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Newsline - June 2, 2000


On the eve of the Russian-U.S. summit in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in a 1 June interview with NBC that Russia and the U.S. jointly develop a missile shield to ward off attacks by so-called "rogue states." The next day Interfax quoted Russian military-diplomatic sources as saying Putin's proposal concerns "only non-strategic anti-ballistic missile systems designed for fighting non-strategic missiles." "Washington's response to Russia's initiative will clarify the U.S.'s true plans on deploying an ABM system and at whom this nuclear umbrella will be targeted," the sources added, noting that a joint ABM defense system would alleviate U.S. concern over the missile programs of "rogue states" and leave the 1972 ABM Treaty unchanged. U.S. President Bill Clinton had said in Lisbon earlier this week that the U.S. would share the technology for its national missile defense system with other states that are "part of an international arms control and non-proliferation regime," but a White House spokesman had said it is too soon to say whether that technology could be shared with Russia. JC


U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott met with his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Mamedov, in Moscow on 1 June to prepare the ground for President Clinton's visit this weekend. Speaking to journalists in the Russian capital, Talbott commented that it is "unmistakably clear to us" that Russia opposes the U.S.'s proposed amendments to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, but he added that there is little doubt that the treaty "must be changed," remarking that the world has altered a lot over the past 28 years. With regard to Clinton's upcoming visit, he said "we will certainly make progress" over ABM "but that doesn't mean we will make definitive progress." Talbott continues his talks in Moscow on 2 June and then flies to Germany to brief President Clinton ahead of the latter's departure for Russia. JC


Citing unidentified U.S. and Russian sources, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 2 June that during the upcoming summit, the two sides are expected to discuss the ABM treaty alongside other issues related to "strategic stability." Depending on the results of their talks, the presidents may sign a joint declaration on strategic stability, according to deputy head of the presidential administration Sergei Prikhodko. The newspaper quoted a "well-informed source" in the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying that there will be nothing in this document to suggest that Moscow has budged from its position that any changes to the ABM treaty are "inadmissible." Also expected to be signed are documents on the use of weapons- grade plutonium and on setting up a center for the exchange of information on missile launches, as well as joint presidential statements on the Middle East peace process. JC


Boris Berezovskii continued his criticism of President Putin's plan to restructure the Russian Federation, telling reporters on 1 June that while Putin is a "democrat at heart," his plan will reintroduce a "Soviet system" of government. Berezovskii reportedly said that Putin "does not have enough experience of being in a position of such power," and his aides acted "inappropriately" by suggesting undemocratic measures. JAC


Meanwhile, theories to explain Berezovskii's criticism of Putin are proliferating at a furious pace in the Russian media. Besides the suggestion that Berezovskii's opposition is feigned, there are a variety of theories that contend Berezovskii wants to create a new alliance with either regional leaders opposed to Putin's plan or with those opposed to Putin's plan within the Kremlin and government. It has also been argued that Putin's recent appointments of new presidential representatives to the Security Council have increased the powers of that organ at the expense of the presidential administration, which is headed by Berezovskii ally Aleksandr Voloshin. JAC


In Berezovskii-controlled "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 2 June, Tyumen Governor Leonid Roketskii expresses the fear that "in our general support [for Putin's plan] we [may] have gone too far" because the Finance Ministry may wind up with exclusive control over the country's finances, thus undermining the concept of self-rule. In an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 31 May, Union of Rightist Forces faction leader Boris Nemtsov said that Putin's federation reform plan smacks of "political adventurism" and that Putin "is, in fact, proposing to eliminate local government." Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko told reporters the same day that he sees no reason "to destroy [the Federation Council] and sweep the problem under the carpet," Interfax reported. He added that "it is very good that there is a rostrum where governors can openly speak of their problems instead of whispering in the corner." The chairman of Tatarstan's parliament, Farid Mukhametshin, has also been critical. He said last month that if the president is given the right to disband regional parliaments and dismiss regional leaders, he will "usurp the powers of the constitutional territories" (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 24 May 2000.) JAC


The military campaign in Chechnya cost 562.8 million rubles ($20 million) in the first quarter of 2000, the government information department revealed on 1 June, while the Fund for the Financial Support of Regions reportedly provided almost one-third of that amount or 159.3 million rubles (see also "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April 2000). Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin told reporters on 1 June the government plans to reduce spending on "power" ministries and agencies in 2001 and that such spending will be reduced to 26.8 percent of the total budget from 29.2 percent this year. However, ITAR-TASS quoted Kudrin as saying that defense expenditures, including spending on the operation in Chechnya, will not be reduced. He added that spending on law enforcement activities and security has been high and should be reduced. JAC


Interfax reported on 1 June that according to draft 2001 budget documents, next year's state spending on social needs will increase from 14.1 percent of the 2000 budget to 19.5 percent. The government will also spend slightly less on servicing state debts while increasing support for agriculture and industries and local budgets. According to Kudrin, spending on servicing the foreign debt will total $11.6 billion, while servicing the domestic debt will cost 157.7 billion rubles ($5.6 billion). "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 2 June that the 2001 budget is based on an assumed world oil price of $18-$19 a barrel, rather than the $28 a barrel at which the price is currently hovering. The daily suggests that continued high oil prices might enable to government to pull off its "revolutionary" plan to collect all revenues while effectively reducing expenditures. JAC


Colonel General Anatolii Kvashnin, who is chief of Army General Staff, warned on 1 June that Russia might intervene militarily in Ingushetia if "terrorist activities" in that republic intensify, ITAR-TASS reported. "The Chechnya of the past few years should serve as a graphic example to the Ingush people of what happened to that republic's living standards under bandit rule," he said. Kvashnin was inspecting a barracks under construction in the Chechen district of Shatoi, south of Grozny, for some 14,000 Russian troops to be stationed permanently in Chechnya. Senior Russian commanders have blamed the Ingush leadership for the ambush by Chechens of a Russian troop column in Ingushetia last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 2000). LF


Human Rights Watch on 2 June issued an extensive report detailing the results of its investigation into Russian atrocities against Chechen civilians in the Grozny suburb of Aldi on 5 February, in which at least 60 people were killed. Human Rights Watch researcher Malcolm Hawkes told RFE/RL in a telephone interview on 2 June that "it is abundantly clear that ... Russian contract and OMON units engaged in an orgy of violence and killing, and went from house to house executing civilians entirely for arbitrary reasons." President Putin said in Moscow on 29 May that anyone who violates the law in Chechnya, including Russian troops, must be punished "in the most severe fashion," Reuters reported. LF


Aslan Maskhadov told RFE/RL by telephone on 1 June that he is ready to start peace talks without any preconditions. He denied Russian media reports that he was seriously wounded the previous night during fighting in the village of Malye Shuani in Nozhai-Yurt, where the Russian military claims to have surrounded a force of several hundred Chechen fighters. LF


Apti Batalov, a former aide to Maskhadov who apparently went over to Moscow in April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 April 2000), was released from custody in Moscow on 1 June, Interfax reported. He immediately met with Beslan Gantemirov, who was sacked as first deputy Russian government representative in Chechnya earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 22, 1 June 2000). Also on 1 June, First Deputy Chief of Russian Army General Staff Colonel General Valerii Manilov told journalists in Moscow that the military values the contribution of Gantemirov's now disbanded volunteer militia in Chechnya, and may offer him an alternative position, ITAR- TASS reported. In Grozny, Mayor Supyan Makhchaev said Gantemirov, whom he termed a friend, may be the next target of such an attack, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 2 June. Makhchaev was wounded in an assassination attempt on 30 May. LF


Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told CNN on 1 June that Moscow is not relying solely on military force to resolve the Chechen conflict and that a political solution "is an absolute priority," Interfax reported. He argued, however, that "at the initial stage" there was no alternative to military operations as there was no appropriate negotiating partner for Moscow in Chechnya. Presumably alluding to the anticipated law on direct federal rule in Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 20, 18 May 2000), Kasyanov said that "in the near future, we shall see a new decree, a new law paving the way to the stage of political resolution of the conflict," ITAR-TASS reported. President Putin and his aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii had made similar statements on 29 May, but Yastrzhembskii stressed that military operations must be completed and the Chechen resistance wiped out before a political solution becomes feasible (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May 2000). LF


Large shifts have occurred in the monthly list of the 20 most influential figures in Russian politics, based on an opinion poll conducted by the VP-T polling agency in May, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 2 June. According to the agency, two new men have now entered the ranks of the top 10- -Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin and State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev. Four new faces have joined the top 20: Media Minister Mikhail Lesin at number 14, Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov in 17- 18th place, Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration Vladislav Surkov at 19, and Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref at 20. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's ranking plummeted from 11 in April to 24 in May. Occupying the top five slots in descending order are President Putin, presidential administration head Voloshin, Prime Minister Kasyanov, Boris Berezovskii, and Sibneft head Roman Abramovich. JAC


On 1 June, the international day for the protection of children, Russian agencies reported that the number of children in Russia has declined by 15.7 percent since 1991 and that children's health is worsening. According to Interfax, only 20 percent of all children born in Russia can be considered healthy, while only 10-12 percent of primary school children are healthy. Since 1991, the incidence of functional disorders and chronic illnesses has increased almost by 20 percent. According to "Izvestiya" on 31 May, Russian women have on average 1.3 births, compared with 2.14 births 10 years ago, while the number of cases of teenagers infected with syphilis has increased 64 times. JC


Prime Minister Kasyanov told CNN on 1 June that "openness and freedom of the media are an absolute priority of the Russian government." He also declared that the recent police raid on Media-Most's Moscow headquarters "had nothing to do with pressure on the media." JAC


Promexport Director-General Sergei Chemezov was quoted by Interfax on 31 May as saying that an arms shipment to Libya worth some $100 million will begin soon. No details were given as to what that shipment contains. According to Chemezov, the contracts for the arms deliveries were signed after the international embargo against Libya was lifted last year. JC


"The Moscow Times" reported on 2 June that the officials of the Russian Orthodox Church have reached a decision this week to canonize Tsar Nicholas II and his family in August 2000. Maksim Maksimov, secretary of the Synod's Commission on Canonization, said that the final decision on sainthood is up to the members of the Jubilee Council of Bishops but his commission "doesn't see any obstacles." According to the daily, Nicholas II's canonization will be based on the humble Christian way he faced death rather than on the way he ruled Russia. JAC


Meanwhile, a Russian Orthodox Church spokesman told Reuters that President Putin's meeting with Catholic Pope John Paul II at the Vatican next week is unlikely to pave the way for the Pope to visit Russia. According to the spokesman, the "main problems [between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches] remain unresolved." Italian media had reported earlier that Putin might invite the Pope to Russia during the latter's visit. According to Keston News Service on 25 May, the Catholic Church continues to experience problems in Russia, such as obtaining visas for foreign priests and monks and obtaining the return of Catholic property seized during the Soviet period. JAC


In an open letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharian published in the Yerevan newspaper "Aravot" on 1 June, Irina Babayan said her husband Samvel, the former Defense Minister and Karabakh Defense Army commander, is innocent of charges of masterminding the 22 March assassination attempt against Arkadii Ghukasian, President of the unrecognized Nagorno- Karabakh Republic, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 2000). Irina Babayan claimed her husband is subjected to mistreatment in pre-trial detention, and that the NKR authorities arrested him solely in order to prevent his supporters from gaining a majority in the new parliament to be elected on 18 June. She appealed to Kocharian, who fought alongside Babayan during the Karabakh war, to intervene on behalf of his former comrade-in-arms. LF


Vartan Oskanian and his visiting Ukrainian counterpart Dmitrii Tkach held talks in Yerevan on 30 May on bilateral political and economic relations, which they evaluated highly, cooperation within the CIS, and stability and security in the South Caucasus, Groong reported citing Armenian National Television and Armenpress. Tkach assured Oskanian Kyiv supports Armenia's bid for full membership of the Council of Europe and is prepared to contribute towards resolving the Karabakh conflict. LF


A Baku district court on 31 May fined Elmar Huseinov, editor of the opposition newspaper "Bakinskii bulvard" and one of its journalists, Irada Huseinova, 10 million manats ($2,270) each for an article allegedly insulting Defense Minister Safar Abiev by incriminating him in economic crime, Turan reported. An investigation last year into allegations that Abiev condoned embezzlement within the Defense Ministry proved inconclusive (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 34, 26 August 1999). Also on 30 May, Huseinov brought a court action against a Baku district tax office that ordered the suspension of publication of the journal "Monitor Weekly," which he also edits, and the sealing of its editorial office. In a second action, a Baku court found the newspaper "Uch nogte" guilty of insulting the honor and dignity of Astara District Administrator Ibragim Guliev, Turan reported. LF


Two members of the UN Observer force in Georgia, two specialists from the British "Halo Trust," which engages in mine-disposal, and their Abkhaz interpreter disappeared on the afternoon of 1 June in the Kodori gorge, the sole stretch of Abkhaz territory still controlled by the central Georgian government, Caucasus Press reported. Abkhaz Prosecutor-General Anri Djergenia said the five had been abducted, but no ransom demand has been made. A helicopter search on 2 June yielded no trace of the group, according to Reuters.. Five military observers were abducted and held hostage for several days in the same area last October by an unknown group that was never captured (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 18 October 1999). LF


Yurii Yarov held talks in Sukhum on 1 June with Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba which he told journalists were intended to familiarize him with the current situation and the Abkhaz leadership's position on how to resolve the Abkhaz conflict, Caucasus Press reported. Abkhazia refuses to consider the most recent draft settlement plan proposed by the UN defining the division of constitutional powers between Abkhazia and the central Georgian government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 2000). LF


Austrian Foreign Minister and OSCE chairwoman in office Benita Ferrero-Waldner discussed security threats to the Central Asia states with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Almaty on 1 June, Reuters and Interfax reported. She told journalists after those talks that the primary concern is the situation in Afghanistan, where she affirmed the OSCE's support for a peaceful solution mediated by the UN. She also listed as threats to the region possible disputes over scarce water resources, and what she termed the interlinked problems of drugs and terrorism. LF


Speaking on national television on 1 June, President Nazarbaev affirmed that "growth is underway" in the real sector of the economy and predicted that industrial production will increase by 15 percent over the first five months of this year, Interfax reported. He also estimated that exports will grow by more than 30 percent over the same period. Addressing the first congress of Kazakh investors the same day, Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev said that domestic investment in the economy this year could total $1 billion, and would exceed direct foreign investment. He said that 65 contracts have already been signed with domestic investors and should create some 13,000 new jobs. LF


Some 150 women joined the ongoing Bishkek picket on 1 June, which was International Children's Day, to protest the inadequate financial benefits paid by the government for their disabled children, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Mothers of such children receive only 150 soms ($3) per month, and are not entitled to any other benefits or privileges. Tamara Dyikanbaeva, who chairs the Association of Mothers of Disabled and Handicapped Children, estimated the total number of such children in Kyrgyzstan at 12,000 of whom some 1,000 live in Bishkek. LF


A senior Russian military officer in Tajikistan told ITAR-TASS on 1 June that the situation on that country's border with Afghanistan is stable, and that no concentration of Taliban forces has been registered on the Afghan side. But he added that the Russian troop presence on the Tajik side of the border has been reinforced, without citing figures. Also on 1 June, the Taliban Foreign Ministry sent an official protest to the UN condemning alleged violations of Afghan airspace by Uzbek aircraft earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2000). LF


Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikalay Barysevich on 1 June said Uzbekistan's response to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's statement at the 24 May CIS Collective Security Council summit in Minsk is "unjustifiably harsh and incorrect," Interfax reported. Barysevich added that Tashkent "considerably distorted the real sense" of what Lukashenka said. Lukashenka had commented at the summit that Uzbekistan "would like to get [CIS and Russian military] support without joining [the CIS Collective Security] Treaty." "If you want support, join the treaty," Lukashenka added. Earlier this week the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said Lukashenka's words were "ill-considered and crude." JM


Barysevich also said Vilnius does not need "to react so nervously" to last month's appointment of Vladimir Uskhopchik as Belarus's deputy defense minister, Belapan reported. Uskhopchik headed the Vilnius-based division of Soviet troops that stormed the city's television tower in January 1991, killing 14 unarmed civilians. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry warned that Uskhopchik's appointment could damage relations between the two countries. Barysevich said Lithuania should avoid blaming Minsk for appointing Uskhopchik, just as Minsk avoids blaming Vilnius for giving shelter to Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetski, who, Barysevich argued, "is trying to organize alternative power bodies to those in Belarus." JM


Viktor Yushchenko on 1 June said that "in the next few days," the government will announce the date for closing the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Ukrainian commentators speculate that President Leonid Kuchma will make the announcement at his meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Kyiv on 5 June. Yushchenko said Ukraine will need more than $500 million to shut down the Chornobyl plant, some $400 million to reinforce the concrete sarcophagus on the reactor that was destroyed in the 1986 explosion, and "several million dollars" to provide social cushions for those who lose their jobs as a result of the plant's closure. JM


The parliament on 1 June turned down a government-proposed bill to privatize the state telecommunications company Ukrtelekom, Interfax reported. The bill was supported by 222 deputies, just four votes short of gaining approval. The Communist and Socialist factions refused to participate in the vote. The bill called for the state to retain 50 percent plus one share in Ukrtelekom. The lucrative telecommunications company is the most important item in the government's list of firms to be privatized in 2000. Some $500 million in budget revenues is expected to be generated this year from privatization. State Property Fund Chairman Oleksandr Bondar said the government next week will submit the bill for another vote. JM


A U.S. federal grand jury on 1 June accused former Ukrainian Premier Pavlo Lazarenko of laundering money he stole while in office, AP reported. Lazarenko is currently in a U.S. prison pending resolution of a Swiss extradition request. He is also charged with money-laundering in Switzerland and with embezzlement in Ukraine. "According to the charges, between 1994 and 1999 Mr. Lazarenko transferred approximately $114 million that he had corruptly and fraudulently received into bank and brokerage accounts in the U.S," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Lazarenko has repeatedly denied the money- laundering charges. He has asked for political asylum in the U.S., saying he is the victim of reprisal by his political foes. JM


Viktor Orban, the first Hungarian prime minister to visit Estonia, arrived in Tallinn on 1 June for a two-day visit aimed at promoting bilateral ties. After a meeting with Prime Minister Mart Laar, Orban stressed Hungary's support for Estonia's NATO aspirations, adding that "it is within our power to do something toward this end," BNS reported. Parliamentary speaker Toomas Savi and Orban agreed that cooperation must be stepped up . They also discussed details of the two countries' EU integration bid, ETA reported. Orban visited the Baltic Defense College in Tartu and delivered a lecture at Tartu University. MH


After weeks of controversy, the governing board of Estonia's central bank on 1 June elected former governor Vahur Kraft to take over that post again, ETA reported. Kraft, whose term ended in April, unexpectedly lost the election for that post to statistics professor Vello Vensel, who then declined the post owing to ill health. Former Finance Minister Mart Opmann won a subsequent election, but President Lennart Meri refused to approve the candidate, causing a stand-off and political crisis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2000). Kraft said he will work to restore the reputation of the central bank, but added that he does not foresee significant policy changes. MH


"RFE/RL Newsline" on 1 June incorrectly reported that suicide was leading cause of death in Latvia in 1999. In fact, it was the leading cause of unnatural death, slightly exceeding the number of deaths caused by car accidents.


The fourth session of the International Commission for the Evaluation of Nazi and Soviet Crimes was held at the parliament on 1 June. Prime Minister Andris Kubilius was direct about the role of Lithuanians in the Holocaust: "We must clearly say to ourselves and our children that Lithuanian people participated," he told delegates, adding that "it is the only way to live with one's conscience and the international democratic community," BNS reported. Kubilius also warned about the resurgence of extremism in Europe, "and sometimes even in Lithuania," hinting at the resurgence of a neo-Nazi group and the recent political success of radical organizations. MH


Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) Marian Krzaklewski told Radio Plus on 2 June that he will accept the post of prime minister provided that he is formally nominated by the AWS and approved by the coalition partner, the Freedom Union (UW). Krzaklewski's pronouncement follows the UW's threat the previous day to break off negotiations with the AWS on the coalition crisis unless the latter proposes a candidate to head the cabinet. Reuters reported that UW officials received the news of Krzaklewski's candidacy coolly, saying they will comment when the AWS officially endorses him as its choice for premier. UW activist Wladyslaw Frasyniuk suggested on 1 June that the UW might quit the coalition if Krzaklewski were proposed for premier. JM


Aleksander Kwasniewski told Polish Radio on 2 June that he intends to run for a second term. He added that he will formally announce his re-election bid on 11 June. Kwasniewski's decision comes as no surprise, since recent polls indicate that he can count on support of up to 70 percent. Presidential elections in Poland are due in the fall. JM


Wlodzimerz Cimoszewicz, who headed a leftist cabinet in 1995-1997, has been accused by Lustration Prosecutor Boguslaw Nizienski of not disclosing in his lustration statement that he collaborated with the Communist-era secret services, Polish media reported. The Lustration Court on 1 June opened a behind-closed-doors case against Cimoszewicz, who denied the collaboration charges, saying that Nizienski "consciously manipulated the content of the Communist-era special services' documents and of witnesses' testimonies." Cimoszewicz said that during a one-year scholarship in the U.S. 20 years ago, he was asked by the Foreign Ministry "to share views" on Polish-U.S. relations but refused to comply. He added that his refusal to collaborate prevented him in the 1980s from obtaining a job at the Foreign Ministry. JM


Freedom Union leader Karel Kuehnl said on 1 June that the union has decided to support the election of the country's president by popular vote, CTK reported. The Christian Democratic Party first called for amending the constitution so that the president is elected not by the parliament but by the people. And Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Deputy Chairman Ivan Langer recently said the ODS might include the proposal in its electoral program for 2002. Premier Milos Zeman and ODS Chairman Vaclav Klaus oppose the idea. MS


Police have brought charges against Michal Zitko, owner of the Prague-based Otakar II publishing house, which printed the first-ever unabridged translation into Czech of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," CTK reported on 2 June, citing "Lidove noviny." Zitko is accused of supporting a movement aimed at suppressing minorities. If convicted, he faces between three and eight years in prison. Zitko said his will be "a classic political trial" and expressed confidence that he will be acquitted. MS


The Slovak Defense Ministry on 1 June denied a report in the media that quoted the U.S. Defense Department official Joseph Garret as saying that the Slovak army's combat readiness is "virtually nil," CTK reported. But the ministry did not deny that according to Garret's estimation, its combat readiness is low and that it has been equipped with "only about 70 percent of its needs." Nor did it deny that Garret wrote in a report that reserve forces have not trained "for at least three years" and that plans to modernize the army drawn by the government are "overly optimistic and unrealistic." Defense Minister Pavol Kanis and other officials in the ministry have insisted that if Slovakia wants to be invited to join NATO, there must be higher budget allocations to the military. MS


Miklos Nemeth, Hungary's last prime minister before the collapse of the communist regime, told a local television station in Hatvan on 1 June, that "I have not come home to become party president, as the Socialist Party (MSZP) already has a chairman, nor have I come home to stand at the end of the line." He said "I will enter the race for something else: if it is the prime minister's post, then for that." Nemeth returned to Hungary at the beginning of May, after spending 10 years in London, where he was the vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. His new role in the MSZP will be decided at the party's November congress, "Nepszabadsag" reported. MSZ


Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 1 June that the murder of his security chief, Goran Zugic, was "political" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2000). "Whoever shot Goran Zugic last night carried out a terrorist act against democracy in Montenegro and the security of its citizens.... The murder is being seen as one with political overtones," Reuters reported. Justice Minister Dragan Soc added: "We are dealing with a murder like those we have seen outside Montenegro [namely in Serbia] and that is disturbing. I cannot give you any details because that would be speculating on motives." Leading Podgorica lawyer Ranko Vukotic argued that the killing was part of a "deliberate campaign" to destabilize Montenegro, presumably by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his Montenegrin supporters. PM


Indicted war criminal and Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, who is also a top official of Milosevic's Socialist Party, said in Belgrade on 1 June that he "would not draw any parallel" between Zugic's killing and a recent spate of gangland-style murders in Serbia, Reuters reported. In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said of Zugic's death: "Clearly this happened in a climate of fear and violence perpetrated by the Milosevic regime.... We are very much in touch with the Montenegrin government and have conveyed our condolences." In London, "The Guardian" noted on 2 June that Zugic was one of Djukanovic's closest friends and had been best man at his wedding. In Frankfurt, the Serbian daily "Vesti" pointed out that Zugic is of Bosnian origin and is believed to have once been close to the former Bosnian Serb leadership under Radovan Karadzic. PM


Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, who is the leader of pro-Milosevic elements in Montenegro, said in Belgrade on 1 June that neither the federal government, nor the Serbian authorities, nor the army has any objections to Djukanovic holding a referendum on Montenegrin independence. Bulatovic argued that the reason Djukanovic has not held a referendum is that "he knows he does not have majority support" and that 60 percent of the population favors union with Serbia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM


Montenegrin Finance Minister Miroslav Ivanisevic said in Brussels on 2 June that his government knows that the Yugoslav army supports Milosevic. He added, however, that "Montenegro is not giving reasons for them to make any...moves" against the Podgorica authorities, Reuters reported. "The security authorities of Montenegro have a [working] relationship with the Yugoslav army deployed in Montenegro, and the atmosphere is such that I would say the Yugoslav army would not be used in Montenegro for a coup d'etat," Ivanisevic added. PM


U.S. military officials said on 1 June that unidentified gunmen killed an elderly Serbian woman and wounded three Serbian men near Kllokot on the Gjilan-Ferizaj road, AP reported from Prishtina. The wounded men were taken to the U.S. base at Camp Bondsteel for treatment. This is the latest in a series of drive-by killings of Serbs in Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2000). Moderate as well as hard-line Serbs charge that ethnic Albanians are trying to drive the Serbian minority out of the province and criticize peacekeepers for not doing more to protect them. Perhaps more than 100,000 Serbs have fled Kosova since 1998, when Serbs and Montenegrins made up just under 10 percent of the population. The Serbian government has done little, if anything, to help them. Most of the Serbian refugees would like to go home if their safety were assured. PM


Two Serbian men were killed and one woman and two children were injured on 2 June when their car ran over a landmine at a crossroads near an ethnic Albanian village just south of Prishtina. The injured were taken to nearby Fushe Kosova for treatment. Some 100 Serbs gathered nearby after the explosion. Peacekeepers sealed off the area, telling reporters it was the third time a mine had been planted there recently, AP reported. The two previous mines were discovered before they exploded. PM


Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Sainovic said in Belgrade on 1 June that the Serbian government has taken control of Belgrade's public transportation system because the city government has proven itself unable to run it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2000). The city council, which is dominated by Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, said in a statement that the Serbian authorities' move is "illegal" and aimed at punishing the opposition and its supporters, Reuters reported. Serbian officials entered the transportation department's building with "at least a dozen policemen" to hold talks on the transfer of authority. Elsewhere in Belgrade, private bus drivers ended their strike, saying the protest "had become senseless because nobody talked to us." PM


Two of Draskovic's bodyguards received jail sentences of 45 days each on 1 June for illegally carrying firearms at Belgrade airport, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2000). PM


A South African Foreign Affairs' Ministry spokesman told AP in Johannesburg on 1 June that the purpose of Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic's visit is to secure South African support for Belgrade's readmission to the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2000). The spokesman did not say what the reaction of South African officials was to the request or if that was the only topic of discussion. PM


Additional Republika Srpska police have taken up positions in the building and neighborhood where former President Biljana Plavsic lives in Banja Luka, "Vesti" reported on 2 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2000). Plavsic said that SFOR has not apologized to her for sending "men armed to the teeth" into her building. An SFOR spokesman said that an apology had been issued, "Vesti" added. The SFOR spokesman argued that the armed men were present because some of their officers were meeting with Bosnian Serb politician Mladen Ivanic, who has his office in the same building, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The entire situation surrounding Plavsic and the apparent attempt to arrest her remains "confused," "Vesti" added. PM


NATO peacekeepers arrested two Herzegovinian Croats in Stolac on 1 June for attacking SFOR troops trying to protect returning Muslim refugees in December 1998. SFOR is looking for seven additional Croats involved in the same incident. Meanwhile in Kotorsko on 1 June, a crowd of Serbs attacked 54 Muslims who attempted to visit the homes that they abandoned during the 1992-1995 conflict, "Oslobodjenje" reported. The Serbs also set alight building materials that the Muslims planned to use to rebuild their houses. PM


The parliament voted on 1 June to approve a government proposal to allow funds for reconstructing homes and other property to Serbs as well as to Croats. The Croatian Democratic Community of the late President Franjo Tudjman opposed the plan, saying that it places "aggressors on the same level as their victims." "Jutarnji list" reported. PM


The campaign for the upcoming local elections officially ended on 1 June. The National College for the Study of the Securitate Archives said the same day that six of the candidates running in the elections failed to respect a recently passed law obliging them to declare past links with the communist secret police. A seventh candidate, the writer Pavel Corut, now leader of the Romanian Life Party, reported that he was a high-ranking officer in the Securitate. His collaboration was already widely known. Of the six who failed to report, five are members of ecologist parties and one is a member of the Liberal Monarchist Party, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The first round of the local elections is to be held on 4 June. MS


Police on 1 June issued arrest warrants for five top bankers involved in the collapse of the National Investment Fund. The government the same day suspended the executive board of the country's capital market regulatory agency, known by its initials as CNVM, which had administered the fund. CNVM former chairman Stefan Boboc is one of the five bankers. He came under investigation after his arrest for failing to answer a summons. MS


President Petru Lucinschi on 1 June told members of the Gagauz-Yeri Popular Assembly in Chisinau that the resolution passed by the assembly one day earlier "does not promote confidence- building between the central government and the Komrat authorities," Infotag reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 2000). Lucinschi called on both sides to "strictly adhere" to the provisions of the 1994 law on the special status of the autonomous province. Also on 1 June, parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov rejected a demand by Popular Party Christian Democratic Party Chairman Iurie Rosca that he resign. Rosca said Diacov had ordered the custom authorities to let the 6,000 tons of Turkish fuel transport for Gagauz Yeri to enter the country without the payment of customs duties, in breach of a parliament decision on the matter. MS


Libya has banned Balkan Airlines from operating on its territory and from using its air space. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has summoned Libya's ambassador to Sofia to demand an explanation, Reuters reported. Last year, Balkan Airlines was bought by an Israeli investor. Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said she does not know whether there is a connection between the ban and the trial of the six Bulgarian nationals scheduled to begin on 4 June in Libya. MS


Petar Mladenov, who was Bulgaria's first post-communist president, died on 1 June aged 64, BTA reported. Mladenov, who had long served under communist dictator Todor Zhivkov, engineered Zhivkov's ouster from power and became president in April 1990, Reuters reported. He was forced to resign in July 1990 after allegedly proposing the use of tanks to quash opposition protests. MS


by Victor Yasmann

Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent decision to name 52-year-old Sergei Lebedev as the chief of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), replacing Vyacheslav Trubnikov, is about more than just personalities and personal loyalties. It also offers some important clues to the future direction of Russian intelligence operations, both at home and abroad.

Moscow media have suggested that Lebedev's appointment is only the latest step in Putin's effort to consolidate power. According to this view, Putin wants an intelligence chief whom he knows well and has confidence in. Putin met Lebedev while serving in East Germany; he belongs to the same generation as Lebedev; and in contrast to most senior Russian intelligence officers, neither Putin nor Lebedev ever worked undercover in the field.

But if Lebedev is close to Putin, he is also very different both from the Russian president and his predecessor, Trubnikov. Lebedev joined the KGB in 1973 after graduating from the Chernigov branch of the Kyiv State University. Unlike Putin and most of the former KGB colleagues the Russian president has promoted, Lebedev did not join the KGB either voluntarily or through recruitment. Rather, he was sent to work there by the Komsomol.

Most KGB officers traditionally have disliked such colleagues because of the privileges they often enjoy. This may help to explain why Lebedev did not go on to the Andropov Institute, the usual path to becoming a foreign intelligence operative. Instead, he studied at the Diplomatic Academy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, after graduating from there in 1978, was transferred to the central apparatus of the KGB's First Chief Directorate.

After his posting in East Germany, Lebedev rose through the ranks, eventually becoming chief of an SVR directorate. There his ascent appears to have stopped. In 1998, according to "Segodnya," Lebedev was sent into "honorable exile" in Washington as the official SVR representative to the US intelligence community.

Media speculation on Lebedev has also focused on his "western" experience. Lebedev has worked only in Europe and the U.S., and thus his appointment may represent the end of the dominance of the "orientalists" in Russian intelligence. The last three SVR chiefs--Leonid Shabarshin, Yevgenii Primakov, and Trubnikov--all worked in the Middle East and South Asia, and there is a tendency among both them and those they have promoted to view the "westerners" as having failed in their conduct of the Cold War. But this rise of the "westerners" does not necessarily mean that Russian intelligence will adopt a friendlier approach to the West.

Several other reasons, less widely publicized, suggest, however, that Lebedev's promotion is likely to lead to a change: the lack of compatibility between the SVR and the emerging Russian national security community, the SVR's split from the new political elite, and its growing irrelevance to Putin's foreign-policy goals.

First, unlike the KGB's domestic offspring, the SVR survived the tumultuous Yeltsin decade relatively unscathed. While in power, Yeltsin appointed almost as many chiefs of Russian domestic security agencies as did the Communists over 74 years. This high turnover, combined with constant reorganization, left those agencies in a state of confusion. The SVR, on the other hand, continued to function much as it had in the past, with few leadership changes and fewer reorganizations. Primakov served from 1991 to 1996, and when he was promoted to foreign minister four years ago, he secured the appointment of his close associate Trubnikov.

Moreover, the SVR's political role increased dramatically after 1998 as an initiator as well as a tool of foreign policy, bringing it into conflict with the interests of the new political and economic elites. Last September, for example, Yeltsin publicly stated that the SVR plays a greater role in the formulation of Russian foreign policy than the Foreign Ministry or any other institution. The SVR played a key role in defining Russian positions on issues such as the transfer of nuclear technologies to Iran, NATO expansion, any modification of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

The SVR also pushed the favorite notion of its "orientalists"--the doctrine of a multipolar world--into the forefront of Russian national security and military doctrines. And because it maintained its integrity, by the end of the Yeltsin presidency the SVR was one of the few reliable levers Yeltsin had for conducting foreign policy.

At the same time, the SVR was less sensitive to Yeltsin's personal problems than to the country's, which may prove to be the real reason for the change at the top now. It devoted a great deal of time toward neutralizing Western reaction to corruption and money-laundering reports, but it did much less to protect the Yeltsin family. That approach won the SVR support in the West but not in the Kremlin. Indeed, some in Yeltsin's entourage began to suspect that Primakov proteges in the SVR were using their contacts with Western intelligence services to undermine Yeltsin by leaking information to those foreign agencies.

In February 1999, "Novye izvestiya" and "Moskovskaya pravda" published the so-called "Primakov list" of 162 people involved in international corruption. That list included virtually the entire political and economic elite of the country-except for Primakov, Putin, and former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin. While the Chechen war has detracted Western attention from corruption, the latter remains a major issue of concern for many people in Moscow who might be charged with it. By naming a loyalist to head the SVR, Putin is thus sending a signal that the Russian intelligence services will do what he wants both to protect his friends and to go after his enemies. The author is senior fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, D.C.