|Thursday, 4 June 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 83, 99-04-30
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 83, 30 April 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 AZERBAIJAN'S ALIEV UNDERGOES BYPASS SURGERYPresident Heidar Aliev, 75, underwent a heart bypass operation in Cleveland, Ohio, on 29 April and is now resting comfortably, his office told Reuters on 30 April. Aliev reportedly suffered a heart attack in 1987. Earlier this year, he was hospitalized in Turkey for what was officially described as acute bronchitis but was thought by some observers to be more serious. PG
 SHEVARDNADZE SAYS GEORGIA SEEKS MEMBERSHIP IN NATO...On his return from the U.S., Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told a press conference on 29 April that his country is now actively seeking membership in NATO and that he has asked the alliance's secretary-general, Javier Solana, to accelerate the process, Western agencies reported. The Georgian leader said that "time is needed" for this to happen, but he expressed the hope that "possibly this will happen sooner than we assume." PG
 ...CALLS FOR UN REFORM...The Georgian president said the UN must be "significantly reformed" or it will "lose its purpose," Interfax reported on 29 April. He called for the creation of a UN peacekeeping force, limitations on the right of permanent members of the Security Council to cast vetoes, and an increase in the number of members in that body. PG
 ...SAYS CLINTON SEES KOSOVO-ABKHAZ ANALOGYShevardnadze also said that U.S. President Bill Clinton "believes that the same crime happened in Abkhazia as in Kosova," ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. The Georgian president added that he and Clinton agreed that "ethnic cleansing and genocide should not remain unpunished regardless of where they take place." His comments came as the Abkhaz and Georgian sides agreed to set up a joint commission to monitor violations of the May 1994 cease- fire agreement, Interfax reported. PG
 TURKISH NAVAL SQUADRON VISITS GEORGIAN PORTSFour ships of the Turkish Navy began three-day visits to the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi on 29 April, ITAR-TASS reported. PG
 FORMER KAZAKH POLICE OFFICIAL FOUND GUILTY OF SPYINGMajor-General Rais Khadeyev, a former deputy head of Kazakhstan's security service, was found guilty of spying for a foreign power and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the confiscation of property, and the loss of his rank, Interfax reported on 29 April. PG
 UZBEKISTAN PRESIDENT TO FOCUS ON SECURITYOn his return from Washington, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov said that he will devote more attention to both external and internal security, Interfax reported on 29 April. Karimov said that many threats originated with the "outside sponsors" of various factions in the Afghan civil war. PG
 UZBEK, UKRAINIAN NATIONAL AIRLINES FORM ALLIANCEIn order to improve cooperation in the airline industry, the national carriers of Uzbekistan and Ukraine on 29 April signed an agreement in Tashkent on forming a new "CIS-Alliance" air system, Interfax reported. PG
 RAKHMONOV RULES OUT ISLAMIC STATE FOR TAJIKISTANTajik President Imomali Rakhmonov said in St. Petersburg on 27 April that "only a secular government can guarantee peace" in his country, Interfax reported on 29 April. Meanwhile, Tajik Islamic opposition members have demanded that the authorities release prisoners in exchange for the return of six policemen taken hostage on 28 April, Reuters reported. PG
 RUSSIAN GUARDS KILL DRUG SMUGGLER ON AFGHAN- TAJIK BORDERRussian border troops killed a drug smuggler and wounded another on the Afghan-Tajik border on 29 April, AP reported. The two suspects were carrying 13 kilograms of heroin and 7 kilograms of marijuana. PG
 TURKMENISTAN PUSHES FOR GAS PIPELINEAt talks in Ashgabat on 27 April, Turkmenistan President Saparmurad Niyazov and PSG, the U.S. company that plans to build a gas pipeline across the Caspian, agreed to speed up work on the project, Interfax reported on 29 April. They discussed the preliminary financial plan and the organization of the multicompany consortium that PSG will head. PG
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 'ETHNIC CLEANSING' UNDER WAY IN MONTENEGROThe Yugoslav army has begun ordering the mainly Muslim inhabitants to leave a 5 mile (8 kilometer) wide swathe of territory between Rozaje and the Kosovar border, "The Daily Telegraph" reported on 30 April. The ethnic cleansing operation, which is apparently aimed at depriving the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) of places to regroup and hide, has strained relations between the army and the population of Rozaje. The Muslim mayor said the "relationship between the town and the army is like a thread. It can easily break at any time." Some Kosovar refugees, who fled to the Rozaje area one month ago, told the London-based daily that men in Yugoslav army uniforms recently forced their way into some homes in the Rozaje area, robbed the Kosovars staying there, and ordered them to leave. Some refugees said they want the Montenegrin police to protect them. Others charged that "there is no safe place in Montenegro," adding that they want to go to Albania. PM
 MILOSEVIC'S ALLIES BREAK UP MONTENEGRIN 'PEACE TALKS'Representatives of the Socialist People's Party (SNP) walked out of talks in Podgorica on 29 April aimed at preserving domestic peace and avoiding a civil war between supporters and opponents of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. SNP deputy leader Predrag Bulatovic charged that the Montenegrin government of President Milo Djukanovic, who opposes Milosevic, is "obstructing the Yugoslav Army and treating Montenegro like a separate state." It is unclear what prompted the walk-out. Djukanovic has often said he fears that Milosevic will use the conflict in Kosova as a pretext to stage a putsch in Podgorica. PM
 EU OIL BAN GOES INTO EFFECTThe EU's ban on oil shipments to Yugoslavia has gone into effect, an EU spokesman said in Brussels on 30 April. The previous day, a NATO spokesman noted that efforts on enforcing the ban will center on stopping ships at sea. He stressed that the Atlantic alliance does not plan to attack oil pumping or storage facilities in Montenegro, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The governments of some 15 non-member countries have announced that they will respect the ban. They are Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Cyprus. PM
 NATO COMPLETES 600TH SORTIE AGAINST YUGOSLAVIAA spokesman for the Atlantic alliance said in Brussels on 30 April that "NATO forces" struck a variety of targets in Belgrade and elsewhere in Serbia the previous night, including two buildings belonging to the Ministry of Defense. The spokesman called the offices "the brains that guide the operations" in Kosova. In Geneva, Mary Robinson, who is the UN's top official for human rights, said that "unless diplomacy succeeds, [Kosova] will be thoroughly cleansed of Albanians, while Serbs will...be bombed without end. There must be a better way." In Belgrade, U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said that "until there's a diplomatic breakthrough, the bombing will escalate and will expand." He met with Orthodox Patriarch Pavle as part of a mission that Jackson hopes will lead to the release of three U.S. soldiers, whom Serbian forces captured just inside Macedonia on 31 March. PM
 SERBIAN TELEVISON BACK ON AIRThe overnight air strike also hit a television transmitter near Belgrade. The Serbian authorities quickly repaired the damage, and state-run Radio- Television Serbia (RTS) was soon back on the air with a limited offering of news and patriotic videos. Observers noted that several recent NATO air strikes hit either the studios or transmitters of RTS and that the authorities quickly resumed broadcasting. RTS is nicknamed "Milosevision" and is the government's main mouthpiece. PM
 AID ORGANIZATIONS REPORT ALBANIAN 'LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE'A spokesman for the aid organization Concern Worldwide told AP on 29 April that humanitarian aid deliveries to northern Albania are a "logistical nightmare." He said that in recent weeks there were cases of muggings and harassment of refugees by locals, petty theft of relief supplies, and occasional cases of armed robbery, especially in the Tropoja region. He stressed that aid organizations must cope with bad roads and heavy, slow traffic, a virtually non-existent telephone network in the north, and disputes with district officials and landowners. UNHCR spokesman Ray Wilkinson said that "you're in Europe but in some ways you're at the end of the world." A spokesman for the Irish relief agency Goal complained about police harassing truck drivers, ostensibly because they lacked necessary documentation for their goods. Observers, however, noted that the police controls are intended to prevent theft of aid supplies. FS
 MILO INVITES RUGOVA TO TIRANAAlbanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, speaking to journalists in Tirana on 29 April, called on the Yugoslav authorities to release Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova and allow him to travel to Albania with his family, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April 1999). Milo said he has no means of contacting Rugova directly, adding that the Yugoslav authorities will not allow him to leave Kosova. Milo said the Albanian leadership wants Rugova to come to discuss joint strategies with other prominent political figures from Kosova and Albania. FS
 ALBANIA HOPES FOR QUICK EU ASSOCIATIONMilo told Reuters in Tirana on 29 April that in Luxembourg earlier this week, EU officials promised him that they will sign an EU association accord with Tirana "very soon." The foreign minister expressed the hope that his country will become a full member in "about 10 years." He acknowledged that Albania must first meet numerous membership requirements and stability must be restored in the Balkans before his country can join the EU. In Bonn, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder encouraged Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko to work toward membership in both NATO and the EU. He added that Albania deserves "generous assistance" to maintain its internal stability following the influx of more than 350,000 refugees, which amounts to about 15 percent of the country's total population. Schroeder added that "Albania's political leadership has acted in an extremely responsible manner in this very difficult crisis situation." FS
 WESTENDORP FIRES TUZLA SECURITY CHIEFThe international community's Carlos Westendorp on 29 April removed Ferid Hodzic as head of security in Tuzla because he "failed to support rule of law." Hodzic reportedly tried to obstruct investigations of charges of fraud, corruption, and racketeering against several senior officials in Tuzla, AP reported. Corruption linking the government, the military, and criminal structures remains endemic throughout Bosnia- Herzegovina. Elsewhere, a spokesman for Westendorp refused to confirm or deny reports in the Bosnian Serb media to the effect that Westendorp plans to leave his job and return to Spain in June, "Oslobodjenje" reported. The spokesman added that it is an "open secret" that his boss will leave his post this summer, but he noted that Westendorp has not yet set a date. PM
 ROMANIA AGREES TO OIL EMBARGOThe Romanian government announced on 29 April that it will observe an EU- approved fuel embargo against Yugoslavia, AP reported. A government spokeswoman said the embargo will begin next week. The decision comes on the heels of a Bulgarian report that Serbian tankers are carrying crude oil to Romanian refineries and returning with fuel. Valentina Yonova, chief of customs at Bulgaria's Danube port of Vidin, said two Serbian captains have acknowledged that their barges were carrying crude oil to Romania for processing. There was no immediate comment from Romanian officials on the report. PB
 FOUR KURDS IN POSSESSION OF EXPLOSIVES ARRESTED IN ROMANIAFour Kurdish men were arrested in Bucharest after police found bomb-making materials and false passports in an apartment, Rompres reported on 29 April. They were charged with possession of explosives and illegally entering the country. They will be detained for one month while an investigation continues, the Interior Ministry said. Interior Minister Dudu Ionescu said police are investigating whether there was any connection to the visit of Pope John Paul II to Bucharest on 7-9 May. Some 4,000 Kurds live in Romania, and Turkey suspects that many of them are activists of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party. PB
 NATO ADMITS MISSILE CAME FROM ITS WARPLANE...NATO officials in Brussels said on 29 April that a missile that destroyed a home in a Sofia suburb was mistakenly fired by one of their planes, AP reported. U.S. Army Major-General Henry Kievenaar met with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov to express the alliance's "deep regret on the missile incident." Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev said "there hasn't been such a drastic violation of our air space so far." Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said that if NATO pilots are having trouble orienting themselves when air-borne, Bulgaria could use lights to mark its western border. Konstantin Varbenov, the man whose home was destroyed in the incident, said that despite his loss, "we better lend NATO our air space. You see what happens even without our consent. I want the war to end as soon as possible." PB
 ...AS AGREEMENT ON AIR SPACE IS SENT TO PARLIAMENTThe Bulgarian government on 29 April approved a draft accord allowing NATO planes to use a limited zone of its air space to conduct raids against neighboring Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. NATO and Bulgarian officials have been working out the details of that agreement and the security guarantees NATO will give Bulgaria in exchange for the air space rights. The accord would allow NATO planes to fly in a 130-170 kilometer-wide strip along the border with Yugoslavia as well as in a 20 kilometer-wide corridor along its southern border with Turkey. The opposition Socialist Party and other parliamentary groups are strongly opposed to the accord. PB
[C] END NOTE
 NEW POLITICAL BLOC FINDS APPROVAL IN KAZANBy Floriana Fossato
When a number of influential Russian regional leaders announced the creation last week of the new political bloc Vsya Rossiya (All Russia), surprise was expressed not only in Moscow but elsewhere.
One of the most prominent leaders of the bloc is Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev. Speaking to RFE/RL earlier this week on condition of anonymity, Tatarstan government officials expressed surprise over the creation of the new bloc and over the 22 April announcement of an alliance with Otechestvo (Fatherland), the movement led by powerful Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov.
One official in the government of Tatarstan said that "nobody" in the republic "was aware of the initiative before it was announced. Another added that the announcement "was a complete surprise."
At the same time, the officials who spoke with RFE/RL praised the initiative as a way to promote regional interests ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for December.
Shaimiev is considered the informal leader of Vsya Rossiya. Other leading participants are Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov; the president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev; the presidents of the Republics of Adygeya and Chuvashya; and a number of influential governors.
According to Saint Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, the bloc will not have a formal leader and will not put forward a candidate for next year's presidential elections.
As for the alliance with Luzhkov, one of the strongest presidential hopefuls, Kazan officials say it could be seen as regional leaders' response to a statement by Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov earlier this year. Primakov had proposed that a vertical power structure should be re- established in Russia. He talked about the possibility of appointing, rather then electing, regional leaders and called for imposing more discipline on governors.
One Tatar official told our correspondent that "Primakov's proposal did not raise any enthusiasm in Kazan. On the contrary, people started asking themselves questions about Primakov's political intentions and orientations."
According to political analysts, other regional leaders probably reacted similarly, fearing the return of Soviet-like structures of power.
Samara Governor Konstantin Titov is head of the electoral movement Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia), which has announced its intention to join forces with Vsya Rossii. He said on 21 April that Moscow should grant more power to the regions. According to Titov, excessive centralization of power in the federal government is one of the main causes of Russia's current crisis.
One day earlier, Russian President Boris Yeltsin--whose relations with Primakov are reportedly rapidly worsening--met with the governors of several Russian regions and offered them more autonomy in exchange for their support.
And this week, the deputy head of the presidential administration, Oleg Sysuev, said the merger of Vsya Rossii and Otechestvo would be a "step in a constructive direction."
Attending Otechestvo's second congress on 24 April, Luzhkov reconfirmed his willingness to form an alliance with Vsya Rossii. According to Luzhkov, the two movements both aim to elect a new State Duma that will seek to achieve "practical results."
In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on the eve of the congress, Luzhkov addressed concerns raised by some observers about his ability to co-exist with other political leaders. Luzhkov said the alliance would not entail the absorption of one movement by another. However, Luzhkov did not say if he is willing to review previously voiced positions on what Russia's federal structure should look like.
Fandas Safiullin--the leader of the "Volga Is Our Home" faction in Tatarstan's legislative assembly--told RFE/RL's Kazan Office this week that Luzhkov is in favor of liquidating the national republics, while Shaimiev is a federalist who favors retaining the republics' sovereignty. Safiullin also said that--once the two blocs have achieved their main goal of keeping Communists out of the State Duma--they will likely go their separate ways.
Other officials in Kazan were less categorical, preferring to adopt a "wait and see" attitude until after the elections. They added that Luzhkov and Shaimiev can be considered "compatible, as one cannot be considered more important than the other."
Hinting that the support of regional leaders participating in Vsya Rossiya will be key for Luzhkov's Otechestvo. the officials said that after December it will become clear which of the movements will have played the main role during the parliamentary campaign. That, they concluded, will "help to prepare the ground for further talks among regional leaders and Luzhkov."
The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Moscow.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty