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Newsline - June 27, 2002


RUSSIA GAINS FULL PLACE AT G-8 TABLE...
The leaders of the G-7 countries and Russia meeting in Kananaskis, Canada, decided to upgrade Russia's status to full membership in the group by 2006, Russian and Western news agencies reported. In addition, it was decided that the 2006 G-8 summit will be held in St. Petersburg. Russia will also host a special meeting of G-8 members in 2004. ITAR-TASS quoted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as saying that the decision to include Russia among the world's leading powers shows that Russia, under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, is able to play a full role in resolving global problems. VY

...AND $20 BILLION ALLOCATED FOR STRATEGIC DISARMAMENT
Summit participants also decided to allocate $20 billion over the next decade for the destruction of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons from the strategic arsenal of the former Soviet Union, RIA-Novosti reported on 27 June. The United States will provide half this sum, with the European Union, Canada, and Japan providing the rest. The decision was made not only to speed up the process of dismantling Soviet arsenals, but also to prevent dangerous substances from falling into the hands of terrorists, Reuters reported. Western military experts have long expressed serious concern about the lack of security around storage facilities for weapons of mass destruction in Russia and other former Soviet republics. VY

WORLD'S BIGGEST SUBMARINE REENTERS SERVICE
At a ceremony in Severodvinsk on 26 June attended by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, the Typhoon-class nuclear submarine "Dmitrii Donskoi" was received back into service, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported. The "Dmitrii Donskoi" is the largest submarine in the world. According to David Pashaev, director of the Sevmash shipyard, the submarine has a displacement of 49,800 tons and is armed with 20 heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles. The "Dmitrii Donskoi" was commissioned in 1982 and has been undergoing extensive modernization for the last 12 years. VY

COURT ACQUITS SUSPECTS IN JOURNALIST'S MURDER
A Moscow district military court on 26 June completely exonerated Colonel Pavel Popovskikh, a unit commander in the Russian Airborne Troops, and five of his comrades who had been accused of the 1994 murder of "Moskovskii komsomolets" journalist Dmitrii Kholodov, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Kholodov died on 17 November 1994 after opening a booby-trapped briefcase that he believed contained documents relating to malfeasance in the Defense Ministry. According to the prosecution, Popovskikh and the other defendants prepared the booby trap with the encouragement of former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. The court ruled that prosecutor Irina Aleshina failed "to present proof of the defendants' guilt or to assemble such proof during the court hearings." Aleshina and Kholodov's relatives have said that they will appeal the verdict. VY

DUMA GIVES FINAL APPROVAL TO ANTI-EXTREMISM BILL...
The State Duma on 27 June adopted in its third and final reading a controversial bill on combating extremism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5,6, and 21 June 2002) that includes in its definition of extremism any actions that impede the functioning of the federal authorities by force or other illegal means, ntvru.com and other Russian news agencies reported. The bill contains prohibitions on "extremist activity" and "extremist organizations," which it defines as any organization so recognized by a court. If the bill becomes law, it will be the first time that Russia has outlawed the use of Nazi symbols, the promotion of any kind of ethnic or religious hatred, and the bankrolling of any such activity. VY

...AS BILL CONTINUES TO RAISE QUESTIONS...
A number of the provisions in the anti-extremism bill continue to concern human rights activists. One of the most controversial sections is the ban on "inciting any social animosity," which activists fear could be used to crack down on trade unions or other kinds of social activity or protest. The bill also imposes strong restrictions on Internet providers that activists feel could be easily used to restrict many forms of political expression. Likewise, activists are concerned by one definition of extremism that includes the phrase "any attempt to humiliate human dignity." VY

...AND PUZZLE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES...
Law enforcement officials who will be charged with enforcing the bill if it becomes law expressed bewilderment over some of its language, ntvru.com reported. Larisa Maslennikova, deputy director of the Interior Ministry's Research-Organizational Directorate, said that her agency considers the bill "too abstract." The bill "does not contain definitions of the subject and the object of extremism and, therefore, cannot be enforced," Maslennikova said, according to the website. VY

...AND ANALYST IMPLIES THIS LAW IS NOT NEEDED
In an article in "Vremya MN" on 26 June, Valerii Solovei, a political analyst with the Gorbachev Foundation, argues that fascist or right-wing groups in Russia are very disorganized, and that unlike unofficial presidential adviser Gleb Pavlovskii, he does not feel that Russia is threatened by a large number of extremist organizations. According to Solovei, there are only several dozen organizations in Russia that consider themselves parties or unions, and their total membership numbers no more than several hundred. Solovei suggests that the only more or less serious fascist party is Russian National Unity, but that its "historical chance has passed." Solovei acknowledged that there are according to Interior Ministry data some 10,000 to 15,000 skinheads, but these people in general dislike discipline and therefore cannot be included in any political party structure. Solovei concludes that "Russia has enough laws" to stop groups of young men from getting drunk and beating up people on the street. "A different matter is how these laws are observed, but this is a problem not with skinheads but with the indulgence of the police," Solovei said. JAC

DUMA TAKES FIRST STEP IN OVERHAULING RAIL SYSTEM...
The State Duma approved on 26 June in its first reading a package of three bills submitted by the government reforming the country's railway system. According to ITAR-TASS, the package is directed at developing a competitive market for rail transport and at improving government regulation of this sphere. In the new system, independent carriers will have the opportunity to operate using the railway-transportation infrastructure. JAC

...AND PROCEEDS WITH REGIONAL-LEGISLATURE REFORM...
Also on 26 June, deputies approved a bill that amends the law on general rules for organizing regional legislatures so that one-half of the deputies in regional legislatures will be elected according to party lists, RIA-Novosti reported. The bill is the product of a conciliation commission that was formed after the Federation Council rejected the bill in April. The vote was 389 in favor, with one against and no abstentions. JAC

...WHILE MORE LEGAL REFORMS MOVE FORWARD
The same day, legislators also turned their attention to the Civil Code, which they passed in its second reading, ITAR-TASS reported. The code establishes procedures for settling civil disputes, such as those in the workplace and among family members. According to Legislation Committee Chairman Pavel Krasheninnikov (Union of Rightist Forces), the existing Civil Procedural Code came into effect at the end of the 1960s and does not take into account the majority of problems that have arisen with the redistribution of property and establishment of new market relations. If adopted, the bill will come into force on 1 January 2003. JAC

DOGGED BY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS, FORMER OFFICIAL DUBBED SENATOR
Federation Council members confirmed on 26 June former First Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov as the representative for the legislature of Penza Oblast, Russian news agencies reported. Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov told reporters that all of Vavilov's documents were in order and that Penza Oblast's prosecutor had found nothing wrong with the procedure under which Vavilov was elected. Vavilov has been named in numerous corruption investigations stemming from his time in office under former President Yeltsin, and senators had earlier voted at the request of Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov to postpone endorsing his mandate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002). As a senator, Vavilov will enjoy immunity from prosecution. According to "Izvestiya" on 26 June, Vavilov has already tendered his resignation from the board of directors of Severnaya Neft. Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted political scientist Iosif Diskin as saying at a recent meeting at Moscow's Aleksandr House that "the Federation Council has gone from being a house of lords to a house of valets, serving regional elites and oligarchs." JAC

HUMAN, FINANCIAL TOLL KEEPS RISING IN FLOODED SOUTH
As of 26 June, the death toll from flooding in the Southern Federal District had reached 84, ntvru.com reported, citing data from the Emergency Situations Ministry. The number of people affected by the flooding is as high as 288,000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 26 June 2002). More than 80,000 people have been evacuated, and more than 130 population centers remain without electricity. According to the ministry, material damage from the flooding is currently estimated at 12.7 billion rubles ($363 million). Speaking to reporters in Rostov-na-Donu, the presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev, charged that the negative consequences of the flooding have been so severe in part because "of a series of disagreements between federal ministries and departments, in particular, the Agriculture Ministry and the Natural Resources Ministry." JAC

ANOTHER LOCALITY TAKES MEASURES AGAINST MIGRANTS
Children of foreign citizens will no longer be allowed to study at schools in the city of Surgut in Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous Okrug if their place of residence is not registered with the city's migration service, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Nadezhda Streltsova, head of the city's department for education and science, told the agency those if the department "had once closed its eyes" to the children of illegal immigrants, it now intends to strictly follow proper procedures. Currently, local schools are overflowing, and many are operating in two shifts. JAC

FELON-MAYOR TO SEEK OFFICE ONCE AGAIN IN NIZHNII NOVGOROD
Former Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor and convicted felon Andrei Klimentiev announced on 26 June that he intends to participate in the upcoming mayoral race in that city, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Klimentiev won the last mayoral race, but was later arrested and served time after being found guilty of fraud and bribery. Incumbent Mayor Yurii Lebedev was elected in make-up elections after Klimentiev's incarceration. More recently, Klimentiev participated in the July 2001 gubernatorial elections, but failed to qualify for the second round. At the time, analysts claimed that the Kremlin's main aim in that race was to ensure that Klimentiev didn't win. JAC

CHECHNYA'S DUMA DEPUTY CALLS FOR END TO SEARCH OPERATIONS IN CHECHNYA
Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 26 June, former police General Aslanbek Aslakhanov, who represents Chechnya in the Duma, called for a ban on further "mop-up" operations in which Russian troops search Chechen villages for suspected freedom fighters, Interfax reported. Aslakhanov said such searches are marred by flagrant human rights violations. He said survivors of the recent searches in Mesker-Yurt and Chechen-Aul (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May and 4, 5, 17, and 18 June 2002) informed him that 30 residents were arbitrarily killed during those searches and in many cases their corpses were left in pieces, rendering identification almost impossible. Dozens more villagers are missing, Aslakhanov said. He added that it impossible to determine who was responsible for the killings because the perpetrators are invariably masked. LF

OFFICIAL SAYS TURKEY BACKS AZERBAIJAN OVER TERRITORIAL EXCHANGE
The question of the status of land corridors linking Armenia and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on the one hand, and Azerbaijan and its exclave of Nakhichevan on the other, is the single remaining obstacle to a solution to the Karabakh conflict, a source close to the negotiating process told RFE/RL's Armenian Service in Istanbul on 26 June. "The negotiating process has reached a point where the Karabakh conflict can be considered resolved once a solution is found to the problem of corridors," that source said. The source added that Turkey is backing Azerbaijan's demand for an exchange of territory whereby the Meghri corridor would become part of Azerbaijani territory in return for the formal transfer to Armenia of Lachin, which has been under Armenian control for 10 years. The Armenian government rejects that option but is willing to allow "unfettered communication" between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan via Meghri. LF

FORMER ARMENIAN RULING PARTY SLAMS ALLEGED TERRITORIAL EXCHANGE
In a statement released on 25 June, the Armenian Pan-National Movement harshly criticized the Karabakh policy of current President Robert Kocharian, Noyan Tapan reported. Specifically, the statement argued that French reaction to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's recent claims that Armenia reneged on an agreed exchange of territory with Azerbaijan proves that Aliev's claim is true (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 20 June 2002). The statement brands Kocharian's imputed willingness to bargain away a transit corridor through the southern region of Meghri as "directed against Armenia's territorial integrity and state security" and as "high treason." Also on 25 June, Zhirair Sefilian, who commanded an Armenian battalion during the Karabakh war and now heads an organization opposed to any concessions in the peace process, similarly told journalists in Yerevan that simply for an Armenian to utter the term "[transit] corridor" during peace talks is tantamount to treason, Noyan Tapan reported. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS HE WILL RUN FOR PRESIDENT NEXT YEAR
Azerbaijan National Independence Party Chairman Etibar Mamedov has announced his candidacy for the 2003 presidential elections, Azerbaijan News Service reported. According to official returns, Mamedov polled second to Aliev in the October 1998 ballot with 11.6 percent of the vote. Mamedov claims the outcome was falsified, and that Aliev garnered no more than 60 percent of the vote, less than the two-thirds required for a first-round victory, which should have necessitated holding a runoff between Aliev and Mamedov. Aliev announced last summer that he will seek a third presidential term. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT WANTS MORE EFFECTIVE ARMY
In a statement pegged to National Armed Forces Day on 26 June, President Aliev argued that "we have to constantly improve our military potential and defense capability," because a "fair settlement" of the Karabakh conflict in peace talks depends directly on negotiating from a position of strength, Interfax reported. Aliev further affirmed that "our army has the capability to defend any adversary who might try to invade our country." It is not clear whether he ranked the army's ability to launch an offensive equally highly. But Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev said in a statement to Azerbaijan News Service on 26 June cited by Groong that he does not exclude military action to resolve the conflict. "The...Azerbaijani Army is capable of freeing occupied Azerbaijani lands and restoring the country's territorial integrity," Abiev was quoted as saying. LF

FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS GEORGIA, RUSSIA SHOULD COOPERATE TO COMBAT CHECHEN PANKISI THREAT...
In the first official Georgian reaction to Russian President Vladimir Putin's 24 June affirmation that neither the United States nor Georgia is capable of neutralizing the "terrorist" presence in the Pankisi Gorge without Russia's help (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 2002), Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said in Tbilisi on 27 June that Georgia and Russia should seek to identify mutually acceptable conditions for cooperation in tackling the Pankisi problem, Caucasus Press reported. At the same time, Menagharishvili warned that "any foreign interference will have negative results and cause an escalation of the situation in the region." LF

...AS DOES FORMER GEORGIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF
On 26 June, former Georgian intelligence chief Irakli Batiashvili, who currently chairs the parliament's Defense and National Security Committee, told journalists that "Tbilisi understands Russia's fears of the threat coming from Pankisi Gorge and is ready for cooperation in establishing order in this region of Georgia." Batiashvili admitted that there are Chechen fighters in Pankisi and that Georgia failed for over a year to take any action against them (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 8, 28 February 2002). But like Menagharishvili, Batiashvili said that deploying Russian troops in Pankisi could give rise to serious problems. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT DOUBTS INTERIOR MINISTRY INVOLVEMENT IN BUSINESSMAN'S ABDUCTION
Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 26 June that he has no information that would substantiate National Security Minister Valeri Khaburzania's claim the previous day that senior Interior Ministry officials were involved in the kidnapping in Tbilisi on 18 June of British business consultant Peter Shaw, but cannot exclude such involvement, Caucasus Press reported. Also on 26 June, the opposition Union of Traditionalists parliamentary faction raised the question of a vote of no confidence in Interior Minister Koba Narchemashvili due to his failure to secure either Shaw's release or that of a Georgian priest and the brother of a renowned soccer player, Caucasus Press reported. Both men were kidnapped in Georgia last year. LF

GEORGIAN NATIONAL-TV STAFF STRIKE
Some 100 employees of the first channel of Georgian Television began a strike on 26 June to protest what they termed the unfair personnel policy implemented by the channel's director Zaza Shengelia, Caucasus Press reported. They claimed that he fires employees of whom he disapproves and arbitrarily allocates widely varying salaries. A strike participant explained that journalists with the "Moambe" news program receive 700-800 laris ($317-362) per month, while others are paid a "pittance" of 30 laris. LF

KAZAKH, GREEK PRESIDENTS DISCUSS ECONOMIC TIES, OIL-EXPORT PIPELINE
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev met with his visiting Greek counterpart Konstantinos Stephanopoulos in Almaty on 26 June to discuss the potential for expanding trade and economic ties between the two countries, Russian news agencies reported. Stephanopoulos expressed support for Kazakhstan's bid to join the World Trade Organization. The two presidents paid particular attention to the possibility of Kazakhstan joining the Russian-Bulgarian-Greek consortium formed to build an oil-export pipeline from the Black Sea port of Burgas in Bulgaria to the Greek port of Aleksandropoulis. That pipeline will have an annual throughput capacity of 35-45 million tons. Nazarbaev said his country will need additional export-pipeline capacity in the near future, but would join that consortium only as an equal member, and only if the tariffs for using that pipeline proved "competitive," Interfax reported. The two sides signed several intergovernmental agreements, including on mutual protection of investments, tourism, transportation and cargos, and trade and cultural relations. LF

LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES SENT TO KAZAKH PRESIDENT FOR SIGNING
The Mazhilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) on 26 June approved the amendments to the law on political parties proposed the previous day by the Senate (the upper house) and sent the law to President Nazarbaev for his signature, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Mazhilis deputy Ghany Qasymov, who ran unsuccessfully against Nazarbaev in the January 1999 presidential election, said he has sent an open letter to the president asking him not to sign the bill into law. Qasymov argued that the bill would drive most opposition parties underground. "Mr. President should bear in mind that such a situation is not acceptable for a normal democratic society," Qasymov said. LF

KAZAKH MUNICIPAL OFFICIAL FIRED FOR INTERCEDING ON BEHALF OF DISGRACED OPPOSITION POLITICIAN
Pavlodar Municipal Council Secretary Telman Aytqazin was dismissed on 26 June after he proposed including on the agenda of a council meeting the plight of former Pavlodar Oblast Governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Zhaqiyanov, who last November cofounded the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan, is hospitalized and under surveillance; he has been charged with embezzlement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 20 June 2002). LF

KAZAKH, RUSSIAN SPECIAL SERVICES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT
Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev and Kazakh National Security Committee Chairman Nartai Dutbaev signed a protocol in Almaty on 26 June on providing each other information to facilitate the search for wanted or suspected criminals or terrorists, Interfax reported. The protocol was the 28th to the cooperation agreement the two agencies concluded in 1992. Patrushev also met on 26 June with President Nazarbaev. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENTARIAN'S APPEAL HEARING OPENS
A court in the southern town of Toktogul began on 27 June reviewing the appeal by parliament deputy Azembek Beknazarov against the one-year suspended sentence handed down to him last month by the Djalalabad Oblast court, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 2002). Meanwhile, some 300 Beknazarov supporters remain encamped on the outskirts of Osh waiting for the court's ruling. LF

RUSSIA'S PRIMAKOV, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DISCUSS INTEGRATION
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry head Yevgenii Primakov met in Minsk on 26 June where they discussed the current controversy over the Belarus-Russia Union state, Belarusian media reported. Primakov told journalists after the meeting that he backs the union-state model in which both Russia and Belarus would retain their sovereignty. "Any talks about the possibility of Belarus joining the Russian Federation as its subject have nothing in common with reality. Such schemes are far-fetched, they cannot be implemented," Belarusian television quoted Primakov as saying. Lukashenka said he is ready to introduce "corrections" to the 1999 union-state accord if need be. "We are ready for corrections, we are reasonable people. One does not need to be afraid of that. If anything needs correction, we will correct it," Lukashenka said. JM

BELARUSIAN LEGISLATURE POSTPONES REVIEW OF CONTROVERSIAL RELIGION LAW
The Chamber of Representatives on 26 June postponed until the fall the second reading of a bill on religion that has provoked vociferous criticism from the country's Protestant and nontraditional religious communities (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 25 June 2002), Belapan reported. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEES ARMY REFORM AS KEY TASK ON PATH TOWARD NATO...
President Leonid Kuchma said on 26 June that "improving the structure and functions of Ukraine's armed forces and other military formations is a primary step in the implementation of a stage-by-stage process of deepening Ukraine's cooperation with NATO, which is to end with Ukraine joining the alliance," UNIAN reported. JM

...AND HONORS KYIV PATRIARCH WITH ORDER
The same day, President Kuchma decorated Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), with the Yaroslav Mudry Order of the 4th Degree, UNIAN reported. Patriarch Filaret said at the ceremony that his church supports Ukrainian statehood and does everything in its power to avoid religious confrontation in Ukraine. He bestowed an icon on Kuchma. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATES LAWMAKERS TO OSCE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn has authorized the makeup of a Verkhovna Rada permanent delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, UNIAN reported on 26 June. The delegation is composed of Oleh Bilorus from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc; Mykola Zlochevskyy from the Social Democratic Party-united; Oleksandr Masenko from the Communist Party; Ihor Ostash and Oleksandr Tretyakov from Our Ukraine; and Yuliy Ioffe, Mykola Kruhlov, and Serhiy Shevchuk from United Ukraine. JM

MONUMENT TO POPE UNVEILED IN LVIV
Some 10,000 people attended the unveiling ceremony of a monument to Pope John Paul II in Lviv on 25 June, Interfax reported on 26 June. JM

DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS ESTONIA AND LITHUANIA
Preparing for Denmark's six-month European Union presidency in July, Per Stig Moller held talks with Estonian Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland in Tallinn on 26 June, BNS reported. He said Denmark will do everything in its power to ensure that the accession talks with 10 EU candidate countries are completed this year. Moller also reaffirmed Denmark's support for Estonia's admittance to NATO. Ojuland expressed the hope that Estonia's energy chapter in the negotiations is completed quickly. Moller then flew to Vilnius where he told Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis that Lithuania's possible plans to ask for changes in the already completed chapter on the free movement of capital by establishing a transition period for the sale of land to foreigners should not upset its membership chances. SG

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT HOLDS TALKS IN LATVIA
Robert Kocharian began an official two-day visit to Latvia on 26 June with a meeting with his Latvian counterpart Vaira Vike-Freiberga, LETA reported. The presidents discussed various issues, with Kocharian expressing interest in Latvia's experiences in seeking EU membership, as his country would also like to join the union in the future. They expressed the hope that bilateral trade would increase once Armenia joins the World Trade Organization. The two presidents were present at the signing by Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins and Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Tatul Markarian of an agreement on readmission of persons and an agreement on travel between the two countries. Kocharian also held talks with parliament Chairman Janis Straume and members of the Latvian-Armenian parliamentary cooperation group. At a later dinner in the Armenian president's honor, Vike-Freiberga stressed the benefits of greater cooperation between the countries, noting with satisfaction that while it headed the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in 2001, Latvia succeeded in achieving Armenia's admission to the organization. On 27 June, Kocharian met with Prime Minister Andris Berzins before flying to Tallinn. SG

BALTIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERS MEETS IN LITHUANIA
Meeting on 26 June at a guest house near Visaginas belonging to the Ignalina nuclear-power plant, the Baltic Council of Ministers also visited the plant and had the opportunity to inspect its safety and security measures, ELTA reported. At the session, Prime Ministers Siim Kallas (Estonia), Andris Berzins (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) signed a joint resolution and an agreement on cooperation in tourism. The resolution declared that the three states hope to complete EU-accession negotiations this year and join the union in 2004, as well as be invited to join NATO at the Prague summit in November. Noting that EU members have not yet been able to agree to the proposed agricultural policy following expansion, the premiers said a coordinated position of the three states would be more effective in getting more favorable conditions. They agreed to form a group of experts to consider the possibility of holding their respective referendums for EU membership on the same day. The meeting also decided to postpone until 2003 the creation of a unified Baltic energy market. No agreement was reached on launching a common Baltic labor market because Estonia has not yet decided if it will support it. SG

SUSPECT IN POLISH EX-MINISTER MURDER CASE COMMITS SUICIDE
A man suspected of killing former Polish Sports Minister Jacek Debski (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 2001) committed suicide on 26 June by hanging himself in his prison cell, Polish media reported. Interior Minister Krzysztof Janik said he is shocked by the suicide, adding that it could mean that Debski's murder may never be resolved. "I don't believe in this suicide," former Justice Minister Lech Kaczynski commented, suggesting that someone might have "helped" the suspect kill himself in order to prevent him from disclosing connections between the mafia and some politicians. JM

POLISH CENTRAL BANK TRIMS INTEREST RATES
The Monetary Policy Council (RPP) on 26 June authorized the National Bank to cut by 0.5 percent its three key interest rates, thus lowering the Lombard rate to 11.5 percent, the discount rate to 10 percent, and the deposit rate to 5.5 percent, Polish media reported. The government said the cuts are too small to produce any positive effect in the economy. "The decision cannot serve as a positive signal for the Polish economy. It is another signal for speculative capital that the RPP will not harm it," government spokesman Michal Tober commented. "The RPP once again proved to be deaf to arguments other than its own. The opinions of Polish businessmen, trade unions, parliament, government, and the president have been ignored again," he added. JM

WILL NEXT CZECH PRESIDENT BE ELECTED BY POPULAR VOTE?
The daily "Lidove noviny" reported on 26 June that the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and its potential coalition partners have begun examining the possibility of introducing a constitutional amendment that would make it possible to elect the next Czech president by popular vote, CTK reported. President Vaclav Havel's mandate expires in January 2003 and he cannot run for another term. The daily quoted Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU) Chairwoman Hana Marvanova as saying that in the last round of negotiations between the CSSD and the Coalition -- which is composed of the Christian Democratic Union (KDU-CSL) and the US-DEU -- the sides discussed the possibility of amending the constitution ahead of the next presidential elections. But CSSD Deputy Chairman Bohuslav Sobotka told "Lidove noviny" that, "unfortunately," the majority of 101 that a CSSD-Coalition government would have falls short of the necessary 120 votes needed to amend the basic document. However, according to "Lidove noviny," the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), which won 41 mandates, is considering supporting the amendment. MS

CZECH KDU-CSL LEADER NIXES KLAUS AS PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER
KDU-CSL Chairman Cyril Svoboda denied on 26 June that outgoing Chamber of Deputies speaker Vaclav Klaus might be offered to stay on in his current position, CTK reported, citing the daily "Lidove noviny" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2002). Svoboda said the speaker's post must be manned by a politician from the CSSD, which won the June elections. He said the speaker might have five deputies, each representing one of the five parliamentary parties: the CSSD, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the KSCM, the KDU-CSL, and the US-DEU. According to another CTK report, the position of parliamentary speaker is likely to be filled by Petra Buzkova, who currently heads the local CSSD branch in Prague. CSSD Deputy Chairman Zdenek Skromach told CTK that Buzkova is "one of the candidates" for the speaker's position, if the CSSD and the Coalition agree that the post is to be filled by a CSSD member. MS

CSSD, COALITION TO SQUARE THE CIRCLE ON CZECH GRIPEN PURCHASE?
Outgoing Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik said on 26 June that the final version of the coalition agreement will probably not include a direct reference to the purchase of Gripen supersonic fighters, but the sides will state in a broader formulation that Czech air defense must be ensured by the Czech Air Force, CTK reported. The two parties of the Coalition had in the outgoing parliament opposed the deal for the purchase of the British/Swedish-made fighters, which the CSSD wants approved by parliament. KDU-CSL Chairman Svoboda said he does not expect the Gripen deal to be part of the coalition agreement, but "the issue is not closed for good." Tvrdik said that the CSSD wants the agreement to also include references to the reform and professionalization of the Czech Army, participation in the struggle against international terrorism, and support for the establishment of a joint European military force. MS

COALITION ALLIES TO RUN SEPARATELY IN CZECH LOCAL ELECTIONS?
The KDU-CSL and the US-DEU intend to run separately in local elections scheduled for the fall of 2002, CTK reported on 26 June, citing the daily "Lidove noviny." The daily quoted Jiri Zizka, regional secretary of the KDU-CSL in South Bohemia, as saying that the parliamentary elections demonstrated that the partnership with the US-DEU has weakened, rather than strengthened his formation. Zizka said that if the two allies nonetheless decide to run jointly as the Coalition, it must be made clear from the start that the US-DEU will run fewer candidates on the joint lists. Jaroslav Prochazka, KDU-CSL district secretary in South Bohemia, is quoted as saying: "In villages, we shall run on our own. In towns we are still hesitating, but are inclined to have our independent lists of candidates." Politicians from the US-DEU told the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" that they also prefer to have separate lists, particularly in large towns, where support for the US-DEU is strongest. MS

POLICE INVESTIGATE BUGGING, HIDDEN CAMERAS AT CZECH TV
Police are investigating the discovery of hidden cameras and microphones at Czech Television studios, CTK reported on 26 June. Czech Television General Director Jiri Balvin admitted he ordered the surveillance, saying the move was necessary in order to investigate suspicion that private work is being done by journalists using the company's equipment. The Czech Television Independent Trade Union protested Balvin's conduct at a 26 June meeting of the Television Council. The unions' chairman, Antonin Dekoj, said the investigation by police was launched after the unions were advised by the Office for Data Protection and by the Prosecutor-General's Office to complain to police. MS

CZECH SUPREME COURT FREES MILAN SREJBR
The Supreme Court on 26 June set free Milan Srejbr, a former tennis professional-turned-businessman who was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison in September 2001 for insider trading, Czech radio and CTK reported. An appeal against the sentence had been filed by Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures. Srejbr was found guilty of selling shares in one of his companies to his own investment company, and buying them back later at a lower price. Srejbr was the secret donor in a financial scandal that swept through the ODS and ended with the fall of the Klaus government in late 1997. MS

HZDS SUBMITS NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION IN SLOVAK GOVERNMENT
The opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 26 June submitted a motion of no confidence in the cabinet headed by Mikulas Dzurinda, CTK and Reuters reported. The motion was prompted by the recent scandal that led to the dismissal of Transport Minister Jozef Macejko. The HZDS is accusing the cabinet and Premier Dzurinda personally of corruption in connection with the purchase of 35 locomotives for Slovak Railways. Dzurinda is expected to survive the no-confidence motion, which will be voted on on 3 July. HZDS parliamentary deputy Jan Cuper said that in light of the fact that new elections are scheduled for September, "if the government were to fall...a new government would have to be appointed or a caretaker cabinet be nominated in order to prevent another corruption scandal for which Dzurinda is politically responsible." MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT NAMES MIKLOS TRANSPORT MINISTER
President Rudolf Schuster appointed Deputy Premier Ivan Miklos as Transport Minister on 26 June in place of dismissed minister Macejko, CTK reported. Miklos is in charge of economic reforms and is considered to be a radical liberal. Schuster told him that "you have now added another important area to your responsibilities," and added that he trusts that the scandal that brought about Macejko's dismissal "will be properly investigated, and that the public and I personally will learn the outcome of the investigation." MS

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT FIRES TASR HEAD
The government on 26 June dismissed Ivan Ceredejev as general director of the state-run TASR news agency, CTK and AP reported. The decision was taken at the initiative of Prime Minister Dzurinda. A statement by the prime minister said Ceredejev was removed after purchasing with company funds a BMW automobile for 1.48 million crowns ($33,260) -- nearly double the maximum allowance of 800,000 crowns allowed by regulations for a state-run director's automobile. In a separate statement published on the government's website, Dzurinda said another factor in the dismissal was Ceredejev's use of "vulgar expressions" in his response to the daily "Pravda" over allegations that his salary was higher than the prime minister's. "It is bullshit. Write it down, please, that it is bullshit," the daily quoted him as saying, according to CTK. In his defense, CTK quoted Ceredejev as saying that the car was not purchased from the state-subsidy received by TASR, but from money generated by the company's commercial revenues. Earlier this year, the TASR budget was doubled by parliament from 25 million to 50 million crowns following Ceredejev's warning that the agency was facing collapse. MS

EU OFFICIAL CLARIFIES STATEMENT ON FORMER SLOVAK PREMIER
The European Union Embassy in Bratislava, in a statement released on 26 June, said EU Ambassador Eric van der Linden's statement the previous day was "misunderstood as a statement for the press," while in reality it had been an "informal address" by van der Linden at a meeting with Austrian journalists. The Austrian news agency APA distributed the statement, which was also carried by other agencies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2002). The EU Embassy said the attribution to van der Linden of the statement that the European Commission could reject Slovakia's EU membership bid if former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar returns to power "is misleading and does not reflect the main points of his speech." The embassy also quoted EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen as saying the EU "does not interfere in election campaigns in sovereign and democratic countries," but "it is in the interest of the EU and the process of enlargement that Slovakia have after the September elections a government capable of successfully completing the country's preparations for acceding to the union, which will only be possible in an environment of stability and continuation of reforms." MS

SLOVAK, CZECH WAVE OF ROMANY ASYLUM SEEKERS IN SWEDEN ON THE DECLINE
The wave of Roma from Slovakia and the Czech Republic seeking asylum in Sweden has dropped since May, CTK reported on 26 June. The agency said 206 requests by Slovak Roma and 74 requests by Czech Roma were registered by the authorities during that month, but in the first weeks of June there were only 38 Slovak and 15 Czech requests. MS

HUNGARY' S FREE DEMOCRAT CHAIRMAN COMMENTS ON MEDGYESSY AFFAIR
Gabor Kuncze told "Nepszabadsag" on 26 June that Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy should have spoken about his past service in counterintelligence before the recent parliamentary elections. Kuncze claimed that earlier rumors concerning Medgyessy only became a reality for the Free Democrats after "Magyar Nemzet" published an article on the matter on 18 June. Kuncze added that his party's vote of confidence in Medgyessy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19, 20 and 21 June 2002) is based on "currently available information," and added that he does not rule out "dangers for the party's future" as a result of the decision to back the prime minister. "If, however, we had decided differently, even bigger dangers would have loomed for the party," Kuncze was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Janos Ader, former FIDESZ speaker of parliament, on 26 June quoted a "Magyar Hirlap" article written by the first party chairman of the Free Democrats, philosopher Janos Kis, in which Kis questioned Medgyessy's moral standing and called for his resignation. MSZ

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONFERS WITH GERMAN COUNTERPART
Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 26 June met in Berlin with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer to discuss EU expansion and the expectations of future member states, Hungarian media reported. Kovacs said that following accession Hungarian farmers must not be exposed to a disadvantageous competitive position vis-a-vis farmers in current EU member states. Regarding the Medgyessy scandal, Fischer said he saw no "raised eyebrows" at the Seville summit that would indicate a negative reaction to the prime minister's past in counterintelligence. "It was not raised at the talks, and I do not wish to comment further on the question," Fischer said. MSZ

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW SUPREME COURT CHIEF
By 348 votes in favor and three against, parliament on 24 June elected by secret ballot Zoltan Lomnici to a six-year term as chairman of the Supreme Court, Hungarian dailies reported. Lomnici succeeds Pal Solt, whose mandate expired the same day. Earlier Lomnici told the parliament's Constitutional Commission that "justice is a national cause that requires consensus." He also emphasized the importance of judicial impartiality. MSZ

KOSTUNICA SAYS YUGOSLAV ARMY WORKING 'NORMALLY'...
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said in Belgrade on 26 June that General Branko Krga has been formally installed as head of the General Staff following Kostunica's recent sacking of General Nebojsa Pavkovic, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 and 26 June 2002). He added that the army is functioning "normally," Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. Kostunica said Krga will remain in office for one year or until the new state of Serbia and Montenegro sets up a new legal framework for the army. Referring to Pavkovic's charge that Kostunica ordered the general in 2001 to take control of the Serbian government's communications department, Kostunica called the matter "bizarre." PM

...AND GENERAL KRGA AGREES
Speaking in Belgrade on 27 June, General Krga said that "all units have been informed about the change of [commanders]. At no point was there any vacuum in the command structure," AP reported. He added that plans are proceeding apace for Yugoslavia's eventual membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. "Activities for our country's joining...are in a final phase," he said. "We have intensified the learning of English ...[and] intensified contacts and cooperation" with other members of the program. PM

GENERAL PAVKOVIC SAYS THAT HE IS IN THE RIGHT...
Pavkovic told a Belgrade press conference on 26 June that he refuses to accept Kostunica's decision to replace him and that he will defend his position "in the best way," RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The general denied charges that his stand constitutes "a putsch" because it is Kostunica, and not he, who has committed an illegal act. Pavkovic added that he has nothing against General Krga but again denied having formally handed over authority to him. PM

...THAT POLITICS IS BEHIND THE SACKING...
Speaking at a Belgrade press conference on 26 June, Pavkovic blamed Kostunica for the current imbroglio, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The general stressed that the president sacked him "because of certain larger interests. We will see why he decided to do this and which interests those are." Pavkovic said Kostunica resented his close cooperation with Serbian Prime Minster Zoran Djindjic and Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. The general argued that close relations with the Serbian and Montenegrin leaderships are in his and the army's best interest, since those two governments are the ones who pay the army's bills. PM

...AND THAT KOSTUNICA TRIED TO USE THE ARMY FOR POLITICAL ENDS
Addressing a Belgrade press conference on 26 June, Pavkovic repeated his earlier charge that Kostunica and two of his tipsy aides ordered him to take control of the Serbian government's communications department on 8 June 2001 for unspecified reasons of state security, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Pavkovic said that he told Kostunica and his aides that he saw no threat to state security from the government and that the army had no reason to take action. The general added that a whispering campaign against him began shortly thereafter, alleging that he had conspired against the Serbian authorities. Pavkovic said that he has witnesses to support his story. PM

DJINDJIC CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF PAVKOVIC'S CHARGES...
In response to a question by RFE/RL's Belgrade bureau, Djindjic told a Belgrade television talk show that it is wrong to conclude that Pavkovic has dug in his heels because he has the support of the Serbian government, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. "Half a year ago, I and some others in the DOS [the governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia coalition] demanded the resignation of Mr. Pavkovic [because of his alleged conspiring]. After Yugoslav President Kostunica refused several times, I said publicly that I would never talk about that and that the story was over for me. We, in the government, only demanded the truth.... If that is support for Mr. Pavkovic, then it is a very weak support." Djindjic criticized Kostunica for failing to clearly confirm or deny Pavkovic's story about the events of June 2001. The prime minister added that the truth must be told and not "swept under a rug." He said that a formal investigation is in order. PM

...BUT WILL IT COME ABOUT?
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac said in Belgrade on 26 June that a parliamentary commission should be set up to investigate Pavkovic's charges, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Elsewhere, Yugoslav Defense Minister Velimir Radojevic rejected a call by Dragoljub Micunovic, the speaker of the lower house of the federal parliament, for Kostunica to provide a full account of the Supreme Defense Council's recent meeting. Radojevic said Micunovic is not entitled to that information because he is not a member of the council. The minister added that, at the council's meeting, Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic opposed Pavkovic's ouster. But speaking in Budva, Djukanovic denied that he opposed Pavkovic's sacking, even though no concrete actions were mentioned when the meeting was called to discuss various matters. And in Belgrade, Momcilo Grubac, who heads the Constitutional Court, said the court will investigate Pavkovic's complaint against his sacking if he submits one, adding that the court has received no such request from the general. Pavkovic maintains that he has lodged such a complaint. PM

GENERAL OJDANIC TO GET HOME LEAVE AFTER ALL?
Officials at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague have neither confirmed nor denied reports that General Dragoljub Ojdanic and his fellow indicted war criminal, Nikola Sainovic, could be back in Belgrade on pretrial leave as early as 29 June if the court agrees, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 26 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2002). PM

UN RUNNING OUT OF CASH FOR REFUGEE WORK
The UNHCR announced in Geneva on 27 June that it may be forced to drop some of its programs for refugee work in Kosova and Croatia if it does not receive more money soon, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The UNHCR budget for Balkan projects in 2002 is $40 million short of what it needs to carry out its planned projects. PM

BABO IN THE DOCK
Fikret Abdic began his defense on 27 June at his trial in Karlovac, Croatia, for war crimes while he ruled the Bihac pocket in northwest Bosnia as a private fiefdom between 1993 and 1995, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Known locally as Babo, or Daddy, Abdic was a powerful kingpin in the Bihac area for many years. A Muslim politician at odds with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, Abdic collaborated with Serbs and Croats alike. Abdic maintains that he worked only for the good of the Bihac region and that he is a victim of a frame-up by the Muslim political establishment. PM

UN SACKS SIX MORE POLICE IN BOSNIA
UN spokesman Stefo Lehmann said in Sarajevo on 27 June that six local Bosnian policemen have been fired for "misconduct ranging from transporting illegal immigrants, to smuggling, to illegally occupying apartments," AP reported. An additional 13 policemen have received written warnings about alleged improper behavior. PM

MOSTAR BRIDGE RECONSTRUCTION BEGUN
In Mostar on 27 June, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and Beriz Belkic, who holds the rotating chair of the Bosnian presidency, formally launched reconstruction work on Mostar's historic Old Bridge, dpa reported. On 9 November 1993, Croatian gunners destroyed the famous structure designed by the Ottoman architect Sinan and built in 1566. More than 1,000 blocks of stone will be taken from the same quarry that supplied the building material for the original structure. Ciampi said that "the destruction of the bridge was an insult to human culture." PM

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT MACEDONIA
NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson was expected to arrive in Skopje on 27 June, Macedonian media reported. Robertson will meet with representatives of the international community, the Macedonian government, and with leading ethnic Albanian and Macedonian politicians. In an interview with the daily "Dnevnik," Robertson said his visit will focus on cooperation between NATO Task Force Fox and the OSCE mission during the parliamentary elections slated for 15 September. Some observers expect that Robertson will also urge the politicians to clear up matters regarding the use of the Albanian language in passports (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20, 21, 24, and 26 June 2002). Meanwhile at Bunardzik, Dutch General Harm de Jonge took over command of Task Force Fox from German General Heinz-Georg Keerl, AP reported. UB

SENTENCED ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER CLAIMS TO HAVE REJECTED DEAL WITH FORMER PRESIDENT...
Miners' leader Miron Cozma on 26 June told members of the Senate's Commission on Investigation of Abuses that former President Emil Constantinescu offered to pardon him if Cozma were to agree to sign a declaration implicating President Ion Iliescu in the events for which Cozma was sentenced to 18 months in prison, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Cozma claims he rejected the offer and does not seek a pardon. Instead, he said the sentence must be quashed by the prosecutor-general through the procedure known as "extraordinary appeal," and complained to the commission that his repeated letters to the prosecutor-general were never answered. Cozma has been sentenced for his role in the September 1991 miners' rampage in Bucharest, which triggered the resignation of the cabinet headed by former Prime Minister Petre Roman. He also claimed that the trains that brought the miners to Bucharest were placed at their disposal by orders of the then-premier. MS

...TRIGGERING PREDICTABLE RESPONSES
Former President Constantinescu on 27 June rejected Cozma's claims as "a gross lie, typical of the Greater Romania Party [of which Cozma has for some time been a member]," Mediafax reported. Constantinescu said Cozma should have brought up his allegations during his 1999 trial and added: "It is not my intention to comment on the declarations of a sentenced delinquent." He also said the Senate parliamentary commission's investigation amounts to interference in the independence of the judiciary. Former Prime Minister Roman similarly said that Cozma is "lying." At the other side of the political spectrum, President Iliescu, who returned to power in 2000, said that "only Cozma can say" who ordered the miners to descend on Bucharest, and added that the affair "had been a deal [presumably struck between Roman and Cozma]." MS

BESIEGED ROMANIAN LIBERAL LEADER MAKES PROPOSAL TO ADVERSARIES
National Liberal Party (PNL) Chairman Valeriu Stoica on 27 June said he is ready to forego any intention to run for re-election at the PNL extraordinary congress if his adversaries from the Dinu Patriciu wing renounce running their own candidate for the post, Mediafax reported. Stoica said such an agreement could unblock the current stalemate in the party and create the minimum conditions for its stability and unity. In related news, PNL National Council Chairman Theodor Stolojan, in an interview with Mediafax on 27 June, said his intention to resign from the PNL follows "an objective and lucid X-ray of the party's situation." Stolojan said the step is "a painful one," but that he has reached the conclusion that the PNL "is not a party in which the rules of the game are respected." "What else can be said about a formation where the party chairman is being undermined immediately after his election?" Stolojan asked in reference to Stoica's challenge by the Patriciu group. MS

ROMANIAN SENATE APPROVES NEW NATIONAL ANTICORRUPTION PROSECUTION
The Senate on 27 June approved by a vote of 92 in favor to six against, with two abstentions, the setting up of the new National Anticorruption Prosecution, Mediafax reported. The Senate amended the version previously approved by the Chamber of Deputies, transferring the appointment of the National Anticorruption Prosecution head from the Justice Ministry to the Superior Council of Magistrates. Also on 27 June, the Senate approved a bill making it possible for foreign lawyers to work in Romania, provided they pass an examination on Romanian legislation and a Romanian-language examination. The Chamber of Deputies has already approved this law. MS

POLL SHOWS MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS' POPULARITY DROPPING
A public opinion poll conducted by the Iligaciu Center for Public Opinion and Market Studies in May and June showed that the popularity of the ruling Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) is dropping, Infotag reported on 26 June. Only 32.4 percent of the respondents would back the PCM if elections were held today, according to the poll. The polling institute said the PCM's popularity dropped by five percentage points over recent months and attributed the drop to the protest actions in Chisinau and to the fact that the Moldovan situation was discussed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. For the same reasons, the popularity of the opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) rose by 6.1 percent. If elections were held today the PCM would get 81 seats in the parliament and the PPCD 20 seats. No other political formation would pass the threshold for parliamentary representation. MS

GAGAUZ-YERI GOVERNOR INTENDS TO APPOINT OWN SUCCESSOR
Dumitru Croitor, who resigned last week as governor of the autonomous region, said on 26 June that he does not intend to submit his resignation to the Popular Assembly, Flux reported. Croitor said he was not appointed governor by the assembly, having been elected by popular vote. He said he will appoint his deputy Valerii Ianioglo as governor and that Ianioglo will fulfill the duties until September 2003, when the governor's mandate expires. Meanwhile, the Association of Mayors in Gagauz-Yeri, deputies representing the pro-Croitor opposition in the Popular Assembly, and the "Za Gagauziyu" [For Gagauz] organization launched a drive to collect 15,000 signatures in support of a referendum on dismissing the Popular Assembly. The assembly's new chairman, Ivan Kristioglo, told journalists in Komrat on 26 June that the former leadership of the assembly is guilty of several illegalities and that his predecessor, Mikhail Kendegelian, spent more than 106,000 lei (over $8,000) on a new official automobile for himself. MS

COUNCIL OF EUROPE SAYS MOLDOVAN POLICE USE TORTURE
A recent report published by the Council of Europe's Anti-Torture Committee said that the use of torture by police in Moldova has increased, AFP reported. The report says police use electric shocks, thrust needles under fingernails, push the heads of detained persons under water, and indulge in other forms of torture. It also said Moldovan prisons are filthy and overpopulated. MS

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES MILITARY AMNESTY
Parliament on 26 June discussed a draft amnesty bill for conscientious objectors proposed by the government, BTA reported. The draft law would exempt conscientious objectors from criminal liability and punishment in the event that they refused to serve in the armed forces or failed to show up for military exercises on religious grounds. The bill will apply from 31 July 1991 to 31 December 1998, during which there was no legal basis for conscientious objection. In 1999, the Replacement of Military Obligations under the Alternative Service Act went into effect. Parliament also discussed an amnesty for illegal possession of arms proposed by legislator Nonka Matova. According to the proposal, a person illegally possessing weapons would go unpunished if those weapons were turned over to authorities within a three-month period. UB

BULGARIA'S LARGEST UNIVERSITY THREATENED WITH BANKRUPTCY
Boyan Biolchev, the president of Sofia's St. Kliment Ohridski University, announced on 26 June that the university is financially paralyzed, mediapool.bg reported. Biolchev said the university's revenues are spent only on electricity, heating, and water. In order to overcome the university's financial problems, Biolchev demanded the reintroduction of tuition fees, additional financial support from the government, and the possibility of using buildings that are owned by the university but are currently used for other purposes. To underscore the university's dramatic situation, former Education Minister and philosophy Professor Nikolay Vasilev called for the university to be shut down for one academic year. Finance Minister Milen Velchev promised to look into ways to support Bulgaria's oldest and largest university. UB

There is no End Note today.


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