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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 204, 99-10-19

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. 204, 19 October 1999 "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 41,

14 October 1999).

CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CONFIDENT KARABAKH SETTLEMENT IS CLOSE
  • [02] KARABAKH PRESIDENT URGES LEGAL REFORM
  • [03] ARMENIA, GREECE SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT
  • [04] TURKISH PRESIDENT VISITS AZERBAIJAN
  • [05] GEORGIA LOBBIES FOR NEW UN ABKHAZ ENVOY
  • [06] SPOKESMAN DENIES KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT HAS SWISS BANK
  • [07] KAZAKH OPPOSITION ASKS OSCE TO MONITOR SECOND ROUND OF
  • [08] JAPAN DENIES IT WILL PAY RANSOM FOR HOSTAGES IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [09] KYRGYZSTAN HOLDS LOCAL ELECTIONS
  • [10] TAJIK OPPOSITION ORGANIZATION EXPELS DEPUTY PREMIER
  • [11] EXPLOSION IN TAJIK CAPITAL

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] KOSOVA SERBS SEEK OWN PROTECTION FORCE, CANTONS
  • [13] KFOR TO BOOST PRESENCE IN PRISHTINA
  • [14] HAS UCK'S POLITICAL POWER PEAKED?
  • [15] MULTI-ETHNIC TEAM FROM KOSOVA IN 'TRUST-BUILDING EXERCISE'
  • [16] SOME SERBIAN PARTIES FORM ELECTION COALITION...
  • [17] ...BUT WILL THERE BE ELECTIONS?
  • [18] DJINDJIC FEARS VIOLENCE AFTER MARKOVIC STATEMENT
  • [19] SESELJ ADMITS GOVERNMENT ROLE IN INFLATION
  • [20] RUSSIAN GAS ARRIVES IN SERBIA
  • [21] MONTENEGRIN AIRPORT REOPENS
  • [22] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT TO STAY
  • [23] TUDJMAN PREDICTS ELECTION VICTORY...
  • [24] ...SEEKS CROATIAN 'ENTITY' IN BOSNIA
  • [25] TUDJMAN SPARKS REACTION IN BOSNIA
  • [26] WORLD BANK TO LEND $500 MILLION TO ROMANIA
  • [27] MAIN ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN
  • [28] ROMANIA, YUGOSLAVIA SIGN HYDRO-ELECTRIC PLANT AGREEMENT
  • [29] FIVE MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES CREATE INDEPENDENT BLOC
  • [30] BULGARIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR EU LOANS TO YUGOSLAVIA
  • [31] MONTENEGRIN PREMIER VISITS BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [32] UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATES FAIL TO PRESENT UNITED FRONT

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CONFIDENT KARABAKH SETTLEMENT IS CLOSE

    Interviewed by major Armenian television channels on 16

    October, Robert Kocharian expressed confidence that he and

    his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, will succeed in

    concluding an agreement resolving the Karabakh conflict,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported two days later. Kocharian

    said he believes it would be more difficult to reach such a

    settlement when he and Aliev are no longer in office. He

    added that as a result of four rounds of direct talks over

    the past three months, the cease-fire in the conflict zone

    has been consolidated. But Kocharian appeared resistant to

    international pressure to conclude a formal peace agreement

    with Aliev during the November OSCE summit in Istanbul,

    noting that Armenia considers the venue "not quite suitable."

    LF

    [02] KARABAKH PRESIDENT URGES LEGAL REFORM

    Arkadii Ghukasian,

    president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, has

    instructed senior legal officials to draft within two weeks

    proposals on how to bring the republic's judicial system

    closer into line with that of Armenia, RFE/RL's Stepanakert

    correspondent reported on 18 October. In a first step toward

    legal reform, the enclave has disbanded the military tribunal

    and military prosecutor's office, although martial law, which

    was imposed in 1992, remains in force. In other news, the

    republic's Defense Ministry announced on 18 October that it

    will conduct scheduled maneuvers from 22-29 October, Noyan

    Tapan reported. LF

    [03] ARMENIA, GREECE SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT

    Armenian Defense

    Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian and his Greek counterpart,

    Akis Tsohatzopoulos, signed a military cooperation agreement

    in Athens on 18 October, AFP reported. The agreement covers

    research, training, joint exercises, and the exchange of

    information. LF

    [04] TURKISH PRESIDENT VISITS AZERBAIJAN

    On a one-day visit to

    Baku on 18 October, Suleyman Demirel discussed with

    Azerbaijani President Aliev the obstacles both to a Karabakh

    peace settlement and to construction of the planned Baku-

    Ceyhan oil export pipeline and Trans-Caspian gas pipeline,

    Turan reported. Both presidents said after their talks that a

    final agreement on Baku-Ceyhan will be signed "in the nearest

    future." That agreement has been repeatedly delayed because

    of the reluctance of Western oil companies operating in

    Azerbaijan to finance the project. Aliev subsequently

    presented Demirel with the Istiglal (Independence) medal in

    acknowledgement of his contribution to the "strategic

    partnership" between the two countries and to resolving the

    Karabakh conflict. Turkish Armed Forces Chief of Staff

    General Huseyn Kivrikoglu, said to be "a good friend" of

    Aliev, accompanied Demirel to Baku. LF

    [05] GEORGIA LOBBIES FOR NEW UN ABKHAZ ENVOY

    Georgian President

    Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 18 October

    that Georgia supports the candidacy of German diplomat Dieter

    Boden as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special

    representative in Abkhazia to succeed Liviu Bota.

    Shevardnadze noted, however, that Russia opposes Boden's

    candidacy, Caucasus Press reported. The Georgian president

    said that Boden gained "an excellent reputation" when he

    served in Georgia in 1995-1996 as head of the OSCE mission

    there, according to Interfax. That mission was primarily

    engaged in mediating a settlement of the conflict in South

    Ossetia. LF

    [06] SPOKESMAN DENIES KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT HAS SWISS BANK

    ACCOUNT

    Presidential press spokesman Lev Tarakov denied on

    18 October that President Nursultan Nazarbaev has any Swiss

    bank accounts, AP and Interfax reported. "The New York Times"

    had reported on 16 October that Swiss investigators had

    discovered at a Swiss branch of the French Credit Agricole

    Indosuez an account that was believed to be used by

    Nazarbaev, though not in his name. Tarakov described the

    article as consisting of "unchecked facts, rumors and

    suspicions," according to Interfax. On 17 October, Kazakh

    commercial television companies were ordered to halt

    transmission of Russia's NTV, which had aired a summary of

    the U.S. press article. LF

    [07] KAZAKH OPPOSITION ASKS OSCE TO MONITOR SECOND ROUND OF

    PARLIAMENTARY POLL

    Communist Party of Kazakhstan leader

    Serikbolsyn Abdildin told journalists in Almaty on 18 October

    that opposition parties have asked the OSCE to monitor

    closely the vote count in the 24 October second round of

    elections to the lower chamber of the parliament, Reuters

    reported. He commented that in the presence of outside

    observers, local administrators would be less likely to

    falsify the outcome of that vote. And he added that the

    results should be made public the same day. Abdildin and

    other opposition leaders have charged that the outcome of

    the party-list voting in the 10 October first round was

    falsified to increase the share of the pro-presidential Otan

    party. LF

    [08] JAPAN DENIES IT WILL PAY RANSOM FOR HOSTAGES IN KYRGYZSTAN

    Government spokesman Mikio Aoki said in Tokyo on 18 October

    that Japan will not pay a ransom to secure the release of

    four Japanese geologists seized by guerrillas in southern

    Kyrgyzstan two months ago, Reuters reported. The guerrillas

    are reportedly demanding $2 million for the geologists'

    release. Aoki added that Tokyo is working "closely" with the

    Kyrgyz authorities on the issue. Kyrgyz parliamentary deputy

    Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, who has mediated the release of seven

    Kyrgyz also taken captive by the guerrillas, said Kyrgyzstan

    will "not pay a single kopeck" for the release of the four

    Japanese, adding that he is confident they will be freed

    "soon," Interfax reported. LF

    [09] KYRGYZSTAN HOLDS LOCAL ELECTIONS

    Elections to town and

    village councils throughout Kyrgyzstan took place on 17

    October, Russian agencies reported. Overall voter

    participation was 66.4 percent, according to Central

    Electoral Commission Chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev. The highest

    turnout (78.6 percent) was in Osh Oblast, in the south of the

    country, where the recent hostage-taking occurred. The lowest

    participation (38.3 percent) was registered in Bishkek,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the capital reported on 18 October. LF

    [10] TAJIK OPPOSITION ORGANIZATION EXPELS DEPUTY PREMIER

    The

    United Tajik Opposition on 18 October expelled from its ranks

    First Deputy Prime Minister Khodja Akbar Turadjonzoda,

    accusing him of "improper behavior and actions that

    contradict...the policy of the party," ITAR-TASS reported.

    The UTO Presidium also recommended that Turadjonzoda be

    removed from the post of first deputy opposition leader and

    from his government post. Turdjonzoda had criticized three

    would-be opposition presidential candidates' demand that the

    6 November poll be postponed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and

    18 October 1999). Also on 18 October, the Supreme Court began

    hearing testimony from the three would-be opposition

    candidates, all of whom were denied registration, Asia Pluz-

    Blitz reported the next day. A representative of the Central

    Electoral Commission rejected their claim that the

    commission failed to act on their earlier complaints that

    local officials were actively preventing them from collecting

    the necessary signatures to register as presidential

    candidates. LF

    [11] EXPLOSION IN TAJIK CAPITAL

    At least two people were injured

    on 18 October in an explosion that seriously damaged a

    department store in central Dushanbe, close to the

    presidential palace, Reuters and Interfax reported. Police

    say the blast was caused by 300 grams of TNT. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] KOSOVA SERBS SEEK OWN PROTECTION FORCE, CANTONS

    Some 150

    representatives of Kosova's Serbian minority met at the

    Gracanica monastery on 18 October, the private Beta news

    agency reported. Agreeing that the new Kosova Protection

    Corps will be dominated by ethnic Albanians and that Serbs

    cannot count on it to protect them, the delegates proposed

    that the Serbs set up their own protection force (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 18 October 1999). They also decided that Serbs

    should transform areas where they constitute a majority into

    self-governing cantons. The delegates called for a moratorium

    on activities by political parties and announced that a 49-

    member Serbian National Council is to be set up. PM

    [13] KFOR TO BOOST PRESENCE IN PRISHTINA

    NATO peacekeepers said

    in a statement on 19 October that they will increase their

    presence on the streets of Kosova's capital. The move came

    hours after the killing of a Serbian man and in the wake of

    other recent violence, primarily against Serbs and Roma.

    "This barbaric behavior cannot be tolerated and all efforts

    will be made to arrest those who think they can take the

    lives of others and just walk away. As a result of such cold-

    blooded murders, the KFOR command has decided to step up KFOR

    security presence in Prishtina," the statement added. PM

    [14] HAS UCK'S POLITICAL POWER PEAKED?

    Many ordinary Kosovars have

    come to associate the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) and

    its leader Hashim Thaci with violence and arrogant behavior,

    the "International Herald Tribune" reported on 18 October.

    The daily noted that the former guerrillas "are ensnared in a

    deep political crisis caused by unhappiness with their heavy-

    handed power grabs, rising disgust about the violence

    plaguing [Kosova], and the rebels' own underestimation of

    their political rivals." An unpublished opinion poll

    commissioned by an unnamed Western organization shows shadow-

    state President Ibrahim Rugova defeating Thaci in a two-way

    contest by a four-to-one margin. A second poll gave Rugova 92

    percent against Thaci, the daily continued. Rugova's policy

    of remaining out of public view has added to his "mysterious,

    mystical" image among Kosovars, an independent analyst told

    the U.S. daily. PM

    [15] MULTI-ETHNIC TEAM FROM KOSOVA IN 'TRUST-BUILDING EXERCISE'

    Ten ethnic Albanians, three Serbs, two ethnic Muslims, and a

    Turk went to France on 19 October to begin what Major-General

    Jean-Claude Thomann of KFOR called a "trust-building

    exercise." They will receive training in fire-fighting,

    emergency rescue, and related activities from the French

    Civil Securities, AP reported. The Albanians, Muslims, and

    Turk belong to the Kosova Protection Force, while the Serbs

    were sent by the authorities in northern Mitrovica. Thomann

    said the participants in the program agreed to "talk to one

    another." He added that he feels it is too soon to expect

    Serbs and Albanians to serve together in the same force.

    Observers note that NATO and the UN regard the Civil

    Securities as the model for the Protection Force. The UCK,

    however, sees the force as its successor and the nucleus of a

    future Kosovar army. PM

    [16] SOME SERBIAN PARTIES FORM ELECTION COALITION...

    Vladan Batic

    of the Alliance for Change said in Belgrade on 18 October

    that several of the parties belonging to the alliance will

    form an election coalition. Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic

    Party noted that the coalition parties will constitute a

    joint group of deputies in the parliament after the

    elections. Social Democratic leader Vuk Obradovic said that

    his party will remain in the alliance but not join the

    electoral coalition lest the Social Democrats lose their

    identity, Belgrade's "Danas" reported. The opposition insists

    that early elections be held by the end of the year based on

    a system of proportional representation. Batic stressed on 18

    October that the alliance will not take part in any elections

    unless the regime introduces the electoral reforms that the

    opposition demands, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.

    PM

    [17] ...BUT WILL THERE BE ELECTIONS?

    Several top officials of

    parties in the governing coalition said on 18 October that

    there will be no early elections, AP reported. However, the

    following day the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti"

    quoted an unnamed official of the governing Socialist Party

    of Serbia as saying that elections will take place in

    December. Mira Markovic, who is the wife of Yugoslav

    President Slobodan Milosevic and the head of the neo-

    communist United Yugoslav Left, stressed that "elections can

    take place tomorrow as far as [her party] is concerned."

    Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj said that he

    favors elections in March. He added that if the opposition

    protesters block streets, "we will arrest them and turn them

    over to the courts.... The police must react immediately and

    mercilessly." PM

    [18] DJINDJIC FEARS VIOLENCE AFTER MARKOVIC STATEMENT

    Djindjic

    fears that he may be the target of a violent attack following

    a recent interview by Markovic, in which she called him a

    "traitor," AP reported from Belgrade on 19 October. She used

    similar language about publisher Slavko Curuvija shortly

    before unknown thugs killed him in April. Djindjic said: "I'm

    not worried about what will happen to me, whether Mirjana

    Markovic will be consistent in punishing 'traitors' or only

    will accuse me verbally. I'm more worried that she has the

    power in Serbia to pronounce the sentencing." PM

    [19] SESELJ ADMITS GOVERNMENT ROLE IN INFLATION

    Seselj said in

    Belgrade on 18 October that the government recently printed

    $400 million in dinar notes in addition to the $1 billion

    already in circulation. He said that "we simply had to print

    money to support [postwar] reconstruction," AP reported.

    Previously, Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic denied that the

    government had printed additional money. He charged

    Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and Bosnian Serb Prime

    Minister Milorad Dodik with flooding Serbia with dinars after

    they began to use the German mark as an unofficial currency.

    PM

    [20] RUSSIAN GAS ARRIVES IN SERBIA

    Serbian Energy Minister Zivota

    Cosic said in Belgrade on 18 October that Russian gas

    deliveries via Hungary have resumed. Russia's Gazprom will

    provide some 4.5 million cubic meters of gas per day. It is

    unclear whether Serbia has cleared its $20 million debt to

    the Hungarian MOL company and signed a transit agreement,

    which the Hungarian authorities had demanded. Hungary

    observes EU sanctions against Belgrade but has agreed to

    limited gas deliveries on humanitarian grounds, Reuters

    reported. PM

    [21] MONTENEGRIN AIRPORT REOPENS

    The Podgorica airport reopened

    for civilian traffic on 18 October following the repair of

    damage caused by NATO airstrikes in the spring, RFE/RL's

    Slavic Service reported. The government hopes that the

    airport will increase Montenegro's direct links to the

    outside world independent of Belgrade and help revive the key

    tourist industry. PM

    [22] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT TO STAY

    Socialist Party head Fatos Nano

    said in Tirana on 18 October that he does not plan any

    changes in the government. He made the statement after

    meeting with Prime Minister Pandeli Majko (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," "End Note," 18 October 1999). PM

    [23] TUDJMAN PREDICTS ELECTION VICTORY...

    Croatian President

    Franjo Tudjman told a press conference in Zagreb on 18

    October that he is confident that his Croatian Democratic

    Community (HDZ) will win the parliamentary elections widely

    expected to take place before Christmas. He argued that the

    HDZ "created Croatia," has the best program of any party, and

    will go on to victory "for the eighth time." Asked about the

    Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Tudjman said that "no

    Croatian general" will be sent to trial there. He stressed

    that those men "liberated their country from evil and cannot

    be held accountable" for atrocities. The president argued

    that the court does not take a "balanced" approach because it

    has indicted several Croats but none of the Serbs who shelled

    Zagreb during the 1991-1995 conflict. Observers note that no

    Croatian general has been publicly indicted. The majority of

    those indicted are Serbs. PM

    [24] ...SEEKS CROATIAN 'ENTITY' IN BOSNIA

    Tudjman added that the

    Bosnian state and the 1995 Dayton peace accord can continue

    to exist only if there is complete equality between Serbs,

    Muslims, and Croats. To this end, the Croats as well as the

    Serbs and Muslims should have their own "entity," he argued.

    Observers note that Tudjman has never hidden his belief that

    Bosnia is an artificial state that should be partitioned

    between Serbia and Croatia. As a signatory of the Dayton

    agreement, however, he is obliged to uphold the current

    constitutional order, in which the Serbs have one entity and

    the Croats and Muslims share power in a second one. PM

    [25] TUDJMAN SPARKS REACTION IN BOSNIA

    In Sarajevo, a spokeswoman

    for the international community's Wolfgang Petritsch said on

    18 October that Tudjman's statement will not lead to any

    revision of Dayton, "Dnevni avaz" reported. Moderate Bosnian

    Croat leader Kresimir Zubak argued that he has never heard

    Tudjman advocate setting up a separate "Croatian entity" in

    Bosnia and that the idea must have come from hard-liners

    opposed to any links to the Muslims. PM

    [26] WORLD BANK TO LEND $500 MILLION TO ROMANIA

    The World Bank is

    preparing to grant Romania some $500 million in loans to

    support the country's integration into the EU, according to

    the bank's director for Romania, Andrew Vorkink. Vorkink told

    Romanian journalists on 18 October that the money will go to

    the mining and agricultural sectors, public administration

    reform, and the stimulation of industrial production. He

    praised Romania's success in maintaining currency stability

    and increasing its currency reserves. VG

    [27] MAIN ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN

    Delegates

    to the 16 October congress of the Party of Social Democracy

    in Romania (PDSR) elected Alexandru Athanasiu as the party's

    new leader, Romanian media reported on 18 October. Athanasiu

    defeated the other candidate, Emil Putin, by a vote of 482-

    471. Athanasiu said he will follow his predecessor's

    political line. VG

    [28] ROMANIA, YUGOSLAVIA SIGN HYDRO-ELECTRIC PLANT AGREEMENT

    Romania and Yugoslavia have signed an agreement to make

    technological improvements at the Portile Fier I hydro-

    electric power plant on the countries' mutual border along

    the River Danube, according to a 18 October Mediafax report

    cited by the BBC. The agreement is based on a 1998 convention

    to coordinate work on the plant. VG

    [29] FIVE MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES CREATE INDEPENDENT BLOC

    Four parliamentary deputies from the Bloc for a Democratic

    and Prosperous Moldova have joined a former deputy of the

    Party of Democratic Forces to form an independent bloc in the

    parliament, Infotag and Basa-Press reported on 18 October.

    The creation of the bloc weakens the government's support in

    the parliament and increases the chances that the cabinet

    would fall in any potential confidence vote. In other news,

    presidential spokesman Anatol Golea rejected recent

    suggestions by Prime Minister Ion Sturza that the president

    wants the government dismissed, Infotag reported. VG

    [30] BULGARIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR EU LOANS TO YUGOSLAVIA

    Ivan

    Kostov on 19 October called on the EU to extend loans to

    small and medium-sized businesses in Yugoslavia as a means of

    shoring up the democratic opposition to Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic, AP reported. Kostov also criticized the

    West for delays in implementing an economic aid plan for the

    Balkans. He expressed concern that the post-war

    reconstruction of the region might be designed to serve the

    interests of donors or private companies. VG

    [31] MONTENEGRIN PREMIER VISITS BULGARIA

    Filip Vujanovic on 18

    October thanked Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandur

    Bozhkov for his country's stance during the Kosova crisis,

    according to a BTA report cited by the BBC. Vujanovic and

    Bozhkov also discussed ways of improving relations between

    Montenegro and Bulgaria. Vujanovic was in Sofia to attend the

    Southeast Europe Economic Forum. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [32] UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATES FAIL TO PRESENT UNITED FRONT

    by Lily Hyde

    When four candidates announced in August that they were

    joining forces in the Ukrainian presidential race, the media

    generally welcomed that announcement. The four candidates--

    socialist Oleksandr Moroz, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr

    Tkachenko, head of the mayors' association Volodymyr Oliynyk,

    and former Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk--made their

    announcement in Kaniv, the rural, leafy burial-place of a

    national poet. They subsequently became known as the Kaniv

    Four. Analysts said a single candidate from the Kaniv Four

    could be a real challenger to President Leonid Kuchma, who is

    running for re-election.

    Two months later, the Kaniv Four are again in the news,

    but the media attitude has greatly changed. Moroz, the most

    popular of the four candidates, has lost voter support in the

    wake of a scandal surrounding the attack on the life of rival

    candidate Natalya Vitrenko. Tkachenko has been accused of

    breaking election laws by campaigning on Russian television.

    And the failure of the four to announce a single candidate,

    as promised, has led to widespread speculation that the Kaniv

    Four have splintered into a Kaniv Three, or even Two.

    The candidates delayed announcing their choice several

    times, saying they feared physical attacks on the chosen

    candidate. Finally on 15 October, Moroz's team announced that

    Tkachenko and Oliynyk would support Moroz, while Marchuk

    would continue his own campaign independently. Moroz's

    campaign manager said the Kaniv Four still intend to field a

    single candidate and it is "70 percent likely" that Moroz

    will be that candidate. The final announcement is expected

    just days before the 31 October election.

    Government media greeted the delays with derision.

    Kuchma was widely quoted as calling the behavior of the group

    "agonizing." He said the four candidates were "monsters" and

    that Moroz was "losing face." The press speculated that the

    announcement was delayed because the four have no strategy.

    Mykola Tomenko, head of the Kyiv Institute of Politics,

    told RFE/RL that he considers the delay in the announcement

    of a single candidate to be a reasonable response to an

    unstable situation. He said the decision of Oliynyk and

    Tkachenko to resign their candidacies in support of Moroz is

    significant: "It's the first serious step. I think if he

    remains the only one of four it will be a more serious step

    to a member of the Kaniv Four to have a claim on the

    presidency."

    Tomenko added that he thinks the group was wise not name

    Moroz as their candidate at this juncture. The media have

    been linking Moroz with the grenade attack two weeks ago

    against Vitrenko, who split with Moroz's Socialist party

    several years ago and now heads the more radical Progressive

    Socialists.

    Moroz has denied involvement and attempted to challenge

    the negative media coverage. The parliament last week ordered

    the state channel UT-1 to show Moroz defending himself

    against the allegations. UT-1 did not comply with the

    parliamentary order, which most commentators say has a

    dubious basis in law.

    Analyst Tomenko says the state media's criticism of the

    Kaniv Four is an indication that Kuchma sees the alliance as

    a serious threat. That is a line the candidates themselves

    have taken. "I think this only confirms the weight of the

    four. The official channel UT-1 and the program "Panorama"

    [recently] devoted 15 minutes to criticizing the Kaniv Four

    and 10 minutes to criticizing Oleksandr Moroz. It seems

    possible to draw the conclusion that the authorities are

    afraid of the Kaniv Four and afraid of Oleksandr Moroz as a

    real candidate."

    At a press conference on 18 October, the four candidates

    said they plan to appeal to the Central Election Commission

    to have Kuchma's candidacy annulled. They say he is unfairly

    using his government power over the media to further his

    campaign.

    The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Kyiv.

    19-10-99


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


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