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RUSSIA MAY GET EXEMPTION FROM ANNUAL EMIGRATION TEST (26
The Bush administration has started consultations with Congress on removing Russia and six other former Soviet republics from the list of countries for which the U.S. links normal trade with emigration policies, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated. According to Reuters, under the Jackson-Vanik amendment passed in 1974 during the Cold War, the Soviet Union and other communist countries could not have normal trading relations with the U.S. unless they could show that they did not restrict emigration. The requirement to pass the annual test has been a regular irritant in trade relations with Russia and abolishing the requirement would be a gesture of goodwill toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, a U.S. official said. Boucher said the six other countries which the Bush administration wants off the list are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. Georgia and the three Baltic countries have already been exempted. In practice, the U.S. has certified in recent years that the countries have open emigration policies. (TSK)
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team
LUKASHENKA ADMITS EXISTENCE OF DEATH SQUAD? While visiting Homel, a city in southeastern Belarus, on 23 October, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka boasted to local officials of his clout in criminal circles. Lukashenka said he ordered that a list of all major criminals in the country be made, and is now keeping that list in his safe. He hinted that he had a role in the disappearance of Uladzimir Kleshch, who also goes by the alias Shchaulik, a leader of the criminal world. Parts of Lukashenka's speech in Homel was broadcast on Belarusian Television on 27 October. Lukashenka said:
"The president set them [criminal leaders] down.... Yes, I really let them know through certain criminals five years ago: 'God forbid you ever attempt to make a criminal situation anywhere because then I'll cut off everybody's head.' We know how many they number and who they are, those criminal leaders.... And they know that we know them. God forbid [a criminal leader] ever makes a move, but he is not a fool. If you are pursuing an honest policy, if you are not a thief, they are terribly afraid of that [and say]: 'Forget it, guys, the Father [ed. note: Lukashenka's nickname in Belarus] has said he will waste us.' There was a case in which they behaved badly. Do you remember those Shchauliks and others? Where are they now? That is why there is proper order in the country and all are glad, and [criminal elements] report to the security service: 'Three thousand heads voted for you [in the recent presidential election]. Yes, they called and reported -- [three thousand] heads."
For many commentators in Belarus, Lukashenka's divulgence in Homel immediately brought to mind the charges former Belarusian investigators Dzmitry Petrushkevich and Aleh Sluchak made public in June (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 12 June 2001). Petrushkevich and Sluchak alleged that Interior Minister Yury Sivakou and Security Council Secretary Viktar Sheyman organized -- presumably with Lukashenka's tacit approval -- a secret death squad that was responsible for some 30 killings in Belarus. The investigators said the death squad initially killed criminals -- they even mentioned Shchaulik in this context -- but that it switched to political murders later. According to Petrushkevich and Sluchak, the death squad killed opposition politicians Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar, Hanchar's friend Anatol Krasouski, and ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski.
"[Lukashenka] actually admitted the existence of the death squad. This group was really created to kill criminal leaders," Belarusian Helsinki Committee Chairwoman Tatsyana Protska told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service. "What is coming to the surface right now -- these fragmented phrases -- is really terrible. One even does not need to draw analogies. They are being drawn by the head of state himself," opposition activist Alyaksey Karol added.
KINAKH IN THE U.S. Premier Anatoliy Kinakh has expressed his satisfaction with his tree-day trip to the U.S. last week during which he met with some top U.S. officials and representatives of the business community as well as leaders of the World Bank and the IMF. Kinakh said Ukraine's relations with the IMF and the World Bank are of a "long-term character and based on equal rights." Commenting on his trade negotiations with U.S. officials, Kinakh noted that they took place in a "constructive and open atmosphere" and were characterized by "willingness to seek compromises."
It remains unclear, however, what specific compromises have been found, if any. According to his earlier announcement, Kinakh traveled to Washington to urge the U.S. to grant Ukraine the status of a market economy and lift some trade limitations, in particular, the so-called Jackson-Vannik amendment, which dates back to the Cold War era and makes U.S. commercial relations with other nations dependent on their emigration policies. The requirements of the amendment are based upon the country's emigration policies and prohibit the U.S. from establishing such relations with a country that does not allow their citizens to freely emigrate. No specific decisions on these two issues have been reported following Kinakh's trip.
It seems that the only palpable result of Kinakh's trip was the signing of an accord whereby the U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a $125,000 grant to Ukrainian oil transportation company UkrTransNafta for a study of the commercialization of the OdessaBrody pipeline that would carry Caspian oil through Ukraine to Europe. Ukrainian Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov, who accompanied Kinakh on the trip, commented that the talks with the World Bank were the most successful and constructive in the last several years. But no more details have been released.
However, the political aspect of the trip was no less important than the commercial talks during it. Kinakh was the first top Ukrainian official to visit the U.S. since slain journalist Heorhiy Gongadze's case sparked antipresidential demonstrations in Ukraine this past spring in what seemed to be the country's biggest political crisis since the declaration of independence and President Leonid Kuchma's toughest test during his tenure.
Washington has never implicated Kuchma in the murder of Gongadze, but it has repeatedly called for a full inquiry. Reuters on 1 November quoted some U.S. officials as saying that Kuchma is unlikely to visit Washington until the Gongadze case is properly investigated.
According to U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, Secretary of State Colin Powell raised U.S. concerns during his meeting with Kinakh over Ukraine's reluctance to admit responsibility for the recent downing of a Russian airliner with a stray missile. Powell also reminded Kinakh that Kyiv cannot avoid U.S. trade sanctions if it fails to address rampant piracy of music on compact discs. Interfax quoted Kinakh as saying on 1 November that the U.S. has put off "indefinitely" the announced introduction of trade sanctions over Ukraine's inability to curb such piracy. However, a U.S. trade official said the previous day that the U.S. has postponed the decision on the trade sanctions against Ukraine until 15 November, when the Ukrainian parliament is expected to debate a bill on the protection of intellectual property.
"I don't think that the Communists will remain anti-Ukrainian forever. A lot of them now are. I cannot quietly observe them brandishing the signs of a state that does not exist anymore [the USSR] in the parliament. I don't understand this. In no single country would they be allowed to enter parliament. In no single country. But they are even putting on airs, as it were. Who are you working for?" -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 2 November; quoted by Ukrainian Television.
"God help him if he has said so, but I think that he has gone too far.... He should have taken care of [such a majority] when he was the prime minister." -- Ukrainian President Kuchma on 2 November, commenting on former Premier Viktor Yushchenko's boast that his bloc, Our Ukraine, will receive no less than 226 seats (a majority) in the next parliament; quoted by UNIAN.
RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed every Tuesday.
PUTIN, KUCHMA DISCUSS ANTITERRORIST EFFORT. President Putin spoke by telephone with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma on 5 November, Russian agencies reported. The two discussed the antiterrorist effort in Afghanistan, the resolution of the Transdniester dispute, and upcoming bilateral and CIS meetings. PG
UKRAINIAN TV NAMES SUM OF AIR CRASH COMPENSATION. ICTV television on 5 November reported that Ukraine will pay $1,500 per victim to the families of Israeli victims of the 4 November downing of a Russian Tu-154 airliner by a stray Ukrainian missile. The network added that the families of each Russian victim of the air tragedy will get $2,000 from an insurance company plus an unspecified compensation sum from Ukraine. JM
EU COMPLETES CHORNOBYL INFORMATION PROJECT. Officials of the EU's TACIS program on 5 November said they have completed a $1.2 million project aimed at informing the public in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia about the consequences of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, AP reported. The TACIS project included a collection of scientific information about the catastrophe's aftermath, which was then distributed with the inclusion of new statistics and recommendations on how to survive in affected areas. The information is published in books, booklets, videotapes, and compact discs distributed to government institutions, lawmakers, and various regional organizations. "We cannot clean food products from radiation with CDs, but we can learn from them that 90 percent of all products in Ukraine are clean and that people don't need to do something special about them," one of the program's participants said. JM
POLAND HOSTS ANTITERRORIST SUMMIT. "What afflicted the American nation could afflict any nation.... We would like to show our solidarity in this fight against evil," Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said in Warsaw on 6 November during his opening remarks to an East European summit intended to consolidate regional support for the U.S.- led global campaign against terrorism. The antiterrorist conference is being attended by leaders from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia, as well as officials representing the United States, Russia, Turkey, Belarus, the United Nations, NATO, the EU, and the OSCE. Kwasniewski said the summit will debate tightening controls on the movement of people, information, and finances to make it harder for terrorists to use the region to penetrate into Western Europe and the United States, Reuters reported. JM
THE DUMA'S LOBBYING STRUCTURES. This year the State Duma is reportedly undergoing a "boom" in the formation of interfactional deputies associations (MDOs), and their ranks now number more than 30. Among the best-known and most active MDOs is Energy Russia, which was founded by former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, when he was still a Duma deputy, in February 2000. Energy Russia has its own future legislative plans as well as an "expert-analytical council," which prepares conclusions on bills that are being discussed. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 September, there was tension between Energy Russia and the Duma's Energy Committee. However, that problem was more or less resolved when Vladimir Katrenko, a Unity deputy, who happens to be the chair of the Duma's Energy Committee, took over as head of Energy Russia.
It is generally believed that these groups play a kind of unofficial lobbying role -- most often for specific industries and/or for specific regions. But there are also MDOs which advance foreign policies, such as promoting stronger political and economic ties between Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, while others foster contacts between parliaments in other countries. The aim of one group, Lawyers of Russia, is to raise the level of professionalism in drafting legislation.
These groups have no official legal status, in contrast to factions such as committees or commissions. Their pronouncements have only the force of a recommendation. They are not even mentioned in the "reglament" governing the Duma. However, there is talk about introducing changes in the regulation to give the MDOs the right to initiate parliamentary hearings, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta."
The following table provides a partial list of the highestprofile groups among the MDOs. The number of deputies is based on news reports and may not represent the most recent membership tally.
Russian Borders________Artur Chilingarov____________158
Energy Russia_________Vladimir Katrenko_____________122
For the Union
of Ukraine, Belarus,
and Russia_____________Boris Pastukhov______________142 Commodity Producers
of Russia______________Nikolai Ryzhkov______________107 Business Russia________Igor Lisinenko________________53 Russian Investment______Vladimir Pekhtin_____________nk Deputies Food
Producing Council________Vladimir Semenov____________33 Siberian Accord_________Aleksandr Fomin______________35 Russia's South_________Vladimir Averchenko___________52 Russia's North_________Valentina Pivnenko____________61 Volga-Ural____________Aleksandr Belousov_____________58 Honor, Duty,
Fatherland____________Valerii Dorogin________________34 Eurasia______________Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov____________20 European Club___Georgii Boos, Aleksandr Belousov_____50 _______________Vladimir Koptev-Dvornikov ________________Vladimir Semenov, Irina Khakamada Lawyers______Pavel Krasheninnikov, Aleksandr Gurov___49 of Russia_______Anatolii Lukyanov, Vyacheslav Volodin Strategy of the Future_____Robert Nigmatulin_________14