|Friday, 15 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 12, 99-01-20
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 12, 20 January 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN OFFICIAL DEPLORES LACK OF CONTROL OVER GOVERNMENT AGENCIESGagik Poghosian, chief of the prime minister's oversight agency, said in Yerevan on 19 January that inadequate monitoring of the activities of government ministries and other agencies in Armenia has resulted in "criminal indifference, negligence, abuse of power, and widespread fraud," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Poghosian said an inspection of 38 government agencies has uncovered 114 criminal offenses, of which six have been referred to the Prosecutor-General's office for criminal investigation. Poghosian said it is "abnormal" that the activities of his office and its equivalent in the presidential administration are not regulated by law. LF
 AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT'S HEALTH 'IMPROVING'Turan on 19 January quoted unnamed sources within the presidential administration as saying that Heidar Aliev continues to recover from a bronchial infection. Aliev was flown to Turkey on 17 January to receive treatment at a military hospital in Ankara. Interfax reported on 19 January that Aliev will probably return to Baku at the weekend. LF
 GEORGIAN PROSECUTORS WRAP UP INSURGENCY INVESTIGATIONDeputy Chief Military Prosecutor Nodar Okruashvili told journalists in Tbilisi on 19 January that charges of treason and arms theft have been brought against 44 participants in the insurrection at an army base in western Georgia last October, ITAR-TASS and AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19-20 October 1998). Most of those charged are supporters of deceased former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Police are still trying to apprehend the leader of the revolt, Colonel Akaki Eliava, and six of his supporters who are believed to be hiding somewhere in western Georgia. Interfax on 19 January quoted an unidentified relative of Eliava's as saying that Eliava is planning a new uprising. LF
 PRESIDENT OF KAZAKHSTAN INAUGURATEDNursultan Nazarbayev was sworn in as president of Kazakhstan in Astana on 20 January, 10 days after his re-election for another seven-year term, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. In his inauguration speech, Nazarbayev said his top priority will be to ensure that the population benefits directly from economic reform. He pledged that all the country's political parties will be able to participate in the parliamentary elections to be held under a new election law later this year, ITAR-TASS reported. The presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Ingushetia, and Tatarstan attended the ceremony, along with Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov, Chinese Deputy Premier Qian Qichen, and Turkish parliamentary speaker Hikmet Cetin. LF
 PREMIER CALLS FOR COMPLIANCE WITH KAZAKH LANGUAGE LAWIn a decree published in the national press on 20 January, Nurlan Balghymbayev instructed the Ministry of Information and National Accord to monitor observance of the language law enacted in 1997, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. He also called for the "more effective implementation" of that law, which defines Kazakh as the state language and accords Russian the status of an official language. The law requires official bodies to complete the majority of their documentation in Kazakh, and stipulates that at least 50 percent of all television and radio broadcasting should be in Kazakh. Observers note, however, that neither the state nor the private sector is complying with the law. LF
 MINERS IN KAZAKHSTAN DEMAND RUSSIA PAYS BACK WAGESWorkers at the Severniy Coal Mine in the Pavlodar Oblast of northern Kazakhstan continue to protest the failure by Anatolii Chubais, head of Russia's United Energy Systems (EES), to make good on his promise to pay all wage arrears to the mine's employees by 10 January, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. The workers are demanding their August and September 1998 wages. EES's total debts to the mine are estimated at 275 million tenges (approximately $3 million). LF
 SETTLEMENT REACHED IN KYRGYZ CYANIDE SPILLThe Canadian company Cameco has agreed to pay $4.6 million to the government of Kyrgyzstan for damages incurred as a result of the spill of 20 tons of sodium cyanide into a tributary of Lake Issyk-Kul in May, 1998, AP reported. The accident occurred when a truck belonging to the Kumtor gold mine, which is jointly owned by Cameco and the government of Kyrgyzstan, plunged into the Barskoon River. Several subsequent deaths in the area were attributed to environmental pollution resulting from the spillage (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1998). LF
 TAJIK PRESIDENT IN VIETNAMImomali Rakhmonov met with his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Duc Luong in Hanoi on 19 January and discussed expanding bilateral cooperation, especially between the two countries' capitals, ITAR-TASS and AP reported. The two presidents signed agreements on trade and economic cooperation, the protection of investments, scientific and technical cooperation, and avoiding dual taxation. A Tajik-Vietnamese joint venture was created in August 1998 to build a coal-mine and highways in Tajikistan's Gorno- Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, according to Interfax. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 NATO GENERALS APPEAL TO MILOSEVICThe two top generals of the Atlantic alliance, Wesley Clark and Klaus Naumann, told Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 19 January that he must respect all the commitments that he made to U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke in October or risk NATO air strikes against Serbia. The commitments include reducing the presence of Serbian security forces in Kosova and ensuring the safety of the 800 OSCE civilian monitors there. The generals also urged him to cooperate with the Hague- based war crimes tribunal and to allow William Walker, who heads the monitoring mission, to remain in Yugoslavia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 1999). An unnamed Western source close to the discussions between the generals and Milosevic told reporters that the generals' mission was "not completely successful." PM
 MILOSEVIC UNIMPRESSEDThe Yugoslav leader told his guests in Belgrade on 19 January that no "pressure from outside" could prevent him from doing what is necessary to "fight terrorism," by which he meant the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). His office issued a statement saying that at Recak on 15 January, the security forces acted fully in accordance "with the law and the constitution" and that the killings there cannot be "described as an attack on civilians" but rather on "terrorists." The statement appealed for good will on all sides and stressed that Milosevic remains committed to achieving a political solution in Kosova. PM
 U.S. INSISTS WALKER STAY ONThe Yugoslav authorities on 19 January agreed to extend by 24 hours the deadline for Walker to leave the country. In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin stressed that Belgrade must rescind its expulsion order and allow Walker to continue as chief of the monitoring mission. The spokesman added that "it is hard to see how an independent verification mission can operate when the chief of mission is expelled for reporting the truth." (Walker had reported that the killings in Recak were a massacre of civilians by Serbian security forces.) Rubin noted that Washington has "been deeply outraged both by the massacres [at Recak] and by Belgrade's confrontational and destructive response to the justifiable international anger." The spokesman added that Serbian forces are continuing "some type of military operation" in the Shtima area. In Vienna on 20 January, EU envoy for Kosova Wolfgang Petritsch said that there can be "no compromise" with Belgrade over Walker. PM
 NATO TO ENSURE MONITORS' SAFETYNATO ambassadors began meeting in Brussels on 20 January to consider the alliance's reaction to Milosevic's refusal to comply with NATO's demands. In London, a spokesman for Britain's Ministry of Defense told Reuters that "NATO has various plans in hand to ensure the safety of the [OSCE monitors, ] of which the extraction force currently on the ground in Macedonia is a good example. The U.K. is pleased to be playing a leading role in this affair." The spokesman declined to comment on the specifics contained in an article in London's "The Times," which said that "several hundred" SAS troops have recently been placed on "high alert" to rescue the monitors if anyone tries to take them hostage. In 1995, Bosnian Serb forces took several UN peacekeepers hostage in response to NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb military targets. PM
 MONTENEGRO SAYS WALKER IS WELCOMEPrime Minister Filip Vujanovic said in Podgorica on 19 January that Walker is welcome to come to Montenegro, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the mountainous republic's capital. Justice Minister Dragan Soc added that Montenegro will not recognize any state of emergency that Belgrade may declare in conjunction with possible NATO air strikes. The reformist Montenegrin leadership around President Milo Djukanovic has long suspected that Milosevic will some day declare a state of emergency, the real purpose of which will be to provide an excuse to oust the authorities in Podgorica. PM
 UN BLAMES NO ONE FOR MASSACRE...The Security Council on 19 January approved a statement on Kosova that condemns the Recak massacre but does not say who carried it out. It notes that the monitors blame the Yugoslav security forces for the killings. The statement calls for "an urgent and full investigation of the facts and calls upon [Belgrade] to work with the International [Criminal] Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and [the monitors] to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice." PM
 ...WHILE SERBS SAY THERE WAS NO MASSACREJudge Danica Marinkovic, who is well known for her public statements in support of Belgrade's policies in Kosova, said in Prishtina on 19 January that the bodies from Recak do not show evidence of a massacre. She added that a team of Serbian and Belarusian forensics experts is examining the corpses, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The pro-Milosevic daily "Politika" wrote on 20 January that Recak is a "terrorist base." PM
 DRASKOVIC HOPES TO IMPROVE BELGRADE'S IMAGELong-time Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, who recently became Yugoslav deputy prime minister, said in Belgrade on 19 January that he and four other new cabinet ministers from his Serbian Renewal Movement hope to use their numerous international contacts to help improve Belgrade's image abroad, "Danas" reported. PM
 ALBANIAN PREMIER URGES U.S. INTERVENTION...Prime Minister Pandeli Majko sent a letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton on 19 January urging military intervention in Kosova, Reuters reported. Majko warned that "Belgrade has intensified its repression of the [Kosovars, ] provoking the explosion of a wider Balkan conflict." He stressed that "all Albanian political parties are convinced that only a determined military intervention by NATO can prevent a regional war" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 1999). Majko added that his "government has called on all political and military groups in Kosova to enter a phase of negotiations and institutional co-existence, as is foreseen in the U.S. plan for Kosova." FS
 ...WANTS MILOSEVIC INDICTED FOR WAR CRIMESMajko on 19 January joined Albania's 10 main political parties in calling for Milosevic to be tried for war crimes over the Recak massacre (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 1999), Reuters reported. Majko described Milosevic as "a major and direct author of war crimes and crimes against humanity." He added that the Recak incidents were "a macabre killing in cold blood and a repetition of crimes against humanity that Milosevic has [previously] carried out in Kosova and other parts of [the former] Yugoslavia." FS
 ITALY TO SET UP REFUGEE CAMPS IN ALBANIAPrime Minister Massimo D'Alema said in Rome on 19 January that a sharp rise in the influx of refugees from Kosova is "one of the principal concerns for our government." He noted that the Italian government is planning to set up refugee centers in Albania in the hope of stemming a fresh exodus, which saw a total of 500 people crossing the Adriatic on 18 and 19 January alone. D'Alema also pledged Italy's support for diplomatic efforts to end fighting in Kosova and for airstrikes against Serbia should diplomacy fail, AP reported. FS
 ROMANIAN MINERS BOARD BUSES TO BUCHARESTRomanian Radio on 20 January reported that the miners from the Jiu Valley have been joined by miners from Oltenia and have left Targu Jiu for Bucharest on buses. The previous day, they rejected a proposal by Premier Radu Vasile to resume negotiations. Following a meeting of the Supreme National Defense Council, chaired by President Emil Constantinescu, Vasile offered to set up a joint commission that would meet "on neutral territory, " in Craiova. In a televised address, he said he is willing to participate in the talks if miners resume work immediately, but he rejected an ultimatum by miners' leader Miron Cozma to travel to Targu Jiu "within two hours," saying that "the time of miner-led rioting is over." While on a visit to Israel, Defense Minister Victor Babiuc said the army will stop the miners if the police is unable to do so. MS
 U.S. COMPANY CANCELS ROMANIAN INVESTMENT PLANSIndustry and Trade Minister Radu Berceanu on 19 January said that the U.S. AMOCO Company, specializing in energy projects, has announced it is ceasing all activities in Romania. He commented that this is "the first victory of the miners, " noting that Bucharest stands to lose as much as $1 billion, taking into account the possible total investment. In his televised address on 19 January, Premier Vasile said it is "no coincidence that the labor conflict is escalating on the eve of the arrival in Bucharest of World Bank and IMF missions." The same day, the World Bank approved a $10 million loan to Romania to help alleviate poverty and support community projects. MS
 OPPOSITION PARTIES RESPOND TO MINERS' MARCHIon Iliescu, chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania and a former president, urged the parliament on 19 January to convene an emergency session to impose on the government a "short-term program" of measures designed to alleviate the miners' situation. He condemned the "transformation of the Jiu Valley into a concentration camp" as a result of the cabinet's attempt to seal the area off from the rest of the country. Iliescu also called on the miners to halt their march on the capital. Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor has appealed for a general strike and said the inevitable consequence of the miners' strike is the "crumbling of the Constantinescu-led regime." MS
 GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN BULGARIATheodoros Pangalos and his Bulgarian counterpart, Nadezhda Mihailova, meeting in Sofia on 19 January, signed an agreement on cooperation in combating drug- trafficking, smuggling, and customs fraud, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. The two ministers told journalists that they condemn Serbia's decision to expel the head of the OSCE control mission and that only cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague will lead to finding the perpetrators of the Recak massacre in Kosova last week. Pangalos said Greece opposes NATO strikes against Yugoslavia because "so far no one has explained [to] us what would be bombed, what will be accomplished, and what will happen afterward." Meanwhile, Yugoslav environment officials said on 19 January that the reports of oil spills on the Danube River originating from Yugoslavia are "part of the wider campaign of the media against our country, " Reuters reported. MS
 BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REFUSES TO VOID COMMUNIST MONARCHY REFERENDUMThe Constitutional Court on 19 January refused to consider an appeal by Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev to invalidate the referendum that abolished the monarchy in 1946, Reuters reported. The court said it cannot rule on the constitutionality of a plebiscite conducted under a constitution other than the one in force since 1991. Tatarchev had submitted the plea during last month's visit to Bulgaria by former King Simeon II. MS
[C] END NOTE
 FIGHTING SEPARATISM IN RUSSIABy Paul Goble
Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov has announced plans to step up the fight against separatist tendencies in the Russian Federation--lest that country go the way of the Soviet Union.
Speaking on 15 January to separate meetings of the Siberian Agreement (one of several inter-regional cooperation groups) and the Kemerovo Oblast authorities, Primakov said Moscow "will not allow Russia to be lost" in the way that "we lost the Soviet Union." And he pledged to work together with the regions "to stifle, liquidate, and root out separatist tendencies" wherever they exist, both by making some changes in Moscow's approach and by demanding other changes from the regions.
Primakov's remarks on regional policy are significant for three reasons. First, they constitute a remarkable acknowledgement by a senior Russian official of just how serious the problem of separatism in the Russian Federation continues to be. Many analysts inside Russia and beyond have long called attention to this problem. But since the end of the Chechen war, most senior Russian officials have followed President Boris Yeltsin in maintaining that the danger of separatism in Russia has "passed." And most Western governments have accepted that claim at face value and dealt with the country as if the Russian Federation were a solid and unified federal state.
But now that Primakov has admitted that separatism remains a serious issue and that Russia today is far from united, his words are likely to prompt some Western government to become even more cautious in dealing with the regions. lest they appear to be undermining Primakov. At the same time, others may devote more attention to the regions both directly and in their recommendations to central Russian officials.
Second, in his remarks about the dangers of separatism and the need to combat it, the Russian prime minister provided some important clues as to what his new regional policy may look like. He said that he was for "restoring of the state vertical administration system in which all matters are tackled jointly by the center and local bodies." He also called for an increase in regional representation in the management structures of enterprises rather than "the transfer of blocks of shares belonging to the state to local government bodies." And he urged the regions to agree to cooperate with his government "without changing any legislation."
In each case, Primakov's proposals suggest at least a partial return to the centralist, elitist, and closed-door politics of the Soviet past, in which Primakov spent most of his career but in which the interests of the regions typically lost out to those of Moscow.
Third, the Russian prime minister used the occasion of his meetings with regional officials to underscore that he wants to increase spending on the Russian military. "We cannot keep our backs turned any longer on the armed forces," Primakov said. He noted that he favors boosting defense spending to the 3.8 percent of GDP that senior Russian commanders have asked for.
These comments, possibly the most important in his message to the regional leaders, were clearly addressed to a larger audience both in Russia and beyond. But the regional officials who first heard them are likely to view them as having a particular meaning for themselves.
On the one hand, increased defense expenditures will make it more difficult for Moscow to maintain or increase subsidies to regions, a trend that could exacerbate center-periphery relations still further. On the other, Primakov's brandishing of his support for the military, on which central authorities have relied as the ultimate sanction but over which they have lost some control in recent years, may have appeared overtly threatening to some present.
As a result, Primakov's call for "a strong alliance of mutual cooperation between the center and the subjects of the Federation," could backfire, generating the very separatist impulses that the Russian prime minister is now trying to suppress.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty