|Monday, 11 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 132, 98-07-14
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 132, 14 July 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 UN, ABKHAZIA CONDEMN ATTACK ON RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS...The UN Security Council issued a statement on 13 July condemning the deaths the previous day of five members of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under CIS auspices on the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported. The five peacekeepers died when their vehicle ran over a land mine in Abkhazia's Gali Raion. Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba told Interfax that he is convinced the attack was carried out by Georgian guerrillas with the aim of destabilizing the situation. Shamba claimed that "certain forces" within the Georgian leadership are intent on preventing the planned meeting between the Georgian and Abkhaz presidents. Documents on the repatriation of Georgian fugitives to Abkhazia's Gali Raion are to be signed at that meeting. LF
 ...WHILE GEORGIA DENIES RESPONSIBILITYGeorgian Intelligence chief Avtandil Ioseliani told Caucasus Press on 13 July that there is no evidence that Georgian guerrillas laid the mine. The Georgian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement expressing condolences and concern lest the incident lead to a new deadlock in the peace process. LF
 AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR PRESIDENTIAL POLLFormer President Abulfaz Elchibey told Turan on 13 July that opposition candidates will contend the 11 October presidential elections only if certain conditions are met. Those conditions include parity in the composition of the Central Electoral Commission, "the democratization of the pre-election situation," the release of all political prisoners, the abolition of censorship, and the suspension of criminal proceedings against former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev and Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar. Two days earlier, the United Communist Party of Azerbaijan voted to propose its secretary-general, Sayad Sayadov, as a candidate for the presidential poll, Turan reported. LF
 AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITIONIST CALLS FOR CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ALIEVRasul Guliev has addressed a 20-page statement to the Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General calling for President Heidar Aliev to be charged with crimes against the Azerbaijani nation and state, Turan reported. Guliev claimed that Aliev inflicted irretrievable damage on the country's armed forces, which, he said, led to the occupation of six Azerbaijani raions by Karabakh Armenian forces. Guliev also repeated the claim he made in a recent interview with "Moskovskie novosti" that Aliev and his family have misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars. LF
 FIGHTING STOPS EAST OF TAJIK CAPITALFighting between two armed groups from the United Tajik Opposition has ceased in the Kofarnikhon region, 30 kilometers east of Dushanbe, following the death of more than 20 people, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The clash began on 12 July between followers of field commanders Nozim Yunusov and Mullo Kasym Ismati, who are reported to have been at odds for some time. Yunusov and 12 of his followers were killed in the battle, but casualty figures for Ismati's followers and for civilians vary, with some reports saying that neither group suffered any casualties. The fighting ceased after mediation by Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Khoja Akbar Turajonzoda. BP
 TALIBAN WARN TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTANThe leader of Afghanistan's Taliban Movement, Mulla Mohammad Omar, has warned both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan not to allow anti-Taliban coalition forces to use bases in their countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 July. The Taliban have reportedly captured most of Afghanistan's northern Faryab Province during the past week. As a result, Taliban troops are moving closer to the borders of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. BP
 AUSTERITY MEASURES TO BE INTRODUCED IN KAZAKHSTANThe Kazakh government is preparing to introduce austerity measures to stabilize the economic situation, Interfax and Reuters reported on 13 July. A memorandum adopted the previous day cites the economic crisis in Asia and the decrease in the prices of oil and metals, Kazakhstan's two major exports, as the reasons for the move. The measures will include cuts in personnel working for state organizations, which are expected to affect 10, 000 people. Use of electricity, heating, and communications equipment at those organizations will be regulated, while regional governors and heads of state organizations will be held personally responsible for debts to the budget. Contracts with foreign companies are to be revised, and those that have been breached will be annulled. BP
 PRODUCTION-SHARING AGREEMENT SIGNED IN TURKMENISTANRepresentatives of the Turkmen government and a Western consortium composed of the U.S. company Mobil and British company Monument signed an agreement on 10 July to develop the Garashsyzlyk oil field in western Turkmenistan, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. The field has estimated oil reserves of 100-300 million metric tons but has been subject to only limited exploration, prompting speculation that those reserves may be larger. Mobil has a 52.4 percent stake, Monument 27.6 percent, and the state-owned company Turkmenneft 20 percent. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 RUGOVA SEEKS TO REIN IN UCKKosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina on 13 July that within a week he will call a session of the parliament that was elected in March. Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) will use the session to review political options open to the Kosovars and to try to bring the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) under the control of the political establishment, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Serbian authorities declared the March vote illegal, and parties more radical than the LDK boycotted it. UCK spokesmen have said that the guerrillas do not accept the political leadership of any of the established parties and have called Rugova a "defeatist" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1998). Meanwhile in Peja, some 14 buses filled with Serbian police arrived on 13 July, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. PM
 EU FOREIGN MINISTERS ADOPT RESOLUTION ON KOSOVAForeign ministers meeting in Brussels on 13 July agreed to call for a cease- fire in Kosova and urge both sides to seek a political settlement. The ministers said that should this call fail, they are urging the UN Security Council to take "further action...to bring about compliance by those who block the process." British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Reuters that the resolution is "a very clear, very blunt statement to [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic...to comply fully with international community demands. We also recognize that there are two sides to the conflict...so we have called on the armed Kosovar Albanian groups to cease the violence." The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported, however, that the ministers were hard-pressed for ideas as to how to bring about a settlement. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said the UCK is rapidly gaining in popularity in Kosova. PM
 U.S. SAYS NO INDEPENDENCE FOR KOSOVAState Department spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 13 July that the Kosovars "need to realize that their independence goals are not going to be achieved. The international community is not going to support independence" for Kosova or a greater Albanian state. "We have said for some time that the primary responsibility for this conflict and for the fighting and for the repression and for the dying [lies with] Slobodan Milosevic. That doesn't mean that extremist elements on the Kosovar Albanian side are free of responsibility.... If they think they are going to...achieve independence, they are fundamentally mistaken." PM
 UN RECOMMENDS ALBANIAN ARMS COLLECTION PROGRAMA UN panel of experts recommends setting up a pilot project in the central Albanian district of Gramsh to retrieve some of the estimated 650,000 weapons looted from barracks and police stations throughout the country during last year's civil unrest. The panel published a report in New York on 13 July warning that cash incentives or buy- back schemes would have an "inflationary impact" and would send out "the wrong message to those who may consider unauthorized weapon possession as a lucrative activity." Instead, the study recommends linking a voluntary weapons return program with "poverty- alleviating and job-creating development projects." Gramsh, which has a population of about 50,000 and an unemployment rate of more than 30 percent, is one of the most heavily armed regions in the country. The report said that the Kosova conflict provides "an additional reason to retrieve weapons from the civilian population." FS
 ALBANIAN PROSECUTOR ASKS PARLIAMENT TO LIFT BERISHA'S IMMUNITY...Prosecutor-General Arben Rakipi on 13 July formally requested legislators to lift the immunity of former President Sali Berisha, former State Secretary for Defense Leonard Demi, and the head of the Tirana branch of the Democratic Party, Shaban Memia. Such a move would make possible an investigation into Berisha's role during last year's unrest. Rakipi told "Koha Jone" that the three might be charged with terrorism, committing crimes against humanity, and ordering the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population. Rakipi said that he has documents signed by the three that substantiate those charges. He added that he will soon bring charges against other former officials who do not enjoy parliamentary immunity. FS
 ...WHILE OSCE CALLS FOR 'CLIMATE OF RECONCILIATION'OSCE Ambassador to Albania Daan Everts told "Gazeta Shqiptare" on 13 July that Albania needs "a climate of reconciliation [and that Albanians should] not look backward but forward." He also warned against polarization between the opposition and the governing coalition as well as against tendencies toward political vindictiveness. Everts added that "the law must be applied.... If there was a violation of the law, then the due process must be carried out, but we have to be aware that all this takes place in a highly tense [political] climate.... Legal moves against Berisha will not help in easing the climate. A further heightening of political tensions is not good for Albania," he argued. FS
 HERZEGOVINIAN PARTY DEMANDS OFFICIALS RESIGNThe presidency of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), which is dominated by ultra-nationalists from Herzegovina, issued a statement in Mostar on 13 July calling for the resignation of Bosnian officials who were elected on the HDZ slate but have since left the party. The call affects primarily Kresimir Zubak, who is the Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, as well as others who have joined his New Croatian Initiative. That newly founded party represents the interests of more moderate Croats from central Bosnia. Meanwhile in Ljubljana, spokesmen for the Slovenian government announced that it will provide $2.6 million in Bosnian redevelopment aid. The money will help fund projects in which Slovenian firms are involved and provide scholarships to Bosnians studying at Slovenian universities. PM
 ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER DEFIES PREMIER OVER HELICOPTER LOANDaniel Daianu said on 13 July that he will not approve a state loan needed for a major purchase of U.S. helicopters, AP reported. Daianu said that as head of the Finance Ministry, he will not "validate [the loan] with my signature." Prime Minister Radu Vasile's spokesman said that the decision to provide the loan has been made and that "all members of the cabinet support the project." Vasile gave final approval to the $1.45 billion loan for the purchase of 96 helicopters two weeks ago. After the purchase, the U.S. manufacturer Bell Helicopters Textron are to buy 70 percent of the IAR Brasov SA aircraft plant for $50 million. The dispute over the deal comes one day before President Emil Constantinescu arrives in the U.S. for an official state visit. Daianu said he opposes the deal because the military budget will have to be increased by 20 percent over the next nine years in order to cover the loan. PB
 GAZPROM THREATENS MOLDOVA AGAINAleksandr Pushkin, a deputy chairman of the Russian gas giant Gazprom, said on 13 July that Moldova must begin to repay its $215 million debt or the company will cut off gas supplies, Infotag reported. Gazprom has reduced the flow of gas to Moldova twice since June. Pushkin said Chisinau has not begun to issue $100 million worth of state securities to Gazprom, as was earlier agreed, and that if no action is taken by 1 August, Gazprom will shut off the gas flow. Pushkin suggested that Chisinau repay $7 million a month after issuing the state securities. PB
 BULGARIAN CABINET APPROVES DRUG CONTROL PROGRAMThe Bulgarian government has approved a joint program with the EU and the UN that will step up the fight against drug trafficking in southeastern Europe, BTA reported on 13 July. Romania and Macedonia are also participating in the two-year, $7.5 million project, which will upgrade border checkpoints and custom offices as well as establish and train inspection teams. PB
[C] END NOTE
 THE CORRUPTION OF POWERby Paul Goble
Corruption now threatens the authority and even power of many governments in the post-Soviet states. But the way some of those governments seek to combat it could undermine chances for a transition to democracy.
At least a few leaders in the region appear to be using anti-corruption campaigns in the way their Soviet predecessors did: to punish opponents, to strengthen the security forces, and to consolidate their personal power rather than to root out corruption.
That may now be happening in Kazakhstan.
On 10 July, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev told an extraordinary meeting of his Security Council in Astana that "the most important thing" is to seek to fight corruption in order to "show our people we can improve our image and change their view of us."
Nazarbayev warned that he and his security agencies would hold everyone accountable, including cabinet ministers. And he promised to make a nationwide address in which he would tell "all my friends and people with whom I once worked that there will be no exceptions for anyone."
But despite what appears to be Nazarbayev's plan to give sweeping new powers to his security agencies, the Kazakhstan leader added somewhat defensively that "I am talking not about repression but about regaining trust in the state power structures."
While corruption has long been a problem in Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev may have been prompted to make this announcement because of an increasingly well- organized protest movement against himself and his government.
In recent weeks, some 21,000 Kazakhs in five cities throughout the country have signed a petition demanding that Nazarbayev take action not only to improve economic conditions in the republic but to force the law enforcement agencies to do their jobs. If he fails to do so, the petition says, those who have signed it will force Nazarbayev "to leave the post of the head of the Kazakh state."
The signatories almost certainly lack the ability to carry out that threat. Not only do polls suggest that Nazarbayev retains support from most people in Kazakhstan, but the president's power base in the country's security agencies seems unquestioned.
Nonetheless, the Kazakh leader is sufficiently concerned about popular unhappiness with his regime and himself as well as about the image of his country abroad that he has decided to launch an anti-corruption campaign.
While many in Kazakhstan and elsewhere are likely to welcome efforts to crack down on corruption, there are three reasons to be concerned about Nazarbayev's plans.
First, whatever the Kazakh president says, his campaign almost certainly will be highly selective. Not only are many of his most senior officials widely thought to be involved in corruption, but each has built up his power base by protecting more junior officials.
At the 10 July meeting, Nazarbayev's security chief Alnur Musayev complained openly that senior officials had blocked prosecutions against their subordinates and that many judges had refused to open criminal probes against their colleagues, regardless of the evidence his agency had collected against them. Thus, a sweeping attack against corruption could have the effect of undermining the political structures of the state itself.
That scenario is made even more likely by the second reason for concern. Precisely because the law enforcement agencies and the courts are so thoroughly corrupt, Nazarbayev clearly plans to use the what he calls "the state power structures" to combat corruption.
In addition to the National Security Committee, the successor to the Soviet- era KGB in Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev indicated that he would use a special presidential Supreme Disciplinary Committee to examine cases of corruption. While those measures may appear justified by the extent of the problem, the strengthening of such extra-judicial agencies may give Nazarbayev even more unregulated personal power over the state and society. That, in itself, could constitute yet another obstacle on Kazakhstan's path to democracy.
Finally, the third reason to be concerned is that Nazarbayev's announcement suggests his efforts at fighting corruption will be a campaign like any other rather than a turning point in the way Kazakhstan deals with a problem that can threaten any country. In such a case, the campaign will be announced with much fanfare and will gradually be forgotten as the country moves on to other issues. And that pattern will both increase public cynicism and allow those dealing in corruption to continue to do so after only a short interval of "good government."
Kazakhstan is far from the only country where this problem exists and this logic applies. The 9 July "Nezavisimaya gazeta," for example, commented that corruption in Georgia has reached such a level that the World Bank commissioned a special study on how it might be overcome. That move comes, despite Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's earlier declaration that his government will make a breakthrough against corruption this year.
If Kazakhstan and the other countries in this region genuinely want to overcome corruption, they will need to change public and official attitudes toward it. And they will have to create institutions to ensure that all who violate the rules are punished. However well-publicized, a single campaign against corruption won't do that. In fact such a campaign may become a substitute for the kind of changes that are really needed.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty