Accessibility links

Newsline - June 20, 2002


DUMA ADOPTS TOUGH RESOLUTION ON KALININGRAD
The State Duma on 19 June overwhelmingly approved a hard-line, non-binding resolution on the Kaliningrad Oblast issue, "Izvestiya" and other Russian news agencies reported. The resolution, which garnered 401 votes, demands that the European Union provide a visa-free transit corridor between the exclave and the rest of Russia after neighboring Lithuania and Poland enter the organization. It accuses the EU of "disrespecting Russia's national sovereignty" and "violating the norms of international law." The resolution backs President Vladimir Putin's tough stance on the issue. After the vote, Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgenii Gusarov told the newspaper that Russia will continue insisting on visa-free transit not only for Kaliningrad residents but for all Russian citizens. Kaliningrad Oblast Governor Vladimir Yegorov was quoted as saying that the EU proposal for simplified visas for Russians is unacceptable and that Kaliningrad residents alone would require 5,000 such visas per day. "Izvestiya" commented, however, that by offering blanket support for Putin's position, the Duma has placed Russia in a no-win situation, since it seems clear that the EU will not back down from its position on the matter. VY

PUTIN CALLS FOR REPATRIATION OF CAPITAL...
Speaking to a congress of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the national umbrella business association headed by former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002), President Putin noted that too much Russian capital is working for Western economies and "Western economies that possess resources of Russian origin are not interested in them being removed," RIA-Novosti and other Russian news services reported on 19 June. He called on business and the government to create favorable conditions for repatriating Russian capital. "The government should not grab everyone by the arm and ask where this money came from, since the government itself failed to establish normal conditions for investment [in Russia]," Putin said. Aleksei Volin, Putin's deputy chief of staff, added that the government is considering an amnesty for capital that left the country because of political and economic instability, gazeta.ru reported on 19 June. "If only $100 billion of the estimated $300 billion that left Russia is repatriated, state budget revenues will be increased by 18.5 percent on account of income tax alone," Volin said. VY

...AND PRIMAKOV SECONDS CALL FOR CAPITAL-FLIGHT AMNESTY...
Addressing the same audience, Primakov urged the government to find "some form of amnesty for capital that fled the country," RIA-Novosti and other Russian news agencies reported on 19 June. Primakov argued that much of this money was exported for perfectly legitimate reasons. He stressed that Russia must continue to allow the free movement of capital into and out of the country while simultaneously creating incentives to encourage Russian business to repatriate their capital. Arkadii Volskii, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), told the audience the state should restore the practice of Western concessions -- a New Economic Policy-era practice of granting special privileges to Western investors for a certain period of time -- in order to improve the negative balance of foreign investment and repatriate Russian capital. VY

...AS PRESIDENT MEETS WITH MYSTERY BANKER
Following his speech to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President Putin met for two hours with Sergei Pugachev, a senator representing Tuva in the Federation Council and the former president of Mezhprombank, "Izvestiya" reported. The discussions reportedly centered on concrete ideas for repatriating Russian capital. However, the newspaper speculated that Putin also asked Pugachev, who is reputed to be the informal leader of the presidential "Petersburg clan," about a 18 June article in "Le Monde" alleging that Pugachev -- and possibly other unnamed members of the presidential entourage -- is involved in money laundering in France and Monaco. "Izvestiya" also quoted a source close to Pugachev as saying, "Discussing a newspaper publication is not on the presidential level." Pugachev is one of the least-known figures in Putin's inner circle, the newspaper wrote. He is known as a major sponsor of the Russian Orthodox Church and is reputed to have considerable influence over the president. VY

MEDIA MINISTER PREDICTS HIS MINISTRY'S DEMISE
Speaking to a conference devoted to the mass media on 19 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 19 June 2002), Media Minister Mikhail Lesin predicted that his ministry will be abolished within two or three years, having fulfilled its mission, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Lesin said that the state will continue to play a role in the national mass-media market, but claimed that that role will be minimal. He stressed, though, that there will be no "panic selling of state mass-media outlets." Lesin described the state's current policy of providing direct federal subsidies to more than 2,000 newspapers as "senseless," and predicted that after the Media Ministry is abolished, the state will continue to control "one information agency, one television channel, one radio company, and one national newspaper." In addition, state interests will continue to be protected through licensing, registration, and other media legislation, Lesin said. He also noted that the country's small advertising market is the major obstacle to developing the sector, but did not offer any suggestions for enlarging it. VY

ALTERNATIVE-SERVICE BILL MOVES FORWARD...
Duma deputies adopted on 19 June a government-sponsored bill on alternative military service in its second reading, Western and Russian news agencies reported. If adopted unchanged, the bill will make the length of alternative service 3 1/2 years at a civilian facility or three years at a military facility. Those with higher-education degrees would have to serve only 22 months, according to Interfax. The vote was 274 in favor and three opposed, the agency reported. Pro-Kremlin centrist factions were able to block most of the more than 300 amendments that were proposed after the first reading of the bill, mostly by deputies from Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS). Presidential Ombudsman for Human Rights Oleg Mironov told Ekho Moskvy the same day that he considers "doing alternative service in military units to be absolutely unacceptable" because young men would likely become "pariahs among the servicemen and negative phenomena like vicious hazing will assume new forms." Deputy SPS head Aleksandr Barranikov introduced one amendment that would have reduced the term of alternative military service to 2 1/2 years; however, that amendment attracted only 71 votes. Displeased with the final results after the more than four hours of debate, Barranikov declared, "The military lobby won." JAC

...AS DEPUTIES VOTE FOR LARGE PERSONAL STAFFS...
Also on 19 June, deputies approved a bill in its third reading that will allot each legislator as many as 40 assistants, ntvru.com reported, citing RIA-Novosti. President Putin earlier vetoed a bill allowing deputies up to 50 assistants. The voting was unanimous, with 370 votes cast in favor. Meanwhile, in an interview with "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on the same day, the presidential envoy to the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, estimated that only about 150 of the Duma's 450 deputies are actually primarily engaged in legislative work. The rest, according to Kotenkov, are either public politicians, who spend most of their time on party activities and only drop by the Duma "when there is an opportunity to criticize the government," or they are private businessmen. JAC

...AND SENATORS MOVE INTO LUXURY APARTMENTS
At the beginning of September, about 80 Federation Council members will move into a lavish new Moscow residence, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 19 June. The newly constructed apartment complex comes with a greenhouse filled with rare flowers, a lake stocked with carp, three tennis courts, a picnic and barbecue area, centrally filtered water, and an autonomous heating plant. It is located in the "ecologically clean" Zapadnii raion in central Moscow, not far from Kutuzovskii prospekt. The apartments range from 90 to 165 square meters and are serviced by special "noiseless" high-speed elevators. According to the daily, the complex is also equipped with a 24-hour supermarket, fitness center, beauty salon, sauna, a sushi bar, an Italian restaurant, a movie theater, and, of course, free parking. The apartments will be furnished, and senators will only have to pay a monthly service fee of $1 per square meter. JAC

MOSCOW DEPUTY MAYOR ESCAPES SECOND ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT
Unidentified gunmen fired on the car of Moscow Deputy Mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze on 19 June, Western and Russian news agencies reported. Some agencies reported that his driver was killed in the incident, while utro.ru reported that this information is false. Ordzhonikidze -- who oversees international economic relations, casinos and gaming, and several foreign-investment projects including the proposed construction of a Formula-1 racetrack -- was not injured in the attack. He spent a month in the hospital following a similar attack in December 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 December 2000) in which the driver of the car was killed. In the spring of 2000, gunmen fired into the car of Ordzhonikidze's assistant, Vyacheslav Borulnik, wounding his driver. Borulnik escaped unharmed, utro.ru reported. RC

MORE BUSINESSMEN TO SEEK TOP SPOT IN KRASNOYARSK...
As expected, Taimyr Autonomous Okrug Governor and former Norilsk Nickel head Aleksandr Khloponin has officially registered as a candidate in the 8 September gubernatorial race in Krasnoyarsk Krai, RIA-Novosti reported on 19 June. Khloponin said that he believes the head of one of the richest regions should not be a "politician, but an experienced crisis manager." Also on 19 June, Moscow entrepreneur German Sterligov, a former partner of businessman Artem Tarasov, has announced his decision to seek the governorship, ntvru.com reported. Tarasov announced his intention to vie for the post on 17 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2002). JAC

...AS UNITY HEAD BOWS OUT...
Emergency Situations Minister and Unity faction head Sergei Shoigu told journalists in Yekaterinburg on 19 June that he will not run for governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, ITAR-TASS reported. Shoigu denied all speculation that he will run, saying it is "a premature question." "I would not like to cause confusion in the minds of my fellow citizens," Shoigu was quoted as saying. RC

...AND FORMER LOCAL KINGPIN CONVICTED AND RELEASED
A Moscow court on 19 June found former Krasnoyarsk Aluminum head Anatolii Bykov guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced him to a suspended prison term of 6 1/2 years, with a five-year probation period, Interfax reported. Bykov had to sign a written pledge not to leave Moscow and was then released. Bykov was convicted of arranging the attempted murder of entrepreneur Vilor Struganov in September 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2000). Ntvru.com, citing Interfax, reported that Central Elections Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov said Bykov is eligible to participate in elections at any level of government because his sentence was suspended. Bykov has not said that he will run for governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai. JAC/RC

FEDERAL OFFICIALS DECLINE TO TAKE OVER ULYANOVSK...
Responding to a call by Unified Energy Systems (EES) executive Andrei Trapesnikov to impose federal rule in Ulyanovsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2002) because of its mounting energy debts, Ulyanovsk Oblast authorities said that it is impossible to take Trapesnikov's statement seriously, RFE/RL's Ulyanovsk correspondent reported on 19 June. Also on the same day, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said he does not believe that the introduction of federal rule in Ulyanovsk is expedient. However, he said that the government is concerned by the conflict among various levels of government in the oblast, which is hindering the settlement of the energy debts. JAC

...AS ONE MAN IS KILLED DURING PROTESTS
On 17 June, more than 300 residents of a town in the Baryshkii Raion of Ulyanovsk Oblast blocked the Penza-Ulyanovsk highway to protest the lack of electricity to their village. During the protest, a passing car killed one picketer and injured another. On 19 June, town residents stopped their protest after electricity was restored. Ulyanovsk Governor Vladimir Shamanov has been on vacation and, in his absence, First Deputy Governor Viktor Sidorchev publicly called for the head of the raion to resign, RFE/RL's Ulyanovsk correspondent reported. JAC

SHAIMIEV CRITICIZES SHIFTING FEDERAL POLICY ON MINERAL RESOURCES
In an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 June, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev commented that the recent suggested revisions of the law on the management of natural resources have provoked anxiety among many federation subjects. He continued that the proposed amendments to the law on underground resources would transfer an entire range of issues to federal jurisdiction, while the regions would only control those minerals that are easy to find on the earth's surface, such as clay, sand, and crushed stone. Last month, President Putin said that although he believes that both regional and federal governments should benefit from natural resources, the decisive word should belong to the federal government, particularly with regard to the most valuable natural resources (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May 2002). JAC

CZECH DELEGATION DOES BUSINESS IN ST. PETERSBURG
Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman led a large delegation of Czech businessmen on a trip to St. Petersburg, where he held talks with his Russian counterpart, Kasyanov, and participated in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on 20 June, Western and Russian news agencies reported. Zeman declared that Russia is a stable state that is fulfilling its international obligations and "the insurance of Czech investments in Russia is no longer necessary," ITAR-TASS reported. Zeman and Kasyanov also discussed curbing illegal immigration, visa issues, the possibility of sending Russian citizens serving time in Czech prisons back to Russia for incarceration there, and Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. The prime ministers also signed an agreement under which Russia will supply nuclear fuel worth $200 million to the Czech Republic outside the framework of Russia's debt-repayment scheme. Businessmen traveling with Zeman concluded an array of contracts with Russian counterparts, CTK reported. RC

FIERCE BATTLE UNDER WAY IN SOUTHERN CHECHNYA
Fierce fighting erupted on 18 June in Vedeno between a Chechen detachment of some 40 fighters and about 400 Russian troops backed by artillery and air support, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported. Local residents are fleeing to avoid being caught in hostilities. Also on 19 June, Russian troops ended a two-day battle in Achkhoi-Martan with a group of Chechen fighters from Doku Umarov's command. The Chechen succeeded in breaking through the lines of the Russians who had surrounded them and escaping. LF

CORRECTION:
An item in the 19 June 2002 issue of "RFE/RL Newsline" entitled "Former Presidential Staff Official Detained for Fraud" incorrectly identified the woman who was arrested. Her name is Larisa Serebryannikova.

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION SHRUGS OFF PRESIDENT'S WARNING NOT TO DISRUPT PARLIAMENT
The opposition parliament deputies who last week blocked the podium to protest the speaker's refusal to initiate a debate on impeaching President Robert Kocharian dismissed on 19 June Kocharian's warning of the previous day that he will order police to intervene if they continue impeding the legislature's work, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002). Gagik Tadevosian (Communist Party of Armenia) said Kocharian's statement "was unworthy of the president of the republic," while Manouk Gasparian (independent) announced that he will occupy the podium as soon as the fall session opens on 15 September "and wait and see how the president will go about removing me." LF

DASHNAKTSUTIUN LEADER DENIES PARTY IN OPPOSITION TO PRESIDENT
In a 19 June interview with Noyan Tapan, Gegham Manoukian, who is a leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (HHD), denied media speculation that the HHD could move into opposition to President Kocharian. At the same time, he noted that since Kocharian's election in March 1998, the HHD has never hesitated to criticize aspects of the president's domestic, economic, social, or foreign policies that it considers unacceptable. Manoukian also predicted that although the question of Kocharian's impeachment will be raised repeatedly in parliament in the coming months, it will never be put to a vote. LF

FRANCE 'SURPRISED' BY AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT'S KARABAKH CLAIMS
French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catherine Waliski told RFE/RL's Armenian Service on 19 June that her government is "somewhat surprised" by President Heidar Aliev's disclosures of what he claims was an agreement reached between himself and Kocharian in talks in Paris last year mediated by French President Jacques Chirac (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002). She said that details of the negotiations in Paris in March and in Florida, under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group, in April "cannot be disclosed," and that the two presidents themselves had agreed that details "should be kept confidential as long as there is no final agreement between the two parties." She added that the two presidents asked the international mediators not to divulge details of the peace talks. She did not confirm or deny whether Aliev's claims about the agreement reached between himself and Kocharian are accurate. This is not the first time that Aliev has violated the confidentiality of the OSCE-mediated Karabakh peace talks. While visiting the United States in July 1997, he disclosed to the press details of a peace proposal made by the OSCE Minsk Group two months earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 1997). LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR SWIFT INVESTIGATION OF ARMS CONSIGNMENT
Eduard Shevardnadze called on 19 June for a thorough investigation of the consignment of arms intercepted near Tbilisi two days earlier, pointing out that the weaponry in question is so modern that the Georgian Army does not even have it, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. Shevardnadze rejected guerrilla leader David Shengelia's claim that the arms belong to him and were intended for his guerrillas fighting in southern Abkhazia. Prosecutor-General Nugzar Gabrichidze similarly asked why, if the arms were intended for Shengelia's Forest Brothers, the Land Rover transporting them was heading toward Tbilisi instead of taking a shorter and more direct route from Tskhinvali, where the arms were loaded, to Zugdidi, the guerrillas' base in western Georgia. Criminal cases have been brought against the Georgian National Security Ministry official and the Russian national who were transporting the weaponry. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 20 June claimed that the arms were destined for Chechen militants encamped in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. LF

GEORGIA SOFTENS POSITION OVER WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES
Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili hinted on 19 June that Tbilisi might extend the deadline it proposed earlier for the closure of the two remaining Russian military bases in Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. He did not elaborate. Georgia previously demanded that Russian withdraw from those facilities within three to four years, while Russian officials said the withdrawal will take a minimum of 10 to 14 years. LF

PARLIAMENT-IN-EXILE CLAIMS RUSSIA PREPARING NEW ATTACK ON ABKHAZIA
Members of the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz parliament-in-exile claimed on 19 June that Russian special units have been deployed in three locations in Abkhazia in preparation for an attack next month on the Georgian population of the Kodori Gorge, Caucasus Press reported. Those sources said that the units were sent to Abkhazia on the initiative of Abkhaz Interior Minister Amazbey Kchach. LF

CAR USED IN ABDUCTION OF BRITISH BUSINESSMAN FOUND IN GEORGIAN CAPITAL
One of the cars used in the 18 June abduction of British banking expert Peter Shaw was found abandoned in the Tbilisi district of Digomi on 19 June, Caucasus Press quoted National Security Minister Valeri Khaburzania as saying. President Shevardnadze has written to the EU, for whom Shaw was working in Tbilisi as a consultant, expressing his regret at the "shameful" incident. No ransom demand has yet been made public. In a statement on 20 June, EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Chris Patten called on the Georgian authorities to take all possible measures to secure Shaw's swift release. Patten noted that this is not the first such incident in Georgia and that it has given rise to "deep concern" within the international community. LF

MISSING RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS FOUND IN SOUTH OSSETIA
Eight Russian contract servicemen who quit their unit without permission on 17 June have now all been located, Caucasus Press reported on 19 June. It remains unclear whether the men deserted because conditions failed to meet their expectations or whether they became lost in unfamiliar terrain, as Lieutenant General Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian Defense Ministry's peacekeeping operations, has claimed. LF

DETAINED FORMER KAZAKH OFFICIAL SAID FORCIBLY SEDATED
Former Pavlodar Oblast Governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov is being treated at a clinic in Pavlodar with the powerful sedatives relanium (a Polish-produced form of diazepam, prescribed for anxiety and panic attacks) and dimedrol, according to a Kazakh politician who traveled to Pavlodar earlier this week in the hope of visiting Zhaqiyanov. He was refused permission to do so. Marzhan Aspiandarova of the Azamat Party told a press conference in Almaty on 19 June that it is not known how frequently Zhaqiyanov is being injected with these drugs or what the dosage is, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. She added that he is being forced to familiarize himself with the 12 volumes of the criminal case brought against him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002) while under heavy sedation. Zhaqiyanov, one of the co-founders last fall of the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK), is accused of financial crimes. LF

OPPOSITION ACTIVIST IN KAZAKHSTAN APPEALS TO RUSSIAN LEADERSHIP
Gennadii Bondarenko, who heads the DVK branch in Pavlodar, has sent an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, and Russia's Ambassador to Kazakhstan Yurii Merzlyakov asking them to provide moral and political support to the population of Kazakhstan, Interfax and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 19 June. Bondarenko said that DVK members are subjected to harassment and persecution, and the Kazakh authorities ban peaceful rallies and meetings. LF

KAZAKH NGO CALLS FOR MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY
Speaking at a press conference in Almaty on 19 June, Almaty Helsinki Committee head Ninel Fokina argued that the Kazakh government should impose a moratorium on capital punishment, Interfax and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. In his annual address to parliament, President Nursultan Nazarbaev proposed in late April beginning a discussion on imposing such a moratorium and possibly even abolishing capital punishment completely. At present, Kazakhstan has some 40 prisoners on death row. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENTARIAN'S APPEAL HEARING POSTPONED...
An appeal by parliament deputy Azimbek Beknazarov against the one-year suspended sentence handed down to him last month was postponed on 19 June until 24 June because Beknazarov failed to appear at the court in Toktogul, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Beknazarov said he should have been informed 10 days in advance that the hearing would not take place in Djalalabad as originally specified, and that he will appear in to Toktogul court only on 27 June, in compliance with the 10-day advance-notice rule. LF

...AS LOCAL GOVERNOR MEETS WITH HIS SUPPORTERS...
Meanwhile, 10 supporters of Beknazarov met in the town of Djalalabad with Djalalabad Oblast Governor Djusupbek Sharipov to demand that Beknazarov's appeal be heard not in Toktogul but in Djalalabad, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Sharipov rejected that demand, saying he has no right to pressure the court, but he offered to provide buses to transport Beknazarov's supporters from Djalalabad to Toktogul, a distance of some 300 kilometers. He also told RFE/RL that the decision to hold the hearing in Toktogul was made at the request of witnesses who live in Toktogul who expressed fears for their safety should they have to travel to Djalalabad. LF

...AND PLANNED RALLY IN OSH UNDER THREAT
Leaders of the opposition Ata-Meken Party told RFE/RL on 18 June they plan to convene a mass rally in Osh on 23 June. But the following day, Osh Governor Djantoro Satybaldiev told RFE/RL that the municipal authorities have not given Ata-Meken permission for the rally, and he will not permit such a gathering under the current difficult economic conditions. He further claimed that the city's 400,000 ethnically mixed population does not want any such gathering, to which Ata-Meken expected to attract 10,000 participants. LF

THOUSANDS AT RISK FROM LANDSLIDE IN TAJIKISTAN
Some 6,000 inhabitants of the Ayni Raion of northern Tajikistan are endangered by a mass of 15 million cubic meters of earth and rock that threatens to engulf three villages, Interfax reported on 19 June. An earlier landslide in Ayni killed four and blocked roads leading into the district, complicating an operation by the Emergency Situations Ministry to evacuate those at risk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002). LF

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS INTEGRATION WITH RUSSIA CANNOT BE BLOCKED...
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka chaired a training seminar for government and administration officials in Mahileu on 19 June, Belarusian television reported. He used this venue to make public additional comments on his recent spat with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Belarusian-Russian integration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002). Lukashenka noted that integration with Russia is not a political game but a foreign-policy priority for Belarus. "It is too early to celebrate a victory for the opponents of Russian-Belarusian integration," he said. "I am becoming more and more aware of how beggarly [those opponents] are, including our opposition. They are already choking, to put it mildly, with their own sewage and burying the rapprochement of Belarus and Russia. But it's too early for that." Lukashenka stressed that even he and Putin are unable to stop the advance of integration since, he argued, it is like a "wave rolling in from both nations." JM

...AND DECLARES UNWILLINGNESS TO PAY FOR 'MARCH' TO EUROPE...
Lukashenka also explained to seminar participants why he primarily meets with leaders from the CIS, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, while avoiding those from other parts of the globe. He said Belarus can hope to find markets and understanding only among developing countries, which, he said, "were traditionally in favor" of the former Soviet Union. "I also can roughly say that I want to go to Europe," Lukashenka divulged. "But how much do we have to pay for our march to Europe? Russia has made its choice. You know with what Russia has paid. I too have been asked to pay, not only politically but also economically. I'm not ready to pay this price." JM

...WHILE OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS AGAINST 'ANNEXATION' BY RUSSIA
Zyanon Paznyak, the exiled leader of the Belarusian Popular Front, told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service on 19 June that President Putin's recent comments on Russian-Belarusian integration reflect yet another step in Russia's policy of "annexation" toward Belarus. "The preceding steps, which were hidden behind a screen of integration demagoguery, laid the foundation for the destruction of the Belarusian culture, language, national awareness, business, and economy, and prepared the country for surrender. This stage is already completed, and now they are forcing Lukashenka into a tight corner and opening only one door for him -- annexation," Paznyak opined. JM

PRISON TERMS DEMANDED FOR BELARUSIAN JOURNALISTS ACCUSED OF SLANDERING LUKASHENKA
A state prosecutor called for prison sentences of 2 1/2 years for Mikola Markevich and two years for Pavel Mazheyka during their trial in Hrodna on charges of slandering President Lukashenka in the weekly "Pahonya" during the 2001 presidential-election campaign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2002), Belapan reported on 19 June. Defense lawyers Syarhey Tsurko and Alyaksandr Birylau asked the court to acquit Markevich and Mazheyka, arguing that the incriminating article never reached readers since the entire print run of the issue that carried it was confiscated by police at the printing press. The lawyers insisted that what the prosecution claimed was a printout of an Internet version of the article could not be accepted as evidence because, they argued, the process of downloading it from the web was not properly witnessed or documented. They also pointed out that Belarusian law does not recognize the Internet as a mass medium. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT WRANGLES OVER SESSION AGENDA...
The Verkhovna Rada on 20 June voted down a proposal for an agenda of its current session that consisted of 106 issues, including the impeachment of President Leonid Kuchma, UNIAN reported. The proposal was opposed by United Ukraine, the Social Democratic Party-united, the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party. The Communists and the Socialists said they voted against the agenda primarily because it included a motion to ban the Communist Party. Lawmaker Oleksandr Turchynov from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, which proposed a motion to impeach Kuchma, said the bloc will resort to both "parliamentary and non-parliamentary" methods of struggle if it is "illegally deprived of the possibility" to submit draft bills to the parliament. Meanwhile, Our Ukraine has refused to participate in voting on the session's agenda as long as it does not include a proposal to set up a commission for investigating the bankruptcy of the Ukrayina bank and the privatization of Ukrsotsbank. JM

...DEMANDS PROBE INTO FORMER SECURITY CHIEF
The previous day, the Verkhovna Rada approved a request by Hrihoriy Omelchenko from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc to open a criminal investigation against former Security Service chief Leonid Derkach and his son, lawmaker Andriy Derkach, AP reported. Omelchenko based his request on an RFE/RL interview with National Security and Defense Council chief Yevhen Marchuk in April, in which Marchuk said that Derkach and his son made "illegal deals that made a colossal loss to the state economy." In January, the parliament demanded an investigation into the Derkachs' alleged involvement in selling arms to the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 2002). In May, former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko claimed on RFE/RL that his tapes made secretly in Kuchma's office confirm that Derkach had links with the Iraqi and Iranian governments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 May 2002). JM

ESTONIAN LEGISLATURE PASSES NEW HEALTH-INSURANCE ACT
By a vote of 59 to one, parliament on 19 June adopted a long-debated law on national health insurance that is intended to curb the rapid rise of medical costs, ETA reported. The law will come into force on 1 October and replace an 11-year-old act that has been described as outdated and harmful to the interests of patients and the health-care system. Social Affairs Minister Siiri Oviir, who threatened to resign if the bill was not passed, said the law is more patient-centered than the version originally proposed and regulates the benefits paid for sick days, maternity benefits, and various costs of doctor's visits or hospitalization. Her predecessor, Eiki Nestor, noted that the law deteriorated during its redrafting by the new coalition. Nestor claimed that the pharmaceutical lobby succeeded in reducing the effect of cheaper subsidized medicines under the scheme, securing almost ten-fold profits over projections under the original version. SG

LATVIA, EU TO DISCUSS AGRICULTURAL-PRODUCTION QUOTAS
Agriculture Minister Atis Slakteris told a meeting of the agricultural organizations cooperation council in Riga on 19 June that the European Commission (EC) most likely will make a final decision on the volume of agricultural quotas for EU candidate countries at the end of the year, BNS reported. However, Latvia's chief EU membership negotiator, Andris Kesteris, will discuss Latvia's agricultural-output quota with EU negotiators on 3 July in Brussels. The quotas suggested by the commission are considered too low, as they are below even current consumption levels. The previous day, a meeting of the joint committee representing the European and Latvian parliaments adopted a resolution recommending that the EC "be flexible in the talks regarding quotas and reference productivity for cereals based on the respective reference periods." SG

DUTCH CROWN PRINCE VISITS LITHUANIA
Arriving from Tallinn on 18 June, Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima were welcomed at the Vilnius airport by Culture Minister Roma Dovydeniene and officials from the presidential office and the Foreign Ministry, ELTA reported. The royal couple then met with the local Dutch community and attended a formal dinner in their honor hosted by President Valdas Adamkus. The next day, the prince held talks at the parliament with Chairman Arturas Paulauskas and Environmental Issues Committee Chairman Alfonsas Macaitis. Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas welcomed the couple at City Hall and accompanied them on a tour of Vilnius's Old Town. The couple also met with Environment Ministry Secretary Emilis Gustainis and visited the Vilnius water-treatment plant before departing for Riga. SG

AMENDMENTS TO POLAND'S LUSTRATION LAW RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL
The Constitutional Tribunal ruled on 19 June that amendments to the 1997 lustration law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 February 2002) were adopted earlier this year in an unconstitutional manner, Polish media reported. The amendments removed intelligence, counterintelligence, and border-protection service officers from the list of officials subject to the lustration process. They also defined as secret-service agents only those who had acted to the detriment of the political opposition, the Church, and civil rights. The ruling means that the lustration trials of some 20 politicians, which were suspended by the amendments, will be resumed. This group of politicians includes former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, Democratic Left Alliance parliamentary caucus head Jerzy Jaskiernia, and Prime Ministerial Chancellery chief Marek Wagner. "A beautiful day has dawned after the darkness of the night, and it causes the birds to sing. This tribunal decision restores the faith that Poland can be a state of law and respect for the law, and that even the mightiest political forces must take this law into account," commented Peasant Party lawmaker Bohdan Pek. JM

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER PLAYS DOWN GERMAN STANCE ON EU FARM AID
Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said on Polish radio on 20 June that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's pronouncements concerning the impossibility of paying direct subsidies to farmers from EU newcomer countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002) were wrongly interpreted by Polish media. "I think this statement should be treated as an appeal to the other 14 countries, Germany's partners in the EU, and not as an announcement of bad news for candidate countries," Cimoszewicz said. Meanwhile, Danish Agriculture Minister Mariann Fischer Boel said the previous day in Warsaw that there is no chance for Polish farmers to get higher direct subsidies than the proposed 25 percent of what EU farmers receive. According to Boel, the Polish government should look for other opportunities to improve the situation in the Polish countryside. JM

POLAND BACKS BULGARIA'S NATO BID
"We would like to see Bulgaria become a NATO member, and we fully support Bulgaria's ambition in this regard," Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski told journalists in Warsaw on 19 June, following talks with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, Polish media reported. "We believe that the second phase of [NATO] enlargement should take place as soon as possible," Kwasniewski noted. He added that Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia should be invited to NATO at the alliance's summit in Prague in November. JM

POLISH FORMER MINISTER CHARGED OVER YAMAL PIPELINE DEAL
Prosecutors have charged five people -- including Waclaw Niewiarowski, industry minister in Hanna Suchocka's cabinet in 1992-93 -- with exceeding their authority and harming the public interest in a deal involving the construction of the Yamal-Europe natural gas pipeline and the accompanying fiber-optic cable (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 21 November 2000). In particular, Niewiarowski is accused of depriving Poland of control over the pipeline project by letting a private contractor, the Gaz Trading Company, take a stake in it. According to an intergovernmental agreement, Poland's PGNiG and Russia's Gazprom were each to hold 50 percent of the shares in the Polish-Russian company EuRoPol, which built the pipeline. Prosecutors charge that Niewiarowski's activities allowed Gaz Trading to take a 4 percent stake in EuRoPol, while PGNiG and Gazprom were each left with 48 percent. JM

ODS CHAIRMAN SAYS HE WILL RESIGN, BUT MIGHT SEEK RE-ELECTION...
Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Chairman Vaclav Klaus said in an interview with the BBC on 19 June that he will offer his resignation as party chairman at the next ODS national conference, whenever that conference takes place, CTK reported. Klaus added that he has not yet decided whether to also seek re-election at that forum. He was reacting to the outcome of the 14-15 June Czech elections. Klaus said an extraordinary ODS national conference may take place in the coming months or in December, or the party's regular conference will be held next year. He added that he believes September would not be a suitable term because of the Senate elections scheduled for the fall. MS

...AS PARTY LIKELY TO LOSE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC INFLUENCE AFTER DEFEAT
ODS politicians appointed to positions in media councils and state-run companies under the "opposition agreement" between the ODS and the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) are likely to lose their jobs in the near future, CTK reported on 19 June. ODS Deputy Chairman Ivan Langer told the agency that Vladimir Spidla, likely the country's next prime minister, will probably want to meet the requests of the CSSD's new coalition partners and to fill some posts with "his people" to the detriment of the ODS. ODS parliamentary deputy Martin Kocourek said he expects such changes to occur at the Czech Consolidation Agency, the National Property Fund, and the Land Fund. Under the opposition agreement, the ODS has tolerated a minority CSSD government since 1998 in exchange for positions of political and economic influence. MS

GERMAN EXPELLEES ORGANIZATION TO OPEN OFFICE IN PRAGUE
The Sudeten German Landsmannschaft, an organization representing ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia under the Benes Decrees, will open an office in Prague in July, CTK reported on 19 June, citing Peter Barton, who is in charge of setting up the office. Barton said the purpose of the office is not to engage in propaganda but to serve as an information center and to answer questions from Czech citizens interested in Sudeten German-Czech relations. MS

U.S. NATO AMBASSADOR SAYS SLOVAKIA WILL NOT JOIN NATO WITH HZDS IN GOVERNMENT
A government with the participation of former Premier Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) would be a fundamental obstacle to Slovakia's accession of NATO, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns said in an interview with the Austrian daily "Die Presse" on 19 June, CTK reported. Burns said the U.S. is well-aware of the HZDS's undemocratic record and that, during that party's rule of Slovakia, corruption was strong and human rights were not always respected. Burns said the U.S. does not believe Meciar and his party have changed in recent years. This is the first time the U.S. has officially announced its conditions for Slovakia's NATO accession. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES DISPATCHING TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN
The parliament on 19 June approved a government decision to send a military engineering unit to participate in the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, CTK and AP reported. The vote was secret, but before it was taken, most of the objections for the initiative came from the opposition Slovak National Party. Citing security reasons, the government did not reveal either the number of troops to be sent or their destination. A public-opinion poll conducted by Polis Slovakia in mid-June showed that 50.7 percent of Slovaks are opposed to the mission, while 35. 2 percent support it. Over 44 percent said they believe the mission will facilitate Slovakia's NATO membership bid, and 35.8 percent did not share this opinion. In related news, the government on 19 June approved sending two military helicopters and a staff of 21 soldiers, including five pilots, to Bosnia to serve with the Stabilization Force (SFOR) peacekeeping units as of 1 September. The parliament must still approve the decision. MS

SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT PRESIDENT INTERVENES IN DZURINDA-SCHUSTER DISPUTE
Constitutional Court President Jan Mazak on 19 June said that President Rudolf Schuster's delay in approving Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's request that Schuster fire Transport Minister Jozef Macejko is "not unconstitutional," CTK reported. Mazak said that if the president receives a request to dismiss an official on charges of corruption, it is his duty to investigate the allegations. He also said the constitution does not set a time limit for the head of state to act. Mazak was reacting to Dzurinda's earlier accusation that Schuster is acting "unconstitutionally" in delaying Macejko's dismissal, claiming the basic document stipulates that the president must dismiss cabinet members at the request of the premier. Mazak said that only parliament can deem a presidential act "unconstitutional" by a three-fifths majority, in which case the matter must be examined by the Constitutional Court (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17, 18, and 19 June 2002). MS

NEW POLITICAL PARTY SET UP IN SLOVAKIA
A new political formation calling itself Coalition of Czechs and Slovaks (KCaS) was launched in Bratislava on 19 June. Its founders said their aim is to calm "national passions" sparked by polemics on the Benes Decrees and to prove that "the Slovak nation, the Czech minority [in that country], and other minorities in Slovakia can live in mutual respect and solidarity." Founding member Jaroslava Cvesperova told CTK that the political and social situation in the country has become "stormy" due to "the undignified performance" of the Hungarian Coalition Party [SMK]. She mentioned in this context a statement made in Budapest by SMK Deputy Chairman Miklos Duray, who at a pro-FIDESZ electoral meeting in Budapest in May used the term "Feldvidek" ("upper lands") to describe the territories currently in Slovakia that were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Cvesperova admitted that the KCaS might encounter difficulties in gathering the legally required 10,000 signatures for its registration ahead of the September elections. MS

INDONESIAN PRESIDENT DISCUSSES WEAPONS PURCHASE IN SLOVAKIA
Continuing her tour of European countries, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri on 19 June met in Bratislava with her Slovak counterpart, Rudolf Schuster, CTK reported. After the talks, she said her country is very interested in developing bilateral cooperation. Schuster said Indonesia is interested in purchasing equipment for its army and police and that Slovakia is offering mine sweepers. He also said an agreement for the Slovak supply of medical equipment is likely to be reached and added that Slovakia is ready to export to Indonesia agricultural machinery, thermal power plants, and foodstuff. MS

HUNGARIAN JUNIOR COALITION PARTNER WITHDRAWS THREAT TO LEAVE GOVERNMENT
Following Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy's admission in the parliament that he worked for the communist Hungarian counterintelligence services between 1997 and 1982, the junior coalition Free Democrats (SZDSZ) withdrew their threat to leave the government, Hungarian and international media reported. SZDSZ Chairman Gabor Kuncze said it was unfortunate that voters were not made aware of Medgyessy's past activities before the elections but, despite misgivings, his formation has decided to "put the country's interests before those of the party." Kuncze said a caucus of the SZDSZ considered a proposal to submit a no-confidence motion in the premier or abandon the government, but the proposal was rejected. He said the decision was reached after intense debate, but SZDSZ deputies who voted against or abstained pledged to respect the decision of the majority. According to a report in "Vilaggazdasag," the vote was 16 to four, but other SZDSZ politicians, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said the actual tally was 11 of 18 deputies present in favor, four against, and three abstentions. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER PLEDGES TO EXPOSE INFORMERS...
Prime Minister Medgyessy, speaking in the parliament on 19 June, said he will submit proposals to changes in the current legislation pertaining to intelligence activities under the communist regime, AP reported. He said the modifications will allow the publication of the names of all informers who participated in domestic surveillance activities. Under the current legislation, the identity of domestic informers or those who had access to their reports can be publicized only in exceptional cases and only when politicians and other public figures are involved. Medgyessy said he wants public disclosure to be expanded to include all full-time members of intelligence, counterintelligence, and military-intelligence services during the communist regime, if they are still "public figures." MS

...AND THREATENS TO SUE 'MAGYAR NEMZET' OVER NEW ALLEGATION
Medgyessy also said on 19 June that he intends to sue the daily "Magyar Nemzet" over yet another document it published on 19 June, which he claimed is "a forgery," Hungarian media and Reuters reported. The document was published on the front page, and "Magyar Hirlap" presented it as a 1976 list compiled by Medgyessy of people employed by the Finance Ministry and two other state-finance institutions suspected of being likely to engage in counterrevolutionary activities. Medgyessy said he received a copy of the document by fax a few months ago, adding that it was sent to him by a FIDESZ deputy who also asserted it was a forgery. "Those to whom nothing is dear, who forged the document and spread libels, should be ashamed of themselves," Medgyessy told the parliament. MS

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION UNCONVINCED, CALLS FOR PREMIER'S RESIGNATION
FIDESZ Chairman Zoltan Pokorni said on 19 June that his party does not rule out the possibility of submitting a no-confidence motion in Medgyessy, and National Security Commission Chairman Laszlo Kover (FIDESZ) said the commission should meet in extraordinary session to discuss the premier's past. Antal Rogan, FIDESZ deputy speaker of the parliament, told the house that "Comrade D-209" -- Medgyessy's alleged code name as a counterintelligence officer -- "must not remain prime minister." MS

HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM TO PROBE DEFECTION OF PARTY OFFICIAL
The Hungarian Democratic Forum's (MDF) National Ethics Committee is to meet on 25 June to discuss the circumstances under which former MDF Deputy Chairman Csaba Hende accepted the position of chief of staff for former Premier Viktor Orban, Hungarian media reported. Committee Chairman Andras Rubovszky said the request to examine the matter was initiated by several MDF local organizations. Hende accepted Orban's invitation to organize the center-right "civic" (polgari) groups and subsequently resigned his positions in the MDF and the position of chairman of the parliament's Employment Commission. Forum Chairwoman Ibolya David said that most members of the MDF caucus objected to Hende becoming Orban's chief of staff without notifying the party earlier. The MDF ran in the April elections on joint lists with FIDESZ. MS

YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT REVEALS DOCUMENT ON MILOSEVIC'S ROLE
The Yugoslav government unsealed secret papers showing that former President Slobodan Milosevic decided in 1997 to place elite security forces directly under his own control, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 19 June 2002). The Interior Ministry recently acquired the document from former state security chief Jovica Stanisic. The document could help the war crimes tribunal based in The Hague to prove Milosevic's direct responsibility for war crimes committed by Serbian forces in Kosova in 1998 and 1999. Yugoslav Justice Minister Savo Markovic told AP that the document will be given to prosecutors in The Hague. Milosevic's lawyer has called the document a fake. PM

HAGUE TRIBUNAL SAYS KARADZIC IS IN BOSNIA AND MLADIC IN YUGOSLAVIA...
Carla Del Ponte, who is the chief prosecutor for the war crimes tribunal based in The Hague, said in Brussels on 19 June that Belgrade has done only "the barest minimum" in terms of cooperating with the tribunal, Reuters reported. She added that a new law on cooperation is merely "lip service" and that the Belgrade authorities have blocked access to witnesses and archives (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002). She stressed that she will ask the U.S. and EU to apply more pressure on Belgrade to cooperate. In Sarajevo, Del Ponte's spokeswoman, Florence Hartmann, said that "according to our information, Radovan Karadzic is in the [Republika] Srpska and [his army commander General Ratko] Mladic is still on the territory of Yugoslavia," dpa reported. PM

...BUT YUGOSLAV ARMY CHIEF DENIES KNOWLEDGE OF MLADIC...
General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who heads the Yugoslav Army's General Staff, said in Belgrade on 19 June that, "We are not protecting Mladic, and we don't know where he is. For the past few months we have not had any information about where he is, because the Yugoslav Army security services do not deal with retired generals," Reuters reported. Reports appear in the regional media from time to time about alleged sightings of Karadzic or Mladic. These are, however, often contradictory and virtually always impossible to prove. They might be regarded as a Balkan version of Loch Ness monster stories. PM

...AS WASHINGTON AGAIN TELLS BELGRADE TO COOPERATE WITH THE HAGUE
An unnamed "senior State Department official" said in Washington on 19 June that Congress might set unspecified tougher conditions for giving financial assistance to Belgrade if it does not take steps to improve its cooperation with The Hague, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002). The official noted that Congress is paying particular attention to the Mladic case. PM

MONTENEGRO ABOLISHES DEATH PENALTY
The parliament voted on 19 June to abolish capital punishment, which is a necessary precondition for admission to the Council of Europe, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Instead, a penalty of 40 years in prison without pardon or parole has been introduced as the maximum punishment for particularly serious crimes. The legislature also passed legislation dealing for the first time with corruption, money laundering, kidnapping, fraudulent bookkeeping, and sexual abuse of a spouse. AP noted that Yugoslavia and Serbia have abolished the death penalty within the past 12 months. The death penalty has not been officially carried out in Serbia or Montenegro for the past 10 years. PM

CROATIAN CUSTOMS OFFICERS STAGE A GO-SLOW
Customs officials began a work-to-rule strike on 20 June, dpa reported from Zagreb. An Interior Ministry spokeswoman said that there were no major delays at border crossings, but added, "We'll see what happens later." State-run television nonetheless reported that it was taking one hour instead of the usual 10 minutes to enter Croatia from Slovenia at the Istrian border crossings of Pasjak and Kupa. At the Macelj crossing, cars were reportedly backed up 2.5 kilometers. The customs officials want a 40 percent increase in their pay, which currently averages about $430 per month. The strike comes at the start of the tourist season, which is a major source of foreign currency. The strike is scheduled to last until the evening of 21 June. PM

CITIZENSHIP ISSUE DIVIDES BOSNIA AND CROATIA
Beriz Belkic, who holds the rotating chair of Bosnia's joint presidency, told Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service in Sarajevo on 18 June that one of the sticking points in relations between his country and Croatia is the question of dual citizenship. He specifically referred to the matter of ethnic Croats in Bosnia having the right to vote in Croatia. Belkic said that this is not acceptable because it suggests that some in Croatia still are making unspecified "political calculations" regarding Bosnia. On 20 June, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service quoted Bosnian Civil Affairs and Communications Minister Svetozar Mihajlovic as saying that no agreement on dual citizenship will be possible before the end of 2002 because there is no chance of Croatia changing its voting laws before then. Observers note, however, that there are powerful interests in Croatian politics that oppose any change in legislation granting voting rights to the diaspora. PM

KLEIN SAYS BOSNIA STILL NEEDS FOREIGN SUPPORT
Jacques Klein, who heads the UN's international police mission in Bosnia, told the Security Council in New York on 19 June that Bosnia continues to be affected by deep political divisions, the presence of war criminals, and a lack of rule of law, dpa reported. He noted that the Croats and Serbs do not believe in the right of Bosnia to live as an independent state. Klein charged that Croats make up 18 percent of the population, hold one-third of the political power, and continue to support a "criminal elite that has enriched itself while politically and economically impoverishing its followers." He called Karadzic and Mladic "the albatrosses around our necks." Klein warned the international community against reducing its role in Bosnia until the key problems there are solved. PM

BOSNIA MARKS WORLD REFUGEE DAY
The League of Refugees of Bosnia-Herzegovina commemorated World Refugee Day on 20 June by naming Roman Catholic Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka its Man of the Decade for his work in helping refugees and displaced persons from all ethnic groups, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. There are currently more than 500,000 displaced persons within Bosnia and 650,000 refugees living outside its borders. PM

MACEDONIAN POLITICAL PARTIES DIVIDED OVER NEW PASSPORTS
The government on 19 June approved a proposal by the Interior Ministry regarding the languages to be used in new passports, Macedonian media reported. The proposal, which follows the Slovenian example, states that passports will be issued in two different versions. In addition to the version that carries the Macedonian-language word for "passport" on its cover, there will be a second version with the word "passport" written in its Albanian-language form, "Nova Makedonija" reported. Media reports do not, however, agree as to which languages are to be used for the personal data inside the passport. The opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) announced that it opposes the proposal, which the party says contradicts both the Ohrid peace agreement and the subsequent compromise on its implementation reached among the leaders of the four largest political parties. UB

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PACKAGE OF LANGUAGE LAWS
The parliament voted on 19 June to adopt nine laws aimed at making Albanian an official language as specified in the August 2001 Ohrid agreement, AP reported. The key measure -- regarding the use of Albanian in government institutions -- passed the 120-member legislature with 88 votes in favor, three against, and the remaining deputies abstaining. PM

ALBANIAN RIVALS MEET BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Leaders of the government coalition and the opposition met in Tirana on 18 June for one hour and 20 minutes to try to choose a successor to President Rexhep Meidani, whose term expires shortly, Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service reported. Representing the governing coalition were Socialist Party Chairman Fatos Nano, party Secretary-General Gramoz Ruci, and Social Democratic Party Chairman Skender Gjinushi. Present on behalf of the opposition were Democratic Party Chairman Sali Berisha, Republican Party Chairman Fatmir Mediu, and Reform Democratic Party Chairman Genc Pollo. Nano and Berisha, whose bitter rivalry has helped give Albanian politics its frequently dysfunctional character, appeared smiling and joking before journalists. The two men said that all present at the talks agreed not to divulge any of the contents of the proceedings to the press and to meet again. Pollo said that progress was made in reaching a consensus on a new president, but he did not elaborate. The parliament is scheduled to elect a new president on 24 June. PM

FORMER KOSOVA GUERRILLA TURNS HIMSELF IN
Two ethnic Albanians have surrendered to the UN-led police in Kosova following the recent arrest of four others in connection with crimes against civilians following NATO's occupation of Kosova in mid-1999, Reuters reported from Prishtina on 19 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002). One of the two men who gave himself up is reportedly Daut Haradinaj, the brother of prominent political leader Ramush Haradinaj. Both brothers are former guerrilla officers. PM

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION HEAD DENIES ATTEMPTS TO OBSTRUCT WORK OF CNSAS...
Ion Stan, chairman of the parliamentary commission overseeing the activities of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), on 19 June denied media reports alleging that the commission has sought to obstruct a body in charge of the former communist secret police files, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Stan said his commission is, however, insisting that the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (CNSAS) must act in compliance with the law. After the council said it intends to make public names of former Securitate officers still employed by the SRI, Stan threatened to take the council to court. On 19 June, he said current legislation obliges the council before disclosing such names to interview those suspected of having aided the Securitate as "political police," to grant them the right to appeal the council's decisions and the right to appeal to courts if the council decides against them. Only after all these steps are taken, he said, can the CNSAS make their names public in the official gazette. MS

...ACKNOWLEDGES SRI HAS EAVESDROPPED ON SUSPECTS IN 1991-92...
Stan also said on 19 June that the SRI indeed placed the telephones of 13 Romanian personalities under surveillance in 1991-92, as claimed by writer and political scientist Stelian Tanase, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Stan said the surveillance was carried out with the approval of the Prosecutor-General's Office, as stipulated by law. Tanase told the commission that he suspects his conversations are still monitored and added that he has never endangered the country's national security -- the only legal ground on which the Prosecutor-General's Office can approve telephone surveillance. Former SRI Director Virgil Magureanu denied such surveillance has been carried out by the service "as political police" and said the 13 were at the time suspected of activities endangering national security. MS

...WHILE EXTREMIST LAWMAKER ALLEGES CNSAS MEMBERS ARE FORMER SPIES
Daniela Buruiana, deputy chairwoman of the parliamentary commission overseeing the activities of the SRI, on 19 June said three CNSAS members have had "ties to foreign intelligence agencies" and threatened to publish proof of such links if the CNSAS does not renounce its intention to publish the names of SRI officers employed by the Securitate, Mediafax reported. Buruiana, who is a member of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), named former Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu, anticommunist dissident and poet Mircea Dinescu, and essayist Horia Roman Patapievici as alleged foreign-intelligence agents. She said her information comes from "people who had direct links with the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service." MS

COMMISSION SET UP TO AMEND ROMANIAN CONSTITUTION
Representatives of parliamentary parties in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on 19 June reached an agreement on the composition of the commission that is to examine proposals for amending the constitution, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The commission is to include nine PSD parliamentarians, five parliamentarians from the PRM, and two each from the PNL, the Democratic Party, and the UDMR. The parties representing national minorities other than the UDMR will have one representative. The commission will also include one representative each from the presidency, the government, and the ombudsman. Decisions are to be made by a two-thirds majority. The agreement has yet to be submitted for the approval of the two chambers of the parliament. MS

ROMANIAN LEGISLATORS APPROVE PEACEKEEPERS FOR KOSOVA, BOSNIA
A joint session of the Romanian parliament on 20 June approved the dispatch of 50 Romanian soldiers to serve with KFOR forces in Kosova and SFOR forces in Bosnia, Mediafax reported. MS

ROMANIAN NATIONAL FLAG HOISTED AGAIN IN TRANSYLVANIAN TOWN
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) Chairman Bela Marko told journalists on 19 June that the Romanian national flag has again been hoisted over the building of the Covasna County Council in Sfantu-Gheorghe, Romanian radio reported. One day earlier, the flag was also flying again above the mayoralty's building. Marko said the incidents involving the disappearance of the flags were a "response to offensive acts" by Covasna County officials representing the Social Democratic Party (PSD). He said there was a link between the incidents and the dismantling of bilingual street signs on the building hosting the local prefect's office. Marko said he was persuaded this was a reflection of "the lack of collaboration" between local PSD and UDMR officials and that the joint PSD-UDMR commission will examine the dispute in Covasna County at a meeting in Bucharest on 20 June. MS

ROMANIAN LIBERAL RIVALS CALL FOR EXTRAORDINARY PARTY CONGRESS
National Liberal Party (PNL) Chairman Valeriu Stoica and his rival, Deputy Chairman Dinu Patriciu, on 19 June called on PNL local organizations to approve the convocation of an extraordinary PNL congress to decide on the leadership's fate, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Stoica described the "Patriciu wing" as "a small but noisy group" that wants nothing but "power to negotiate with the [current] power." Patriciu pledged not to run for the party's chairmanship at the extraordinary congress and said the PNL needs to prepare for the 2004 parliamentary and presidential elections. The two rivals spoke at a meeting in Bucharest at the seat of the Group for Social Dialogue. While Patriciu argued that that the PNL can win the next elections by itself, Stoica said an alliance unifying forces opposed to the PSD must be forged. Democratic Party Chairman Traian Basescu, whom Stoica views as a potential ally, said his party is "searching for a credible ally" and that the PNL must decide if it is ready to exclude the PSD as a potential ally, as the Democrats do. MS

ROMANIA TO SECURE BORDER WITH MOLDOVA
Romania will spend some $48 million to secure its border with Moldova in a bid to stop illegal immigrants from entering Europe, AFP reported on 19 June, citing border police chief Aurel Neagu. Neagu said the EU will provide over half of the money necessary for the project. The Moldovan border is the main transit route for illegal and economic immigrants attempting to enter the country to make their way to more prosperous West European countries. Neagu said, "Not a day passes without at least one attempt to cross the border illegally." He also said Romania is holding talks with Bulgaria and Hungary on deploying joint border units aimed at stopping illegal immigration. MS

MOLDOVA POSTPONES RENEWED NEGOTIATIONS WITH TIRASPOL
Moldova on 19 June announced it has postponed the resumption of negotiations with Tiraspol, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Chisinau believes the planned meeting in Kyiv necessitates more thorough preparations, and Moldovan officials said they intend to submit to the forum a draft document on the special status of the Transdniester. They also said the draft proposed by Tiraspol reflects the separatists' "negative attitude," and described the document as hardly different from their 1999 version. They said Tiraspol continues to speak of "two equal-right subjects of international law," of mutual recognition of "sovereignty," and of settling disputes on the basis of "international law." MS

PRESIDENT SAYS MOLDOVA DETERMINED TO PURSUE INTEGRATION IN EUROPE
President Vladimir Voronin told representatives of the tripartite Moldova-European Commission-Council of Europe group that his country is determined to pursue cooperation with the Council of Europe and integration in the EU. Voronin said these are "priorities" for his country, a presidential office press release said on 19 June. He said Moldova will implement "concrete measures" toward these aims, will fulfill its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe, and will promote democratic institutions and values. Voronin also welcomed the council's announced intention to open a permanent office in Chisinau, saying this will enable it to follow the situation in Moldova objectively. MS

GAGAUZ-YERI PARLIAMENT REJECTS GOVERNOR'S REFERENDUM PROPOSAL
The Popular Assembly of the Gagauz-Yeri Autonomous Republic on 19 June rejected a proposal by Governor Dumitru Croitor to hold a plebiscite in the region, Flux reported. Fifteen of the 29 deputies present voted down the initiative (see "RFE/RL's Newsline," 19 June 2002). MS

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO DENMARK
Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski on 19 June traveled to Denmark for a one-day official visit, BTA reported. Saxecoburggotski and his Danish counterpart, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, discussed Bulgaria's prospects for EU and NATO accession. Rasmussen said he hopes countries that are not ready to join the EU in the first wave get a clear signal on their prospects at the end of the Danish presidency. European Affairs Minister Meglena Kuneva, who accompanied Saxecoburggotski, said Bulgaria plans to close five more chapters in its accession negotiations during the Danish presidency: Financial Control, Customs Union, Transport Policy, Cooperation in the Fields of Justice and Home Affairs, and Energy. Denmark will take over the six-month EU presidency from Spain on 1 July. UB

BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY VISITS BULGARIA
After a meeting with Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov, visiting British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon on 19 June said he was pleased to learn of Bulgarian progress in army modernization, BTA reported. Hoon lauded British-Bulgarian military relations, adding that Britain will continue to assist in the training of Bulgarian officers and to support the Defense Ministry and the General Staff. Hoon and Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi discussed the possibility of an international conference on the anniversary of the 11 September attacks in the United States, mediapool.bg reported. During its UN Security Council presidency, which starts in September, Bulgaria plans to organize a conference focusing on the links between organized crime and terrorism. UB

BULGARIAN COMPANIES TO GET PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT IN PUBLIC PURCHASES
Experts from the Ministry for Economy will consider ways to offer preferential treatment to Bulgarian companies in public purchases without violating agreements with the EU, "Dnevnik" reported on 19 June. After a meeting of the Council on Economic Growth, Employers Union Chairman Vasil Vasilev said domestic producers are less affected by legally imported goods from European countries than by goods from the Middle East and the Far East, which are often imported illegally. The council is also considering ways to promote the consumption of Bulgarian goods. "At the moment, we are collecting original ideas for the promotion of our products," Economy Minister Nikolay Vasilev said. UB

There is no End Note today.


XS
SM
MD
LG