|Saturday, 7 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 143, 98-07-29
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 143, 29 July 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 IMF APPROVES THIRD LOAN FOR GEORGIAThe IMF on 27 July approved the third annual loan for Georgia from a special facility that is subsidized to help poorer nations, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported the following day. Georgia will draw some $74 million in two tranches, the first of which will be available immediately. The fund said the loan will help Georgia continue its economic stabilization and structural reform programs, including urban and industrial land privatization, faster privatization of medium-sized and large enterprises, and restructuring the electricity and banking sectors. Georgia's economic goals for this year are growth at 10 percent, inflation at 6 percent and a budget deficit at 2.5 percent of GDP. LF
 AZERBAIJANI AUTHORITIES WILL BAN PLANNED OPPOSITION RALLYAzerbaijani presidential aide Ali Hasanov has said that the country's authorities will not allow any "destabilizing" measures during the run-up to the 11 October presidential elections, Turan reported on 28 July. Earlier that day, five potential opposition candidates announced that they plan to stage a mass rally in Baku on 15 August to protest the law on the presidential elections, according to Interfax. But Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar said that the opposition may still nominate candidates. He told Interfax that "we are ready to participate in the elections if at least minimum conditions are created to ensure that the poll is free and honest." Activists collecting signatures in rural areas in support of the registration of presidential candidates from the Party of National Independence and the Association of Victims of Political Repression have been harassed by local authorities, Turan reported on 28 July. LF
 ORGANIZATION APPEALS EXPULSION OF RUSSIAN JOURNALIST FROM TAJIKISTANThe Glasnost Defense Foundation has appealed to Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov to seek to have the decision declaring NTV reporter Yelena Masyuk persona non grata in Tajikistan revoked, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 28 July. Tajik authorities said Masyuk's reports "discredit the leadership of Tajikistan..., undermine peaceful development of society..., and interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state." The Glasnost appeal noted that Masyuk is "an internationally known, brilliant journalist, " whose "reporting from Tajikistan attracts additional attention" to the country. It said that the "pretext" for declaring her persona non grata is "vague and poorly formulated" and that decision "will be a much greater blow against Tajikistan's reputation than the criticism contained in her reports." BP
 KAZAKH OFFICIAL WARNS OF GANG WARFAREThe deputy chief of the Kazakh National Security Committee, Maratkali Nukenov, said at a news conference on 28 July that he expects gang warfare to break out in the country soon, Reuters reported. Nukenov said the recent murders of several leading businessmen testify to such a scenario. Interfax and the 29 July issue of "Nezavisimaya gazeta" report that the move of the Kazakh capital from Almaty to Astana is partly responsible, as criminal groups are now redividing spheres of influence. Nukenov said international criminal groups Latin America, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, and Uzbekistan are active in Kazakhstan. And he added that the National Security Committee is preparing for a sharp increase in crime in the near future. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SERBS TAKE UCK STRONGHOLDSerbian paramilitary police and Yugoslav army troops captured Malisheva in southwest Kosova on 28 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Most of the town's civilian population and the 20,000 refugees who recently took shelter in what had been a stronghold of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) fled to the surrounding mountains. Kosovar sources charged that the Serbian forces committed "massacres" of Kosovar civilians who had surrendered. The reports could not be independently confirmed. Meanwhile in Geneva, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that 107,000 people have been displaced within Kosova in 1998. He added that another 25,000 persons have fled to Montenegro and 13,000 to Albania. In Belgrade, spokesmen for the International Red Cross noted that some 400 Kosovars and 130 Serbs have been reported as missing during the current conflict. PM
 ALBANIA WARNS SERBIA ON BORDER VIOLATIONSA Defense Ministry spokesman said in Tirana on 28 July that "the Albanian army will reply strongly to any provocation by the Serbian army that violates the [territorial] integrity" of Albania. He added that the ministry has ordered the army to use its weapons should it encounter further violations of the frontier, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. The government has recently accused Serbian forces of firing onto Albanian territory with machine guns and mortars in a series of incidents (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1998). Observers noted that the troops have been under orders to avoid confrontation and that the decision that they should use their weapons marks a policy change. FS
 KOSOVARS TO FIELD JOINT TEAM FOR TALKS...State Department spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 28 July that U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill may soon be able to put together "an all-party [Kosovar] executive that will have responsibilities to include negotiations with the Serbs." Rubin added that three points on which Hill insisted in his recent talks with various Kosovar factions are that shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova be "in charge," that the "executive" be based in Prishtina and not outside Kosova, and that the team represent the entire Kosovar political spectrum. Observers noted that the three points mean that the UCK will be included but that it will not be in control. A major problem for the international community in seeking a negotiated solution in Kosova has been the failure of the Kosovars to form a single negotiating team. PM
 ...UNDER DEMACI'S LEADERSHIP?The "Washington Post" wrote on 28 July that Rugova made a major concession in agreeing not to lead the talks himself. Instead, the chief negotiator will be an unidentified intellectual who was once Rugova's ally but now is closer to the UCK. Observers noted that this description fits Adem Demaci, who was Kosova's most prominent dissident under communism and who was dubbed "the Kosovar Mandela." The article added that the UCK has not yet agreed to Hill's proposal. The U.S.-backed plan reportedly calls for broad autonomy for Kosova now and a vote on independence that would take place "years later." The plan does not deal with some thorny issues, including control over the police or the division between Belgrade and Prishtina of revenues from Kosova's mineral resources. PM
 DRASKOVIC'S PARTY WANTS 'STATE OF EMERGENCY' IN KOSOVALeaders of Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Party (SPO) agreed in Belgrade on 28 July that the party's representatives in both the Yugoslav and Serbian parliaments will demand that the authorities declare a "state of emergency" in Kosova. The SPO leadership expressed alarm that part of Serbian territory "is under occupation," which presumably refers to the areas controlled by the UCK. The leaders called for "energetic action by the army and police" in the province, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 DJUKANOVIC BACKS AUTONOMY FOR KOSOVAMontenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 28 July that Kosova should have territorial autonomy within Serbia and a legal status giving it ties both to Serbia and to the Yugoslav federal government, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Meanwhile in Belgrade, a spokesman for the U.K. embassy confirmed that British aid worker Sally Becker, who is imprisoned in Prishtina, has been weakened by a hunger strike and is being fed intravenously (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 22 July 1998). In Zurich, spokesmen for the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office said that that office has frozen two bank accounts belonging to unnamed Kosovars on suspicion that the accounts are being used to finance arms purchases. Police also raided the homes of two unnamed Kosovar refugees in Switzerland to seek evidence about illegal arms dealings, the "Financial Times" wrote on 29 July. PM
 ARMED ALBANIANS ATTACK MACEDONIAN BORDER GUARDSA Macedonian Defense Ministry spokesman said in Skopje on 28 July that a "large group" of armed Albanians attacked border guards between Zirovnica and Peshkopi the previous day. He added that the group was trying to enter Macedonia illegally and that it may have included UCK fighters. The spokesman noted that at least one Albanian was injured but that the group managed to escape back across the border. The Macedonian authorities subsequently reinforced border patrols, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. It was the latest in a series of incidents on the Macedonian-Albanian border since February, when Serbian forces launched their crackdown in Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 27 July, 1998). FS
 ROW OVER WHO WILL MANAGE ALBANIAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITEConservative employees of the Institute for Archaeology and National Monuments sent a petition to President Rexhep Meidani on 28 July opposing plans by the Ministry of Culture to allow the British-based Rothschild Foundation to help administer Butrint, which is one of Albania's most important archaeological sites. Socialist legislator Limoz Dizdari, who heads the parliament's Culture Commission, agreed with the petitioners and said that inviting foreigners to help manage Butrint meant that Albania "risks losing its national culture." Auron Tare, who heads the Rothschild- backed Butrint Foundation, told "Gazeta Shqiptare" of 29 July that the charges are unfounded and that his foundation is supported by UNESCO. The Butrint site was heavily damaged during the 1997 unrest, as were many of Albanian's museums and historical sites. FS
 PLAVSIC SAYS SERBS FACE CHOICERepublika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 28 July that Bosnian Serb voters will choose between integration into Europe and isolation when they vote in the 12-13 September general elections. She added that the government of her ally Prime Minister Milorad Dodik offers "economic prosperity and inclusion in European structures." Plavsic stressed that a victory for the hard-liners in Pale would mean prosperity only for a small number of people. Elsewhere, regular rail traffic resumed between Sarajevo and Capljina via Mostar. PM
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN TURKEYDuring a one-day visit to Ankara on 28 July, Emil Constantinescu, met with his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, and discussed economic cooperation and the conflict in Kosova, Romanian media reported. The two leaders said at a joint press conference that bilateral trade has reached $750 million and that they hope it will soon reach $1 billion. They noted that their views on the conflict in Kosova "coincide" and that they both support a large measure of autonomy for Kosova Albanians as well as the setting up of a Balkan peace-keeping force. During their meeting, they also discussed a Romanian project for a sector of the pipeline network to carry Caspian Sea oil from Baku to Trieste (Italy) via the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta. Constantinescu said the project did not "rival" but rather complemented a Turkish project to carry Azerbaijani oil from Baku to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. MS
 LEFTIST GROUPS SET UP NEW MOLDOVAN POLITICAL ALLIANCEThe former ruling Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova, the Party of Moldovan Communists, and five smaller leftist formations have set up a new political alliance, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 28 July. The Socialist Union-Edinstvo said it may also join the alliance. At a press conference, the new alliance criticized the government's "unionist" (pro- Romanian) policies, saying that the Moldovan " political and economic sovereignty" and "the very essence of Moldovan [separate] statehood" are endangered and that a new inter-ethnic conflict is likely to be triggered by "those who produced so much suffering and pain" between 1990 and1992. The alliance also criticized the agreements with the IMF and the World Bank and called on President Petru Lucinschi to support its "patriotic aspirations." The alliance has yet to choose a name and elect its leaders. MS
 BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES TELECOMMUNICATIONS LAWThe parliament on 27 July approved a telecommunications law that some independent broadcasters criticize as creating opportunities for political interference. The law stipulates that licenses for telecommunications networks and for radio and television broadcasts are to be issued by a five- member State Telecommunications Commission appointed by the government. Each commission member is appointed for seven years and cannot be removed unless he or she breaks the law. But the licenses approved by the commission will then be subject to government approval, Reuters reported. MS
[C] END NOTE
 KIRIENKO'S ROLE BECOMES MORE POLITICALby Floriana Fossato
While Russian President Boris Yeltsin has warned that his country is heading toward a "politically difficult autumn," Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko seems to be advancing from a technocratic to a more political role.
Earlier this year, after sacking the entire government of Viktor Chernomyrdin and appointing Kirienko as premier, Yeltsin said the new cabinet's task would be to make economic reform more "tangible" for Russians. Kirienko's appointment won only lukewarm approval in the State Duma and among influential business leaders. Most pointed out Kirienko's lack of political experience and his relative youth. They said Yeltsin chose the virtually unknown Kirienko because he would serve as the president's puppet.
But Kirienko, who turned 36 earlier this week, has acted rather skillfully in the last four months to steer Russia during its worst financial and political crisis in years. He has given the impression that he is acting as an independent-minded politician who consults with the president and enjoys Yeltsin's backing.
Kirienko and his team have shown decisiveness in dealing with Russia's economic crisis. The government has convinced international financial institutions that it is serious about implementing vital economic and fiscal reforms--reforms that were promised but never fully delivered by previous governments.
As a result, the Kremlin has obtained part of a first tranche of an important bailout package from the IMF. Kremlin officials say privately that the IMF-led bailout was "essential" to calm investors' concerns and allow more time for strategic decision-making.
Kirienko's achievements since taking office underline the impression that he is now ready to upgrade his role. He has hinted at this in recent television interviews. On NTV, he said the problems faced by the government "do not allow" him to be a pure technocrat, but rather "require a more political role." He also said "the rules of the game have to be changed and the government is determined to [change them]." Those remarks appear to acknowledge that Moscow needs to move away from previous government policies, which critics say helped foster Russia's system of "crony capitalism."
Last week, Kirienko passed an important test of confidence. After two days of meetings with the Russian premier in Moscow, U.S. Vice President Al Gore praised Kirienko's personal role in the drafting and implementation of a government-backed anti-crisis program. It was the first time Gore met with Kirienko since the latter was appointed prime minister. Afterward, Gore said he was "impressed" with the new premier and his commitment to advance reform. He said Kirienko has a "full command of the facts" and that their talks were "very concentrated and fruitful." And he also commented that he is confident Kirienko's team can carry out fiscal policies included in the anti-crisis program and overcome domestic opposition to some of the measures.
Kirienko, for his part, said opposition in the parliament and society to the painful fiscal measures is "normal." He said he does not intend to "pay too much attention to political emotions" but wants to find "common approaches" that would guarantee the approval of his policies by a broad spectrum of society.
Yeltsin, who at the time was vacationing in northern Russia, met with Kirienko the day after Gore's departure. The premier briefed him on Gore's visit and on the latest developments. After the meeting, Yeltsin said "a politically difficult autumn awaits us." He said that "as always, there is a little breather and then [problems] starts again."
A number of new measures aimed at dealing with the current situation were revealed after that meeting. Yeltsin signed a decree dismissing Nikolai Kovalev, the head of the Federal Security Service, and replacing him with Vladimir Putin, a close presidential administration official. He also ordered the government to prepare the sale of a 5 percent stake in Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas monopoly, to boost state budget revenues.
Yeltsin also asked Kirienko to meet later this week with Aslan Maskhadov, the leader of southern Russia's separatist region of Chechnya, who survived an assassination attempt at the end of last week. The offer, welcomed by Maskhadov, is designed to help the Chechen leader establish order and stability in the troubled republic. The date and location of the meeting have yet to be announced.
The author is a Moscow-based RFE/RL correspondent.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty