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Newsline - August 3, 1998


No sooner was the government's anti-crisis plan in effect than a top IMF official was in Moscow urging compliance before the release in September of a second tranche worth $4.3 billion. IMF Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fisher met with Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko on 31 July and with Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov and Anatolii Chubais, presidential envoy to international financial institutions, the next day. Fisher said that the Russian government has made progress toward improving its revenue collection and has tightened controls over spending, but he cautioned that "complacency must be avoided." On 31 July, Federal Tax Service director Boris Fyodorov reported that the government collected $80.6 million more in taxes in July than in the previous month, an increase of about 7 percent, according to Reuters. JAC


Fisher's visit had sparked rumors in the Moscow press that President Boris Yeltsin would invite Chubais back into the government. But Yeltsin concluded a meeting with Chubais on 31 July without making any such announcement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1998). Some newspapers continue to predict Chubais's return. On 1 August, "Russkii Telegraf" reported that the decree for the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko has already been signed but that news of his departure and Chubais's return will be released at the end of Yeltsin's vacation. JAC


The selection of which Russian oil companies will have restricted access to export pipelines in August appears to depend on size of the company and its political influence rather than on its tax debt, according to the "Vremya MN" on 31 July. The daily argued that Moscow bureaucrats have chosen companies that are too small to defend themselves, such as SIDANCO and ONAKO. On 31 July, Minister of Fuel and Energy Sergei Generalov said that because of a credit from Western banks totaling $4 million, LUKOIL will be guaranteed the right to export 12 million to 15 million tons annually. He added that this agreement will later be legalized by presidential decree. JAC


President Yeltsin has apparently decided that it is better to have no foreign investment law than to sign the poorly drafted version passed by the Duma in July, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August. According to the presidential press service, Yeltsin rejected the law because it was in conflict not only with existing legislation but also with international agreements. Drafters of the original version of the legislation had intended the law to provide foreign investors with a "grandfather clause" that would protect them from changes in tax legislation. However, the law became so diluted after its passage through the State Duma that it was unclear whether investors would be protected even for so short a period as seven years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1998). JAC


Yeltsin also rejected two other laws passed by the legislature last month: the law on leasing and the law on the protection of the earth's atmosphere. ITAR-TASS reported that Yeltsin determined that both laws were incompatible with existing federal legislation. JAC


Prime Minister Kirienko flew to Vladikavkaz on 1 August, from where he traveled with Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin and Ingush President Ruslan Aushev to Aushev's residence near Nazran for talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, RFE/RL's correspondents in Moscow and Grozny reported. At a two-hour meeting behind closed doors, Kirienko and Maskhadov discussed Moscow's failure to implement bilateral agreements, in particular the accord signed last year by Maskhadov and Kirienko's predecessor, Viktor Chernomyrdin, on Russian economic aid for Chechnya. Kirienko admitted that failure at a press conference after the meeting, stressing that "we need peace and stability in the North Caucasus..., we need to find solutions to the economic problems of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria and the neighboring regions." Maskhadov said he is confident that the meeting with Kirienko served to "break the deadlock" in Russian-Chechen relations. LF


Russian Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told Interfax on 1 August that he welcomes the Kirienko-Maskhadov meeting. Zyuganov, who had just returned from a two-week tour of the Russian North Caucasus, said the situation in the region "is deteriorating." He called for the adoption of a new national policy for the Caucasus. But former acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said on 2 August that Kirienko insulted the Chechen people by proposing to establish a free economic zone in Chechnya comparable to that in Kaliningrad. Yandarbiev said that Russia does not have the financial means to resolve Chechnya's problems. LF


Maskhadov arrived in Istanbul with his family on 2 August for a four-day unofficial visit, Russian media reported. Speaking on his arrival, the Chechen president criticized unidentified Arab countries that, according to him, are seeking to "provoke confusion" in Chechnya and to "teach us Islam." Maskhadov has publicly blamed radical Islamists for the fighting in Gudermes in June between members of the National Guard and units of the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment and Shariah Security Guard. LF


Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who is a likely presidential contender in 2000, is again trying to display his foreign-policy acumen. Last month, he sided with Belarusian President Lukashenka in the latter's controversial attempt to oust foreign diplomats from their compound (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1998). At a 31 July meeting with visiting South Korean Ambassador to Russia Lee Ing Ho, Luzhkov proposed that the embassies of South Korea and North Korea be located next door to each other. According to Interfax, he explained that since Korea will be reunited sooner or later, "it will be enough to remove the fence for a single embassy to be established." JAC


Luzhkov on 1 August also weighed in on another issue of national importance, relations with Chechnya, according to Interfax. In an apparent departure from his earlier condemnation of the Chechnya peace accords, he declared that Chechnya should become independent. In fall 1996, Luzhkov had joined critics of General Aleksandr Lebed's efforts in Chechnya, saying "Russia has effectively surrendered to bandits." JAC


Election officials in the Republic of Tuva said on 2 August that they fear they will have to declare local elections invalid because of insufficient voter turnout, ITAR-TASS reported. Two hours after polls opened that day, only 3.35 percent of the city of Kyzyl's 52,000 eligible voters had cast their votes. On the ballot were candidates for 10 seats in the republic's parliament and 25 seats in the city's legislature. JAC


Russia's diamond industry lost one of its top officials on 1 August, when Aleksandr Shkadov, executive director of the Kristall diamond company and president of the Russian Association of Diamond Processors, was shot and killed in an apparent contract murder. According to ITAR-TASS, his body was found outside the city of Smolensk in an area littered with bullets and cartridges. JAC


In his weekly radio broadcast on 3 August, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze termed the 30 July UN Security Council resolution on Abkhazia "another success of Georgian diplomacy," Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze said the tone of the latest resolution is "more firm and categorical" in its condemnation of Abkhaz reprisals against the ethnic Georgian population of Abkhazia's Gali Raion. But the deputy chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in exile, Gia Gvazava, expressed disappointment that the resolution does not condemn the Abkhaz reprisals as ethnic cleansing, in accordance with Tbilisi's request. In Moscow on 31 July, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said the resolution is a "clear message" to both Georgia and Abkhazia to abide by their commitments under the 25 May cease-fire protocol, according to Interfax. That document provides for maintaining a cease-fire and preventing terrorist activities against the Russian peacekeepers deployed in the border zone between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. LF


Environmental Minister Nino Chkhobadze told journalists on 1 August that radioactivity has been detected near two former Soviet army bases in Khoni and Terdjola Raions, western Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. She said that cleanup operations have already been completed at the Terdjola site and are continuing in Khoni, where the radioactivity level was 230 roentgen. Several Georgian servicemen were hospitalized with radiation sickness in October 1997, after being exposed to radioactive equipment at a former training base for Soviet border guards base near Tbilisi (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1997). LF


The Ministry of Internal Affairs and National Security issued a statement on 2 August denying media reports of automatic rifle fire close to the Yerevan residence of former President Levon Ter-Petrossian at 2:00 a.m. local time the previous day, ITAR-TASS reported. He described those reports as based on "unfounded rumors." The daily "Aravot" reported the shooting on 1 August, adding that police and Ter- Petrossian's bodyguards were immediately alerted but could find no trace of the attackers, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF


U.S. special envoy for Caspian affairs Richard Morningstar told journalists in Baku on 30 July that both Washington and Ankara support plans for construction of an oil export pipeline from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean terminal at Ceyhan and for a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, Interfax reported. But Morningstar also conceded that pending an agreement among all five Caspian littoral states on the sea's status, Iran and Russia have a "sovereign right" to protest the planned Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. LF


Turkish Foreign Ministry official Yaman Bashkut, who accompanied Morningstar to Baku, told journalists on 31 July that "there will be no problems" in raising the estimated $3 billion needed for construction of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. He said that "the U.S. in the person of EximBank, the World Bank, and other financial organizations" will provide the funds, according to Turan. Bashkut rejected the argument that falling world oil prices mean that the Baku-Ceyhan route is no longer economically viable. He also warned again that Ankara will not permit the lion's share of Caspian oil to be exported by tanker via the Turkish straits. LF


Presidential administration official Ali Hasanov has said there are no obstacles to meetings between opposition leaders and himself, presidential administration head Ramiz Mehtiev, or even President Heidar Aliyev to discuss the conditions under which the opposition leaders are prepared to participate in the October presidential elections, Turan reported on 31 July. Azerbaijan Popular Front Party chairman Abulfaz Elchibey and Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar, both of whom have announced their intention to boycott the poll, similarly announced their readiness to participate in such a dialogue. The head of the pro-government Center for Democratic Elections, Motherland Party chairman Fazail Agamali, has offered to mediate that dialogue. But presidential legal adviser Shahin Aliyev repeated in Washington on 31 July that the Azerbaijani leadership will not grant the opposition's demand for the right to nominate half the members of the Central Electoral Commission. LF


The widow of deputy customs head Ali Imomnazarov was shot and killed on 2 August, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Saida Imomnazarova was killed by two masked gunmen while visiting the cemetery where her husband had been buried the previous day. Ali Imomnazarov died on 31 July from wounds he received from a bomb planted in his car. BP


The Prosecutor-General's office has completed its investigation of four men involved in mutinous activities in July and August 1997 and has charged the men with treason, attempting to overthrow the government, and other "grave" crimes against the country, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. Kosim Boboyev, the former governor of Khatlon Oblast, Toshtemir Odinamadov, Sherali Mirzoyev, and Sulton Kurbonov allegedly cooperated with former Popular Front field commanders led by Colonel Mahmud Khudaberdiyev in order to establish a defense council for Khatlon Oblast. That council was against allowing fighters from the United Tajik Opposition to return to the region in accordance with the June 1997 peace accord. Armed units under Khudaberdiyev subsequently advanced on Dushanbe but were defeated by forces of the presidential guard. Khudaberdiyev, who has been in hiding for nearly a year, is also wanted by the prosecutor- general. BP


The director-general of the Kyrgyz state gas company, Shalkhar Jaysanbayev, said on 3 August that Uzbekistan has cut off supplies of natural gas to Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-TASS reported. The reason for that move is unpaid bills totaling $2.5 million. Jaysanbayev said the Kyrgyz government has already begun talks with Uzbekistan on the resumption of supplies and has provided written guarantees for payment of those supplies. He added that in order to pay Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan will increase the price of gas for consumers during August by 25 percent. BP


An IMF team visiting Kyiv last week announced on 31 July that it will recommend the release of a $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine. "We have reached a tentative agreement with Ukrainian authorities on the program of stabilization and restructuring of the economy," AP quoted IMF mission head Mohammed Shadman-Valavi as saying. The three-year program, which Shadman-Valavi described as "very ambitious," aims to reduce the budget deficit to 3.3 percent of GDP this year and to 2 percent in following years. It also provides for an inflation rate of 10 percent this year and 8 percent in 1999-2001. Ukraine may obtain $250 million immediately after the IMF Board of Directors approves the loan in late August and another $600 million by year's end. JM


A protest action over unpaid wages planned by the Trade Union of Coal Industry Workers has been postponed until September. The union had intended to begin the action on 2 August in Kyiv. It said that the decision to postpone the protest was due to the "unbelievable heat" in Ukraine and to the summer recess, ITAR-TASS reported. Despite recent payments made by the government, total wage arrears in the coal industry exceed $2 billion hryvni ($1 billion). The government paid only 75 percent of last month's wages in the coal mining sector. JM


Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said in answer to questions by readers of "Pravda-5" that that reunification of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus "is inevitable and that no opponent will be able to prevent it," Interfax reported on 31 July. He said such a union will appear "very soon" if "the reunification problem passes from the area of election outbursts into the area of practical daily work." He also expressed the hope that the Belarusian-Russian Union Parliamentary Assembly will soon pass laws to establish union citizenship and that the two countries' parliaments will approve that legislation. JM


An opinion poll conducted by the Belapan news agency in late July among 600 Minsk respondents showed that 62 percent support holding presidential elections in 1999. Lukashenka was elected for a five-year term in 1994, but the 1996 referendum in Belarus introduced a new constitution that prolonged his term until 2001. Presidential elections in 2001 were supported by 21 percent of the respondents. In mid-July, the European Parliament appealed to Belarus to hold "free and fair presidential elections" in 1999. Of the respondents, 51 percent backed that appeal, while 17 percent opposed it. JM


Following Moscow's decision last month to raise duties on imports, tariffs for Estonian producers exporting to Russia will increase by 6 percent beginning 15 August, an economic adviser at the Estonian Embassy in Moscow confirmed on 2 August. The increase for countries that have most-favored-nation status with Russia is 3 percent, while all other countries are subject to a 6 percent hike. Estonian officials have criticized the double tariffs as discrimination against Estonia and as violating the principles of the World Trade Organization. In particular, Estonian dairy producers are worried because they currently sell their products in Russia at virtually no profit, according to ETA. JC


Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin on 31 July responded to Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs's statement that Latvia will begin unilaterally demarcating the border between the two countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 and 31 July 1998). Rakhmanin said that under international law, the border can be demarcated only after a border treaty has been signed. And he blamed Riga for the fact that the treaty has not yet been signed, Interfax reported. But Latvian Foreign Ministry official Aivis Ronis argued that Moscow is to blame for the delay, BNS reported on 31 July. He said that Riga will seek to have Russia sign the treaty but if Moscow shows "no willingness to cooperate," Latvia may consult with EU members on further actions and may demarcate the border unilaterally. For the time being, he noted, Latvia will only modernize and improve border control to fight illegal immigration and smuggling. JC


The World Bank has granted a $10.5 million loan to a project to make commercial credit available to small businesses in rural areas of Latvia, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 31 July. A key part of the project will be special micro loans to small- scale rural enterprises to bolster business development. The $20 million project is part of the Latvian government's 10-year rural development program. It will also receive funding from the government, participating financial institutions, donors, and the borrowers themselves. JC


Five coalitions at the nationwide level will participate in Poland's local elections scheduled for 11 October, "Zycie Warszawy" reported on 31 July. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) will field its candidates under the slogan "Yours is the central government, ours are the local ones." The Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW), the ruling coalition partners, will participate separately. The UW has antagonized the AWS by retaining many local-level coalitions with the SLD. The Social Alliance coalition consists of the Peasant Party, the Labor Union, and the Nationwide Party of Pensioners. The Confederation for an Independent Poland-Patriotic Camp and the Movement for the Reconstruction of Poland have formed a coalition on the right of the political spectrum. JM


The Polish Silesia Civic Movement has recently erected some 50 crosses in a gravel pit, just outside the former Auschwitz concentration camp, in a bid to maintain Christian symbols at the site. The move has revived the Polish-Jewish argument over a huge cross set up at the camp to commemorate a visit by Pope John Paul II (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 1998). Jewish organizations say they want no religious objects at the Nazi death camp, where 1.5 million predominantly Jewish people died during World War II. Poland's Union of Jewish Congregations condemned the erection of the 50 crosses as an action of "anarchic character," Reuters reported on 31 July. The Polish civic movement has vowed to erect 152 crosses to commemorate the number of Poles killed in the pit by the Nazis. JM


President Vaclav Havel has been taken off a respirator following surgery last week. His doctors said on 2 August that he no longer has to be fed intravenously and is able to speak. The previous day, part of his lung collapsed while he was being taken off the respirator and doctors had considered performing another tracheotomy on him. Havel underwent a tracheotomy in late 1996, after an operation in which part of his right lung was removed, CTK and AP reported. MS


According to an opinion poll carried out by the independent MVK agency, Vladimir Meciar's government continues to trail the combined forces of the opposition, Reuters reported. The government polled 37 percent support, while the opposition received 59.6 percent backing. Since May, the gap has grown from 16.9 percent to 22.6 percent. Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia is still the party with the largest backing (27.4 percent), followed by the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition (23.2 percent). Among Meciar's coalition partners, the far-right Slovak National Party is backed by 7.6 percent, but the Workers Party, with 2 percent support, would fail to pass the parliamentary threshold. The opposition Party of Civic Understanding received 16.4 percent support and the Party of the Democratic Left 11.5 percent and the Hungarian Coalition 8.5 percent. MS


Arpad Goncz has set local elections for 18 October, the National Electoral Office announced on 31 July. The executive chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, Gyorgy Gemesi, told "Magyar Hirlap" that his party and the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party are to sign an agreement on drawing up joint party lists for the local elections. In other news, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told his visiting Hungarian counterpart, Janos Martonyi, that the current Hungarian government, like its predecessor, can count on Germany's unequivocal support in its bid to enter the EU and NATO as soon as possible. MSZ


Yugoslav troops and Serbian paramilitary police attacked positions of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) and civilian villages in the central Drenica region and along the Albanian border around the besieged village of Junik throughout the weekend of 31 July-2 August. AP reported on 3 August that the Serbian forces throughout the combat zone burned homes and shelled villages in a "campaign to drive [ethnic] Albanian civilians from their homes [in a way] reminiscent of the tactic of 'ethnic cleansing' Bosnia and Croatia earlier this decade." A correspondent for Deutsche Welle's German service reported from Prishtina on 3 August that the Serbian authorities are keeping journalists out of the conflict area so that they do not witness "the plundering of villages and mistreatment of civilians." The London "Daily Telegraph" wrote on 3 August that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's statement to foreign diplomats the on 30 July that the offensive has ended is a "lie." PM


The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported from Prishtina on 2 August that the "efficient action" of Serbian forces has "almost entirely broken [up] terrorist gangs" of the UCK. Elsewhere, Western and Kosovar sources noted over the weekend of 31 July-2 August that the continuing Serbian offensive has uprooted "thousands" of civilians and forced additional thousands of refugees from previous attacks to flee again. Many, including women and young children, slept in the forests and on hillsides in the midst of a heat wave and with few provisions. Meanwhile on 1 August, representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees delivered to homeless civilians in the Malisheva area food parcels designed to supply up to 1,000 people for three weeks. Officials said the area is "simply filled with rough," Reuters reported. PM


A spokesman for the UNHCR said in Prishtina on 3 August that the total number of displaced people from Kosova in 1998 is about 180,000, both inside and outside the province. This includes 30,000 forced to flee during the current Serbian offensive, which began just over a week ago. The spokesman added that Serbian police have generally made it difficult for the UNHCR to obtain accurate figures by making on-the-spot tallies within Kosova. He noted that some 25,000 refugees have gone to Montenegro, at least 10,000 to Albania, and smaller numbers to Serbia. Albanian sources put the number in that country closer to 20,000. It is unclear how many Kosovars have fled to Macedonia, where many have close personal ties dating from when both Kosova and Macedonia were part of the former Yugoslavia. PM


Macedonia's Blagoj Handziski visited Zivadin Jovanovic, his Serbian counterpart, in Bujanovac in southern Serbia on 2 August. Tanjug issued a brief report quoting Jovanovic as saying that his country seeks a peaceful and constructive solution to the Kosovar problem. Handziski stressed that Macedonia insists that the solution in Kosova be peaceful. Reuters noted the previous day that Tanjug has recently quoted statements by some Macedonian opposition parties criticizing the present government for continuing to include cabinet ministers from ethnic Albanian parties, which the opposition calls "separatist." Macedonia's population is about one-quarter ethnic Albanian. PM


Serbian authorities released British humanitarian aid worker Sally Becker from prison in Prishtina on 1 August. She later told the BBC that her captors denied her sleep and that "more than 100 policemen" were allowed to spit on her. "I have never known such hatred," she added (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1998). Meanwhile in The Hague, Milan Kovacevic, who is a Bosnian Serb facing charges of genocide, died of a heart attack. The next day, the authorities of the war crimes tribunal promised a full investigation. Kovacevic is the second war crimes suspect to die in detention in just over a month, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM


Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek told a press conference at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague on 1 August that "Slovenia will try to have a very active role and to intensify activities to find a solution" to the Kosovar problem. The same day, Slovenia assumed the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in New York. PM


The Montenegrin government issued a statement in Podgorica on 31 July saying that it will no longer maintain relations with the Yugoslav federal authorities at the ministerial level. Podgorica added that it will restore full ties only when the composition of the federal government changes. By this, the Montenegrin government presumably meant that Federal Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, who is the arch-rival of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, must step down first. In the meantime, Podgorica will limit its contacts to Belgrade only to lower levels and only when Montenegro deems it in its interest to do so, the independent BETA news agency reported. PM


One of four 150- megawatt generators at the hydroelectric power plant in the northern city of Fierza caught fire on 1 August. Fire- fighters, supported by Italian fire-fighting experts, had the fire under control after five hours. A spokesman for the Electric Energy Company told "Koha Jone" in Tirana the same day that the repair work will take at least one month and that the company will have to reduce supplies to customers in the meantime. Albania's power grid has been strained by a sharp increase in consumption since the end of communism in 1991. A prolonged lack of rainfall this summer has already forced the company to make power cuts. FS


Democratic Party legislator Shaban Memia said on 31 July that customs officials and police in Durres violated his rights as a member of the parliament the same day by stopping him and examining goods he brought with him from a trip to Italy, "Rilindja Demokratike" reported. Customs officials accused him of "smuggling" photo and video equipment worth $14,000. Memia declared that the equipment was a personal gift from friends in Italy and is tax-exempt. Later at a checkpoint in Ndroq on the road to Tirana, police found a document in Memia's baggage saying that the equipment was a gift to the party. Customs officials told "Shekulli" that the equipment must be taxed and that they will ask the parliament to lift Memia's immunity so that they can bring charges against him for smuggling. FS


Daniel Daianu on 1 August said it is "immoral" for the U.S. executive branch to "promote" the sale of the Bell helicopters to "a country whose economic situation is difficult." He was responding to an interview given by White House presidential counselor Steve Flangan to VOA three days earlier, Rompres reported. On 31 July, Prime Minister Radu Vasile met in Bucharest with Bell Helicopter Textron chairman Webb Joiner. At the start of his four-day visit to Israel on 2 August, Vasile said the deal with Bell helicopters is "not final", AP reported. Accompanied by Daianu and Defense Minister Victor Babiuc, Vasile visited the Israel Aircraft Industries and confirmed that Bucharest is examining the possibility of modernizing Cobra helicopters in Israel instead of pursuing the deal with Bell Textron. MS


The parliament on 31 July approved the transit of nuclear waste from the Bulgarian Kozloduy plant to Russia. It also appointed Valeriu Catana as the country's new prosecutor- general. Both resolutions were proposed by the ruling For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldovan Bloc (PMPD) and supported by the opposition Party of Moldovan Communists. The Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) and the Party of Democratic Forces, both of which are the PMPD's allies in the Alliance for Democratic Reforms (APRD), opposed the resolutions. Mircea Snegur, CDM co- chairman, said that the PMPD has broken an agreement to postpone the vote and that this may lead to the break-up of the APRD, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS


Chief IMF negotiator for Bulgaria, Anne McGuirk, said on 1 August that Bulgaria will receive a $800 million three-year loan, subject to its approval by the IMF board in September, Reuters reported. McGuirk said that overall foreign funding for that period will total $1.6 billion, half of which will come from the IMF. Finance Minister Muravei Radev said the other lenders include the World Bank, the EU, and various countries. The amount is roughly equivalent to Bulgaria's foreign debt obligations for the same period, according to Reuters. In other news, Kostov on 31 July said that some $30 million will be invested in the country's defense industry by the end of 2001 and that the government's program provides for joint military production with Russia, China, and Ukraine. MS


The parliament on 30 July added a provision to the new media law allowing for broadcasts in foreign languages aired for "Bulgarian citizens whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian," Reuters reported. Miroslava Belcheva, spokeswoman for the ruling Union of Democratic Forces, which initiated the bill, said the main purpose of the provision is to "allow broadcasts in Turkish in regions populated by ethnic Turks." Osman Otkai, a prominent member of the ethnic Turkish Movement of Rights and Freedoms, welcomed the decision, saying it demonstrates that "delicate problems of the minorities can be solved without drama." MS


by Paul Goble

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov has identified his 19th century predecessor Aleksandr Gorchakov as a model for Moscow's approach following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a speech on the 200th anniversary of Gorchakov's birth, published in the current issue of the Russian foreign-policy journal "International Affairs," Primakov notes that Gorchakov was able to rebuild Russia's power and influence after its defeat in the Crimean War.

When Gorchakov assumed office after that defeat, in 1856, many people "thought that they were present at a funeral for the Russian Empire or at any rate witnessing its turning into a second-rate power," Primakov argues. Such a conclusion seemed reasonable, according to the current foreign minister. The Crimean War had demonstrated a variety of internal weaknesses in the Russian Empire. Most of the important powers were "rallied against Russia." And the North Caucasian leader Shamil was able to stage a daring raid into Russia itself.

Given these obstacles, Primakov points out, many in the Russian Empire argued that it had to turn inward, "resign its great power status," and accept the leadership of others. That had been the policy of Gorchakov's predecessor, Count Nesselrode, who went so far as to propose abolishing the Foreign Ministry altogether. But Gorchakov urged "a different course of action." Primakov not only approves of that course but argues it should be a model for Russian actions in the future.

According to Primakov, Gorchakov believed that "a vigorous foreign policy" was essential for creating the conditions that would allow Russia to renew itself at home and regain influence abroad. Over the next 30 years, Primakov says, Gorchakov did just that, far more successfully than many of his contemporaries assumed he could.

Primakov draws five lessons from Gorchakov's approach. Those lessons, he argues, should guide Moscow's actions today.

First, Primakov says, Gorchakov demonstrated that Russia, even when weakened by defeat, can pursue an active foreign policy. Indeed, Primakov insists that his predecessor showed that it has no other choice.

Second, Gorchakov insisted that Russian foreign policy must not be limited to a single direction or area of concern. Instead, it must seek to be active in all areas.

Third, as Primakov notes with approval, Gorchakov had no doubt that Russia at all times has "enough strength" to play a leading role in the world.

Fourth, Gorchakov understood that Russia could always exploit the resentment many smaller powers inevitably feel vis-a-vis larger ones. In this way, Russia can rebuild and then expand its own influence.

Fifth, Gorchakov's actions provide one negative lesson. According to Primakov, Gorchakov's maneuvering among the great powers of Europe is now "out of date." Instead, Primakov notes, Moscow must seek constructive partnerships with all countries rather than seeking some "mobile" or permanent coalition.

Together, these five principles show that Gorchakov understood what Primakov argues is the fundamental basis of Russian foreign policy: "There are no constant enemies, but there are constant national interests." According to Primakov, that principle means that Russian foreign policy must adopt a balanced approach--neither advancing "excessive claims" that fail to recognize what has happened in the last decade nor setting "deliberately low standards" that ignore Moscow's continuing possibilities. And it also means, Primakov continues, that Russia will not seek improved relations with "the 'civilized West' at any cost."

In his concluding remarks, Primakov focuses on one foreign-policy area where Gorchakov's approach seems not to apply but in fact does. As Primakov points out, his 19th century predecessor was "striving to consolidate the Russian Empire's territorial integrity." Now, Primakov acknowledges, the situation has changed: Both the Empire and the Soviet Union are "gone" and he argues that "the present reality is such that sovereignty of the ex-USSR republics should not be subject to any doubt."

But at the same time, Primakov concludes, Moscow must do everything it can to bring "the states formed on the territory of the former Soviet Union" closer together through economic integration and "the creation of a single economic area." Many people, in both these countries and the West, are likely to see such a proposal as anything but reassuring, particularly since Primakov advances it even as he praises one of 19th-century Russia's most passionate defenders of empire.