|Friday, 18 October 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 17, 98-01-27
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 17, 27 January 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PAN-NATIONAL MOVEMENT LEADER BACKPEDALS...Vano Siradeghian, mayor of Yerevan and chairman of the Armenian Pan- National Movement (the senior partner within the ruling Hanrapetutyun coalition), said on 26 January that the media have exaggerated the degree of dissent within the Armenian leadership over how to resolve the Karabakh conflict. Siradeghian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau that he believes the leaderships in Yerevan and Stepanakert will reach a consensus within "a month or two." He refused to comment on Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisian's 23 January statement suggesting that the Armenian Pan-National Movement had stage-managed the recent shootings in order to create a pretext for demanding the government's resignation. On 21 January, Siradeghian and other APNM leaders criticized the government for what they called its passivity over the attacks on senior officials. LF
 ...WHILE OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATIONMeanwhile, two Armenian opposition parties have argued that only the resignation of President Levon Ter-Petrossyan can resolve the domestic political crisis. The National Democratic Union issued a statement on 26 January accusing the president of resorting to violence because his power is "jeopardized" by those within the leadership opposed to his insistence on concessions over Karabakh, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Similarly, the board of the National Progress Party called on Ter- Petrossyan to step down as a prelude to free and fair elections, as did former National Security adviser David Shahnazarian, Noyan Tapan reported. Dashnaktsutyun board member Hrayr Karapetian suggested that the APNM's demands for the government's resignation may have been prompted partly by the loss of its ministerial posts. The Self-Determination Union predicts that the standoff may result in the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan. LF
 SUSURLUK REVELATIONS STRAIN TURKISH-AZERBAIJANI RELATIONSAzerbaijan has formally requested that the Turkish government deny allegations contained in an official report on the investigation into the so-called Susurluk scandal, according to Turan and "The Washington Post" on 26 January. Last week, parts of the report were leaked to the press. The investigation, which focused on links between Turkish politicians and organized crime, confirmed rumors that the government of former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller was involved in an unsuccessful coup attempt against Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev in March 1995. The report also claimed that Aliev handed over to a Turkish citizen a casino built in Azerbaijan using Turkish Ex-Im Bank credits as repayment for a $6 million gambling debt incurred by Aliev's son Ilham. Heidar Aliev is reportedly so incensed by that charge that he has threatened to cancel a visit to Turkey scheduled for February. LF
 SELEZNEV PROMISES CONTINUED COOPERATION WITH TAJIKISTANAt the end of his three-day visit to Tajikistan, Gennadii Seleznev, the speaker of the Russian State Duma, signed an agreement on cooperation between the two countries' parliaments, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 26 January. Seleznev also met with members of the National Reconciliation Commission and separately with Said Abdullo Nuri, the commission chairman and leader of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). Commenting on Russian soldiers in Tajikistan, Seleznev said their presence is still needed to guarantee the continuation of the peace process, but he added that a gradual withdrawal could begin. Seleznev also discussed Tajikistan's possible entry into the CIS Customs Union. BP
 CASES DROPPED AGAINST TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADERSProsecutor-General Salomiddin Sharipov has announced an amnesty for leaders of some opposition parties, RFE/RL correspondents in Dushanbe reported on 26 January. Charges have been dropped against UTO leaders as well against Shodman Yusupov of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan and Abdumassad Khimmatov of the Islamic Renaissance Party. The amnesty paves the way for the return of Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, the deputy leader of the UTO. But Turajonzoda has consistently said he will not return until he is officially offered the post of deputy prime minister. BP
 AKAYEV ISSUES DECREE ON KYRGYZ LANGUAGEKyrgyz President Askar Akayev signed a decree on 26 January aimed at boosting efforts to use Kyrgyz as the state language, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported. A special 21-member council is to coordinate the use of Kyrgyz language in the activities of government agencies and public organizations. BP
 ALMATY RESIDENTS DEMAND GAS, ELECTRICITYAs the problem of gas and electrical shortages worsens, hundreds of Almaty residents took to the streets on 26 January to demand the full restoration of supplies, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Marat Bulqairov, the deputy mayor of Almaty, met with the demonstrators but blamed the Belgian Intergas Company, which manages gas and electric supplies in southern Kazakhstan, for the shortages. Bulqairov promised the problem will be solved soon. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MAJOR PERSONNEL CHANGES IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKAThe new government led by Prime Minister Milorad Dodik issued a statement in Banja Luka on 27 January announcing the dismissal of 17 directors of state- owned companies. Goran Matrak, the editor of the hard-line daily "Glas Srpski," has also been fired. Information Minister Rajko Vasic will appoint his replacement soon, as well as new chief editors for Bosnian Serb television, which is based in Banja Luka. The customs and tax departments will also have new chiefs in the near future. PM
 TRANSFER OF BOSNIAN SERB POWER UNDER WAYA spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 26 January that the outgoing Bosnian Serbian government is not moving quickly enough to hand over its powers to Dodik and his cabinet. Dodik, for his part, told RFE/RL in Banja Luka that the transition has been proceeding reasonably smoothly but that he does not rule out that Radovan Karadzic's supporters in Pale may stop being cooperative in the future. Meanwhile in Bijeljina, outgoing Interior Minister Slavko Paleksic formally handed over control of the ministry to Milovan Stankovic. The ceremony took place at a meeting of Bosnian Serb police chiefs, who agreed to reunite the force and end the split between followers of Karadzic and supporters of President Biljana Plavsic. PM
 INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR BOSNIAN SERBSRepresentatives of the six-nation Contact Group, which is monitoring the peace process in Bosnia, issued a statement in Washington on 26 January calling on the outgoing Bosnian Serb authorities to "cooperate in ensuring a smooth transition of power to the new government." The statement reaffirmed the international community's support for Dodik. Meanwhile in Brussels, the EU approved a $6.5 million aid package to help the Republika Srpska authorities pay back wages to police, teachers, and other government employees. And in Banja Luka, Plavsic signed an agreement with a representative of the World Bank, who said the bank will provide a $17 million credit to the Republika Srpska (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January 1998). PM
 SERBS AGREE TO NEW TRIAL FOR MUSLIMSA UN spokesman announced in Sarajevo on 26 January that the Bosnian Serb authorities have agreed to re-try three Muslims from the so-called Zvornik Seven group, all of whose members were found guilty of murder in 1996. Meanwhile in The Hague, Goran Jelisic, the Bosnian Serb who was arrested by U.S. peacekeepers in Bosnia and taken to The Hague the previous week, told the war crimes tribunal that he is not guilty of crimes against humanity. PM
 WESTENDORP SETS DEADLINE ON BOSNIAN FLAGWestendorp urged legislators in the joint parliament in Sarajevo on 26 January to agree to one of three proposed designs for a joint flag by 3 February. He added that should they fail to do so, he will chose a design for them. Westendorp recently chose designs for the joint currency after the three sides did not meet his deadline on that issue. All the proposed designs for the flag have the politically neutral colors white, blue, and yellow. PM
 MORE LAW SUITS AGAINST CROATIAN NEWSPAPERHealth Minister Andrija Hebrang, the administrators of a hospital, and one doctor said in Zagreb on 26 January that they will sue the independent weekly "Feral Tribune" over a recent story dealing with the deaths of six children in the Zagreb hospital last year. "Feral" currently faces some 50 law suits for damages totaling $3 million from various Croatian authorities. The newspaper's editors charge that the government wants to bankrupt "Feral" through law suits. PM
 ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS TO END BOYCOTT OF PARLIAMENTDemocratic Party leader Sali Berisha said in Tirana on 26 January that his party will soon end its boycott of the parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 January 1998), "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. He noted that a "party that does not participate in the parliament is [committing] political suicide." He also said he wants to start a "fruitful dialogue" with the coalition about drafting a new constitution. An RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana on 27 January that a high-ranking delegation from the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe recently warned Berisha that the Democrats must return to parliament or risk international isolation. Meanwhile, Sabri Godo, the head of the parliamentary constitutional commission , has said the commission will not wait any longer for the Democrats, "Koha Jone" reported on 26 January. FS
 ALBANIAN FORMER DICTATOR HAS HEART ATTACKRamiz Alia, who was president from 1985 to 1992, is hospitalized in Tirana after suffering a heart attack on 24 January, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported three days later. Doctors said the 74-year-old former communist leader is also suffering from severe respiratory problems. FS
 NO SOLUTION IN SIGHT TO ROMANIAN COALITION CRISISNational Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) chairman Ion Diaconescu told journalists on 26 January that "no solution is in sight" to the coalition crisis. Diaconescu said the Democratic Party continues to demand the dismissal of Premier Victor Ciorbea and now wants the entire government to be reshuffled. He said the positions of the two parties had "polarized" and that the PNTCD rejected the Democrats' demand that their support in the parliament of a minority government be conditional on a detailed protocol, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Diaconescu said the PNTCD would not rule out cooperation with any deputy willing to support a minority government. MS
 DEMOCRATS ON COALITION CRISISDemocratic Party leader Petre Roman on 26 January said that if the reform process is not accelerated, Romania will lose its chance of becoming integrated into the European structures. He added that such acceleration is not possible as long as Ciorbea remains premier, Radio Bucharest reported. Roman had previously said the Democrats were undecided about whether to withdraw from the government because they had received no reply from the PNTCD. But an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported on 26 January that the Democrats may postpone withdrawing to give the PNTCD more time for considering their proposals. The correspondent said the Democratic Party is unwilling to renounce its demand for Ciorbea's removal. MS
 ISSUE OF REHABILITATING ANTONESCU MINISTERS RESURFACESDespite Prosecutor-General Sorin Moisescu's decision to withdraw his initiative for rehabilitating seven out of eight former members of the Ion Antonescu government, the Supreme Court may have to consider the rehabilitation of all those ministers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1997). The independent Pro TV and Mediafax reported on 26 January that the lawyer representing the family of Toma Petre Ghitulescu, the only former member of the dictator's cabinet whose rehabilitation is still on the agenda, says he has "found an article" in the Penal Code that will force the court to consider all eight cases. He said the prosecutor-general had been forced to withdraw his original initiative under "pressure from abroad, " by which he meant the U.S. MS
 MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN BRUSSELS...President Petru Lucinschi on 26 January met with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Belgian capital reported. Solana said later that they agreed to increase Moldova's participation in the Partnership for Peace program and in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Lucinschi emphasized that this participation did not harm Russian interests and was mainly of a humanitarian nature. Lucinschi is scheduled to meet European Commission chairman Jacques Santer and Belgian premier Jean-Luc Dehaene on 27 January. MS
 ...LAUNCHES WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESSIn the first of what will be regular weekly addresses to the nation, Lucinschi said on 26 January that Moldova has opted for European integration, but he warned that belonging to Europe "begins with having clean streets, with civilized relations among people,...and with learning modern spiritual values." He said that "genuine change" depended on "changing the mentality of the people," who, he added, must learn to "forge their own fate under conditions of freedom," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan said he hoped the president will not use his weekly addresses to engage in election campaigning for pro- presidential parties. The president must be "above politics," Motpan argued. MS
[C] END NOTE
 WITHOUT REMORSEby Paul Goble
A statement by the new chief of the Russian air force that he has no regrets about having given the order to shoot down a Korean civilian airliner in 1983 and would do so again raises a series of disturbing questions both about that individual and the military and political system of which he is a part.
Colonel-General Anatolii Kornukov told the Russian television program "Hero of the Day" last week that he would "always be sure" that his order to shoot down the KAL flight that had strayed into Soviet airspace over Sakhalin Island was correct. Moreover, he added, "if something like that would happen now, I would act the same way."
The shooting down of that civilian plane and the killing of all 269 people aboard was one of the chilliest moments in the Cold War. Not only was it criticized by many Western leaders, but it has been denounced by Russian President Boris Yeltsin as one of the greatest tragedies of that period.
But if Yeltsin has denounced it, he has now appointed to command the Russian air force the man who 15 years ago gave the order to shoot down that plane and who continues to insist that he acted properly.
This episode raises three serious questions: First, why did Yeltsin act so inconsistently? Second, what are the real attitudes of the high command of the Russian military today? And third, and most important, how can Russia or any of the other post-communist states proceed to a democratic future without a full acknowledgment of the crimes of the Soviet past?
Yeltsin's role is especially murky. More than any other Russian leader, he has spoken out forcefully against the KAL shootdown. Consequently, it is more than a little surprising that he has appointed the man who ordered that move as commander of the Russian air force. Why then did he take that step?
There are several possible explanations. Yeltsin may have believed that Kornukov had learned his lesson, although the general's statement last week suggests otherwise. Or Yeltsin may have felt that he was the best available candidate, especially given the president's push for a complete revamp of the military establishment.
Alternatively, Yeltsin may have had no choice in the matter. He may have been pressured to accept the dictates of hard-liners in the military and at the foreign ministry. Or the appointment may be a reflection of Yeltsin's own current thinking, a desire on his part to stake out a tougher line similar to the one adopted by his Soviet predecessors.
But whatever Yeltsin's intentions, the rise of this Soviet-trained general draws attention to how little has changed in the psychology and views of the Russian military. While many Russian generals appear to have accepted the new post-Soviet reality, Kornukov's comments show that not all of them have escaped the suspiciousness and aggressiveness of the Soviet military.
Kornukov's promotion is likely simultaneously to encourage those who have not changed their way of thinking since the end of the Soviet era and to discourage those who have advocated a change in the way they conduct themselves in the new environment.
But Kornukov's elevation and his unapologetic stance about an action almost universally condemned inevitably raise a far broader and more difficult question: how can Russia or indeed any post-Communist country move forward without an honest assessment of what its current leaders did in the past?
Since the collapse of the Berlin wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, many in both the West and the countries immediately involved have argued that a thorough evaluation of the past actions of officials would lead to chaos or even bloodshed.
According to that view, the past actions of current officials should be kept in the past both because so many current officials have problematic backgrounds and because many of them have demonstrated a new commitment to democracy and freedom, which in itself constitutes a kind of atonement.
But if this argument is not without weight, it is also not without difficulties. Not only does it make it difficult for those who have been victims of such past actions to feel that the new democratic political system will give them justice, but it means that the ideas that animated such officials in the past may continue to drive them in the future.
And as the Kornukov declaration shows, that danger may be just as great as would be the one caused by an honest evaluation of the Soviet past.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty