...IN PREDECESSOR'S ABSENCE. Berezovskii, who had told Interfax in a statement on 1 April that he would return from abroad to attend the CIS Moscow summit at the risk of being arrested, was prevented from taking off for Moscow from Kyiv, where his plane stopped to refuel, on the morning of 2 April, according to ITAR-TASS. Berezovskii was summarily dismissed as CIS executive secretary by Yeltsin last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 March 1999). He had been appointed to that post at the last CIS summit, in late April 1998. Describing Yarov as "a professional," Berezovskii expressed satisfaction that the 12 CIS presidents managed to agree on his successor, ITAR-TASS reported. "Nezavisimaya gazeta," which receives financial support from Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, reported on 2 April that its correspondents have been denied accreditation to cover the CIS summit. LF
RUSSIA-UKRAINE TREATY COMES INTO EFFECT. President Yeltsin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma met in Moscow on 1 April to exchange documents ratifying the Russian-Ukrainian treaty on friendship, cooperation, and partnership between the two countries. The treaty, which formally took effect with the document exchange, is valid for 10 years. Under the treaty, each country agreed to respect the other's territorial integrity and not use force against the other. The two presidents also discussed the situation in the Balkans, NTV reported, which President Yeltsin said "makes the task of such a partnership even more vital." JAC
GEORGIA REHEARSES RESPONSE TO PIPELINE EMERGENCY. The Georgian Pipeline Consortium, which is responsible for operating the Georgian sector of the Baku-Supsa oil export pipeline, conducted the first of a planned series of exercises on 31 March aimed at dealing with the aftermath of sabotage or accidental damage to that pipeline, Caucasus Press reported. Two days later, a Ukrainian Defense Ministry delegation arrived in Tbilisi to develop plans for joint exercises by the Georgian-Ukrainian-Azerbaijani force that is to be created to guard the pipeline. LF
RUKH APPOINTS ACTING CHAIRMAN. Following the death of Vyacheslav Chornovil in a car accident (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 1999), former Foreign Minister Hennadiy Udovenko has been appointed acting chairman of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine, Ukrainian Television reported on 31 March. Udovenko, who is Rukh's candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, was granted a Rukh membership card at the same time as his election, since until now he has had no party affiliation. UNIAN reported that Udovenko was also elected leader of the Rukh parliamentary caucus. Meanwhile, a group that split away from Rukh and is led by Yuriy Kostenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 March 1999) has announced it will sue the Justice Ministry for its decision to recognize the Udovenko-led Rukh as the only legitimate successor to the party originally set up by Chornovil. JM
TURKMENISTAN SUPPLIES GAS TO UKRAINE, DESPITE DEBT. Berdymurad Redzhepov, head of the Turkmenneftegaz state company, told ITAR-TASS on 1 April that Turkmenistan will continue gas deliveries to Ukraine, despite the latter's growing debt. The contract between Ukraine and Turkmenistan envisages the delivery of 20 billion cubic meters of gas in 1999. Redzhepov was speaking in response to Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko's announcement that Ukraine may suspend its Turkmen gas imports because it cannot afford them (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 March 1999). JM
GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. During his threeday state visit to Kyiv from 30 March to 1 April, Irakli Menagharishvili met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Borys Tarasyuk, President Leonid Kuchma, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, and Premier Pustovoytenko, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. Topics discussed included implementation of previously signed agreements on expanding bilateral relations, the TRACECA transport corridor, and the transportation of Caspian oil to international markets via the Odessa-Brody pipeline. Menagharishvili described the Ukrainian export route for Caspian oil as the most realistic one, Ukrainian Television reported on 31 March. Special focus was also given to expanding cooperation within the GUAM alignment (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova). Georgia has advocated developing a free trade agreement and economic security system between the four GUAM countries, Caucasus Press reported on 30 March. LF
In the shadowy world of espionage, there is no foolproof system for preventing the betrayal of an Aldrich Ames, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, or, now, allegedly, of Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, who has been accused of leaking nuclear-warheads research to China. Such a system would require the technology to read an individual's thoughts.
So it was with a leap of faith last month that NATO--which stared down the Soviet Union during 40 years of the Cold War--admitted three ex-Soviet satellites as new members: Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. This strategic embrace of former enemies, one decade after the collapse of Communism, means that the three countries' military and political elite are now privy to NATO's deepest, darkest secrets. And though these countries have purged most of their hard-line Communist officials, their historical ties and geographic location make them perhaps more vulnerable to infiltration than, say, some NATO officials.
Many Warsaw Pact military officers were trained in places like Moscow and Kyiv. Trade relations at that time were cozy with countries such as Iraq, Iran, and Libya. Not surprisingly, then, when NATO officials speak privately of "hostile" intelligence agencies, they identify three regions--Russia, the Middle East, and the Balkans--as the primary threats.
"There's still the residue of contacts and relationships between Central Europe and those parts of the world," said one NATO official in Budapest. "You can presume that if Russia, for example, wished to seize classified NATO material, it might be easier to do it here than, say, in London or Paris."
But there is a second side to this coin, says Tamas Wachsler, a state secretary at the Hungarian Ministry of Defense. "While these countries know us, we also know them and their tactics," said Wachsler. "So from this standpoint, NATO shouldn't view us as a deficit, but as an asset."
Today, much of what was once secret is now easily accessible on the Internet. Yet the most sensitive NATO data continue to be those on the alliance's weapons of mass destruction, air-defense system, storage depots of fuel and ammunition, and communication and transportation systems.
So despite their new status as "full and equal" partners of NATO, the Central Europeans will learn NATO secrets in line with the "need-to-know" principle. And under instructions from NATO, each newcomer has taken both legal and practical steps in recent months to do what it can to prevent classified material from falling into the wrong hands.
According to NATO specifications, all three established new systems for the handling of classified material--such as secure telephone lines and storage facilities--and a screening process for those who will have access to such material. Candidates submit to a rigorous questionnaire and interviews. These probe for potential liabilities like family, financial, or psychological problems that might expose the candidate to bribery or blackmail.
But after six years of intensive cooperation, NATO
officials already seemed satisfied with their new
partners. "It's like a marriage," said another Western
officer in Budapest.
"Hopefully, from that first day you have the same level of trust, and it continues to grow.... If the trust and confidence weren't there, they never would have been invited to join."
When it the time comes to keep a NATO secret, national pride will be at stake, according Lt. Gen. Lajos Urban, the number two in Hungary's armed forces. "We want to be seen as contributing to NATO's strength and trusted as a new military ally," said Urban, who was trained in Moscow during the communist era and in London and Rome since 1989.
A further motivation is to avoid the national humiliation that befell France last November, when it was revealed that a French major working at NATO headquarters in Brussels had passed along to Serbia NATO's plans for military strikes in Kosova.
So, if even longtime NATO allies are vulnerable, what about the Central Europeans, who continue to unearth their share of skeletons? Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, for example, resigned in January 1996 amid charges he had been a long-time spy for the Soviet KGB. The case was ultimately dropped for lack of evidence.
Another issue is the fate of those Hungarian, Czech and Polish agents who for years operated covertly in the West. Are they still active, or have they found new employers? Either way, it seems accepted as a given.
"You think there aren't American agents in Paris or French agents in London? Everybody still needs good intelligence," said a third NATO official. "Why should they stop? It's completely natural to want to confirm information you receive. Yes, we're allies and partners, but in other areas we're also competitors."
The NATO neophytes will be under pressure not only to meet NATO's expectations but to perform well enough to enable a second wave of expansion eastward. "NATO has never rejected an alliance member," said one of the NATO officials in Budapest. "But if a member brought the alliance into ill-repute or dragged it down, there's no reason why we wouldn't."