Issue No. 256 - January 18,  2002

            By Redneck Udovicic

            By Slobodan Rackovic

            By Pavlyuk Bykovsky

    By Redneck Udovicic

    The Parliaments of two Bosnian entities - the Serb Republic and the
Federation B-H have been discussing their obligations to
coordinate entity constitutions in accordance with the decision
of the Bosnian Constitutional Court which earlier proclaimed that all nations were equal
in all parts of the state. It is a very complex political process
which dates to a pre-war state system later eroded by war and the
Dayton Peace Accord.
    Since 1943, when it was formed as a republic within the former
Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been constitutionally
declared as the country of three equal nations - Serbs, Croats and
Moslems (Bosniaks). Since the whole nation was centralized, their
equality was both in theory and practice throughout Bosnian
territory. However, the war which began in 1992 was to a great extent
fought among nations. Especially in the current territory of the Serb
Republic there was a mass exodus of Bosniaks and Croats.
Ethnically clean territories were created and Bosnia, which used
to be called the "leopard skin" because of the mixture of different people
on its territory, became a state made out of three distinct
national territories.
    The Peace Accord made in Dayton, which ended three and a half
years of war, for the most part accepted the situation in the
field. It created two entities according to the principle that the
Serb Republic would be the administrative unit of Bosnian Serbs, and the
Federation B-H of Bosniaks and Croats.
    Although the introduction to the Dayton constitution states that
Bosnia is a country of three equal nations, entity constitutions
eroded such view, claiming that the Serb Republic is an entity of the
Serbian nation and the Federation B-H is an entity of Bosniaks and
Croats. That fact completely reflected the real situation. Even worse,
besides constitutional inequality of nations, they don't have even
elementary rights as minority nations do. This is especially
striking in the Serb Republic  where Bosniaks and Croats are
second-class citizens who have no possibility to enjoy their
cultural and religious rights. This has been seen mostly as
a result of the nationalistic policy in the Serbian entity. In addition,
constitutional inequality is reflected by the limiting of
passive and active voting rights.
    It is not possible for a Serb from Federation B-H or Bosniaks
and Croats from the Serb Republic to be nominated as candidates for
members of Bosnian presidency. Also, Serbs in Federation B-H don't
have the right to vote for Serbian candidates for the presidency
and vice versa. These election rules are a result of the
constitution which can be illustrated by the phrase, "true Serbs live only in
Serb Republic, true Bosniaks and Croats in Federation B-H".
    Because of these discriminatory laws, the Bosnian Constitutional
court brought last year a verdict which proclaimed  that all three
nations were equal in both entities. It is interesting to note
that Serbian and Croatian judges voted against this verdict.
However, thanks to Bosniak judges and two foreign judges from
Western Europe, the decision was adopted.
    The unusual solution of having foreigners sitting in the Bosnian
Constitutional court is the result of the partial protectorate of
the international community over Bosnia that has been in force since
the end of war. Serbian reactions to this verdict were very
interesting. They accused Bosniaks of wishing to dominate
the country, that their support for equal constitutional rights of
all nations throughout Bosnia wasn't a result of their "democratic
consciousness". Both Serbs and Croats have been accusing Bosniaks,
due to their numerical superiority, that they wanted to centralize
Bosnia in order to "rule over all". The international community was
also accused of showing extreme partisanship by taking the Bosniak
    It is devastating that even a year after the obligatory
verdict of the Bosnian Constitutional court entity, authorities still haven't
coordinated their constitutions with the Bosnian constitution in order
to make equal all three Bosnian nations and citizens and to
prevent discrimination. However, the international community has also
been extremely lax in meeting its primary obligation, namely,
creating the constitutional and legal framework necessary for the protection of
civil rights. Such behavior tells us that human rights are at the
end of the priority list both to local government and international
authorities, although media attention and social sensibility to this issue
have considerably increased.
    Still, besides harsh remarks, the parliament of the Serb Republic
started negotiations about coordination of their constitution
according to verdict of Constitutional court. Serbian authorities
are obviously aware of the fact that obstruction of a binding
decision issued from state institutions and international elements
could only endanger the Serb Republic because there are more and more
voices of those who wish to cancel this entity. In case that the Serb
Republic continues ignoring its obligations, one shouldn't exclude
that international community might  decide to even disband the Serb
Republic because of legal obstructions.
    Already the first sessions in the Serb Republic parliament has showed that
coordination of  constitution won't go easily because Serbs on one
hand and Bosniaks and Croats on the other had a different vision
of national and constitutional framework. The two most crucial
differences are deciding which criteria to implement in the so-called
national key in the highest institutions of power, and whether the Serb
Republic should introduce the House of Nations into its parliament or
leave the National Constitutional Commission. The "National key" means
the obligatory representation of all constituent nations in
government. Bosniaks and Croats think that it should be made
according to pre-war population census which would mean, for
example, that as much as 50 per cent of seats in the executive branch
should belong to Bosniaks and Croats. They explain it with the
fact that most non-Serbian citizens living in the Serb Republic were
forced to vacate their homes during the war. On the other hand, all
Serbian political parties think that the national key should take into
consideration the current situation and be formed according to current
election results. The Serbian proposal leaves Croats and Bosniaks
about 18 per cent seats in the highest government offices.
    The second difference is forming of the House of Nations, or upper
parliament house composed of members of all three nations where
all important decisions would be passed by consensus of all
parties. Such a house already exists in the state parliament and is
made out of five representatives from Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks
each. However, Serbs insist on National Constitutional Commission.
This commission is also a novelty and a quality refreshment
compared ot what has been before. It was imposed by the High
representative after last year's decision of the Constitutional court
about equality of all nations. The commission is made out of
representatives from all three nations that can pull the plug on
any entity decision in case they see it as endangering interests
of any nation. Still, Croats and Bosniaks think that the
introduction of a real House of Nations would provide them with
better certainty.
    High representative for Bosnia, Wolfgang Petritsch, who is
basically serving as an international governor, for now supports the
Serbian viewpoint. He said several times that he won't impose to
Serbian authorities any constitutional change because it was
important for Serbs to realize for themselves that it was
necessary to do so. Also, just before New Year, he said that he
had nothing against the National Constitutional commission, which has
provoked great anger coming from Bosniaks and Croats. They started
accusing Petritsch of actively supporting the Serbian side. Especially
the media started complaining that the High representative had to
leave because he showed an extreme partiality to the Serbian side
with his latest actions.
    Amidst this campaign came the news that the Coordinating committee
for the implementation of the Dayton Accord, comprised of members from
major world powers, appointed Paddy Ashdown, the leader of British
liberal party, as Petristch sucessor.
    Ahsdown allegedly himself told the news to Bosnian prime
minister Zlatko Lagumdzija during his visit to London. According
to these sources, the British liberal democrat could take over the
seat already at the beginning of spring, although Petritsch's
mandate lasts until August.
    These calculations have created rumors that "pro-Serbian"
Petritsch is going away to be replaced by "pro-Bosnian" Ashdown.
It is so because the British diplomat visited Sarajevo on several
occasions during the war and always strongly criticized Bosnian
Serbs and the regime in Belgrade, calling them genocidal and
aggressors. One of the reasons Ashdown wasn't elected administrator
in Kosovo was strong rejection from official Belgrade. The
conclusion is that Ashdown will be partial towards Bosniaks and
against Serbs. But such opinion is largely general and created by the
media that try to create an atmosphere of international good and
bad guys when it comes to Bosnia. But one must stress that during
his three years in office, Petritsch showed the utmost desire to put up
Bosnia as a united country. The same people who now criticize him the
most said that he was an objective and expert diplomat only a month ago.
On the other hand,  Ashdown's alleged anti-Serbian sentiment is
coming from the fact that during the war, the Serbian regime really
was a fascist one and that Ashdown opposed it on an ideological,
not national, level.
    Whoever comes to the office of High representative will behave
exactly according to demands of international community, the USA and the
European Union. Petritsch, Ashdown or someone else, will have to
promote constitutional changes. Legally, they will probably
succeed, but the real question is how will they implement it in the
field among ordinary citizens who yielded to national prejudices
created during past 11 years.

                                    * * *
    By Slobodan Rackovic

    It is a true hypocrisy of the EU in allowing Montenegro,
formally still within FR Yugoslavia, to adopt the euro as its currency
while at the same time exercising huge pressure on it to remain in
Yugoslav federation with Serbia
    Besides the 12 EU countries, the euro was also introduced as the currency
in some other minor European countries, including Montenegro.
However, what is curious about this small Adriatic country with
less than 700,000 people is the fact that Montenegro is still part
of the Yugoslav federation where the dinar serves as a method of
payment. For casual observers it would present a certain paradox,
but better informed know that this republic has been completely
independent from Belgrade for almost four years now and that the German
Mark has been the official currency in Montenegro since 2000 -
which is not unique to Montenegro. There are examples of Hong
Kong, Macao, Kosovo, etc. The case of Montenegro becomes
interesting only if we take into account that the European Union is
exerting a strong pressure on Podgorica authorities to remain in
Yugoslavia at all cost, together with Serbia. With the euro in its
pocket, Montenegro is making formal its independence because
everybody knows that currency is more important any other element
in determining legal status of a state.
    Besides, euromania has been present in Montenegro for three
months now, and billboards with signs like "Euro-our money" and
"Euro brings us closer to Europe" show that complete introduction
of new European currency into Montenegro is seen as a sure way to
complete independence.Serbian authorities also understand it.
Since they don't want to lose the last inches of exit to Adriatic and
Mediterranean Sea with the secession of Montenegro, they organized a
new round of marathon negotiations with the Montenegrin government
with main topic being persuasion of Montenegro to drop off the euro
and return to dinar. They support theories which claim that
"rejection of own currency leads into rejection of own fiscal
policy", that introduction of euro disables "credits from central
Yugoslav bank", that rejection of dinar "leads Montenegrin economy
into recession", etc.
    Montenegrin experts refute Serbian arguments with their own:
since Montenegro is so small, it would have very limited effects
of having its own fiscal policy, and European currency will
eliminate political misuse of printing additional money and limit
intrusion of state into economy. Also, they find euro as
maximizing monetary discipline, which is especially important for
the current stage of structure changes in Montenegrin economy.
Together with general remarks that the euro will lower transaction
costs, render easier further opening of economy, spur entering
regional European integration and simplify transfer of people and
goods - it was stated that the euro represented the "basis of economical
reform and restructuring of a new institutional system in
    Despite obstruction from the Yugoslav National Bank and its
governor Mladan Dinkic, who claims that Montengro wasn't allowed to
introduce euro by European Central Bank and that Podgorica
illegally imported a certain amount of new European bills -
conversion of German Mark into euro is in full swing here. The
Montenegrin Central Bank (which has no ties whatsoever with
Yugoslav National Bamk) has already received two deliveries of 30
and 25 million euros with 50 million converted until now. It is
expected that at least 200 million German marks will be converted
into euro, although nobody can say with certainty how much money
is actually hiding in citizens' pockets since there are no precise
statistics about it because nobody wanted to put their savings
into banks which had long ago lost confidence in their clients.
Conversion deadline has been postponed for one month - until 1st
April, as agreed with experts from European Central Bank and
German Bundesbank. All commercial banks in the count have been
reporting about an unusual phenomenon since December - there has
been a huge increase in savings! It is so because citizens can
convert up to 5000 DEM without provision, otherwise with a 0,5 per
cent provision.
    The Montenegrin government thus hopes that this situation will turn
into increased cash inflow, that long hidden money it had no use from
will now become evident. In order to evade tax, many private and
commercial transactions have been in cash for years now. According
to expert estimates, the "grey economy" is 40 to 60 per cent of total
Montenegrin economy with 100,000 people living off it. When this
capital enters a legal economy thanks to the obligation of converting
currency, Montengro will profit from taxes thanks to better
control over fiscal traffic. It is very necessary for the state to be
able to pay pensions and wages, to somewhat raise endangered
standard of living and preserve social peace, which is important
for the idea of president Milo Djukanovic and his government to
have majority of people voting in favor of Montenegrin
independence at referendum in April.
    Still, one is still wondering about the behavior of Javier
Solana and other high-ranking  officials of the EU who directly
interfere into internal relations between Serbia and Montenegro
and stubbornly ask from Montenegro to stay in Yugoslavia. It seems
that political and monetary authorities in Brussels aren't
synchronized in what they do. In order to stop further
misunderstanding, Solana and the EU now have to decide whether to
write off the euro in Montenegro or Montenegro in Yugoslavia.

                                * * *
    By Pavlyuk Bykovsky

    Mikhail Leonov, general director of the Minsk Tractor Factory,
which produces 60% of the heavy equipment in the CIS, that is, 8%
of the world market, has been behind bars for more than a week
now. An investigative group of the Belarussian Prosecutor's Office
is to announce official charges against him by January 17, but the
state media are calling him a "lawful thief" in the meantime.
    Mikhail Leonov was taken into custody either on the evening of
January 7 on the Minsk -Moscow train in the town of Orsha, as
reported by Reuters and ITAR-TASS, or at 7:13 the next morning in
the same place, which is the official version. The second version
is less likely, since no train stops at Orsha at that time. The
difference is stories is probably accounted for by the difference
between the time he was actually seized and the time at which he
was de jure taken into custody.
    On January 8, the Prosecutor's Office press center reported
that a criminal case based on "signs of misuse of office with
severe implications and embezzlement, causing losses of especially
great magnitude" had been opened against Leonov on January 5.
Specifically, it is a matter of charges under Articles 166, pt. 2,
and 168 of the Criminal Code of Belarus. An investigator issued an
order suspending Leonov from his duties as director of the tractor
factory for the duration of the investigation. On Wednesday, the
Interfax-Zapad agency reported that his role has been taken over
by the technical director of the works, Leonid Krupets, who was
already acting as director due to ill health on Leonov's part.
    On January 8, law enforcement agencies conducted a search of
Leonov's office, company car, his waiting room and apartment.
Documents were seized in the course of the searches. Two days
later, an inventory was made of in his home and, according to
Leonov's wife Elena, all photographs and some other items were
    On January 9, the Prosecutor's Office press center made an
official announcement with the official account: "On January 7,
2002, Leonov, using a phony name, along with an Israeli citizen,
left Minsk on a train headed to Russia. After taking into
consideration the circumstances and the necessity of completing
the investigation, it was decided to detain him." The announcement
also stated that "the Prosecutor General has informed the head of
state of the criminal case and suggested the suspension of Leonov
from his duties. The head of state took the Prosecutor General's
suggestion." In addition, the announcement said that six criminal
cases had been initiated against executives there and commercial
structures after an audit of the tractor plant's books.
    On January 10, Deputy Prosecutor General of Belarus Viktor
Prus gave approval for the arrest and, in the words of the
Prosecutor General's press service, "the measure of restriction
chosen for the suspect is confinement under guard." At that stage,
the state propaganda machine kicked in. Newspapers, television and
radio carried Valery Yaroshevsky, head of the main division for
the control of foreign economic activities of the State Oversight
Committee, saying that the "damage done to the state amounts to no
less than US$4 million by the most moderate estimates." Leonov has
been labeled guilty before his trial and described as fleeing
under an assumed identity.
    As always in these events, there have been no words of defense
for Leonov. His lawyer, Nikolai Shalimo, says that there was no
flight. After being released from the hospital, Leonov received
permission from the Minister of Industry Anatoly Kharlap to travel to
Moscow to consult doctors on a planned operation. Belarussian
doctors have diagnosed him with diastasis of the diaphragm. He
was strictly ordered to curtail movement of the spine and advised
that an operation was unavoidable. The much ballyhooed falsified
document was a train ticket. (Identification must be shown to
purchase train tickets.) Leonov's ticket was bought by the
chauffeur of his friend Eduard Gerchikov, who sent the chauffeur to
buy the ticket after Leonov decided to travel with him. It is
interesting to note that officials are not denying the defense's
story. Nonetheless, in the "Belarussian Business Gazette," which
is not state controlled, a "news leak" was published that "a
passport was seized from Leonov which contained d his photograph but an
entirely different name." Shalimo says that that information is
incorrect and that his client is demanding a retraction of it.
    The mysterious Israeli citizen accompanying Leonov on the
trip, whom the Prosecutor's Office took pains to mention seems to be
Gerchikov, although he is a Belarussian citizen. "It is still not
clear who the person accompanying Leonov on his flight was," the
Belarussian Business Gazette wrote on January 11, after Shalimo
had held a press conference. "There is information that the person
was Leonov's bodyguard, whom he hired after a business dispute
with Chechens. Others say that Leonov invented the story of the
Chechens as a cover for the bodyguard, who was really there to
guarantee the disgraced factory director's escape abroad," the
newspaper continued.
    The news leak is reminiscent of a well known PR technique,
that of "cross quotation," in which information that is necessary
to establish an image first appears in an "independent" source
("The Belarussian Business Gazette" has a reputation as an
opposition publication) and is then picked up by Belarussian
    Why all the fuss over minor details of Leonov's arrest? That
may become clear after charges are officially pressed against him.
The current brainwashing campaign gives reason to doubt the
impartiality of the investigation and of the ruling regime as a
whole. More likely, the "affair of the directors" (Leonid Kalugin,
director of the Atlant refrigerator factory in Minsk, and Anatoly
Kirikov, head of the Gomel radio plant, were arrested shortly
before Leonov) is a parade of sacrificial lambs authorized from on