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Newsline - May 14, 1999


Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said on 13 May that the State Duma might vote to confirm acting Prime Minister Sergeii Stepashin after he lays out his program and suggests some of his likely cabinet appointees, Interfax reported. The same day, Duma Chairman (Communist) Gennadii Seleznev told NTV that quite a few Duma members think positively of Stepashin and may well confirm him as prime minister. In addition, Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin of the Communist Party said he "could agree to any candidacy, because any candidate for prime minister will discredit himself in two or three months under such leadership as [President Boris] Yeltsin's," "The Moscow Times" reported on 14 May. According to the daily, Agrarian faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov said that if the Duma gathers enough votes to advance an impeachment charge, then Stepashin will have a better chance. JAC


In an article published by "Segodnya" on 13 May, Duma deputy Aleksandr Shokhin (an independent) suggested that if Stepashin "behaves like a technocrat" and steers clear of politics, then deputies might approve him, particularly by the third round. However, President Yeltsin may want to dismiss the Duma, in which case he may propose a more unsympathetic candidate, Shokhin argued. He also forecast that the Duma will vote for impeachment and reject three candidates for prime minister, after which the president will appoint a premier whose status will be as uncertain as that of the Duma's. Confusion arises because the Russian Constitution does not address the problem of impeachment proceedings occurring simultaneously with the Duma's rejecting a candidate for prime minister three times. In the latter case, the president has the right to dissolve the Duma, according to Article 111 of the Constitution, but in the former, he cannot take such action, according to Article 109 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 May 1999). JAC


As the Duma conducted its second day of hearings on the impeachment of Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 14 May, only five of 29 expert witnesses invited to appear showed up, ITAR-TASS reported. "Vremya MN" reported the same day that the weak quality of the legal arguments during the previous day's session caused an unidentified source within the Supreme Court to conclude that any impeachment charges referred to it will easily be dismissed "in less than a month." The previous day, both Duma Speaker Seleznev and Agrarian faction head Kharitonov predicted that at least one of the impeachment counts would garner the necessary 300 votes. JAC


The Federation Council will meet on 17 May at the request of a number of regions, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 May. "Segodnya" argued the same day that the upper chamber may be the only real victor of the recent political machinations in Moscow. After all, under the constitution, it has the final say on impeachment after the process is reviewed by the courts. Political analysts told "The Moscow Times" on 14 May that council members are likely engaged in significant "horse- trading" with the Kremlin--most likely along the lines of trying to obtain larger export quotas, tariff exemptions, and new infusions of cash. During his televised address to the nation explaining the cabinet's departure, President Yeltsin noted that "the economy will work if the regions receive more independence." JAC


Discussing the likely composition of the new cabinet, "Segodnya" on 13 May predicted that Tax Minister Georgii Boos has "zero chance" of staying on in that post. While Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov may retain his position, according to the daily, both the Finance and Tax Ministries face a substantial reduction of their power. The newspaper also predicted that new First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko will oversee only industrial policy, while a new first deputy prime minister will be named to manage economic policy. Various reports also speculated that Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii's might be offered that job. "High-ranking" Kremlin sources told ITAR-TASS that a draft presidential decree has been prepared naming Dmitrii Kozak as deputy chief of the presidential administration. Kozak, who is a former deputy governor from St. Petersburg, would take over the post vacated by Ruslan Orekhov. On 14 May, Stepashin dismissed Yurii Zubakov, chief of the government staff, and appointed Mstislav Afanasiev in his place, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC


According to Interfax on 13 May, Deputy Prime Ministers Valentina Matvienko and Vladimir Bulgak, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and Defense Minister Igor Sergeev will all be asked to remain. However, the next day "Izvestiya" reported that while Ivanov is widely respected, he is viewed as ousted Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov's man and therefore may be given a remote foreign posting. Possible candidates to replace him are Duma Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin of Yabloko, former presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Deputy Grigorii Karasin, and presidential envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin. Duma speaker Seleznev suggested on NTV that Ivanov would surely not be offended if Primakov were given back his old job as foreign minister. JAC


The World Bank's board of directors has indefinitely postponed discussion of loans to be extended to Russia, Country Director for Russia Michael Carter told reporters on 13 May. According to Interfax, the bank had planned to lend Russia $2 billion over the next 18 months. Meanwhile, the government announced that Finance Minister Zadornov will be in charge of talks with the IMF until a new cabinet has been formed, Interfax reported on 13 May. The same day, Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin said that Finance Ministry officials are maintaining normal working contacts with their counterparts at the fund. JAC


Yeltsin warned French President Jacques Chirac in Moscow on 13 May that Russia may pull out of the diplomatic efforts over Kosova. Foreign Minister Ivanov quoted Yeltsin as saying that "if NATO strikes against Yugoslavia continue, despite Russia's efforts, and if Russia's proposals are not taken into account, the country will be forced to review its participation in the negotiating process." Yeltsin and Chirac, however, stressed the similarity of their positions on developing a "multi-polar" global system, in which Europe, Russia, and China would play a stronger role along with the U.S., Reuters reported. FS


Yeltsin's special envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari agreed in Helsinki on 13 May to pay a joint visit to Belgrade, ITAR-TASS reported. Unidentified Western diplomats told Reuters in Moscow the same day that unspecified Western countries are considering making Ahtisaari their special envoy to Yugoslavia. They added that he will work closely alongside Chernomyrdin, but he did not elaborate. After meeting Chernomyrdin in Moscow, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said that "Chernomyrdin agrees that it is useful and I would even say necessary to be absorbed in our joint diplomatic work," AP reported. He also told journalists that "we have broadened and deepened [the number of issues on which we agree] and found ways of managing [issues on which we disagree]." Chernomyrdin repeated his call for an end to NATO's bombing campaign. FS


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, after meeting his two special envoys to Yugoslavia, Carl Bildt and Eduard Kukan, in Geneva on 13 May, told journalists that he hopes "Russian foreign policy will remain the same" under a new premier. However, he expressed the fear that "what has happened may complicate the search for peace, but I hope it will not be an insurmountable problem." Annan stressed that Bildt and Kukan "are not going to be envoys to NATO," but he did not elaborate on the envoys' upcoming missions. In New York, Russian UN Ambassador Sergei Lavrov said the Security Council will not adopt a resolution on a Kosova peace plan until NATO ends its air campaign. He added that "until bombing stops, a political settlement is impossible. This doesn't mean that the resolution discussions could not continue," Reuters reported. FS


Non-nuclear "blast experiments" will be conducted at Novaya Zemlya this year to upgrade and check nuclear arms, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 May. After the Security Council adopted a resolution to upgrade Russia's tactical nuclear weapons on 28 April, Security Council Secretary Vladimir Putin remarked that "Russia has not tested its nuclear weapons for a longer period of time than all other countries and this raises certain problems" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 and 29 April 1999). According to the daily, the decision to conduct the experiments may be connected with that resolution. Last year, similar tests were conducted between September and December in accordance with the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty. "The new tests will be conducted on a completely different qualitative level and as a matter of priority," the newspaper reported, adding that "according to informed sources, far more money will be spent" on them than was spent on previous tests. JAC


Talks between Russia and the EU on food aid concluded on 13 May with both sides consenting to a broad agreement on how to calculate prices for European foodstuffs, Interfax reported. According to an unidentified source in the "interdepartmental group" supervising food supplies, negotiators agreed on two separate methods for calculating prices that are "close to the Russian position but also recognize EU requirements." JAC


Ashot Bleyan, who is currently director of one of Yerevan's largest secondary schools, was detained by two law enforcement officials on 14 May, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. A criminal case opened against Bleyan in March on charges of embezzlement of public funds intended for the purchase of textbooks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 1999). Supporters of Bleyan, who as head of the small Nor ughi (New Path) political party unsuccessfully ran in the 1998 presidential elections, have formed a committee in his defense, which is scheduled to convene a press conference on 14 May. LF


A veteran of the Karabakh war shot himself on 6 May to protest the Azerbaijan parliament's refusal to pass legislation on privileges for war veterans, Turan reported on 13 May, citing "Yeni Musavat." A group of war veterans threatened in April to kill themselves unless the Azerbaijani authorities took measures to improve living conditions in Gyanja, the country's second- largest city (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 April 1999). LF


On a three-day visit to Tbilisi from 11-13 May, St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev met with President Eduard Shevardnadze, Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze, parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania, and Tbilisi Mayor Ivane Zodelava, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. Yakovlev signed separate agreements intended to expand economic, trade, scientific, and cultural cooperation with the Georgian government and with the city of Tbilisi. LF


Qasymzhomart Toqaev told RFE/RL correspondents in Astana on 13 May that Kazakhstan "is searching for its own path toward democracy." Toqaev was alluding to criticism expressed by Gerard Stoudman, chairman of the OCSE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Speaking in Astana on 11 May, Stoudman had criticized several provisions of Kazakhstan's new election legislation, concluding that the country is "not a democracy" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 May 1999). Toqaev stressed that Kazakhstan "would always greet free dialogue with the OSCE." LF


The urban population of Kazakhstan fell by 8.4 percent and the rural population by 6.8 percent during the 10 years that have elapsed since the 1989 census, Interfax reported on 13 May, citing the results of this year's census released by the State Statistics Agency. Of the country's current 14.95 million inhabitants, 8.3 million (55.9 percent) live in cities and the remainder in villages. The decrease of more than 1 million in the total population, from 16.2 million in 1989, is largely the result of outmigration of Russians, Ukrainians, and Germans. Ethnic Kazakhs now account for 53.4 percent of the population, compared with 36 percent at the time of the 1979 census. LF


Residents of Kyrgyzstan's Issyk-Kul region blocked roads leading to the Kumtor gold mine from 4-8 May and destroyed two trucks belonging to the Canadian-owned Kumtor Operating Company that is exploiting the deposit, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 13 May. The picketers were protesting the disappearance of some 780,000 soms ($22,000) allocated by the Kumtor Operating Company as compensation for victims of the spill of toxic chemicals into the Barskoon River in May 1998. That accident was caused by a truck owned by the company. Five police and two picketers were hospitalized in clashes when police tried to disperse the picketers, 34 of whom were detained. Other demonstrators then took three local officials hostage and released them only during the night of 9-10 May. after their fellow protestors had been freed. Criminal proceedings have been brought against one of the local officials accused of embezzling the relief funds. LF


Meeting with members of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) outside Dushanbe on 12 May, representatives of the Tajik leadership agreed to some of the demands contained in an ultimatum addressed by UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri to President Imomali Rakhmonov, ITAR-TASS reported. Nuri had written to Rakhmonov on 5 May to demand he approve amendments to the constitution agreed on by the Committee for National Reconciliation. Nuri also demanded an amnesty for 93 imprisoned UTO fighters, the dropping of criminal proceedings against others, and the nomination as defense minister of opposition commander Mirza Zioev, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 May. Failure to comply with those demands within 20 days could lead to unspecified "undesirable consequences," Nuri warned. The Tajik government representatives agreed on 12 May only to drop all outstanding criminal charges against UTO members and release its jailed fighters. LF


U.S. special envoy for Caspian energy problems Richard Morningstar presented Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov on 13 May in Ashgabat with new U.S. proposals aimed at resolving the dispute between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over ownership of several Caspian sea oil-fields, AP reported. The two countries have been at loggerheads since 1997, when Azerbaijan concluded a contract with two Russian oil companies to exploit the Kyapaz/Serdar deposit. Ashgabat lays claim both to that deposit and part of the Chirag field. The unresolved dispute over the precise borders of the two countries' sectors of the Caspian Sea could hinder implementation of plans to construct a Trans-Caspian gas export pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan. Also on 13 May, Niyazov met in Ashgabat with Yosef Maiman, head of the Israeli Merhav company, which is advising Turkmenistan on that project, Interfax reported. LF


Severe sentences have been handed down in the first of a series of trials of persons suspected of involvement in the bombings in Tashkent on 16 February, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported on 13 May. Fifteen people were killed and more than 100 injured in those attacks. LF


Following his talks with President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Astana on 12 May, CIS Executive Secretary Yurii Yarov met with Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev in Bishkek the same day to discuss the planned CIS free trade zone and reform of the CIS executive bodies, Interfax reported. The following day, Yarov flew to Tashkent and Dushanbe for similar discussions with the Uzbek and Tajik presidents. Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov repeated his previous statements that economic integration within the CIS should take priority over any attempts at closer political integration. Tajikistan's Imomali Rakhmonov termed creation of a free-trade zone "an important short-term goal" that would speed up the integration of CIS member states into the world economic system. LF


Zyanon Paznyak, exiled leader of the Belarusian Popular Front (BNF), has withdrawn his candidacy from the opposition presidential elections in Belarus. He accused the Central Electoral Commission of violating the law by starting to collect ballots 10 days before election day, 16 May, and of falsifying the results. "The elections have been transformed into a criminal adventure, into a deception that draws comparison only with [President Alyaksandr] Lukashenka's referendums," Paznyak said in a statement issued on 13 May. RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported the same day that many BNF members of regional electoral commissions have ceased to take part in the polls. "[Paznyak's] action in the current situation is the best gift for Lukashenka," Central Electoral Commission head Viktar Hanchar commented. Voting, however, continues. Meanwhile, the other presidential candidate, former Premier Mikhail Chyhir, is currently detained in jail on charges of embezzlement. JM


Belarusian presidential aide Mikhail Sazonau told Reuters on 13 May that Russia's political and economic crisis is making the prospect of any unification with Russia increasingly unrealistic. "We have come to a dead end," Sazonau said, commenting on the formation of the new union-state announced last December. He said "Moscow made it very clear" that it will not change its constitution to create a single state with Belarus. Sazonau added that the dismissal of Russian Premier Yevgenii Primakov was also a blow to integration. In his opinion, the idea of the union-state will not be revived until after Russia's presidential elections in 2000. "The creation of a union-state promised us an economic breakthrough. But it turns out that we're hurrying toward a closed door," Sazonau said. JM


"I am categorically against the impeachment [of Russian President Boris Yeltsin]," Belarusian Television quoted Lukashenka as saying on 13 May. He added that Yeltsin's impeachment is "practically impossible" and that Russia should "normally live until parliamentary and subsequently presidential elections." Commenting on the consequences of Primakov's ouster, Lukashenka said there will be no "shocks" in Russia since the Russian people are in "awful apathy." In his opinion, Primakov was dismissed because "those who have been stealing in Russia" were unhappy about his holding the top government post. JM


Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said at Lviv University on 13 May that he will seek a second term in the 31 October presidential elections. "I simply do not have the moral right to leave in the middle of the road everything that has been done in the last five years in Ukraine. A change of political leader in Ukraine is a change of political course and I do not have the right to allow that," Reuters quoted him as saying. Kuchma told the agency that Ukraine has to keep on with reforms. "To convince people of that is my task today, the task of my team and of all those willing to support me," he added. According to the presidential election schedule, the official registration of candidates in Ukraine begins on 14 May. JM


The parliament on 13 May voted to ban former KGB and other foreign security service staff from becoming members of the country's police force. At the same time, the law stipulates certain exceptions, allowing for such staff to be temporarily hired if their expertise is required. A law passed by the previous parliament prohibits KGB and other foreign security service personnel from holding public office. JC


Unemployment in Latvia reached a new record high of 10.2 percent last month, ELTA reported on 13 May, citing data released by the Latvian Statistical Office. This represents an increase of 0.1 percent over March. Unemployment remains stable in Estonia, at 5.3 percent, while the number of jobless in Lithuania fell by 0.4 percent to 8.1 percent. JC


Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus on 13 May presented his candidate for prime minister, Vilnius Mayor Rolandas Paksas, to the parliament. Following a meeting with the caucus heads, Adamkus told journalists that he was "pleased to find out that everyone [including the ruling Conservative Party] approves of [Paksas's] candidature," ELTA reported. Paksas, for his part, has urged cooperation between all parliamentary parties. A final vote on his candidacy is to be held next week. JC


Kazys Ciurinskas has been deported from the U.S. for concealing his war-time activities when he applied for a visa to enter the U.S. in 1949, BNS reported. According to the U.S. Justice Department's Special Investigations Office, the 81-year-old Ciurinskas, who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1997, led a battalion that was involved in the mass killings of Jews and members of other ethnic groups during the Nazi occupation. The Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office says that it has been collecting information on Ciurinskas for some two years but has insufficient evidence to launch criminal proceedings against him. JC


Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok said in Warsaw on 12 May that The Netherlands will do everything possible to enable Poland to join the EU by 2003, as desired by the Polish government, PAP reported. Kok praised cooperation with Poland, saying that Poland is his country's best partner outside the EU. JM


Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz has sent a letter to the World Bank asking for help in rooting out corruption, PAP reported on 13 May. "I would like to invite the bank to carry out corruption surveys in Poland, covering the household and business sectors, with particular focus on possible corruption in the public sector," Balcerowicz wrote. Balcerowicz pointed out that the World Bank has carried out similar surveys in Albania, Georgia, and Latvia. According to a recent Interior Ministry report, corruption has worsened in the decade since the end of communism in Poland. JM


The Main Statistical Office reported on 13 May that Poland's GDP grew by 4.8 percent last year, compared with 1997, to total 551.1 billion zlotys ($158.3 billion, according to the 1998 average annual exchange rate), or $4,096 per capita. "Rzeczpospolita" reported that per capita GDP in the EU last year was $21,600. JM


Despite the Czech cabinet's decision to complete the construction of the Temelin nuclear power plant by 2001, various groups have said they will continue to oppose it, Czech media reported on 14 May. Radko Pavlovec, Austria's commissioner for nuclear facilities, said his government will do everything in its power to prevent the future export of energy from Temelin. Meanwhile, European Parliament deputy Marialiese Flemming from Austria said the EU's legislature will send a delegation to discuss the issue with Czech President Vaclav Havel, "Pravo" reported. Jakub Patocka of the Czech environmentalist organization Hnuti Duha said his group will try to delay the construction and render it more expensive by using the law on assessing environmental impact at every step of the construction process. Nevertheless, the deputy chairman of CEZ, the main investor in Temelin, said the plant will be completed on time, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 14 May. VG


A group of deputies from the Slovak governing coalition on 13 May asked the Constitutional Court to provide an interpretation of Article 102 of the constitution, which deals with presidential amnesties, TASR reported. The deputies made the request in response to former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's decision to prevent or cancel all criminal proceedings related to the scuttled referendum on NATO membership and presidential elections in 1997 as well as to the 1995 abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son. Meciar was exercising presidential powers at the time. The court has already accepted a request by 37 deputies from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia for an interpretation of the same article with regard to Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's cancellation of those amnesties. VG


The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary gathered in Bratislava on 14 May in an attempt to revitalize the regional Visegrad Four group, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. The Visegrad group was established eight years ago to facilitate regional cooperation, but Slovakia's participation deteriorated under former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Current Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda hailed the summit meeting as a renewal of good political and regional cooperation between his country and the rest of the region. The one-day summit will focus on EU and NATO integration in the region, joint economic policies, cross-border transport and telecommunication projects, efforts to reduce organized crime and illegal migration as well as the Kosova conflict. VG


"RFE/RL Newsline" incorrectly reported on 13 May that Slovak presidential candidate Rudolf Schuster is the former mayor of Kosice. In fact, Schuster is the current mayor of Kosice.


Csaba Takacs, the executive chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), has asked the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) to disregard an earlier invitation to the UDMR's forthcoming congress, Hungarian media reported on 13 May. Takacs told MIEP chairman Istvan Csurka that the presence of an MIEP delegation at the congress would be damaging owing to Csurka's recent remarks on the status of the Yugoslav province of Vojvodina. Csurka had said that the only way to secure the ethnic Hungarian minority's existence in Vojvodina would be to give the province to Hungary. "Such a border readjustment is so trifling that it would not cause even as much damage to Yugoslavia as one night of NATO bombing," Csurka concluded. MSZ


The Atlantic alliance said in a statement in Brussels on 14 May that "NATO has continued its intensive campaign against Serbian forces [in Kosova], with the highest overall sortie rate in a 24- hour period of the campaign so far, with 679 sorties completed." Targets included tanks, other military vehicles, artillery, and ground troops, particularly in the Prizren and Shtima areas. Reuters noted that the statement did not specify whether all the sorties involved strikes. Two support aircraft usually accompany each plane carrying out an attack. PM


A Serbian army officer said in Prishtina on 13 May that a "large number" of soldiers have begun withdrawing from Kosova. Western journalists reported seeing about 120 troops in a convoy of busses, which the officer said were en route to central Serbia. In Brussels, NATO spokesmen said that the withdrawal is insignificant and possibly a sham. Jamie Shea argued that "it's the easiest thing in the world to put a few tanks on the border, invite a TV crew and say `look, I'm withdrawing,' and as soon as the TV crew goes back to Belgrade, the tanks just go back over the border" into Kosova. In Athens, Yugoslav Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic told journalists that the withdrawal is "proof" that NATO has failed to destroy Serbia's military might, asking "if they have destroyed it, then what is it that we are withdrawing?" PM


At Blace, Macedonia, newly arrived refugees said on 13 May that the paramilitary police presence remains large in Kosova and that Serbian shopkeepers refuse to sell food to ethnic Albanians, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1999). One refugee added that Serbian forces have "raided food stocks" belonging to the Mother Teresa ethnic Albanian charitable foundation in unspecified places in Kosova. PM


Zoran Zivkovic, who is mayor of Nis and a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Zoran Djindjic, said on 13 May that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic should "proclaim what is our plan [for Kosova and make public] a list of costs in lives and time" that he is prepared to pay in order to keep control of the province. Meanwhile in Brussels, Shea suggested that Milosevic's recent public admission that Serbian forces have had "many" casualties is "significant" and indicates that Milosevic is "realizing that his army is being melted away" by NATO air strikes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1999). Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark added that Milosevic has recently made a series of gestures--including freeing three U.S. soldiers and allowing Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova to leave Yugoslavia--because "he's losing and he knows it." PM


Prime Minister Tony Blair said in Aachen, Germany on 13 May that Milosevic is "determined to wipe a people from the face of his country. We are determined to stop him. And we will." In London, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook noted that "the last two days of [air strikes] have been the most successful [against Serbia] to date." Admiral Sir Ian Garnett, who is Britain's chief of joint operations, said that Serbian troops "show no sign of withdrawing" from Kosova, Reuters reported. He added that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) is "tenaciously holding out in small pockets" throughout Kosova. Garnett also noted that "Milosevic's troops are showing an increasing tendency to loot and burn their way around the country." PM


Mary Robinson, who is the UN's high commissioner for human rights, said in Belgrade on 13 May that "despite my requests, it has not been possible to have a direct meeting with President Milosevic. I was very anxious to meet him, because I have had direct witness myself of the human rights violations suffered by a large number of [ethnic] Albanians." In Bonn, German television journalist Pit Schnitzler said that his Serbian captors interrogated and beat him daily during his imprisonment from mid-April until 11 May as a suspected spy. In Canberra, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on 14 May that the Serbian authorities have formally charged two Australian aid workers, Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace, with espionage. The Australian government and CARE, which employs the two, have denied the charges. PM


Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Vienna after meeting with Chancellor Viktor Klima on 13 May that he supports NATO's basic aims against Belgrade but does not favor bombing. Djukanovic stressed that the best way to remove Milosevic from the scene is through new elections in Serbia. Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel had planned to meet Djukanovic in Montenegro, but the Montenegrin authorities recently cancelled the meeting "on security grounds" after "the Serbs had gotten wind" of Schuessel's visit, "Die Presse" reported. PM


The first Swiss-Greek-Russian humanitarian aid convoy arrived in Prishtina on 13 May, nearly one month after the Swiss government launched a joint aid initiative that includes Russia and Greece. The five trucks carried food and medicine, AP reported. It was unclear whether and how the relief supplies will reach displaced persons inside Kosova. As part of the joint initiative, the first patients received treatment in a mobile hospital staffed by 43 Russian doctors in Prokuple, near Nis, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia's Emergency Ministry has donated the hospital to treat victims of NATO bombings. In Moscow, Russian and Greek officials suggested the setting up of several "humanitarian zones" in various parts of Yugoslavia, in which international relief workers can work at a safe distance from military operations. Meanwhile, the Iranian government held a "solidarity day with the Muslims of Kosova," collecting donations throughout the country for Kosovar refugees, Reuters reported. FS


Ray Wilkinson, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tirana, said on 13 May that only 3,300 refugees from Kukes have agreed to leave the northern city for new refugee camps in central and southern Albania. He added that "this is not an overwhelming response," Reuters reported. Wilkinson said that nobody is providing the various aid agencies with information about the new camps, which have been built by NATO troops. Nor, he said, is any central authority coordinating the evacuation efforts. Wilkinson stressed that the UNHCR is "not informed of many bilateral agreements between various [national] armies." The previous day, another 4,000 refugees arrived in Kukes from central Kosova. About 100,000 out of the estimated 430,000 refugees in Albania are currently in that town. FS


The Albanian parliament on 12 May adopted a resolution recognizing the provisional government of Hashim Thaci, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana the following day. Presidential adviser Mentor Nazarko told RFE/RL that "the provisional government is a temporary institution, created on the basis of an agreement between the main leaders in the military, civil, and political life of Kosova." He added that "the [Kosovars] must regain the same level of unity that they had at the Rambouillet talks." Bilal Sherifi, an official of the provisional government, told RFE/RL that "the Albanian government has recognized the legitimacy of the UCK...and the political agreement between [all Albanian representatives] at the Rambouillet talks on the creation of a provisional government." He added that the previous shadow-state structures have "ceased to function in Kosova...and its people were left without a political leadership." FS


Opposition leader Sali Berisha, speaking to RFE/RL on 13 May, criticized the recognition of the provisional government. He argued that the parliament's resolution rejects the legitimacy of the elected shadow-state government of Bujar Bukoshi and its institutions. He also pointed out that the resolution does not refer to Ibrahim Rugova as "president of Kosova." Berisha called on Rugova, Bukoshi, and the shadow-state legislators to declare the resolution invalid. He added that the resolution serves "pro-Serbian" interests and is "anti- Albanian" because it will reinforce the political division of the Kosovars into UCK and shadow-state groups. FS


The Romanian government has authorized the country's National Radio Communications Company to rebroadcast Serbian-language Voice of America programs to Yugoslavia, Reuters, reported on 13 May. The decision came in response to a request from the U.S. Congress. VOA will use its own equipment for the 24-hour broadcasts, which will cover the entire territory of Yugoslavia. In other news, opposition representatives described the government's decision to link a package of reform bills to a confidence vote as unconstitutional, Rompres reported on 12 May. However, Petre Roman of the Democratic Party said there is no need to make an appeal to the Constitutional Court on the issue. The government is expected to survive any vote of confidence in the legislature. VG


The Moldovan Constitutional Court ruled on 10 May that former President Mircea Snegur violated four articles of the constitution when he appointed the acting mayor of Chisinau and four deputies, BASA-Press reported on 13 May. The court said mayors and local councilors must be elected. Snegur made the appointments in 1995 after two consecutive rounds of elections failed to register the required turnout. Local elections are scheduled in Moldova for 23 May. Meanwhile, Snegur criticized President Petru Lucinschi's recent cabinet appointments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1999), saying the head of state should have consulted the parliament on the changes, even though the law does not require him to do so, Infotag reported on 13 May. In other news, the IMF announced that it is ready to provide Moldova with a credit line of $70 million before the end of the year, Infotag reported on 13 May. The first disbursement of funds is expected to take place in August. VG


Bulgaria has given 31 tanks and 18 artillery pieces to Macedonia as a gift, BTA reported on 12 May. Experts said the tanks were repaired and fully equipped. Bulgarian Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev and his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Kljusev, will attend a handing-over ceremony at Giueshevo, located on their common border, on 14 May, the Sofia daily "Standart" reported the previous day. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova met with British Defense Secretary George Robertson on 12 May to discuss the Kosova conflict as well as the planned post-conflict reconstruction effort for the Balkan region as a whole, BTA reported. In other news, the editor in chief of the daily "Noshten Trud" resigned after an interview with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman published in the newspaper proved to be false, AP reported on 13 May. In that interview, which appeared in the newspaper on 26 April, Tudjman allegedly said that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is a "real chauvinist" who traded "Serbs like cattle." VG


by Fabian Schmidt

Following more than a month of apparent captivity in Serbia, Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova arrived in Rome last week amid a power struggle in Kosova. Kosovar politicians know that they have to build an efficient administration quickly in order to win the war and plan for the future, but past rivalries prevent them from forging unity.

The Kosovars were at their most united in March, when a broad- based delegation signed the Rambouillet agreement. That document offered the vision of peace under NATO protection and the prospect of democratic development based on the rule of law--a prospect that had never before seemed so close at hand.

In early 1990, the Kosovars had responded to then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's abolition of their autonomy the previous year by creating a multi-party shadow- state, which was dominated by Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). In 1991, the shadow-state organized a referendum on independence, which passed by an overwhelming majority; and the following year, it held underground parliamentary and presidential elections. The LDK won that ballot and Rugova was elected president. The shadow-state's legislature appointed a government led by Bujar Bukoshi, who developed the shadow-state's school and health systems through financial contributions from the Albanian Diaspora.

But despite much international sympathy for Rugova's non-violent political strategy, the shadow-state failed to gain international recognition. The Kosovars were left out of the frequent international conferences on the former Yugoslavia, and many ethnic Albanians came to the conclusion that the international community only rewarded those who made war. When the Dayton agreement ended the Bosnian war in 1995 and gave the Serbs their own para-state, many Kosovars saw that belief as confirmed.

In early 1996, the activities of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) first came to public notice. But despite widespread Serbian repression, the UCK did not begin to receive broader popular support until Serbian forces began conducting massacres of civilians in several villages in February 1998.

By the summer, Serbian police had driven some 200,000 ethnic Albanians from their homes, some 98,000 of whom fled Kosova. The UCK gained in strength, and the shadow-state politicians had to recognize it as one of Kosova's key players. It also increasingly received attention from the international community, as demonstrated by a well-publicized meeting of U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke with UCK leaders in a Kosovar village in mid-June.

The guerrillas' importance received another boost when Serbian forces launched "Operation Horseshoe" in January of this year and drove about 175,000 people out of their homes, some 75,000 of whom fled Kosova. As a consequence, the UCK became the only force on which Kosovar civilians could hope to rely for protection. The guerrillas' new importance was reflected at the Rambouillet talks, where the Kosovar delegation included Rugova and other LDK representatives but was led by UCK leader Hashim Thaci.

That unity proved short-lived, however. Even during the Rambouillet talks, now Yugoslav President Milosevic began his final "ethnic cleansing" campaign as part of "Operation Horseshoe." Anything left of Rugova's shadow-state collapsed in the process. On 31 March, less than a week after the beginning of NATO air strikes, Serbian forces captured Rugova and his family in their house and prevented them from establishing any direct contact with the outside world.

In the ensuing weeks, Thaci and other Rambouillet participants created a provisional government that has close links with the UCK, which had set up bases in Albania and remains the only Kosovar institution still operating inside Kosova.

Meanwhile, Milosevic used Rugova for several appearances serving propagandist goals, including at a meeting with Russian Patriarch Aleksii II. The Serbian daily "Politika" on 29 April published a declaration allegedly signed by Rugova and Serbian Premier Milan Milutinovic. The text called for direct talks between the Serbian government and Kosovar leaders, leading to wide-ranging autonomy and respect for the territorial integrity of Serbia. The declaration said that in these talks, representatives of the international community may take part only as "guests."

Meanwhile, tensions between Bukoshi and Thaci grew. The provisional government demanded that Bukoshi accept its legitimacy, which, in practice, would have obliged him to surrender most of the shadow-state's funds to the UCK. But Bukoshi's sympathizers refused to give in. They pointed out that they also have a guerrilla organization, albeit smaller than the UCK, known as the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova (FARK).

An attempt in early May by Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko to bring the rivals to the negotiating table failed because of the two sides' refusals to recognize each other. Meanwhile, the UCK's news agency Kosovapress has banned the Swiss-Albanian daily "Bota Sot" from using its news items. The UCK argues that the daily, which is close to Bukoshi, is making a profit by living from news that the UCK's journalists gather under the constant threat of death.

Rugova is now at the center of the strife. He has so far failed to explain what happened to him in Serbian captivity and to say whether the declaration in "Politika" is authentic. He has also failed to state unequivocally which of the two rival Kosovar governments he supports. The Albanian parliament's 12 May decision to recognize Thaci's provisional government will increase the pressure on Rugova to make peace with the UCK, which now holds the balance of power among the Kosovars. It will not be an easy task. And the longer he maintains silence on key questions, the more difficult it will become.