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Newsline - June 26, 1998


The IMF board of directors on 25 June approved the release of a $670 million loan tranche to Russia, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. The tranche will bring to $5.8 billion the funds allocated to Russia under a four-year, $10 billion IMF Extended Fund Facility. Unified Energy System chief executive Anatolii Chubais, who is also President Boris Yeltsin's envoy to international financial institutions, described the IMF decision as "quite natural and logical," Interfax reported. He argued that "it is important in principle that IMF board members...regard the ailments of the Russian economy as quite curable." Despite the news about the IMF loan tranche, the main index of the Russian stock market fell more than 5 percent in early trading on 26 June. Negotiations between Russian and IMF officials over a possible $10-15 billion aid package are expected to take weeks. LB


Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 24 June demanded that the government and Central Bank release all documents they have sent to the IMF, along with information about the conditions for receiving IMF loans and plans for spending such funds, Russian news agencies reported. He claimed that the IMF has made a possible $10- 15 billion loan conditional on Russia agreeing to break up its natural monopolies, raise the pension age by five years, and push through legislation on land sales and the ratification of the START-2 arms control treaty. Zyuganov also mentioned that he met with a group of Russia's leading "oligarchs" on 24 June to discuss the economic crisis. Duma Economic Policy Committee Chairman Yurii Maslyukov, also a Communist, said "the government cannot do without foreign loans" but called for more "transparency" in the process of receiving those loans. LB


Argentina's President Carlos Menem was in Moscow on 25 June, making the first ever official visit by an Argentine head of state to Russia, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko welcomed Menem to the government headquarters in Moscow, calling Argentina Russia's "most important partner in Latin America." Menem later met with Boris Yeltsin and signed agreements on the basic principles of relations between the two countries, protection of investments and combating illegal trafficking in narcotics and weapons. However, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 June that Yeltsin expressed his country's displeasure with Argentina's relationship with NATO. Menem for his part noted that Russia still supports Great Britain's position on the Falkland Islands. BP


Following a telephone conversation between Boris Yeltsin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on 25 June, it was announced that Yeltsin will not make a scheduled trip to Kazakhstan at the end of June, ITAR- TASS and Interfax reported. Yeltsin said it is necessary to stay in Russia at this time and deal with financial and socio-economic matters. Yeltsin was scheduled to sign an "eternal friendship treaty" with Nazarbayev which would define relations between their two countries into the next century. A meeting of the leaders of the CIS "four plus one" Customs Union (which also includes Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) was also scheduled, in addition to a meeting with Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and Chinese President Jiang Zemin to review the border treaty between the five countries. Yeltsin has tentatively rescheduled his visit to Kazakhstan for September. BP


Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov on 25 June delivered to the State Duma six more draft laws that are part of the government's anti-crisis program, ITAR-TASS reported. The entire package consists of more than 20 laws, including six submitted on 24 June, eight sent to the Duma earlier this year, and one that has yet to be submitted to parliament. According to Reuters, Prime Minister Kirienko said the package would increase monthly federal budget revenues by 1.5-2.5 billion rubles ($240-$400 million), and both he and Nemtsov urged the Duma to pass the package in its entirety. But First Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov of Our Home is Russia told ITAR-TASS that the Duma is likely to reject several of the proposals, such as a fourfold increase in the land tax and a freeze on the payment of child allowances. LB


The government on 25 June withdrew its privatization program for 1998 from the State Duma after it became clear that deputies would reject the document in the first reading. Although the Yabloko, Our Home Is Russia, and Russian Regions factions supported the program, the Communist and Agrarian factions spoke out against it. The program slated 57 companies for either privatization or transformation into joint-stock companies this year, Russian news agencies reported. After First Deputy State Property Minister Aleksandr Braverman offered to introduce some changes, the Duma postponed consideration of the program until mid-July. Under a law that went into effect in August 1997, the government must seek parliamentary approval for its privatization plans. Meanwhile, State Property Ministry officials met with representatives of about a dozen foreign banks on 25 June to encourage them to participate in Russian privatization auctions. LB


Russia agreed on 25 June to reduce its exports of oil and other petroleum products by some 100,000 barrels per day, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Generalov agreed to the cuts during a meeting in Vienna with ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Earlier this year, OPEC asked Russia, the world's third-largest oil producer and a non-OPEC country, to reduce its oil exports by 100,000 barrels a day. Russian officials first said exports would not be reduced and then agreed to smaller cuts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 April 1998). "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 June that if oil prices rise as much as Russian and OPEC experts hope, Russia will by the end of this year earn $500 million more from its oil exports than it would have without the reductions agreed to in Vienna. LB


Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 25 June charged that the economic crisis was exacerbated by the dismissal of his government in late March, Interfax and RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Chernomyrdin noted that Russia was without a government for a month during the wrangling over the confirmation of his successor, Sergei Kirienko. The other two main factors contributing to the Russian economic situation, in Chernomyrdin's view, were turmoil on Asian financial markets and falling oil prices on world markets (which has hurt Russian budget revenues). Although he has admitted that his dismissal came as a surprise to him, Chernomyrdin has refrained from overt criticism of Yeltsin. During his 25 June press conference he slammed attempts by the president's opponents in the Duma to launch impeachment proceedings. LB


Chernomyrdin on 25 June vigorously denied that he plans to return to a top post at the gas monopoly Gazprom, which he helped found and headed until he became prime minister in December 1992, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The gas monopoly is holding its annual shareholders meeting on 26 June, amid rumors that the government's representatives in the company may try to remove chief executive Rem Vyakhirev. In recent days, Chernomyrdin has met with Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko and Yeltsin's Chief of Staff Valentin Yumashev, fueling speculation that he may be a candidate to replace Vyakhirev. Two Moscow-based newspapers that are financed by Gazprom, "Trud" and "Tribuna" (formerly "Rabochaya tribuna"), have repeatedly criticized the government's economic policy since Chernomyrdin's dismissal. Those newspapers alleged in April that the new government is "hostile" to Gazprom. LB


Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed on 25 June advocated allowing the International Court of Justice in The Hague jurisdiction over war crimes no matter where they are committed, Reuters reported. Speaking in Wiesbaden, where he received a peace prize for helping negotiate an end to the war in Chechnya in 1996, Lebed said that "when each potential war criminal will imagine himself sitting in the dock, he will think again before he gives an order to start military operations." He also called for prosecuting in the International Court those who committed crimes during the war in Chechnya, charging that "the Russian justice system is unable, for several reasons, to bring to justice those who have profited from the war, and in the course of it dealt with prisoners and civilians in an inhuman way." LB


Unified Energy System chief executive Chubais says Yegor Gaidar's party Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) can easily clear the five percent barrier in the next parliamentary elections if it forms a strong coalition with other like-minded groups. In an interview with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau broadcast on 25 June, Chubais predicted that the DVR will be able to form an influential faction in the State Duma. He did not name possible partners for an electoral coalition. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii has ruled out such an alliance, and many other politicians are wary of associating with the unpopular Gaidar and Chubais, who has no formal leadership role in the DVR but has been a highly influential member since the party's creation. Chubais said the DVR already has a candidate in mind for the next presidential election, but refused to name that candidate. LB


The private network NTV has cancelled a morning talk show called "Chas byka" after its host, Andrei Cherkizov, ran afoul of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. On a 23 June program, Cherkizov referred to Lukashenka as a "boor," prompting the Belarusian authorities to send an angry message to NTV, an RFE/RL correspondent in Minsk reported. An official in Lukashenka's administration suggested that NTV transmissions could be cut off in Belarus. An NTV newscaster apologized to Lukashenka and the Belarusian public on the air on 23 June, but the following morning Cherkizov compared Lukashenka to a "swine" during his program. The same day, NTV's news director announced plans to cancel "Chas byka." Although he will no longer appear on NTV, Cherkizov will continue to work at the radio station Ekho Moskvy, which, like NTV, belongs to Vladimir Gusinskii's Media-Most holding company. LB


In 1997 Lukashenka repeatedly found fault with Russian news coverage of events in Belarus, and he particularly criticized NTV. In March of that year, Belarusian authorities stripped the accreditation of Aleksandr Stupnikov, an NTV correspondent in Minsk, and expelled him from the country. In the subsequent months, Lukashenka accused NTV and 51 percent state-owned Russian Public Television (ORT) of participating in a campaign orchestrated by his political enemies to undermine the Russian- Belarusian union. Relations have since improved. In January of this year, Media-Most head Gusinskii and Boris Berezovskii, who is an influential figure at ORT, travelled to Minsk with key journalists from media they finance for a meeting with Lukashenka (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 January 1998). LB


Yurii Skuratov has written to Sergei Stepashin warning that human rights are "systematically and massively violated" in Russia's prisons, where sanitary conditions, overcrowding, inadequate nutrition and lack of medicinal facilities have caused epidemics of tuberculosis, dystrophy, food poisoning and AIDS, Russian news agencies reported on 25 June. Skuratov alleged that lack of funding is less to blame than "mismanagement and misuse" of budgetary funds allocated for prison maintenance. An October 1997 presidential decree ordered the transfer of the penitentiary system from the Interior Ministry to the Justice Ministry by 1 June 1998, to conform with Council of Europe recommendations, but the transfer has not materialized (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 15 October 1997 and 26 February 1998). Meanwhile, on 25 June Russia's Main Government Sanitary Doctor Gennadii Onishchenko told journalists that tuberculosis rates in prisons are 5 times the national average, ITAR-TASS reported. BT


Amid stringent security precautions, Dagestan's Constitutional Assembly elected a new 14-man State Council, whose members represent the republic's various ethnic minorities, on 25 June. Magomedali Magomedov, who has headed the State Council since July, 1994, was reelected its chairman. 162 of the Constitutional Assembly's members voted for Magomedov and 78 for his sole challenger, Pension Fund head Sharaputdin Musaev, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 26 June. LF


The Samara Oblast Duma on 25 June approved a law to legalize the purchase and sale of farmland, ITAR-TASS reported. Governor Konstantin Titov is a strong supporter of the legislation. Saratov Oblast adopted a similar law last November, drawing protests from State Duma deputies who charged that regions have no right to legalize such land sales in the absence of a federal land code. But those objections did not deter the legislature of Tatarstan, which adopted a similar law earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Kaliningrad Oblast Duma on 25 June refused to consider a land law proposed by the oblast administration, which would have legalized the purchase and sale of farmland, ITAR-TASS reported. Deputies voted down earlier drafts of that law in January and March. They declined to consider the latest version on the grounds that a federal land code should first be adopted. LB


Georgian Ambassador to Russia Vazha Lortkipanidze met for three hours in Sukhumi on 25 June with Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba and presidential envoy Anri Djergenia, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported. Both envoys subsequently told journalists that progress had been made towards reaching agreement on a peace protocol, and two further protocols on rebuilding the Abkhaz economy, and the return to their homes in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali raion of the 35,000 ethnic Georgians who fled during last month's fighting. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze rejected an earlier draft protocol on repatriation on 20 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1998). LF


The Democratic Congress that comprises ten opposition parties issued a statement on 25 June arguing that free and democratic presidential elections will not be possible unless political censorship and existing restrictions on the activities of opposition political parties are abolished, Turan reported. The Democratic Congress also demanded the immediate release of two young opposition activists arrested for drafting what the authorities have termed a blueprint for destabilizing the political situation in Azerbaijan. That document was confiscated during a search of the editorial office of the opposition newspaper "Chag" (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 18 June 1998). On 24 June, Azerbaijan Popular Front Party deputy chairman Ulvi Hakimov, arrested 10 days earlier for obstructing the police, was released from custody. Meanwhile Azerbaijani human rights activists have founded a new organization to counter repression by the Azerbaijani authorities of potential opposition presidential candidates. LF


In an interview given to "Moskovskie novosti" and summarized by Turan on 25 June, Rasul Guliev alleged that President Heidar Aliyev and his family have misappropriated $900 million from the sale of oil, metals and cotton. Guliev claimed that Aliyev knew in advance of the coup launched by rebel colonel Suret Huseinov that resulted in the ouster of President Abulfaz Elchibey in June, 1993. Guliev also alleged that Aliyev and former Armenian parliament speaker Babken Ararktsian colluded in the surrender to Armenian forces in summer, 1993, of six Azerbaijani raions bordering on Nagorno-Karabakh. LF


The World Bank issued loans to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan on 25 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Kazakhstan received $300 million for pension reform making "transition from the Soviet-era retirement system to a model using individual savings accounts" possible. Kyrgyzstan received $15 million for improving the heating and energy sector in the capital, Bishkek. BP


The International Monetary Fund announced on 25 June that it will grant Tajikistan a $128 million credit for restructuring the country's economy, ITAR-TASS and the Russian Information Agency reported. Tajikistan, in the first year of three-year restructuring program, will receive $48 million in 1998, half now and the rest in six months. According to Tajik government plans, there will be 4 percent annual GDP growth in the period 1999-2001, inflation should drop to eight percent (from 164 percent in 1997), and the fiscal deficit will drop from the present 3.3 percent to 0.3 percent. BP


Leonid Kuchma said on 25 June that ties between Kyiv and Warsaw are "very good" and that his regular meetings with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski relieve any tension in the relations, ITAR- TASS reported. Kuchma was speaking in Kyiv on the eve of a two- day visit by Kwasniewski to Ukraine. The leaders are to hold talks in Kharkov. Polish business leaders are accompanying their president. PB


President Kuchma said on 25 June that although Ukraine's GDP and industrial production have increased, the economy is in a "very difficult" situation, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma said that the dismal performance of the stock market is also worrisome. He added that his country must continue to borrow money from foreign lenders, saying that without loans from the IMF "Ukraine will be financially blockaded." PB


A bomb threat on 25 June disrupted the Ukrainian parliament shortly after it failed for the 15th time to elect a speaker, the "Eastern Economist" reported. The parliament was searched but no bomb was found and the session was continued behind closed doors. Oleksander Moroz received the most votes in the latest failed vote, which has caused a parliamentary crisis and led President Kuchma to issue decrees in an attempt to heal the economy. Kuchma dismissed rumors that he would dissolve the parliament and call new elections in an effort to break the deadlock. He said new elections would not be politically or economically "expedient" and that he is confident the Supreme Council will elect a speaker soon. PB


Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 25 June that the flight of ambassadors from Minsk over a housing dispute was a "provocation," Reuters reported. He said Western states had taken "a household issue and turned it into an international problem." Russian Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov echoed Lukashenka saying that the dispute was an attempt to break up the Belarus- Russian union. The Bulgarian Ambassador to Belarus, Marko Ganchev, called Belarus "a complete anachronism" before he left Minsk for consultations in Sofia. He said "after the USSR exploded, Belarus was a piece of shrapnel where the Soviet idea survived." Lukashenka arrived in Switzerland on 26 June for the Crans-Montana international economic forum, where he is to give a report titled: "The East and West of Europe: Joint Strategy of Security and Economic Interaction." PB


Hillary Clinton, the wife of the U.S. president, sent a letter of support to the wives and mothers of men in detention in Belarus allegedly for their opposition to the Belarusian government, Belapan reported on 25 June. Clinton said she is concerned by "the worsening human rights situation in Belarus." She added that the women are not alone and that Washington supports their cause of defending human rights. PB


Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus told the officers of his country's army on 25 June that expanded ties with NATO and good relations with neighboring countries are "compatible" goals, both ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Saying that further military reform was necessary, Adamkus called for expanded cooperation with Estonia and Latvia in the Baltbat peacekeeping battalion and with Poland in the Litpolbat equivalent. And he said that Lithuania's inclusion in the European Union will help to create the "psychological preconditions for security." A majority of Lithuanians -- 51 percent -- support their country's effort to join NATO, according to the results of a poll published in the Vilnius newspaper "Lietuvos Rytas" on 24 June. Some 25 percent said they were against NATO membership, while 24 percent did not give an opinion. PG


President Guntis Ulmanis told the World Latvian Officers Convention on 25 June that Latvia has no foreign enemies at present, BNS reported. But he indicated that the country does face threats from internal tensions arising from political divisions, national extremism and ethnic conflicts. The Latvian president also said that Riga would have to boost expenditures on the military further if it wanted to cooperate with neighboring states. Earlier this year, the Latvian parliament raised defense spending from 0.67 percent this year to 1 percent of GDP in 1999. PG


Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs told BNS on 25 June that Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov had indicated that Moscow was considering the revocation of most favored nation status for Latvia. Primakov made these comments without elaboration at the Council of Baltic Sea States meeting in Denmark. PG


The former head of Poland's police force, Marek Papala, was shot dead on 25 June, an RFE/RL correspondent in Warsaw reported. Papala resigned as head of the police earlier this year. Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek said a special commission will investigate the murder, which is suspected of being in retaliation for Papala's work in combatting organized crime. PB


Wojciech Brochwicz, a deputy interior minister, said on 25 June that Warsaw would impose a visa regime for citizens of Eastern countries if the European Union made such a request, AP reported. Brochwicz, returning to Warsaw from an EU conference on border issues, said it was not possible to set a date for the imposition of visas on its Eastern neighbors. Poland instituted a controversial visa regime on Russians and Belarussians in December that was later eased. Ukraine has a visa-free agreement with Ukraine. PB


Social Democratic Party (CSSD) leader Milos Zeman met on 25 June with Josef Lux, chairman of the Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL) and with Freedom Union chairman Jan Ruml to discuss the prospects of setting up a CSSD-led coalition. Lux said after the meeting that his party is ready to join such a coalition if the Freedom Union also joins, and that if the coalition came about, the KDU-CSL would defend "right wing values" within it. He also said he does not foresee any disagreements on foreign policy. Ruml, however, said that "at this stage" the position of his party against joining the a CSSD-led cabinet "remains unchanged" but that "nothing bars us from meeting again next week." Zeman later informed President Vaclav Havel on the talks and said Havel would "use his influence" in talks with Lux and Ruml, CTK reported. MS


Prime Minister-designate Viktor Orban, chairman of the Federation of Young Democrats- Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) on 25 June submitted the list of his FIDESZ-Independent Smallholders'-Democratic Forum cabinet to Janos Ader, the new chairman of the parliament. The Smallholders' hold four portfolios in the 17-ministry cabinet, among which are agriculture and provincial development (Jozsef Torgyan) and defense (Janos Szabo). Janos Martonyi of FIDESZ is the new Foreign Minister. Other FIDESZ key appointments include Sandor Pinter as Interior Minister and Laszlo Kover as minister without portfolio responsible for civil security services. Democratic Forum member David Ibolya is justice minister. The appointees need to be screened by the National Security Office. Ader said the Prime Minister may be sworn in on 6 July and the cabinet on 8 July. MSZ


Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador-designate to the UN, arrived in Prishtina on 26 June for meetings with Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci, who openly supports the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Holbrooke will then hold his second meeting this week with shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 25 June, 1998). The diplomat arrived in Prishtina from Belgrade, where he met with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic the previous day. Holbrooke did not provide information on those talks when questioned by reporters. Elsewhere, Reuters noted that fighting is taking place in "virtually every direction" from Prishtina and that the UCK captured a mine within sight of the capital. The mine provides the coal for the city's power plant. The Kosovar KIC news agency wrote that Serbian police armed Serbian and Romany civilians just north of the capital on the road to Mitrovica. PM


State Department spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 25 June that Holbrooke's shuttle diplomacy constitutes a "virtual negotiation" aimed at defusing the crisis in Kosova. Rubin cited Holbrooke as saying that the lesson of the negotiations that produced the 1995 Dayton agreement is that "discussions [should take] place separately, [as a] kind of proximity discussions, and not face-to-face discussions." The spokesman added that the U.S. and other Western countries plan to send a monitoring mission to Kosova to help prevent the "situation from spinning out of control." Rubin said that Milosevic bears the bulk of responsibility for the crisis and defended Holbrooke's decision to meet with representatives of the UCK, the VOA noted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1998). PM


RFE/RL's correspondent reported from Tirana on 26 June that the Holbrooke-UCK meeting is widely seen there as part of a U.S. strategy aimed at persuading the guerrillas to submit to the political control of the civilian leadership headed by Rugova. Fehmi Agani, a senior advisor to Rugova, was also present at Holbrooke's session with the UCK representatives. Meanwhile in Bonn, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel urged Rugova on 25 June to establish control over the UCK, to which Rugova replied that he is "working on it," the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. Kinkel told Rugova to drop "any illusions" that Kosova will become independent or that "NATO will launch air strikes tomorrow." FS/PM


Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano told the "International Herald Tribune" of 26 June that there must be air strikes "to stop the Serbs" within two weeks if a new Bosnian-type conflict is to be avoided, "with all the consequences that could bring for Western Europe." Nano said that Albania, Greece and Macedonia have created "a good partnership" to help contain the conflict, but also that all Europe stands to lose if Kosova becomes "Lebanonized" and waves of refugees leave the province. Nano said that Milosevic will not stop the conflict because he "is fighting for his personal power in Serbia." NATO must stop the functioning of his "war machine," on which he is spending $1.7 million daily, the prime minister concluded. PM


Two groups of between 20 and 30 refugees each arrived in Bajram Curri on 25 June after a recent drop in the refugee flow (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 22 June). The refugees, who are mainly women, children and old men, abandoned their homes in villages around Gjakova last week. In recent days, fewer than a dozen refugees have arrived per day in Albania, according to the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A UNHCR official told Reuters in Bajram Curri on 25 June that "the Serbs have stepped up monitoring of the border area and increased troop numbers." A spokesman for the Albanian Labor and Social Affairs ministry added that there is no food shortage and that Bajram Curri's food market is well stocked although the recent jump in population had pushed up prices. FS


In two separate incidents on 25 June, gunmen in Tropoja shot at officials of humanitarian aid organizations and the Kosovar Health Ministry. In one incident, unidentified gunmen fired shots at a car containing the Kosovar shadow state's representative in Bajram Curri and a doctor who was inspecting facilities in the region on behalf of the Kosovar Health Ministry. The doctor was hit by a bullet but will survive, "Koha Jone" reported. In another incident, unidentified gunmen fired at a car with Christian missionaries delivering humanitarian relief to the local branch of Caritas. Nobody was injured in the incident, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Meanwhile, Taulant Dedja, who is the government's refugee coordinator, asked the anti-corruption agency to make sure that humanitarian aid deliveries are not pilfered. FS


Victor Ramos, who heads the Argentine government's anti-racism unit, said in Jerusalem on 25 June that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre has given him documentary evidence "that is very serious" about Nada (Esperanza) Sakic. Ramos added that he "will follow President Carlos Menem's directives, which are that any war criminal discovered in our country must be brought to trial," Reuters reported. Nada is the wife of Dinko Sakic, whom Argentina recently extradited to Croatia to face war crimes charges stemming from his role as commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp during World War II (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 1998). Nada Sakic was commander at a women's camp at the same time. Tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs, Roma, and opposition Croats perished in the camps. PM


The Senate on 25 June approved with a vote of 109-7 a law making possible access to the files of the former secret police, provided this "does not affect national security." The law is yet to be approved by the Chamber of Deputies. Senator Constantin Ticu-Dumitrescu withdrew his sponsorship of the law in protest against the amendments made to his draft. The law sets up a National Council for the Study of the Archives of the Former Securitate, but leaves the files with the Romanian Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice. The council can request information from these bodies but cannot store the files itself. MS


Deputy Viorica Frasinie of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and the chairman of the Brasov local branch of the Romanian Alternative Party (a member of the ruling coalition) both admitted on 25 June to having been informers of the former secret police. National Liberal Party (PNL) Deputy Chairman Viorel Catarama said he would not comply with the decision of his party to submit in writing a declaration of non-collaboration with the Securitate, because he has "already made a public statement last year" denying any collaboration. Reacting to the statement, PNL First Vice Chairman Valeriu Stoica said Catarama might face sanctions. Meanwhile, all but two out of 26 ministers complied with the decision of premier Radu Vasile and submitted written declarations on their record of links with the Securitate. The two ministers who did not do so are abroad. MS


The Defense Ministry on 25 June said it was "puzzled" by a commentary on Hungarian state radio which said that military maneuvers underway in the Harghita and Covasna counties, the bulk of whose population is Hungarian ethnic, is aimed at "intimidating the local population." The ministry denied that Hungarian journalists were not allowed to observe the maneuvers. The Vasile cabinet on 25 June went ahead with its earlier decision to establish a commission evaluating the possibility of setting up a Hungarian-language state university. The leadership of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania said it is satisfied with the decision and is no longer contemplating leaving the ruling coalition. The government also decided to return to ethnic minority organizations 17 buildings that had been confiscated by the communists, eight of which will be returned to the Hungarian minority. MS


Gunnar Janson, special rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, on 25 June officially announced the ending of Romania's monitoring on the Assembly's "special list." On the same day, however, the parliament again failed to eliminate from the Penal Code the provision making homosexual relations a punishable offense. Many of the deputies representing the ruling coalition spoke against the elimination of Article 200, which was one of the reasons for the assembly's monitoring of Romania. The debate is to continue next week. MS


Suleyman Demirel, beginning a two-day visit to Moldova, on 25 June discussed bilateral relations and economic cooperation with his host, President Petru Lucinschi, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. They also signed an accord on avoiding double taxation and an agreement between the two countries' health ministries. Demirel thanked his hosts for the way Moldova has solved the problem of Gagauz minority autonomy, saying that the Gagauz population is "a bridge" in the two countries' friendship. Demirel announced Turkey has agreed to grant Moldova a $35 million credit to be used "at its discretion" but that $15 million is to be used in improving the water supply system in southern Moldova, in the Gagauz Yeri autonomy area. Demirel is visiting the autonomous region on 26 June. MS


The Bulgarian parliament on 25 June approved a bill providing for alternative military service, BTA reported. The length of that service was set at 18 months for university graduates and two years for other conscripts. The bill allows alternative service on conscience grounds, and says conscripts opting for this service enjoy the same rights and have the same obligations as regular conscripts. MS


by Paul Goble

The same social problems that powered the rise of national socialism in Germany in the 1930s have emerged in many post- communist countries and now threaten their transitions to democracy and the free market. Across this region, a variety of sources suggest, all too many people feel a sense of national humiliation and want to find a scapegoat. They feel threatened by economic dislocations that have allowed some to become fabulously wealthy while leaving others more impoverished than ever before. And they feel that they need a single ruthless leader rather than a fractious parliament to lead them out of their difficulties.

Despite these obvious parallels and the appearance of a small number of explicitly neo-nazi fringe groups in several of the countries of this region, most people both there and beyond have assumed that the post-communist states are somehow immune to such a development precisely because of their own experience with and struggle against Nazi Germany a half century ago. But that may be changing. On 22 June, Russian President Boris Yeltsin warned that Nazi-like extremism now threatened his country and called on everyone to recognize just how dangerous it is.

Speaking on the 57th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the Russian leader said that "those obsessed with the ideas of national supremacy and anti-semitism should ask themselves whether they realize what they are doing." And noting that Russia "saved the world from Nazism half a century ago," Yeltsin himself asked "Will Russians allow the most fearful ideology ever known to mankind to take root on our soil?"

Some observers have concluded that Yeltsin's words, coming on the eve of his announcement of a new anti-crisis program, are simply intended to frighten the West into providing his government with more aid. After all, no one in the West would want to see Yeltsin supplanted by a fascist dictatorship if sending more financial assistance alone could prevent that from happening. Other reporters have suggested that Yeltsin was only talking about those small groups in Russian society that openly flaunt Nazi symbols like the swastika or that have attacked synagogues and non-Russians in the Russian Federation. Such groups, various human rights organizations have concluded, now number only about 4,000 people in Moscow itself.

But regardless of Yeltsin's exact intention, his words seem likely to have the effect of calling attention to a broader set of problems not only in the Russian Federation but in other post- communist states as well. And such attention has the effect of highlighting both the reasons that there is a new national socialist threat in these countries and also why it may not come to pass.

On the one hand, virtually all these countries are suffering from the traumas of transition. And because they still have little experience with the tensions inherent in democratic politics and free market economies, some in their populations are increasingly susceptible to the appeals of those who would combine a nationalist message of revenge with a socialist set of promises for economic security.

Sometimes this combination is dismissed as the "red-brown coalition, the coalition between the old communist nomenklatura and the new nationalists found in many parliaments and some executive offices. But often it is more subtle and affects the styles and messages of otherwise democratic leaders. And the fact that such messages are being delivered by otherwise mainstream leaders has the effect of opening the door to ever more extreme groups.

But on the other hand, none of these countries yet has the one element that linked these two sets of ideas together in a way that tore apart the political fabric in Western Europe in the pre-World War II period. That element is the presence of a single charismatic leader who can convince people that he and he alone can lead them out of their current difficulties. If there is no such leader yet in power in any of these countries, there are several obvious candidates for the job in many of them.

Yeltsin's warning by itself will not prevent them from seeking such positions. But it may make everyone involved more sensitive to the dangers their rise would inevitably entail.