim] by representatives of Ukraine and may be around $100,000," Ivanov said. Representatives of the victims' families say they plan to file a lawsuit against Ukraine's Defense and Finance ministries if an out-of-court settlement cannot be reached. Zeeb Ben-Ari of the Israeli embassy in Kyiv said the amount of compensation Ukraine will pay the families of Israeli victims will be negotiated at the end of June. CB

UKRAINE'S TYMOSHENKO DENIES SEEKING ASYLUM FOR ARRESTED FORMER EESU EXECUTIVES
Ukrainian opposition politician Yuliya Tymoshenko, leader of the eponymous parliamentary faction, said on 5 June that the former Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (EESU) executives arrested in Turkey last week asked for political asylum of their own accord, adding that she does not know how their case is progressing as she has not had regular contact with them, Interfax reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 June 2002). Tymoshenko added that media reports that she has been seeking political asylum for the four former executives, including her father-in-law Hennadiy Tymoshenko, cannot be true since no one has the right to request asylum for someone else. CB

FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR SAYS NATO READY TO ENCOURAGE COOPERATION WITH UKRAINE...
At a videoconference on 5 June dedicated to U.S.-Ukrainian relations and Ukraine's potential integration into NATO, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Steven Pifer, who is a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said that NATO is ready to encourage Ukraine's desire to integrate into Europe, but that the former Soviet republic has to facilitate these efforts not only with words but with actions, by creating structures in line with the requirements of the military alliance, Interfax reported the same day. Pifer said that NATO regards Ukraine as a potential partner that will shed its Cold War mentality and think in terms of the future fight against terrorism. CB

...WHILE COMMUNISTS SAY THEY WILL NEVER ENDORSE SUCH AN ALLIANCE
Petro Symonenko, leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine, told ITAR-TASS on 6 June that Communists in the Ukrainian parliament will never support Ukraine's joining NATO, because the idea "runs counter to the constitution and national interests." He said the resolution of the Council for National Security and Defense (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 2002), as well as a statement by President Leonid Kuchma, about Ukraine's desire to join NATO "constitutes a gross violation of the constitution and all the norms of international relations." Symonenko said that the council and the president have the right to analyze various problems and to make recommendations, but neither has the right "to make official statements about the main directions of [Ukrainian] foreign policy." CB

UKRAINE'S EUROPEAN INTEGRATION COULD REACH COSMIC PROPORTIONS
The European Space Agency recommended on 5 June that Ukraine join a multinational program that could expand markets for space technology produced in the country, AP reported the same day. Pierre Brisson, head of the agency's technology-transfer program, said that he is confident the European Commission would approve such a move. The endorsement comes in the wake of announcements by Ukraine that it is seeking greater integration into European structures, including the wish to join NATO by 2010. Following a recent trip to Kyiv by European space experts, Brisson said Ukraine's materials and processing sectors are the most immediately promising to other European customers, adding that Ukraine could have "an enormous impact on the future [of space technology]." Brisson said that EU approval of Ukraine's participation in the program could come within two months, and that work could begin within six months. The Ukrainian government must also approve the country's participation. Eduard Kuznetsov, deputy director of Ukraine's National Space Agency, said he does not expect any problems in this regard. CB

ESTONIA ADOPTS SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET
By a vote of 58 to 25, the parliament on 5 June approved additional spending of 410 million kroons ($24.6 million) over the initial 2002 state budget of 33.13 billion kroons, ETA reported. The proposal by opposition parties to increase child-benefit payments for families' firstborn child to 300 kroons was rejected, as were all but two of 44 suggested amendments received by the parliament's Finance Committee. Additional funds were allocated to aid local municipalities (120 million kroons), increase pensions (100 million kroons), boost the government's reserve funds (68 million kroons), and finance free school lunches in all elementary schools (65 million kroons). Prime Minister Siim Kallas said a second supplementary budget could be passed in August if revenues continue to exceed projections. SG

GOVERNMENT APPROVES 'EUROVISION' CONTEST IN LATVIA
Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Vladimirs Makarovs told reporters on 5 June that the cabinet made the decision the previous day to organize the 48th "Eurovision" contest in Latvia next year, LETA reported. He said Latvia will sign a letter of confirmation with the European Broadcasting Union guaranteeing that Latvian State Television will be allocated sufficient funds to organize the event. Makarovs said that six proposals have been received for holding the event, but that the final decision will be made by a task force composed of high-ranking officials from the Finance, Welfare, Culture, Interior, and Foreign Affairs ministries as well as the National Radio and Television Council. The mostly likely cities win the bid are Riga or Ventspils. SG

CHANGE IN LEGAL STATUS OF LITHUANIAN NUCLEAR PLANT PROPOSED
The cabinet on 5 June approved draft amendments to the law on nuclear energy that would change the legal status of the Ignalina nuclear-power plant, ELTA reported. The amendments, which will be sent to parliament for approval, would restructure the state-run company into a closed joint-stock entity with the government as its sole owner. They are intended to help solve the current legal contradictions between the Civil Code and other laws and international commitments of Lithuania, as well as boost the country's ability to solve problems related to financing, administration, and nuclear safety. Noting that it is not the practice in Western Europe for a state company to be in charge of nuclear safety, the European Commission has urged Lithuania to change the status of the Ignalina plant. The amendments were prepared in accordance with legal practices in the European Union, the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and the requirements of the Energy Charter Treaty, as well as with recommendations by the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association. SG

POLAND TO SPEND $9.34 BILLION ON IMPROVING POOR HIGHWAY SYSTEM
Polish Deputy Prime Minister for infrastructure Marek Pol announced on 5 June that the government plans to spend 37.5 billion zlotys ($9.34 billion) on highway and housing construction in the next three years, dpa reported. As the main transit route between Western Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union, including European Union applicants in the Baltic states, Poland has a mere 394 kilometers of highways. By comparison, similarly sized Spain has more than 9,000 kilometers of highways. Pol said the bulk of the money would be spent on road construction, with a complete legislative package on both highway and housing construction expected in the Sejm before the summer break. He added that Poland intends to ask the European Union for 1.8 billion euros ($1.68 billion) in loans to speed highway construction. DW

EU ENLARGEMENT COMMISSIONER SAYS KLAUS WOULD NOT HARM CZECH ACCESSION BID
The Czech Republic's bid to join the European Union would not be harmed should former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, often described as a "Euro skeptic," come to power, EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said in Brussels on 5 June, CTK reported the same day. Verheugen said he is confident that no Czech government would turn the country against European integration. Klaus has denied accusations that he is anti-EU, and instead describes himself as a "Euro realist." The latest public opinion polls show that Klaus's center-right Civic Democratic Party, whose election campaign for the 14-15 June poll has often had nationalistic undertones, running neck and neck with the ruling center-left Social Democratic Party. BW

CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER'S COMMENTS OFFEND RUSSIA
Jaroslav Tvrdik said on 5 June that comments he made to the Senate last week that it is necessary to be watchful of the "sleeping Russian giant" were misunderstood, CTK reported the same day. Tvrdik made the remarks to the upper house of Czech parliament as he tried to persuade senators to authorize the purchase of Jas-39 Gripen supersonic jet fighters, which the Senate rejected (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 2002). "We would like to believe that these statements do not reflect the official position of the Czech Republic and the intentions of Prague in its relations with Russia," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko, RIA-Novosti reported on 5 June. Tvrdik defended his comments, saying they were made "in a certain context and I refuse to give these statements such meaning." He added that the Czech Republic "clearly welcomes the establishment of closer links with the Russian Federation and we are interested in the continuation of good relations with Russia. It is a tempest in a teacup." BW

CZECH, GERMAN PRESIDENTS ATTEMPT TO DEFUSE SUDETEN ISSUE...
Czech President Vaclav Havel and his German counterpart Johannes Rau met in Prague on 5 June and downplayed a dispute between their two countries over the post-World War II expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, Czech and international news agencies reported the same day. While rhetoric in the run-up to the 14-15 June general elections has stirred up passions over the Sudeten German issue, "Czech-German relations are good," Rau said, "and the discussions over the last couple of weeks cannot change that." BW

...AND OPEN POLITICAL ART AND LITERATURE EXHIBIT
Rau and Havel opened an exhibition on 5 June titled "Samizdat" that displays art and literature banned during the communist era, including some of Havel's own works, Czech media reported. The exhibition at the National Museum in Prague includes the Charter 77 human rights manifesto co-authored by Havel, and a manuscript of Soviet dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago." At the opening, Havel said: "All good has a meaning and sometimes it gets an added value. A man should pursue his aim regardless of whether it brings him a mock in the short run rather than an award." BW

CZECH COURT FREES FORMER COMMUNIST BORDER GUARD
A court in Plzen has freed Vitezslav Hoerel, a former border guard in communist Czechoslovakia who was accused of murder, Czech media reported on 5 June. Hoerel was accused of shooting dead a 14-year-old boy and injuring his father as they attempted to flee the country in 1950. The court said there was insufficient evidence to convict Hoerel, one of several guards who opened fire on the two as they attempted to cross the border. BW

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES CORPS FOR AFGHANISTAN
The Slovak government has agreed to send an engineers corps to Afghanistan, SITA reported on 5 June. Following parliamentary approval, the corps will likely be dispatched by the end of the year. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said Slovakia was asked to send the corps by the United States, but refused to provide details on the number of soldiers that will be sent or on where they will be based. The Defense Ministry is to cover the estimated 80 million to 100 million Slovak crown ($1.69 million to $2.12 million) cost of the operation. AS

CANADA SUPPORTS SLOVAK NATO MEMBERSHIP, TOLD MECIAR COULD COMPLICATE IT
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien reassured Slovak President Rudolf Schuster on 5 June that he and Canada will support Slovakia's efforts to join NATO, SITA reported. Schuster, meeting with Chretien in Ottawa at the beginning of his weeklong official visit to Canada and United States, was told that Vladimir Meciar's participation in the future government could complicate Slovakia's NATO bid. According to a presidential spokesman, Schuster told Chretien that even if Meciar were to win the elections in September he would not be given a mandate to form the government. However, Schuster later denied having made any promises regarding Meciar. The Slovak president asked Chretien to open a Canadian embassy in Slovakia and also asked the Canadian government to cancel visa requirements for Slovak citizens. AS

COURT UPHOLDS DECISION ON SLOVAK FORMER SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR
A Bratislava court has upheld the June 2001 decision of a lower court to halt proceedings against former Slovak secret service director Ivan Lexa for the kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son in 1995, SITA reported on 5 June. The court reasoned that the amnesty granted in 1998 by then-acting President Vladimir Meciar does not allow for Lexa's prosecution. Prosecutor-General Milan Hanzel said he will appeal the verdict, arguing that the amnesty refers to "crimes related to the kidnapping and not the kidnapping itself." Lexa's whereabouts are unknown. His lawyer Lubomir Hlbocan said it was a just decision and stressed that it is impossible to cancel an amnesty. AS

HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM POLITICIAN'S MOVE SEEN AS 'WARNING SIGN'
Former Prime Minister Viktor Orban's poaching of Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) Deputy Chairman Csaba Hende was an "extremely unfriendly" move, "Magyar Hirlap" quoted unidentified politicians as saying in its 6 June edition. Orban this week hired Hende as his chief of staff to help organize non-party right-wing movements (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2002). The unnamed sources claim that Orban "wants to force the forum into a merger with FIDESZ." MDF officials said the move is a warning from Orban to MDF Chairwoman Ibolya David that "he will remove her people one by one if she continues to resist a merger." Orban said in a recent interview with the weekly "Heti Valasz" that a right-wing merger will be his top priority during the current parliamentary term. MSZ

EU AMBASSADORS MEET WITH HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT'S INTEGRATION COMMISSION CHAIRMAN
Istvan Szent-Ivanyi, the chairman of parliament's Euro-Atlantic integration commission, told European Union ambassadors in Budapest on 5 June that the four parliamentary parties intend to amend the media law as soon as possible, as only that stands in the way of closing the audio/visual chapter in EU accession talks, Hungarian dailies reported. Ambassadors said Hungary has a major advantage in having expelled extremist and Euro-skeptic forces from parliament, in contrast to several European states. For his part, Szent-Ivanyi said accession talks can only be closed by the end of the year if the EU adopts a common position on agricultural subsidies. He added that Hungary mainly objects to the fact that the EU only wants to grant full subsidies to farmers in new member countries after a 10-year transition period. MSZ

IMF WARNS HUNGARY OVER EXCESSIVE SPENDING
The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report forecasts that spending by Hungary's previous cabinet and in the new government's 100-day program could push the country's budget deficit up to 6 percent of GDP, well above the 3 percent ceiling required to join the euro-zone, "Vilaggazdasag" reported on 6 June. The IMF welcomes the government's recent announcement that it will review some public-spending issues. The report praised last year's growth rate of 3.8 percent, especially given the unfavorable global economic climate. Although growth in 2001 was below the 5.2 percent recorded in 2000, it was still the highest in the region, the report concluded. In other news, the IMF has announced plans to close its Central European office in Budapest, as those countries supervised by the Budapest office will soon be joining the EU, "Magyar Hirlap" reported. MSZ

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT CHANGES RULES TO SPEED UP REFORM
Serbia's parliament on 5 June approved changes to the rules regarding the number of deputies required for a quorum in order to stifle attempts by the opposition and dissidents within the ruling coalition to stall legislation, Reuters reported. The move comes as squabbling within the ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition between the reformist bloc led by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica continues over the coalition's attempt to have deputies from DSS replaced in parliament for missing debates (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2002). The new rules, which DSS opposed, will lower the quorum for holding a debate to one-third from one-half of deputies in the 250-seat assembly. "We badly needed these changes to make our work and the government's work more efficient," DOS member Goran Vesic said, adding that such a big parliamentary quorum is an exception in Europe. DW

U.S. OFFICIAL MEETS WITH YUGOSLAV, SERBIAN LEADERS IN BELGRADE
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones met with Yugoslav President Kostunica, Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic, and Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic in Belgrade on 5 June, AP and Hina reported. Jones urged the leaders to cooperate more fully with the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, a Yugoslav Foreign Ministry source said. She added that they must take steps to bring to justice the 18 war crimes suspects believed to be living in the country if they hope to receive continued U.S. support. A statement from Kostunica's office said he complained to Jones about the tribunal's "selective approach" in prosecuting war crimes, in that it has yet to indict any ethnic Albanian "leaders responsible for crimes against Serbs in Kosovo, which has a bad effect on our public's view" of The Hague tribunal. DW

SERBIA ELECTS REPRESENTATIVES TO DRAFT NEW CONSTITUTION
The Serbian parliament on 5 June elected its nine representatives to the constitutional commission that will forge the charter of the joint state of Serbia and Montenegro, Tanjug reported. Six of the officials are from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia party and three are from the Democratic Party of Serbia. Deputies from the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Serbian Unity Party refused to take part in the process. They are opposed to the new state, which will end Yugoslavia as a country. Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic said the same day that he is hopeful that a blueprint of the new constitution can be finished by the end of this month. Others believe the drafting of the document will last several weeks longer. PB

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CHIEF SAYS YUGOSLAVIA TO BECOME MEMBER THIS YEAR
Walter Schwimmer, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, said in Strasbourg on 5 June that he expects Yugoslavia to become a full member of the council by the end of this year, Tanjug reported. PB

U.S. OFFICIAL IN KOSOVA
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasia Elizabeth Jones arrived in Prishtina on 6 June on a two-day visit to the province, Tanjug reported. Jones is to hold talks with Kosovar Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi. She is on an eight-day tour that will take her to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia. PB

HIGHWAY PLAN TO LINK CAPITALS OF ALBANIA, KOSOVA GETS NEW IMPETUS...
The prime ministers of Albania and Kosova vowed on 5 June to raise funds for a 200-kilometer highway through the Kukes border region while assuring nervous observers in Belgrade that the venture is aimed at fostering trade and stability and not a "Greater Albania," Western agencies reported. The $250 million highway would cover a strategic stretch of land and provide the United Nations protectorate's capital, Prishtina, with access to the Adriatic Sea. The Albanian government on 4 June approved amendments to the country's tax system to allow for generating some of the required funds through increased duties, road taxes, and taxes on businesses and on gasoline, AP said. That plan, dubbed the "Majko tax" after Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, is expected to meet with approval from the country's parliament and would raise an estimated $25 million per year, the agency noted. AH

...BUT NOT ALL THE FINANCING IS SECURED
The same day, Kosova's Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi welcomed the overture but noted that UN control of his province prevents him from reciprocating. He said an alternative might be to fund the project through voluntary donations, Reuters reported. "We would look at other possibilities to finance this road, not only in Kosova but also in Albania," the agency quoted him as saying. Majko told reporters that the World Bank promised to help finance the project, AP reported, noting that he offered no details. Western governments have generally been hesitant to back projects that might heighten fears in Serbia and Macedonia of attempts to create a "Greater Albania." AH

BOSNIAN AUTHORITIES LOSE SUSPECT IN ITALIAN EXTRADITION REQUEST
Bosnia-Herzegovina's Antiterrorist Team said on 5 June that a man wanted by Italian law enforcement for a host of crimes has escaped their round-the-clock surveillance, dpa reported. Saleh Nidal, 32, managed to escape several days ago, the organization announced. A former Bosnian citizen of Yemeni origin who was declared persona non grata by Sarajevo in March, Nidal is believed to have committed crimes as part of the so-called "Bologna Group" in Italy, dpa said. He was under constant watch by police after Bosnian authorities received an extradition request in early May, the agency reported. AH

BOSNIAN MUSLIM CLERIC URGES RESTRAINT AGAINST ISLAMIC CHARITIES...
Mustafa Ceric, the head of Bosnia's Islamic community, warned on 5 June that thousands of Bosnians could be deprived of valuable humanitarian aid as authorities target groups suspected of having links to terrorism, Reuters reported. "Islamic humanitarian organizations are raided and investigated not because they have done something wrong but because of suspicion they might think of doing something wrong," AP quoted him saying in the same statement. Eight groups have been targeted since the 11 September attacks in the United States heightened global efforts to curb terrorism, Reuters noted. Ceric charged that authorities are creating an atmosphere in which accusations of terrorist links are leveled without having been proven in court, Reuters said. Police this week raided the Bosnia offices of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which has been blacklisted by the United States for alleged links to terrorism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2002). AH

...AS FOREIGN MINISTER GIVES ASSURANCES TO ISLAMIC CONFERENCE
Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija told member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Sarajevo on 5 June that checks on charity organizations' finances were not aimed solely at Arabic Islamic charities but at "all those for which there was sufficient evidence that they breached Bosnia-Herzegovina's regulations," FENA reported. AH

BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY GIVES NOD TO FOREIGN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGES
The country's Presidency on 5 June approved three foreign judges proposed to take up seats on the nine-member Bosnia-Herzegovina Constitutional Court, FENA reported the same day. Four of those positions are filled by the parliament of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation and two by Republika Srpska's People's Assembly. The other three judges are elected by the president of the European Court of Human Rights. FENA said the European nominees include David Feldman, a professor of law and legal adviser of the Joint Committee for Human Rights; Didier Maus, professor of law and a state adviser; and Tudor Pautiru, who was a judge at the European Court of Human Rights from 1996 to 2001 and who is currently the international judge in Kosova. The federation and the Republika Srpska nominees are expected to face approval by the end of July, in order to have a new bench in place by August, FENA added. AH

CROATIAN PRIME MINISTER BEGINS MAJOR U.S. VISIT
Ivica Racan launched his sweeping nine-day official visit to the United States by meeting separately with Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and Representative George Radanovich (R-California) on 5 June, HINA reported. Racan said his country has received strong support from U.S. Congressmen for its antiterrorist efforts and steps toward joining NATO, the agency said. Racan is expected to meet with President George W. Bush briefly, a full range of government and business leaders, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan before his departure on 12 June, according to HINA. AH

CROATIA COMES UP EMPTY IN IMF DISCUSSIONS
A mission from the International Monetary Fund reported no progress after two weeks of talks with the Croatian government over a new standby agreement, HINA reported on 5 June, adding that the representatives will return for negotiations in September. Mission chief Hans Flickenschild said serious talks cannot take place until Zagreb presents its consolidated state accounts, which it is to prepare ahead of the next meeting, the agency said. Initial figures indicated the state deficit would be about 6.6 percent of gross domestic product, including significant construction of highways. Flickenschild noted a number of positive developments in the past 2 1/2 years, specifically citing 2001 growth of 4 percent, annual inflation of 2.2 percent in April, and a closing of the current-account deficit, HINA reported. AH

FORMER TOP BANKER TO RUN FOR SLOVENIAN PRESIDENCY
Slovenia's former central bank governor, France Arhar, announced late on 4 June that he will run as an independent candidate in presidential elections later this year, Reuters reported the following day. The 54-year-old Arhar, who now heads state insurer Vzajemna, cited his record ensuring stability of the tolar under his stewardship, the agency said. Opinion polls have given him a possible lead over candidates who have already announced their candidacies and over current Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek, whose failing health appears to have at least temporarily derailed his presidential aspirations. AH

FORMER REBEL LEADER ELECTED TO LEAD POLITICAL PARTY IN MACEDONIA
The former political leader of the disbanded ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK), Ali Ahmeti, was elected chairman of a new political party on 5 June, "Dnevnik" reported. At the founding convention of the Democratic Union for Integration, Ahmeti said the main aim of the party will be the full implementation of the Ohrid peace accord that ended the violence between the ethnic Albanian rebels and government security forces. "The party will stand for a multiethnic Macedonia, decentralization of power, eradication of corruption and organized crime, and for a stable Macedonia that is integrated in the Euro-Atlantic structures," Ahmeti said in his opening speech in the House of Culture in Tetovo. Ahmeti decided to form a political party of his own after attempts to bring together the existing ethnic Albanian political parties in the Coordination Council of the Albanians in Macedonia failed (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 1 February 2002 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May 2002 ). UB

NATO SPOKESMAN SAYS CONFERENCE IN MACEDONIA POSTPONED DUE TO ORGANIZATIONAL PROBLEMS
Reacting to reports that the conference on border issues planned for next month was called off because of the anti-Western speech Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski delivered in parliament on 27 May, NATO Spokesman Craig Ratcliff on 5 June said the postponement is due to organizational problems, "Dnevnik" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2002). "The conference was postponed only because of the timing as there was not enough time for the preparations," Ratcliff said. Georgievski, however, told journalists that the conference was called off at his request. "I could not accept to participate in a conference between me, the Albanian prime minister, and the Kosovar prime minister. He who said he called off the conference was not the one who did it," "Dnevnik" quoted Georgievski as saying. UB

STABILITY PACT ADMITS NEW MEMBERS IN ROMANIA...
Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana announced on 5 June that Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have been admitted to the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, Mediafax reported. The admissions were decided at the Bucharest meeting of the Stability Pact's Working Table III on security issues. Geoana also said the Bucharest SECI Center will also incorporate the Stability Pact's Center for the fight against organized crime. He added that the Bucharest center will therefore not only be a regional SECI center, but a "focal point of the Stability Pact and the Euro-Atlantic community." ZsM

...AND ADOPTS DECLARATION ON DISASTER PREVENTION
Eleven National Stability Pact coordinators from Southeast European countries and an International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies representative signed a joint declaration on Cooperation in Disaster Preparedness and Prevention for Southeastern Europe in Bucharest on 5 June, Romanian media reported. The declaration acknowledges the important role of disaster management at the local, national, and regional levels and of preparedness for emergency situations. The pact's Working Table III is to end its Bucharest meeting on 6 June. ZsM

THE ECONOMIST GROUP UPBEAT ON ROMANIA'S DEVELOPMENT
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) upgraded its forecast on Romania's economic growth for this year from 3.5 percent to 4 percent, the Bucharest-based "Ziarul Financiar" reported on 6 June. The EIU's May report was published in Bucharest at a Business Roundtable with the Government of Romania; meeting organized by The Economist Group. The report said the forecast was improved due to better-than-expected trends in the global economy. The report estimates an inflation rate of 24 percent for 2002 and 17.5 percent for next year. ZsM

WORLD BANK TO SUPPORT ROMANIA'S ANTICORRUPTION FIGHT
Andrew Vorkink, the World Bank's country director for Bulgaria and Romania in the Europe and Central Asia region, said on 5 June that the bank will financially support Romanian programs to eradicate corruption and will also offer technical assistance, Mediafax reported. The bank will offer the Romanian government a $250,000 grant and a loan of $18 million strictly for the fight against corruption. Vorkink also presented a World Bank report on Romanian developments and praised the judicial reform. The report says, however, that in order to strengthen the rule of law, the government should further "concentrate reform efforts" on the legal system. ZsM

MOLDOVAN SUPREME COURT REJECTS GAGAUZ GOVERNOR'S APPEAL
The Supreme Court of Justice on 5 June rejected Gagauz-Yeri Governor Dumitru Croitor's appeal against the 31 January decision by the Gagauz-Yeri Popular Assembly initiating a referendum on dismissing the governor, Flux reported. The court upheld a decision by the Court of Appeals last month that ruled the Popular Assembly's vote was valid. Croitor's legal assistant Gheorghii Mihailo said on 5 June that the court's decision proves once again that in Moldova "laws do no apply." He further accused the court of issuing the decision under the pressure from the Communist authorities, which, according to Mihailo, intend to set up a dictatorship in the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region. ZsM

BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY PLANS MEASURES AGAINST CORRUPTION AND ORGANIZED CRIME
Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov on 4 June presented a number of amendments to the Law on the Interior Ministry, Bulgarian media reported. The amendments aim to create the legal basis for infiltrating undercover agents of the National Service for Combating Organized Crime (NSBOP) into organized crime structures as well as into the state administration. At present, data collected by undercover agents of the National Security Service cannot be used as evidence before a court. To make this possible, the code of penal procedure has to be amended as well. The Ministry is also preparing a complete new Law on the Interior Ministry, which is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. Petkanov also announced that a bill on confiscation of illegal incomes will be drafted within a month, BTA reported on 6 June. "The future law will affect primarily persons who have grown rich on smuggling," Petkanov said. UB

BULGARTABAK TENDER ENTERS SECOND ROUND
Economy Minister Nikolay Vasilev announced on 5 June that five bidders have qualified for the second round of the privatization tender for Bulgartabak Holding, BTA reported. The five candidates are expected to submit their final bids for 80 percent of the company's assets between 10 and 22 July. The bids will be opened on 22 July, and the winner of the tender will be announced within ten days (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2002). In other news, Transport and Communications Minister Plamen Petrov told news.bg on 5 June that there are 12 bidders for the Bulgarian state telecommunications company BTK, 10 of whom are considered potential buyers. The tender for 65 percent of company's assets will end on 10 June. UB

There is no End Note today.


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