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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 82, 00-04-26

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 82, 26 April 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MOVES TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT
  • [02] ARMENIA'S MILITARY PROSECUTOR GENERAL TENDERS RESIGNATION
  • [03] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT DOES U-TURN ON ENERGY PRIVATIZATION
  • [04] NEW AZERBAIJANI PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED
  • [05] GEORGIA DENIES MERCENARIES CONCENTRATING ON BORDER
  • [06] GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT ASSESSES FISCAL CRISIS
  • [07] FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER'S BODYGUARDS SENTENCED
  • [08] MORE RUSSIAN PROTESTS OVER TRIAL OF 'SEPARATISTS' IN
  • [09] U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER PLANNED MEDIA CRACKDOWN IN
  • [10] KYRGYZ PRESIDENT PROPOSES INCREASING PARLIAMENT'S POWERS...
  • [11] ...CALLS FOR REFORMS
  • [12] ANOTHER KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN SENTENCED
  • [13] TAJIK LEADERSHIP NEGOTIATES WITH UZBEK ISLAMIST LEADER

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [14] ANOTHER MILOSEVIC CRONY SHOT DEAD IN BELGRADE
  • [15] KOSOVARS STAGE MASSIVE PROTEST FOR PRISONER RELEASE
  • [16] OSCE TO SET UP KOSOVA WAR CRIMES COURT
  • [17] NATO ROUNDS UP WEAPONS IN KOSOVA
  • [18] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES ABDUCTION OF SOLDIERS TO
  • [19] DJUKANOVIC TO VISIT ALBANIA
  • [20] CLARK WARNS MILOSEVIC ON MONTENEGRO
  • [21] MESIC NAMES NEW HEAD OF CROATIAN COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE
  • [22] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES 2000 BUDGET
  • [23] ROMANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY PROTESTS REVIVAL OF FASCIST
  • [24] MOST ROMANIAN PARTIES BACKING BASIC TREATY WITH MOLDOVA
  • [25] CIS DELEGATION HEAD SAYS WEAPONS WITHDRAWAL BY 2001
  • [26] MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT SAYS IT FOUND 'ALTERNATIVE RESOURCES' FOR
  • [27] BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR COMMITS SUICIDE
  • [28] BULGARIA EXPECTS LARGE TRADE DEFICIT

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [29] Chornobyl's Continuing Political Fallout

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MOVES TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT

    The

    Miasnutiun and Kayunutiun parliament factions, which together

    account for 80 of the 127 parliament deputies, decided late

    on 25 April to begin formal proceedings to impeach President

    Robert Kocharian, AP and ITAR-TASS reported. That decision

    was prompted by Kocharian's orders earlier that day to

    Military Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian not to testify at

    parliament hearings on the ongoing investigation into the 27

    October Armenian parliament shootings, which Jahangirian

    heads. Kocharian had warned on 20 April that he will no

    longer tolerate Jahangirian's involvement in "political

    processes." Parliament deputies rejected Kocharian's ban on

    Jahangirian's testimony as unconstitutional. But it is

    unclear whether it constitutes grounds for impeachment, which

    the Armenian Constitution allows only if the president

    commits "high treason" or unspecified "grave crimes." A vote

    to impeach the president must be taken by a two-thirds

    majority of all deputies and endorsed by the Constitutional

    Court. LF

    [02] ARMENIA'S MILITARY PROSECUTOR GENERAL TENDERS RESIGNATION

    Jahangirian on 25 April submitted his resignation to

    President Kocharian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.

    Jahangirian said that he did so because "I cannot become

    involved in the political intrigues" surrounding the ongoing

    investigation into the parliament shootings, according to

    Noyan Tapan. The military prosecutor's office sought

    unsuccessfully earlier this month to overturn a court ruling

    releasing Kocharian's aide Aleksan Harutiunian from custody.

    Harutiunian was detained in December on charges of inciting

    the parliament shootings. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT DOES U-TURN ON ENERGY PRIVATIZATION

    Deputies on 25 April passed in the first and second readings

    a draft bill sponsored by the majority Miasnutiun parliament

    faction suspending the ongoing tender for the privatization

    of four state-run energy distribution companies, RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported. The Armenian government last week

    had excluded a subsidiary of Russia's Gazprom from the

    tender, eliciting protests from Moscow (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 19 April 2000). Miasnutiun had earlier defeated

    opposition bids to halt the selloffs (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    4 April 2000), and had reportedly affirmed their support for

    the ongoing privatization at a meeting with President

    Kocharian on 21 April. Completion of the energy network

    privatization is a precondition for disbursement of a $46

    million World Bank loan that is earmarked to cover

    approximately half the anticipated budget deficit for 2000.

    LF

    [04] NEW AZERBAIJANI PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED

    Parliament

    deputies on 25 April endorsed President Heidar Aliev's

    nomination of Gyanja City Prosecutor Zakir Garalov to the

    post of prosecutor-general, Turan reported. Garalov was born

    in Georgia in 1956 and since graduating from the law faculty

    of Baku State University has served as deputy prosecutor and

    then prosecutor in several cities in Azerbaijan. He replaces

    Eldar Hasanov, who told "525 gazeti" on 25 April that he

    intends to return to academic life following his dismissal,

    together with his two deputies, on 22 April. Garalov told

    Turan on 25 April he has been instructed by Aliev to

    implement "serious reforms" both in the prosecutor-general's

    office and in the law enforcement agencies in general. LF

    [05] GEORGIA DENIES MERCENARIES CONCENTRATING ON BORDER

    A senior

    Georgian State Security Ministry official on 25 April

    rejected Russian claims that groups of mercenaries are

    concentrated on Georgian territory ready to cross the border

    into Chechnya, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. He said

    that the Chechen refugee community in Georgia's Pankisi gorge

    includes some 500 Chechen men of military age, but denied

    that those individuals plan to return to Chechnya to fight.

    Speaking in Moscow earlier that day, the first deputy chief

    of Russia's Army General Staff, Colonel-General Valerii

    Manilov, had claimed that 400-500 mercenaries are waiting on

    Georgian territory. A Russian military official told Interfax

    on 25 April that one of the groups in question consists of

    Arabs trained in Lebanon in sabotage. Manilov also claimed

    that up to 1,000 Chechen fighters are concentrated in lowland

    areas of eastern Chechnya ready to launch a new attack on

    Daghestan. LF

    [06] GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT ASSESSES FISCAL CRISIS

    Georgian

    President Eduard Shevardnadze told a government session on 25

    April that all Georgian citizens must pay their taxes in

    order to eliminate the ongoing budget crisis, Caucasus Press

    reported. He said that at present budget revenues derive

    almost exclusively from taxes on the legal sale of cigarettes

    and gasoline, which as a result of widespread smuggling

    constitute only a small proportion of sales of those

    products. Tax collection during the first quarter of 2000 was

    less than during the corresponding period last year.

    Shevardnadze called for the drafting of a special

    presidential decree raising the responsibility of local

    governors for ensuring fulfillment of the budget. He also

    pledged support and unspecified assistance for Minister of

    Taxes and Incomes Mikhail Machavariani. Machavariani had

    threatened on 24 April to resign unless "cardinal changes"

    are made in the composition of the government. He also backed

    Shevardnadze's call for an all-out struggle to eradicate

    corruption. LF

    [07] FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER'S BODYGUARDS SENTENCED

    After a two-

    week trial, an Almaty City Court judge on 25 April handed

    down labor camp sentences of 3 1/2 years to Petr Afanasenko

    and Satzhan Ibraev, who served as bodyguards to former Prime

    Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, RFE/RL's bureau in the former

    capital reported. The two men both say that the charges

    against them of illegal possession and storing of firearms

    were politically motivated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24

    February and 11 April 2000). A fourth criminal charge was

    recently brought against Kazhegeldin, who has lived in exile

    in Europe for the past year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April

    2000). LF

    [08] MORE RUSSIAN PROTESTS OVER TRIAL OF 'SEPARATISTS' IN

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Russian Human Rights Commissioner Oleg Mironov

    has appealed to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev to show

    clemency towards the Russian citizens currently on trial in

    Ust-Kamennogorsk on charges of planning to establish an

    independent Russian Altai Republic by force on the territory

    of eastern Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 20 March and 20 April 2000). Russian lawyers have

    been banned from attending either the investigation or the

    trial. On 24 April, representatives of Slavs from Kazakhstan

    picketed Kazakhstan's embasssy in Moscow to protest alleged

    procedural violations and the use of torture during the pre-

    trial investigation. They too called on Nazarbaev to

    intervene. LF

    [09] U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER PLANNED MEDIA CRACKDOWN IN

    KAZAKHSTAN

    U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin told

    journalists in Washington on 25 April that the U.S. is

    "disappointed" by two recent speeches in which President

    Nazarbaev warned journalists not to abuse media freedom,

    Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 25 April

    2000). Rubin recalled that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine

    Albright had stressed the importance of media freedom during

    her tour of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan earlier

    this month. He said U.S. representatives intend to raise the

    issue with Nazarbaev "very soon." LF

    [10] KYRGYZ PRESIDENT PROPOSES INCREASING PARLIAMENT'S POWERS...

    In a 25 April address to both chambers of parliament and to

    the Kyrgyz people, Askar Akaev again said that the

    parliamentary elections in February-March were democratic and

    praised the work of the Central Electoral Commission,

    RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. But Akaev conceded that

    mistakes were made during the election campaign, and said a

    commission has been created to amend the election law in

    order to preclude such shortcomings during the presidential

    elections, which he said will take place in December. In

    response to questions from deputies, Akaev said that the

    parliament should have greater powers, especially in naming

    members of the government. He said a referendum on amending

    the country's constitution to increase the parliament's

    powers may be held after the presidential poll. He also said

    that Russian will be granted the status of an official

    language, a measure which he said will curb the ongoing

    emigration of the Russian-speaking population. LF

    [11] ...CALLS FOR REFORMS

    Akaev conceded in his 25 April address

    that reforms of the judicial system and tax system are urgent

    priorities, as are cuts in the bureaucracy and measures to

    combat corruption, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. He also

    noted the need for creating a stable banking system and

    called on the National Bank to improve its supervision of the

    commercial banking sector. Akaev said that annual inflation

    in 2000 should not exceed 20 percent, according to Interfax.

    Meeting the previous day with a visiting World Bank

    delegation headed by Vice President Johannes Linn, Kyrgyz

    Prime Minister Amangeldy Muraliev said that his government is

    drafting a 10-year Development Program that will shortly be

    published for public discussion, Interfax reported. LF

    [12] ANOTHER KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN SENTENCED

    A district

    court on 24 April sentenced 61-year-old Beishaly Kenebaev,

    head of the Djalalabad regional branch of the opposition Ar-

    Namys Party, to seven years' imprisonment for failing to

    repay a personal loan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. An

    Ar-Namys spokesman said the trial was politically motivated.

    Meanwhile some 100-150 people continued their picket in

    central Bishkek on 24 and 25 April to protest the arrest last

    month of Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov and to demand

    the annulment of the parliamentary runoff poll in which,

    according to official returns, Kulov was defeated. Also on 25

    April, opposition politicians met with an advisor to

    President Akaev to discuss Akaev's participation in the

    proposed roundtable discussion between the opposition and the

    country's leadership, and whether that initiative should be

    held under the aegis of the OSCE (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21

    April 2000). LF

    [13] TAJIK LEADERSHIP NEGOTIATES WITH UZBEK ISLAMIST LEADER

    The

    Tajik leadership is seeking to persuade Djuma Namangani, one

    of the leaders of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,

    and his estimated 400 armed supporters, to leave eastern

    Tajikistan as he had pledged to do last October. Tajikistan's

    minister for emergency situations, former opposition military

    commander Mirzo Ziyoev, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service on 25

    April that he recently met with Namangani, who promised to

    leave Tajikistan but did not say where he would go. President

    Imomali Rakhmonov has also charged Islamic Renaissance Party

    leader Said Abdullo Nuri with studying the situation in

    eastern Tajikistan, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 25

    April. On 24 April, Tajik Security Council secretary Amirkul

    Azimov told ITAR-TASS that he had returned the previous day

    from an inspection of the region and seen no evidence that

    any illegal armed groups were based there. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [14] ANOTHER MILOSEVIC CRONY SHOT DEAD IN BELGRADE

    Two or three

    unidentified gunmen killed Zika Petrovic (62) as he was

    walking his dog near his Belgrade home late on 25 April. The

    gunmen, who used automatic weapons with silencers,

    disappeared into the night. Petrovic was the director of

    Yugoslav Airlines (JAT). He was an old friend of the family

    of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and, like them,

    comes from Pozarevac. Petrovic belonged to the United

    Yugoslav Left (JUL), which is the hard-line party led by

    Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic. The killing is the fourth

    this year of a prominent person in Serbia with links to the

    regime. None of the cases has been solved. On 26 April,

    police said in a statement that the killing of Petrovic is a

    "terrorist act." Some observers suggest that Petrovic may

    have been involved in shady business dealings in oil or other

    goods. PM

    [15] KOSOVARS STAGE MASSIVE PROTEST FOR PRISONER RELEASE

    Some

    10,000 mainly ethnic Albanians demonstrated peacefully in

    Prishtina on 26 for the release of the at least 2,000

    Kosovars believed to be held in Serbian jails. Local Albanian

    activists say that the number of prisoners is closer to

    7,000. Demonstrators told reporters that they believe that

    people such as student leader Albin Kurti and human rights

    activist Flora Brovina are being held simply because they are

    ethnic Albanians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 March 2000). The

    protesters appealed to the international community to do more

    to free the prisoners. PM

    [16] OSCE TO SET UP KOSOVA WAR CRIMES COURT

    Rols Welberts, who is

    the OSCE's director for human rights and rule of law in

    Kosova, told Reuters in Prishtina on 26 April that the OSCE

    will set up a court in June to investigate war crimes

    committed during the 1998-1999 conflict. The new body will

    take some of the caseload off the fledgling Kosova judicial

    system and pass the results of its findings on to the Hague-

    based war crimes tribunal. Welberts added that "handling such

    [ethnically-motivated] crimes has been the weakest link in

    the new judiciary, which is [compromised] by the ethnic bias

    of local personnel and the communal pressure on otherwise

    qualified local judges who feel a gun in their back." Reuters

    noted that many local jurists are reluctant to take on cases

    that could put them or their families in physical danger. PM

    [17] NATO ROUNDS UP WEAPONS IN KOSOVA

    KFOR peacekeepers detained

    four ethnic Albanians and seized automatic weapons in each of

    two separate incidents on 25 April. One incident took place

    near Gjakova and the other in central Kosova. Peacekeepers

    seize illegal weapons on a daily basis in Kosova, Reuters

    reported. Some weapons remain from the recent conflict, while

    others have been brought in from Albania and elsewhere by

    criminal gangs. In Kosova as in much of the Balkans, gun

    ownership is traditional among males. PM

    [18] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES ABDUCTION OF SOLDIERS TO

    KOSOVA

    The government faced criticism in the parliament on

    25 April for allegedly swapping an ethnic Albanian warlord

    for four Macedonian soldiers, whom unidentified men had

    captured near the border and taken into Kosova (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 6 April 2000). Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski

    defended his actions, AP reported. He asked his critics:

    "Would it have been better to deal with a terrorist group

    threatening us with ultimatums and to have four [dead] bodies

    in Macedonia? Would you have been happier if the Macedonian

    leadership had said it would not hand over the prisoner?" The

    men who detained the soldiers demanded the release of Xhavit

    Hasani, a Macedonian-born Albanian whom many Kosovars regard

    as a hero of the 1999 conflict. The UN authorities in Kosova

    previously deported Hasani to Macedonia, where he is wanted

    for murder. The four Macedonian soldiers were freed on 3

    April after Hasani was let out of prison on $100,000 bail and

    allowed to return to Kosova. PM

    [19] DJUKANOVIC TO VISIT ALBANIA

    Montenegrin President Milo

    Djukanovic told visiting Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal

    Milo in Podgorica on 25 April that he will be happy to visit

    Albania at an unspecified future date (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    25 April 2000). Milo and his hosts signed an agreement on

    economic, trade, and cultural cooperation, as well as a

    protocol on cooperation between the two foreign ministries.

    "We have opened a new era in relations between our two

    countries and created the institutional basis for future

    cooperation," Reuters quoted Milo as saying. Milosevic broke

    off relations with Albanian in 1999 in response to NATO air

    strikes against Serbian targets. Montenegro seeks to improve

    relations with Tirana in several areas. The two countries

    plan to open a second frontier crossing at an unspecified

    future date and are cooperating on several joint projects

    within the EU's Stability Pact. PM

    [20] CLARK WARNS MILOSEVIC ON MONTENEGRO

    Outgoing NATO Supreme

    Commander in Europe General Wesley Clark said in Sarajevo on

    25 April that Milosevic "should know that NATO is watching,

    NATO understands what he is" doing regarding Montenegro. The

    Serbian leader "should also recognize very well what NATO

    capabilities are. We made sure everyone understands that

    forces in [Kosova] are very capable, they are very well

    commanded, they are very well prepared to do whatever is

    necessary," Reuters reported. Turning to Montenegro, Clark

    noted that Milosevic has brought in "paramilitary thugs" and

    placed his political cronies in key positions in the army in

    that republic. "He deployed forces on the border, he's run

    exercises, intimidation, he tried to take control of the

    airport and other facilities there," Clark continued.

    Meanwhile in Podgorica, the Yugoslav Second Army issued a

    statement saying that it is simply carrying out its duties as

    specified in the constitution, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported. PM

    [21] MESIC NAMES NEW HEAD OF CROATIAN COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE

    In a

    fresh show of his determination to keep control over key

    appointments to the intelligence services, President Stipe

    Mesic on 25 April named Davor Biscan to replace Zarko Pesa as

    head of the Security Information Service (SIS). Pesa had been

    backed by Defense Minister Jozo Rados, within whose ministry

    the SIS functions. There is a fundamental conflict between

    Mesic and Prime Minister Ivica Racan over the powers of the

    president and the control of the intelligence agencies. Racan

    believes that the government must control the services. Mesic

    holds that the president must ensure that the agencies remain

    independent of the government. Under the late President

    Franjo Tudjman, some elements in the governing Croatian

    Democratic Community used the intelligence services against

    their political rivals. PM

    [22] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES 2000 BUDGET

    With a vote of 236

    for, 56 against, and 10 abstentions, the parliament on 25

    April approved the 2000 budget, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau

    reported. The budget's main provisions are a 3 percent

    deficit, 1.3 percent economic growth, and an inflation rate

    of 27 percent. Before voting on the budget as a whole, the

    parliament rejected proposals to postpone a 30 percent raise

    in the salaries of its own members until 1 November. The IMF

    chief negotiator for Romania, Emmanuel Zervoudakis, on 26

    April begins meetings in Bucharest to review whether a

    resumption of loans is possible. The IMF suspended a stand-by

    accord for a $576 million loan after releasing its first $73

    million tranche, concluding that its provisions were not

    respected by the Radu Vasile cabinet. MS

    [23] ROMANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY PROTESTS REVIVAL OF FASCIST

    MOVEMENT

    The Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities, in a

    letter to President Emil Constantinescu, the government, and

    the parliament, on 25 April protested against the revival of

    the fascist Legionary Movement in Romania, Mediafax reported.

    The federation demands that legal stipulations prohibiting

    the activity of extremist and chauvinist parties, as well as

    incitement to racial hatred, be applied to the Legionary

    Movement. To circumvent that legislation, the movement has

    not registered as a political party, but as a "cultural

    organization," the federation says. It has set up several so-

    called "nests" and publishing houses, it disseminates tapes

    with interwar Legionary music and has succeeded in building

    up a following among students and high school pupils. MS

    [24] MOST ROMANIAN PARTIES BACKING BASIC TREATY WITH MOLDOVA

    Foreign Minister Petre Roman on 25 April said after a meeting

    with representatives of parliamentary parties that most

    political formations back the basic treaty with Moldova

    agreed to by diplomats representing the two countries. Roman

    said Romania's purpose in agreeing to the treaty, which

    speaks of a "privileged partnership," is to "draw Moldova

    closer to Romania in the long term." He said not all

    stipulations that Bucharest would have liked to see in the

    treaty are in the document because "it takes two to agree."

    Roman declined to specify when the treaty might be initialed

    by him and his Moldovan counterpart Nicolae Tabacaru. On 26

    April Roman begins a visit to Chisinau, where Romania is to

    take over the rotating chairmanship of the Black Sea Economic

    Cooperation Organization. MS

    [25] CIS DELEGATION HEAD SAYS WEAPONS WITHDRAWAL BY 2001

    'UNREALISTIC'

    State Duma CIS Affairs Committee Chairman

    Boris Pastukhov, who heads a CIS Parliamentary Assembly

    mediation mission to Moldova, on 25 April said it would be

    "unrealistic" to expect the Russian withdrawal of weapons

    from the Transdniester to be completed by the end of 2002, as

    decided at the 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul. Pastukhov, who

    visited the Russian contingent in the separatist region, said

    each train transporting the weapons cannot carry more than 10

    freight cars and the loading must be done "by hand," which is

    very time consuming, Infotag reported. Pastukhov later met

    with separatist leader Igor Smirnov and Transdniester Supreme

    Soviet chairman Grigorii Marakutsa. MS

    [26] MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT SAYS IT FOUND 'ALTERNATIVE RESOURCES' FOR

    COVERING BUDGET DEFICIT

    The government on 25 April said

    after an extraordinary meeting that it has found "alternative

    resources" for covering the deficit caused to the 2000 budget

    by the IMF and World Bank decisions to suspend loaning to

    Moldova. The cabinet said the resources will come from

    privatizing the energy grid and the Moldtelcom company, as

    well as from closing down loss-making state companies. It

    said revenues of some $119 million could be generated through

    these measures. President Petru Lucinschi said Moldova will

    not be in a position to default on its foreign debt, Flux

    reported. A Romanian radio report said Finance Minister Mihai

    Manole was "skeptical" on the feasibility of the envisaged

    measures. MS

    [27] BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR COMMITS SUICIDE

    A Bulgarian prosecutor

    who recently clashed with Prosecutor-General Nikola Filichev

    over personnel decisions killed himself in his office on 25

    April, AP reported. Nikolai Dzhambov, who worked in a high

    court, last month blamed Filichev for reshuffling prosecutors

    without the requisite approval of the Supreme Judicial

    Council, a body of senior magistrates empowered to hire,

    fire, promote, and demote legal officials. Dzhambov

    complained that Filichev had twice temporarily demoted him

    for unknown reasons. He accused Filichev of creating a

    climate of fear and tension and said that Filichev and his

    associates had pressured him into withdrawing his complaints.

    Police said a note was found near the body but did not

    disclose its contents. MS

    [28] BULGARIA EXPECTS LARGE TRADE DEFICIT

    Deputy Trade Minister

    Hristo Mihailovsky on 24 April said Bulgaria's trade deficit

    in 2000 is likely to be similar to that of the previous year-

    -$1 billion. Mihailovsky said the deficit in the first two

    months of 2000 was $247.8 million, although a $29.7 million

    surplus had been registered in trade with the EU, which is

    Bulgaria's main trade partner. Also on 24 April, leaders of

    Bulgaria's largest private business companies set up the

    Association of Employers in Bulgaria, which will represent

    business interests in domestic politics and will try to

    restore the country's lost export markets in the former

    Soviet republics and the Middle East. The association

    demanded that the UN lift sanctions against Iraq, which owes

    Bulgaria more than $2 billion. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [29] Chornobyl's Continuing Political Fallout

    By Paul Goble

    Fourteen years ago today, an explosion and fire at the

    Chornobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine spread a cloud of

    radioactive fallout over a large part of Eastern Europe and

    triggered a series of political developments which continue

    today.

    On that day, the explosion of the no. 4 reactor sent

    radioactive dust over the Western portions of what was then

    the Soviet Union as well as over its East European

    satellites.

    Initially, Soviet officials reacted as they always did

    before, first with silence and then with denial. But because

    the radioactivity also spread to Western Europe and because

    Soviet authorities were unable to prevent people in its

    empire from learning the facts about the accident, Moscow

    changed its approach and began to release some information

    about the tragedy.

    That marked the real beginning of "glasnost," the policy

    of openness that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev used to

    defeat his conservative opponents but also one that made a

    major contribution to the destruction of the country over

    which he and the Communist Party ruled.

    At the time, that political fallout of the Chornobyl

    nuclear disaster attracted almost as much attention as the

    radioactive kind. But since then, its medical impact--the

    increased incidence of cancers among those exposed, the

    mounting number of deaths, and the continuing environmental

    degradation--has attracted most of the attention.

    Given the scope of these medical consequences, that is

    entirely appropriate. But just as was the case 14 years ago,

    the Chornobyl disaster continues to have three kinds of

    political fallout which still affect both the people and the

    governments of this region.

    First of all, the Chornobyl accident remains in the

    minds of many as a symbol of Moscow's insensitivity to the

    dangers of nuclear power and its willingness to put

    Ukrainians, Belarusians, and others at particular risk.

    Only a few weeks before the accident, Soviet authorities

    gave a cash award to an engineer in Belarus who said that

    Soviet reactors were so safe that there was no need to build

    containment walls around them. And at the time of the

    accident, Moscow had concentrated nuclear power plants in

    Ukraine, Belarus, and western portions of the Russian

    Federation.

    Ostensibly, Moscow did so to position itself to sell

    electricity to its East European satellites, but many in

    Ukraine and Belarus have said that they believed Moscow chose

    to do so to put Ukrainians and Belarusians at risk should

    something go wrong.

    Both Moscow's handling of the accident at the time and

    its unwillingness to help out significantly with the

    consequences of the accident have only further deepened the

    anger of many Ukrainians at what they see as the latest

    example of a Russian policy directed at them.

    Second, Western Europe's insistence that Ukraine close

    down Chornobyl and its unwillingness to provide the

    assistance Kyiv believes necessary to create an alternative

    source of power have infuriated many in Ukraine and in

    Belarus who expected that the West would help them to recover

    from this most dramatic of Soviet-era disasters on their

    territory.

    No Ukrainian politician suffered as much from this

    combination of Western insistence and failure to pay as did

    former Belarusian President Stanislau Shushkevich, a nuclear

    physicist who exposed Soviet duplicity on Chornobyl in his

    republic and who campaigned on the expectation that the West

    would help him clean up this disaster.

    But the doubts many Ukrainian leaders already had about

    the willingness of the West to help were only exacerbated by

    this series of events, and these doubts in turn have affected

    the attitudes these Ukrainian leaders have adopted on other

    issues as well.

    And third, the Ukrainian authorities themselves have

    suffered a loss of popular support because of their failure

    to find the funds to help overcome the Chornobyl disaster.

    Ukrainian officials say that they need to spend approximately

    $830 million a year just to help the victims of Chornobyl but

    that they have only $290 million in this year's budget to do

    so.

    As a result--and unless something is done soon--ever

    more Ukrainians, Belarusians, and others are likely to be

    angry not only at Moscow and at the West but at Kyiv as well,

    a pattern of political fallout that does not bode well for

    either the Ukrainian government or the Ukrainian people in

    the future.

    26-04-00


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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