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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 194, 99-10-05

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. 3, No. 194, 5 October 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA TO DONATE CONCRETE TO TURKEY
  • [02] INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH OF ARMENIAN INTERIOR TROOPS
  • [03] RUSSIA AGAIN ACCUSES AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA OF ABETTING
  • [04] SOME GEORGIAN CLERGY OPPOSE POPE'S PLANNED VISIT
  • [05] ABKHAZ ELECTION, REFERENDUM RESULTS ANNOUNCED
  • [06] SALE OF KAZAKHSTAN'S STAKE IN TENGIZCHEVROIL STILL UNDECIDED
  • [07] MORE ELECTION-RELATED VIOLENCE IN KAZAKHSTAN...
  • [08] ...AS INDEPENDENT MEDIA FACE PRESSURE
  • [09] KYRGYZ TROOPS TAKE TWO GUERRILLA BASES...
  • [10] ...AS TALKS ON HOSTAGES' RELEASE CONTINUE
  • [11] TALIBAN ACCUSE TAJIKISTAN OF PROVIDING ARMS TO NORTHERN
  • [12] UZBEKISTAN DENIES ITS PLANES BOMBED TAJIKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] TRUCK DRIVER FROM FATAL ACCIDENT IN SERBIA FOUND
  • [14] SERBIAN POLICE AGAIN BLOCK PROTEST MARCH
  • [15] UN HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY TO PROPOSE LIFTING OF SANCTIONS
  • [16] SERBIAN DAILY RESUMES PUBLICATION
  • [17] SERBIA FREES 54 KOSOVAR PRISONERS
  • [18] NATO PEACEKEEPERS REMOVE BARRICADES IN KOSOVAR TOWN
  • [19] KFOR SPOKESMAN CRITICIZES THACI
  • [20] SAKIC TO APPEAL VERDICT
  • [21] SLOVENIA CONCERNED ABOUT MINORITY IN AUSTRIA AFTER ELECTIONS
  • [22] DISCORD OVER ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN 'RECONCILIATION PARK'
  • [23] ROMANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC LEADER STEPS DOWN
  • [24] MOLDOVA TO SET UP ETHNIC BULGARIAN COUNTY
  • [25] BULGARIAN VICE PRESIDENT THREATENS TO LEAVE RULING COALITION

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA TO DONATE CONCRETE TO TURKEY

    Armenia will send two

    trainloads of concrete to Turkey for reconstruction in the

    town of Izmit, devastated by an earthquake in mid-August,

    Interfax reported on 4 October. Immediately after that

    disaster, Armenia said it would to send rescue teams to

    Turkey if asked (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1999). LF

    [02] INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH OF ARMENIAN INTERIOR TROOPS

    COMMANDER COMPLETED

    State prosecutors have completed their

    investigation into the death last February of Interior Troops

    commander Artsrun Markarian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported

    on 4 October. No date has been set, however, for the trial of

    the three men originally charged with Markarian's murder. His

    two bodyguards, who were arrested and charged with the crime

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 15 February 1999), were

    released from custody in July. LF

    [03] RUSSIA AGAIN ACCUSES AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA OF ABETTING

    TERRORISTS

    In a live interview on Russian Television on 3

    October, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov argued that it is in

    the interests of both Georgia and Azerbaijan to cooperate

    with Russia to prevent Chechnya becoming a hotbed of

    international terrorism, Turan reported. Ivanov added that

    Moscow has proof that terrorist groups used Georgia and

    Azerbaijan for their own purposes." Ivanov said he has

    informed the governments of the South Caucasus Republics that

    Russian border services are prepared jointly to resolve the

    existing problems. On 4 October, Turan cited an article in

    "Obshchaya gazeta" quoting Federal Security Service sources

    as claiming that Stinger anti-air missiles were transported

    via Georgia to Chechnya and portable anti-air systems via

    Azerbaijan to that republic in late August. Chechen Vice

    President Vakha Arsanov told Turan on 3 October that the

    report is untrue. He said Chechnya needs Stingers but does

    not have any. LF

    [04] SOME GEORGIAN CLERGY OPPOSE POPE'S PLANNED VISIT

    Caucasus

    Press on 4 October quoted an unnamed representative of the

    Georgian clergy as saying that several of his colleagues

    disapprove of Pope John Paul II's proposed visit to Georgia

    next month. In particular, he said, they oppose the plans for

    the pontiff to conduct an open-air mass in Tbilisi. A

    spokesman for the Georgian Patriarchate told the disaffected

    clergymen that the Patriarchate has no power to change what

    he termed the "political decision" to invite the pope to

    visit Georgia. Also on 4 October, Georgian President Eduard

    Shevardnadze told a news conference in Tbilisi that

    preparations are under way for the pope's visit, which he

    termed "a historic event" for Georgia, Interfax reported. LF

    [05] ABKHAZ ELECTION, REFERENDUM RESULTS ANNOUNCED

    Incumbent

    President Vladislav Ardzinba was re-elected for a second

    five-year term on 3 October, garnering 99 percent of the

    vote, RIA Novosti reported the following day quoting the

    Abkhaz Central Electoral Commission. There were no other

    candidates in the ballot. In the referendum on constitutional

    amendments, which was held simultaneously, 97 percent of the

    87 percent of the electorate who participated endorsed the

    breakaway republic's 1994 constitution. That document defines

    Abkhazia as an independent, democratic republic. The Georgian

    Foreign Ministry has lodged an official protest with the

    Russian State Duma, whose Council sent seven observers to

    monitor the poll, Caucasus Press reported. Speaking in

    Tbilisi on 4 October, Georgian President Shevardnadze said

    that the international community "was not impressed" by the

    Abkhaz elections. He warned that although Georgia will make

    every effort to resolve the Abkhaz conflict peacefully, it

    could still resort to military means to achieve that goal,

    according to Interfax. LF

    [06] SALE OF KAZAKHSTAN'S STAKE IN TENGIZCHEVROIL STILL UNDECIDED

    Kanat Bozumbaev, a senior official at the Ministry of Energy,

    Industry, and Trade, told Interfax on 4 October that the

    proposed sale of part of the Kazakh government's 25 percent

    stake in the Tengizchevroil joint venture is "a political

    issue" contingent on implementation of the state budget.

    Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Toqaev had said in August that

    Astana might be forced to sell part of its share in that

    project, but several senior officials had argued that it

    would be foolish to do so (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August

    and 3 September 1999). LF

    [07] MORE ELECTION-RELATED VIOLENCE IN KAZAKHSTAN...

    The office of

    Daulet Qazybekov, who is a candidate in the 10 October

    elections to the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament,

    was badly damaged by a Molotov cocktail on 4 October,

    RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. No one was injured.

    Kazakhstan's Central Electoral Commission has registered 109

    cases of election-related violence since the beginning of the

    election campaign. LF

    [08] ...AS INDEPENDENT MEDIA FACE PRESSURE

    Police entered the

    Almaty editorial offices of the independent newspaper "21

    vek" on 4 October in what they said was an investigation of

    the newspaper's tax record, RFE/RL's correspondent in the

    former capital reported. The newspaper's bank account has

    also been frozen. Journalists believe that the move was

    intended to intimidate editor-in-chief Bigeldy Gabdulklin,

    who is running as an independent candidate in the 10 October

    elections. A second journalist who is also contesting that

    poll, "DAT" editor Sharip Quraqpaev, told RFE/RL that he is

    encountering problems in getting access to the state-run

    media. LF

    [09] KYRGYZ TROOPS TAKE TWO GUERRILLA BASES...

    Kyrgyz government

    forces on 4 October took the villages of Zardaly and Korgon,

    the bases of the ethnic Uzbek guerrillas who have been

    holding 13 hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan since late August,

    ITAR-TASS reported. The guerrillas retreated toward Tajik

    territory. Meeting in Bishkek on 4 October with UN Drug

    Control Program Executive Director Pino Arlacchi, Kyrgzstan's

    President Askar Akaev said that the guerrilla incursions into

    southern Kyrgyzstan are the result of closing the road from

    the Kyrgyz city of Osh to Khorog in neighboring Tajikistan to

    drug smugglers, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital

    reported. Drug traffickers have been forced to seek

    alternative routes through Kyrgyz territory. Kyrgyz Security

    Council Deputy Secretary Askarbek Mameev similarly told

    Interfax on 4 October that Islamic militants operating in Osh

    control up to 70 percent of the drugs smuggled through

    Kyrgyzstan. LF

    [10] ...AS TALKS ON HOSTAGES' RELEASE CONTINUE

    Kyrgyz

    parliamentary deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu told RFE/RL on 4

    October that he has met in Afghanistan with leaders of the

    Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to which the hostage-takers

    belong. Those leaders said they are ready to release the 13

    hostages held by the guerrillas on condition that Bishkek

    halts all military action against the guerrillas. Kyrgyz

    Human Rights Committee Chairman Tursunbek Akunov, who has

    mediated between the Kyrgyz leadership and the guerrillas,

    told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau by telephone from Pakistan on 2

    October that he too is trying to travel to Afghanistan to

    meet with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to discuss

    conditions for the hostages' release. LF

    [11] TALIBAN ACCUSE TAJIKISTAN OF PROVIDING ARMS TO NORTHERN

    ALLIANCE

    The Taliban Foreign Ministry issued a statement in

    Kabul on 4 October warning of reprisals against neighboring

    Tajikistan for its alleged opening of a new route to supply

    arms to the Northern Alliance of Ahmed Shah Massoud, Reuters

    reported. The statement claimed that in return for those

    weapons and other logistical support, the Northern Alliance

    is channeling vast quantities of drugs into Tajikistan. LF

    [12] UZBEKISTAN DENIES ITS PLANES BOMBED TAJIKISTAN

    An Uzbek

    Foreign Ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 4 October that

    the Uzbek government knows nothing about the 2 October

    incident in which unmarked planes dropped bombs and opened

    fire on villages in Tajikistan's Djirgatal and Tajikabad

    regions. At least three people were killed in the attack on

    Tajikabad; earlier reports had said no one was injured (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). On 4 October, Kyrgyz

    presidential press spokesman Kanybek Imanaliev told RFE/RL

    that the air raids were undertaken by both Kyrgyz and Uzbek

    aircraft. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] TRUCK DRIVER FROM FATAL ACCIDENT IN SERBIA FOUND

    The driver

    of the truck involved in the 3 October road accident

    involving members of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement

    (SPO) has been found, Reuters reported on 5 October. SPO

    leader Vuk Draskovic was slightly injured while the other

    four passengers in the two cars involved all died (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). Draskovic and other party

    members have called the accident an assassination attempt.

    Draskovic's lawyer, Borivoje Borovic, said no details about

    the driver are known. He said an investigation will determine

    if the incident was "an attempted murder or a traffic

    accident." Memorial services are to be held on 5 and 6

    October for those killed in the accident, including

    Draskovic's brother-in-law. Draskovic called on Serbs to turn

    out for the funerals. Some observers speculate that the

    accident was an attempt by the government to silence

    Draskovic's Studio B TV station, which has been showing

    extensive footage of the police actions against demonstrators

    in Belgrade. The station has been jammed continuously over

    the last month, Assistant Director Milos Rajkovic told the

    Beta news agency. He said that at times, the signal can be

    received by only one-third of Belgrade. PB

    [14] SERBIAN POLICE AGAIN BLOCK PROTEST MARCH

    Serbian riot police

    once again blocked the route of some 10,000 protesters taking

    part in an anti-government demonstration in Belgrade on 4

    October, Radio Index reported. It was the 14th consecutive

    day of demonstrations around the country organized by the

    Alliance for Change (SZP). About 10,000 people were reported

    to have demonstrated in Nis and some 5,000 in Novi Sad. The

    Beta news agency reported that 25,000 rallied in the central

    town of Kragujevac, where SZP leader Zoran Djindjic told the

    crowd that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "wants to

    stay in power at any cost and we want to expel him at any

    cost." In the eastern Serbian town of Bor, the local branch

    of Draskovic's SPO joined an SZP protest for the first time.

    Draskovic has called the protests ineffective. PB

    [15] UN HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY TO PROPOSE LIFTING OF SANCTIONS

    Special UN Human Rights Rapporteur Jiri Dienstbier said in

    Nis that he will propose that economic sanctions against

    Yugoslavia be suspended, Beta reported on 4 October.

    Dienstbier said that "the countries that introduced sanctions

    against the former Republic of Yugoslavia and bombed it will

    be responsible for deaths from exposure and starvation" if

    the sanctions continue. He added that "Milosevic and others

    [in power] will have enough food and heating." Dienstbier

    said he will make his recommendation to the UN General

    Assembly. He also condemned the police actions against

    demonstrators in Belgrade. PB

    [16] SERBIAN DAILY RESUMES PUBLICATION

    Following a two-day ban,

    the Belgrade independent daily "Glas javnosti" reappeared on

    newsstands on 4 October, Radio B2-92 reported. But Director

    Slavoljuib Kacarevic said that the newspaper's problems "are

    not over." He revealed that members of the state "financial

    police" were stationed in the editorial department and claim

    to be conducting a secret investigation. Kacarevic added that

    he signed a police statement declaring he was aware of his

    responsibility "regarding any possible and existing objection

    to our work." In other news, Yugoslav Telecommunications

    Minister Ivan Markovic said the state will take steps against

    media "aggression" in Yugoslavia. He said the rebroadcasting

    of foreign programs by domestic radio stations is part of

    this aggression. PB

    [17] SERBIA FREES 54 KOSOVAR PRISONERS

    The International Red

    Cross said on 4 October that Serbia released 54 ethnic

    Albanian prisoners who were arrested in Kosova, AP reported.

    The prisoners were being held in the Sremska Mitrovica prison

    in Vojvodina. The chairman of the Serbian Bar Association,

    Milan Vujin, said that the prisoners were released because

    "it had been established during the investigation...that

    there were no conditions for initiating criminal procedures

    (against them)." The Red Cross said it has access to some

    1,900 prisoners who were arrested by the Serbs in Kosova but

    are now held outside the province. PB

    [18] NATO PEACEKEEPERS REMOVE BARRICADES IN KOSOVAR TOWN

    International peacekeepers in Kosova (KFOR) removed a

    barricade on a highway near the town of Kosova Polje on 5

    October, Reuters reported. KFOR said it had met all Serbian

    demands--including the doubling of the number of troops in

    the mostly ethnic-Serb town and stationing more police there-

    -before removing the blockade. KFOR also removed a blockade

    set up by ethnic Albanians some 300 meters from a Serbian

    blockade. It had warned both sides the previous day that it

    would remove the blockades if they were not taken down

    voluntarily. PB

    [19] KFOR SPOKESMAN CRITICIZES THACI

    KFOR spokesman Roland Lavoie

    said on 4 October in Prishtina that remarks made by Kosovar

    Albanian leader Hashim Thaci were "factually incorrect" and

    "inflammatory," AP reported. Thaci had said the previous day

    that the newly formed Kosova Protection Corps will be headed

    by leaders from the disbanded Kosova Liberation Army and will

    eventually run a military academy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4

    October 1999). Lavoie said that the corps must be apolitical,

    that Thaci will have no influence over the group, and that it

    will not have a military training academy. In other news,

    Tanjug reported that some 80 people returned to Kosova from

    Nis on 4 October. PB

    [20] SAKIC TO APPEAL VERDICT

    Defense attorneys for convicted war

    criminal Dinko Sakic said on 4 October that they will appeal

    the verdict against him, Hina reported. The lawyers said the

    verdict delivered by the presiding judge, Drazen Tripalo, was

    "vague and too general." Tommy Baer, the honorary chairman of

    the B'nai B'rith organization, commended the guilty verdict.

    He said Croatia has shown "that it does not fear facing its

    past and learning the lessons from a painful chapter in its

    history." Baer was invited by Croatian President Franjo

    Tudjman to attend the trial as an international observer. The

    U.S. State Department also praised the decision, an RFE/RL

    correspondent reported. PB

    [21] SLOVENIA CONCERNED ABOUT MINORITY IN AUSTRIA AFTER ELECTIONS

    Slovenian Foreign Minister Boris Frlec said on 4 October that

    the success of Austria's nationalist Freedom Party in the 3

    October elections could cause concern among the Slovenian

    minority living in Austria's Carinthia region, the Slovenian

    agency STA reported. Frlec said, however, that he is hopeful

    that good relations between Ljubljana and Vienna will

    continue and that the Freedom Party's opposition to further

    expansion of the EU will not hurt Slovenia's chances of

    joining the union. PB

    [22] DISCORD OVER ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN 'RECONCILIATION PARK'

    Romanian Premier Radu Vasile will not attend the

    inauguration of the Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation park

    in Arad on 6 October and has delegated Deputy Premier and

    Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica to represent him, Romanian

    Radio reported on 5 October. No reason for this change of

    plan was given. Hungarian Radio reported that Prime

    Minister Viktor Orban, who was also to attend the ceremony,

    will decide on 5 October whether to be present in view of

    Vasile's decision. Meanwhile, the Arad local council on 5

    October voted against making available the land earmarked

    for the projected park. MS

    [23] ROMANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC LEADER STEPS DOWN

    Sergiu

    Cunescu, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Romania

    (PSDR), will not seek re-election at the party's congress

    scheduled for 16 October, Mediafax reported on 3 October.

    The two main candidates for that post, Labor and Social

    Protection Minister Alexandru Athanasiu and PSDR first vice

    chairman Emil Putin, submitted their electoral platform to

    the party's National Council on 3 October. Putin wants the

    PSDR to withdraw from the ruling coalition and to resume

    talks on a merger with the Alliance for Romania and the

    Socialist Party. Athanasiu opposes forming any alliance

    before the 2000 local elections and is in favor of the

    PSDR's continuing membership in the coalition. MS

    [24] MOLDOVA TO SET UP ETHNIC BULGARIAN COUNTY

    The government

    on 4 October announced the setting up of a Taraclia county,

    thereby approving the recommendations of a commission

    headed by Deputy Premier Nicolae Andronic, RFE/RL's

    Chisinau bureau reported. The former Taraclia district

    became part of Cahul county following the recent local

    administration reform, prompting protests by its mostly

    ethnic Bulgarian residents and causing tension in relations

    with Sofia. Government spokesman Nicolae Chirtoaca said

    that Premier Ion Sturza is "aware" that the decision will

    trigger "negative reactions" from some "political

    formations" wanting to make election capital out of the

    decision and intending to "use radicalism" for this

    purpose. He said the new county cannot be viewed as

    "setting a precedent" because it will not enjoy any sort of

    "administrative, territorial, cultural, or other form of

    autonomy." MS

    [25] BULGARIAN VICE PRESIDENT THREATENS TO LEAVE RULING COALITION

    Vice President Todor Kavaldzhiev says his small Agrarian

    National Union (BANU) may pull out of the ruling coalition

    because it is dissatisfied with the role its senior partners

    have assigned it in the upcoming local elections, AP reported

    on 4 October, citing BTA. Kavaldzhiev said BANU

    representatives were placed at the bottom of candidate lists

    for the 16 October elections and were not included in the

    electoral commissions that will monitor vote counting. BANU

    has eight seats in the United Democratic Forces parliamentary

    group. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE?

    by Jan Maksymiuk

    At about 8:00 p.m. on 2 October, two assailants threw

    two hand grenades into a crowd surrounding presidential

    hopeful Natalya Vitrenko following a campaign meeting in

    Inhuletsk, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. The blast reportedly

    injured more than 30 people, including Vitrenko and her aide

    Volodymyr Marchenko. The motives for the attempt on 48-year-

    old Vitrenko's life remain unknown. Meanwhile, the incident

    may have an impact on the election campaign as a whole as

    well as voters' preferences in the 31 October ballot, given

    that the public tends to sympathize with the assailed, rather

    than the assailants.

    Vitrenko, the only woman candidate in the 31 October

    elections, heads the Progressive Socialist Party. In 1996,

    she quit Oleksandr Moroz's Socialist Party, accusing Moroz of

    "bourgeois views." She went on to launch her own party and

    win 14 parliamentary seats in the March 1998 elections.

    Vitrenko's platform for the presidential elections

    combines fierce populism, nostalgia for the Soviet era, and

    strong anti-Western sentiments. Polls in Ukraine, which many

    believe to be unreliable and biased, consistently put her in

    second or third place, after President Leonid Kuchma and

    Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko. In the mock

    presidential elections held among more than 100,000 Ukrainian

    students on 28 September, Vitrenko won 12.57 percent backing

    to come in second after Kuchma.

    It appears that Vitrenko's election appeal is not

    limited to any specific social or professional group. As the

    support she won among students shows, her rhetoric is

    appealing to various social strata. And all press reports

    about her campaign meetings--regardless of whether reporters

    are favorable or hostile toward her--underscore the fact that

    those meetings are usually well attended and animated.

    Vitrenko is not only a populist but also a popular candidate.

    Many Ukrainian commentators have suggested that the

    presidential administration initially supported Vitrenko's

    political career and her current presidential bid in an

    attempt to split Ukraine's leftist electorate--especially

    that of Moroz--and pave the way for Kuchma's re-election. To

    support that argument, those commentators note that several

    months ago Vitrenko was seen on Ukrainian state-controlled

    television almost every day, while other left-wing leaders

    were granted only rare coverage. They also believe that in

    exchange for those official favors, Vitrenko's parliamentary

    caucus has on several occasions blocked anti-Kuchma

    legislation in the parliament.

    It is revealing that Vitrenko has now virtually

    disappeared from the state-controlled electronic media. In

    fact, if the Kuchma-Vitrenko collaboration theory holds

    water, her disappearance from that media may mean she has

    already fulfilled her mission of splitting the leftist vote.

    It may also mean, however, that the presidential entourage

    senses an "electoral danger" to Kuchma from Vitrenko herself.

    Some observers have already voiced the opinion that by

    promoting Vitrenko's political career, Kuchma has let the

    genie out of the bottle and may now face a powerful challenge

    from the candidate he apparently wanted to use as a mere tool

    against his political foes.

    The case of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Belarus

    provides an interesting parallel to that of Vitrenko in

    Ukraine. In 1993, then Prime Minister Vyachaslau Kebich used

    Lukashenka, an unknown lawmaker at that time, in the power

    struggle against Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau

    Shushkevich. Kebich gave Lukashenka the go-ahead to deliver a

    parliamentary report on corruption, which resulted in

    Shushkevich's ouster. But that report simultaneously placed

    Lukashenka in the nationwide spotlight and made him a popular

    hero. In July 1994, Lukashenka won a landslide victory on an

    extreme populist ticket in the country's first presidential

    elections. Among the losers were both Shushkevich and Kebich.

    Moreover, during the 1994 presidential campaign in

    Belarus, Lukashenka's election team claimed that someone had

    made an attempt on Lukashenka's life by shooting at him when

    he was travelling by car to a campaign meeting. Investigators

    found neither assailants nor convincing evidence that

    Lukashenka's life had been threatened, but the incident was

    widely reported. Some commentators continue to assert that

    Lukashenka staged the assassination in order to boost his

    popularity. In any case, Lukashenka garnered almost 80

    percent support in the 1994 ballot.

    The 2 October grenade attack on Vitrenko will likely

    reinforce her already relatively strong standing as a

    presidential hopeful and within the political arena as a

    whole. Simultaneously, it may weaken the position of the

    incumbent president and, possibly, some other hopefuls. There

    have already been many allegations and complaints that during

    the presidential campaign in Ukraine, the authorities have

    violated election legislation and harassed Kuchma's rivals.

    The armed attack against one of the candidates will only add

    to the general atmosphere of distrust, uncertainty, and

    dissatisfaction in a country plagued by economic inefficiency

    and endangered by political authoritarianism.

    05-10-99


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


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