RUSSIAN PRESIDENT ASKS SECURITY COUNCIL TO UPDATE PROCEDURES FOR MOBILIZATION PREPAREDNESS...
Speaking at a meeting of the Security Council devoted to the mobilization readiness of the Russian armed forces, Vladimir Putin said mobilization procedures are outdated and do not correspond to current political and economic realities, Russian news agencies reported on 27 November. Putin added that, while Russia has abandoned central economic planning, it continues to use the old, inefficient, and unreliable system of military management for emergency situations. But according to Putin, one should not explain Russia's desire to reorganize its military infrastructure in terms of recent international developments. "We are doing this not because of an emergency but because of an objective need for renewal," he said. VY
...GIVES BRIEFING ON RUSSIAN AIRLIFT TO AFGHANISTAN...
At the same Security Council meeting, Putin revealed that he ordered a military airlift involving 12 Il-76 military transport aircraft loaded with some 400 support and security staff personnel from the Defense, Foreign Affairs, Emergency Situations, and Health Ministries, as well as other government agencies, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 27 November. The planes landed at the former Soviet air base in Bagram. Putin said his order for the airlift was given following a request by Afghan President and Northern Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani's government, and was carried out with the help of U.S. troops and Northern Alliance forces. One of the first tasks of the personnel will be to reopen the Russian Embassy and other missions in Kabul, "Vremya novostei" reported. VY
...AS ARMED RUSSIAN CONSTRUCTION UNIT ARRIVES IN KABUL
Part of the newly deployed Russian contingent in Kabul consists of military engineering troops who will be responsible for restoring air transportation facilities and setting up a Russian humanitarian aid center, RIA-Novosti reported on 27 November. According to a Defense Ministry spokesman, the Russian military also will use IL-76 transport planes to deliver additional humanitarian aid to the central provinces of Afghanistan. VY
PREMIER SUPPORTS REVITALIZATION OF CIVIL DEFENSE...
Speaking at a meeting with senior officers of the Emergency Situations Ministry, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said that one of the main tasks of the ministry is to reeducate the population regarding civil defense and preparedness for critical situations, RIA-Novosti reported on 27 November. Although the civil defense system is still functioning, it requires an overhaul to remedy its inability to recognize chemical and radiological threats, and weaknesses in communication and alarm systems. In an effort to remedy the situation the government has allotted the ministry 2 billion rubles ($690 million) for 2002, according to Kasyanov. VY
...BACKS RAILWAYS MINISTER AKSENENKO...
Prime Minister Kasyanov told "Argumenty i Fakty" on 28 November that he does not quite understand why law enforcement agencies keep focusing on Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko's case. "I have read the prosecutor's documents and have found nothing that could be considered as a crime," Kasyanov said. "My opinion of Aksenenko is that he is a manager who stands firmly on his feet. He cares for the sector he is in charge of. Obviously, he made mistakes. But mistakes may be corrected," Kasyanov added. With this interview, Kasyanov put an end to the debate on Aksenenko's fate in the government that had developed in the Russian media over the past few days. On 26 November, First Deputy Prosecutor-General Yurii Biryukov told NTV that Aksenenko will appear in court. Aksenenko went on leave on 25 October, but returned informally to office earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 November 2001). VC
...BEFORE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS EXAMINES AKSENENKO'S INVESTMENT POLICY
Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers scheduled a presentation on 28 November by acting Railways Minister Aleksandr Tselko on the ministry's investment policy. Aksenenko was expected to defend the ministry's policy as well. The Railways Ministry plans to invest 161 billion rubles ($5.3 billion) in 2002, 38 billion of which is expected from both the EBRD and the World Bank. Additional income is to come mainly from fare increases that are expected to be examined by the government after 5 December, "Vedomosti" reported on 28 November. Investments should be oriented toward modernizing technical management (32 billion rubles), but also into improving railway networks and finishing construction of some portions of the Trans-Siberian railway (4 billion rubles), although "Vedomosti" added that the Economic Development and Trade Ministry badly received the investment strategy of the Railways Ministry. VC
FINANCE MINISTER SEES THREATS TO 2002 BUDGET
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin announced that his government has prepared proposals to delay financing some items in the 2002 budget in the event that revenues fall short of projections, RBK reported on 27 November. According to Kudrin, such a scenario would occur should oil prices fall to $10 per barrel. In that event, and should the proposed subsequent measures to delay financing prove insufficient to cover the difference, the government is prepared to slash the budget by 68.6 billion rubles ($2.37 billion). As a final resort, Kudrin suggested that provisions of the budget could be divided into first and second priority categories. The last of Kudrin's proposals is absolutely lawless, "Russkii fokus" commented on 27 November, as the state budget cannot legally be divided into categories. VY
RUSSIA REPORTS SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN TRADE WITH EU
According to a report published by the European Union statistics agency Eurostat and cited by "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 27 November, Russia has posted the highest growth of any country in its trade with the EU over the first eight months of this year. Over that time period, Russian trade with the EU increased by 45 percent, followed by China by 28 percent, and the Czech Republic by 20 percent. Russia also drastically increased its trade with countries that are candidates for EU membership, especially Poland. Russian-Polish trade has grown 62 percent over the last two years, according to the agency. VY
KREMLIN REDUCING TRAFFIC POLICE
Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandr Chekalin has announced that the number of traffic police will be reduced by 15-20 percent nationwide and those remaining will receive pay raises, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. "We do not need poor traffic policemen," Chekalin said, rejecting popular public opinion that the traffic police are one of the most corrupt entities in the country. VY
MOBILE PHONE SECTOR TO GET DEFENSE MINISTRY FREQUENCIES
The government has approved a program to convert radio frequencies in the range of 900 MHz from military to civilian use, mainly to benefit cell phone operators, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 November. Until recently only 4 percent of radio frequencies in the Russian Federation were used for nonmilitary use. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry announced that it will convert its radio equipment and especially that of military aviation to the 1,000-MHz range. VY
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH THREATENS TO EXCOMMUNICATE SCIENTISTS INVOLVED IN CLONING RESEARCH
The Russian Orthodox Church has responded strongly to recent reports of human embryo cloning in the United States, saying it will excommunicate any Russian scientists engaged in such research, as well as persons who receive or use cloned stem cells for medical treatment, Interfax reported on 27 November. "We unconditionally condemn therapeutic and reproductive cloning," Moscow Patriarchate spokesman Father Anatolii Ilin told the agency. VY
HEAD OF NAKHODKA PORT MURDERED
Leonid Bochkov, the head of the Nakhodka port authority, the major trade terminal of the Russian Far East, was gunned down in that city in an apparent contract murder, lenta.ru reported on 27 November. The port of Nakhodka is the principal center for export-import operations between Russia and the Asian-Pacific region with a capacity of 13 million tons of goods per year. VY
SUICIDE ON BOARD RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SUBMARINE
Igor Vasilenko, an officer on the nuclear submarine "Omsk," committed suicide on board the Pacific Fleet sub, strana.ru reported Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygailo as saying on 27 November. Dygailo said the 33-year-old Vasilenko most likely took his life following a family conflict. VY
RUSSIAN GAS EXPORTS TO EUROPE FALL SLIGHTLY OVER FIRST 10 MONTHS OF YEAR
Supplies to Western Europe over the first 10 months of 2001 amounted 69.6 billion cubic meters, compared to 74.1 billion last year, a Gazeksport official told Interfax on 27 November. Over the same period, Russia exported 32.2 billion cubic meters to Eastern Europe, compared to 31.2 billion cubic meters last year. VC
ROSOBORONEKSPORT TO BE TRANSFORMED FROM TRADE MEDIATOR TO INVESTMENT AGENCY
The primary goal of the state arms export company Rosoboroneksport is now to transform itself from a trade mediator into an investment agency for the Russian defense industry, Rosoboroneksport General Director Andrei Belyaninov told "Vedomosti" on 26 November. In addition, the company plans to increase its stakes in Russian defense enterprises. "A state mediator lacking its own production base is at risk of being exposed to various fluctuations and can simply not survive," Belyaninov added. Rosoboroneksport is currently seeking to increase its control over the Sukhoi aircraft holding company, which controls approximately half of Russian arms exports. Arms exports have brought in around $3.6 billion thus far in 2001, while the 2001 target was $3.2 billion, Belyaninov said. VC
THE PRE-ELECTION PLOT THICKENS IN SAKHA...
Some Russian agencies reported on 27 November that investigators raided the campaign headquarters of incumbent Sakha (Yakutia) President Mikhail Nikolaev; however, subsequent reports clarified that the republic's prosecutors actually raided the hotel rooms of visiting public relations specialists, who had prepared campaign leaflets slandering other candidates, including Deputy Prosecutor-General Vasilii Kolmogorov. Kolmogorov is considered to be the Kremlin-backed candidate in the republic's presidential elections scheduled for 23 December. According to Interfax-Eurasia, three election specialists are to be charged with slander, inciting ethnic hatred, and vandalism. Meanwhile, after being ordered by the federal Supreme Court on 20 November to reopen their consideration of the candidacy of incumbent Sakha (Yakutia) President Mikhail Nikolaev by 25 November, Sakha's Supreme Court justices decided on 26 November to postpone consideration of the case until 28 November. JAC
...AS NEW ELECTION SCANDALS SURFACE IN PRIMORSKII KRAI
A candidate in upcoming elections for the krai's legislative assembly, Nikolai Golik, has accused his competitors of trying to murder him, NTV reported on 27 November. The station also reported that a deputy presidential envoy to the Far Eastern federal district, Aleksandr Drozdov, brought a document to a recent session of the krai's election commission listing the names of almost 50 candidates for the krai's legislature who are alleged to have links to organized crime. According to polit.ru, some 252 candidates are signed up to compete in the 9 December election. JAC
SKURATOV'S COMEBACK IN DOUBT
Former Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov has filed a complaint with a court in Ulan-Ude challenging an earlier protest filed by Buryatia Prosecutor Pavel Makeyevskii that challenged Skuratov's recent nomination to the Federation Council, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 November 2001). Makeyevskii charged that procedural rules were violated during voting in the republic's legislature to confirm Skuratov's selection. Buryatia's legislature will discuss Skuratov's appointment again on 28 November. Meanwhile, Khabarovsk Krai Governor Viktor Ishaev announced on 27 November that he will tap the first deputy head of the krai's administration, Andrei Chirkin, to represent him the upper legislative chamber in January. On 22 November, deputies in the Kemerovo Oblast legislature selected former State Duma deputy Svetlana Orlova as their representative, according to RIA-Novosti. Orlova was previously elected from Primorskii Krai. JAC
IS ANOTHER RUSSIAN CITY BANKRUPT?
Voronezh Mayor Aleksandr Kovalev has suggested that his city be declared bankrupt and external administration be imposed since the city cannot pay for heat and energy for 2002 or make good on past debts to the local electricity supplier, presscenter.ru reported on 27 November. Kovalev is placing the blame for the situation on the oblast's governor and legislators. The oblast legislature recently passed a budget that provided for only 35 percent of the city's financing needs. Earlier this month, the Samara Oblast administration imposed external financial control over the city of Samara because it said that city is effectively bankrupt (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). JAC
UDMURT LANGUAGE GIVEN LOWER STATUS IN LOCAL LAW?
Deputies in Udmurtia's legislative assembly approved on 27 November a law establishing the republic's state language, Interfax-Eurasia reported. According to the republic's constitution, the state languages in Udmurtia were Russian and Udmurt. Under the new law, state organs can use Udmurt along with the Russian Federation's state language, Russian. Official signatures within the republic's borders should be made in both languages, but beyond the republic borders in Russian. Signs for towns, cities, rivers, and national parks should be written in both languages -- Russian first, then Udmurt. Street signs do not have to be written in Udmurt. JAC
IS BIN LADEN HEADING FOR CHECHNYA?
Citing unspecified sources in Pakistan, "Izvestiya" claimed on 28 November that terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is heading for Chechnya via Turkmenistan. On 27 November, ITAR-TASS reported citing "sources in Tokyo" that Bin Laden is en route for Uzbekistan via Tajikistan, and that his ultimate destination is Chechnya. LF
PRESIDENTIAL BODYGUARD TO BE CHARGED IN ARMENIAN CAFE DEATH
Aghamal Harutiunian, a member of President Robert Kocharian's bodyguard, is to be charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the killing in a Yerevan cafe two months ago of Poghos Poghosian, an Armenian from Georgia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 27 November. Poghosian was found dead on the cafe premises early on 25 September, having apparently been beaten by Kocharian's bodyguards after he insulted the president. An autopsy determined that he died from a blow to the head (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September and 20 November 2001). LF
ARMENIAN PRESIDENT URGES CLOSER ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH RUSSIAN REGIONS
During talks in Yerevan on 27 November with visiting Leningrad Oblast Governor Valerii Serdyukov, President Kocharian urged more extensive economic cooperation between individual regions in the two countries, Noyan Tapan and Interfax reported. Serdyukov is in Armenia to study specific cooperation projects with the Aragatsotn region. LF
ARMENIAN, BULGARIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS DEEMED WORST IN EUROPE
A study conducted by the Austrian Institute for Applied Ecology ranked Armenia's Medzamor and Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear power plants the most hazardous in Europe, AFP reported on 27 November. In second place were six Russian plants, including Sosnovyi Bor, Kazakhstan's BN-350, and the Ignalina plant in Lithuania. The study noted that Medzamor, Kozloduy, Sosnovyi Bor, and the Kazakh plant are all located in regions that are prone to earthquakes. The EU has financed extensive safety measures at Medzamor, and a visiting delegation from the World Association of Nuclear Operators classified the plant as safe in May 2000. LF
ISLAMIC PARTY ACTIVIST ARRESTED IN AZERBAIJAN
Hajiaga Nuriev, the deputy chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, was arrested on 25 November at the Astara border post with Iran on charges of resisting the authorities and offering a bribe, Turan reported on 27 November. AP quoted National Security Ministry spokesman Araz Gurbanov as saying that Nuriev was attempting to take "suspicious documents" into Iran. National security officials have since sealed the party's headquarters in Baku. Nuriev was one of four members of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan imprisoned in April 1997 on charges of spying for Iran. The four were pardoned by President Heidar Aliev in November 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 April 1997 and 18 November 1999). LF
TWO KILLED IN BOMBING OF GEORGIAN TERRITORY...
Unidentified aircraft presumed to be Russian entered Georgian airspace from Russia during the evening of 27 November and dropped five bombs on a sparsely inhabited district of the Pankisi gorge some 60 kilometers from the Russian border, Georgian and Russian agencies reported. Two shepherds and most of their sheep and cattle were killed. The Russian Defense Ministry has denied responsibility for the bombing raid. LF
...FOR WHICH PARLIAMENT LAMBASTES DEFENSE MINISTER
Parliament deputies on 28 November harshly criticized Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze and demanded that he and Border Guard commander Valerii Chkheidze explain to parliament why the air attacks were not prevented, Caucasus Press reported. Tevzadze declared last month after unidentified aircraft bombed Abkhazia's Kodori gorge that any aircraft that violates Georgian airspace in future will be shot down (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2001). LF
GEORGIAN OFFICIAL ACCUSES UN OF BIAS TOWARD ABKHAZIA
Meeting on 27 November in Tbilisi with UN special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict Dieter Boden, Tamaz Nadareishvili, the chairman of the Abkhaz Supreme Council in exile, accused the UN of bias toward the Abkhaz side and of failing over the past eight years to achieve any real progress toward resolving the Abkhaz conflict, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. Nadareishvili asked Boden to persuade the UN to amend the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia to empower it to enforce a settlement. Boden reportedly refused, saying that he categorically opposes the use of force, and arguing that the current UN mediation can achieve a solution to the conflict. Interfax quoted Boden as saying that in order to facilitate a resumption of talks between the Georgian and Abkhaz governments, Georgia should withdraw the forces it has deployed in the Kodori gorge (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001). Nadareishvili reportedly threatened to mobilize the Georgian guerrilla bands operating in the conflict zone in order to restore Georgian control over Abkhazia by force. LF
KAZAKH OIL PIPELINE FORMALLY INAUGURATED
The official launch ceremony for the Caspian Pipeline Consortium pipeline from Tengiz in Kazakhstan to Novorossiisk took place on 27 November, six weeks after the first tanker was loaded at Novorossiisk with Tengiz crude, Interfax and Caspian News Agency reported. The 1,580-kilometer pipeline took two years to build and has an initial throughput capacity of 28.2 million tons per year, which will increase to 67 million tons. The launch ceremony was originally scheduled for early August but was repeatedly postponed due to Russian objections to the terms stipulated by the members of the consortium that built the pipeline for its operation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July, 1, 13, and 20 August, and 7 September 2001). Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbaev, who had been scheduled to attend the original launch in August, were absent from the 27 November ceremony. LF
KAZAKH PRESIDENT ADVOCATES MEDIA CODE OF HONOR...
Addressing a gathering of businessmen in Astana on 27 November, President Nazarbaev appealed to them to persuade the media outlets they own to refrain from publishing materials insulting rivals or accusing them of crimes or corruption, Interfax and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. He suggested that businessmen work with the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Social Concord to draft a code of behavior that would ban such allegations, warning that if they fail to do so he may have to resort to "draconian measures" against privately owned media outlets, Interfax reported. LF
...NAMES NEW DEPUTY PREMIER
Also on 27 November, President Nazarbaev issued a decree appointing Transport and Communications Minister Karim Massimov a deputy prime minister, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Massimov, who is 36, replaces former First Deputy Premier Daniyal Akhmetov, who was named governor of Pavlodar Oblast last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001). LF
KAZAKH MINISTER WARNS FALLING OIL PRICES WILL AFFECT 2002 BUDGET
The fall in international oil prices will have a sharp impact on Kazakhstan's budget for next year, State Revenues Minister Zeynolla Khakimzhanov told the parliament's Economy, Budget, and Finance Committee on 27 November, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. He added that improved tax collection could help compensate for the inevitable revenue shortfall. On 7 November, Economy and Trade Minister Zhaqsybek Kulekeev told parliament that planned budget spending for 2002 will not be revised downward unless oil prices fall to $16 per barrel (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 2001). LF
KAZAKHSTAN, TURKEY IMPOSE MUTUAL VISA REQUIREMENT
Under the terms of an agreement signed on 27 November, Turkey and Kazakhstan will in future demand that each other's citizens obtain a visa to enter their territory, ITAR-TASS reported. A Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman said the new restriction is intended to prevent illegal migration and will not affect trade and business ties as businessmen from both countries will enjoy unspecified privileges in applying for visas. LF
TURKMEN PRESIDENT DEMANDS DEFENSE MINISTER SHOULD SPEND TWO MONTHS IN RANKS
Speaking on Turkmen television on 27 November, President Saparmurat Niyazov announced that he is sending Defense Minister Gurbandurdy Begendzhov to spend two months with military units in the towns of Serdar and Serkhetabad to improve his understanding of the armed forces' needs, Interfax reported. Niyazov said that the 45-year-old Begendzhov "is young and does not have enough experience of working in the armed forces." Niyazov appointed Begendzhov, a trained veterinarian who made his career in the Komsomol before transferring to the KGB, as defense minister in June. Prior to that appointment, Begendzhov served as deputy to National Security Minister Mukhamed Nazarov, who is reputed to be the second most powerful official in Turkmenistan after Niyazov. LF
MASS ARRESTS REPORTED IN BELARUS
Over the past two weeks, Belarusian prosecutors have brought 210 criminal cases to court and issued arrest warrants for 720 people, mostly state officials of various levels and managers of state-run enterprises, the Charter-97 website reported on 27 November. The website suggested that the recent wave of arrests reflects President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's deepening mental disorder. Earlier this year Belarusian psychiatrist Dzmitry Shchyhelski publicized his diagnosis that Lukashenka is suffering from a "moderately pronounced psychopathy with the prevalence of traits of a paranoid and distractive personality disorder" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 2001). "The demand made by the head of state to eradicate corruption is entirely fair. That is why we accept his complaints that corruption still exists. At one time the president gave the KGB the task of preventing Belarus from turning into a place in which secret services could act freely," KGB spokesman Fyodar Kotau commented on the recent arrests to "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" last week. JM
UKRAINIAN, ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS OPTIMISTIC OVER RELATIONS...
On 27 November in Kyiv, Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana discussed border and minority issues as well as economic and trade relations with his Ukrainian counterpart Anatoliy Zlenko, Ukrainian media reported. "I am delighted to say today that we are ready for constructive work aimed at finding an appropriate legal form of solving border issues," Ukrainian Television quoted Zlenko as saying. Kyiv and Bucharest are currently at loggerheads over the delimitation of the continental shelf with oil deposits around the Serpents Island in the Black Sea. In turn, Geoana said both countries are today witnessing an "impressive breakthrough" in bilateral relations. JM
...BUT ROMANIAN MINISTER WORRIED ABOUT DEFINITION OF MOLDOVAN
Meeting with deputy parliamentary speaker Viktor Medvedchuk later the same day, Geoana suggested "avoiding the confusion about the definition of the ethnicity of the Romanians who say that they are Moldovans" during the Ukrainian census scheduled for 5-14 December, UNIAN reported. Geoana said that "Stalin's theory about the existence of a Moldovan language and a Moldovan nation is [still] being implemented," adding that this theory is "fiction that formally hampers the development of relations" between Ukraine and Romania. JM
UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS TO ASK COUNCIL OF EUROPE FOR HELP IN GONGADZE CASE
The ad hoc parliamentary committee investigating the murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze said on 27 November that it will appeal to the Council of Europe to help organize an international commission to probe the Gongadze case, Interfax reported. Committee head Oleksandr Zhyr said the international commission is necessary because the Ukrainian authorities, including President Leonid Kuchma, have thus far been uncooperative in the case. JM
METHANE BLAST KILLS FIVE UKRAINIAN MINERS
Methane gas exploded on 27 November in the Skochynskyy coal mine Donetsk, killing five miners, AP reported on 28 November, citing Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry. One miner is still missing. In 1998, a methane explosion at the Skochynskyy mine killed 63 and injured 51 miners. JM
ESTONIA, RUSSIA TO REVISE LEGAL AID ACCORD
The Estonian government on 27 November approved an additional protocol to the bilateral agreement with Russia on legal assistance and legal relations in civilian, family, and criminal cases that was signed in 1993, BNS reported. The agreement allows individuals and legal entities in one country to turn freely to courts, prosecution authorities, and notaries of the other party under whose jurisdiction civil, family, and criminal cases fall. After various problems arose in implementing the agreement, Estonian and Russian experts prepared a set of amendments included in the protocol. It expands the sphere of legal assistance to include cases of administrative violation, specifies language requirements for applications and additional documents, and defines more exactly deadlines for processing the applications. SG
LATVIA PROMISES TO BE A RELIABLE PARTNER IN NEW EUROPE
In a speech at "The Baltic States, Austria, and the Enlargement of the European Union" conference held in Vienna on 27 November, Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins stressed that Latvia is a reliable partner in the new Europe due to its successful political and economic reforms, BNS reported. He said that, as a potential EU member, Latvia wants to see the EU as a union in which small states and their parliaments have guaranteed equal rights. Berzins discussed with his Austrian counterpart Benita Ferrero-Waldner concrete policies, such as tax policy, that Latvia will need to solve during EU integration. He also met with Austrian National Council President Heinz Fischer and noted the very good relations between their countries, emphasizing the active exchange of visits by parliament deputies. SG
SWEDISH ARMY CHIEF LAUDS LITHUANIAN ACHIEVEMENTS
Swedish armed forces commander General Johan Ivar Hederstedt told Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius in Vilnius on 27 November that he is impressed by Lithuania's will to create a new defense system not just in order to join NATO, but to defend itself, BNS reported. At a later joint press conference, his Lithuanian counterpart Major General Jonas Kronkaitis expressed his gratitude for Sweden's support since the beginning of 2000 with military equipment and weapons worth more than $50 million along with the necessary training to use them. Sweden has donated equipment for outfitting two air-defense battalions and a motorized infantry battalion, and has pledged to provide enough equipment by 2005 to outfit another two Lithuanian battalions. SG
POLISH LAWMAKERS SEEK DEPUTY SPEAKER'S DISMISSAL OVER INSULT TO FOREIGN MINISTER...
Parliamentary speaker Marek Borowski on 27 November asked deputy parliamentary speaker Andrzej Lepper to resign by 8 p.m. the same day, Polish media reported. Borowski also withdrew his authorization for Lepper to perform any duties connected with his post, including chairing the Sejm debates. After Lepper failed to comply with Borowski's request, the ruling Democratic Left Alliance and Labor Union as well as the opposition Civic Platform submitted to the parliament motions to dismiss Lepper over his calling Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz a "scoundrel" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 November 2001). Voting on the motions is expected on 29 November. JM
...AND FOREIGN MINISTER'S DISMISSAL OVER EU CONCESSIONS
The parliamentary caucuses of the Law and Justice (PiS) and the League of Polish Families (LPR) are going to submit a motion to hold a vote of confidence in Foreign Minister Cimoszewicz, PAP reported on 28 November. PiS and LPR lawmakers say Cimoszewicz misled the parliament and the public by making unannounced concessions on land sales in EU membership talks (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 27 November 2001). Lawmakers from the LPR and Self-Defense on 27 November left a meeting of the parliamentary European Integration Committee in protest against Cimoszewicz's failure to show up at the meeting and "explain himself," the agency reported. JM
POLISH GOVERNMENT WIDENS 2001 BUDGET GAP
Finance Minister Marek Belka on 27 November said the government will increase this year's budget deficit for the second time, by 3.8 billion zlotys ($930 million) above the 29.14 billion zlotys fixed in the first amendment to the 2001 budget adopted by the previous cabinet. "The present amendment is in tune with earlier announcements and will help pay off overdue budget debts. It will be neutral from the viewpoint of this year's economic deficit," Belka said. The planned 2001 economic deficit is 5 percent of the GDP. JM
POLAND'S STATE TRIBUNAL SWORN IN DESPITE CONTROVERSY OVER CANDIDATE
Eighteen members of the State Tribunal were sworn in on 27 November, PAP reported. The swearing-in ceremony, originally scheduled for 20 November, was postponed amid controversy over Krzysztof Sniegocki, a candidate recommended by the Polish Peasant Party. According to "Gazeta Wyborcza," prosecutors are conducting a probe against Sniegocki for allegedly embezzling 264,000 zlotys ($64,000) and acting to the detriment of a Warsaw housing cooperative. The State Tribunal pronounces judgment on the responsibility of persons holding high state positions for violation of the constitution and laws, and it can also pass judgment on penal responsibility of those persons for offences committed in connection with the positions they have held. JM
CZECH GOVERNMENT REJECTS CRITICISM OF ARMS SALES TO YEMEN
On 27 November, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil dismissed criticism of heavy arms sales by the Czech Republic to Yemen, saying Yemen is not under a UN embargo and that the government takes all necessary measures to ensure that the weapons do not reach other destinations, CTK reported. The daily "Lidove noviny" and other media outlets had expressed concern that the weapons sold to Yemen could be misused in a region linked with terrorist activity, AP reported. "Lidove noviny" wrote that Yemen has become the Czech Republic's fifth-largest weapons customer and that sales of weapons and ammunition to that country amounted to 133.1 million crowns ($3.59 million) in the first 10 months of 2001. About half of the exports are sport and hunting weapons. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan came under strong criticism from the opposition and the media for meeting with Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr Qirbi in Prague just two days after the 11 September attack terrorist attack on the United States. MS
CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS NATO MUST CLEARLY STATE ENLARGEMENT OPTIONS...
Vaclav Havel, speaking in the Senate on 27 November, said the 2002 NATO summit in Prague will be of "historical importance" and the organization must by that time clearly enunciate how far its enlargement will proceed "and where will it stop," CTK and Reuters reported. Havel said this does not mean that all candidates must be admitted at one time, since "some are not internally mature for membership," but NATO should indicate which countries are to be admitted and which are "potential alliance members in the future." He said some states could gain membership straight away and some "in 10 years." But he added that the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia should by no means be left outside the alliance, and that Austria, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland, which are neutral states, could also join if they so wish. MS
...DOES NOT CONSIDER RUSSIA TO BE A VIABLE CANDIDATE
While Havel listed Albania, Croatia, and Serbia as potential future candidates, he said he is opposed to Russian membership in NATO. Havel said any attempt to integrate Russia into NATO would hurt the identity of the alliance and turn it into "just another boundless institution, a new OSCE or a new UN." NATO, he added in an obvious allusion to recent statements made by British Premier Tony Blair that Russia should be allowed to join the Atlantic alliance, "cannot casually offer membership to somebody [just because of] momentary harmonic relations." MS
NEW CZECH PARTY SETS 15 PERCENT TARGET FOR 2002 ELECTIONS
The recently established Path of Change party intends to garner around 15 percent of the vote in the parliamentary elections scheduled for mid-2002, CTK reported on 27 November. The agency cited Jiri Lobkowicz, a member of the Path of Change provisional leadership, who presented the party's program titled "Now or Never" to journalists. The program calls for direct presidential elections, as well as direct elections of regional heads and local mayors; the introduction of tax reforms that would transform the country into "Central Europe's Ireland;" reducing bureaucracy; and improving education. MS
IAEA SAYS RECOMMENDATIONS ON TEMELIN IMPLEMENTED 'ALMOST COMPLETELY'
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesman David Kyd told CTK on 27 November that the Czech Republic has implemented all but six of the 73 recommendations the IAEA made for the Temelin nuclear power plant five years ago. Kyd said the still-unimplemented recommendations are "not significant" enough to affect the plant's operational safety. Also on 27 November, the European Commission confirmed that Czech Premier Milos Zeman and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel might meet in Brussels on 29 November in the presence of Guenter Verheugen, the EU commissioner for enlargement, to mark the end of the so-called "Melk process" of assessing Temelin's environmental impact. CTK quoted an EU source as saying that "we are optimists," and adding that Verheugen "would certainly not invite the Austrian and Czech premiers to Brussels if he was not sure that an agreement can be reached on the completion of the Melk process." MS
KAFKA TO RETURN HOME
The personal library of Franz Kafka (1883-1924), including the first editions of his works, is to be returned to the writer's native Prague, AFP reported on 27 November. The German Porsche automaker said it acquired the library from an antiquarian book dealer in Stuttgart with the purpose of turning it over to the Franz Kafka Society in Prague. The collection includes some 1,000 books and other documents, and has been valued at around $112,000. The Czech-Jewish writer who lived in Prague wrote in the German language. MS
SLOVAKIA MARKS DUBCEK'S BIRTHDAY
Slovakia on 27 November marked the birthday of Alexander Dubcek, who would have been 80 years old had he not died in a car accident in 1992, CTK reported. Dubcek, a Slovak, was the leader of the Czechoslovak Communist Party at the time of the country's invasion by Warsaw Pact countries in August 1968, and became Federal Assembly chairman after the demise of the communist regime. Parliament speaker Jozef Migas spoke in the parliament about the "Dubcek legacy," calling him "the most famous of modern Slovakia's sons." An exhibition on Dubcek was opened in the parliament building, and the area in front of the legislature was named Dubcek Square in a ceremony held later that day. The National Bank issued a commemorative coin, and a postage stamp featuring Dubcek has also been issued. MS
CZECH PREMIER CALLS SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER AN 'AMATEUR'
Czech Premier Milos Zeman, who attended the commemorations in Bratislava for Dubcek's birthday, told journalists that the handling by Slovak Interior Minister Ivan Simko of the negotiations between the two countries on the border regime was "amateurish," CTK reported. Simko last week refused to discuss any changes in the regime at a meeting with his Czech counterpart Stanislav Gross. "Although I am one of the most arrogant Czech politicians," Zeman said, "I never refused to discuss an issue and I consider the approach of Slovak Minister Simko amateurish." He called for the continuation of the negotiations, saying the joint goal should be "to prevent the Czech-Slovak border from being turned into a paradise for people from third countries who then [illegally] immigrate to Germany via the Czech Republic." MS
SLOTA 2, MALIKOVA 0 IN SLOVAKIA
On 27 November, Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairwoman Anna Malikova suffered a second defeat in her struggle with the rival Real Slovak National Party (PSNS) when the parliament approved by a vote of 93 out of the 100 deputies present the establishment of a PSNS parliamentary group, CTK reported. On 22 November, the Constitutional Court "froze" a decision by the Supreme Court not to allow the PSNS to run in the upcoming regional elections. After the formation of the PSNS led by former SNS leader Jan Slota, the SNS was left without the minimum number of deputies (eight) necessary to have a parliamentary group. While Slota expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the vote, Malikova said the support of coalition parties for the PSNS in the vote shows the rival formation is a "lackey party." MS
FOURTH BSE CASE CONFIRMED IN SLOVAKIA
Tests have confirmed the fourth case of BSE ("mad cow disease") in a bovine from a central Slovak farm, CTK reported on 27 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001). A spokeswoman for the Agriculture Ministry said the farm where the bovine died of the disease has been placed under quarantine and that 12 other animals suspected of having been infected on the farm are to be slaughtered. MS
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH RECEIVES HONOR IN HUNGARY
On 27 November, Hungarian President Ferenc Madl presented former U.S. President George Bush Hungary's highest state honor in recognition of his role in the country's democratic transition. After receiving the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary, Bush praised Hungary for being among the first countries to suggest that Article 5 of the NATO charter should be invoked following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who is a previous recipient of the Hungarian award, also attended the ceremony in parliament. MSZ
HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES ANTITERRORISM BILL...
The parliament on 27 November approved antiterrorism legislation that authorizes the cabinet to impose an embargo on any state, organization, or individual suspected of terrorism, if such requests are filed by the UN or relevant EU bodies. It also amended legislation on banking to require banks to identify the initiator of transactions exceeding 2 million forints ($7,000). In addition, if bank employees have any suspicion of money laundering, they can refuse to process the transaction without explanation. Another amendment states that as of 1 January 2002, only credit institutions or their agents can be licensed to conduct money-changing activities. The legislative package also forbids the opening of anonymous bank accounts, Hungarian media reported. MSZ
...ACTS TO PROTECT HUNGARIAN LANGUAGE
The parliament also passed a bill aimed at preserving the Hungarian language from foreign influences. The bill states that as of 1 January 2003, all Hungarian-language publications and radio and television broadcasts in foreign languages will be required to provide Hungarian-language versions of all advertisements. The texts of information bulletins for customers and the names of businesses must also be presented in Hungarian beginning in 2003. In other news, FIDESZ deputy Arpad Potapi said in parliament that "alarming reports" from Romania indicate that the Csango minority in the northeast of the country are being harassed by Romanian authorities in their homes and that Hungarian-language classes are being impeded. In response, Foreign Ministry Political State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth said a recent recommendation by the Council of Europe states that Csangos are entitled to use the Hungarian language and to attend native-language classes. "We shall ask the Romanian officials for an explanation to see whether these incidents can be viewed as isolated abuses by local authorities or whether we are witnessing a coordinated series of anti-Hungarian measures," Nemeth said. He added that unless Romania settles the matter in an acceptable way, it cannot be ruled out that Hungary will have to resort to bilateral or international measures. MSZ
HUNGARIAN STUDY GAUGES RACISM AMONG STUDENTS
Minority ombudsman Jeno Kaltenbach told reporters on 27 November that according to a recent survey, 14 percent of students in their final year of teacher-training college are expressing racist views or harbor prejudices, Hungarian media reported. The survey found that a considerable number of future teachers are unaware of issues affecting ethnic minorities. Only 7.4 percent of the respondents hold open and tolerant views, while 36.5 percent can be described as "mildly affected by prejudice." Another 38.5 percent acknowledge the constraint of "coexistence" without hostile feelings, but do not consider Roma as equals. Political State Secretary Laszlo Sio said the Education Ministry will conduct its own survey of students and teachers regarding ethnic minority and nationality education. MSZ
DEL PONTE SAYS YUGOSLAVIA PROTECTING GENERAL MLADIC...
The Hague's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, told the UN Security Council in New York on 27 November that the Yugoslav authorities are shielding indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. She added that she has his address in Belgrade, and called on the council to demand his arrest along with that of the tribunal's other most-wanted war criminal, Radovan Karadzic. Del Ponte said Mladic is living "under the official protection of the Yugoslav army, [which] depends directly on the president of the federation," Vojislav Kostunica, Reuters reported. She noted that "General Mladic is said to enjoy military immunity, and he is being shielded from both national and international justice" The prosecutor stressed that the continuing liberty of the two war criminals "is an affront to the authority of this council, and mocks the entire process of international criminal justice." She added that the army is also protecting three officers wanted for atrocities in Vukovar in 1991. PM
...AND PROVIDING SANCTUARY FOR KARADZIC
Del Ponte also told journalists in New York on 27 November that Karadzic lives in Serbia but that the tribunal does not have a fixed address for him, Reuters reported. She added that "we are pushing the [Serbian authorities] and NATO to execute the arrest of Karadzic." She previously told the Security Council that the Yugoslav authorities have impeded the work of the Serbian government on the tribunal's behalf: "Instead of clear, unambiguous support to the government of Serbia, instead of taking a clear stand on cooperation with the tribunal, the federal authorities are doing everything possible to stop even limited cooperation by the [Serbian] republic authorities, who have been most helpful." She also slammed excuses made by Kostunica's government that it needs time to prepare legislation on cooperating with The Hague, saying: "I see no effort on their part to ensure adoption of such legislation." PM
YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES DENY DEL PONTE'S CLAIMS...
After Del Ponte spoke to the Security Council on 27 November, Yugoslav Ambassador to the UN Dejan Sahovic told the council that cooperation between his government at the tribunal is "proceeding well," Reuters reported. He said that this cooperation will be even better when the long-planned legislation is in place. He did not indicate when that might be, however. In Belgrade, Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic said that her claims are "completely unfounded." He told the news agency: "If Ms. Del Ponte knows that Mladic is in Yugoslavia, then she must know where in Yugoslavia. She should say where the army is guarding him so the army and everyone else can respond." PM
...WHICH RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT WESTERN POLICY TOWARD YUGOSLAVIA
Kostunica's disdain for the tribunal as an anti-Serbian instrument of U.S. foreign policy is well established, but it made news again in recent days when he defended a mutiny of paramilitary police opposed to cooperation with The Hague (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 17 July and 20 November 2001) and then made it clear that Belgrade will give The Hague only those documents that it chooses to provide (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001). Observers have noted that Western governments have lost potential leverage over Kostunica by granting his government early recognition and aid before it demonstrated that it is ready to cooperate fully with The Hague (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 5 January and 15 May 2001). Del Ponte's serious charges that Kostunica is responsible for sheltering a major war criminal raise questions as to what Western policy should now be toward him and his government. The BBC's Serbian Service reported on 28 November that plans are nonetheless going ahead for him to meet with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair on a two-day visit to Britain scheduled to begin later in the day. PM
ROW OVER SERBIAN POLICE CONTINUES
The editors of the weekly "Reporter" said in Belgrade on 27 November that they stand by their story regarding a list of police -- including members of the elite Red Berets -- allegedly wanted by The Hague, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 November 2001). The editors accused the Serbian government of trying to mislead the public and police by denying the authenticity of the list. But Dusan Mihajlovic, who heads the police, repeated his earlier assertion that the list is a fabrication. PM
RUSSIAN AND YUGOSLAV DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET
Sergei Ivanov and Slobodan Krapovic discussed Kosova and other issues in the Balkans in Moscow on 27 November, Interfax reported. They also dealt with that the news agency called "aspects of the fight against international terrorism" as well as issues relating to bilateral military cooperation. PM
ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEGISLATORS TRY TO AVOID SPLIT
A group of 30 Socialist members of parliament appealed in a statement to Prime Minister Ilir Meta and Socialist Party (PS) Chairman Fatos Nano to end their power struggle that threatens to lead to a split in the party, Reuters reported from Tirana on 27 November. The legislators said: "Do not take hasty decisions that would throw the country into an institutional crisis and put it on a one-way street to early elections... We appeal to you to show your utmost political responsibility not to lead the Socialist Party to an irreversible split by acting emotionally and hastily." At the core of the dispute is the demand by Nano and the party rank and file for greater party control over the government and its policies, Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 24 July 2001). PM
POLICE AGREEMENT BETWEEN ALBANIA AND MONTENEGRO
Officials of the Montenegrin and Albanian Interior Ministries signed an agreement on cooperation in Podgorica on 27 November, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
ALBANIA SLAMS POLICE BRUTALITY IN MACEDONIA
The Albanian Foreign Ministry file a protest on 28 November over the six-hour detention of three Albanian actors and a poet by Macedonian police four days earlier, dpa reported. The four Albanians, who had attended an unspecified cultural event, said the police held them because they were in possession of Albanian-language books. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sokol Gjoka argued that "such acts are deplorable and a violation of human rights." One of the detained men, Xhevahir Spahiu, said the police "action against us simply reflects a policy aimed at suppressing the Albanian language in Macedonia." PM
MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT WANTS NATO TO STAY...
President Boris Trajkovski is expected to formally request soon an extension of the mandate for NATO's Amber Fox mission, which expires in late December, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported from Brussels on 28 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 2001). The German-led mission consists of 700 NATO military personnel who ensure the security of 150 EU and OSCE civilian monitors. EU envoy to Macedonia Alain Le Roy told the German daily that ethnic Macedonians and Albanians alike have come to regard NATO as neutral and welcome its presence. For months, Macedonian nationalist media and politicians have described the Atlantic alliance as pro-Albanian (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 5 June 2001). PM
...BUT PERHAPS IN A DIFFERENT FORM
Trajkovski said in Brussels on 28 November that "I want today to announce that I will give strong consideration for the extension of the Amber Fox mission in Macedonia for an additional three months following the existing mandate, but I don't want to exclude the option of changing the mandate and framework of the current Amber Fox mission if necessary," AP reported. He did not elaborate. He stressed that "any further violent actions against the elected government or any further violent actions against peace...will be treated as a terrorist activity." Referring to his country's hopes of joining NATO, Trajkovski said: "Now is the time to look forward and to move forward to the future. Macedonia is a serious aspirant for NATO. We deserve this and we earned it." PM
SOLANA FAILS TO PERSUADE MONTENEGRINS TO DROP INDEPENDENCE IDEA
Javier Solana, the EU's foreign and security policy chief, said in Podgorica on 28 November that he failed to dissuade President Milo Djukanovic from holding a referendum on independence, which will probably take place in early 2002, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 November 2001). Solana said: "I tried to convey to all the leaders the very simple message...that Montenegro and Serbia should continue forming a federation." He denied, however, that he is trying to pressure the Montenegrins to do his bidding, adding that "we are not forcing the will of anybody" and that the EU will accept the results of any "legitimate referendum." Members of the Montenegrin parliament have told "RFE/RL Newsline," however, that EU officials have often been heavy-handed and "arrogant" in their dealings with Montenegro. PM
ROMANIAN LIBERALS TO BRING NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE OVER HARGHITA, COVASNA SCANDAL...
The National Liberal Party (PNL) announced on 27 November that it intends to submit in the parliament a no-confidence motion following the government's refusal to present in the parliament its reaction to the Romanian Intelligence Service's (SRI ) report on the alleged "loss of authority" in Harghita and Covasna counties, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The PNL's parliamentary group leader in the Senate, Radu F. Alexandru, said the motion will also deal with the cabinet's policies during its first year of tenure. Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Emil Boc said his party also wants to submit a no-confidence motion and appealed to all opposition formations to support it. Spokesmen for both the Democrats and the Greater Romania Party (PRM) said they might support the PNL motion, depending on whether it reflects their formations' policies. Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said the same day that the alleged "loss of authority" in Harghita and Covasna is "a false problem" and that the two counties, which have an ethnic Hungarian majority, are not the only Romanian counties where some laws are not always respected. MS
...WHILE ETHNIC HUNGARIAN DEPUTIES DEMAND DISMISSAL OF SRI DIRECTOR
Six deputies representing in the parliament the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) demanded on 27 November that SRI Director Radu Timofte be dismissed over the allegations made in the service's report, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. They also called for the dismissal of Interior Minister Ioan Rus, the first politician to have publicly made the allegations of "loss of authority," and of Ion Stan, the chairman of the parliamentary commission overseeing the SRI's activities. Rus said he will not withdraw his statement, and that the six UDMR deputies are acting "in league with those who wish to destabilize the government." Stan said he is prepared to "assume full responsibility" for having disclosed those parts of the report earlier this month. MS
ROMANIAN PREMIER SAYS UDMR 'SHOULD NOT BE HASTY' IN ACTIONS LINKED TO STATUS LAW
Premier Nastase said on 27 November that the UDMR "should not be hasty" in coordinating preparations for the issuance of Hungarian ID cards in line with the provisions of the Hungarian Status Law because "no such cards will ever be issued on Romanian territory," Mediafax reported. Nastase was reacting to a decision made last week by the council formed by the UDMR and Hungarian churches to elect UDMR Chairman Bela Marko as chairman of the 28-member coordinating council. The same day, Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar lodged a legal complaint with the Prosecutor-General's Office concerning the council's preparations for coordinating the implementation of the Status Law's provisions. MS
ROMANIAN AUTHORITIES FREEZE ASSETS OF FORMER STATE PRIVATIZATION FUND CHIEF
The authorities have ordered the freezing of assets belonging to former State Privatization Fund head Radu Sarbu, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Sarbu is under investigation for alleged illicit dealings in connection with the privatization of the Bucharest Hotel in Romania's capital. Twenty-two other persons involved in the privatization have also had their assets frozen, the daily "Jurnalul national" reported on 28 November. Sarbu, a deputy chairman of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, has said he is the victim of a smear campaign. MS
ROMANIAN RULING PARTY ACCEPTED AS FULL-FLEDGED MEMBER OF SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL
The Socialist International, meeting in the Dominican Republic, has decided to grant the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) the status of "consultative member," which is the equivalent to full membership, PSD General-Secretary Cozmin Gusa told Romanian television on 27 November. MS
ROMANIAN PREMIER MAKES DOCUMENTS ON ANTONESCU'S WAR CRIMES PUBLIC
Premier Nastase said during a teleconference with Romania's prefects on 27 November that the role of wartime Nazi-ally Marshal Ion Antonescu in Romanian history must "be treated with responsibility," Romanian media reported the next day. Nastase, who was criticized in several media outlets for having pledged during his recent U.S. visit that the cult of Antonescu will be curbed, showed the prefects the transcript of a government meeting of November 1941, when Antonescu asked whether his orders to execute 200 Jews for every Romanian soldier killed as a result of an explosion at the occupying Romanian army's headquarters in Odessa had been carried out. He also showed the prefects the reply of Transdniester Governor Gheorghe Alexianu, who said the Jews had been shot or hanged from lampposts, and a letter revoking the order for mass executions one month later when it turned out that the attack had been organized by the NKVD. Historians estimate the number of Jews killed following the incident in Odessa to be as high as 20,000, and the number of Romanian and Ukrainian Jews killed during the Holocaust in territories occupied by the Romanian army at between 120,00 and 410,000. MS
MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES 2002 BUDGET
The parliament on 27 November approved by a vote of 72 for and 13 against the third and final reading of the country's 2002 budget, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. No amendments were made to the budget's main parameters providing for revenues of 3.59 billion lei ($278.2 million), expenditure of 3.91 billion lei, and a deficit of 320 million lei amounting to 1.5 percent of the GDP. Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev, while addressing the parliament before the vote, said the cabinet has succeeded in stabilizing the economic situation and creating conditions for renewed economic growth. MS
MOLDOVA RETURNING TO SOVIET ADMINISTRATIVE-TERRITORIAL STRUCTURE
The official governmental Russian-language daily "Nezavisimaya Moldova" on 27 November published the bill recently submitted by the cabinet to the parliament that provides for a return to the Soviet-era administrative-territorial structure, Infotag reported. That structure had been replaced in 1998 by one based on the Romanian-style system by which counties (judete) were considered basic units. The new structure will be based on the Soviet-era districts, of which there will be 34. The structure also provides for a separate autonomous Gagauz-Yeri unit, as well as for a separate Transdniester autonomous region. Chisinau and Balti are to be considered "cities" (in the current structure only the capital has that status). MS
TRANSDNIESTER TO SUE RTR
Transdniester "Information Minister" Boris Akulov said on 27 November that the authorities in the separatist region will sue the Russian RTR channel for the "slander of Transdniester and its leadership," ITAR-TASS reported. Akulov said that in the program whose broadcast was cut off by the authorities on 25 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 November 2001), "we were presented as a criminal territory, where corruption, contraband, and the selling of [illegal] arms flourish." MS
BULGARIAN NATIONAL SECURITY CHIEF RESIGNS
Atanas Atanasov, the head of the National Security Service, tendered his resignation to President Petar Stoyanov on 27 November, BTA reported. A press release from the presidential office said Atanasov would present the reasons for his resignation on 28 November. MS
UKRAINE ONE YEAR AFTER 'KUCHMAGATE'
Exactly one year ago, on 28 November, Socialist leader and former parliamentary Chairman Oleksandr Moroz released to a stunned parliament tape recordings made illicitly by a former presidential guard, Mykola Melnychenko, within President Leonid Kuchma's office. Melnychenko, an expert in counter-surveillance, had regular access to Kuchma's office over many years.
The tapes contain what appear to be discussions of many illegal acts, including undeclared sales of weapons abroad, rigging the October-November 1999 presidential election and April 2000 referendum on reducing powers to parliament, persecution of independent journalists, manipulation of U.S. money-laundering investigations, high-level corruption, and misuse of public funds.
What subsequently became the "Kuchmagate" crisis has affected Ukrainian politics in many ways and revealed the stark contradictions between the declared and virtual worlds of Ukrainian politics. Initially the Ukrainian leadership denied that the tapes were authentic. Then after doubts concerning their authenticity were demolished, they changed track and now claim different parts of the tapes were spliced together to provide incriminating quotations out of context. Moroz and Melnychenko both offered to submit to a lie detector test to establish whether they were telling the truth, and the FBI recently administered a lie detector test to Melnychenko, which he passed. The anti-Kuchma opposition has suggested to President Kuchma that the best way to repair his reputation would be for him too to take a lie detector test, but to date he has refused to do so. A poll conducted last month revealed that 86 percent of Ukrainian citizens believe the tapes are authentic.
Thrown off balance by the taped revelations, the Ukrainian leadership was at a loss how to react. Criticism from Western governments and media was dismissed as "arm twisting." National Security and Defense Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk recently told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" that criticism by Western media threatens Ukrainian security. For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service was jammed because it broadcasted extracts from the tapes. In addition, Kuchma condemned as an "anti-Ukrainian action" the threat by the Council of Europe in April 2001 to suspend Ukraine's membership over the matter.
Street protests began in December 2000 to demand clarification of the taped revelations. The authorities used every means at their disposal to counter the surge of popular protests triggered by the release of the tapes. Public funds were used to print free, mass-circulation newspapers in support of the president. Journalists were sacked from the media if they published "Kuchmagate" materials. State employees, such as teachers, were forced to demonstrate in support of the "constitutional order" or face dismissal; these demonstrations were then presented as a demonstration of mass support for the president. Soviet-style congresses of mainly oligarch, centrist political parties were held that pledged their allegiance to the president.
In a 15 February statement, President Kuchma, Parliamentary Chairman Ivan Plyushch, and Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko accused those demonstrating against the president of posing a threat to "national security" and claimed that their actions could lead to "anarchy." State television poured scorn on the protesters in a manner not seen since the anti-"bourgeois nationalist" campaigns of the Soviet era. President Kuchma resorted to Soviet-era language, describing "Kuchmagate" as a "conscious provocation and clearly planned" campaign led by "pseudo oppositionists" and "professional revolutionaries," whom he compared with a "herd of cattle" and a "circus" that represented unemployed "bomzhyky" [homeless persons] paid by organizations abroad. Their actions, Kuchma continued, were based upon unpatriotic motives and threatened Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity because they are "extremists," "national socialists," and "a brown [fascist] plague."
The mass arrests of opposition activists and students after the 9 March anti-Kuchma demonstration, Ukraine's largest ever, were accompanied by beatings and illegal detentions. Students, many of whom were from Western Ukraine and Kyiv, were threatened with expulsion if they continued their antipresidential activities. Opposition to the president was portrayed as opposition to the Ukrainian state. This conflation of state and president reflects a corporatist view where the private and public domains are ill defined and there is a lack of transparency in the political and economic process. On 6 March, a presidential decree demanded that state officials sympathetic to the opposition should resign, a demand that was condemned by the EU as "inconsistent with the principles of human rights and the rule of law." Also in the wake of the 9 March demonstration, state television aired for the first time anti-Western programs alleging that the West was plotting with Melnychenko to install Yushchenko as president in place of Kuchma.
The long-term effects of "Kuchmagate" upon Ukrainian politics have been six-fold. First, public trust in Ukrainian institutions and elites has dropped even lower. The Soviet-era elite continues to rule Ukraine, and minimal turnover since 1992 has left in place a deep Soviet mentality that came to the surface during "Kuchmagate." Members of that old Soviet elite, such as Borys Paton, head of the Academy of Sciences since the Brezhnev era, Soviet-era Ukrainian prime ministers, and others were wheeled out to drum up support for the president. Second, over 1,000 members of the "Young Ukrainian" intelligentsia signed a damning indictment, itself a reflection of the disillusionment of young people with the regime in Ukraine. Third, the alliance between former national communists turned oligarchs and the national democrats, who led Ukraine to independence, has been irrevocably undermined. Antioligarch national democrats are now grouped within the "Our Ukraine" (Yushchenko) and "Front for National Salvation (Tymoshenko)" blocs formed to contest the March 2002 elections.
Fourth, a gulf has emerged between the pro-statehood, anti-Kuchma Socialists and the antistate Communists who came to Kuchma's rescue on many occasions during "Kuchmagate." Yushchenko, the liberal pro-Western reformer, was seen as more of a threat to the Communists than Kuchma.
Fifth, plans to implement the April 2000 referendum results to reduce parliamentary powers and increase those of the executive have collapsed because this would require a non-Left parliamentary majority made up of oligarchs and national democrats. Finally, although Kuchma has managed to stay in power, he remains fearful that the parliament elected next year will not grant him a peaceful retirement and immunity from prosecution after his term ends in October 2004. Taras Kuzio is a Research Associate at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Toronto.