|Wednesday, 11 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 52, 97-06-13
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 52, 13 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 UN MANDATE EXTENDED IN TAJIKISTANThe UN Security Council on 12 June voted unanimously to extend by three months the mandate of the UN observer mission in Tajikistan. The team of more than 70 observers, military and civilian, will remain in the country until 15 September.
 FIGHTING REPORTED IN SOUTH TAJIKISTANRFE/RL correspondents report that units of the Tajik army's First Brigade, commanded by Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, have moved into Yavon, some 60 kilometers south of Dushanbe, and its surrounding areas. Khudaberdiyev is reported not to have received orders from the government to take this action. He says he sent forces from their base in Kurgan-Teppe to the area to restore order. The move may have been made to oust Sher Abdullayev, a former commander in Tajikistan's pro-government Popular Front, from Yavon. Meanwhile, the mayor of Kumsangir has been forced out of office.
 TURKMENISTAN TO KEEP DEATH PENALTYThe parliament on 12 June approved a criminal code that provides for the death penalty, ITAR-TASS reported. The code details 17 crimes that are considered capital offenses, for which punishment ranges from 20 years' imprisonment to execution. Capital offenses specified in the code include premeditated murder, crimes against the government, attempts on the life of the president, and the manufacture or possession of narcotics. The parliament also adopted legislation on refugees that brings Turkmenistan closer into line with the 1951 UN Convention and the 1967 Helsinki Act.
 KRASNOVODSKII GULF RENAMED AFTER "TURKMENBASHI"Following "numerous" requests by "workers and local authorities," the Krasnovodskii Gulf in the Caspian Sea has been renamed "Turkmenbashi Gulf," RFE/RL's Turkmen service and Reuters reported. The gulf's main port city, once called Krasnovodsk, was renamed Turkmenbashi City in 1993, after President Saparmurad "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov.
 UZBEKISTAN CRITICIZED OVER RELIGIOUS FREEDOMSThe US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe published an open letter on 12 June calling on Uzbek President Islam Karimov complaining about the "erosion of religious liberty" in Uzbekistan. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by RFE/RL's Uzbek service, addresses "missionary activity." It mentions the confiscation from the Uzbek Bible Society of 24, 960 Bibles translated into Uzbek and the case of Pastor Rashid Turibayev, who is charged with conducting "illegal Church services" and faces a possible three-year jail sentence. The letter notes that Uzbekistan is a "participating state" of the OSCE and requests that Tashkent "comply with its commitments." The letter does not address problems with Islamic groups in Uzbekistan.
 U.S.-UZBEK COMMISSION FORMEDForeign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov met with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her deputy, Strobe Talbot, in Washington on 12 June, RFE/RL's Uzbek service reported. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns later announced that a joint commission has been formed to seek ways to expand cooperation in the areas of defense, military, trade, investment and energy, AFP reported. The commission is expected to begin work this fall.
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT WELCOMES MOSCOW TALKS ON ABKHAZIAEduard Shevardnadze has welcomed the 11 June meetings between Georgian and Abkhaz representatives in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 1997), Interfax reported on 12 June. The Abkhaz delegation, headed by President Vladislav Ardzinba, also met with senior Russian officials. Shevardnadze, however, warned that the peace talks and peacekeeping forces should not serve to "legitimize ethnic cleansing or genocide" in Abkhazia. Interfax also reported that Revaz Adamia, the chairman of the Georgian parliamentary Defense and Security Committee, has accused Russia of resuming arms supplies to Abkhazia. Adamia said the fact that Ardzinba was received "at a high level" in Moscow should be interpreted as Moscow's support for the "separatist regime" in Abkhazia.
 ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN IRANAleksandr Arzumanyan on 12 June held talks with outgoing Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, AFP reported, citing the Iranian news agency IRNA. Arzumanyan welcomed Iran's "key role" in resolving regional crises and added that Armenia gives "special priority to its relations with Islamic Iran." Arzumanyan also called for multilateral cooperation with other countries in the region, "particularly with Turkmenistan, Georgia, and Greece." Velayati, for his part, said Tehran is interested in an "honorable and just" peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SHOOT-OUT AT ALBANIAN ELECTION RALLYEight people were wounded during a shoot-out at a campaign rally of President Sali Berisha in Elbasan on 12 June. Most media accounts say the guards overreacted to anti-Berisha taunts from hecklers and that armed men then fired on the guards. At least three guardsmen were among those injured. "Indipendent" reported that some people also fired at the podium where Berisha was speaking. According to some media reports, armed men later ran Berisha and his motorcade out of town. Public television and "Rilindja Demokratike" charged that "terrorists" from the Socialist Party provoked the incidents. The pro-Berisha daily "Albania" warned that the Democrats will not recognize the election results in the rebel-held areas if "the Socialists continue their terror [campaign] with their [rebel] committees."
 ALBANIAN SOCIALIST PARTY LEADER IN ATHENSFatos Nano met with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos in Athens on 12 June to discuss the return of Albanian migrants for the 29 June vote. Pangalos promised to issue the ethnic Albanians with special papers that would allow them to return to Greece within a month. Nano also met with some of the Albanian migrants. The Socialist leader told reporters that President Berisha is to blame for the current chaotic situation in Albania, "Dita Informacion" reported on 13 June.
 ALBANIAN ELECTIONS FACE MORE TROUBLESAt a meeting in Tirana on 12 June, members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) said there may be serious logistical problems in organizing the vote because there is so little time left. Socialist CEC member Taulant Dedja told an RFE/RL correspondent that most of the District Election Commissions have not yet convened. Meanwhile, the extended deadline for registering candidates expired on 12 June. The printing of ballot papers is scheduled to start in Italy on 15 June.
 UPDATE ON LEKA ZOGULeka Zogu, the claimant to the Albanian throne, has protested the use of the term "constitutional monarchy" as an option in the referendum on the future constitutional order. Leka instead wants voters to say whether they are for or against a "democratic parliamentary democracy," "Koha Jone" reported on 13 June. A poll published the previous day in "Rilindja Demokratike" suggests that Leka faces an uphill fight among the voters in the capital. The survey claims that only 24% of the local electorate will vote for a monarchy in the referendum and that the monarchist Legality Party will win only 6% of the votes.
 OSCE EXTENDS BOSNIAN VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINEThe OSCE, which is supervising the 13-14 September local elections, has announced in Sarajevo that voters will have until 28 June, instead of until 16 June, to register. The move comes in the wake of the discovery of massive registration fraud in Brcko earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 12 June 1997). The OSCE has also announced that it has fired the Bosnian Serb officials in charge of the Brcko operation. To date, only 1.7 million out of 3.2 million potential voters have registered, despite an extensive publicity campaign by the OSCE.
 U.S. WARNS BOSNIAN SERBS NOT TO RIG VOTEState Department spokesman Nicholas Burns made clear that the U.S. will not tolerate any more electoral fraud in Brcko or anywhere else in Bosnia. Speaking in Washington on 12 June, Burns said: "It's very important that the Bosnian Serbs get the message that these elections are not going to be tainted.... [The Serbs] are not going to be able to succeed in intimidating the OSCE. We will stand up to them. And they will not be allowed to run false elections." His remarks reflect Washington's recently adopted, tougher stance in Bosnia.
 CROATIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ENDSPresident Franjo Tudjman held his last rally of the campaign in Zagreb's central Jelacic Square on 12 June. Earlier that day, Social Democrat Zdravko Tomac blasted the city authorities' refusal to let him speak in the square the next day (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 12 June 1997). Tomac said the decision shows that the authorities treat him a second-class candidate, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. Meanwhile, Development Minister Jure Radic and Foreign Minister Mate Granic said the UN's military mandate in eastern Slavonia must end next month, as scheduled. Radic argued that "the gates of [eastern Slavonia] have to be open...[so that] many parts of the [Croatian] system can be implemented." The two men noted that the UN has been unable to ensure the safety of newly elected Croatian local officials in the region.
 ROUNDUP FROM FEDERAL YUGOSLAVIARepresentatives of health workers meeting in Belgrade on 12 June demanded the resignation of the Serbian government. The medical professionals are on strike over back wages. Also in the capital, outgoing federal President Zoran Lilic warned against what he called domestic and foreign attempts to destabilize Yugoslavia by manipulating the Kosovo question. Lilic recently angered Kosovars by saying that there is no Kosovo problem except in the minds of a few Albanians. And in Podgorica, members of both the government and opposition parties have criticized state-run TV. "Nasa Borba" on 13 June quotes Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic as saying that he opposes Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's proposal to elect the federal president by direct vote. Bulatovic nonetheless backs Milosevic's candidacy for the top federal job.
 MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT OFFERS COMPROMISE ON MINORITIES' FLAG ISSUEThe government in Skopje has proposed a draft law that will enable ethnic minorities to choose and use their own national symbols, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Macedonian capital on 11 June. If the parliament approves the bill, the Albanian and Turkish minorities will be able to fly the flags of Albania or Turkey at private, cultural, or sporting events. They may also display their flags on state holidays if they also fly the Macedonian banner. But they will not be allowed to fly their flags from public buildings. The bill comes in the wake of weeks of tension in Gostivar, where the Albanian and Turkish flags have been flying from the town hall. It is unclear whether the bill will pass the parliament or, if it does, whether it will satisfy the ethnic minorities.
 POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIADariusz Rosati and his Romanian counterpart, Adrian Severin, announced on 12 June that their countries will establish a "close partnership" of regional collaboration and that Ukraine may also join. Romania and Poland will also examine the possibility of setting up a joint military unit. The foreign ministers said Romanian-Polish relations will remain very close, despite U.S. President Clinton's 12 June announcement excluding Romania from the first wave of NATO expansion. Rosati pledged Polish support for changing that decision before the Madrid July summit, Romanian media reported.
 MINERS VIOLENCE IN ROMANIAMiners at three mines in the Jiu Valley on 12 June refused to go into the pits in protest at the government's economic policies. They also physically attacked a trade union leader whom they accused of not properly representing their interests. He was in a coma when transported to a Timisoara hospital. The miners are demanding a 45% wage increase, tax reductions, and the release from detention of Miron Cozma, the miners' leader on trial for his role in the September 1991 violent demonstrations in Bucharest. The striking miners are threatening to stage clashes in the valley resembling those in Bucharest in 1990 and 1991, Romanian media reported.
 MOLDOVAN, TRANSDNIESTER EXPERTS MEET IN TIRASPOLExperts from Moldova and the Transdniestrian breakaway region met in Tiraspol on 12 June and agreed on the agenda for further talks, BASA-Press reported. Presidential adviser Anatol Taranu, who is heading the Chisinau delegation, told Infotag that the OSCE mission to Moldova has drafted an agreement for a document on the status of the Transdniester, which is being considered by the sides. He said the draft is "a lot more concrete" than the memorandum signed by Chisinau and Tiraspol in Moscow on 8 May. "Unlike the memorandum, it leaves no room for conflicting interpretations of key provisions," Taranu said. Meanwhile, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported that Taranu told Moldovan TV that Tiraspol continues to interpret the memorandum as if it referred to two independent states.
 TIRASPOL OFFICIAL ON MOLDOVAN GAS DEBT TO RUSSIAViktor Senev, the deputy leader of the Transdniester region, said that, following the signing of the 8 May memorandum, Chisinau must be viewed as the sole official debtor to Russia for natural gas deliveries. Tiraspol owes more than one-half of the total $456 million debt, Infotag reported on 12 June. Senev said the debt could be covered by selling the assets of the Russian army in the Transdniester, which, he claimed, are "large enough to cover both the Moldovan and the Transdniestrian debt." Lt.-Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian troops in the Transdniester, recently criticized the Transdniestrian leadership for preventing obsolete Russian ammunition from being scrapped. He also dismissed Tiraspol's claim to other equipment belonging to the contingent, stressing that the armament and the hardware are "Russian federal property" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 1997).
 POLICE CONFERENCE IN SOFIAPolice forces from Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are to increase cooperation in an effort to crackdown on international crime. At a conference in Sofia on 12 June, high-ranking police officers from those countries decided to coordinate the fight against drug smuggling, car theft, and trafficking in women for prostitution. Dimitar Moskov, the deputy director of the Bulgarian police force, told a news conference that participants also discussed financial crime, intellectual property theft, and racketeering, Reuters reported. In other news, Bulgaria is to return to Greece a stolen 18th century manuscript. AFP reported that the manuscript, which recounts early Bulgarian history, disappeared from a Bulgarian monastery on Mount Athos and resurfaced last September in Sofia's National History Museum, which received it from an anonymous donor. Museum director Bojidar Dimitrov unsuccessfully tried to oppose an order by President Petar Stoyanov to return it to its rightful owners.
[C] END NOTE
 Corruption among State Officials in Eastern Europeby Joel Blocker
A conference in Prague of justice ministers from the Council of Europe's 40 member states ended on 11 June with an appeal for greater support for the international community's fight against growing corruption and organized crime. In a final declaration, the ministers emphasized that corruption among state officials poses an increasing threat to the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. They noted this is particularly true of the 16 Council member states from Eastern Europe and the former republics of the Soviet Union that joined the organization after 1989.
Reports and speeches by several Eastern European ministers reflect great awareness of the moral corrosion and subversion of democratic values currently posed by widespread corruption in former Communist states.
In their reports to the conference, both Czech Justice Minister Vlasta Parkanova --who chaired the proceedings-- and her Hungarian counterpart, Pal Vastagh, underlined the trans-national character of crime and corruption in former Communist states. Parkanova said that corruption was now a serious problem in the Czech Republic extending not only into many areas of public administration but also into the political and law- enforcement communities. Vastagh said the same problem existed in his country, noting that some corruptive practices that had developed under Communist rule continued to flourish in post-Communist Hungary. He commented candidly that "at the time of the change of [the Hungarian] regime, it was believed corruption would no longer pose a big problem in an emerging market economy, since the reasons for it would have ceased to exist. This expectation, unfortunately, proved to be wrong."
The bluntest comments about widespread corruption in Eastern Europe, however, came from Ukraine's Justice Minister Serhiy Holovaty. Holovaty told the conference that the spread of corruption and organized crime in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics threatens "to undermine the fragile foundations of their emerging civil societies." Former Soviet elites in those countries, he said, "continue to cling to power. Having wielded tremendous administrative control over the lives and activities of their citizens [under Communism], the members of the 'nomenklatura' are now the virtually uncontrolled arbiters of the distribution and use of state property.... Today, because of the absence of accountability within hierarchical power structures, the scope for fraud, corruption, and self-aggrandizement is broad, to put it mildly. The nomenklatura is not interested in serious economic and administrative reform because its members profit handsomely from the existing unregulated environment."
Holovaty found that in the former Soviet republics, the link between organized crime and corruption--a phenomenon noted by most speakers at the meeting--has a "special character." He defined that character as follows: "The distinction between organized crime and certain aspects of government activity is often indistinguishable." As a result, he argues, there is an "increasing institutionalization of corruption, enormous losses of revenue to state budgets, retardation of the development of the private sector, the monopolization of certain aspects of economic activity, and pervasive unjust enrichment."
The same point was made, but far more diplomatically, by the chief Council of Europe official at the meeting, Deputy Secretary- General Peter Leuprecht. He told the meeting that the Council's four-year- old drive to aid international efforts at combating corruption has been considerably hampered by some member governments making verbal, rather than real, commitments to its efforts. At a press conference at the end of the two-day meeting, Leuprecht said that what is lacking in those states is "political will." Asked by the author to define the reasons for the absence of such will, he replied: "the penetration of criminal organizations in government."
Leuprecht and many other participants said they are convinced that the concrete proposals agreed upon by the ministers for increasing intra-European and international cooperation in combating crime and corruption will be adopted at the Council of Europe's second summit meeting in October. But neither he nor many of the Eastern ministers present at the meeting were optimistic about stemming crime and corruption in Eastern Europe, and particularly in the former Soviet republics, without a complete transformation of their societies and public attitudes. That goal, they stressed, will not be achieved in the foreseeable future.
The author is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty