|Saturday, 28 March 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 96, 98-05-21
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 96, 21 May 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 GEORGIANS FLEE AS ABKHAZ FIGHTING INTENSIFIESEthnic Georgian repatriates are fleeing from Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion as fighting between Georgian and Abkhaz guerrilla formations continues, Caucasus Press reported on 21 May. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili told journalists on 20 May that Abkhaz guerrillas began reprisals against the Georgian repatriates the previous day. A spokeswoman for the so-called Abkhaz parliament in exile, composed of Georgian deputies from the Abkhaz parliament elected in 1991, told Caucasus Press that the Abkhaz are wearing the uniforms and using the heavy weapons of the Russian contingent of the CIS peacekeeping force stationed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. Abkhaz Defense and Interior Ministry spokesmen said the fighting is solely between Abkhaz forces and guerrillas from the Georgian White Legion. Estimates of the death toll range from 10 to 30. Both the Abkhaz and Georgian armed forces have been placed on alert. LF
 ARMENIA REPORTS PROGRESS IN SOLVING HIGH- PROFILE KILLINGSProsecutor-General Henrik Khachatrian told reporters on 20 May that progress has been made toward solving a series of murders of prominent figures in 1993-1994, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Those deaths include the killings of Hambartsum Ghandilian, former railroad chief, and Hambartsum Galstian, ex-mayor of Yerevan and a member of the Karabakh Committee. He said fresh facts are being discovered about two dozen men arrested last January on charges of murder and robbery and suspected of involvement in Ghandilian's murder. Khachatrian has also reviewed the investigations into the deaths of former KGB chairman Marius Yuzbashian, shot while walking his dog, and former Writers' Union chairman Vardges Petrossian. He disclosed that an arrest warrant has been issued for Romik Ghazarian, former head of the presidential security service, who is currently in Moscow. LF
 ARMENIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER OUTLINES PRIORITIESYervand Zarkarian told journalists in Yerevan on 20 May that his primary task is to ensure safe and reliable communications with the outside world via Georgia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He noted the importance of rail communications with the Georgian Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti, which are the transit points for most of Armenia's foreign trade. Zarkarian said Armenia hopes to receive funding from the EU to upgrade the Yerevan- Giumri-Batumi highway within the framework of the EU's TRACECA project. That project entails expanding the existing road, rail, and ferry network linking Central Asia and the Transcaucasus with Europe via Turkey. LF
 DONOR CONFERENCE PROVIDES FUNDS FOR TAJIKISTANAt a donor conference in Paris on 20 May, Tajikistan received pledges of $280 million in aid over the next three years, RFE/RL correspondents reported. A statement released by the World Bank says there is need for greater donor involvement in Tajikistan and that the World Bank will lend Tajikistan $220 million. The statement also notes that 80 percent of Tajikistan's population is currently living in poverty and urges the Tajik government to "pay particular attention to privatization and farm restructuring." Another $60 million will be given as humanitarian aid, and the European Commission promised $220,000 to the Red Cross/ Red Crescent for alleviating the effects of flooding and landslides in southern Tajikistan. BP
 NEW UN ENVOY FOR TAJIKISTANJan Kubis of Slovakia was named to replace Gerd Merrem as UN special envoy to Tajikistan on 20 May, Reuters reported. Kubis faces the task of accelerating the reconciliation process in Tajikistan, which is lagging behind the schedule established last June, when the Tajik peace accord was signed. Last week, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Tajikistan not to hold parliamentary elections this year, as stipulated in the peace accord. Annan said the continued unrest would make it difficult to hold free and fair elections. BP
 NIYAZOV APPOINTS NEW HEAD OF GAS, OIL INDUSTRYTurkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov on 20 May signed a decree dismissing Oil and Gas Minister Batyr Sarjaev and replacing him with Turkmenneft deputy chairman Rejepbai Arazov, Interfax reported. The previous day, Niyazov had attended a ceremony marking the beginning of oil production at western Turkmenistan's Burun oil field. Niyazov said his country has created the proper conditions for foreign investment, pointing by way of example to the Monument-Mobil company, a U.S.-British joint venture, which runs the field. Niyazov also mentioned his country's cooperation with Iran, which, he said, was based on "geopolitical and economic realities." BP
 FBI ARRESTS THREE IN KAZAKH KIDNAPPING CASEAgents from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation have arrested three people who are allegedly part of a Russian mafia group and responsible for a kidnapping in Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 May. The operation was coordinated with Kazakhstan's secret services and began after a Kazakh businessman was abducted in Almaty and held for a $100,000 ransom. The ransom was paid in installments to a bank account at a New York branch of Chase Manhattan bank. FBI agents traced the owner of the account and the owner's accomplices, while agents in Kazakhstan made the three arrests and continue to search for another four suspects. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MONTENEGRO REJECTS NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENTMontenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 20 May that the new government of Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic is "illegitimate, illegal, and un-Yugoslav" (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 20 May 1998). Djukanovic added that Montenegro will recognize neither Bulatovic nor his cabinet. In Belgrade, Bulatovic announced the composition of his cabinet, which is almost completely identical to that of his predecessor, Radoje Kontic. One change is that Bulatovic backer Danilo Vuksanovic replaces Vojin Djukanovic, a supporter of President Djukanovic, as one of five deputy prime ministers, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Bulatovic also told the parliament that corruption and crime are "public enemy number one." President Djukanovic and many of his backers made their fortunes through sanctions- busting during the 1991-1995 wars. PM
 NATO CONCERNED ABOUT YUGOSLAVIANATO ambassadors said in a statement in Brussels on 20 May that the Atlantic alliance is concerned about the rising tensions between Serbia and Montenegro. The ambassadors also discussed the situation on the Albanian- Yugoslav border but made no decision regarding NATO's role in the Kosova crisis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1998). In Washington, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and his German counterpart, Volker Ruehe, said they favor a political rather than a military solution in Kosova. Ruehe added that "we must look at the military options and the study that is being done by NATO, and avoid symbolism, dangerous symbolism, but look at options that could be meaningful" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 May 1998). Ruehe stressed that the real problem is not along the Kosovar border but "in Kosova--the dictatorship, the police state, and lack of autonomy." PM
 SERBIAN BLOCKADE OF KOSOVA JEOPARDIZES TALKSFehmi Agani, who is a top adviser to Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova, said in Prishtina on 20 May that the Kosovars will attend talks with a Serbian delegation on 22 May despite the Kosovars' concern about the ongoing Serbian blockade of the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 1998). In recent days, Kosovar sources have reported food shortages across much of the province. Serbian officials say there is no blockade but only a check on the papers and safety of privately owned vehicles. Reuters, however, quoted an unnamed Serbian source as saying that the blockade is unwise "and could not have come at a worse time." A Western diplomat added: "What is [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic playing at? If he wants to prevent the talks from going ahead, the blockade is a sure way to do it." PM
 SERBS STILL HOLD FOUR KOSOVARSSerbian police in Klina on 19 May released four of the eight Kosovars they took off a train on the Prishtina-Peja line earlier that day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1998). The Kosovar news agency KIC said that all four had been beaten while in custody and sought medical treatment after their release. KIC added that there is no information on the whereabouts of the other four Kosovars whom police removed from the same train. PM
 ALBANIAN POLICE SEIZE ARMS BOUND FOR KOSOVAPolice intercepted a truck loaded with arms at a routine checkpoint in Lezha on 20 May. It was the largest quantity of illegal arms ever seized by Albanian police in a single operation and included 200 machine guns, 500 boxes with ammunition cartridges, and 400 grenades . Police arrested the driver of the truck, who is an Albanian citizen, as well as a Kosovar who was following the truck in a private car. An unnamed police official told "Koha Jone" that those arrested "bought [the arms] for a low price on the private Albanian market and [wanted to] bring them to [Kosova]." The same day, villagers living near the border in the Kukes area said Serbian border guards shot at them. FS
 NO SERBS RETURN TO GLAMOCA spokesman for the UN High Commission for Refugees said in Livno in Herzegovina on 20 May that nobody from Glamoc's pre-war Serbian population has returned to their former homes, "Oslobodjenje" wrote. In 1991, some 10, 000 Serbs lived in Glamoc, where they made up 80 percent of the population. At that time, only 200 Croats, or 1.5 percent of the total residents, lived there. Croat-controlled Glamoc is now inhabited by 500 Muslims, as well as by 1,400 Croats, who are mainly refugees from central Bosnia. In Banja Luka, spokesmen for Serbian refugees from Croatia, who fled during the Croatian army's offensives in 1995, said that at least 80,000 Krajina Serbs live in the Republika Srpska, mainly in the west. The spokesmen added that one- quarter of them want to go home but that neither Banja Luka nor Zagreb has proven willing to help them. PM
 AMBASSADORS PROTEST OVER VUKOVARMembers of a group of foreign ambassadors to Croatia monitoring the situation in eastern Slavonia said that Vukovar "will not get one cent" from the international community unless the city administration begins to function properly, "Novi List" reported. The ambassadors noted that Serbs continue to leave eastern Slavonia for Yugoslavia or the Republika Srpska and that the Serbs have difficulty returning to their former homes elsewhere in Croatia. The ambassadors also stated that ethnically motivated incidents continue to take place in eastern Slavonia, and that Croatian authorities harass individual Serbs whose alleged crimes have been pardoned under an amnesty, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The diplomats called on the Croatian authorities not to prosecute any Serbs for war crimes without the approval of the Hague-based tribunal. The ambassadors also urged local Serbs to cooperate with the Croatian authorities. PM
 ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS THREATEN TO BOYCOTT LOCAL ELECTIONSOpposition Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha said on 20 May in Tirana that his party will boycott the 21 June local elections unless there are changes in the composition of the Central Election Commission. Berisha demands that all parties be allowed to send representatives to the commission, including smaller parties currently not represented in the body. The elections will take place only in localities where mayors or a significant number of city council members quit their jobs during last year's unrest. FS
 MORE REVELATIONS ABOUT ROMANIAN 'CIGARETTE SMUGGLING AFFAIR'Virgil Magureanu, former chief of the Romanian Intelligence Service, confirmed in an interview with RFE/RL on 20 May that in December 1992 he asked the then prosecutor-general to free from detention Lebanese citizen Elie Nassar, who was under investigation in an earlier case of cigarette smuggling. Magureanu also confirmed that he intervened on Elie Nassar's behalf at the request of his brother, Mike Nassar, who is a fugitive involved in the latest smuggling affair. A transcription of the conversation between Mike Nassar and Magureanu was published on 18-19 May in the daily "Evenimentul zilei". Magureanu said the taping of the conversation was "illegal" and denied any wrongdoing. The Nassar brothers offered to pay $3 million to "compensate" Romanian customs, and Magureanu claims he immediately informed former President Ion Iliescu and former Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu about the offer, which was accepted. MS
 LEGAL PROCEDURE BEGUN TO LIFT TUDOR'S IMMUNITYThe Prosecutor-General's Office on 20 May asked the Minister of Justice to propose that the Senate lift the parliamentary immunity of Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party. This is the first step in the legal procedure for such a move. Tudor is accused of having insulted President Emil Constantinescu and one of his counselors in allegations about their involvement in the cigarette smuggling affair. Last month, the Prosecutor-General's Office asked to begin the procedure of lifting Tudor's immunity in connection with in other calumny cases involving the senator. The office is also asking the Chamber of Deputies to lift the immunity of Gabriel Bivolaru, a deputy of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, for alleged involvement in fraud against the Romanian Bank for Development. MS
 SEVEN FORMER COMMUNIST OFFICIALS CHARGED IN ROMANIASeven former officials and military commanders in Cluj have been charged for their role in the repression of demonstrators during the December 1989 uprising. Among them is General Iulian Topliceanu, who is accused of having ordered the opening of fire on demonstrators. In other news, the Civic Alliance Movement on 20 May clarified its position towards President Emil Constantinescu, saying it continues to support his struggle against corruption and that most of the corruption cases involve persons with links to the previous government. It also said the movement's criticism of the president by its executive chairman, Valerian Stan, was the latter's "personal position" (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 20 May 1998). MS
 BULGARIAN PIPELINE TENDER CLOSESNine international consortia are participating in an international tender for a feasibility study of a proposed oil pipeline from Bulgaria to Greece. The deadline for the tender closed on 19 May, an RFE/RL correspondent in Athens reported. The study is to be completed within 10 months. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Bulgarian Energy Committee Ivan Shilyashki told Reuters on 20 May that upgrading the reactors at the controversial Kozloduy nuclear power plant will make it possible to run safely two of the reactors until 2005-2006 and the other two until 2010- 2012. Also on 20 May, the opposition Socialist Party daily "Duma" resumed publication after pledging to pay its 650 million leva ($360,000) debt to the state printing company, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1998). MS
[C] END NOTE
 FORMER KREMLIN SECURITY CHIEF MAKES MORE DISCLOSURESby John Helmer
Aleksandr Korzhakov, the former Kremlin security chief and confidante of President Boris Yeltsin, has made more revelations that may have a bearing on the fate of Andrei Kozlenok, a Russian diamond trader who is currently in an Athens jail awaiting extradition to Moscow.
Kozlenok was arrested by Greek police as he arrived at Athens airport in January. In a warrant issued by the Russian prosecutor-general, he is accused of embezzling some $180 million in diamonds and precious metals from Russian state stocks in 1993 and 1994. Russia has applied for his extradition, and last week, Greece's Supreme Court ruled that Kozlenok should be extradited. The Greek Justice Ministry, which has the final say on extraditions, is expected to approve the ruling.
Kozlenok argued that the case against him is politically motivated and that Russian authorities will intimidate or silence witnesses who could vindicate him. He also said that if he returns to Russia, he may suffer the same fate as a former associate found hanged in his jail cell. Russian authorities say that death was suicide. Several former high-ranking officials in the government and the State Committee on Precious Metals may be implicated in the case as a whole.
Kozlenok has also claimed that his diamond operations were authorized by the Kremlin for political purposes. Kozlenok told a Russian newspaper in April that one of those operations paid for the publication of a book of memoirs by Yeltsin. According to Kozlenok, money from his diamond operations went "into the fund of presidential programs of Russia. Probably, the money was used for publication of the book."
Russia has been applying intense diplomatic pressure on the Greek government to return Kozlenok. The Russian press has been filled with unsubstantiated speculation about Kozlenok's spending sprees and the involvement of high-ranking officials in the alleged embezzlement.
During the period of Kozlenok's activities, Korzhakov was the head of Yeltsin's personal security service and one of Yeltsin's constant companions. In time, Korzhakov became a powerful and influential decision- maker in his own right, keeping watch over all the president's subordinates and ministers.
However, four days after the first round of the 1996 presidential elections, Korzhakov was sacked after officers from the Presidential Security Service apprehended two Yeltsin campaign aides carrying more than $500,000 out of government headquarters. The two aides were associates of Anatolii Chubais, who misleadingly portrayed their detention as a frame-up by Korzhakov's men.
Korzhakov then successfully campaigned for a seat in the State Duma, where he remains today. He has also published a memoir of his time with Yeltsin in which he openly attacks the president, his family, and those who currently run the Kremlin. "The president is an empty bottle, filled by others around him," Korzhakov told RFE/RL in a recent interview.
Korzhakov publicly warns that he has details of corruption among Yeltsin's advisers and high-ranking government officials amassed from investigations he and his subordinates conducted when they were in the Kremlin. A new book containing those details is to be released very soon, Korzhakov said.
Asked what he knows about Kozlenok, Korzhakov told RFE/RL he had investigated the diamond transactions by Kozlenok's San Francisco-based company, Golden ADA. "I received the materials about Golden ADA, and sent them to the President. They were met with total indifference. There were major violations and shady deals, but nothing was done."
Korzhakov suggests the Kremlin investigation he ordered could substantiate the claim that some of the money generated by the scheme was diverted to Yeltsin's book. "I don't exclude this," Korzhakov said, adding that he thinks it likely because Boris Berezovskii, the Yeltsin family's adviser and a wealthy financier, "was in charge of this book." Korzhakov expresses deep hostility toward Berezovskii.
Korzhakov returned several times in his interview with RFE/RL to the theme of Yeltsin's betrayal of those closest to him. He also claimed he had predicted former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's dismissal well before it happened--in an interview with "Argumenty i Fakty" that was never published.
According to Korzhakov, the president "now lives in a virtual world. He is not in control of himself." And Korzhakov claims the dominant influence is exercised by Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko. The appointment of Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko was arranged by her, Korzhakov argues, after a family business associate brought Kirienko to Dyachenko's attention.
Kirienko is "the president's Barbie doll", Korzhakov said, adding that he is convinced Yeltsin intends to run for a third term.
The author is a Moscow-based journalist who routinely contributes to RFE/RL.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty