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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 134, 98-07-15

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 2, No. 134, 15 July 1998


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] UN REPRESENTATIVE SHOT DEAD IN GEORGIA
  • [02] MOSCOW ACCUSES GEORGIA OF SUPPORTING GUERRILLAS
  • [03] GEORGIAN EX-DEFENSE MINISTER ON HUNGER STRIKE
  • [04] RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN YEREVAN
  • [05] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY MAY MODERATE STANCE
  • [06] AZERBAIJANI PROSECUTOR-GENERAL DETAILS CHARGES AGAINST GULIEV
  • [07] FORMER AZERBAIJANI PREMIER GOES ON TRIAL
  • [08] TURKMENISTAN FULFILLS GRAIN QUOTA

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] OSCE MISSION IN BELGRADE
  • [10] UCK SAYS INDEPENDENT KOSOVA KEY TO BALKAN PEACE
  • [11] DEMIREL BACKS ALBANIA ON KOSOVA
  • [12] NEW INFLUX OF KOSOVAR REFUGEES TO MONTENEGRO
  • [13] YUGOSLAVIA TO SEEK EXTRADITION OF SAKIC'S WIFE
  • [14] GARROD URGES CROATS TO GO HOME
  • [15] SANCTIONS AGAINST REPUBLIKA SRPSKA?
  • [16] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON
  • [17] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS FISCAL CUTS MUST NOT HURT POOR

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [18] THE TSARIST PAST RUSSIA WANTS TO FORGET

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] UN REPRESENTATIVE SHOT DEAD IN GEORGIA

    Maria Magdalene Kawioska, a secretary of the UN mission in Georgia, was shot dead late on 14 July at the door of her Tbilisi apartment, Caucasus Press reported. The Georgian prosecutor-general has launched an investigation. LF

    [02] MOSCOW ACCUSES GEORGIA OF SUPPORTING GUERRILLAS

    The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 14 July condemning the Georgian Interior and Security Ministries' reaction to the deaths of five Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia's Gali Raion two days earlier, Interfax reported. The Russian statement condemned the killings as an act of terrorism by Georgian guerrillas and affirmed that "any attempts to present the White Legion or the Forest Brothers as organizations that have nothing to do with the Georgian special services are an attempt to ignore reality." The Georgian leadership has repeatedly denied any connection with either of those guerrilla organizations. The Russian statement also criticized the Georgian leadership for failing to comply with written commitments to crack down on groups engaged in terrorism and sabotage. And it slammed the Abkhaz leadership for failing to create conditions for the return to Gali Raion of ethnic Georgians forced to flee during the fighting in May. LF

    [03] GEORGIAN EX-DEFENSE MINISTER ON HUNGER STRIKE

    Tengiz Kitovani has launched a hunger strike to demand a revision of his prison sentence and his immediate release from prison, an RFE/RL correspondent in Tbilisi reported on 14 July. Kitovani, who together with fellow warlord Djaba Ioseliani ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in early 1992, was sentenced in October 1996 to eight years' imprisonment for setting up an illegal armed formation. In a written statement, Kitovani has demanded that he be recognized as a political prisoner. He also characterized Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze as a dictator and called for his resignation. LF

    [04] RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN YEREVAN

    Igor Sergeev arrived in Yerevan on 14 July and held talks with President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Armen Darpinian on the situation in the Transcaucasus and the implementation of bilateral agreements on military cooperation, Armenian and Russian agencies reported. Sergeev also met with his Armenian counterpart, Vazgen Sargsian. Speaking to journalists, Sergeev denied reports that Moscow plans either to reduce its troop presence in the Transcaucasus or to redeploy to Armenia some forces currently stationed in Georgia. Sergeev declined to comment on Russian media reports that Moscow intends to station S-300 air defense missiles in Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF

    [05] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY MAY MODERATE STANCE

    Senior members of the National Democratic Union (AZhM) told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 14 July that the party does not exclude participating in the Coordinating Council recently established by President Robert Kocharian. But they expressed doubts that their participation would have any impact given that the council is dominated by parties from the Justice and Unity bloc, created in March to support Kocharian's presidential bid. Kocharian established the council last month in order to ensure that small parties that are either underrepresented or not represented at all in the parliament participate in politics. The AZhM, whose chairman Vazgen Manukian came third in the presidential elections with 12.24 percent of the vote, had earlier laid down conditions for supporting Kocharian. LF

    [06] AZERBAIJANI PROSECUTOR-GENERAL DETAILS CHARGES AGAINST GULIEV

    The Azerbaijani prosecutor- general and Interior Ministry issued a statement on 14 July accusing former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev of embezzling $73 million from the state budget in 1992- 1993, Turan reported. At that time Guliev was director of one of Azerbaijan's largest oil refineries and a vice president of the state oil company SOCAR. The statement claims that he illegally exported more than 150,000 tons of diesel fuel and 32,000 tons of aviation fuel. Guliev has lived in the U.S. since leaving Azerbaijan in September 1996. He told journalists in Istanbul on 13 July that he plans to return to Azerbaijan in the near future to contest the 11 October presidential elections even though a warrant has been issued for his arrest, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 14 July. LF

    [07] FORMER AZERBAIJANI PREMIER GOES ON TRIAL

    Court proceedings against Suret Huseinov opened in Baku on 14 July. Huseinov is charged under 30 articles of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code. Those charges include treason, attempting to launch a coup, maintaining illegal armed formations, embezzlement, and drug-dealing. He has pleaded guilty only to charges of illegal possession of weapons and living in the Russian Federation under an assumed identity, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in the Azerbaijani capital. Huseinov claims he has been subjected to physical and psychological pressure during the investigation into his case. In June 1993, Huseinov launched the insurrection that culminated in the flight from Baku of then President Abulfaz Elchibey and the return to power of the present incumbent, Heidar Aliev. Huseinov fled to Russia in October 1994 after what Aliev described as a failed coup attempt. He was extradited to Azerbaijan in March 1997. LF

    [08] TURKMENISTAN FULFILLS GRAIN QUOTA

    Turkmenistan has met its grain target figure of 1.2 million tons, according to Turkmen media and Interfax. Since independence, the country had failed to meet its target figure for grain; and in 1996 and 1997, the harvest was half of projected levels. President Saparmurat Niyazov recently criticized the poor condition of fields, and Turkmen media reports claim that the Mary Region fulfilled only 80 percent of its quota. Niyazov said during the sowing season earlier this year that those who fail to meet their grain quotas may face criminal charges. BP

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] OSCE MISSION IN BELGRADE

    A 12-member OSCE delegation led by Hansjoerg Eiff, who is Germany's ambassador to that body, arrived in the Serbian capital on 14 July in a bid to persuade the Yugoslav government to allow the OSCE to send monitors to Kosova. The diplomats also want to send observers to the ethnically mixed Sandzak region, which lies between Kosova and Bosnia. The delegation will later travel to Prishtina and to Podgorica. Yugoslavia refuses to allow the OSCE to send monitors to Kosova so long as Belgrade's membership in that body remains suspended. The OSCE suspended Yugoslav membership in 1992 because of Belgrade's role in the Bosnian war. In Prishtina, members of the Serbian opposition coalition Alliance for Change met with representatives of both the Serbian and ethnic Albanian communities in Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [10] UCK SAYS INDEPENDENT KOSOVA KEY TO BALKAN PEACE

    Luma Haxhiu, who is a spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), said that U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke achieved "nothing" on his recent mission to the region because "he talked about peace. What we need is freedom. Peace under Serbia is occupation," the Belgrade daily "Danas" reported on 15 July. Haxhiu added that the international Contact Group has "encouraged" the Serbian authorities to continue their repressive policies by limiting the international community's pressures on Belgrade to sanctions. The spokesman stressed that the UCK has no desire to spread the conflict to Macedonia, whose ethnic Albanians "have their own leadership" and a political agenda limited to achieving additional civil rights. The UCK does "not want to make more problems in the Balkans," he added. Haxhiu said that the UCK is not linked to any political party and that it has "not committed a single war crime." PM

    [11] DEMIREL BACKS ALBANIA ON KOSOVA

    Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, visiting Tirana on 14 July, assured his counterpart, Rexhep Meidani, that Turkey supports Albania's policy of what he called "punishing violence and [helping to bring about] a peaceful solution for the Kosova problem." Demirel made clear that a UN Security Council mandate would be a precondition for any international intervention in Kosova. He was accompanied by a delegation of 140 high-ranking government officials and businessmen, some of whom signed agreements with their Albanian counterparts. One document is a cooperation agreement between the two countries' public broadcasting institutions, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS

    [12] NEW INFLUX OF KOSOVAR REFUGEES TO MONTENEGRO

    A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in Geneva on 14 July that in recent days, the UNHCR has registered a sharp increase in the number of Kosovar refugees fleeing to Montenegro. He said that the total number of refugees there is now 18,000, compared with 13,000 registered refugees in Albania. He added that "the sharp increase may be explained by the increase in military activity, shelling, and fighting in the Peja area." The spokesman stressed that the UNHCR is concerned about the safety of its staff in an area where there are gun battles, armed rivalry between clans, and an apparent lack of formal authority in Kosova and northern Albania. Charles Raedersdorf, who heads the Swiss Catastrophe Aid Corps, said the conflict has uprooted more than 100,000 people throughout Kosova. He stressed that finding winter accommodation for refugees will be a problem. FS

    [13] YUGOSLAVIA TO SEEK EXTRADITION OF SAKIC'S WIFE

    The Federal Court on 14 July ruled that the Belgrade regional court has the legal authority to proceed with the case against Nada Luburic-Sakic for war crimes and that it should do so, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Yugoslav authorities will seek her extradition from Argentina, where she has lived since the end of World War II with her husband, Dinko Sakic, who is on trial in Zagreb for war crimes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1998). Nada Sakic was a commander at a concentration camp for women under the pro-Axis Ustasha regime. Her husband was a commander at Jasenovac, which was Croatia's largest concentration camp, at which tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Roma, and opposition Croats died. PM

    [14] GARROD URGES CROATS TO GO HOME

    Sir Martin Garrod, who is the international community's chief representative in Mostar, urged ethnic Croats to return to their homes in Muslim-controlled parts of the city. He added that the international community will protect persons wanting to go home "regardless of what anybody says," "Oslobodjenje" reported on 15 July. Hard-line Croatian nationalists have sought to pressure all Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina to settle in Croatian-controlled regions that border Croatia. In Sarajevo, a spokesman for the international community's Carlos Westendorp said that Garrod will soon leave his post. The spokesman noted that the British official has spent "a long time" in Bosnia. PM

    [15] SANCTIONS AGAINST REPUBLIKA SRPSKA?

    Hanns Schumacher, who is Westendorp's deputy, said in Sarajevo that the international community is preparing to impose unspecified sanctions against the Bosnian Serb government of Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, "Dnevni avaz" wrote on 14 July. Schumacher cited that government's "disappointing attitude" toward the return of Croatian and Muslim refugees. The next day, the daily quoted Vice President Bozo Ljubic of the Croatian Democratic Community as denying local press reports that his party wants Kresimir Zubak to resign as Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1998). Elsewhere in Sarajevo, Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro told the three members of the joint presidency that Italy will continue to play a role in Bosnia. The Bosnians told Scalfaro that local small and medium-sized firms need Italian help, which would also be welcome in building a major new highway, "Oslobodjenje" reported. PM

    [16] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON

    Emil Constantinescu arrived in Washington on 14 July at the start of a nine- day visit to the U.S., an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Presidential adviser Zoe Petre said the president's aim is to change "the image of Romania among all U.S. officials." Constantinescu will address a joint session of congress on 15 July, an honor accorded to few people. It is the first official visit by a Romanian president since Ion Iliescu met with President Bill Clinton in 1995. PB

    [17] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS FISCAL CUTS MUST NOT HURT POOR

    Petru Lucinschi said on 14 July that any proposed austerity measures in a revamped budget should not disadvantage the poor, Reuters reported. "The budget law should be balanced so that it will not harm the poor," he said. In an attempt to prevent an economic crisis, the parliament is considering a new budget that cuts spending. Finance Minister Anatol Arapu said the old budget included "unrealistic indicators which cannot be fulfilled." The IMF has urged Chisinau to revise the budget and accelerate privatization. In other news, the EU rejected a request by Moldova to join the European Conference, a forum that brings together 15 countries that want to join the EU. The EU said such a move is premature. PB

    [C] END NOTE

    [18] THE TSARIST PAST RUSSIA WANTS TO FORGET

    by John Varoli

    On 17 July, Russia will write the last page in the final chapter of its tsarist era by burying the remains of Tsar Nicholas II. But as in life, so in death Nicholas II has served only to divide Russia.

    While the tsarist family's burial has been billed by the government as an act of reconciliation and repentance, it has proved a source of division. Most of Russia's political establishment will skip the burial. Moreover, less than half of Russia's population (47 percent) believes the remains are authentic, according to a survey carried out by the Russian public opinion research center VTsIOM.

    The root of this uncertainty is the Russian Orthodox Church's decision not to recognize the remains as authentic and not to send ranking officials to the burial. "The burial has become a serious political problem," Yevgenii Volk, an analyst at the Moscow office of the Hermitage Foundation, told RFE/RL. "No one wants to quarrel with the Church."

    Church leaders say they fear a division within both the Church and society if they recognize the remains. They claim that many would defect to the dissident Orthodox Church Abroad, which holds that the Bolsheviks destroyed all the Romanov remains with acid shortly after the murder in 1918. And they also argue that the issue of sainthood for the Romanovs demands an even more thorough scientific investigation to establish the remains' authenticity than the one conducted by the government over the past seven years.

    But some analysts believe that those arguments are just excuses for other, more sinister problems. "The problem about sainthood and the threat of a defection to the Church Abroad are not serious arguments," said Volk. "The Church Abroad is not that strong in Russia, and few Russians hold Nicholas in great esteem. The Orthodox Church's main consideration is not to open old wounds about its Soviet-era collaboration."

    The Orthodox Church has never publicly repented of its close collaboration with the Soviet government and has consistently prevented any discussion of the topic. "The Church is one of the few remnants of the Soviet past, and one of society's most conservative institutions," adds Volk. "Recognizing the remains would raise many questions about the Church's past relationship with the government that executed Nicholas."

    Father Gleb Yakunin, a defrocked Russian Orthodox priest who often speaks out about the Church's past collaboration, has another view. At a press conference in Moscow on 13 July, he said that the Church "is deliberately casting doubt on the remains' authenticity and has chosen not to attend so as not to incur the wrath of the Communists." He added that the Church has postponed discussion on canonization of the Romanovs until 2000 in order to see if communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov wins the presidential election. If he wins, the Romanovs will not be canonized, Yakunin argued.

    Regardless of whether this is the case, Nicholas II is certainly a controversial figure, and the government's attempt to make him into a Bolshevik martyr has failed. History is not uniting Russia but splitting it, says Volk. People are still influenced by the communist propaganda that the tsar was "Bloody Nicholas."

    "It all boils down to the unwillingness of Russian society honestly to examine its past and repent of past sins," said Volk. "It is easier to proclaim democracy than actually overcome the totalitarian mentality."

    Many Russians have negative attitudes toward tsarism. After all, Nicholas II's incompetent leadership did lead the country to two disastrous wars and two bloody revolutions.

    According to VTsIOM, a majority (56 percent) of respondents have a negative opinion of Nicholas II. Only 25 percent of the 1,600 polled think that Nicholas II was "an innocent victim of the Bolshevik regime."

    This strong resentment is evidenced by incidents of vandalism, targeting places specific to Nicholas II. Last year, the first monument to Nicholas II, located just beyond the Moscow city limits, was dynamited only months after having been erected.

    In February, on Armed Forces Day, two bombs exploded at the site where the Romanovs were executed, damaging a newly built wooden chapel and memorial cross. The original chapel was burned down in 1996 on the anniversary of the Romanovs' execution.

    The St. Petersburg city government promises, however, that security will be tight for both the funeral procession and the burial later this week.

    Vice Governor Vladimir P. Yakovlev, the top city official in charge of overseeing the burial arrangements, told RFE/RL that "we will take all necessary precautions." When pressed on what that entails, he stopped short of providing details.

    If there really is a significance to the tsarist burial, it is simply that the monarchist idea is dead in Russia. Few Russians have sympathy for it. In Russia's quest for a national idea, the country's leaders will have to look elsewhere.

    The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in St. Petersburg.

    15-07-98


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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