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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 195, 99-10-06

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. 195, 6 October 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS IN JEOPARDY
  • [02] ARMENIAN PREMIER REPORTS ON NEW WORLD BANK LOAN
  • [03] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION AGREES ON VENUE FOR DEMONSTRATION
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION CONDEMNS RUSSIAN BOMBING
  • [05] AZERBAIJANI CABINET APPROVES 2000 BUDGET INDICATORS
  • [06] GEORGIAN RULING PARTY UNVEILS ELECTION PROGRAM
  • [07] CHEVRON EXPRESSES INTEREST IN INCREASING STAKE IN KAZAKH OIL
  • [08] KYRGYZSTAN ANTICIPATES NEW INCURSION...
  • [09] ...EXPANDS SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP
  • [10] BOMBING RAIDS ON TAJIKISTAN CONTINUE
  • [11] TAJIK PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW
  • [12] RUSSIA WARNS TURKMENISTAN OVER MERCENARIES
  • [13] UZBEKISTAN'S PRESIDENT VISITS SOUTH KOREA

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [14] ONE DEAD, SEVERAL INJURED AFTER CLASH IN DIVIDED KOSOVAR
  • [15] UCK PRESS ORGAN ACCUSES KOSOVAR PUBLISHER OF SPYING
  • [16] SEVERAL HUNDRED PAY RESPECTS TO OPPOSITIONIST KILLED IN ROAD
  • [17] ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN BELGRADE DWINDLING
  • [18] SERBIAN MINISTER FILES SUIT AGAINST OPPOSITION LEADERS
  • [19] UN ENVOY WARNS THAT TROUBLE BREWING IN SANDZAK
  • [20] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT GETTING IMPATIENT WITH BELGRADE
  • [21] CROATIA GETS WORLD BANK LOAN
  • [22] PETRITSCH ORDERS RADICAL PARTY TO RE-REGISTER WITHOUT TOP
  • [23] FORMER ALBANIAN PREMIER ACQUITTED OF CORRUPTION CHARGES
  • [24] RECONCILIATION PARK HIGHLIGHTS EMBITTERED ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN
  • [25] ...AS FATE OF CONTROVERSIAL SCULPTURE GROUP REMAINS UNCLEAR
  • [26] TRANSDNIESTER SEPARATISTS LOOK FOR ALLIES IN ABKHAZIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [27] OSCE SEEKS RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS, FAIR ELECTIONS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS IN JEOPARDY

    Armenia's Central

    Electoral Commission on 5 October issued a warning that local

    courts risk sabotaging 24 October local elections by

    registering candidates who are not eligible to participate,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The commission has ruled

    that a provision in the election law stating that only

    candidates who have lived in a community for at least one

    year may be elected to its local government bodies has

    already taken effect. The author of that law argues that the

    ruling takes effect only in March 2000. Under the latter

    interpretation, local courts have reinstated dozens of

    candidates whom local electoral commissions had refused to

    register. On 4 October, members of the Yerevan Municipal

    Election Commission failed to agree on how to interpret the

    residency requirement and consequently failed to register any

    candidates for the poll in two Yerevan districts before the

    deadline for doing so expired that evening. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN PREMIER REPORTS ON NEW WORLD BANK LOAN

    Vazgen

    Sargsian told journalists in Yerevan on 5 October that during

    his talks last week in Washington with World Bank President

    James Wolfensohn, the latter pledged a further $238 million

    to fund development projects in Armenia over the next three

    years, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The World Bank also

    agreed to disburse the third and final tranche, worth $23.5

    million, of a structural adjustment credit aimed at helping

    offset the country's budget deficit. Sargsian said that in

    return, the Armenian government will submit to the bank a

    medium-term program outlining economic policy priorities. He

    added that talks with the IMF were similarly fruitful and

    that the fund is likely to approve the final $28 million

    tranche of a three-year loan later this week. Sargsian

    confessed to being "very ashamed" by Western leaders'

    perceptions of the extent of corruption in Armenia. He vowed

    to crack down on it more effectively. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION AGREES ON VENUE FOR DEMONSTRATION

    Following talks with the Baku city administration on 5

    October, Azerbaijani opposition representatives accepted

    Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev's proposal to hold their planned 9

    October demonstration at the motor sports stadium on the

    northern outskirts of Baku, Turan reported. Last month, the

    opposition had rejected holding a mass rally at the stadium

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 1999). The 9 October

    demonstration is intended to protest the Azerbaijani

    leadership's stated willingness to accept a compromise

    solution of the Karabakh conflict. Smaller demonstrations

    will be held in seven other cities. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION CONDEMNS RUSSIAN BOMBING

    OF CHECHNYA

    The Democratic Bloc, which is composed of 20

    opposition parliamentary deputies, issued a statement on 5

    October condemning the "inhuman" bombing of Chechen towns and

    villages and calling on the Russian leadership to put a stop

    to the attacks, Turan reported. The deputies advocated talks

    between the Russian and Chechen leaderships in order to

    preclude further civilian casualties. They noted that the

    Russian government had responded inappropriately to the

    invasion of Daghestan by armed groups not subordinate to the

    Chechen leadership. And they condemned "all acts of terrorism

    connected with the conflict in the North Caucasus." The same

    day, parliamentary deputies adopted a statement addressed to

    the Russian State Duma protesting the 1 October bombing by a

    Russian aircraft of Azerbaijan's Zakatala Raion and reprisals

    against ethnic Azerbaijanis in Moscow, Turan reported. LF

    [05] AZERBAIJANI CABINET APPROVES 2000 BUDGET INDICATORS

    Azerbaijan's cabinet on 1 October endorsed the parameters of

    next year's budget, Interfax reported three days later. The

    2000 budget foresees GDP growth of 8 percent, increases in

    industrial output and agricultural production of 3 percent

    and 4.5 percent, respectively, a 10.5 percent increase in

    investment, 3 percent annual inflation, and a budget deficit

    equivalent to 2.6 percent of GDP. LF

    [06] GEORGIAN RULING PARTY UNVEILS ELECTION PROGRAM

    On 4 October,

    Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze and President

    Eduard Shevardnadze outlined the main tenets of the Union of

    Citizens of Georgia's program for the 31 October

    parliamentary elections, Interfax and Reuters reported.

    Lortkipanidze affirmed that "we have overcome crisis and

    stopped collapse." In an apparent contradiction, he went on

    to pledge that "we will finally get over the economic crisis,

    create an effective fiscal system, increase wages to 200-230

    lari ($127) and increase pensions three-fold," Reuters

    reported. The current minimum pension is 10 lari. LF

    [07] CHEVRON EXPRESSES INTEREST IN INCREASING STAKE IN KAZAKH OIL

    COMPANY

    Kenneth Derr, outgoing chairman of the U.S. oil

    company Chevron, told journalists in Astana on 5 October

    after a meeting with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan

    Nazarbaev that Chevron may acquire part of Kazakhstan's

    equity share in the Tengizchevroil project if the Kazakh

    government decides to sell part of its 25 percent stake,

    Interfax reported. He added that Kazakhstan is considering

    selling a 5 percent or 10 percent stake and has received

    offers from several companies. "Vedomosti" had reported on 4

    October that the only company that has officially expressed

    an interest in acquiring a share is Russia's LUKoil, which

    together with ARCO already has a 5 percent stake in

    Tengizchevroil. LF

    [08] KYRGYZSTAN ANTICIPATES NEW INCURSION...

    Kyrgyzstan's Security

    Council Secretary General Bolot Djanuzakov told journalists

    in Bishkek on 5 October that "international terrorist groups"

    based in Afghanistan and Pakistan are ready to enter Kyrgyz

    territory in order to regain control of drug-smuggling

    routes, Interfax reported. He added that Kyrgyz troops have

    closed in on the base where ethnic Uzbek guerrillas are

    believed to be holding hostages in the south of the country,

    leaving the guerrillas no option but to retreat into

    neighboring Tajikistan. LF

    [09] ...EXPANDS SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP

    Also on 5 October,

    the composition of the Security Council was broadened to

    include the mayor of Bishkek and the heads of the country's

    seven oblasts, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The former

    Batken Raion of Osh Oblast was granted oblast status the same

    day and will incorporate the Lyalyak and Kadamjai Raions of

    Osh Oblast. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev on 5 October

    charged Djanuzakov with overseeing government actions to

    strengthen the guarding of the country's borders, reforms in

    the army, fighting against organized crime and international

    terrorism, and monitoring the religious situation in the

    country. LF

    [10] BOMBING RAIDS ON TAJIKISTAN CONTINUE

    Unidentified aircraft

    dropped bombs on the Djirgatal district of eastern Tajikistan

    on 5 October for the fourth consecutive day, Reuters reported

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 October 1999). National

    Reconciliation Commission spokesman Akhmadsho Kamilzoda told

    the agency that the aircraft in question belonged to

    Uzbekistan and that the death toll in those raids has risen

    to five. United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri

    issued an official statement on 6 October condemning the

    bombing and demanding that Uzbekistan stop such attacks, Asia

    Plus-Blitz reported. ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed senior Tajik

    government official as saying the previous day that

    Tajikistan "will respond in an appropriate way" once an

    investigation into the raids is completed. LF

    [11] TAJIK PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW

    Returning from the U.S., where he

    addressed the UN General Assembly last week, Tajikistan's

    President Imomali Rakhmonov made a stopover in Moscow for

    talks on 4 October with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

    on regional security and military cooperation, Asia Plus-

    Blitz reported. Rakhmonov also met with St. Petersburg

    Governor Vladimir Yakovlev to discuss establishing trade,

    economic, and scientific ties. LF

    [12] RUSSIA WARNS TURKMENISTAN OVER MERCENARIES

    Russian Foreign

    Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told journalists in

    Moscow on 5 October that Russia hopes Turkmenistan is taking

    measures to prevent Afghan mercenaries transiting its

    territory en route for the North Caucasus, Interfax reported.

    Rakhmanin said that Moscow has received a note from the

    Turkmen Foreign Ministry protesting reports in several

    Russian newspapers of an alleged plan to create a "window" on

    the Afghan-Turkmen border to enable Afghan mercenaries to

    cross into Turkmen territory. LF

    [13] UZBEKISTAN'S PRESIDENT VISITS SOUTH KOREA

    Meeting in Seoul

    on 5 October, Islam Karimov and his South Korean counterpart,

    Kim Dae-Jung, pledged to expand trade and economic

    cooperation between their countries, AP reported. South Korea

    is one of the leading foreign investors in Uzbekistan,

    focusing primarily on the automobile and textile industries.

    The two presidents also agreed to expand cooperation in other

    fields, including culture, education, sport, and tourism. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [14] ONE DEAD, SEVERAL INJURED AFTER CLASH IN DIVIDED KOSOVAR

    TOWN

    One Serb was killed and 15 peacekeepers injured after

    fighting broke out in Mitrovica between Serbs and ethnic

    Albanians on 5 October, AP reported. The clash occurred when

    a group of Serbs drove by a memorial service for 18 ethnic

    Albanians found in a mass grave last week. The service was

    attended by several thousand ethnic Albanians, who clashed

    with the Serbs upon leaving the funeral. A Serbian man was

    stoned to death. Four Russian and at least 10 French

    peacekeepers were injured trying to separate the sides.

    Officials from the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK)

    arrived at the scene and restrained the ethnic Albanians. The

    northern part of Mitrovica is controlled by the Serbs, while

    ethnic Albanians are in the southern part of the town. French

    peacekeepers separate the two. PB

    [15] UCK PRESS ORGAN ACCUSES KOSOVAR PUBLISHER OF SPYING

    Kosovapress, the Prishtina-based press service of the

    disbanded UCK, accused two prominent ethnic Albanians of

    being spies for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on 5

    October. Publisher Veton Surroi, a member of the Kosova

    transitional council, and Aton Haxhiu, the chief editor of

    the Kosovar daily "Koha Ditore," were called "dregs" for

    "spying and cooperating with Milosevic's regime." Surroi said

    the accusation comes after he recently said that "fascists

    are in power in Kosova now and what is being done to the

    Serbs [in Kosova] is a form of fascism." Surroi and his

    newspaper, "Koha Ditore," have consistently spoken out

    against the treatment of Serbs in Kosovar since the return of

    ethnic Albanians after NATO troops took control of the

    province. Surroi said the condemnations are "an invitation to

    kill both me and Haxhiu." PB

    [16] SEVERAL HUNDRED PAY RESPECTS TO OPPOSITIONIST KILLED IN ROAD

    ACCIDENT

    Several hundred people attended the funeral on 5

    October of Veselin Boskovic, the adviser and brother-in-law

    of Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, AP reported.

    Boskovic was killed in a traffic accident on 3 October, which

    Draskovic and other members of his Serbian Renewal Movement

    have termed an assassination attempt (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    4 October 1999). Draskovic said at the service that President

    Milosevic's government has "destroyed our state and caused

    the death of millions...let them be damned, the devils who

    have built their happiness on other people's misery for 10

    years." Three other people were killed in the accident.

    Neither the owner nor the driver of the truck that veered

    into the cars carrying the SPO members has been identified.

    PB

    [17] ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN BELGRADE DWINDLING

    Several

    thousand people took part in opposition led protests against

    the government on 5 October, the 15th straight day of

    marches, Reuters reported. The crowd was one of the smallest

    since the protests began on 21 September. Some 10,000 people

    protested in Novi Sad and about 5,000 in Nis, the country's

    second-and third-largest cities. Demonstrations were also

    held in more than a dozen other towns. Around 400 employees

    of the Zastava Namenska weapons plant in Kragujevac walked

    off the job and rallied to demand higher wages and the

    resignation of the Yugoslav government. PB

    [18] SERBIAN MINISTER FILES SUIT AGAINST OPPOSITION LEADERS

    Serbian Deputy Premier Milovan Bojic filed suit against the

    leaders of the opposition movement the Alliance for Change

    (SZP) on 5 October, AFP reported. Bojic complained that he

    had been ridiculed at a mock trial held during a Belgrade

    demonstration and is suing 11 people for 10 million dinars

    ($1 million) for the "moral damage" inflicted on him. Vuk

    Obradovic, an SZP official who is being sued, said he will

    not appear at court on 7 October because the proceedings are

    illegal and he has not been allotted the eight days usually

    given to prepare a defense. Vladan Batic, another SZP leader,

    said "we should be the ones suing the regime for all the

    insults and humiliation, not the other way around." PB

    [19] UN ENVOY WARNS THAT TROUBLE BREWING IN SANDZAK

    Jiri

    Dienstbier, the UN special commissioner for human rights in

    the former Yugoslavia, said on 5 October that there is a

    "certain danger" in the mostly Muslim region of Sandzak that

    Yugoslav President Milosevic could exploit, CTK reported.

    Dienstbier, speaking in the Sandzak capital of Novi Pazar,

    said Milosevic could use the Sandzak Muslims in his political

    struggle against Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. He

    noted that while 80 percent of the city's residents are

    Muslim, about 95 percent of the police force is Serbian.

    Similar proportions exist in other spheres, including health

    care, according to Dienstbier, adding that "there are 1,000

    little things which, if put together and incited, could lead

    to a conflict." The same day in Podgorica, Montenegrin

    Premier Filip Vucanovic rejected a call from a Sandzak group

    for the region--which lies partly within Montenegro--to be

    given a special status. PB

    [20] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT GETTING IMPATIENT WITH BELGRADE

    Milo

    Djukanovic said on 5 October that Montenegro can only wait so

    long for Belgrade to respond to Podgorica's call to redefine

    federal relations, dpa reported. Djukanovic said the

    government has set a deadline and that if Serbian authorities

    fail to address the issue soon, Montenegro "will

    democratically go its own way." He added that he "knows the

    majority [of Montenegrins] is for independence, but there are

    also 40 percent opposing it, and there are warmongers on all

    sides." He said "our democratic consciousness obliges us not

    to ignore this minority." In Washington, the U.S. State

    Department said that Montenegrin leaders have used a

    "measured and rational approach" to political and economic

    reforms in Yugoslavia but that the U.S. opposes independence

    for Montenegro. PB

    [21] CROATIA GETS WORLD BANK LOAN

    The World Bank has approved a

    $29 million loan to Croatia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported

    on 5 October. The loan will be used to improve the country's

    health care system, including training, technical assistance,

    and purchasing of medical equipment. It is the 18th loan the

    bank has made to Croatia since 1993. PB

    [22] PETRITSCH ORDERS RADICAL PARTY TO RE-REGISTER WITHOUT TOP

    CANDIDATES

    Wolfgang Petritsch, the high commissioner for

    Bosnia-Herzegovina, ordered the Serbian Radical Party to

    reapply to participate in next year's elections without its

    top three candidates, AP reported. The decision in effect

    bars former Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen and

    two of his aides, Mirko Blagojevic, and Ognjen Tadic, from

    participating in politics. The elections are scheduled for 8

    April 2000. Petritsch's office said the decision was made

    because the three officials have obstructed the

    implementation of the Dayton peace agreement. PB

    [23] FORMER ALBANIAN PREMIER ACQUITTED OF CORRUPTION CHARGES

    Fatos Nano was acquitted of charges of corruption and abuse

    of power by a Tirana court on 5 October, dpa reported. A

    court spokesman said the court decided that a 12-year

    sentence given to him five years ago was not "based on

    facts." Nano was arrested in 1993 and sentenced a year later

    for allegedly misusing funds given by the Italian government

    in 1991, when he was premier. Nano has claimed the charges

    were politically motivated. He served three years in prison

    and was appointed premier again in July 1997, although he

    resigned following unrest in the fall of 1998. PB

    [24] RECONCILIATION PARK HIGHLIGHTS EMBITTERED ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN

    RELATIONS...

    The foundation stone of the Romanian-Hungarian

    reconciliation park is being laid on 6 October in the

    presence of a low-level delegation from either side, Romanian

    Radio reported. Shortly after Prime Minister Radu Vasile's

    decision not to attend, Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban

    arrived in Arad on 5 October, where he attended a ceremony

    commemorating the 13 Hungarian generals executed by the

    Austrians in 1848 and a play on the generals staged by the

    Oradea Hungarian-language theater. Orban said Vasile's

    cancellation was prompted by the desire to avoid a

    "confrontation" with Arad local council members who are

    opposed to the park. He, too, decided not to take part in the

    6 October ceremony and delegated Justice Minister Ibolya

    David to attend as a "fittingly appropriate" representation.

    On learning of Orban's decision, Deputy Premier Valeriu

    Stoica, who was to have represented Vasile, also opted not to

    be present. MS

    [25] ...AS FATE OF CONTROVERSIAL SCULPTURE GROUP REMAINS UNCLEAR

    According to a Hungarian-Romanian decision, the

    reconciliation park is to include the "Hungarian Liberty"

    group of statues of the 13 generals. The monument was

    dismantled in 1925 and kept in storage until recently.

    Speaking on Romanian Radio on 5 October, Victor Chiujdea,

    governmental state counselor for bilateral relations, said no

    decision has yet been taken on displaying the monument in the

    park. Romanian nationalists object to such a move, claiming

    the monument represents the "executioners" of Romanians in

    Transylvania. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania

    rejects such an interpretation. Party of Social Democracy in

    Romania Chairman Ion Iliescu on 5 October said he "warned"

    Vasile to stay away from the ceremony, since the Hungarians

    are "setting a trap" to make claims on Transylvania. The

    Party of Romanian National Unity and the National Romanian

    Party have demanded that the generals' monument does not go

    on display. MS

    [26] TRANSDNIESTER SEPARATISTS LOOK FOR ALLIES IN ABKHAZIA

    The

    Transdniester separatists are seeking to establish relations

    with other breakaway territories in the former Soviet Union

    and is focusing in particular on Abkhazia, Flux reported on 5

    October. The agency said delegates from Abkhazia participated

    in the ceremonies last month marking the ninth anniversary of

    Transdniester "independence." Two Transdniester Supreme

    Soviet deputies were present as "observers" during the recent

    Abkhaz presidential elections. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [27] OSCE SEEKS RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS, FAIR ELECTIONS

    By Roland Eggleston

    On his tour of Central Asia, OSCE Chairman Knut

    Vollebaek has urged the five countries to continue their

    progress toward full democracy. He asked the governments to

    free all those jailed for political offenses. And he called

    on them to implement the pledges they have repeatedly made to

    make elections fairer.

    Fair elections were Vollebaek's main theme in Kazakhstan

    on 4 October, the last day of his tour. He expressed the

    OSCE's concerns about preparations for Kazakhstan's

    parliamentary elections on 10 October.

    Vollebaek spoke with reporters in the capital, Astana,

    about his talks with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and other

    Kazakh officials. Those talks followed a meeting with non-

    governmental organizations (NGOs) active in Kazakhstan that

    have been critical of the government.

    "We discussed the election, the election laws, the

    amendments made, but in maybe a little bit more general terms

    with the president," Vollebaek said. "But some of the

    specific criticism that came up in the meeting with the NGOs

    I raised with the chairwoman of the Central Election

    Commission [on 3 October] when I met with her, the minister

    of justice and the acting prime minister."

    Vollebaek said that during his trip, he told all five

    governments that the OSCE insists on the right of every

    citizen to express political opinions without fear of

    repression: "No government is happy to have its actions

    criticized. But unless political opponents commit a criminal

    offense, they should not be penalized for their opinions."

    Vollebaek said he had told government leaders that democracy

    requires a multi-party system and laws that allow all parties

    to freely seek election.

    Vollebaek said the OSCE is not disheartened at the slow

    progress toward these goals in some Central Asian countries

    and that the organization will continue its programs to

    educate citizens about how democracy works.

    In Uzbekistan, Vollebaek asked President Islam Karimov

    about reports of repression against Islamic activists. He

    also handed over a list of about 12 people whom the OSCE

    considers to have been unfairly convicted. He asked for their

    cases to be reviewed and for information about four people

    who disappeared in recent years.

    Vollebaek received reports of other human rights

    problems, including the status of women, at a meeting in

    Tashkent with members of Uzbek non-governmental

    organizations. Among those present was the chairman of the

    Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, Talib Jakubov, who was

    denied an exit visa to attend an OSCE conference in Vienna

    this month.

    Jakubov told Vollebaek that among the political parties

    now banned from participating in elections are some that

    played an important part in winning democratic elections for

    Uzbekistan after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He said

    there was a return to the Soviet model in the 1994 election.

    Vollebaek told the meeting that the OSCE mission in

    Uzbekistan will continue to assist political parties whose

    activities have been suspended.

    In Turkmenistan, the OSCE chairman had a long meeting

    with President Saparmurad Niyazov. Niyazov told Vollebaek

    there are no political prisoners in the country and no

    instruments for oppressing political opponents. According to

    people attending the meeting, Vollebaek told Niyazov the OSCE

    has details of several cases of people imprisoned for what

    appear to be political crimes.

    Vollebaek also asked for details about the death of

    Khoshali Garaev, who was found dead in his cell last month.

    Garaev was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment in 1995 on

    charges of conducting anti-state activity.

    For almost a year, the OSCE and Turkmenistan have been

    discussing an agreement that would allow greater OSCE

    activity in the country, including election monitoring. OSCE

    officials said shortly before Vollebaek arrived in

    Turkmenistan that they thought they have an acceptable

    agreement, but the government rejected it at the last moment.

    OSCE officials said Turkmenistan does not want the OSCE's

    department for democratic institutions, known as ODIHR, to

    initiate any projects in the country. In other Central Asian

    countries, ODIHR holds seminars on the rights of the voter,

    the right of all political parties to campaign, and similar

    topics. OSCE officials said it is unlikely that monitors will

    be sent to the parliamentary elections in Turkmenistan in

    December because the elections do not meet the minimum OSCE

    standards of democracy.

    Despite the differences, Niyazov told journalists

    accompanying the OSCE mission that Vollebaek's visit had been

    worthwhile. He said 2010 is his personal target date for

    introducing what he called a new democratic society in

    Turkmenistan.

    In Tajikistan, Vollebaek conferred with government and

    opposition leaders about upcoming presidential and

    parliamentary elections. The elections are part of the

    implementation of a peace agreement that ended years of civil

    war.

    Vollebaek said Tajikistan will remain stable only if the

    elections are seen to be fair. He said OSCE monitors have

    found many flaws in the conduct of the 26 September

    referendum on constitutional changes. Opposition parties have

    requested an OSCE presence at the elections. But Vollebaek

    said he has not yet decided whether to send monitors because

    of doubts whether the elections will be conducted in

    accordance with OSCE standards.

    At a private meeting, the main opposition leader, Said

    Nuri, accused the government of trying to create difficulties

    for his group, the United Tajik Opposition.

    Vollebaek said his discussions convinced him that the

    OSCE must pay more attention to the problems of the Central

    Asian states, including their considerable economic problems,

    and find ways to offer practical assistance. He added that

    Central Asia will be an important issue at the OSCE summit in

    Istanbul in November.

    The author is a Munich-based RFE/RL correspondent.

    06-10-99


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


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