U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE SAYS RUSSIA ISN'T LOST...
Addressing an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on the U.S.'s policy towards Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright argued that "The suggestion made by some that Russia is ours to lose is arrogant; the suggestion that Russia is lost is simply wrong." She added that she doesn't agree with the view of some that the task of transforming Russia into a functioning pluralist society is "hopeless," but agreed that it is "Herculean." She urged "President [Boris] Yeltsin's government" to make fighting corruption a "priority" and dismissed as "fantasies" the beliefs of some Russian officials that the furor over corruption stems from "a desire by the West to embarrass Moscow or to electoral politics here in the U.S." JAC
...AND PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR CONTINUED AID
Albright defended U.S. aid programs, saying that they are designed to support "good people doing the right things." She called Congress- proposed cuts of 25-30 percent in U.S. assistance to Russia and other newly independent states "unacceptable," in part because "most bilateral assistance supports nonproliferation." On the issue of aid that might have been embezzled, she noted investigation of the issue is continuing, but "we are obviously more than concerned--in fact, outraged--if some of these allegations are true." JAC
RUSSIAN OFFICIALS TO SEEK PROOF IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE...
The Russian State Duma will send a delegation to attend hearings in the U.S. Congress on the laundering of Russian money through the Bank of New York scheduled for 21 and 22 September, Interfax reported on 16 September. The announcement of the Duma's plans accompanies complaints by Viktor Ivanov, deputy director of the Federal Security Service, on the same day that U.S. law enforcement officials have not provided "any documents that could confirm reports on the Bank of New York case, which are extensively circulated by the U.S. mass media." Interpol's British Secretary-General Raymond Kendall told Reuters the same day that the money laundering scheme was the biggest his agency has ever seen; however, he also noted that "it is interesting that we haven't yet seen any proof of illegal activity." JAC
...WHILE CONTINUING TO ASSERT SCANDAL MANUFACTURED
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on 16 September accused some Western publications of engaging in a campaign to "spoil Russia's image," commenting that this casts "a shadow over Russia and violates its bilateral relations with other countries." Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov sounded a similar note, saying that allegations in the Bank of New York scheme are part of a campaign to discredit Russia. Former Economics Minister and Duma deputy Aleksandr Shokhin speculated in an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 September that the scandal was "ordered" in part because the fiscal year in the U.S. ends on 30 September and "this scandal is a form of pressure on Russia to squeeze something out of the debtors or at least try to prove the innocence of Western companies to their shareholders," since Russia is "a gangster state, and that is why fund managers lost so much money." JAC
IMF DISMISSES SKURATOV ALLEGATIONS...
An unidentified senior IMF official dismissed as "nothing new" accusations by former Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov that Russia's Central Bank sold $3.9 billion from an account to where IMF loan monies had been deposited to a small group of Russian banks, AFP reported on 16 September. Skuratov claimed that this money was then used by these banks to convert their GKOs into dollars just before the mid August 1998 devaluation of the ruble. According to the agency, the official said that "in 1998 and before, the Russian Central Bank had been intervening in exchange markets, which is legal and is done other places." However, the official added that the IMF is awaiting further clarification about how the bank manages its reserves. The previous day, an official with the Russian Audit Chamber told Reuters that their investigation revealed no illegal use of the IMF funds by the Central Bank. JAC
...AS SKURATOV'S SWISS TRAVEL PLANS SCUTTLED AGAIN
Meanwhile, Skuratov's plans to travel to Switzerland over the weekend to meet with Swiss Attorney General Carla del Ponte were canceled when the Swiss embassy in Moscow did not provide him with a visa, "The Moscow Times" reported on 17 September. Skuratov's plans to visit Switzerland in May were also scrapped when his newly issued passport was canceled by Russian authorities. Earlier this month, Skuratov's apartment and dacha were searched by Russian law enforcement officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). JAC
RUSSIA WARNS U.S. CONGRESS OVER IRAN BILL
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 16 September calling the legislation adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives on 14 September "openly anti-Russian" and warning that the legislation "could influence in the most negative way Russian-American cooperation in the area of non-proliferation and export controls." The ministry threatened that if the bill became law "it will be necessary for us to re-assess the entire situation concerning Russian-American cooperation on non-proliferation issues, as well as on a range of other military-political issues that stand at the core of our joint efforts to ensure a strategic balance and international stability." The legislation in question would impose either economic sanctions or suspend military aid to countries that help Iran build nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The next round of U.S.-Russian negotiations on the ABM and START-III treaties was scheduled to begin on 17 September. JAC
ST. PETE EXPLOSION LABELLED JUST ORDINARY POLITICAL VIOLENCE...
An explosion in an apartment block in St. Petersburg on 17 September triggered fears that a new terrorist bombing following the previous day's explosion in Volgodonsk had occurred. However, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo declared that the blast--which killed at least two people--was "definitely not connected" with recent terrorist acts. He noted that the editor-in-chief of a St. Petersburg newspaper lived in that apartment building and he may have been the intended target of the blast, according to Interfax. JAC
...AS DEATH TOLL IN VOLGODONSK RISES
The number of dead from the 16 September apartment blast has risen to 17, according to the Rostov Oblast's web site . Three persons remain unidentified. The power of the blast measured 100-150 kilograms of TNT, Interfax reported on 16 September. JAC
YELTSIN SUGGESTS STROEV WAS MISQUOTED
Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin said on 17 September that the statement by Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroev in "The New York Times" the previous day that President Yeltsin's resignation would benefit the country was a "misunderstanding" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 1999). The same day, the upper legislative chamber rejected a proposal to put an appeal to Yeltsin to resign before the end of his term on the chamber's agenda. Sixty senators supported the proposal-- thirty less than necessary, according to Reuters. "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 17 September, referring only to unnamed Kremlin sources, that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin may soon challenge the Kremlin by insisting on the dismissal of First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko and Fuel Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnii. According to the daily, which is close to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Putin was angered over these officials' handling of management issues at the energy pipeline company Transneft (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 16 September.) JAC
NAZDRATENKO CONTINUES PRESS PRESSURE
A newspaper that has recently published several articles critical of Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko was abruptly informed that it must vacate its new offices within a week, according to "EWI's Russian Regional Report" on 16 September. With a print run of 40,000, the newspaper, "Moskovskii Komsomolets v Vladivostoke," is one of the most popular newspapers in the region, according to the publication. Other media outlets in the krai have also been subject to pressure including independent Radio Lemma, which in July also received an eviction notice and had its electricity cut off. JAC
IVANOV SAYS GENERALS MUST NOT MAKE POLICY STATEMENTS
Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov told Interfax on 16 September that a warning by Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov that Russia may withdraw its troops from Kosova "should be taken with a large pinch of salt," (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 1999). Ivanov stressed that "only the president, the prime minister, and the foreign minister can make foreign policy statements." Ivanov, however, warned that "the formation of a paramilitary agency under any name can only make political settlement more difficult." He was referring to the planned Kosovo Corps. FS
NATO AND RUSSIA AGREE ON KEY ISSUES OVER KOSOVA
Russia's permanent representative to NATO, Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, told ITAR-TASS on 16 September in Brussels that NATO and Russian diplomats agreed the previous day that it is necessary to demilitarize the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) by 19 September. He added that both sides also agree that Russian peacekeepers must be deployed in the town of Rahovec (see Part II). He added that NATO and the Russians are "continuing to work on this problem," but did not elaborate. FS
RUSSIAN POLITICIANS PROPOSE PLANS TO CONTAIN CHECHEN THREAT
Former Premier Sergei Stepashin told NTV on 16 September that Moscow should impose political, economic, and military sanctions on Chechnya if Grozny fails to extradite the persons responsible for the terrorist bombings in Buynaksk, Moscow, and Volgodonsk, ITAR-TASS reported. (Daghestani officials claim to have already apprehended several persons responsible for the Buynaksk bomb.) State Duma deputy and former Russian Border Troops commander Andrei Nikolaev called for the establishment of a 5-15 kilometer demilitarized zone along Chechnya's borders with other federation subjects. State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev argued that Russian troops have the right to annihilate guerrillas on Chechen territory, according to Interfax. He added that Moscow should ignore European pressure to abolish capital punishment and sentence the guerrilla leaders to death. LF
CHECHEN OFFICIALS, BEREZOVSKII SAY PHONE TRANSCRIPT FABRICATED
Former Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov said on 16 September that the alleged tape of conversations held between himself, Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Kazbek Makhashev, and oligarch Boris Berezovskii is a forgery, Turan reported. NTV broadcast that conversation on 15 September, in which Berezovskii discussed with the two Chechens cash payments for measures to destabilize the North Caucasus. Makhashev also denied that the tape was genuine, adding that he is not so stupid as to discuss such matters over the telephone, according to ITAR-TASS. Berezovskii too has denied the authenticity of that conversation and intends to sue "Moskovkii Komsomolets," which published a transcript of it, according to "Izvestiya" on 17 September. LF
CHECHENS PROTEST ONGOING RUSSIAN AIR STRIKES
Over 25,000 people gathered in Grozny on 16 September to protest the ongoing Russian air strikes against dozens of towns and villages in southern Chechnya, Interfax reported. President Aslan Maskhadov said that over 200 people have been killed in those raids, which Russian air force commander Anatolii Kornukov told ITAR-TASS on 16 September are directed solely at guerrilla bases. Maskhadov again denied any Chechen participation in terrorist bomb attacks in Russian cities, according to Interfax. He claimed that "Chechnya has become a card in the hands" of unnamed world powers that aim to oust Russia from the Caucasus. LF
PUTIN GIVES ORDERS FOR OIL PIPELINE BYPASSING CHECHNYA
Prime Minister Putin told Fuel and Energy Minister Kalyuzhnii at a cabinet meeting on 16 September to draft plans for an oil pipeline bypassing Chechnya, Interfax reported. The Russian government gave the go-ahead for construction of such a pipeline in late 1997, intending to have it completed by late 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 1997). LF
CHERKESS, ABAZINS VOTE FOR AUTONOMY
At an extraordinary congress on 16 September of organizations representing the Cherkess, Abazin, and some Russian and Cossack communities of the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, the 900 delegates voted in favor of the restoration of the Cherkess Autonomous Oblast as part of neighboring Stavropol Krai, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported. That move was taken to protest the 14 September inauguration as the republic's president of Karachai Vladimir Semenov, whose 16 May election victory against Cherkess Stanislav Derev is seen as invalid by the Cherkess population. The congress named Derev to head the new autonomous formation and charged him with forming its government, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 17 September. Also on 16 September, a group of Derev's supporters blocked the main highway from Cherkessk, the republic's capital, to Stavropol to demand Semenov's resignation. Semenov told Interfax in Moscow in 16 September after talks with Prime Minister Putin the previous evening that Moscow recognizes him as the republic's legitimate president. LF
OSCE CHAIRMAN-IN-OFFICE VISITS YEREVAN
On the first leg of a tour of the South Caucasus originally scheduled for April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999), Knut Vollebaek held talks in Yerevan on 16 September with President Robert Kocharian, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, parliament deputy chairman Ruben Mirzoyan, and Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Noyan Tapan reported. At a press conference after those meetings, Vollebaek expressed approval of the recent direct talks between Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, saying that the Minsk Group and the OSCE are ready to rejoin the negotiating process, in which, he added, representatives of Karabakh should also be included. He suggested that there is no need for a new draft peace plan for Karabakh, given that previous Minsk Group initiatives are still on the table. Vollebaek also greeted Oskanian's announcement that Armenia is releasing three Azerbaijani prisoners of war as a gesture of good will. LF
ARMENIA, IMF REACH AGREEMENT
Armenian Finance Minister Levon Barkhudarian said on 16 September that the Armenian government and the IMF have reached agreement on the terms of the release of a vital new $28 million loan tranche, which will almost certainly be made available by the end of 1999, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. That agreement also paves the way for disbursement of a $25 million World Bank loan to cover Armenia's budget deficit. Originally expected in June, the IMF and World Bank loan tranches were frozen due to a higher-than-projected budget deficit. The Armenian parliament last month approved the government's package of austerity measures aimed at reducing that deficit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August 1999). The freezing of the funds has led to widespread wage arrears in the public sector. Barkhudarian said the government will pay all back salaries and pensions by mid-October provided that the World Bank makes the money available. LF
PACE PRESIDENT IN GEORGIA
Lord Russell Johnston, head of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, held talks in Tbilisi on 14 September with Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze and President Eduard Shevardnadze, Caucasus Press reported. Those talks focused on the prospects for the admission of Armenia and Azerbaijan to full membership of the Council of Europe, the possibility of Georgian mediation in the Karabakh conflict, and the situation in the North Caucasus. Shevardnadze argued that Armenia and Azerbaijan should be admitted simultaneously to full membership of the Council of Europe. Shevardnadze emphasized the importance of the planned meeting under the aegis of the U.S. of the prime ministers of the three South Caucasus states, adding that Russia, Turkey and the OSCE may also be invited to send representatives, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 17 September. The meeting is to focus on the security problems in the South Caucasus. LF
JOURNALISTS CALL FOR MORE KAZAKH-LANGUAGE BROADCASTING
Union of Journalists of Kazakhstan chairman Kamal Smailov told a press conference in Almaty on 15 September that of the 150 hours of programming broadcast weekly by the electronic media, only 10 percent is in Kazakh, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. The Law on the State Languages requires that a minimum of 50 percent of all broadcasts should be in the Kazakh language. LF
ANOTHER CACHE OF EXPLOSIVES DISCOVERED IN KAZAKHSTAN
Security officials have discovered 1.5 tons of the explosive ammonal, together with 190 electric detonators, in a warehouse in a town near Almaty, Interfax reported on 16 September. In late August, police found grenades, detonators and two explosive devices in an abandoned garage in Astana (see RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August 1999). LF
KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL AIDES DENY GERMAN MEDIA REPORT
Two aides to Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev on 16 September said a report in the Berlin daily "Der Tagesspiegel" that Akaev may return to academic work rather than contend next year's presidential poll is incorrect and based on a misunderstanding, Reuters and RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 1999). Presidential press spokesman Kanybek ImanAliyev explained that in referring to "elections of a new president" in 2000, Akaev had not excluded the possibility that he would run himself. Presidential aide Gulnara Myrzhambetova said that the Constitutional Court ruled in 1998 that Akaev had been elected president of Kyrgyzstan only once (in December 1995) since the adoption of the present constitution in May 1993, and may therefore seek re-election for a second term. Akaev was first elected president in October 1991. The 1993 constitution bans one individual from serving three consecutive terms. LF
KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN DELIVERS HUMANITARIAN AID TO FUGITIVES IN SOUTH
Former Bishkek mayor Feliks Kulov, the most authoritative potential challenger to Akaev in next year's presidential poll, on 16 September delivered food, clothing, and medication worth some $5,000 to villagers who fled their homes in Batken Raion to escape from the Uzbek guerrillas who entered the region in August and took hostages, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kulov publicly blamed the National Security Ministry, which he headed from 1996 to March 1998, for the hostage crisis. LF
IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO TAJIKISTAN
Visiting Dushanbe on 13-15 September, Kamal Kharrazi met with his Tajik counterpart, Talbak Nazarov, President Imomali Rakhmonov, and Prime Minister Yahyo Azimov to discuss expanding bilateral relations, in particular economic cooperation, and the civil war in Afghanistan, which they agreed should be resolved through further meetings of the so- called "Six Plus Two" group under the aegis of the UN, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Kharrazi also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with that country's ousted president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who likewise called for a new meeting as soon as possible of the "Six Plus Two" group," Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 17 September. Kharrazi and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri discussed the possible participation of both Iran and Tajikistan in securing the release of the four Japanese geologists held hostage in Kyrgyzstan by ethnic Uzbek guerrillas, according to ITAR-TASS. Nuri said the UTO has already sent representatives at Kyrgyzstan's request to try to mediate with the guerrillas. LF
PROMINENT BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST DISAPPEARS
Viktar Hanchar, deputy chairman of the opposition Supreme Soviet, disappeared in the evening of 16 September in Minsk. Hanchar's wife told Belapan that he was driving home with a friend but failed to appear on time. She called the police and the KGB in Minsk inquiring about her husband but obtained no information on his whereabouts. Hanchar is the second major oppositionist to have vanished in Belarus this year. Former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka went missing in May. JM
LUKASHENKA ORDERS FIRM SECURITY MEASURES...
At a 16 September government meeting devoted to combating organized crime and preventing extremism and terrorism, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka prioritized public security as "goal number one," Belarusian Television reported. Lukashenka said Belarus is threatened not so much by foreigners (including those from Chechnya) as by domestic "liberators and zealots for the people." He told his ministers to take "rigorous" measures to enforce order in Belarus. These measures include toughening control at the state border and preventing any gatherings at production facilities and on the streets (except for specially-designated areas). Lukashenka also ordered the media to inform the public within three days about where Belarusian "extremists" and "nationalists" get finances "to destabilize" the country. JM
...PLEDGES TO END 'DEMOCRACY GAMES'
At the same meeting, Lukashenka attacked the Belarusian opposition for its alleged intent to derail the OSCE-mediated dialogue with the authorities. "We are playing democracy games with them...while they are working out mechanisms on how to disrupt this dialogue, how to sling mud at [OSCE mediator Hans Georg] Wieck," Lukashenka noted. He pledged to introduce "real democracy" instead of the "democracy games" which, in his opinion, are characteristic of Russia. According to Lukashenka, there may be only one reason for people's dissatisfaction with the Belarusian authorities--untimely payment of wages. He added that on other counts people trust the authorities and are confident that they will have "enough drinks, foodstuffs, heat, and hot water." JM
UKRAINIAN CABINET SUBMITS 2000 BUDGET DRAFT TO PARLIAMENT
The government on 15 September submitted a draft 2000 budget to the parliament. Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov said the next day that Ukraine's debt obligations in 2000 forced the cabinet for the first time during Ukraine's independence to draft a budget with a surplus. The draft projects the country's GDP in 2000 at 150.8 billion hryvni ($33 billion), with revenues set at 27.1 billion hryvni and spending at 26.5 billion hryvni. JM
KAZAKH PRESIDENT IN KYIV TO BOOST ECONOMIC TIES
Nursultan Nazarbaev arrived in Kyiv on 16 September for two days of economic talks. Nazarbaev and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma signed the following day a 10-year economic cooperation agreement. "There are no problems between Ukraine and Kazakhstan, but trade is developing slowly," ITAR-TASS quoted Nazarbaev as saying. First Deputy Premier Anatoliy Kinakh told AP that Kyiv will ask Astana for gas and crude oil supplies, while offering help in developing new gas and oil deposits in Kazakhstan. JM
ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN ICELAND
Lennart Meri made a four-day state visit to Iceland on 14-17 September. Meri held talks with Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who paid a state visit to Estonia last year. Meri also met with Prime Minister David Oddsson and members of Iceland's parliament. Meri gave a speech at the University of Iceland titled "From Yalta to Yalta: What Have We Learned?" which stressed the role of small countries in regional stability. MH
ESTONIA TO SUBSTANTIALLY CUT POLICE FORCE
Estonian Interior Minister Juri Mois has introduced a plan to reform the police that includes laying off 536 officers, "Eesti Paevaleht" reported. This cut from the current 4,234 police officers is one-seventh of the country's police force and should be implemented by the 2000. Mois said the force needs "to be preferably smaller" if low state funding for police continues. However, the plan envisages a wage increase for the trimmed-down force. Mois stressed that many of those to be made redundant are not directly involved in law enforcement. The plan has been met with "shock" in the regions, as well as in Estonia's second city Tartu, which would lose nearly 40 percent of its police force. MH
LITHUANIAN SOCIAL INSURANCE HEAD QUITS
The director of the Social Insurance Fund (SODRA), Vincas Kunca, resigned on 16 September. The beleaguered fund has been in serious financial difficulties with debts currently estimated at 320 million litas ($80 million). Kunca, the head of SODRA since 1994, has been the target of increasing criticism, especially from the parliament's Social Affairs Committee chairwoman, Birute Visokaviciene. Earlier in the week Hansabankas, the Lithuanian branch of the Estonian Hansapank, agreed to extend a 30 million litas loan--reportedly after several other banks refused, according to local wire services. MH
LITHUANIAN CENTRAL BANK APPROVES BLOCKBUSTER MERGER
The Lithuanian Central Bank on 16 September approved the merger of Hermis and Vilniaus Bankas (Bank of Vilnius). In actuality, the larger Vilniaus Bankas has been given permission to acquire two-thirds or more of Hermis shares. After the acquisition, Vilniaus Bankas, with assets of 5.56 billion litas ($1.39 billion), would be the second largest bank in the Baltics, behind Estonia's Hansapank. Concerns were voiced earlier by banking regulators about the proposed merger of Lithuania's second and fourth largest banks and the implications that would have on the market. MH
POLISH PRESIDENT PAYS TRIBUTE TO POLES MURDERED BY SOVIET UNION
On 17 September in Katyn, Smolensk Oblast, Aleksander Kwasniewski paid tribute to thousands of Polish prisoners of war murdered by the Soviet Union after its invasion of Poland on the same day in 1939. Some 15,000 Polish army officers, policemen, and border guards from the camps of Ostashkov, Kozelsk, and Starobelsk were executed by the Soviet NKVD in 1940. Kwasniewski's trip to Katyn and subsequently to another execution site at Kharkiv, Ukraine, serves to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Soviet aggression (see also "End Note"). JM
U.S. CHIEF OF STAFF PRAISES CZECH REPUBLIC
Visiting General Henry Shelton, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on 16 September in Prague that the Czech Republic has made "great progress in preparing for NATO integration" and in transforming its military to meet NATO requirements, but that "there is still much work do be done in this regard." Shelton said he "applauds" the efforts of Czech Chief of Staff General Jiri Sedivy and the country's political leadership "for making the difficult but necessary decisions to restructure and reform the armies of the Czech Republic," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. In talks with President Vaclav Havel, Shelton praised the fact that the government has kept its pledge to raise military expenditure by 0.1 percent annually, despite the country's economic situation, CTK reported. MS
PRAGUE CEREMONY COMMEMORATES HOLOCAUST
Nearly 300 survivors of the Holocaust, children of its victims, intellectuals, and politicians gathered on 16 September in Prague's Pinkas synagogue to commemorate in a live radio broadcast the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, AP reported. President Vaclav Havel was among the first to take part in the four-hour reading of 3,000 names. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who found the names of her paternal grandparents inscribed on the synagogue's walls during a private trip to Prague two years ago, took part in the reading on a taped contribution. Havel told Czech radio: "It is important to remember the past especially now, when many young people march chanting nationalist slogans, not knowing where they could eventually lead." MS
GERMAN PRESIDENT IN SLOVAKIA
Slovak President Rudolf Schuster told visiting German President Johannes Rau on 16 September that his country wants "equal treatment" with Hungary and the Czech Republic in being considered for membership in the EU. Schuster said that Slovakia has already atoned for "having been shown the yellow card" by the EU and it is time now to allow her to return to where her neighbors are. He said that Germany could play "a decisive role" in making this possible, CTK and dpa reported. Rau, however, was noncommittal and said that Germany will ensure that admission talks are "fair" and that "no artificial delays" will be allowed. MS
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT AMENDS PRIVATIZATION LAW
The parliament on 16 September approved by a 70 to 37 vote with eight abstentions an amendment to the law on large scale privatization, SITA reported. The amendment allows the privatization of stakes in natural monopolies, banking, postal services, telecommunications, gas industry, and the energy sector. The Democratic Left Party succeeded in having its positions included in the amended law, namely that the parliament will have to approve large-scale privatization and that the state will keep a 51 percent stake in several so- called "strategic" companies while others will be excluded from privatization. MS
SLOVAKIA REPORTEDLY TO CLOSE DOWN NUCLEAR REACTORS
The government has decided to close down two nuclear reactors at Jaslovske Bohunice, the official TASR agency reported on 16 September. The agency said that the decision was taken as part of Slovakia's effort to join the EU. Citing the independent daily "Sme," the agency said that the cabinet has not yet decided on a date for the closure of the nuclear power plant (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). MS
SCHUSTER SUES JOURNALIST
President Schuster has filed suit against journalist Ales Kratky for defamation, CTK reported on 16 September, citing the Czech daily "Mlada fronta Dnes." Kratky recently published a commentary criticizing Schuster for including in his staff former members of the Czechoslovak secret police (StB) and said that a list of StB collaborators includes one named Rudolf Schuster, whose ID card has the same number as that of the president. Schuster said that "no one has the right to tarnish anyone's reputation in this country," adding that Slovakia has no lustration law banning former StB collaborators from serving in senior public office. MS
SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS SIGN AGREEMENT TO REBUILD BRIDGE
Premier Dzurinda and his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban, signed an agreement on 16 September to rebuild the bridge between the Slovak town of Sturovo and the Hungarian town of Esztergom, TASR reported. The Danube River bridge was blown up by the Nazis at the end of Word War II. It will be rebuilt by 2001 at an estimated cost of $20.2 million, with the two countries equally sharing the cost. MS
HUNGARY KNEW OF NATO INVASION PLAN
Former chief of staff General Ferenc Vegh on 16 September told journalists that NATO had a plan for ground intervention in Yugoslavia on 15 September if by that date the Yugoslav leadership had not agreed to pull its forces out of Kosova, "Nepszabadsag" and "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 17 September. Vegh said that Prime Minister Viktor Orban was informed of the plan. One day earlier, British Defense Secretary George Robertson, the next NATO secretary-general, revealed that such a plan existed under the name Bravo Minus. MS
RUSSIAN GENERAL URGES ETHNIC ALBANIANS TO TRUST HIS SOLDIERS
Major-General Valerii Yevtukovich told journalists in Prishtina on 16 September: "We will not use force, but we will continue our talks to find a solution that allows Russian troops to deploy in [Rahovec]. We believe that we will find a positive result," an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. Ethnic Albanians have been blocking the roads to that town since late August to prevent the deployment of the Russian KFOR contingent there, arguing that Russian mercenaries committed atrocities in that region during the war. Yevtukovich stressed that the Russian forces must go to Rahovec as part of the [18 June] Helsinki agreements and reassured the Kosovar Albanians that the Russian forces are neutral. He stressed that "the Russian Federation [is] not responsible for the things that [mercenaries had done, and those things] must not be linked to the Russian peacekeeping mission." FS
UNMIK PREPARES VOTER REGISTRATION
Officials from the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) announced in Prishtina on 16 September that on 1 October they will begin to register voters for the upcoming elections, for which no date has been set. The registration process will last for six months, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Meanwhile, several key political parties of Kosova have decided to form a joint body which will assist with organizing the upcoming elections. FS
OSCE, UN LAUNCH 'RADIO AND TELEVISION KOSOVA'...
Richard Dill, the interim director of Radio and Television Kosova (RTK), told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Prishtina on 16 September that the UN and OSCE have given the green light for his station to begin broadcasting on 19 September. Dill said that the program will be transmitted via satellite. He stressed that RTK is a public service that does not belong to any government or investor but exclusively to the people of Kosova. Dill added that RTK intends to broadcast programs from Kosova, which are produced by Kosovars in Kosova in cooperation with UN television. He predicted that it will become the basis for the creation of a full-fledged public service broadcaster and train the staff of such a station. The programs will be in Albanian and Serbian. FS
...DISAPPOINTING SACKED 'RADIO AND TELEVISION PRISHTINA' JOURNALISTS
Martin Cuni, the chairman of the Coordinating Council of Radio and Television Prishtina, issued a declaration in Prishtina on 16 September saying that his council has nothing in common with RTK. The council was founded by ethnic-Albanian journalists who were demonstratively sacked by the Belgrade regime in 1990. Cuni stressed that neither the UN nor the OSCE or the European Broadcasting Union have consulted his council about the creation of RTK. Dill, however, made clear that RTK is not a continuation of Radio and Television Prishtina, even though it will broadcast from its former premises. FS
U.S. GENERAL SAYS UCK LEADERSHIP 'COMMITTED' TO DISARM
General Henry Shelton, who is the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Prague on 16 September that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has "not complied as rapidly as any of us would have liked to have in terms of the local level, but at the leadership level they have remained committed," Reuters reported. He added: "As of right now they are moving steadily toward that and we have no reason to believe that they don't intend to comply." Shelton declined to answer what he called "hypothetical" questions about what NATO will do if the UCK does not fulfill its obligations. He said: "It is something we will deal with when and if the date comes and they do not comply." FS
BELGRADE CALLS UCK DISARMAMENT 'FARCE'
Vladislav Jovanovic, who is Yugoslavia's top diplomat at the UN, said in New York on 16 September that the disarmament of the UCK is a "farce" because the guerrillas are handing in only outdated weapons. He charged that the UCK is hiding its best weapons in Albania, Macedonia, and secret locations in Kosova. Jovanovic did not provide any proof of his assertions, but added that "everybody knows" that what he says is true, AP reported. He stressed that the UCK seeks to become the dominant military and political force in the province. PM
FBI BACKS STORIES OF MASSACRES
FBI forensic experts said in Washington on 16 September that they are prepared to substantiate eyewitness claims of massacres in Kosova during the recent conflict. The experts noted that their conclusion is based on having examined 124 bodies from 21 sites in Kosova. One spokesman noted that the victims ranged between 2 and 94 years of age. PM
GLIGOROV SAYS WEST MISREAD SERBS, MISLED MACEDONIA
Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov told the Belgrade weekly "Vreme" that he well remembers the 40 years he spent in the Serbian capital as a communist official. He stressed that Western governments were mistaken if they thought that the Serbs could be defeated by only a few weeks' bombing. He added that those same governments made "big promises" to Macedonia but did little to help with his country's huge refugee burden during the recent conflict. His political rival, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, was wrong to treat the UCK's Hashim Thaci as "almost a head of state," Gligorov argued. He noted that ethnic Albanians could constitute the majority of the population in Macedonia by 2015 if present demographic trends continue. PM
ANTI-MILOSEVIC COALITION CALLS FOR 'PEACEFUL REVOLUTION'
Some 5,000 supporters of the Alliance for Change attended the organization's convention in Novi Sad on 16 September. Alliance leader Vladan Batic told cheering crowds that the nationwide protests slated to begin on 21 September will mark the start of a "peaceful, social revolution." He stressed that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "must go." Several other prominent speakers--including senior banker Dragoslav Avramovic and Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic--echoed a key theme of the convention's resolution, namely that prosperity and integration into Europe will come only after Milosevic goes. Other prominent persons in attendance included Vojvodina's Nenad Canak, Cacak's Velimir Ilic, former General Vuk Obradovic, and Archbishop Artemije, who is a key leader of the Kosova Serbs. PM
PENSIONERS WANT MILOSEVIC TO GO
Several hundred pensioners demonstrated in Belgrade and Kragujevac against the government on 16 September. They protested plans by the authorities to give them vouchers for electricity payments in place of unpaid pensions. PM
WILL HIS FRIENDS OUST HIM?
Dusan Mihajlovic, who heads the New Democracy Party, said that the main threat to Milosevic comes not from the opposition but from those members of the ruling establishment who want to end Serbia's international pariah status, AP reported from Belgrade on 17 September. PM
MONTENEGRO: MILOSEVIC MOBILIZING POLICE
Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said in Podgorica on 16 September that Milosevic has increased the number of his military police in Montenegro without consulting with or informing the republic's authorities, Reuters reported. He did not provide any details but added that the Montenegrin government will not "take any countermeasures." The Belgrade press is wrong when it reports that Montenegro has set up paramilitary formations, Vujanovic added. He stressed that his government will seek international aid in response to Serbia's blockade on food shipments to his mountainous republic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). In other news, the Montenegrin parliament began discussions of Podgorica's future relations with Belgrade, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. And Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic told Montenegrin Television that he helped block a plan by Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic to launch a putsch in Montenegro in April. PM
ALBANIA'S MAJKO SLAMS POLITICIANS FOR LINKS TO CRIMINALS...
Prime Minister Pandeli Majko said in Tirana on 16 September that unspecified Albanian politicians have "encouraged crime, supporting it not only morally," AP reported. He added that these politicians, abusing their parliamentary immunity, have protected criminals who would have had to be convicted under the law. Majko explicitly said that this applied to both his Socialist Party and the opposition Democrats. He said: "Before shooting, a policeman has to think first which political clan a given criminal represents." Majko pledged that his government "will work for a definitive and full separation of politics from crime [and attack] crime without any compromise." FS
...AND CHALLENGES NANO
Majko announced in Tirana on 16 September that he will run against his predecessor Fatos Nano for the chair of the Socialist Party on 10 October, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. Majko dismissed recent charges by Nano that he is too close to opposition leader Sali Berisha by saying that "it is better to shake hands with Berisha than with Milosevic." He was referring to a Balkan summit on Crete in 1997, where Nano met Milosevic. Responding to recent claims by Nano that Majko has allowed Kosovar guerrillas to smuggle arms through Albania, Information Minister Musa Ulqini said that "the Albanian government has acted in accordance with the constitution and has fulfilled all its obligations towards what is called the 'national question.'" FS
HUNGARY SIDES WITH BULGARIA IN DISPUTE WITH ROMANIA
Defense Minister Janos Szabo on 16 September told his visiting Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Ananiev that he will inform his NATO colleagues at an informal meeting in Toronto next week on "the need to build a bridge between Vidin and Calafat" and will "insist on their support." Bulgaria and Romania have long disagreed on the location of a new bridge over the Danube River, with Romania wanting the bridge to be built further east than the Vidin-Calafat stretch favored by Bulgaria. Szabo said that he is convinced that the passage of NATO troops, including Hungarian troops, across Bulgaria to Kosova would be greatly facilitated by a Vidin-Calafat bridge, BTA reported. MS
CLUJ EXTREME NATIONALIST MAYOR DOES IT AGAIN
Police on 17 September dismantled a sign put up during the night in front of the Hungarian general consulate in Cluj at the order of extreme nationalist Mayor Gheorghe Funar, Romanian radio reported. The inscription read "Seat of Hungarian espionage." Funar said the inscription had been put up "in line with the provisions of the law" and that it came to "draw attention to the appointment of Laszlo Alfoldi as general consul, a person declared persona non grata and expelled from the country in 1988." Interior Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu ordered police to dismantle the inscription after being warned by Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania Executive Secretary Csaba Takacs that a diplomatic incident was imminent. MS
ROMANIA, RUSSIA, DIFFER ON EVALUATING EXPERT MEETING
Following a meeting in Bucharest of experts from the Romanian and Russian foreign ministries on 16 September, Romanian radio reported that the two sides agreed to further develop "pragmatic collaborative relations" and that "the absence of a bilateral treaty must not hinder" such ties. But the head of the Russian team, Aleksandr Tolkach, was cited by ITAR- TASS as saying that "Romania lacks the political will to really sign a bilateral treaty." Tolkach said Russia rejected Bucharest's insistence on having the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact mentioned in the document, as well as the Romanian raising of the state treasure deposited in Russia during World War I. MS
COMPROMISE IN OFFING ON MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM?
Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea said on 16 September that President Petru Lucinschi is "satisfied" with the results achieved at a meeting held one day earlier with leaders of political parties represented in the parliament, at which he presented his proposals for changing the political system into a presidential one, Infotag reported. Golea said that Lucinschi "once more stated that he is open to a compromise and once again invited the party leaders to join him in the search for a mutually-acceptable formula." Former President Mircea Snegur, leader of the Democratic Convention of Moldova, said that the meeting revealed that Lucinschi and the parliamentary leaders were "ready to compromise in order to avoid confrontation between the two power branches." MS
BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED
Campaigning for local elections officially started on 16 September. Ninety-six parties are competing in the elections, compared with 64 in 1995. Fifteen parties registered candidates for the post of Sofia mayor, for which the ruling United Democratic Forces nominated Mayor Stefan Sofiyansky for a second term. Thirty parties, nine party coalitions, and three initiative committees are running lists for the municipal council in the capital, BTA reported. The first round of the elections will be held on 16 October, and a run- off a week later between the two front runners in localities where no mayoral candidate wins more than half of the votes cast in the first round. MS
by Jan Maksymiuk
Poland marks the 60th anniversary of the Soviet invasion today. While Polish armies were involved in an unequal but heroic fight against Nazi Germany, some 600,000 Soviet troops moved into Poland on 17 September 1939. The 25 border guard and police units in eastern Poland were no match for the Soviet forces. On 25 September, German and Soviet troops met along the length of the demarcation line that had been determined in a secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939. Three days later, Berlin and Moscow signed a friendship and border treaty erasing Poland from the map of Europe for almost six years.
The Soviet annexation of eastern Poland was presented by Moscow as the "liberation of Belarusian and Ukrainian brothers from the oppression of Polish landlords." Eyewitness accounts testify that most Belarusians and Ukrainians greeted the Soviet troops as friends, if not liberators, and promptly cooperated in organizing a Soviet system of power. "Popular assemblies" of western Belarus and western Ukraine were swiftly elected in October 1939 and requested the unification of the newly conquered areas with the Belarusian SSR and Ukrainian SSR, in particular, and with the USSR in general.
Historians have cited many reasons for this Belarusian and Ukrainian attitude toward the Soviet invasion. Two appear especially persuasive.
First, pre-war Poland--which experienced a measure of democracy during its initial years of independence but became an authoritarian state following Jozef Pilsudski's coup d'etat in May 1926--did not develop a policy toward its ethnic minorities that those minorities, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the country's population, found acceptable. Belarusians and Ukrainians were especially treated by the state as second-rate citizens in terms of their civil rights. In Poland's "eastern outlands" (kresy wschodnie, the name applied to eastern parts of pre-war Poland), economic, social, and ethnic inequality and injustice were widespread.
Second, Belarusians and Ukrainians suffered under the delusion--skillfully promoted by Soviet propaganda at the time--that Soviet Belarus and Soviet Ukraine embodied the national statehood that they so intensely desired. The Polish-Soviet border was hermetically sealed, as a result of which Polish Belarusians and Ukrainians were completely unfamiliar with the real state of affairs in the Soviet Union (as, incidentally, was the rest of Europe). Therefore, even anti-Communists among Belarusian and Ukrainian political circles in pre-war Poland generally welcomed the unification of all Belarusian and Ukrainian ethnic territories as an "act of historical justice."
Some 20 months later, when Hitler's armies invaded the Soviet Union, many people in western Belarus and Ukraine who had greeted Stalin's soldiers were now somewhat inclined to welcome the Germans as the "liberator." From September 1939 to June 1941, Stalin's persecution machine was used against not only "Polish landlords" but also their allegedly liberated victims: Belarusian and Ukrainian peasants. The legendary communist paradise proved a socio-economic hell for those hapless "brothers" of the Soviet Union.
The 1945 Yalta Conference endorsed the Polish-Soviet border foreseen by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (with some post-war corrections), leaving Poland without its former "eastern outlands." For more than 40 years, the official Soviet interpretation of the 17 September 1939 military operation as the "liberation of the oppressed" prevailed in Poland's communist historiography. Only after Solidarity took over in 1989 were Polish historians able to openly identify the invasion by its proper name.
Belarusian and Ukrainian historians, or at least those who have renounced the Soviet historiography tradition, offer interpretations of the significance of the 17 September anniversary that are more ambiguous. The notion of "liberation" appears to be gradually disappearing from their versions. However, there is hardly any historian in Belarus and Ukraine who would take issue with the argument that the Soviet invasion against Poland 60 years ago was "positive" for their nations in so far as it unified formerly divided nations into one political organism. That organism collapsed in 1991 and gave birth to two independent states--Belarus and Ukraine.
At a recent conference of Belarusian historians in Minsk, one delegate spoke for many when he argued that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its territorial consequences cannot be viewed as separate from the Polish-Bolshevik Treaty of Riga in 1921. Under that treaty, Warsaw and Moscow arbitrarily carved up between themselves Belarusian and Ukrainian ethnic territories without taking into account the interests of the indigenous people who inhabited them. According to this line of argument, the Soviet Union in 1939- -even in the role of an aggressor--ensured that justice was done by bringing Belarusians and Ukrainians together.
Whether Polish historians will accept such a viewpoint remains to be seen. Currently, the differing attitudes toward the Soviet invasion 60 years ago are reflected in the planned official commemorations of the anniversary. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has visited sites in Russia and Ukraine of the mass murders of Polish officers taken prisoner by Soviet troops in 1939. Belarus's Alyaksandr Lukashenka will preside over official events in his country marking the 60th anniversary of the reunification of Belarus. And Lviv in Ukraine will host a congress of anti-Communists from Eastern Europe who will discuss Soviet repression in the 1930s and early 1940s. When history serves different policies, a single historical interpretation is the exception rather than the rule.