|Saturday, 7 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 156, 97-11-10
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 156, 10 November 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 AZERBAIJAN'S EARLY OIL FINALLY BEGINS TO FLOWThe first oil from the Chirag Caspian field that the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) is developing came on stream on 8 November, one year later than originally anticipated. An AIOC spokesman told ITAR-TASS that output from the first well is expected to reach 10,000 barrels a day. The Azerbaijani parliament on 7 November ratified a $2 billion contract that the Mobil and Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR signed in August to explore the Oguz Caspian field, Turan reported. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani oil extracted on-shore by SOCAR has begun flowing through the Chechen sector of the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline, Russian agencies reported on 9 November. LF
 MORE KARABAKH DIPLOMACYThe three OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen held "intensive" talks with the leadership of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in Stepanakert on 7-8 November, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Karabakh Foreign Minister Naira Melkumyan told Interfax on 8 November that the enclave's leadership rejected unspecified "new proposals" by the co-chairmen. Karabakh had rejected an earlier draft peace proposal in October. Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasyan, in an interview with Interfax, said Azerbaijan plans to divide Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenian and Azerbaijani sectors on the Cypriot model. No details have been released of the scheduled talks in Yerevan on 8 November between the Minsk Group co-chairmen and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. LF
 BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN YEREVAN, TBILISINadezhda Mikhailova met in Yerevan on 7 November with her Armenian counterpart, Aleksander Arzoumanian, President Ter-Petrossyan and other senior officials to discuss expanding bilateral ties within the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, ARMENPRESS and ITAR-TASS reported. Businessmen traveling with Mikhailova signed an agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance with the Union of Businessmen and Industrialists of Armenia. The next day in Tbilisi, Mikhailova met with President Eduard Shevardnadze and Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili to discuss possible U.S. and Japanese investment in the planned TRASECA transport corridor linking Central Asia, the Transcaucasus, and Europe. Mikhailova extended invitations to Ter-Petrossyan, Arzoumanian, and Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan to visit Bulgaria next year. Shevardnadze is scheduled to travel to Sofia in the near future. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT DECLARES AMNESTYShevardnadze on 7 November signed two decrees pardoning a total of1,378 convicts, including 420 first offenders, Interfax reported. Presidential press secretary Vakhtang Abashidze said the amnesty is part of an ongoing policy of reconciliation. Earlier this year, 50 prisoners who had been sentenced to death were pardoned. LF
 KAZAKH NATIONAL SYMBOLS TRANSFERRED TO NEW CAPITALPresident Nursultan Nazarbayev was in Akmola on 8 November to participate in a ceremony at which the national flag and presidential standard that had hung in Almaty were hoisted in their new surroundings, ITAR-TASS reported. Nazarbayev was accompanied by newly appointed Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbayev and members of the cabinet. Despite the transfer of the national symbols, the Kazakh parliament does not move to Akmola until 10 December in accordance with a decree that Nazarbayev signed in October. Nazarbayev will not take up residence in the new capital until spring 1998, when new government buildings are scheduled to be completed. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 PLAVSIC ON NEW SERBIAN POLITICAL FRONTRepublika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told RFE/RL in Banja Luka on 7 November that plans are under way to form what she called a "democratic consortium" of Serbian political leaders. That body will consist of herself, Serbian opposition leader Zoran Djindjic, and Montenegrin President-elect Milo Djukanovic. Plavsic said the group wants to promote democracy among all Serbs and to end the Serbs' international isolation. PM
 MILOSEVIC WARNS NATO NOT TO IMPOSE SOLUTIONSYugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's office issued a statement on 7 November warning NATO that problems associated with the Dayton peace agreements will have to be "solved through agreements, cooperation, and confidence...without partiality or [attempts at] imposing solutions." The statement was issued following a visit to Belgrade by NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana and NATO's supreme commander of allied forces in Europe, U.S. General Wesley Clark. PM
 PERMANENT FOREIGN POLICE PRESENCE IN BOSNIA?Solana, speaking in Berlin on 8 November, urged the international community to begin considering the possibility of a permanent police role for itself in Bosnia. "A properly-equipped and well-funded international police force that would be available at short notice would also significantly raise our abilities of effective crisis management." Solana has proposed that the mandate for NATO's peacekeepers, which runs out in June 1998, be extended. With regard to his statement on the international police force, Solana is probably the first person of his rank to publicly suggest that the international community maintain a permanent armed presence in Bosnia. PM
 BRCKO TOWN COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST MEETINGThe multi-ethnic council of the disputed strategic town of Brcko held its constituent session on 7 November. Observers described the meeting as long and stormy but without incident. Parties from the Republika Srpska hold 30 seats, while political groups from the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation have 26. In three districts of Mostar the following day, however, Muslim council members did not assume their mandates, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Mostar. The Muslims are engaged in a procedural dispute with members of the Croat majorities on the three bodies. PM
 SLOVENIA, BOSNIA TO EXPAND TRADESlovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek signed two economic cooperation agreements in Sarajevo on 7 November. Drnovsek led a large trade delegation to promote business links between the two former Yugoslav republics and to cut Slovenia 's huge trade surplus with Bosnia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 1997). It was the first such high-level meeting between the two countries' leaderships. Slovenia is anxious to recapture and expand its pre- independence market share in other former Yugoslav republics. PM
 U.S. SAYS CROATIA DESERVES REPARATIONSOutgoing U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith told the Rijeka daily "Novi List" of 8 November that Croatia is entitled to reparations from Belgrade for the damage totaling billions of dollars that Croatia suffered during the 1990-1995 war. Galbraith says he believes that "Croatia has the right to demand war reparations for these damages. One of the possibilities Croatia has is to sue and gain satisfaction through legal means. Whatever happens we will support Croatia's right to sue.... Similarly, we support Bosnia-Herzegovina's right to accuse Serbia of genocide." PM
 ANOTHER SERB CONFESSES WAR CRIMESSrboljub Suntic told the Belgrade daily "Dnevni telegraf" of 9 November that he killed 120 Croats, including civilians, in Serb-held parts of Croatia between 1993 and 1995. The former paramilitary said he decided to tell his story in order to expose the Milosevic "regime that first made [young Serbian nationalists] killers and then turned its back on us." Another ex-paramilitary made a similar confession the previous week (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 7 November 1997). The Serbian government has angered many Serbian nationalists because it did not help the Krajina Serbs repel Croatia's offensives in 1995 and refused to give most Croatian Serb refugees Yugoslav citizenship or refugee benefits. PM
 ANTI-FASCIST PROTESTS IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIASome 1,000 persons, mainly Roma and Jews, demonstrated in Belgrade on 9 November to mark the International Day for the Struggle against Fascism and Racism, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. In Zagreb, demonstrators erected a temporary monument on the site of a prison where the Ustashe tortured political prisoners during World War II, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Zagreb. PM
 RUGOVA, MILOSEVIC MEETING IN OFFING?Kosovar shadow-state leader Ibrahim Rugova said in Pristina on 7 November that he is willing to hold his first-ever meeting with Milosevic if the Yugoslav president first implements a year-old Kosovar-Serbian agreement on restoring Albanian-language education in the province. Rugova added that talks aimed at setting up a meeting with Milosevic are under way (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). Also in Pristina, the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army on 9 November claimed responsibility for the recent grenade attack on the Podujevo town hall (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). PM
 ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT MOVES TO TRY BERISHAInterior Minister Neritan Ceka has given the Tirana prosecutor's office criminal evidence against former President Sali Berisha, "Zeri i Popullit" reported on 8 November. Ceka argues that Berisha deliberately freed 58 dangerous criminals on 15 March in order to sabotage the elections some two months later. An unnamed legal adviser to Berisha denied the charges, saying the only truly dangerous criminals Berisha may have freed or pardoned are those now in the government, "Rilindja Demokratike" reported on 9 November. Prime Minister Fatos Nano was imprisoned under Berisha on political charges and then pardoned earlier this year. FS
 ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE FORMER DEFENSE MINISTERSabit Brokaj has asked the state anti-corruption agency to reopen its investigation into his predecessor Safet Zhulali, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported on 9 November. In 1992, Zhulali was charged with involvement in the disappearance of $300,000 in connection with arms purchases from Bulgaria. The case was subsequently dropped for lack of evidence. In other news, local government officials across the country staged a one-day strike on 7 November to protest central government interference in their work. FS
 LE PEN IN ROMANIAFrench National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen on 8 November told a congress of Romania's extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM) that nationalism is the only means to fight U.S. "hegemonic" plans for a new world order. PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor said his party is pursuing an "enlightened nationalism" and wants to lead the country to "popular capitalism." He also announced that miners' leader Miron Cozma, who is in detention pending the outcome of his trial for involvement in the September 1991 rampage in Bucharest, has joined the PRM. The next day, Tudor was re- elected PRM leader, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He ran unopposed. MS
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON DRIVE TO REHABILITATE ANTONESCUIn an interview with an RFE/RL correspondent in Berlin on 7 November, Emil Constantinescu said he realizes the prosecutor-general's decision to start legal proceedings for the rehabilitation of members of Marshal Ion Antonescu's government has "delicate international implications" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 1997). He added that the six ministers were "outstanding Romanian cultural figures" not associated with any of the "negative aspects" of Antonescu's rule. Constantinescu told a forum in Berlin organized by the Herbert Quant Foundation and the "Financial Times" that East European countries no longer fear "armed aggressions of a truly classic type" but infiltration of their state structures by mafia-type groups. MS
 PROGRESS TOWARD MOLDOVAN-ROMANIAN TREATY?Visiting Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin told journalists in Chisinau on 7 November that experts representing the two sides will meet before the end of 1997 to discuss the pending basic treaty between the two countries. Severin said the experts must produce a "pragmatic" document" that is "void of rhetoric," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Observers interpret Severin's statement as implying that Bucharest no longer insists on including a denunciation of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact in the treaty. Moldova viewed that demand as subverting its independence. President Petru Lucinschi said the treaty is still pending due to the "incorrectness" of "some [Romanian] experts" in the past but added that an agreement seems possible before year's end. He also said he may have an "unofficial meeting" with President Emil Constantinescu later this year. MS
 MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS CELEBRATE 1917 REVOLUTIONVladimir Voronin, the leader of the Party of Moldovan Communists, said at a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution that his party wants the "restoration of the Soviet federation of sovereign republics." Voronin said the collapse of the Soviet Union was "inspired by world imperialism," and he called the then presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus "Judases" for having signed the agreement that put an end to the USSR. The 1917 revolution anniversary was also marked in Tiraspol by the leadership of the separatists. MS
 BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESTITUTION LAWThe parliament on 7 November passed a law returning all property confiscated during the communist regime, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. In 1992, the short-lived government led by the United Democratic Forces passed legislation providing for partial restitution, but the Socialist-led government stalled that process. The new law says owners whose property no longer exists will be compensated by equities in enterprises built on their land or will be paid compensation for the confiscated property in cash equal to the property's estimated current market value or in government bonds. The law also restores nationalized property to religious communities. MS
[C] END NOTE
 CHANGES AT RUSSIA'S TV NETWORKSby Floriana Fossato
Changes are under way at Russian Television (RTR) and Russian Public Television (ORT), the country's main nationwide networks.
Kultura, a new cultural channel that is de-facto a department of the fully state-owned RTR, began broadcasting on 1 November. It has a potential audience of some 100 million in European Russia and uses a frequency formerly used by St. Petersburg Channel 5. Unlike rival channels (including RTR), "Kultura" does not have advertising, Instead, it relies fully on state subsidies. The network's first broadcast was a recorded message from President Boris Yeltsin, who chairs the network's board of trustees and who signed a decree in August that ordered the launching of Kultura. Yeltsin said hopes the channel will increase the profile of the arts and the general level of culture in society. He added that the new network will have to "fight for an audience, find its own style" to attract a public that has grown accustomed to a wide choice of televised entertainment. The launching of Kultura, Yeltsin continued, fulfills the aspirations of artists and many others "who have long been waiting" for a serious approach to culture and discussions on "spiritual values, morality, faith, education, and Russia's cultural and historical heritage." Oleg Poptsov, who chaired RTR from 1990 until his dismissal in 1996, told RFE/RL that he is skeptical about Kultura's prospects. Poptsov said it is "absurd" and "ignorant" to think that the network will be able to survive purely on state funding. He predicted that the network will soon be partly privatized, as was the Channel 1 network ORT two years ago. According to Poptsov, the focus on cultural and educational programming is unlikely to continue, if financial groups, at some stage, acquire shares in the new channel.
In an implicit admission that problems could arise, Mikhail Shvydkoi, the director of Kultura, said recently that the new channel is a very ambitious project and could face financial difficulties.
Mikhail Lesin, the recently appointed deputy chairman of RTR, told "Kommersant daily" that "with respect to profitability, everything is clear. Everybody knows culture has never been profitable." Lesin was a founder of one of Russia's most successful advertisement companies, Video International, which is reported to be RTR's exclusive advertising agent. Moreover, the majority of RTR's prime-time programs are produced by Video International. Some observers have speculated that Video International has been playing a growing role in financing RTR.
First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov told RFE/RL in August that he is in favor of the state re-establishing control over both the finances and the "ideological foundation" of ORT. He also attacked tycoon-turned- politician Boris Berezovskii, whom Yeltsin sacked as deputy secretary of the Security Council on 5 November. An unnamed Kremlin official said the same day that Nemtsov and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais were behind Berezovskii's dismissal.
Berezovskii's business interests include stakes in the giant car dealer LogoVAZ and in the Aeroflot and Transaero airlines. Through his business holdings, Berezovskii owns an eight percent stake of ORT and is reported to maintains control over some top ORT managers, who formerly were top LogoVAZ managers. Obedinennyi Bank, a LogoVAZ affiliate, belongs to the four-bank consortium that owns 38 percent of ORT.
Berezovskii was appointed to the Security Council following last year's presidential election. In the electoral campaign, newspapers, magazines, and particularly television channels linked to a group of powerful bankers and businessmen played a key role in boosting Yeltsin's ratings. Following his appointment, Berezovskii said he had delegated all his business commitments, including his position on ORT's board of directors. But Nemtsov said in August that "even if formally Berezovskii has now delegated the running of his business, he is de facto dealing only with this."
Nemtsov also said that Berezovskii had "invented and developed to the very end a peculiar privatization scheme" that was applied at ORT, Aeroflot, and other companies. According to Nemtsov, Berezovskii first "privatized" the company's top managers. Formally the company belongs to the state, Nemtsov said, but "the money it needs is being channeled through private companies."
A 12-member council of government representatives at ORT recently held its first meeting. State Property Minister Maksim Boiko chaired the council, which also includes Yeltsin's daughter and presidential adviser Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin's spokesman and deputy head of administration Sergei Yastrzhembskii, government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov, First Deputy Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin, ITAR-TASS director-general Vitalii Ignatenko, and Mikhail Kommissar, another deputy head of the presidential administration.
Boiko said the board will work out and implement a policy aimed at developing a "standard mechanism for managing government stakes in strategically important companies." He said similar councils have been set up in some of Russia's monopolies, notably the gas giant Gazprom, the electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems, and in the pipeline monopoly Transneft. An ORT shareholders' meeting, scheduled to take place on 13 November, is to choose a director-general and a new board of directors. At that meeting, ORT may become an open joint-stock company, which Berezovskii has already said he opposes in principle.
The author is a Moscow-based RFE/RL correspondent.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty