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Issue No. 190 - September 15 , 2000.
Contents :

By Branka Vujnovic

By Ylber Emra

By Zvezdan Georgievski

4. Special addition: NEW AT TOL

    By Branka Vujnovic
    With elections around the corner, the Serbian political scene is
becoming more and more like a field awaiting the final battle.
 Even before total vote count, There is no abstention from all
the methods and means to destroy a political opponent, which
makes this ongoing election campaign one which surpasses all
earlier campaigns in harshness and lack of fair play.
    According to their fierceness in dealing with their opponents,
the ruling coalition comprised of Socialist Party of Serbia( SPS)
and Yugoslav United Left (JUL) is considering the September
elections for both Yugoslav president and parliament as a matter
of survival in power or definite disappearance from the political
scene. Preparations were already made, so the left has the upper
hand in the battle for votes, especially in the media. The beginning of
the election campaign was met by more than 500 radio and TV
stations in 160 counties and cities in Serbia. During the past year,
most of them ended up controlled by the government in various
ways. All 16 TV stations in Belgrade broadcasting on 18 channels are
controlled or even owned by SPS and JUL, and Belgrade citizens are
thus "freed" from alternative electronic media, with the airspace
above the city cleansed for the needs of  government propaganda.
    Several months ago the government also took over radio and TV
station Studio B, once the most popular radio station, B292 was exiled
from Serbian territory and its program can only be heard by those
lucky enough to have a satellite dish. The only independent radio
station which survived the purges is Radio Index whose program cannot
be heard in all parts of Belgrade.
    In Voivodina and inner Serbia the balance of power on the air is
somewhat different - in some counties, individual
"non-regime intruders" whose influence is mostly negligent survived.
A contrasting situation is present only in the cities of Nis, Kragujevac
and Uzice where local independent electronic media have been dominant
for the last 4 years.
    Yet, the overwhelming government influence on the media is more than
obvious. There are endlessly repeating video spots of the left
parties, and viewers can also watch propaganda of Serbian Renoval
Movement,(SPO) a party that is recently also supported by the
regime. Polls on media coverage of the parties and reporting
during the election campaign show that regime-controlled media
openly and fervently support SPS and JUL. Everything related to
the opposition, or better put, the Democratic opposition of
Serbia(DOS), is covered in a negative manner. Dissatisfied with
the treatment in state-controlled media which gave more attention
to Slobodan Milosevic than radical candidate Tomislav Nikolic,
the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) left the managing board of state
television and stopped broadcasting their commercials on Serbian
television. The Radicals now use private TV Palma for their media
campaign. A very popular TV station, Palma doesn't run information
news services and is well-known for broadcasting porn movies after
midnight. DOS doesn't have an election campaign in electronic media -
due to the extremely high prices DOS representatives decided not to
run commercials via Serbian television. Government-controlled
media stubbornly refuse to cover the DOS tour of Serbian cities.
Presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica is only mentioned in
commentaries where he is labelled as "mercenary of NATO and the west".
    Due to the ignoring of the opposition by the media, the real election
campaign is going on in the streets. Even the smallest
place in Serbia is covered in posters which remain glued to walls
for one day at most, after which they are replaced by posters of
their political opponents. Posters of SPS and JUL are warily
monitored by the police, so opposition activists strap them and
put new ones up during night actions. More and more frequently, there
are clashes with the rival teams. The police are extremely fervent in
keeping the public order, and those caught, always supporters of
the opposition, end up in police stations. The same fate recently befell
a middle-aged gentleman who was frustrated with waiting in line for
hours for oil and sugar and angrily tore left election
poster in public. Written on the poster were the words - "we are
going forward to new victories".
    The SPS and JUL messages, which flooded Belgrade, are based on
resistance to aggression and "new world order", and the main opponents
are USA and Nato, and not the opposition parties. As Slobodan
Milosevic explained to the voters - there is no real opposition,
only a "handful" of persons alien to the Serbian nation. The leftists'
main motto, "the people vote, not Nato" that can be seen at every
corner has been immediately renamed into "the people vote, not Mira"
(Mirjana Markovic, leader of the JUL and the wife of president
Milosevic). Besides many policemen located throughout Serbia, the
most prominent motto of the national movement Resistance is "he's
finished". Members of the organisation use their humorous actions
and great popularity with the public especially to provoke the government,
and the police frequently arrest them. They were brutally expelled from
their Belgrade headquarters, and several of them were interned in
theVladika Han police station, where they survived hell,
from kicking and wire-strangling to hanging from their feet.
Pictures of the beaten young boys were published by all the
independent newspapers.
    Besides cruel clashes with political opponents, this
election campaign will be remembered by the lines for oil and sugar.
As was expected, the government recalled that there are some oil
and sugar among otherwise empty reserves. As a result, there has
been a Serbian-wide campaign which could be called "We give you
oil, you give us votes".
    However, as soon became clear, there are not enough goods in
the warehouse so many citizens wait all day long for their litre of
oil or a kilo of sugar at a lower price. The only alternative is to
buy the same oil and sugar on the black market for a significantly higher
    Besides all that, lines are still full of Milosevic's
supporters who will, if needed, use their fists to defend their
president from "Nato and USA supporters". A female journalist of
Montenegrin television experienced it last week in Novi Sad. She
was trying to interview people waiting in line outside a shop. In
response she was beaten with an umbrella several times, and
revolted citizens drove away the cameramen shouting "We are this poor
because of your Djukanovic (the president of Montenegro). He sold
himself to the Americans".
    A journalist of the independent news agency Beta met a similar fate
in Pancevo. When he asked if the government was to blame for
shortages in the market, most of those waiting turned against him,
and he eventually saved himself from being beaten by running.
    The aggressive, pompous and over-expensive campaign of SPS and JUL
still, judging by new polls, fails to yield expected results.
Although handicapped by harangues of accusations, without enough
money and with no access to the most popular electronic media and
press Democratic opposition of Serbia and its presidential
candidate Vojislav Kostunica lead by all polls. Government
representatives stubbornly repeat that polls made by prestigious
institutions  were "ordered, even wrote in CIA offices". But the
public in Serbia had no chance to read one single poll that showed
SPS, JUL, radicals or SPO as victorious. General opinion is that
choosing Vojislav Kostunica for presidential candidate was crucial
factor in so high opposition support.
    That the choice was right was clear at the beginning of DOS
tour in Serbia. Unexpectedly, many people eagerly accepted the man
that appears in the public without any bodyguards, who was never a
member of the communist party, has no western bank accounts, or
villa on Dedinje and, apart from other opposition politicians,
he's untouched by corruption scandals and former co-operation with
the regime in any form.
    And before all, he is a stubborn Serbian nationalist, which is
still very important in this country. "I like that he promised
nothing. He's a god amid all others who fight Milosevic by day,
and try to suck up to him at night. He is modest and honest as we
are, only smarter", are the most frequent remarks of the citizens
gathered at his election rallies, together with the most famous:
"He must be an honest man, he has only two new suits". Burst of
emotions and agitated way people are listening to "their
president" is a clear sign that here have been some serious
changes among the voters in Serbia during last years. Statements
said by government representatives about Kostunica being "rigidity
and bore incarnate" were proven wrong, as were those uttered by
people close to him who stressed Kostunica's main failures were
lack of charisma and imagination. It turned out that the expert on
constitution law and always serious politician is capable of
attracting and thrilling voters. Prophets have already put out a
story saying that a famous Serbian prophecy in an expanded version
says that Serbia will be saved by a man who has the same name as
the village he is coming from. Vojislav Kostunica is in line with
that description, he was born in the village Kostunici. Serbia can
check whether the prophecy was right very soon - at the elections,
on 24th September.
    By Ylber Emra
    The Serbian authorities are trying in every possible way to
organize federal elections in Kosovo, which is formally within
the boundaries of Yugoslavia but is practically under
international protectorship since June 1999. The heads of the UN and OSCE
missions in Kosovo Bernard Kouchner and Daan Eeverts say they will
not prevent the elections, but also won't support them or take part
in their organization. At the same time, the Serbian opposition
parties are warning that federal elections in Kosovo, the province
under international protectorate, will be yet another elections
fraud organized by the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, like Serbian
the presidential elections three years ago. Kosovar Albanians who
now account for 95 per cent of the local population reject all
possibilities of holding Yugoslav elections in Kosovo, the
province they see as a separate land, independent of the Belgrade
authorities and for the independence of which they have been
    The Belgrade authorities announce elections will be held
    A high ranking official of the ruling Socialist Party of
Serbia and the head of the party's Election headquarters Gorica
Gajevic last week unexpectedly came to Gracanica, a village near
Pristina populated exclusively by Serbs, and said before 200 Serbs
that Yugoslav elections will also take place in Kosovo. Her
appearance and promise that presidential, parliamentary and local
elections will be held in Kosovo together with the whole of
Yugoslavia was a surprise, both to the remaining Serbs in Kosovo
and to the Serbian opposition that has finally united in an
attempt to win Milosevic at the elections after ten years of his
unchallenged rule.
    It seems that foreign representatives weren't surprised with
Gajevic's visit since she, who is a politician very close to
Milosevic, came to Kosovo in cars exhibiting diplomatic plates.
Followed by officials of the Socialists' party of Serbia, she put
forward many accuses against international rule in Kosovo at the
meeting in Gracanica, claiming that foreign representatives will
have to leave Kosovo since they failed to accomplish any mission
they had came for. In a fierce speech Gajevic even said that she
can guarantee that international missions will "sooner or later"
leave Kosovo and leave it to Serbia.
    Kosovar Serbs and federal elections
    Kosovar Serbs headed by religious leader (vladika) of
Raska-Prizren counties Artemije, with the seat in Gracanica,
immediately condemned Gajevic's appearance. Artemije, who is
cooperating with the international community in Kosovo, has said
that struggle of the Belgrade authorities to organize such
elections represents an attempt to save "gold mine of Milosevic's
election manipulations". Artemije also warned that holding such
elections could anger Kosovar Albanians and incite new wave of
terror against remaining Serbs. According to the data of
international peacekeeping forces, there are now slightly below
100,000 Serbs in Kosovo which is two and a half times less
compared to June 1999, when international military and police
forces started to take up their positions in the province. There
are 40,000 soldiers and policemen out of planned number of 55,000.
    Even Serbs from northern Kosovo who don't belong amid
voluntary associates of the international rule, are strongly
opposed to federal elections in their area. Already before have
÷they clearly stated that they did not accept such elections in
Kosovo since there are no prerequisites for it. The Serbs are more
inclined towards Serbian opposition, united in coalition
Democratic opposition of Serbia (DOS). In mid-August
representatives of the Serbs from the north of Kosovo, who claim
they represented 60,000 citizens, expressed support to DOS and its
presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica who, according to all
polls, is much more supported by the citizens (above 40 per cent)
than Slobodan Milosevic (slightly above 20 per cent).
    International representatives and Yugoslav elections in Kosovo
    Statements made by heads of UNMIK and OSCE missions in Kosovo
Bernard Kouchner and Daan Eeverts cause confusion and even suspect
among Serbian opposition representatives. Both claim that they do
not want to have anything to do with the Yugoslav elections in the
province. They stated that those elections won't be valid, but
they say nothing about the fact that those elections may be even
crucial for Milosevic's stay in power, opposition representatives
    On 5th September Eeverts said that OSCE mission in Kosovo does
not want to be associated with the Yugoslav elections since "they
are not valid, but we OSCE acknowledge the right of organizing
federal elections and right of citizens to participate, but they
way these elections want to be held in Kosovo is positively below
any allowed criteria..." Kouchner's spokesman Susan Manule said
the same day that Yugoslav authorities won't be allowed to hold
elections, on 24th September, in the public buildings in Kosovo.
Also,  UNMIK will try to provide security for all citizens during
the voting, said Kouchner on 4th September, adding a warning that
"Yugoslav elections do not comply with the international
standards". Head of UNMIK also emphasized that all citizens of
Kosovo, including Albanians who reject any relations with Serbia
and FRY, have the right to vote.
    Kosovar Albanians and Yugoslav elections in the province
    Political leaders of the Kosovar Albanians accused at the end
of August/beginning of September authorities in Belgrade that by
announcing that upcoming elections will be held also in Kosovo
"they provoke and destabilize the situation" in the province.
President of the strongest party of Kosovar Albanians, Democratic
alliance of Kosovo (DSK), Ibrahim Rugova said last Friday (1st t
September) that the announcement of federal elections in Kosovo
means a provocation. "It is a provocation. According to all
international documents, UNMIK has all the rights to make
decisions about Kosovo", said Rugova.
    Also against the elections is the leader of the United
democratic movement (UDP) Redzep Qosia, who said that the visit of
high delegation of Socialist party of Serbia to Gracanica "is a
visit of the leaders of a party which organized four wars in
former Yugoslavia." "They committed crimes. I am surprised they
came to Gracanica" - said Qosia. Former political leader of the
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), now leader of the Democratic party
of Kosovo Hasim Taci has already rejected any federal elections in
the region. He is the most radical opponent to the idea of any
Belgrade presence in the province and is regarded as the most open
and extreme supporter of the idea of independent Kosovo.
    Serbian opposition about federal elections in Kosovo
    Serbian opposition tries to secure control of the September's
elections, saying that it will provide about 25,000 controllers
for approximately 10,000 voting locations in Serbia. They try to
motivate their members and voters, too, to control the elections
since they are certain that Milosevic's machinery will steal the
votes, as it did four years ago. Memories are still fresh about
stealing of the votes in November 1996 when opposition in Serbia
won local government in all major cities, but Milosevic refused to
accept the results which led to nation-wide demonstrations that
lasted for more than three months.
    A year later, opposition representatives are warning, regime
stole the votes in Kosovo at the elections for the Serbian
president. According to the official government information, then
there were 1.026,062 registered voters, and only 343,000 voters
actually cast their votes. Official data claim that then there was
a total of 344,995 Serbs living in Kosovo. Official data further
claim that many Kosovar Albanians voted for then presidential
candidate of the Socialist party of Serbia and current Serbian
president Milan Milutinovic - he got votes of Albanians in
ethnically clean towns like Glogovac where lived only 38 Serbs and
55,077 Albanians; 4,336 citizens voted. They same was in the
county of Djakovica, with 29,111 active voters, and the county,
bordering  with Albania, has total population of 1,751 Serbs and
106,868 Albanians. The greatest manipulation of votes was
committed in the county of Pec where three years ago lived 7,851
Serbs and 96,441 Albanians. According to official data, 50,250 out
of 76,065 registered voters participated at the elections for
Serbian president.
    According to international organizations, about 240,000 Serbs
and other non-Albanian people were moved out or left Kosovo. Out
of them, less than 140,000 has the right to vote. Their votes will
be counted in two locations, Vranj and Pirot, two counties at the
south of Serbia where Milosevic's socialists have been in power
for the last ten years. In these communities opposition stands no
chance of controlling even the voters' registers, and especially
not the voting itself. It is a great problem to the opposition
since the votes of Kosovar Serbs (it is clear that Kosovar
Albanians don't even think about participating at such elections)
yield 19 representatives in the Yugoslav parliament. They
reasonably fear that Milosevic's regime will misuse Kosovo voters'
registers to steal non-existent votes of Kosovar Albanians for the
government's candidates.
    By Zvezdan Georgievski
    In the first round of local elections in Macedonia, held on
Septemeber 10th, the opposition won almost twice as many votes
as the ruling coaltion. These elections, however, like all their predecessors
in the relatively short history of multi-party elections in Macedonia, again
showed a drastic division of the Macedonian political scene. Of
course, political polarization isn't necessarily bad, unless it
is, as in Macedonian case - lethal. According to official
statements, at least six people were wounded by firearms at
the vooting booth.
    It was this information that influenced official international
monitors (especially the OSCE mission to Macedonia and delegation
of the Council of Europe) to remark that the elections simply
failed to fulfill international democratic standards. Of course,
besides the cases of ordinary violence, there were also instances
of destroying election boxes, halts of the voting process (in
the county of Debar), not identifying the voters... Most frequent
were the cases of the so-called familiar vote (when a person votes
a dozen times). What is characteristic in these cases and what
differentiates this elections from the earlier ones is the fact that most
of the irregularities occurred in the western part of Macedonia, in
counties mostly populated by the Albanian minority. This time,
election violence (to be honest, characteristic also of
earlier elections) luckily had no inter-ethnic character, but was
going on between the Albanians themselves. In contrast to the last
elections, when Albanian voters were rather single minded and the
incidents were happening among Macedonians, this time the
situation is different.
    It seems that spurred all Macedonian political parties to
affirm legitimacy of the elections. The representatives of the
ruling coalition which is going to lose the elections (VMRO-DPMNE)
headed by the actual primeminister Ljupce Georgievski and
Democratic alternative led by Vasil Tupurkovski) even said that
the elections were "the evident victory of democracy in
    Opposition coalition "Together" (Socialdemocrat alliance of
Branko Crvenkovski, Liberaldemocrat party headed by Rista Penov
and Petar Gosev and two minor parties) accepted evaluations of the
international monitors, saying the problems in Albanian political
block were joint, but that the elections were regular nonetheless.
Opposition thinks that at the last elections, especially
presidential at the end of last year, there were much more
manipulations and exceptions from regular election procedure, but
the international community not only restrained itself from
reacting, but also affirmed the legitmacy of Boris Trajkovski for
the president, before the official results. Head of OSCE mission
Ccarls Megi answered to these accusations that these elections are
the first Macedonian elections both to him and his team so that he
couldn't speak for his predecessors.
    That not all is well was shown by the decision of Party of
democratic prosperity (most important element of the Albanian
political block  after  the  Democratic party of Alabians led by
Arben Dzaferi which is a part of ruling coalition) to boyccott
second round of elections. Most violence was addressed against
supporters and activists of that party. Next signal of the
situation's graveness came from the president Boris Trajkovski who
publicly condemned violence and appealed to political parties to
ease the tensions. Nevertheless, Arben Dzaferi claims that the
elections were as good as they could be, which is understandable
since it were the activists of his party who were accused of
causing incidents.
    Next important characteristic of the local elections is their
betting character. Prime minister Ljupco Georgievski said that if
the ruling coalition lost with ten per cent difference, he himself
would call for early parliamentary elections. Such statement was
downplayed by his coalition partners Vasil Tupurkovski and Arben
Dzaferi. Both Tupurkovski and Dzaferi said that the statement was
irrational and within the boundaries of what the prime minister
thought. But, Georgievski pushed on, and even said that
parliamentary votes of his party and opposition are enough to hold
early elections.
    Yet, now that the defeat of the ruling coalition is certain
(much bigger than  expected), Macedonian public amuses itself with
the different explanations of what was meant by ten per cent.
    Were by it meant only votes for the county councils or also
votes for mayors, will votes from two rounds be averaged or will
only the final result be valids, is projected defeat viewed from
the standpoint of all opposition or just Socialdemocratic
alliance, etc. It is obviosu that the mathematics is a very
flexible science. Especially when applied to Macedonian political
    Third characteristic of the elections is never before seen
pressure to media (which was one of the motives for harsh reaction
of OSCE and Council of Europe). Several days before the elections
the government claimed that the building of the private TV station
"Channel 5" (owned by former close associate to Ljupce
Goergievski, ex finance minister and now president of the one
newly founded opositional party Boris Stojmenov) was built
illegaly and that it would be torn down. Also, the bank accounts
of the opposition daily newspapers "Makedonija denes" and
political weekly " Denes" were blocked due to alleged financial
crime. Due to alleged illegal building, the government tore down
two floors of a residential building in the centre of Skopje the
owner of which is the firm "UPA enterprise", which was publishing
opposition weeklies "Start" and "Kapital" and is also owner of a
TV station.
    In any case, results of the electiosn (opposition got twice as
many votes as the parties in power) showed that the voters were
unhappy with the government. Economic situation is at the brink of
disaster, all major companies were sold without public competition
mostly to Greek firms under suspicious circumstances, gas price
went up for 100 per cent in six months, there is no rule of law in
western Macedonia, and the total democratic ambient got stranded
in Macedonian shallows.
    The second round of elections will be held on 24th September. They
will certainly be interesting.
Special Edition : NEW AT TOL
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 (Free Access)
Does Milosevic See the Writing On the Wall?
 Little Confidence in Bosnian Serb Government
 United States Shares Intelligence With Russia Over Kursk
 Trade Union Leader Murdered in Romania
 Russian Oligarch Gives ORT Shares to Journalists
 War-Criminals List Leaked in Republika Srpska
 Slovakia Will Vote On Early Elections
 Austrian Outcry Over Czech Power Plant Mounts
 Controversy Lingers Over Conviction of Krygyz Leader
 Belarus Authorities Cancel Gay Festival and Free Press Day

Our Take: Romancing the Stone
    A TOL editorial on the charming Mr. Putin
    The full text of this article also appears below.

FEATURES: Bulldozing Bucharest
    by Lucian Branea
    (Free Access)
    Built during the communist era, the largest district in
Bucharest, Drumul Taberei, is jam-packed with blocks of flats,
squeezing people into 15 to 50 square-meter concrete boxes. Over
the years, small shops and kiosks have mushroomed where grass and
trees used to be. But on 16 August the neighborhood was shaken up.
After squatting kiosk owners refused to clear out, a hard-hitting
new mayor moved in with bulldozers and cranes. But some argue that
his campaign isn't just about fighting corruption.

    OPINIONS: The Real Tragedy of the Sunken Kursk
    by Elena Chinyaeva
    (Free Access)
    In the West, mass media continue to press on people a view
that somehow in Russia--or in any other non-Western country--a
technological disaster is not what it is, but something
ideologically and politically different. The West is condemning
Russia for its so-called "Cold War" military secrecy surrounding
the submarine tragedy--but if a NATO sub sank, no one would ever

    OPINIONS: Hypersignificant Handshakes
    by Julia Gray
    While Israeli-Palestinian talks flag and Western nations sign
decrees promising to combat such far-reaching irritants as
poverty, war, AIDS, pollution, and breaches of human rights, the
likes of Lukashenka and Castro are rallying their like-minded
politicos against a world they perceive as being increasingly
united against their interests. It's a perverse boon that they
could do so on the UN junket, which paradoxically gave a forum for
those leaders to fraternize in addition to including them in the
much-maligned Western order. What more could Lukashenka and Castro
ask for?

    BOOKS: Losing The Heartland
    by Oleg Varfolomeyev
    (Free Access)
    In "Ukraine: Movement without change, change without
movement," Marta Dyczok tries to break Western stereotypes of
Ukraine as a backward territory in Russia's shadow, run by a bunch
of corrupt officials who are hostile to economic reforms. The book
addresses the dearth of knowledge about Ukraine, and offers
answers to some of the basic questions about Europe's
second-largest country. How did Ukraine manage to so easily secede
from the Soviet Union? Furthermore, why was the separation from
Russia so peaceful and, at the same time, so painful? And why have
economic reforms in Ukraine been so slow?

    BOOKS: Mission Not So Impossible
    by Amyn B. Sajoo
    Ethnic and cultural clashes, a perceived religious militancy,
and the fallout from civil war have raised the stakes in Central
Asian development. Despite the odds, a new global and indigenous
understanding is taking hold among the new republics of Central
Asia. A new book, "Civil Society in Central Asia" is a welcome
primer on many of the key reasons why civil society in the region
isn't as remote a prospect as most would have us believe.

    IN THEIR OWN WORDS: The "Slovak Haidar" or Just a Smooth Talker?
    Some call him a smooth populist, a Slovak Haidar in waiting.
Robert Fico says he just knows how to listen to people and defend
their interests. Whatever he's doing, it's working: Since the
36-year-old lawyer founded Smer in December 1999, the party has
shot toward the top of the ratings. Playing the role of a
pragmatic, nonideological problem-solver, Fico has become the most
popular politician in Slovakia in a matter of months--while making
comments that some have judged anti-Romani and racist. In an
interview with the Czech weekly "Tyden," Fico again tried to work
the crowd.