EU HOLDS FIRM ON KALININGRAD
Leaders at the European Union summit on immigration policy in Seville rejected Russian proposals to provide visa-free transit corridors between Kaliningrad Oblast and the rest of Russia, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 22 June. The summit's final documents instead offer residents of the Kaliningrad exclave the right to multiple-entry Schengen visas at the lowest possible rate following the accession of Lithuania and Poland to the organization. The summit directed the European Commission to flesh out the details of this visa procedure before September. The pro-Kremlin website strana.ru editorialized that Russia will sabotage EU efforts to establish border control around the exclave. "If they want to, let them build up barbed wire and checkpoints around Kaliningrad at their own expense. We certainly aren't going to do this. Let's see how they manage," the web site wrote on 19 June. VY
RUSSIA MAKING STEADY PROGRESS AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on 21 June asserted that Moscow has made palpable progress in combating money laundering and, as a result, the organization has begun the process of removing Russia from its "blacklist," ITAR-TASS reported the same day. During that process, FATF will examine 30 money-laundering parameters such as the monitoring of cash flows through the banking system and identifying owners of suspicious accounts in order to assess measures that the government has taken. The news agency reported that Russia may be removed from the FATF blacklist as early as the fall. RC
BUSINESSMAN'S BROTHER INVOLVED IN ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF MOSCOW DEPUTY MAYOR...
One of the gunmen who fired at the car of Moscow Deputy Mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze on 19 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2002) and who was himself shot dead by Ordzhonikidze's bodyguards has been identified as Salavat Dzhabrailov, brother of controversial businessman Umar Dzhabrailov, Russian news agencies reported on 21 June. Police reported that identification papers were found on Salavat Dzhabrailov's body at the scene of the incident, which Ordzhonikidze escaped unharmed. Umar Dzhabrailov, who ran for president of Russia in 2000 and who reputedly has close ties to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, came to public attention in the mid 1990s during a dispute over ownership of the Radisson-Slavyanskaya Hotel. Dzhabrailov's partner in that project, American businessman Paul Tatum, was murdered near the hotel on 3 November 1996. VY
...BUT BUSINESSMAN SAYS ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT WAS STAGED
Umar Dzhabrailov told "Kommersant-Daily" on 22 June that his brother, who was in charge of security for Dzhabrailov's companies, was lured into a trap by Ordzhonikidze and his entourage, who staged an assassination attempt against Ordzhonikidze in order to cover up their murder of Salavat Dzhabrailov. Umar Dzhabrailov told the paper that it would be nonsensical to send a man with identification papers to try to kill a man in an armored car with a pistol. However, investigators told the paper that there is no reason that the would-be assassins would know that Ordzhonikidze was traveling in an armored car. They added, however, that they have no evidence to indicate that Umar Dzhabrailov was involved in the incident. VY
RUSSIA WILL DEVELOP FOREIGN BROADCASTING
Russia's foreign-broadcasting service propagates Russia's cultural values and language, including its political agenda, and will continue to do so, Deputy Media Minister Mikhail Seslavinskii told journalists on 22 June, according to Russian news agencies. In addition, the service provides a vital connection to ethnic Russians living abroad and, therefore, the government intends to develop and expand its foreign-broadcast agency, Voice of Russia. VY
ZYUGANOV ADMITS THAT HIS PARTY FACES UPHILL BATTLE
Speaking at a Moscow plenum of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) on 22 June, party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said that so far he and his comrades have lost most of their political battles against the Kremlin, RIA-Novosti and other Russian agencies reported. Zyuganov added that the party is already prepared for the upcoming Duma elections and predicted that it can count on getting at least 20 percent of the vote. He stressed that the party's goals remain the same as ever -- "socialism, Soviet power, and the Soviet Union." He added that the party's main adversaries are United Russia, the Union of Rightist Forces, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. VY
DUMA PASSES BAN ON FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF FARMLAND...
The State Duma approved on 21 June in its second reading a bill regulating the sale of agricultural land, Russian news agencies reported. The bill passed with 245 votes in favor, 150 against, and three abstentions, according to RIA-Novosti. This version of the bill bans the sale of agricultural land to foreigners and to firms in which foreigners hold a majority stake. Foreigners may instead lease such land for a period of up to 49 years. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 22 June, deputies from the Communist and Agro-Industrial groups tried to persuade their colleagues to ban the sale of agricultural land altogether, but they did not have enough votes, so the discussion quickly focused on the issue of limiting the rights of foreigners. JAC
...BUT BILL FACES SOME RESISTANCE IN UPPER CHAMBER
According to "Kommersant-Daily," deputies are expected to pass the farmland bill in its third reading shortly and send it on to the Federation Council. There, it will have an uncertain reception. According to the daily, many senators oppose the ban on the sale of agricultural land to foreigners, in part because several regions, such as Tatarstan, already allow foreigners to purchase land. Also, under the new version of the bill, regions are allowed to determine independently the limits on how much agricultural land may be held by one individual or firm as long as the limit is not less than 10 percent, according to polit.ru. In the first reading, that limit was set at 35 percent, but a working group on the bill recommended 10 percent and the government agreed, according to "Kommersant." JAC
ANOTHER INCUMBENT WINS THIRD TERM
Incumbent President Leonid Potapov won re-election in Buryatia on 23 June, according to preliminary results that evening, Interfax-Eurasia reported. According to early estimates, Potapov won 72.3 percent of the vote, compared with 20.49 percent for his closest rival, State Duma Deputy Bato Semenov. On the eve of elections, the republic's Supreme Court rejected complaints from each candidate about the other, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 June. According to local rules, a second round is required only if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the total vote. JAC
FLOODS IN SOUTHERN RUSSIA KILL MORE THAN FOUR DOZEN
President Putin ordered Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu on 21 June to fly to southern Russia to head the recovery effort in the nine regions severely affect by flooding, such as Stavropol Krai and the republics of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, and Chechnya. In Stavropol, for example, more than 10,000 homes and offices have been destroyed and the damage there has been estimated at 1.5 billion rubles ($45.5 million), Interfax reported. As of late on 24 June, the death toll had reached 53, Interfax reported, and about 55,000 people have been evacuated from the area. JAC
FINALLY, A HAPPY ENDING FOR AN INDEPENDENT MEDIA OUTLET?
Mezhprombank announced on 21 June that it is canceling its effort to collect the 15 million rubles ($476,000) in damages that was awarded from "Novaya gazeta" in a defamation suit, Interfax-AFI reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2002). Mezhprombank's press service issued a statement saying that the bank does not want to create a "dangerous precedent" that might endanger free speech, although by law it is within its rights to seek the damage award. The paper's staff has claimed that paying the damages would have resulted in the weekly's closure. Late last month, "Novaya gazeta" columnist Yulia Latynina revealed that the newspaper had uncovered new information about Mezhprombank's inner workings, prompting it to ask for a new court hearing, and that law enforcement officials pursue criminal fraud charges against the bank. (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2002). JAC
PUTIN ASKS FOR INPUT FROM GOVERNOR ON FEDERAL REFORMS
In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 23 May, Rostov Oblast Governor Vladimir Chub said that President Putin has requested him to prepare an analytical memorandum on the problem of relations between the federal district and regional or oblast executive structures. According to Chub, his memo will make recommendations regarding the creation of a mechanism for the joint formation of executive-power structures. When asked which federal district structures he believes are ineffective, Chub complained that the liquidation of the state committees for the preservation of the environment, natural resources, and forestry created all kinds of administrative problems. He added that there needs to be a discussion of reviving the committee on preserving the environment under the Rostov Oblast administration with its own budget. Chub also denied reports that there has been a worsening of his relationship with the presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev. JAC
ANOTHER 'MUST' FOR SUMMER READING LISTS
Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko has completed a 600-page tome on inter-budgetary relations and the administration of regional finances, "Izvestiya" reported on 23 June. According to the daily, Khristenko writes that the Russian budget is plagued by two "ailments." The first one is the inexact demarcation of responsibilities for the regulation and financing of budget services. The second is the unregulated nature of debt policy at the regional and local levels. As a partial solution, Khristenko suggests the adoption of a scheme of "my mandate, my budget" under which, for example, a municipal budget would never receive budget money for the construction of an entertainment center because it would never have the responsibility for spending such a sum. JAC
INTELLIGENCE VETERANS STRESS RUSSIAN PRESENCE IN CASPIAN REGION
Seven veterans of the Foreign Intelligence Service who formerly served as navy divers began on 24 June an attempt to swim across the Caspian Sea in order to draw attention to Russia's role in the region, Interfax and other Russian news agencies reported. The group is headed by Igor Morozov, who is now a senator in the Federation Council. Morozov told journalists that the seven will swim 234 kilometers from Daghestan to the city of Shevchenko, Kazakhstan. The journey is expected to take 10 days. VY-
ANOTHER REGION SAYS NO TO BULLFIGHTS
Yaroslavl Governor Anatolii Lisitsyn has spoken out against staging a bullfight in his region in response to a proposal by a local legislator to hold such an event in August, Interfax reported on 22 June. The legislator bought the bulls from abroad after Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov imposed a ban on bullfighting in the Russian capital, according to the agency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 2001). Lisitsyn declared that "there will be no kind of bullfights in Yaroslavl while I am here. Not now, not ever." He also spoke out against the transfer "of the Spanish mentality to Russian land." JAC
CHECHEN LEADER DENIES TENSIONS WITH PREMIER, RULES OUT TALKS WITH MASKHADOV
Speaking on 21 June at a meeting in Grozny to mark his second anniversary as Chechen administration head, Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov rejected as unfounded persistent rumors of tensions between himself and Chechen Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 22, 21 June 2002). Kadyrov praised Ilyasov for finding solutions to numerous seemingly insurmountable problems. The two men shook hands four times during the 20-minute meeting to prolonged applause from other cabinet members. Kadyrov also said at the 21 June meeting that there is no one among the entourage of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov with whom peace talks could be conducted, and therefore no such talks should be expected, ITAR-TASS reported. LF
ARMENIAN OPPOSITION CLAIMS PRESIDENT UPSET WAR VETERANS
Representatives of the 13 Armenian opposition parties determined to force a parliament debate on the impeachment of President Robert Kocharian told journalists in Yerevan on 21 June that some members of the Yerkrapah Union of Karabakh war veterans were alienated by Kocharian's 18 June warning that the police are entitled to grab opposition deputies by the ears if necessary in order to remove them from the parliament chamber and prevent them from disrupting the proceedings, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002). Albert Bazeyan, a leading member of the opposition Hanrapetutiun Party, said the opposition will again attempt to force Kocharian's impeachment when parliament resumes in September. On 20 June, the Armenian government approved draft amendments to parliamentary statutes that would allow the speaker to order police into the parliament chamber and to bar unruly deputies from entering the building for up to 15 days, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF
ARMENIAN LOCAL OFFICIALS ORDERED TO REVISE VOTER LISTS
The Armenian government ordered local administration heads on 21 June to correct and update lists of voters in the run-up to local elections scheduled for October and presidential and parliamentary elections due next year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Losing candidates in recent by-elections have protested that district officials permitted the manipulation of voter lists to secure the victory of their preferred candidates. Central Election Commission Chairman Artak Sahradian said his commission will check the updated lists in two months. LF
ARMENIAN, TURKISH DIPLOMATS MEET IN YEREVAN
Senior Armenian and Turkish Foreign Ministry officials met secretly last week in Yerevan to prepare the agenda for the planned 25 June meeting in Istanbul between the two countries' foreign ministers, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 22 June, quoting an Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 21, 14 June 2002). LF
ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER, IRANIAN DIPLOMAT DISCUSS REGIONAL SECURITY
Meeting in Yerevan on 21 June, Serzh Sarkisian and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzade discussed the military and political situation in the South Caucasus and the need to develop regional cooperation as an important component of regional stability, Noyan Tapan reported. Sarkisian told journalists the same day that, "if necessary," Armenia will grant Azerbaijan access to highways across Armenia's southern Meghri region to facilitate communications between Azerbaijan and its exclave of Nakhichevan. LF
AZERBAIJAN SCHEDULES REFERENDUM ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
President Heidar Aliev has scheduled for 24 August a referendum on 39 amendments to 20 articles of the constitution that was adopted in November 1995, Turan and Reuters reported on 22 June. The amendments would provide for deputies in future parliaments to be elected only in single-mandate constituencies and not according to the proportional system. They would also transfer the duties of the president to the prime minister, not the parliament speaker, as at present, if the president dies, resigns, or is incapacitated. The minimum number of votes a candidate must receive in the first round to be elected president would be lowered from two-thirds of all votes cast to 50 percent plus one vote, and the outcome of the presidential ballot would have to be made public within14 days, not seven as at present. Opposition party leaders condemned the proposed changes, especially the abolition of the proportional distribution of parliamentary seats, as intended to strengthen further the power of the president and his entourage. LF
AZERBAIJAN HONORS TURKISH GENERAL
President Aliev has signed a decree bestowing on the Turkish armed forces Chief of Staff General Husein Kivrikoglu, the Order of Glory in acknowledgment of his contribution to developing strategic partnership and cooperation between the two countries, Turan reported on 21 June. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze presented Kivrikoglu earlier this month with the Order of Honor in recognition of his contribution to raising the standards of the Georgian armed forces (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 2002). LF
GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES DEBATE ON ABKHAZIA'S STATUS...
Deputies voted on 22 June to postpone until after 31 July a debate on defining the status within Georgia of the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia, Caucasus Press reported. The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss the Abkhaz conflict on 31 July. Parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze said that if the UN Security Council fails to adopt a resolution that would help to resolve the Abkhaz conflict, the parliament will debate whether to designate Abkhazia an autonomous republic, as the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz parliament-in-exile demands. LF
...AS GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SLAMS ABKHAZ UNWILLINGNESS TO NEGOTIATE
The Abkhaz leadership is showing a lack of respect for both the United Nations and Russia by consistently refusing to accept as a basis for negotiation the draft document "Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competencies between Tbilisi and Sukhumi," Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze told journalists in Tbilisi on 21 June. He noted that Russia has endorsed that document. LF
GEORGIAN PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE PROBES INTERCEPTED ARMS SHIPMENT
The Georgian Prosecutor-General's Office has taken over from the military prosecutor's office responsibility for investigating the consignment of sophisticated weaponry confiscated from a Land Rover near Tbilisi on 17 June, Caucasus Press reported on 22 June. Military Prosecutor Gia Djikia said he believes that decision was the result of his publicly expressed doubts that the arms were intended for use by terrorists, as Georgian President Shevardnadze suggested (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19, 20, and 21 June 2002). Meanwhile, a lawyer for Russian citizen Artur Lutkov, who was traveling in the Land Rover, said his client has been subjected to torture and electric shocks in detention. LF
SECOND OFFICER DETAINED OVER THEFT FROM GEORGIAN BASE
A second Georgian officer, Major Levan Papashvili, who was in charge of stores of weaponry, has been arrested in connection with the theft of radios and guns from tanks at the Vaziani military base near Tbilisi, Interfax reported on 21 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 17 June 2002). LF
GEORGIAN REGIONAL LEADER'S SON ELECTED MAYOR
Adjar State Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze's 26-year-old son, Giorgi, was elected mayor of Batumi on 16 June with over 92 percent of the vote, Caucasus Press reported on 22 June. Meeting in Moscow last week with Aslan Abashidze, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov expressed his readiness for "active cooperation" with Giorgi, Caucasus Press reported. LF
KAZAKH PARLIAMENT PASSES CONTROVERSIAL LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES
Following a two-day debate, the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament) passed late on 20 June a controversial new law on political parties, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 21 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2002). Opposition politicians immediately condemned the move. Communist deputy Valerian Emelyanov accused those deputies who voted for the bill of "trying to eliminate the opposition and install a one-party dictatorship," according to Reuters. Qurulys Suleyman, who heads the Almaty-based NGO Ar-Rukh-Khaq, told RFE/RL that the new law, which raises to 50,000 the minimum number of members a political party must have to register, was initiated by people within the presidential apparatus with the aim of facilitating the election to parliament of deputies loyal to the president. Suleyman predicted that early parliamentary or presidential elections might be imminent. LF
EU AMBASSADORS MEET WITH AILING OPPOSITION POLITICIAN
Ambassadors from several unspecified EU states traveled to Pavlodar, where they met on 21 June with former Pavlodar Oblast Governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Zhaqiyanov, who in November co-founded the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan, was hospitalized last month after an eight-hour interrogation relating to charges of abuse of his official position and financial crimes. He is reported to have been treated with powerful sedatives (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2002). LF
KAZAKH PRESIDENT'S SON-IN-LAW GIVEN AMBASSADORIAL POST
Rakhat Aliyev, who resigned last November as National Security Committee deputy chairman after trading corruption allegations with Zhaqiyanov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November 2001), has been named Kazakhstan's ambassador to Austria, Interfax reported on 23 June. Aliyev is married to President Nursultan Nazarbaev's eldest daughter, Darigha, who controls numerous media outlets. The two are reportedly estranged, and it is not clear whether Darigha will accompany her husband to Vienna. LF
KAZAKHSTAN AGAIN DENIES PLANS TO REVISE FOREIGN-INVESTMENT CONTRACTS
Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev told the Mazhilis on 21 June that Astana has no intention of revising contracts it has signed with foreign investors, Interfax reported. Both Toqaev and Nazarbaev have repeatedly sought in recent months to scotch rumors that some major contracts may be revised (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 March 2002). LF
KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DEPUTY REJECTS OFFICIAL CRITICISM
Azimbek Beknazarov on 21 June rejected as groundless State Secretary Osmonakun Ibraimov's statement the previous day accusing Beknazarov's supporters of resorting to illegal and unconstitutional actions, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Ibraimov also accused Beknazarov personally of separatism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2002). Also on 21 June, Deputy Prime Minister Kubanychbek Dumaliev laid the blame for the ongoing unrest in Kyrgyzstan on Beknazarov who, he said, has mobilized the population of an entire region against the country's authorities to further his personal goals. LF
KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT ASKS COURT TO CONSIDER REASONS FOR ASKY UNREST
The Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament) adopted a statement on 21 June calling on the Djalalabad Oblast court to take into consideration the findings of the government commission to clarify the circumstances of the 17-18 March clashes in Aksy Raion when reviewing the appeal by Beknazarov against the sentence handed down to him last month, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The commission concluded that one of the main contributing factors to the Aksy clashes, in which five people were killed, was Beknazarov's "unlawful" arrest in January 2002 and the local authorities' failure to respond to the wave of public protest to which it gave rise. Beknazarov was charged with his failure while working as an investigator in 1995 to bring charges of murder against a colleague who killed a man in self-defense. LF
DEMARCATION OF KYRGYZ-CHINESE BORDER RESUMES
Work has resumed in Naryn Oblast on demarcating a 400-kilometer stretch of the border with China, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 21 June. Thirteen Chinese specialists are participating in the demarcation, which got under way a year ago but was suspended almost immediately after protests from the Legislative Assembly (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 14 June 2001). LF
FRANCE PROVIDES AID FOR TAJIK ARMED FORCES
France has supplied uniforms and other military supplies worth over 262,000 euros ($256,287) to the Tajik Defense Ministry, according to ITAR-TASS on 22 June. LF
TURKMEN PRESIDENT AGAIN HINTS HE MAY EVENTUALLY STEP DOWN
Speaking on 21 June, the 10th anniversary of his election as president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, hinted that he might relinquish that post in 2007 or 2008, Reuters reported. In December 2000 the Turkmen legislature adopted an amendment to the constitution that enables Niyazov to remain in office indefinitely, but he said on his 61st birthday in February 2001 that he would step down in 2010 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 December 1999 and 19 February 2001). LF
UZBEK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH VISITING IMF DELEGATION
Islam Karimov met on 21 June with an IMF delegation headed by Jules Erik de Vrier that arrived in Tashkent one week earlier, Interfax and uza.uz reported. They discussed a possible resumption of cooperation and expanding the fund's input in attracting foreign investment to Uzbekistan. LF
YELTSIN BACKS BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON MERGER WITH RUSSIA
Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin visited Belarus on 21-22 June, where he and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Brest Fortress to mark the 61st anniversary of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Russian and Belarusian media reported. Commenting on the recent Belarusian-Russian spat over integration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002), Yeltsin said he does not understand why the Kremlin is now backtracking on the accord on a common union state that he signed with Lukashenka in December 1999. "What is unclear is why all of a sudden there is an urge to change [the 1999 accord]. It was a good agreement about a union state," Reuters quoted Yeltsin as saying. Yeltsin tried to play down the Belarusian-Russian integration controversy by saying that "there is no need to hurry [and] it is necessary first to create an economic base, a single pricing policy, a single currency, and a single customs space" before proceeding to political integration. Meanwhile, Belarusian Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastou has said Minsk will only agree to "small changes" in the 1999 merger agreement, Belapan reported. "We will defend the concept of a union state, not an intergovernmental or interstate union, as some Russian politicians are arguing," Khvastou warned. JM
UKRAINE, RUSSIA SIGN 10-YEAR DEAL ON GAS TRANSIT
Ukraine's Naftohaz Ukrayiny and Russia's Gazprom signed an accord in Kharkiv on 21 June under which Gazprom pledged to transport at least 110 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas annually via Ukrainian pipelines until 2013, Ukrainian media reported. The deal apparently puts an end to Russian threats to build a new gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine because of Ukrainian gas theft. Moreover, Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh and his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Kasyanov, met in Kharkiv last week and ordered officials and experts to finalize by July details of the repayment of Ukraine's $1.4 billion gas debt to Gazprom with Eurobonds issued by Naftohaz Ukrayiny (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 2001). JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS PAYMENT OF BACK WAGES TO MINERS
President Leonid Kuchma has ordered Prime Minister Kinakh to take urgent measures to pay overdue wages in the coal-mining sector, UNIAN reported, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. Kuchma reportedly called for 50 million hryvni ($9.5 million) to be paid monthly. Ukrainian miners are holding protests in Kyiv over wage arrears (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002). JM
UKRAINIAN MINISTER URGES ADOPTION OF ANTI-MONEY-LAUNDERING BILL
Finance Minister Ihor Yushko has appealed to the Verkhovna Rada to adopt a law on combating money laundering by 10 October to avoid "additional" sanctions from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), UNIAN reported. "I'm very much hopeful that we will never learn what these [additional sanctions] may be," Yushko said, adding that the draft anti-money-laundering bill that is currently in the parliament meets world standards. Ukraine is one of 15 countries blacklisted by the FATF. JM
DEFENSE MINISTERS OF ESTONIA, BOSNIAN FEDERATION MEET
At the first-ever meeting between the defense ministers of Estonia and Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation, Estonia's Sven Mikser discussed possible development of bilateral defense cooperation with Mijo Anic in Tartu on 21 June, ETA reported. The meeting took place within the framework of a graduation ceremony at the Baltic Defense College that included three students from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Anic proposed that the two countries begin preparing a defense-cooperation framework agreement. He said his country is interested in learning more about Estonia's experience in reforming its defense forces and in preparing for NATO membership. SG
LATVIA EXTRADITES TWO CONVICTED NATIONAL BOLSHEVIKS
Convicted National Bolshevik Party members Maksim Zhurkin and Sergei Solovei were extradited to Russia on 21 June, LETA reported. They participated in the seizure of the steeple of Riga's St. Peter's Church on 17 November 2000, and the Riga Regional Court sentenced them to 15 years' imprisonment for terrorism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2001). The Latvian Supreme Court in October reduced the charges from terrorism to delinquency and their sentences to six and five years, respectively. Zhurkin and Solovei are citizens of Russia and, in compliance with a Russian-Latvian agreement, will complete their prison sentences in Russia. SG
LITHUANIA, WORLD BANK WEIGH UPGRADING COOPERATION
Lithuanian Finance Minister Dalia Grybauskaite discussed the drafting of a three-year Country Assistance Strategy agreement with World Bank Polish and Baltic states Regional Director Michael Carter in Vilnius on 21 June, ELTA reported. She noted that, during talks in Washington in April with officials from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, she stressed the need to establish a new phase of relations. Lithuania has changed from a closely supervised aid recipient into a country that participates in World Bank policy-making activities and accepts the functions of a donor country, she noted. Grybauskaite said the new strategy will not determine Lithuanian obligations to the World Bank; rather, it will be an equal partnership based on political cooperation. The World Bank's approval the previous day of 29 million euros ($27.6 million) for Lithuania's Education Improvement Project indicated Lithuania's willingness to accept the bank's assistance when needed. Carter also held talks with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus. This was Carter's last visit to Vilnius in his current post; he will soon become World Bank director for India. SG
POLISH, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS MULL VISAS, OIL PIPELINE, CEMETERY CONTROVERSY
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma at an economic forum in Rzeszow on 21 June, where they discussed the planned introduction by Poland of visa requirements for Ukrainians, the ongoing controversy over the opening of the Polish military cemetery in Lviv, and the Odesa-Brody-Gdansk oil pipeline project, Polish and Ukrainian media reported. "We are working [with Ukraine] and the European Union to introduce a system of long-term, short-term, and affordable visas. We would like very much to be able to issue free visas for certain groups such as students," 1+1 Television quoted Kwasniewski as saying. Kwasniewski supported Polish-Ukrainian plans to build the Odesa-Brody-Gdansk oil pipeline. Polish experts estimate the cost of the Polish section of the pipeline at 429 million euros ($413 million). According to them, the pipeline connecting Brody with Plock in central Poland could be ready in 2006, while oil could be sent from Plock to Gdansk through already existing installations. Kuchma said Ukraine unconditionally backs the creation of an international consortium to manage the Odesa-Brody-Gdansk oil pipeline, UNIAN reported. JM
POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER IN AFGHANISTAN
Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski met with Afghan Defense Minister Marshal Mohammad Fahim and the head of the Afghan Transitional Authority, Hamid Karzai, in Kabul on 23 June, Radio Afghanistan reported. Szmajdzinski also inspected the Polish military contingent in Bagram, near Kabul. PAP quoted Szmajdzinski as saying that the Polish contingent will not take part in combat actions conducted as part of the international antiterrorism operation. Szmajdzinski added that Polish troops will continue their tasks of escorting, removing landmines, and providing protection as they have done thus far. JM
CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS DRAFT GOVERNMENT PROGRAM...
The leaders of the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 22 June finalized the draft program of a new government and forwarded it to their prospective partners from the Coalition, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU), CTK reported. The agency said the chapter in the program on public finances was drafted personally by Premier-designate Vladimir Spidla. Spidla earlier rejected as "too legalistic" a program drafted by current Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky. The two prospective partners are likely to discuss the draft early this week. Also on 22 June, CSSD Deputy Chairwoman Marie Souckova told journalists that the leaders of the Coalition should be prepared to accept compromise, since it was the CSSD that won the largest share of public trust in the 14-15 June elections. MS
...AND POTENTIAL PARTNERS REACT DIFFERENTLY
KDU-CSL Chairman Cyril Svoboda on 23 June said the document worked out by the CSSD leadership was "a solid basis for a possible [coalition] government," CTK reported. Less enthusiastic, US-DEU Chairwoman Hana Marvanova said the draft program included "a number of points that are to be clarified," while her party colleague Karel Kuehnl said the program could be viewed as "a possible structure" for future discussion. Marvanova and Kuehnl refused to specify which points in the program they object to, saying they do not intend to "send messages through the media" and will first express their views to CSSD negotiators. MS
CZECH EX-LEADER KLAUS READY TO STEP DOWN IF HIS PARTY CAN MAINTAIN UNITY...
Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Chairman Vaclav Klaus told journalists on 23 June that he will not seek re-election as ODS chairman at the party's national conference in December if he can be sure the party will not split as a result, CTK reported. Klaus said there is no other political formation apart from the ODS that advocates the rightist values "for which I established the party 11 years ago," adding that "it would be a great pity" if the party were to split as a result of his departure or be turned into a formation representing the interests of "regional and local political structures." MS
...FINDS STRANGE BEDFELLOW
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) Chairman Miroslav Grebenicek said on TV Nova on 23 June that Czech national interest would be threatened if KDU-CSL Chairman Cyril Svoboda became the country's next foreign minister, CTK reported. Grebenicek said Svoboda "courts Brussels," is loyal above all to the European Christian Democratic faction in the European Parliament, and "shuns any joint principles that we should advocate as a nation within the European dimension." Grebenicek was joined in his criticism of Svoboda by Klaus, who said the KDU-CSL chairman does not believe Czech interests should come ahead of those of the EU. Svoboda countered that the criticism was just "a personal attack" coming from two politicians whom the electorate has sent into opposition and, in Klaus's case, the former premier is "unable to come to terms" with it. MS
CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT SAYS NEW CZECH GOVERNMENT WOULD KEEP BENES DECREES IN FORCE
KDU-CSL Chairman Svoboda said on Czech Television on 23 June that if the CSSD and the Coalition form the next government, the Benes Decrees will not be abolished, CTK reported. "No compensation will be paid out [for confiscated property], and there will be no new postwar order," Svoboda said, in an apparent reaction to accusations leveled against him by Klaus and Grebenicek (see above). Svoboda said the KDU-CSL will defend the interests of the Czech Republic as a member of the EU that enjoys equal rights with other members. MS
WILL CZECH CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES GET A COMMUNIST DEPUTY SPEAKER?
Svoboda told CTK on 22 June that the new Chamber of Deputies is likely to have four deputy speakers, one of whom could be a member of the KSCM. Svoboda said such a setup would be a "democratic reflection" of the electoral outcome. The Communists have not been granted leading positions in the Czech parliament since the fall of communism, regardless of the electoral outcome. MS
VISEGRAD GROUP TO RENEW COOPERATION
The four leading EU candidates that make up the Visegrad group agreed on 22 June to revive faltering cooperation in membership talks, CTK reported. The premiers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia met briefly on the sidelines of the EU summit in Seville and agreed to meet in Hungary on 29 June. Milos Zeman, Peter Medgyessy, Leszek Miller, and Mikulas Dzurinda are to meet in Esztergom, but in a gesture symbolically marking the passing of the group's rotating chairmanship to Slovakia, they will also cross the Danube River and meet on the Slovak side. MS
EUROPEAN INTELLECTUALS WARN IN PRAGUE AGAINST 'NATIONALIST RHETORIC'
A group of 26 prominent European intellectuals signed an appeal in Prague on 21 June calling on politicians to tone down the "nationalist rhetoric" that has emerged in recent electoral campaigns, CTK and Czech Radio reported. The appeal was drafted by former Hungarian President Arpad Goncz and Czech Senate Chairman Petr Pithart, and was also signed by German writer Guenter Grass, Slovak Deputy Premier Bela Bugar, Polish former dissident Adam Michnik, French European Parliament deputy Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and Prague Archbishop Vaclav Maly. The signatories said that "cheap populism" based on old historical grievances threatens the unification of Europe and cited the recent disputes concerning the Benes Decrees. MS
SLOVAK CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS BRACE FOR ELECTIONS...
The Council of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) on 22 June approved a list of KDH candidates for the September elections, CTK reported. The list is headed by KDH Chairman Pavol Hrusovsky. Jan Figel, Foreign Ministry state secretary, is in the second spot and is followed by parliamentary deputy Vladimir Palko, Bratislava Deputy Mayor Pavol Minarik, and parliamentary deputy Julius Brocka. Hrusovsky said his party's program promotes equal taxation, family welfare, and ensuring the future of the young. He also said the KDH considers the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) a formation that belongs to the right wing of the political spectrum and is therefore ready to continue cooperating with the SMK in a future government. The two formations have frequently clashed as members of the current coalition government. MS
...AS DO DISSIDENT SOCIAL DEMOCRATS
Also on 22 June, the recently established Social Democratic Alternative (SDA) approved its list of candidates, which is headed by Peter Weiss and Lubomir Ftacnik, CTK reported. Weiss told journalists that Defense Minister Jozef Stank has been offered the fifth slot on the SDA lists and is expected to react "in the coming days." Ftacnik said 27 percent of places on the SDA lists are occupied by women and over 20 of its candidates are under 30 years old. The SDA was set up earlier this year by politicians who split from the governing coalition's Party of the Democratic Left. MS
DEMOCRATIC POLITICIAN TO BE REBURIED IN SLOVAKIA
The remains of Slovak democratic politician Milan Hodza, who died in exile in Florida in June 1944, are to be reinterred in Slovakia, CTK reported on 23 June. A special plane carrying Hodza's coffin, accompanied by Culture Minister Milan Knazko, took off from the U.S. on the same day. Hodza was the first Slovak to hold the position of Czechoslovak premier (1935-38). While a political opponent of President Eduard Benes, Hodza. a leading politician of the Czechoslovak Agrarian Party, was also opposed to radical Slovak nationalism and the idea of Slovak autonomy or independence. While in exile, he elaborated his vision of a "Danube Plan" which he later included in the book "Federation in Central Europe." The federation he envisaged should have included Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Greece, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. MS
HUNGARIAN PREMIER APOLOGIZES TO ELECTORATE...
Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, in an interview on 23 June on Hungarian television, apologized to the electorate for not having revealed before the April elections his past as a communist counterintelligence agent, AFP and Hungarian media reported. "I admit making a mistake in not telling voters about my past. I am sorry and I ask their forgiveness," he said. He added that what he did was to "keep a secret, not [to commit] a crime." Medgyessy said that after the new law making possible the publication of former communist agents is passed (see below), "people will be surprised when they see the names of those who worked" for the Hungarian secret services. He also said that he is "certain the conservative opposition is behind this scandal to distract the people's attention from their own corruption." Medgyessy added that he is certain the affair will not damage Hungary's international reputation. He said the matter was raised in passing in talks he held at the EU summit in Seville with European leaders and that his partners glossed over the issue. According to a poll published on 21 June by the Median Institute, 96 percent of Hungarians have heard about the scandal, but two-thirds believe Medgyessy should not resign. MS
...WHILE OPPOSITION LEADER DISMISSES MEDGYESSY ARGUMENTS
FIDESZ National Council Chairman Laszlo Kover dismissed over the weekend Medgyessy's claims that while working as a counterintelligence officer he had served Hungarian national interests, Hungarian media reported. "It could yet emerge that the shots fired on us in 1956 were for our benefit, and that we were beaten up in the streets in 1987 and 1988 in our own interests," Kover remarked sarcastically. He also said that Medgyessy is referred to by members of the Socialist's own caucus as "Peterkem" -- an expression rendering itself with difficulty to translation into English, and which has a double meaning: "Kem" means "spy" in Hungarian but is also a diminutive when appended to a name. Kover reiterated that "Comrade D-209" cannot continue to be premier. At a rally organized on 23 June by FIDESZ's youth wing, Fidelitas, protesters called on Medgyessy to resign. The rally was also joined by the Right-Wing Youth Community and the April Youth organization. The protesters waved Hungarian banners and held aloft red cards each time Medgyessy's name was mentioned. MS
HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT PUBLICIZES PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON FORMER AGENTS...
Government spokesman Zoltan Gal on 21 June said the cabinet has discussed a draft bill that would make fully public any pre-1990 affiliation with the secret services by those seeking public office, Hungarian media reported. Gal said the bill will be submitted to the parliament this week. It would make available -- to the public and for research -- documents dated prior to 1990 from the Interior Ministry's former counterintelligence Division III, Section III (III-III). The relevant materials include matters on intelligence, counterintelligence, internal security, and military counterintelligence. The daily "Magyar Hirlap" reports that documents from the III-I and III-II sections will continue to be classified as state secrets for reasons of national security. Balint Magyar, a member of the Alliance of Free Democrats leadership, said the declassified documents will be supervised by a newly created institution, called the Historical Archives of Secret Services, which will be subordinated to the Culture Ministry. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Monika Lamperth said that while no new documents featuring Medgyessy's name have been found, the ministry has come across an order affixed with the code number "D-209," which "Magyar Nemzet" said was Medgyessy's code name as an agent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2002). MS
...BUT OPPOSITION WILL SUBMIT OWN AMENDMENTS
Ervin Demeter, former minister in charge of the secret services, announced on 22 June that FIDESZ will submit its own draft amendment on making public the names of those associated with the former communist secret services. The FIDESZ version of the draft bill would make public the names of all those who before 1990 were members of the Political Bureau and the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, full-time party secretaries, former state-security-service personnel, and ex-staff members of the Interior Ministry's Division III. Such persons would be barred from serving in the government, as parliamentary deputies, state secretaries, president of the republic, prosecutor-general, Supreme Court president, or National Bank governor. Reports in the media said FIDESZ politicians were trying to finalize their bill ahead of the government and submit it to the parliament first, because house regulations stipulate that the legislature must debate the bills in the order they are submitted. MS
HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES 21 INQUIRIES INTO ALLEGED CORRUPTION OF PREDECESSOR
The cabinet on 21 June approved the launching by the government's Supervisory Office of 21 inquiries involving the activities of several bodies under the previous government or of companies associated with it, Hungarian media reported. Among those to be investigated are the Hungarian Development Bank, the now-defunct National Image Center, and the post office. Also on 21 June, government spokesman Gal told journalists that the government has asked police to open investigations against Bela Bartfai, a former administrative state secretary in the Viktor Orban cabinet, and against a former executive at the nonprofit film production company Millenaris, a Mrs. Janos Berkecz (her first name was not given). They are suspected of misuse of funds. Millenaris itself has filed a lawsuit at the Capital Labor court, seeking to void its contract with Berkecz and force her to repay a 34.4 million ($136,022) severance package, plus interest. The recently appointed executive manager of Millenaris, Zsuzsa Mizsei, has launched an inquiry to determine what happened to some 500 million forints the company spent on films -- an amount that represents one-sixth of the state-subsidized company's total budget. Millenaris has generated just 25 million forints from the films it produced. MS
HUNGARY TAKEN OFF FATF MONEY-LAUNDERING LIST
After only one year, Hungary will be taken off a list of countries plagued by money laundering, Hungarian media reported, citing the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) international anti-money-laundering group. With this decision, the FATF acknowledges Hungary's efforts to comply with its requirements, especially with regard to abolishing anonymous deposits. In the first four months of 2002, more than half the owners of anonymous deposits were identified. The process will be further accelerated by a regulation requiring large banks to charge a fee for changing anonymous deposits into other types of accounts as of 30 June. MS
ALBANIAN POLITICIANS PICK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE...
Leaders of Albania's main political parties agreed in Tirana on 23 June to support Alfred Moisiu in a parliamentary vote for president the next day, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 20 June 2002). The decision to pick a candidate on the basis of an all-party consensus came in response to repeated warnings from the EU that Albania must establish political stability and end polarization if it wants to forge closer links to Brussels. That put an end to the current presidential ambitions of Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, who has too many enemies inside and outside his party to muster a consensus. Outgoing President Rexhep Meidani is constitutionally eligible for a second five-year term but is considered too close to the Socialists to obtain conservative support. Moisiu was deputy defense minister from 1974 to 1981. He became defense minister in 1991 during the collapse of communism and served as an adviser to the defense minister from 1992 to 1997. The former army general currently heads the North Atlantic Council, a nongovernmental organization that promotes ties between Albania and NATO. PM
...BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER CANDIDATE?
The parties previously agreed to support Artur Kuko, who is Albania's ambassador to the EU, as presidential candidate, but he said on 22 June that he will not seek the office, dpa reported. Kuko gave no reason for ruling himself out of the running, but some Tirana dailies suggested that he was a collaborator to the communist-era secret police -- the Sigurimi -- and wanted to avoid the scandal that would ensue if his reported collaboration became public. Other reports indicated that Kuko never did have a full consensus because he was opposed by unnamed politicians close to Meidani. The outgoing president, who is a professor rather than a professional politician, never explicitly took himself out of the running for re-election. PM
KOSTUNICA: THE COALITION AGREEMENT IS FINISHED
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said in Belgrade on 23 June that his rivals in the governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition have effectively made the coalition agreement inoperative, AP reported. He added that "no coalition agreement binds [his] Democratic Party of Serbia [(DSS) to the rest of DOS] any longer. But the interest of [the] people of Serbia and Yugoslavia [do]." Kostunica charged that "no coalition can be safe if one of its members tries to impose its will by blackmailing or threatening other members." He did not elaborate. Zoran Zivkovic, who is a leading ally of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, said that Kostunica's remarks are "not surprising." Zivkovic added that "for months now, [Kostunica's] party has not been acting like a coalition member. Kostunica is now simply trying to position himself on the country's political scene." The DSS is boycotting the parliament and has named a shadow cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 13 June 2002). But it would lose credibility at home and abroad if it joined the opposition, which consists of three parties that supported former President Slobodan Milosevic. PM
KOSTUNICA SETS DOWN HIS AGENDA
Kostunica said in Belgrade on 23 June that the growing rift between the DSS and its former allies makes it imperative that an agreement on the constitutional framework for the new loose union between Serbia and Montenegro be concluded soon, followed by federal elections, "Vesti" reported. Kostunica added that the next item on the political agenda should be drafting a new constitution for Serbia, followed by presidential and parliamentary elections in that republic. He said his party will find "an answer" to any attempt to divert from this agenda. He did not elaborate. PM
PROTEST FACTION OF MILOSEVIC'S PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS
The Return to the Basis faction of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) led by Mihajlo Markovic and Branislav Ivkovic held a congress in Belgrade on 23 June, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2002). It was attended by 1,986 of 2,554 delegates, who met under the gaze of a huge portrait of Milosevic. The delegates voted to remove Milosevic as chairman and make him honorary chairman. The new chairman is Ivkovic. Markovic called for the party to commit itself to "truth...[and] humane socialist ideas." The delegates who did not attend are mostly Milosevic loyalists, who claim that they are the sole legal SPS (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 2002). PM
ARE CHANGES IN STORE FOR THE YUGOSLAV ARMY?
The Supreme Defense Council will meet in Belgrade on 24 June, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Heading the agenda are personnel changes in the General Staff and a reorganization of the army. In response to speculation that Kostunica will oust his former ally, General Nebojsa Pavkovic, as chief of staff, Pavkovic said that he will not leave office "without an explanation." Kostunica has said that he wants to tighten civilian control over the military, "Vesti" reported. PM
SERBIAN MINISTER: EX-POLICE CHIEF KILLED BY GANGSTERS
Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic said in Belgrade on 22 June that organized crime is responsible for the recent murder of Major General Bosko Buha, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 2002). The minister added that "following Buha's assassination, we in the police have become even more determined to fight against evil." Mihajlovic stressed that "this murder was the mafia's response to the tightening of the noose around organized crime and police success in severing smuggling routes for arms, contraband, and people." The police stage raids daily on known underworld gathering places but have made no arrests. Elsewhere, Djindjic and Justice Minister Vladan Batic demanded that what they called corrupt or compromised judges be removed from office, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. PM
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS IN MONTENEGRIN POLITICS
On 22 June, the pro-independence Liberal Alliance (LSCG) offered a deal to the pro-Belgrade Together for Yugoslavia coalition, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The LSCG proposed that the coalition join it in five municipal governments -- Niksic, Cetinje, Kotor, Tivat, and Budva -- if the coalition agrees to an LSCG politician heading the governments in those places. Indications are that the coalition will take up the offer. Igor Luksic, who is a spokesman for President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), said the emergence of such a partnership would make holding early general elections imperative. PM
BELGRADE PROTESTS BUSEK'S STATEMENT
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement in Belgrade on 22 June protesting recent remarks by Erhard Busek, who heads the EU-led Balkan Stability Pact, Hina reported. Busek said it is only a matter of time before some solution emerges aimed at independence for Kosova. The Yugoslav ministry charged that only the UN Security Council is legally in a position to deal with the status of Kosova. PM
HUNGARY EXTRADITES YUGOSLAV WAR CRIMES SUSPECT TO ITALY
Hungary on 21 June sent former Yugoslav military pilot Emir Sisic to Italy, where he is wanted for shooting down a helicopter containing five civilians over Zagreb in 1992, dpa reported. Four of the five EC -- the predecessor of the EU -- monitors killed were Italians. Hungarian authorities decided for that reason to send Sisic to Italy rather than to Croatia, where he has already been sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for murder. Sisic has acknowledged shooting down the helicopter but stressed that he was just following orders. PM
WAR CRIMINAL ARRESTED IN HERZEGOVINA
On 22 June in Tomislavgrad, Bosnian police arrested Ivan Bakovic, who is a Croatian citizen and fugitive from justice, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. A Croatian court sentenced Bakovic to 15 years in prison over one year ago for killing nine Muslims in the village of Mokronoge near Tomislavgrad. Croatian Interpol subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest. PM
BOSNIAN FEDERATION OUT OF MONEY FOR DEMOBILIZATION
The Defense Ministry of the Croat-Muslim federation said in a statement on 21 June that it does not have enough money to fund the demobilization of an unspecified number of soldiers and officers, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Sarajevo. Both Bosnian entities are under strong pressure from NATO and the international community to reduce the size of their respective armies. The greatest problem facing demobilized military personnel is a lack of jobs. PM
BOSNIAN FEDERATION GETS NEW FINANCE MINISTER
Federal Prime Minister Alija Behmen agreed in Sarajevo on 21 June to appoint Franjo Franjic of the New Croatian Initiative (NHI) as finance minister following the recent sacking of Nikola Grabovac, who is also a member of the NHI, from that post (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002). PM
CROATIAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST TV MANAGEMENT
Members of the Forum 21 association of electronic media journalists called for a review of the process by which editors are selected for Croatian Radio and Television (HRT), RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Zagreb on 21 June. The journalists stressed that one of the reasons for the poor state of affairs in HRT is that management does not respect its own rules in appointing editors. PM
CROATIAN GOVERNMENT HAILS ANTIFASCIST HERITAGE
Prime Minister Ivica Racan and parliamentary speaker Zlatko Tomcic led ceremonies in Zagreb on 22 June marking the Day of Antifascist Struggle, which commemorates the fight against the Axis and its local Ustashe supporters during World War II, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Even under the late President Franjo Tudjman -- himself a former member of Josip Broz Tito's Partisans and later Tito's youngest general -- antifascist World War II anniversaries were observed and a rehabilitation of the Ustashe blocked. PM
MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWS DRAFT PASSPORT REGULATION
The government on 21 June withdrew a draft regulation on new passports which envisaged the issuing of two different passports, "Nova Makedonija" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 June 2002). The decision came after not only President Boris Trajkovski and the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), but also the parliamentary group of the ruling nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE), announced that they oppose the new regulation. "The government decided to withdraw the draft law because there is need for further consultations between the four political parties that signed the [Ohrid peace] agreement," government spokesman Gjorgji Trendafilov said. UB
MACEDONIA LIFTS VISA REQUIREMENT FOR KOSOVARS
The government decided on 18 June to lift visa requirements for Kosovar Albanians with a passport issued by the United Nations Mission in Kosova (UNMIK), Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. Deputy Prime Minister Xhevdet Nasufi said after the cabinet session that Kosovars have recently faced problems when traveling to Macedonia. UB
MACEDONIAN SOCCER FANS FIGHT AT ANTI-VIOLENCE MEETING
Dozens of soccer fans representing six clubs turned a government-sponsored, three-day meeting aimed at preventing soccer violence into a brawl, AP reported on 23 June. The mayhem began at a dinner marking the end of the workshop in Ohrid, during which participants heard lectures on the need to prevent and avoid violence. A waitress said that the brawling began suddenly, "with glass flying everywhere." PM
ROMANIAN LEADERS SATISFIED WITH EU SEVILLE SUMMIT DECISIONS
President Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, who attended the EU summit in Seville on 21-22 June, said they are satisfied with the organization's decision to map out by the end of 2002 a precise agenda for accession negotiations with Romania and Bulgaria, Romanian radio reported. The summit also decided to nominate by October the countries that will be included in the first enlargement wave and approved measures to tighten controls against illegal immigration. Iliescu said the summit also agreed to continue extending financial assistance to Romania and Bulgaria for accelerating the process of their future integration in the union. Nastase praised the role played by Spain in accelerating the negotiations with his country during its chairmanship of the union. MS
U.S. DENIES DEMAND TO DISMISS ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER
In a brief press release on 22 June, the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest denied that the U.S. government has asked that Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu "be removed from his position." A Romanian daily last week reported that the U.S. government made the demand because of the role Pascu played in promoting a controversial law on the obligatory "right to response" in the media. MS
ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER SENTENCED TO ADDITIONAL JAIL TERMS
Miners' leader Miron Cozma was sentenced on 21 June to an additional 12 years in prison for his role in the 1999 clashes in Stoenesti between miners who were attempting to march on Bucharest and the forces of order, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The judges sentenced Cozma to seven years for having instigated the miners and to five years for his role in the violent clashes. The two sentences will be served concurrently with the 18 years Cozma is already serving for his role in the 1991 attempt to overthrow the Petre Roman government. Three of Cozma's associates were sentenced to terms ranging from four to 5 1/2 years for their roles in the Stoenesti clashes. MS
U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION SAYS ROMANIA MADE 'STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION'
U.S. Helsinki Commission co-Chairman Christopher Smith on 18 June commended the Romanian government for approving an emergency ordinance reducing the maximum prison terms for "defamation" or "insult or defamation" of civil servants, a commission press release said. Representative Smith called the decision to amend the Penal Code a "step in the right direction" but added that it is "unthinkable" that "more than 12 years after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu" Romanians can still "be sentenced to prison for expressing their opinion about government officials." He said the ordinance's amendment "falls short of bringing Romania's Penal Code into compliance with freely undertaken international commitments." MS
ROMANIAN CNSAS MEMBERS TO SUE PRM DEPUTY
Three members of the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives on 22 June announced they are suing for libel Greater Romania Party parliamentary deputy Daniela Buruiana, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Andrei Plesu, Mircea Dinescu, and Horia Roman Patapievici are suing Buruiana, a deputy chairwoman of the parliamentary commission overseeing the activities of the Romanian Intelligence Service, after she claimed the three were foreign agents (see "RFE/RL Newsline", 20 June 2002). MS
BUSH READY TO CONTRIBUTE TO TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT
U.S. President George W. Bush said he is ready to contribute alongside Russian President Putin to the efforts to find a solution to the Transdniester conflict, Romanian radio reported on 21 June, citing BASA-press. Bush made the statement at a ceremony at which he received the accreditation letters of Moldova's new ambassador to the U.S., Mihai Manoli. He said the settlement must be built on restoring Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity. MS
MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS ALLEGE IRREGULARITIES IN REFERENDUM DRIVE
The Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) on 21 June alleged that numerous irregularities are being committed by the opposition Braghis Alliance in its drive to collect signatures in support of a referendum on changing the current electoral system, Infotag reported. Dumitru Prijmireanu, deputy leader of the PCM parliamentary group, said in the parliament that the collectors of signatures mislead people, telling them that the change in the electoral system would result in a rise in pensions, lower utility bills, and other personal advantages, or cheat them by telling them the signatures are being gathered in support of the PCM's legislative or economic initiatives. Dumitru Braghis, leader of the Braghis Alliance, dismissed the allegations and said nobody has the right to make them until they have been proven in court. MS
GAGAUZ-YERI GOVERNOR TO RESIGN?
Gagauz-Yeri Governor Dumitru Croitor told a meeting of voters on 21 June in Comrat that he will tender his resignation, Infotag reported. He said he cannot continue to fill the position while the region's Popular Assembly ignores his opinions and rejects any of his initiatives. Croitor said he is calling on the assembly to follow his example and resign as well, but doubts it will heed his appeal. Also on 21 June, a public movement calling itself "For Gagauzia" announced that it will hold its first congress on 25 June, and that the gathering is to elect the movement's leadership structures. One of the movement's initiators, Stepan Topal, said its aims are to "save and develop" the region's autonomy, enhance the influence of society on the Popular Assembly and on the region's executive, and preserve the Gagauz language and cultural heritage. Topal denied that the movement has been set up to defend Croitor's interests, saying: "We do not defend particular persons, but the rights and freedoms of all people living in Gagauz-Yeri." MS
GERMAN BANK THREATENS TO CANCEL MOLDOVAN DEAL
Dresdner Bank, which owns a 49 percent stake in the national carrier Air Moldova, on 23 June threatened to cancel financing for the airline after the Moldovan government unilaterally dismissed the company's manager, Peru Ceban, AP reported. Dresdner Bank Vice President Ulli Breuer said the move was illegal and that, according to Air Moldova company rules, the government needed the permission of the bank to replace senior airline executives. Breuer said the bank will pull out of a deal to finance a $37 million contract to purchase two new planes for the airlines unless the government reconsiders its decision. Moldova would also have to immediately reimburse the bank for two outstanding loans, including a $50 million loan for a state oil company and a $12 million loan for a drug company, Breuer said. He added that the bank has been too indulgent in not demanding immediate payment of those loans. MS
BULGARIAN PREMIER PLEASED WITH RESULTS OF EU SUMMIT
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the EU summit in Seville on 22 June, Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski said the final document adopted by the European Council is very positive, BTA reported. Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi added that Bulgaria's major ambitions have been realized, including recognition for its progress in the negotiations, the likelihood of a new road map for the country's EU accession to be adopted at the next European Council meeting in Copenhagen in December, European Council support for faster accession talks, a strategy for pre-accession support, and a new accession timetable. Pasi said that Bulgaria "could not have hoped for a better text." He added that Saxecoburggotski has for the first time mentioned 31 December 2006 as the optimal EU accession deadline for Bulgaria, thus "stepping across a threshold" and a "psychological barrier." Previously, Bulgaria's desired EU accession date had been set at 1 January 2007. UB
BULGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER SAYS NATO ACCESSION WILL NOT RESULT IN ADDITIONAL EXPENSES
Finance Minister Milen Velchev on 22 June traveled to Washington for consultations with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Horst Koehler, IMF Mission Leader for Bulgaria Gerald Schiff, and World Bank Vice President Johannes Linn, BTA reported. Velchev will discuss the government's tax policies for the next three years. Velchev is also expected to meet with Bruce Jackson, the chairman of the U.S. Committee for NATO. Before his departure, Velchev told journalists that he does not expect NATO accession to result in any additional defense expenses, other than the usual 2.8 to 2.9 percent that is usually included in the budgets. UB
LEPPER SET TO SHAKE POLISH DEMOCRACY
In a poll conducted among 1,035 adult Poles for the daily "Rzeczpospolita" by the PBS polling center on 8-9 June, 18 percent of respondents said they would vote for Andrzej Lepper's Self-Defense organization if parliamentary elections were held at that time. This means that the popularity of the Lepper-led radical and populist farmers union is now second only to that of the Left Democratic Alliance-Labor Union (SLD-UP) ruling coalition, which, according to the same poll, is backed by 34 percent of voters. It should be recalled that in the parliamentary election on 23 September 2001, Self-Defense finished third -- after the SLD-UP bloc and the Civic Platform -- with 10.2 percent of the vote, winning 53 seats in the 460-member Sejm.
Lepper's parliamentary career started with a huge success that was followed by an equally large scandal. He was elected Sejm deputy speaker in October 2001 and stripped of his post a month later after making insulting remarks about Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, whom he publicly called a "scoundrel." During the debate on his dismissal, Lepper accused two ministers -- including Cimoszewicz -- and three other prominent politicians of taking bribes and having contacts with the mafia. In January, lawmakers lifted Lepper's immunity, making it possible for prosecutors to bring Lepper to court in May on charges of slander.
Lepper, 48, who is generally considered poorly educated and unrefined (or even boorish), possesses an exceptional ability to turn political scandals and antics to his advantage, primarily through advertising them in the media and presenting himself as a defender of the dispossessed and the poor. He has made a special point of slamming official policies in the agricultural sector, which is still facing radical transformations in order to adapt to European Union standards and is actually and potentially responsible for generating a considerable portion of the public's discontent with the government. By playing up his Euroskepticism, Lepper simultaneously seeks to undermine the position of Self-Defense's main rival in the countryside, the Polish Peasant Party led by Deputy Premier and Agriculture Minister Jaroslaw Kalinowski.
On 6 June, in what appeared to be a well-prepared introduction to a fresh wave of troublemaking, Lepper and 15 other Self-Defense lawmakers (including several women in nice clothes and high heels) dumped grain imported from Germany from four railcars at a junction outside Warsaw. Speaking to a crowd of reporters afterward, Lepper claimed that Polish farmers are being undercut by cheap imported grain while domestic warehouses remain full. Police tried to prevent the spillage but could not do much in view of the perpetrators' legislative immunity. The female members of Self-Defense feigned fainting spells in front of television cameras when police officers tried to establish their identities. Lepper and his company left the railway junction for the Sejm building in elegant Lancia cars, commenting in a fairly jocular tone that they had returned from an outdoor session of the parliamentary Agriculture Commission.
When the Sejm held a debate on the agriculture situation the next day, "Rzeczpospolita" reported, Lepper took the rostrum and showed the entire country a bag of grain, saying: "It is EU trash with rat shit that is made into flour and bread. And we buy it in supermarkets." Deputy Sejm speaker Donald Tusk scored a small victory over Lepper by excluding him from the debate. (This penalty was recently added to the Sejm regulations in an apparent bid to temper Self-Defense legislators who used to come to the parliamentary building with their own megaphones and would speak through them after the Sejm microphones had been switched off.) In addition, Lepper was fined by the Sejm Presidium: He is to lose half of his parliamentary salary in June and July.
However, Lepper also has his own way of dealing with penalties and fines. In January, a court in Gdansk imposed a fine of some $5,000 on Lepper after finding him guilty of insulting the president and two former deputy prime ministers. Last month, after losing an appeal, Lepper announced that he wants to pay the fine in installments. Lepper's lawyer said that if the court rejects that request, Lepper will apply to replace the fine by performing a "socially useful activity." The lawyer elaborated: "For instance, we will propose the presentation of a series of lectures on the subject of the situation of the Polish countryside after the entry of Poland into the EU."
Earlier this month, Self-Defense announced that it will organize nationwide protests and traffic stoppages on 25 June. Lepper said he wants the protests to be peaceful. But he added that, "If I tell people to grab stones, they will grab them." Prime Minister Leszek Miller pledged to take a tough stance against the announced blockades, saying that "police will intervene with full determination." Lepper said he "admires Miller's desperation," but added that "the country will grind to a halt" all the same.
If the announced protests turn violent and the government fails to meet them with decisive measures, much more than public peace may be at stake. Poland -- which has still not abandoned hopes of finalizing tricky EU talks by the end of this year in order to be ready for EU membership in 2004 -- may see an ebbing of the current tide of Euroenthusiasm and plunge into a sociopolitical turmoil over the EU accession terms (which are generally believed by Poles to be unfair and humiliating, especially on the issue of EU agriculture subsidies). Such a development would put at risk the short-term political future of not only Poland, but also a larger chunk of postcommunist Europe.