SUPREME COURT GIVES PASKO ADDITIONAL VICTORY BUT FSB DISAGREES
The Supreme Court on 13 February found valid the second appeal by lawyers representing military journalist and environmental activist Grigorii Pasko and recognized as illegal the Defense Ministry's 1990 directive that bans servicemen with clearance from having unauthorized contacts with foreigners, RIA-Novosti reported on 13 February. However, a Federal Security Service (FSB) officer involved in the Pasko case and who refused to give his name said that neither this nor previous decisions of the court are likely to increase the chances that Pasko will be released (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 February 2002). On 14 February, Aleksandr Yegorkin, head of the FSB's chief investigative unit at the Pacific Fleet, told reporters in Vladivostok that the court's recent decision are not relevant for the Pasko case, since the law on state secrets was not repealed. VY
FOREIGN MINISTRY ASKS VATICAN TO REFRAIN FROM RAISING ITS PROFILE IN RUSSIA...
In an official note sent to the Vatican, the Russian Foreign Ministry asked the Holy See to annul its decision to set up four Catholic dioceses in Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 February 2002), strana.ru reported on 14 February. "Although Russia does not question the Vatican's right to self-organization, implementing its decision will cause complications between it and the Russian Orthodox Church," the note said. Therefore, continued the Foreign Ministry, "It recommends the Vatican take no action before resolving this issue with Russian Orthodox Church." VY
...AS RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ACCUSES VATICAN OF UNDERMINING ITS AUTHORITY
In its official reaction to the Vatican's decision, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church states that it "poses a challenge to the Church that is unheard of in Russian history," ORT reported on 13 February. The Synod statement also says that by its decision the Vatican lays claim "to Russian people as its flock, at a time when the Russian people culturally, spiritually, and historically are the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church." The Synod statement also blames the Vatican for the "acute deterioration of relations between two confessions." Meanwhile, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Foreign Relations Department, Archbishop Kirill, told RTR on 13 February that he has informed the Vatican that a visit by papal envoy Walter Kasper to Moscow planned for the end of this month is not "welcome anymore." VY
KORZHAKOV LAMBASTS BEREZOVSKY
The former head of the presidential security service under Russian President Boris Yeltsin's personal guards, Aleksandr Korzhakov, told Interfax on 13 February that the Russian security services must "more energetically demand the extradition of [embattled magnate] Boris Berezovsky, who slanders the president and the country and remains unpunished." Those services' collective failure to take any action against Berezovsky fuels rumors that "Vladimir Putin is bound by the promise of immunity he gave to Yeltsin and members of his family," Korzhakov noted. Moreover, Berezovsky has repeatedly accused Russian secret services of organizing terrorist explosions in 1999, and they are doing nothing to put an end to his "endless slander," Korzhakov said. Korzhakov failed to mention that it was he who first introduced Berezovsky to Yeltsin in 1994. VY
RUSSIAN ARMY SUFFERS FROM MASS EXODUS OF OFFICERS
Low salaries, inadequate social conditions, lack of status, and hazardous technical equipment are among the reasons for the mass exodus of officers from the Russian Army, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 February. According to data recently released by the General Staff, every 10th medium-rank officer position is vacant and among petty officers, every third. In the last few months over 100 officers lecturing in the Ground Forces Academy have asked for dismissal from military service, and if this trend continues, the academy will have to close in six months. About 70 percent of the officers who resigned last year were 30 or younger, the newspaper noted. Another reason for leaving the army is that much military equipment is in such poor condition that it is dangerous to use it. This is especially true for the Russian air force, which received very few new aircraft and helicopters over the past decade. Today the average Russian military pilot has 15-18 times fewer flying hours than his Chinese counterpart. Since 1991, over 400,000 officers have quit military service, the paper concluded. VY
RUSSIAN, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 13 February after talks in Moscow with his visiting Hungarian counterpart Janos Martonyi that they discussed creating a new framework for relations between Russia and NATO in the format "19 plus 1," and economic cooperation between Russia and the EU, RIA-Novosti reported. The same day, Martonyi also met with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to discuss bilateral trade. After their meeting, Kasyanov told reporters that he is not happy that the Russian trade balance with Hungary consists of 98.5 percent export of raw materials. He added that no solution has yet been found to the problem of Russia's $1.7 billion debt to Hungary, the interest on which now totals $285 million. VY
MOSCOW WARNS ABOUT RIFTS IN ANTITERRORISM COALITION
In a statement released to the media on 13 February, the Foreign Ministry expressed its concern at "the fact that the effect of 11 September, which made everybody come together for a common purpose, a fight against terrorism, is beginning to weaken," Interfax reported. The document also says that "those who preached the ideas of cold war and geopolitical confrontation are rearing their heads again." It restates Moscow's traditional accusation that the West applies "double standards towards different terrorist groups." The ambiguous document, however, cites no specific facts or fresh arguments and it is unclear to whom it is addressed and what prompted it. VY
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CREATES CLUB OF RELIGIOUS JOURNALISTS
Aleksandr Shepkov, spokesman for the pro-Kremlin journalists' association Media Union, which is headed by Aleksandr Lyubimov, has announced that his organization has created a club of Russian Orthodox journalists as the first stage in promoting unity among reporters writing about this confession, RIA-Novosti reported on 13 February. Meanwhile, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Publishing Department, Sergei Chapnin, said his Church organized the club to unite journalists working for 600 publications belonging to the Church. This is the first step towards creation of a unified mass media holding of the Russian Orthodox Church, he added. VY
SOMEONE WANTS KASYANOV INVESTIGATED?
On 12 February, Unity's spokesman Sergei Oleinik denied news reports that his faction is preparing a request that Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov conduct an investigation of some of Prime Minister Kasyanov's dealings when he worked at the Finance Ministry, Interfax reported. According to the agency, some deputies thought the news reports were part of a scheme to provoke such an investigation. "Versiya" reported in its 12 February issue that according to its unidentified sources, the pro-Kremlin Unity faction will request that the Prosecutor-General's Office look into news reports from two years ago that Kasyanov was nicknamed "Misha Two-Percent" for his alleged collection of illegal commissions while overseeing handling Russia's foreign debt. The weekly also reported that unnamed "observers" are "attaching more symbolic meaning to the recent confidential meeting between Kasyanov and Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin" than to Unity's alleged plans. Those observers also reportedly noted that the investigation that led to Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko's dismissal began with an Audit Chamber investigation. JAC
ANOTHER FSB MAN FOR THE UPPER HOUSE...
Four new senators joined the Federation Council on 13 February, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. Mikhail Golubkovskii, a former State Duma deputy with the Yabloko faction, will represent the legislature of Primorskii Krai. Anatolii Lyskov, a FSB lieutenant general from that agency's central apparatus, will represent the administration of Lipetsk Oblast. Vladimir Plotnikov will again represent the Moscow City Duma, while Yurii Volkov, who previously represented the presidential administration of the Komi Republic, will now serve the interests of Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Volkov is a former KGB administrator and former deputy presidential envoy to the Northwest federal district. The newspaper did not report who will now represent the Komi Republic. According to Radio Mayak, there are seven seats in the upper house still vacant. JAC
...AS SENATORS LOBBY FOR AUDIT CHAMBER
Also on 13 February, senators in the upper house voted in favor of introducing a bill amending the law on the Audit Chamber into the State Duma, "Izvestiya" reported on 14 February. The newspaper described the action as the "first legislative initiative" of the upper house under its new rules of formation. According to the daily, passage of the law in the Duma will not be easy, because not only the government but also many Duma deputies oppose strengthening the Audit Chamber. Audit Chamber head Stepashin said that he has not yet discussed the bill with Prime Minister Kasyanov and only learned of the government's opposition to the bill after the government's envoy to the upper house spoke against the proposed amendment. "Izvestiya" noted that "people have long spoken about the not-so-warm relations between Kasyanov and Stepashin." JAC
DEPUTIES WANT CONTROL OVER ELECTRICITY RATES
State Duma deputies approved on 13 February in the first reading a bill amending the law on state regulation of tariffs for electricity and heat, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. Under the bill, which was sponsored by the Fatherland-All Russia faction, tariffs for electricity and heat would be established once a year together with the adoption of the annual budget. The rates could be changed during the year only with the approval of both legislative chambers. According to the daily, the bill, if finally approved, would put rate setting under the control of legislators rather than the government. Not surprisingly, the government's envoy to the Duma, Andrei Loginov, spoke against the initiative. He argued that the bill violates Article 15 of the constitution regarding the government's right to regulate the economy. Nevertheless, 294 deputies voted in favor of the bill, according to Interfax. JAC
A PRESIDENT BY ANY OTHER NAME
Incumbent Tuva Republic President Sherig-ool Oorzhak is expected to win elections for the head of the republican government scheduled for 17 March, "Vremya MN" reported on 13 February. The republic changed its constitution, abolishing the post of president, so that Oorzhak could run for a third consecutive term without violating any rules against third terms for a president, according to the daily. Almost all of the republic's political elite is taking part in the election: eight candidates have been registered including the chairman of the republican parliament, Sholban Kara-ool, Kyzyl Mayor Aleksandr Kashin, former republican Election Commission Chairman Nikolai Ondar, First Deputy Mayor of Kyzyl Viktor Busatyi, head of the republic's legal department, Vyacheslav Darzha, Trading House M director Stanislav Pivovarov, and chairman of the administration of Tis-khem Viche-ool Shyyrap. According to EWI's "Russian Regional Report," on 6 February, Mezhprombank head Sergei Pugachev, who was recently named to represent the republic in the upper house, recently traveled to Kyzyl where he offered Oorzhak financial backing for his campaign. According to the weekly, "most observers believe that Pugachev's deep pockets will assure Oorzhak's victory." JAC
FREE RIDES TO COLLEGE TO BECOME FEWER
The Education Ministry plans to slash the number of citizens eligible for free higher education, ORT reported on 13 February. According to the report, there will be 170 free places in universities for every 10,000 people in Russia. Under the current system, students scoring over 70 percent on common state exams pay nothing, while those that score over 60 percent pay an extra $100 a year. The new system will be introduced gradually beginning this summer. Within two years, some students will be offered repayable loans under certain conditions. JAC
CENSUS TAKERS DON SKIS TO GET THE JOB DONE
Census takers on skis have begun counting the number of wild animals in the Stolby nature reserve in Krasnoyarsk Krai, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 February. The census takers will have to cover more than 47,000 hectares and will try to determine whether the stock of wild animals, such as elks, roe deer, musk deer, wolves, lynxes, and Siberian ferrets, has begun to increase since a decline was recorded in the mid-1990s. JAC
VALENTINE'S DAY FOR THE YOUNG AND WEALTHY
In a poll conducted on 13 February of 1,600 respondents, VTsIOM found that 43 percent of respondents consider Valentine's Day a holiday, but only 50 percent said they celebrate it. Those who celebrate the holiday are generally under 40 years old, not married, have a secondary education, and have relatively high incomes. Forty-six percent said that they had had one true love in their life, while 13 percent said that they had never experienced this phenomenon. One percent said that they had experienced true love five to 10 times. Those persons who said they have had only one great love were generally women, over the age of 55, married, and worked as managers or administrative personnel or in business. Those who had not found a great love were generally younger than 25, have lower incomes, and live in large cities. A breakdown for married men was not provided. JAC
ARMENIAN PRESIDENT SAYS KARABAKH WILL 'NEVER' BE PART OF AZERBAIJAN...
Speaking on 13 February at Yerevan State University, Robert Kocharian ruled out any future political status for the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic within Azerbaijan, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. "Nagorno-Karabakh has never been part of Azerbaijan and never will be," Kocharian said. "This is the bottom line. Beyond it one can think of some solutions and invent new statuses," he added to rapturous applause. LF
...EXPLAINS WHY OPPOSITION CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS WILL NOT BE PUT TO REFERENDUM
Kocharian also said during his 13 February speech that that if the constitutional amendments proposed by the opposition are put to a nationwide referendum along with the amendments prepared by the presidential commission on constitutional reform, there would be a danger that neither package of proposals would be endorsed by the minimum required one-third of all registered voters, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 42, 20 December 2001 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 January 2002). He implied that such a failure would weaken his standing in the run-up to the presidential ballot due in March 2003. Kocharian also said the referendum will take place either concurrently with local elections this autumn, or at the same time as the presidential poll. LF
AZERBAIJAN'S APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCE ON CORRUPTION WHISTLE-BLOWER
Azerbaijan's Court of Appeal on 13 February rejected former Naval Captain Djanmirza Mirzoev's appeal against the eight-year prison sentence handed down to him last November by the Court for Particularly Grave Military Crimes, Turan reported. Mirzoev was found guilty of instigating the 1993 murder of the director of Baku's Higher Naval College (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001). During the review of Mirzoev's case, a key witness withdrew incriminating evidence he said he was forced to give under pressure (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 February 2002), but the Court of Appeal nonetheless ruled that that testimony proves Mirzoev's guilt. The Council of Europe considers Mirzoev, who repeatedly publicized corruption within the upper echelons of the Defense Ministry, a political prisoner. LF
TWO IMPRISONED AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS RELEASED
On 13 February the Court of Appeal also commuted the sentences handed down last fall to two members of the opposition Adalet Party who clashed with police during the forced closure of the party's Sumgait office in September, Turan reported. The two men were sentenced, together with Fazail Tagiev, to 18 months' imprisonment, which has now been commuted to a one-year suspended sentence. Tagiev died in detention on 9 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 2002). LF
ADJAR LEADER SAYS SOME GEORGIAN FACTIONS SABOTAGE ABKHAZ PEACE PROCESS
In an interview with RosBaltConsulting, Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze, whom Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze named late last year as his personal representative for mediating a solution to the Abkhaz conflict, said there are powerful political forces in Georgia intent on preventing a solution to the Abkhaz conflict, but did not name them, according to Caucasus Press on 13 February. He said the greatest danger to the peace process is posed by persons in Georgia who want a new war to bring Abkhazia back under the control of the central Georgian government. But at the same time he predicted that the majority of displaced persons are "level-headed" enough to realize that a new war would make it impossible for Georgians and Abkhaz to live again as one community in Abkhazia. He said that at present the Russian peacekeepers deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone are the sole guarantee of a non-resumption of hostilities. Caucasus Press reported on 14 February that Abashidze, who is currently in Moscow to discuss the Abkhaz conflict with senior Russian officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 February 2002), has met with Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba, who is currently undergoing medical treatment in the Russian capital (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 5, 31 January 2002). LF
ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT IN EXILE ISSUES ULTIMATUM TO GEORGIAN LEADERSHIP
The Abkhaz parliament in exile, which comprises the Georgian deputies elected to the Abkhaz legislature in the fall of 1991, have issued a statement warning the Georgian leadership that they will undertake unspecified "concrete measures" to bring Abkhazia back under Georgian control if no progress in resolving the conflict is registered by 31 July, Caucasus Press reported on 13 February. The statement also registered deputies' opposition to the proposed withdrawal of Georgian army troops from the Kodori Gorge. Some, but not all, deputies also made clear their dissatisfaction with Shevardnadze's choice of Abashidze as his special representative for the Abkhaz conflict. LF
KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT ENDORSES INDIAN ACCESSION TO REGIONAL GROUP...
Visiting New Delhi on 12 February, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev held talks with his Indian counterpart K.R. Narayanan and with Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, ITAR-TASS reported. Nazarbaev invited Vajpayee to attend the Conference on Cooperation and Confidence Building in Asia to be held in Astana in June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2001). He also proposed that India become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Nazarbaev and Vajpayee signed a joint declaration noting the contribution by both forums to regional peace and stability. Also signed during Nazarbaev's visit was a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between Kazakhstan's Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce and the Confederation of Indian Industry. LF
...AS KAZAKH OIL SECTOR SOLICITS INDIAN INVESTMENTS
During a 12 February session in New Delhi of the Kazakh-Indian intergovernmental commission on economy and trade, Kazakh officials solicited the participation of India's ONGC Videsh Gas and Oil Corporation in the joint development of Kazakhstan's off-shore Caspian hydrocarbon deposits, ITAR-TASS reported. Indian representatives offered to participate in building liquefied gas plants in Kazakhstan. LF
KYRGYZ PRESIDENT SAYS FOREIGN TROOP PRESENCE TEMPORARY...
In an apparent response to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's query why foreign troops are deployed in some states that are signatories to the CIS Collective Security Treaty (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 February 2002), Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev said in Moscow on 13 February that the U.S. and French troops currently deployed in Kyrgyzstan have permission to remain there only for one year, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Akaev said Kyrgyzstan will consult with other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and signatories to the CIS Collective Security Treaty before extending that permission. LF
...PREPARES TO HEAD TO TURKEY
President Akaev will visit Turkey from 19-22 February, presidential administration official Almaz Atanbaev announced in Bishkek on 13 February, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Akaev left Kyrgyzstan on a previously unannounced "vacation" on 25 January, provoking criticism from parliament deputies that he has forfeited the moral right to remain president by absenting himself from the country at a time when tensions are rising as a result of widespread popular protest at the arrest and trial of parliament deputy Azimbek Beknazarov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 February 2002). LF
KYRGYZ SUPREME COURT OFFICIAL MEETS WITH BEKNAZAROV SUPPORTERS
Ulan Satarov, who is an aide to the chairman of Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court, met in Bishkek on 13 February with representatives of Beknazarov's supporters who have been staging pickets and hunger strikes across the country to demand his release, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Satarov told the protesters that the court "is considering" Beknazarov's request that his trial be held not in Djalalabad Oblast but elsewhere in Kyrgyzstan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 February 2002). LF
TAJIKISTAN CLAIMS SLIGHT FALL IN REGISTERED UNEMPLOYMENT
Registered unemployment fell very slightly in Tajikistan in 2001 and is now equal to 4.2 percent of the workforce, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 14 February. A total of 42,900 people are registered as out of work, of whom 52.8 percent were women and 65.7 percent are between the ages of 15-29. Almost 80 percent have no professional skills and/or only a rudimentary education. LF
TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN REACH AGREEMENT ON WATER, ENERGY RESOURCES
Tajik and Uzbek government delegations reached agreement during talks in Tashkent on 12 February on the use of energy and water resources for this year, Asia Plus-Blitz reported the following day. Also signed during the talks were agreements on checkpoints on the two countries' shared border and on restructuring mutual debts. Tashkent agreed at a meeting in December 2001 between Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov and his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov to write off $12 million of Tajikistan's total $120 million debt (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 December 2001). LF
TURKMENISTAN SEEKS EXTRADITION OF FORMER DIPLOMATS
In a televised address on 12 February, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov instructed the country's prosecutor-general to intensify efforts to secure the extradition from Russia of former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov and former Ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov, Reuters reported on 13 February. Prosecutor-General Kurbanbibi Atadjanova and National Security Committee Chairman General Mukhammed Nazarov both said that said it has been "proved" that Shikhmuradov embezzled or misappropriated state property worth $28 million. Shikhmuradov resigned last fall as Turkmenistan's ambassador to China and has since formed an exile opposition movement to Niyazov, which Khanamov has recently joined (see "RFE/RL Central Asia Report," Vol. 2, No. 4, 24 January 2002 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 11 February 2002). LF
BELARUSIAN PROSECUTOR WANTS DEATH PENALTY FOR ALLEGED KIDNAPPERS OF JOURNALIST
Prosecutor Fyodar Shvedau on 13 February demanded death sentences for the four suspected kidnappers of journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, who has been missing since July 2000, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. According to Shvedau, former Interior Ministry officers Valery Ihnatovich and Maksim Malik, as well as Alyaksey Huz and Syarhey Saushkin, are guilty on seven counts, including murder, abduction, and robbery. However, Syarhey Tsurko, the lawyer representing Zavadski's wife during the trial in the Minsk Regional Court, said the defendants' involvement in kidnapping Zavadski has not been proven. "It may turn out that those involved in Zavadski's disappearance will be executed, while unanswered questions will remain. There is some evidence [of their guilt], but it is unconvincing from the viewpoint of the Criminal Code," Tsurko commented. Two defectors from the Belarusian Prosecutor-General's Office said last year that Zavadski was kidnapped and murdered by a government-sponsored death squad following an order from Security Council Secretary Viktar Sheyman, who is now Belarus's prosecutor-general. JM
UKRAINE DENIES SELLING ARMS TO TALIBAN
The Defense Ministry on 13 February denied that Ukraine was involved in the illegal sale of tanks to Afghanistan's Taliban, AP reported. The ministry said in a statement that the news reports about sales of T-55 tanks to the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan were "groundless and based on unchecked information received from dubious sources." In January, Ukrainian lawmakers urged prosecutors to investigate former Ukrainian Security Service chief Leonid Derkach and his son Andriy, whom Germany's "Der Spiegel" implicated in illegal arms sales to the Taliban (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 2002). Even before the "Der Spiegel" report was published, Ukrainian lawmakers had persuaded prosecutors to open a criminal probe into Leonid and Andriy Derkach, as well as National Security and Defense Council chief Yevhen Marchuk, for alleged illegal arms sales (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February 2002). A court in Turin on 13 February opened preliminary hearings in a case reportedly linked to the possible involvement of Ukrainian officials in illegal arms deals. JM
'OUR UKRAINE' ADVERTISES YUSHCHENKO'S GAINS, PLEDGES MORAL POLITICS
Ukrainian Radio on 13 February aired a government-sponsored campaign spot by the Our Ukraine election bloc led by former Premier Viktor Yushchenko. The spot underscored that the Yushchenko government was the first to pay back wages and pensions "without taking a cent either from Russia or the West," and can also take credit for the economic recovery now under way. The bloc's advertised goal is to build "a fair and open civic society with equally fair, open, and responsible authorities," and to stick to "professional and moral" politics. "We are not seeking allies either among pro-presidential or opposition forces. The Ukrainian nation is our only ally in this election," Yushchenko said in the program. Our Ukraine's election slogan, repeatedly voiced in the broadcast, is "Not by words, but by deeds!" JM
FIVE UKRAINIAN MINERS DIE IN BLAST
A methane explosion killed five miners at a coal mine in Krasnoarmiysk, Donetsk Oblast, on 14 February, Interfax reported. Some 40 miners have died in accidents at Ukrainian coal mines so far this year. JM
ESTONIA'S CAPITAL TO LAUNCH AMBITIOUS INVESTMENT CAMPAIGN IN SWEDEN
Head of the marketing department of Tallinn's city government Marju Kullassepp announced on 13 February the launching of an ambitious campaign to attract investments from Sweden, ETA reported. The campaign, having a green apple as its symbol, will be called "Tallinn - dream city of every businessman." It emphasizes the place of Tallinn in the Estonian investment landscape. The first posters publicizing the campaign will appear in the Tallinn and Arlanda airports on 1 March. Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar and Hasse Olsson, the editor in chief of the "Dagens Industri" business paper, are scheduled to attend the first event of the campaign in Sweden on 20 March. SG
CARGO TURNOVER AT LATVIA'S PORTS INCREASED IN JANUARY
The cargo turnover at the three major ports of Ventspils, Riga, and Liepaja in January was 4.53 million tons or 9.2 percent greater than in January 2001, LETA reported on 13 February. The turnover at Ventspils, the largest port, rose by 5.2 percent to 2.99 million tons, that of Riga grew by 14.5 percent to 1.26 million tons while the smallest port, Liepaja, had the greatest rate of increase, 26.8 percent, to 276,800 tons. SG
LITHUANIA SETS UP COMMISSION TO COORDINATE ANTITERROR ACTIONS
The government on 13 February named Mecys Laurinkus, the chief of the State Security Department, as the head of the newly established interagency commission to coordinate Lithuania's response to threats arising from terrorism, BNS reported. The other members of the commission are the defense, economy, environment, finance, foreign, health, and transport deputy ministers along with the deputy prosecutor-general. The commission will supervise the national program for fighting terrorism adopted at a closed-door session of the National Security and Defense Committee of the parliament in January, for which the government has allocated 7 million litas ($1.77 million) this year. The main task of the commission is to provide intelligence and recommendations to the president, parliament, and government. Last week the cabinet approved a list of the most likely terror targets in Lithuania which the armed forces should defend. These included the president's office, the parliament and government buildings, the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, Mazeikiai Nafta, and the international airports. SG
POLISH TEACHERS PROTEST OVER PAY
On 13 February in Warsaw, several hundred teachers from the Polish Teachers Union protested the government's budget cuts and its plans to put off wage rises for teachers by one year, PAP reported. A day earlier, teachers who are members of Solidarity staged a picket in front of the parliament over the same issue. In December, the Sejm changed the Teachers' Charter to postpone teachers wage rises until 2003 in order to achieve savings of 1.9 billion zlotys ($460 million). JM
POLISH RADICAL AGRARIANS DRAFT BILL ON SUBSISTENCE MINIMUM
The Self-Defense parliamentary caucus has filed a draft law on the subsistence minimum for those who "have been deprived of means of livelihood through no fault of their own," PAP reported on 13 February. The draft says the subsistence minimum for the needy should be provided by both the state administration and self-government bodies. According to Self-Defense, the monthly subsistence minimum for one person in June 2001 amounted to 771 zlotys ($185). Self-Defense leader Andrzej Lepper on 13 February met with Prime Minister Leszek Miller. According to Lepper, the talks dealt with the government's plans for "calming social moods." Lepper said he is dissatisfied with the meeting and added that he received no promises of concrete decisions from Miller. JM
CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER MEETS AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT...
Visiting Chamber of Deputies Speaker and Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Chairman Vaclav Klaus and Austrian President Thomas Klestil agreed in Vienna on 13 February that relations between their two countries are multiple and "cannot be limited only to the issues of the Benes decrees and the Temelin nuclear power plant," CTK reported. Both politicians said it was a "terrible mistake" to limit discussions between Vienna and Prague to just these contentious topics. A press release of the presidential office said that during the discussion Klestil reaffirmed Austria's apprehensions towards Temelin and said that the injustice suffered by those deported under the Benes decrees "should be acknowledged." Klaus said that the discussions on Temelin can only be conducted within the so-called Melk agreement. As for the Benes decrees, he reiterated that the significance of "symbolic gestures should not be overestimated." MS
...HINTS THAT VIENNA SHOULD NOT COUNT ON HIM
In an interview with the BBC before his departure, Klaus said that if the ODS wins the June parliamentary elections, he will not bow down to demands that Temelin be closed or abolish the Benes decrees, CTK reported. The interview was dubbed into German and broadcast during Klaus's visit by Austrian radio. MS
TRIAL OF FORMER CZECH INTELLIGENCE AGENT ADJOURNED
The trial of former Security Information Service (BIS) agent Vladimir Hucin began in Prerov, northern Moravia, on 13 February, but was immediately adjourned, CTK reported. Hucin, who is a former anticommunist dissident, is charged with fraud, bearing arms without authorization, scare mongering, failure to obey orders, and the unauthorized handling of classified data. If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison. The presiding judge decided to adjourn the proceedings until a higher court rules on the defense complaint of court bias against the defendant. Earlier, the judge decided to conduct the trial behind closed doors, saying that it involves state-security secrets, which prompted protests among those in attendance. MS
SLOVAK GOVERNMENT AVOIDS COLLAPSE AFTER KEY VOTE
Deputy Premier Ivan Miklos, and with him the entire cabinet, survived a no-confidence vote on 13 February, CTK and international agencies reported. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said before the vote that he would resign if Miklos, whose ouster was demanded by the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), were forced to quit. The HZDS motion was supported by 60 deputies, which is well short of the absolute majority (76) that would have been required for the motion to pass. Fifty-one deputies opposed the motion and 24 abstained, among them the four ministers representing in the cabinet the Party of the Democratic Left, a minor coalition member. Dzurinda said after the vote that Slovakia's "young democracy" is strengthened when such tests are "democratically solved." MS
HUNGARIAN PREMIER REMINDS SLOVAKIA OF BUDAPEST'S VETO ON NATO MEMBERSHIP
Opposition Free Democrat parliamentary member Matyas Eorsi on 13 February accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban of attempting to blackmail Slovakia by alluding to the fact that Hungary, as a NATO member, could veto Slovakia's entry to the alliance, Hungarian media report. Discussing the two countries' differing views on Hungary's Status Law, Orban pointed out during his weekly interview with Hungarian radio on 13 February that the Hungarian parliament must approve Slovakia's EU membership. He also said that it is worth continuing negotiations with Slovakia over the Status Law, as relations between the two countries would deteriorate without regular exchanges of views. Eorsi said Orban "has now elevated blackmail to the international level [as well]," and urged the prime minister to keep "mafia methods" within the country. MSZ
FIDESZ DEPUTY CHAIRMAN LIKENS SOCIALISTS TO FASCISTS, COMMUNISTS, AND BOLSHEVIKS
Laszlo Kover on 13 February told reporters in Veszprem that the opposition Socialist Party's criticism of the Status Law and the memorandum of understanding signed with Romania was "low-down, cheap, fascist-style propaganda." He said the Socialist policy of relying on peoples' fears "reminds all decent people of the darkest era of Nazis and communists," and called former Prime Minister Gyula Horn a "psychic terrorist." Kover also asserted that the current political struggle is a matter of life or death for FIDESZ's adversaries, adding that if the "members of the present Bolshevik generation" lose the elections, they will find themselves where they belong, "among the bad memories of history." For his part, Socialist Party Chairman Laszlo Kovacs said that upon hearing Kover's "latest burst of fury," he believes that "a psychiatrist ought to have a conversation with him," Hungarian media reported. MSZ
HUNGARIAN POLITICIANS REACT TO ASSAULT ON MIEP CANDIDATE
Premier Orban on 13 February told journalists that it is "shocking" that a parliamentary candidate has been beaten for apparent political reasons. Referring to the incident in which a Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) candidate was assaulted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 February 2002), Orban said that the affiliation of the candidate is of secondary importance. Whatever the motive, he continued, the incident is linked to the atmosphere that has developed in recent weeks. MIEP Chairman Istvan Csurka said Janos Olah had been lured from a bar, which "is a regular hangout of local Socialist Tibor Szanyi." He warned that "Bolshevik terror" could be in the offing if the Socialists win the elections. Csurka said it can be assumed that the methods came from Israel, since the Socialists' campaign is run by a company from Israel, a country that has been at war for 50 years. He added that the method used against Olah --being taken hostage and intimidated -- is familiar to Palestinians. Socialist Chairman Kovacs also condemned the incident, adding that he was glad that Orban has realized "where mud-slinging leads." MSZ
FORMER ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER TO STAY OUT OF CABINET
In an effort to unblock the logjam preventing the parliamentary approval of a new government, former Prime Minister Ilir Meta ruled himself out for a cabinet post, dpa reported from Tirana on 13 February. The naming of a Socialist-led cabinet by Prime Minister-designate Pandeli Majko is being blocked by Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, who has long been engaged in a bitter personal and political rivalry with Meta (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 2002). Nano hopes to succeed outgoing President Rexhep Meidani in June. PM
ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT ON INDEFINITE HOLD?
Meta's decision does not automatically ensure that Majko will be able to name a government, dpa reported from Tirana on 13 February. Nano has said that he is in "no hurry" to see one set up and has demanded a number of important posts for his supporters, including the foreign affairs, finance, interior, and privatization portfolios. Meta has called Nano and his supporters "a bunch of Stalinists and Mafia men," adding that "from now on, I will focus on efforts to Europeanize the Socialist Party." If Majko cannot form a government by 16 February, Meidani must ask another individual to form one. Should that attempt also fail, Meidani must call new elections, which the opposition wants. PM
SERBIAN EX-DICTATOR REMAINS DEFIANT
Former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told the war crimes tribunal in The Hague on 13 February that it has no jurisdiction over him and is engaging in a "lynching" through a media campaign against him, RFE/RL reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 February 2002). Presiding Judge Richard May dismissed Milosevic's complaints as "completely irrelevant." The next day, Milosevic charged that the prosecutors were trying to depict him as "super-human...influencing people and having responsibility outside the territory of my own country." The former dictator argued that the prosecutor "has accused Serbia and all Serbs who supported me in Serbia and those Serbs who supported me outside of Serbia. And all the people who support me in Serbia today. And then he is accusing the nation" of complicity in the crimes." RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service commented that Milosevic is making his remarks with an eye toward the Serbian public. PM
ROMANIAN SENATOR TO SUE PREMIER?
Senator Radu F. Alexandru, leader of the National Liberal Party's parliamentary group, said on 13 February that he will sue Prime Minister Adrian Nastase if the premier does not make public the reasons why Alexandru's envisaged appointment as cultural attache in Israel in 1990 was vetoed by the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Alexandru is Jewish. Nastase said earlier this week that he "presumes" that Alexandru's recurrent attacks on himself are due to his being ruled out for the post by the SIE at a time when Nastase was Romania's foreign minister. Nastase said he had proposed the appointment but could do "nothing about it" after the SIE vetoed the proposal. Reacting to Alexandru's threat, the premier said on 13 February that the senator "is trying to pose as a victim to attract public attention to himself," since he has "otherwise little to say." MS
HAGUE PROSECUTORS RAISE CHARGES ON KOSOVA
Addressing the war crimes tribunal in The Hague on 13 February, prosecutor Dirk Ryneveld said: "If there is any doubt about the fact that these refugees were being deported from Kosovo, consider the fact that the Serb authorities planned ahead to lay on transportation to transfer them out. Well, that kind of activity takes planning, coordination, and, in most cases, permission from higher authorities... When one senior international observer called the accused [Milosevic] on the phone to complain about Kosovo Albanians on horse-carts and tractor-trailers with all their belongings, being expelled -- what was the accused's response? The international official will tell you that the accused told him that the people he had seen were on a picnic." PM
KOSOVAR LEADER OFFERS TO TESTIFY AGAINST MILOSEVIC
Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina on 13 February that he is willing to testify against Milosevic in The Hague if asked, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Rugova added that it would be an "honor" for him to testify on behalf of himself and his people. PM
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON KOSOVARS TO FORM GOVERNMENT
The UN's highest body issued a statement on 13 February calling on Kosova's elected representatives to end the political deadlock and agree on a government, AP reported from New York (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 8 and 15 January 2002). The council also called on all persons in the province to combat crime, avoid extremism, and support the new head of the UN civilian administration, Michael Steiner, who is scheduled to arrive in Prishtina on 14 February. PM
ROMANIAN DEPUTIES REJECT MOTION TO DEBATE 'BESSARABIA'
The Chamber of Deputies rejected on 13 February a motion submitted by the Greater Romania Party (PRM) to debate the necessity of "extending aid to Romanians beyond River Prut against an international background favorable to the reunification of the [Romanian] nation," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The motion, entitled "Bessarabia" by its promoters, was defeated with 164 votes against and 64 votes (all cast by PRM deputies) in favor. During the debate, PRM parliamentary deputy Lucian Bolcas said that in Chisinau "shots are being fired on the demonstrators," which turned out to be false (see Moldovan item below). Speaking against the motion, representatives of both the ruling party and the opposition other than the PRM said a vote in favor of the motion would undermine Romania's chances of integration into NATO and the EU. MS
MOLDOVAN PROTESTS PEAK...
Between 20,000 and 30,000 people, mainly young, demonstrated in Chisinau on 13 February, chanting antipresident and antigovernment slogans and demanding the resignation of the cabinet headed by Vasile Tarlev, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The protest demonstration was fueled by the government's decision earlier that day to approve replacing the teaching of the "History of Romanians" with that of "History of Moldovans." The demonstrators marched down the town's main boulevard and chanted slogans of "Stop Russification" and "Down with the Communists" in front of the parliament and the seat of the government. MS
POWELL CAUTIOUS ON MONTENEGRO'S FUTURE
Testifying in Washington on 13 February before the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on foreign operations, Secretary of State Colin Powell took a much more cautious line on Montenegro than has the EU, RFE/RL reported. Powell said: "We continue to believe that we should take the time necessary to see whether or not Montenegro can find a way to stay within the Yugoslav federation. When you look at the viability of Montenegro as a country, when you look at a variety of other aspects, it suggests to us that it would be wise to go slowly and not immediately say it's time for Montenegrin independence... We have not yet come out and said independence for Montenegro is the way to go. We want to take more time to study this, reflect on it and see what the implications of such a policy change would be, and to see whether or not they can find a way to move forward, continuing in the arrangement that they are in now." Brussels opposes Montenegrin independence and has been pressuring Podgorica for many months (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 14 December 2001, and "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 2002). PM
MONTENEGRIN PARTY THREATENS TO END SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT
Ranko Krivokapic, who heads the Social Democratic Party (SDP), said in Podgorica on 13 February that his party may leave the governing coalition if President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialist (DSS) does not carry out its pledge to hold a referendum on independence by the end of May 2002, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. EU security policy chief Javier Solana has asked Montenegro to wait for five years before holding such a vote, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. On 14 February, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service quoted DSS Vice President Svetozar Marovic as saying that any referendum will need the recognition of the international community to be valid, and that there are problems in holding a vote in the current atmosphere of political polarization. PM
AN END IN SIGHT TO CROATIAN-BOSNIAN TRANSPORT DISPUTE?
Alojz Tusek, who is Croatia's transport minister, told a visiting Bosnian delegation headed by Foreign Trade Minister Azra Hadziahmetovic in Zagreb on 13 February that he hopes for an end to the dispute over overland oil transport, Hina reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 4 February 2002). Tusek said, "I expect an agreement may be reached in the next seven days, and another week would be needed for the beginning of its implementation." For her part, Hadziahmetovic added, "It is in Bosnia and Herzegovina's interest, too, to establish standards for the transport of high-tariff goods, to prevent abuse, and [to ensure the] quality of oil and oil products entering Bosnia." PM
ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER AT NATO HEADQUARTERS
Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu said on 13 February after three-day talks at NATO headquarters and at the EU Military Committee in Brussels that he has briefed NATO officials on Romania's preparations for joining the organization and on his country's readiness to participate in the international efforts for finding solutions to current problems. He said he insisted on the strategic importance for NATO of the Balkans. Pascu met with NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson, who will visit Bucharest next week at the head of a NATO delegation touring candidate countries to assess their preparations. MS
...AS PPCD CALLS FOR 'GENERAL STRIKE'...
The Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD), which organized the protest, said the demonstrations will continue for several days more. PPCD Chairman Iurie Rosca, speaking on Romanian television, called for a "general strike, the resignation of the communist leadership, and early parliamentary elections." His deputy, Vlad Cubreacov, earlier said that the latest protests mark "the beginning of the movement of national liberation of Romanians in Moldova." Cubreacov also said that the government is now implementing in regard to the Romanian majority policies identical to those of Tiraspol. On his part, Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev said that he does not "feel ashamed for any single decision taken by my cabinet, and that includes today's decision as well." This decision, he said "will enable our children to learn our forefathers' history." MS
...PROMPTING ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER'S REACTION
Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana said the same day that Romanian "concern" is growing in face of the "systematic attempt of the authorities in Chisinau to perpetuate the historic fiction of the so-called Moldovan people and the so-called Moldovan language allegedly different from Romanian as a national entity and as a linguistic entity," Romanian radio reported. Geoana said these attempts "belong to a period we thought long-past" and utilize "propaganda methods that have nothing in common with the joint European destiny that links Romania and the Republic of Moldova." MS
MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT SAYS GAGAUZ-YERI TENSIONS CAUSED BY INNER PROBLEMS
The Foreign Ministry on 12 February released a statement saying that the causes of the current tension in Gagauz-Yeri must be sought in the autonomous region itself, and not in the relations between Chisinau and Comrat, Infotag reported. The ministry said that "improper emotional reactions from outside may only stir up passions further and be fraught with further aggravation of the situation." The ambassadors of the U.S., Germany, and Turkey and diplomats from the Bulgarian, Austrian, Swedish, and Norwegian embassies have visited the region since the outbreak of the current crisis. The ministry said the Moldovan government sees itself as duty-bound to act in line with the constitutional provisions and the current legislation, and in this context welcomes the decision of the region's Popular Assembly to hold on 24 February a referendum on dismissing the region's governor. MS
BULGARIA RECEIVES EU FUNDS
The EU and Bulgaria on 13 February signed an agreement that grants Sofia 187 million euro ($163 million) to help improve an important railroad and build sewage treatment plants, AP reported. Most of the money will be used to upgrade the railroad linking Plodviv with a Turkish border crossing. The railroad will be electrified and a second track will be laid, enabling trains to double their speed to up to 160 kilometers per hour. The rest of the grant will be invested in waste water treatment stations in Blagoevgrad, Shumen, and Gorna Oryahovitsa. The agreement on the grant was signed in Sofia by Deputy Premier Kostantin Paskalev and the head of the EU permanent mission, Dimitris Kurkulas. MS
YUGOSLAVIA: THE END OF AN ANACHRONISM
The name "Yugoslavia" may not be much longer for this world. Its disappearance is long overdue.
"Vesti" reported on 8 February that, whatever new political arrangement Serbia and Montenegro work out between themselves, any new association is unlikely to be called Yugoslavia. Belgrade reportedly favors calling it the Federation of Serbia and Montenegro, while the term Union of Serbia and Montenegro is apparently preferred in Podgorica. Whichever term takes root, it will replace one that has long ceased to have any real meaning.
The idea of Yugoslavism -- the unity of all South Slavs -- is a Croatian concept dating from the 19th century. Most nationalist movements in Europe -- including Serbia -- at that time aspired to create a state of a single nation. But some Croatian thinkers felt that close cooperation with ethnically related neighbors on an equal footing was the best hope for their people, who were divided between the Austrian and Hungarian halves of the Habsburg monarchy and subject to pressures from Hungarian and Italian nationalist movements. In short, Yugoslavism was a concept born out of the weakness of a people that had not had truly independent statehood for centuries and little hope of attaining it in the foreseeable future.
The Yugoslav state that was born at the end of World War I owes its existence to the wartime efforts of Allied politicians to force Serbian leaders to work with Croatian and other political exiles from the Habsburg monarchy. Serbia had hoped to create a Greater Serbia without any large number of Roman Catholic Slavs, but after the Kingdom of Serbia's defeat by the Central Powers during the war, its exiled leaders had little choice but to do as the Allies wished.
The new state was first called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (SHS), which in itself speaks volumes about the ethnically based pecking order, particularly where Macedonians, Albanians, Muslims, Hungarians, Montenegrins, and others were concerned. After nearly a decade of political instability, King Aleksandar I Karadjordjevic proclaimed a unitary Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 6 January 1929. Despite one very belated attempt at reform to placate the Croats, this Serbian-dominated state remained in place until the Axis invasion in the spring of 1941.
The communist Yugoslav state that emerged from World War II was founded on the basis of national equality, at least in theory. Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians, and Montenegrins were full-fledged "peoples of the state." The Slavic Muslims were granted that same status more than two decades later. The non-Slavic Hungarians and Albanians had an official status of "nationality" in the country whose name meant Land of the South Slavs.
In reality, the country was the Land of the League of Communists, whose leadership included officials from all of the main ethnic groups. When Slobodan Milosevic found at the close of the 1980s that he could not hijack the Yugoslav state for his own purposes -- thanks primarily to the objections of Croatia and Slovenia -- he proceeded to destroy it.
The state he was ultimately left with was a Greater Serbia, including Kosova and Montenegro. His policies then led in 1999 to the loss of Kosova, whose ethnic Albanian majority wants full independence. For its part, Montenegro's current leadership is also bent on independence. What is left of the old Yugoslavia is in the final stages of disintegration.
Whether Montenegro remains in some sort of political arrangement with Serbia or not, a state that is a Land of the South Slavs has long ceased to exist. That project probably ended in 1991 with the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, and certainly with the subsequent independence of Macedonia and Bosnia. Milosevic kept the Yugoslav name in hopes of keeping the old state's property and international prestige. Those hopes are now history -- as is Yugoslavia.