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 Issue No. 174. - May 18, 2000.
    Contents :
       By Zoran Mamula
       By Jasna Bastic
       By Arkady Dubnov
4. Special addition : NEW AT TOL

    By Zoran Mamula

    What pessimists havebeen saying for months is now happening in
Serbia - the government is brutally fighting independent media and
opposition, which can have grave consequences to the Serbian
    The season was opened in the night between 16th and 17th of
May when the Serbian government took over opposition radio and TV
station from Belgrade Studio B, explaning that the station many
times called for violent toppling of legally elected government
and supported terrorism. At two after midnight, several hundred
policemen in civilian clothing and combat camouflage uniforms
broke into palace "Beogradjanka" where Studio B is located and
dispersed journalists and tehnicians which were broadcasting the
programme. Police gave the same order to journalists of
independent radio stations B2-92 and Index, as well as to those of
the most read private newspapers "Blic". All newsrooms are located
in the same building. Representatives of the Ministry of interior
affairs also blocked the building`s entrance and explained they
did so following order from the higher levels.
    United opposition ,which has been numerous internal dissents
lately, was quick to react. All parties unanonimously asked
Serbian citizens to protest every day, practice civil disobedience
and to block the traffic. However, already during the first
protest staged on the same day when Studio B was violently shut
down, and especially the second held the following evening, on
18th of May, the  regime of Slobodan Milosevic showed that it will
not back off a single step. When some protesters tried to walk to
Studio B, the police violently intercepted them and used pepper
gas to disrupt demonstrations, arresting all citizens who stood in
their way, even those who didn`t take part in the protest.
    At this momet, nobody can say whether the protests in Serbia
will continue or not.. Not only do citizens fear of police
interventions, but also Vuk Draskovic, undisputed leader of the
opposition and the president of Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO),
the party which had the majority in now former board of manageers
of Studio B, is not in Serbia. He is most likely in Montenegro
now. SPO officials explained that Draskovic, whose charisma,
disregarding many accustions against him, would animate many more
citizens to join the protests, is located "in the safe place"
because the party expect him to be arrested as soon as he comes to
Serbia. Situation is also worsened by the fact that  by
oevertaking Studio B, the authorities also prevented Radio B-92
and Radio Index from broadcast, so that the citixens cannot get
information about next opposition moves.
    Paradoxically, situation is much better in the cities located
in the inner Serbia, where there are still many independent media
online and where, during the last two days, there have been
numerous protests which the police let in peace. It could easily
be minor towns, instead of the Serbian capital, to detonate
general protests throughout Serbia. Representatives of the ruling
coalition said that attack on Studio B doesn`t mean introduction
of informal satte of emergency, but Serbian analysts think that
Serbia is "falling" into a state of wide civil unrest which could,
if the government doesn`t stop repression, have catastrophic
    Direct motives for government action against Studio B were the
last two demonstrations when Vuk Draskovic said that, if Milosevic
refuses to admit free elections on all levels, "it will be the way
it has to be" to which demonstrator replied shouting "Rebellion!
Rebellion!" However, the real reason for the government attack is
the fact that TV Studio B, which covers almost whole Serbia, was
showing citizens that the regime was finding harder and harder to
fight against protests intiiated by the new, uncompromised people
under the aegis of student movement "Resistance".
     Last events on Serbian political scene put Resistance in the
spotlight of media attention and proved that organized students
with their symbollic actions can be a much harder opponent than
weak opposition. Arrests and police tortures of the Resistance
members that has now become everyday thing have been with the
movement since its beginnings - October 1998 when the government
put new rigid law on university into practice. First action which
attracted much attention was drawing graffittis and clenched fist,
symbol of Resistance, across the centre of Belgrade. During rhe
action the police arrested 4 activists who were sentenced to ten
days of prison because of writing "Death to Fascism". After two
years, the movement grew from initial group of 15 students into a
respected organisation that has gathered 20 thousand activists in
130 cities and towns in Serbia, with 30 branch offices in various
cities. They are not officialy registered since, as they say, it
is better to work illegally. The autohorities used that fact to
start mass arrests of Resistance members during the last ten days.
The motive was found in the assassination of president of the
Vojvodina government and high-positioned SPS official Bosko
Perosevic. Regime accused Resistance and SPO for it. In only three
days several dozens of the student organisation members were
arreste, and two were out on a wanted list, accused that they
persuaded Milivoj Gutovic to kill Perosevic. Before the last
opposition demonstrations, authorities announced that they would
arrest all memebers of "Resistance" or, as they call the,
"terrorists" that would come to gathering, but students still came
to demonstrations, wearing T-shirts with their symbol of clenched
fist and flags. The speech of their representative was greeted
with standign ovations. Rcecent arrests turned "resisters" into
such heroes that even the prominent public figures started to come
to their organisation.
    Opposition parties and Resistance for now share the same goal
- change of regime. However, there is a noticeable reserve of some
opposition parties, especially SPO, towards the student movement.
The most important reason for it is big public popularity of
Resistance. Such popularity is threatening to recently strongest
regime opponnent - Vuk Draskovic. During informal discussions,
some opposition politicians also mentioned the way Resistance is
financed as controversial as well as its connection with the
Democratic party headed by Zoran Djindjic. Students reject all
accusations of them receiving money from some western governments
and claim that they are aided by displeased Serbian citizens -
more in raw material than money, and by Serbian diaspora. Clenched
fist - symbol of resistance - is a sign of resistance to
authority, say "resisters" and reject all accusations sayign that
it is a fascist symbol. Many Serbian citizens who are inclined
towards opposition see
    Resistance members as the only hope, "fresh blood" that will
change Serbia, especially now when it seems that the government
started decisive fight against all who think differently. Their
help in demonstrations will be precious, but one should not forget
that students have no infrastructure similar to strongest
opposition parties, and that only working together with opposition
will they be able to do something. Citizens who want change hope
that both Resistance and opposition members know that co-operation
is necessary. If not, yet another wave of demonstrations will turn
into a fruitless attempt to change Slobodan Milosevic`s regime.


    By Jasna Bastic
    Since May 1, things look very different in Serbia. When
students movement "Otpor" (Resistance) organized their first
general rally with members from all over Serbia on 1st of May in
Kragujevac town and received open support from labour trade
unions, it was like trigger which has deeply radikalized the
political situation in Serbia since. Unebelivable picture before,
but now a real one: students were marching through the town of
Kragujevac (150 km south from Belgrade) shouting "Save Serbia -
kill yourself, Slobodan!" and "Sobodan, go to Haag!".
    The following events have like never before polarized citzens
and regime in Serbia: three Otpor activists were bitten and
injured in a fight with regime supporters in Pozarevac (birthplace
of Slobodan Milosevic and the center of his son Marko`s business)
and then arrested; police prohibited opposition protest in
Pozarevac; several independent media were fined for reporting on
incidents in Pozarevac; Otpor is accused for being behind the
murder of one of funktioners from Milosevic`s ruling party;
anti-regime demonstrations in Belgrade on May 15...
    "We are the group that everybody is talking about now", says
Damir Eres (21), Otpor activist and  a student of Faculty for
Medicine, "people are starting to be attracted by Otpor, because
they are too dissappointed in opposition. Everybody shows up now
our symbol, clenched fist!".
    Otpor came out from student groups protesting against
represive university law in November 1998. Now, Otpor is the
political movement of students and high school pupils, which is
spreading all over Serbia and gaining widespread public support
along the way. Their street actions and performances are fresh,
topical, sometimes funny, but very clear and direct in request
that Milosevic regime has to be replaced.
    "Slobodan Milosevic has to leave, that is condition of all
conditions for changes in this country", says Vukasin Petrovic
(24), a student of Political Sciences, tall, nicely dressed guy
with  funny karo tie "from 70-ties", as he said. "You think I look
fine?" ironicaly asked Vukasin, "Then, look at my shoes!" and he
moved up his leg and showed the sole of his shoe fully broken. I
don`t have any other shoes", he said.
    Vukasin`s father is the screenwriter now without any job and
Vukasin`s mother, who used to be a company director, is now
selling things at the black market. The good life of Serbian
middle class belongs to the past. "I was two times in holidays in
last 10 years since this regime is in power", says Vukasin, "and
when you are only 15 or 16, of course that you are unsatisfied at
first with economic poor conditions of living".
    Vukasin explaines that political reasons are also very strong
motivation for young people to join Otpor movement : "We don`t
want any war any more. Milosevic pushed people into war against
Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, he produced many casualties... We live in
Europe which is like one state, so it is irrediculous to creat
today new borders and new national states. We want to live like
other young people in Europe." But, Damir Eres says that he
doesn`t like to travel to Europe: "It  is horribale feeling to
travel somewhere and to say that you are from Serbia. People
expect that you have knife in the pocket and that you will
immediately start killing the  people around you. That is the
image of Serbs abroad". "Yes, that is true", adds Vukasin,
"instead of feeling pleasure when you travel, you feel like a
piece of shit".
    Damir can`t say particulary by what he and other young people
are the most unsatisfied in Serbia:  I am in such a state of mind
that I am unsatisfied with everything" says Damir", everything is
unnerving me. All people feel general frustration, you feel it in
the bus, in the school, when you watch TV program, our parents are
unsatisfied, and that is excatly the reason why colour of Otpor
movement is black - the world around us is black, there are no
colours any more".
    It is not in question any more that majority of people in
Serbia wants changes and to get rid of Milosevic`s goverenment,
but still it is not clear how and when it will happen. New in
Serbia is that general mood of people is turning from
unsatisfaction to anger. And how this anger will be expressed, is
now completaly opened. Vuk Draskovic, the leader of opposite party
SPO (Serbian Renewal Movement),  said on May 13 that we will not
defend ourselves only by meetings, speaches and press-conferences,
but we will use all other possible means". Many don`t see this
massage as very peaceful and at the same time fear that regime
could use police in too opressive way in order to provoke violent
reactions, what at the end can be a excuse for the emergency state
measures. Although eveybody talks now in Serbia about necessary
elections, strong fear is present that the regime will not step
back in peaceful way.  In the situation when  Serbian president
Slobodan Milosevic is accused by UN Tribu in den Haag and when
many of Serbian politicans are involved in suspicious business,
for them to stay in power means  also basic existential security.
Loss of political power and state control can simply bring those
people to the court.
    Otpor activists say that they are commited to non-violent acts
of protests and has never called for violent fights against
regime. What Otpor wants are general elections in Serbia. We want
Milosevic to leave and his place is in Haag", says Vukasin, but
we want to do that in elections. The basic aim of our campainging
is to have free elections and to bring as many as possible people
to elections, especialy young people. We fight against regime with
penciles not with guns, we need only to have elections, to use our
penciles, vote and he will go away!, says Vukasin.
    Milosevic`s regime seems to be much more disturbed by students
in Otpor then by opposition`s  impotent meetings and protests.
Whenever Otpor activists spread their provocative posters or
organize public events, they are under police harrasment and their
materials are confiscated. Unknown persons often attack youngsters
just for wearing Otpor T-shirts with clenched fist. Police
interrogations are common and everyday thing. Spokemen of ruling
parties and propagandists in state media call Otpor activists as"failed
students", "junkies", "moral garbage", "nazis" and eventhe Minister for
Communication called Otpor "fasistic militant NATO Jugend organization".
    Belgrade regime has very well recognized that these young
people can mobilize many citizens together in their unsatisfaction
with life and poverty. Being young, uncorrupted, undiscredited,
not looking for the power and funktioning as the movement -
youngsters in Otpor are going to be the most serious threat to the
regime.  Their power is in their youth and in number of possible
new voters in elections, who are youngsters who usually don`t vote
and those who will be soon 18.
    "We are young and we want changes", says Alexandra Dingarac,
17 years old, pupil of Belgrade gymnasium and activist in Otpor.
"I don`t want to leave country like many of my friends or friends
of my parents. I love this country and we have to change things
here. Too many old people vote in elections and too little young
people. We want to use our right to vote and to change this
    Otpor gives its full support to Serbian opposition allaince in
request that Serbia has to have free and fair elections, but they
are not very happy with what opposition is doing in Serbia: "We
critize opposition, because they are responsible for why Milosevic
is for so long in power", says Vukasin Petrovic, "they are
quarelling among themselves too much". Democratic Union for
Changes, which gather together main Serbian opposite political
parties including Vuk Draskovic`s SPO and Zoran Djindjic`s
Democratic Party, are blamed for many internal struggles for
domination and power, for disunity, lack of political strategy and
for previous  colaboration with regime. "In this moment", says
Vukasin Petrovic, "the most important is that all in opposition
and all citizens join together  in resistance against regime and
win elections. That is the goal of all of us ".
    Students are campaigning among all social groups in order to
motivate people to go for elections. Otpor is the first
organization, which is trying to overcome the gap towards
Milosevic`s supporters. "There are two parallel worlds in Serbia",
explaines Vukasin Petrovic, "the world of TV Serbia, how we call
it here, which presents the regime`s virtual world and the world
of reality. We want to cross the border to citizens who still
believe that state propaganda is reality and to speak to them
through their own unsatisfaction, because they are also
unsatisfied with life in Serbia".  Pensioners who are traditionaly
Milosevic`s main voters are also the target of Otpor`s
campaigning.  "Old people are very unhappy because their pensions
are miserable, and we want to talk to them, we talk to workers, we
talk to opposition, we talk to everybody to move people to raise
their individual resistance and go for elections", says Vukasin.
    And until we were sitting and talking in a cafe in front of
the Otpor office in main pedestrian zone in the center of
Belgrade, an old man approached our table asking for a cigarrete
and saying, "I will turn it to you back". Vukasin gave him a
cigarrete and, obviously being touched, said: "This sentence `I
will turn it to you back`,  is killing me. You see, this man is
not a begger, he had good life before, you can see that....,this
is horriable..."
    In Serbia, the avarage salary is around 70-80 DM, while
minimal social support for those who lost their jobs is 10 DM.
Serbia has 1,5 million unemployed people, huge brain drain, 1
million refuges and in general, desperate economic situation. The
whole nation is twisted by wars which Serbian goverenment has
never in fact proclaimed, but it proclaimed the victory over NATO
forces last year, when Serbia was almost devastated by 78 days of
intensive bombing.
    People in Serbia are unsatisfied and angry, but still their
call for changes is based mostly on economic poverty. Disunited
oposition is still unable to turn economic unsatisfiaction of
people into more organized, stronger and continious political
resistance. Neither Vuk Draskovic`s party, SPO, which is too close
to nationalism nor Zoran Djindjic`s Democratic Party, have never
really resisted against war, war crimes and war criminals in
previous years, so it is very hard now to explaine citizens all
about "five lost wars", how they say. Paradoxaly, inspite of own
victims and refugees, war is still somehow taboo in Serbia. Kosovo
is simply not at all the subject of talks.
    The struggle for free elections in Serbia will be painful and
long.  Bitter comment would say  that war is coming home. When
represive side of the regime turned from Croats, Muslims, and
Albanians towards own citizens, the call to stand up against
regime came out loudly from people. When somebody starts to arrest
their children and call them "nazis", they see that something is
wrong with their regime.... There is also, perhapse, one more and
very delicate reason why "Otpor" acitivists get so much support in
Serbia today. Being young and only 10 or 12 when war broke out in
ex-Yugoslavia, they look like little angels who will save Serbia
from its bad conscience.

    By Arkady Dubnov
    About a month ago, immediately after Putin's victory in the
presidential elections, a  member of his administration noted that
only a "sudden personnel inspiration" could stop the president
from appointing Mikhail Kasyanov chairman of the administration of
Russia.   Few doubted that he would win the approval of the lower
house.  The leaders of practically all parliamentary fractions
indicated that they would not actively oppose Putin's candidate.
Kasyanov himself was sure of being appointed.  He recently stated
that "all positions have preliminary been agreed on with president
Vladimir Putin."
    Thus, the first leader of the Russian administration in the
post-Yeltsin era is Mikhail Kasyanov, and one prediction about the
psychological aspects of Putin's hiring style is confirmed:  in
the president's closest circle, no one will be older than him
(with several exceptions, the ministers of foreign affairs and
defense among them). Kasyanov was born on December 8, 1957, in the
small town of Solntsevo, just outside Moscow.  He graduated from
the Moscow Roads Institute with the specialty of building
engineer.  He worked at the State Planning Committee of the USSR
and took higher economics courses at that institution. In 1990, he
transferred to the State Committee for Economics, where he worked
on foreign economic ties.  In 1991, he transferred to the Russian
Economics Ministry, where he had concerned himself with Russia's
foreign debt since 1993.  Kasyanov gained professional recognition
when Russia's relationship with Western creditors became a
priority for the economy.  After a few years, he was appointed
vice minister of economics and continued working on the same
    For Kasyanov, 1999 was a decisive year.  Sergei Stepashin
followed opposition figure Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister.  It
was then that, as a result of a Stepashin's political struggle
with the forces of Boris Berezovsky and bureaucratic in-fighting
for the positions of first vice premier and economics minister,
Kasyanov became the compromised head of the ministry of economics.
He did not expect it himself.
    Kasyanov was appointed first vice premier on January 10, after
Yeltsin's unexpected New Year's resignation and prime minister
Putin's move from the White House (administration headquarters) to
the Kremlin.  At that time, there was but one requirement made of
Kasyanov, that he get the administration through to the
inauguration of the president without fighting or mistakes.  He
was thus given a trial period, during which he performed well. The
fact that the attention of the government, political elite and
society was focused on the war in Chechnya probably made his job
easier.  Kasyanov wisely distanced himself from that problem,
which confirms another tactic of the new president:  Kasyanov is
to be a "technical" prime minister for Putin.
    Putin reasserted that position recently saying that the
governmental and presidential administrations will be his
"instruments" to carry out the policies of a strictly vertically
structured higher power in Russia.  In addition, on May 13, a
sensational presidential decree was published on the introduction
of presidential representatives in seven federal districts in
Russia.  Each of these districts will unite several regions and
republics (there are a total of 89 of them, which are known as
"constituents of the Federation" in the Constitution).  The
centers of these districts will be Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny
Novgorod, Rostov, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk.
Governors and presidents of Russian autonomous republics will thus
come under addition administrative supervision from Moscow.
    Kasyanov's sole notable success recently has been his
favorable negotiations on the restructuring of Russia's debts to
the London Club (private banks and companies), where nearly a
third of that debt was written off.  But his image has gradually
been transformed from that of a first-class negotiator to that of
a first-class bureaucrat.  He has come to personify the economic
aspirations of the new government (after the August 1998 crisis),
which, at this moment, aim for stability rather than reform and
have no clear economic characterization.  The heated competition
between two economic clans to develop President Putin's new
economic program bears witness to those aspirations.
    One of those clans is headed by German Gref, director of the
Center for Strategic Planning, whose widely advertised program
reflects liberal ideology and is supported by a group of
right-wing politicians headed by former prime minister Sergei
Kirienko. The other clan is led by Yury Maslyukov, first vice
prime minister under Primakov and one-time chairman of the State
Planning Committee of the USSR, which enjoys the support of the
Russian communist party.  Kasyanov has recently shown support for
the Maslyukov plan, in opposition to the liberal rightists.  It is
possible that this is a tactical approach to the upcoming vote in
the State Duma to confirm him as prime minister.  The majority of
deputies in the Duma are leftists and their unreserved support is
a necessity.
    It is clear in any case that the basic parameters of the
economic policy will be set by Putin himself and by his economic
advisors, among whom is ultra-liberal Aleksei Illarionov.
Special addition : NEW AT TOL
       Transitions Online (TOL) is the leading
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    NEW AT TOL:  FEATURE: Where Is All the Investment?
    by Vladimir Kozlov
    Minsk isn't exactly the most Westernized of the former Soviet
capitals, and Westerners are not exactly pounding the pavement in
search of Belarusian business prospects. Low consumer purchasing
power and an unfavorable investment climate have previous
investors backing out of big deals and new investors nowhere to be
seen. Accompanying this article is a sidebar discussing how the
Czech Republic has become the latest darling of foreign investors.

    FEATURE: The Wild World of Russia's Far East
    by Nonna Chernyakova
    With an erratic and uncontrollable regional governor at the
helm, the Russian Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok continues
to wallow in a quagmire of economic stagnation and political
circus acts. President Vladimir Putin has said he intends to rein
in wacky governors like Yevgenii Nazdratenko, but it's no easy
task to fire a despot who operates above the law, interferes with
private business, controls the press, and then bestows noble
awards upon himself.
OPINION: The Cult of Secrecy Lives On
    by Bianca Guruita
    Romania takes one step forward and one step back with its game
of state secrets versus freedom of information. And two
conflicting proposals set for debate in parliament could decide
the future of the country's civil liberties. The dangerous law on
state secrecy seems set to win and if passed will clamp down on
the public's access to information--after all, what the public
doesn't know, won't hurt it. Meanwhile, a subservient and
apathetic public isn't up to fighting for its rights, except for a
few lone crusaders with little time to push their own mitigating
proposal through parliament.
    The following article is one of TOL's Annual Surveys for 1999:
exclusive overviews of individual countries in the region written
for TOL by top local and Western analysts and edited by regional
specialist Professor Peter Rutland of Wesleyan University. These
valuable resources follow the fine tradition established by the
OMRI/East-West Institute Annual Surveys. Both sets of reports, old
and new, can be found in our expanded Country Files
<> along with links and maps for the
27 countries in the post-communist world.
    Bulgaria 1999: Out With the Old, In With the New
    It wasn't an easy year for Bulgaria. Tough decisions forced
Bulgarians to choose sides over the war in Kosovo, international
and domestic pressures prompted fast-paced economic reforms, and
an invitation to European Union accession talks added to the
country's anxiety over choosing the right reforms and implementing
them quickly, in time for the talks. Overall, it was a year of
removing symbols of a murky past and making great gains on the
international scene.
    compiled by our correspondents throughout the region
    Jews are a phantom nation according to Hungarian text books
... Suicide by self-immolation for a former Estonian Komsomol
leader ... Ban on tobacco ads has Lithuanian television in
mourning ... No respect at Polish border for Ukrainian citizens
... Caught cheating: Polish students retake exams ... Polish
Catholic priest cuffed during mass ... Tallinn's mayor gives "Red
Light" to legal brothels ... Microchips for bears in Bulgarian
forests ... French official implicated in Romanian
money-laundering scheme ... Georgia gets a new state minister ...
Tajikistan looks for a friend in the IMF ... Cotton still king in
Uzbekistan ? and much more.