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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 205, 99-10-20

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. 205, 20 October 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER IN MOSCOW
  • [02] THREE ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES WANT CATHOLICOS ELECTION
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN'S MUSLIM LEADER ACCUSES MOSCOW OF GENOCIDE
  • [04] LAWYERS SAY CLOSURE OF AZERBAIJANI TV COMPANY ILLEGAL
  • [05] RUSSIA TO EXTRADITE SUSPECT IN GEORGIAN ASSASSINATION BID
  • [06] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS ATTACK ON JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
  • [07] CONSORTIUM LEADER ENDORSES AZERBAIJAN OIL EXPORT PIPELINE
  • [08] KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADERS DEPLORE 'CRISIS'
  • [09] KAZAKHSTAN'S PREMIER SPELLS OUT ECONOMIC PRIORITIES
  • [10] SOME COSSACKS READY TO MOVE FROM KAZAKHSTAN TO CHECHNYA
  • [11] KYRGYZ MEDIATOR OPTIMISTIC ON RELEASE OF JAPANESES HOSTAGES
  • [12] OSCE APPEALS TO TAJIK OPPOSITION TO RESUME COOPERATION WITH
  • [13] SOUTH KOREAN COMPANY TO SUSPEND PRODUCTION IN UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [14] 'SERBIAN ADOLF' NOT GUILTY OF GENOCIDE
  • [15] MORE CRITICISM OF TUDJMAN'S STATEMENTS ON BOSNIA
  • [16] GRANIC WARNS CROATS AGAINST SELF-ISOLATION
  • [17] GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER LAUDS SLOVENIA, ALBANIA
  • [18] SLOVENE EX-MINISTER FACES YEAR IN PRISON
  • [19] MONTENEGRO IN 'NO HURRY' TO INTRODUCE OWN CURRENCY
  • [20] CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER SERBIAN CANTON PROPOSAL IN KOSOVA
  • [21] SERBIAN REGIME SUES YET ANOTHER NEWSPAPER...
  • [22] ...THREATENS DOMESTIC OPPONENTS
  • [23] SERBIAN STUDENTS PROTEST COLD CLASSROOMS
  • [24] SERBIAN OPPOSITION MEETS FROWICK
  • [25] BOSNIAN SERB TV FOR SERBIA
  • [26] WHAT IS THE 'SERBIAN LIBERATION ARMY'?
  • [27] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WELCOMES PROPOSAL TO INVITE FORMER KING
  • [28] GREECE PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR ROMANIA EU ACCESSION
  • [29] U.S. TO URGE RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA
  • [30] STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR IN BULGARIA
  • [31] EU INSPECTS BULGARIAN NUCLEAR PLANT

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [32] OSCE EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ELECTIONS IN CENTRAL ASIA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER IN MOSCOW

    Visiting Moscow for

    the first time since his election in June as parliamentary

    chairman, Karen Demirchian met with Russian Foreign Minister

    Igor Ivanov, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Federation

    Council chairman Yegor Stroev on 18-19 October, a

    correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Ivanov

    characterized bilateral relations as "developing in a spirit

    of strategic partnership," according to ITAR-TASS. Demirchian

    told both Putin and Stroev that he hopes for a reversal of

    the decline in bilateral trade and, in particular, for more

    Russian investment in Armenia. Demirchian also met with

    Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov to discuss

    Armenian payment for fuel supplies to the Medzamor nuclear

    power station. Armenia plans to sell electricity to other

    countries to pay for those shipments, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

    [02] THREE ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES WANT CATHOLICOS ELECTION

    POSTPONED

    The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-

    Dashnaktsutyun on 18 October issued a statement advocating

    postponing the election of a new Catholicos, which is

    scheduled for later this month, Noyan Tapan reported. The

    Self-Determination Union issued a similar statement the

    following day. Both parties argued that the allegations by

    some senior clerics that the Armenian authorities are seeking

    to secure the election to that post of a specific candidate

    may undermine Church unity and reflect adversely on whichever

    candidate is elected. On 19 October, National Democratic

    Union Chairman Vazgen Manukian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    that he thinks the election should be delayed for a couple of

    years and that Archbishop Nerses Pozapalian should continue

    to head the Church during that period. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN'S MUSLIM LEADER ACCUSES MOSCOW OF GENOCIDE

    Allakhshukur Pashazade, who is head of the Spiritual Board of

    Muslims of the Caucasus, has written to Russian President

    Boris Yeltsin to protest what he terms Moscow's deliberate

    policy of genocide in Chechnya, Turan reported on 19 October.

    He charged Russia with masterminding the August incursion

    into Daghestan in order to provoke a violent reaction from

    Chechnya that could be presented as terrorism and banditry

    and thus serve as the rationale for a new war against

    Chechnya. Pashazade expressed concern that Moscow could also

    accuse Azerbaijan and Georgia of aggression against Russia.

    LF

    [04] LAWYERS SAY CLOSURE OF AZERBAIJANI TV COMPANY ILLEGAL

    Lawyers acting for the independent Sara TV company issued a

    statement on 19 October asserting that the Azerbaijan's

    Justice Ministry's 9 October decision to close the station

    was illegal and must be revoked, Turan reported. The station

    rejected the ministry's claim that under Azerbaijani law,

    media outlets may not be owned by foreign nationals. Also on

    19 October, 34 employees of the company, including its

    president, Rasul Rauf, began an indefinite hunger strike to

    protest the imposition by the Baku City Court of a 250

    million manat ($62,000) fine on the company for insulting the

    honor and dignity of a government official. LF

    [05] RUSSIA TO EXTRADITE SUSPECT IN GEORGIAN ASSASSINATION BID

    Russian Federal Security Service spokesman Aleksandr

    Zdanovich said in Moscow on 19 October that Russia will hand

    over to Georgia Nugzar Khuchua, who the Georgian authorities

    believe participated in the February 1998 attempt to kill

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Caucasus Press

    reported. Khuchua was apprehended in North Ossetia last month

    on suspicion of involvement in the bomb attack on the

    Vladikavkaz central market in March 1999 (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 27 and 29 September 1999). LF

    [06] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS ATTACK ON JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

    Eduard Shevardnadze, Georgian NGOs, and a Tbilisi City

    official have all condemned the 17 October assault on the

    Tbilisi offices of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Caucasus Press

    reported two days later. A group of Georgian Christians who

    support a priest excommunicated for his disagreements with

    the leadership of the Georgian Orthodox Church broke into the

    offices, beat up several members of that sect, and destroyed

    religious literature. Representatives of the Georgian

    Patriarchy called on the country's leadership in July to ban

    Jehovah's Witnesses, terming their activities "anti-state and

    anti-national." LF

    [07] CONSORTIUM LEADER ENDORSES AZERBAIJAN OIL EXPORT PIPELINE

    BP

    Amoco, the senior partner in the 11-member Azerbaijan

    International Operating Company engaged in extracting

    offshore Caspian oil, has signaled its backing for plans to

    route the main export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil

    from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Dow

    Jones reported on 19 October. The AIOC had earlier voiced

    doubts that it would ever extract large enough volumes of oil

    to render that project economically viable. But BP now hopes

    to reach the required 1 million barrels a day by using that

    pipeline to transport oil from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

    BP has a 9.5 percent stake in the Kazakh OKIOC consortium.

    AFP on 19 October quoted Turkish President Suleyman Demirel

    as saying in Baku the previous day that Turkey and Azerbaijan

    could sign a final agreement on building the pipeline at the

    November OSCE summit in Istanbul. Turkey has agreed to cover

    construction costs in excess of the estimated $2.4 billion.

    LF

    [08] KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADERS DEPLORE 'CRISIS'

    Former Customs

    Committee chairman Ghany Qasymov, who unsuccessfully

    contended the January presidential elections, told

    journalists in Almaty on 19 October that Kazakhstan is facing

    "a systemic total crisis," Interfax reported. He called for

    changes to the constitution to strengthen the role of the

    parliament and ensure that the party that wins parliamentary

    elections is able to form a government and its leader become

    prime minister. At a news conference in Almaty the same day,

    Orleu (Progress) party chairman Seydakhmet Quttyqadam

    similarly characterized the present situation as "a deep

    social and economic crisis," RFE/RL's correspondent in the

    former capital reported. Quttyqadam argued that presidential

    elections should be held next year and that the country's

    1993 constitution should be revised and reinstated. LF

    [09] KAZAKHSTAN'S PREMIER SPELLS OUT ECONOMIC PRIORITIES

    Kasymzhomart Toqaev told cabinet members on 19 October that

    his policies are aimed at implementing "the long-term

    strategy of the head of state," Interfax and ITAR-TASS

    reported. He said the cabinet will pursue an austerity course

    aimed at boosting budget revenues and reducing the country's

    trade deficit. Toqaev said he hopes an agreement with the IMF

    on terms for a new loan can be reached by the end of this

    year. He added that he opposes any renationalization of

    privatized enterprises. LF

    [10] SOME COSSACKS READY TO MOVE FROM KAZAKHSTAN TO CHECHNYA

    Interfax on 19 October quoted an unnamed senior Russian

    official in Stavropol Krai as saying that some Semirechie

    Cossacks from southern Kazakhstan have volunteered to settle

    in Chechnya on the left (northern) bank of the Terek River.

    Two rival organizations in Kazakhstan claim to represent the

    Semirechie Cossacks. The leader of one of those organizations

    has said the entire Cossack community may emigrate if the

    Kazakh authorities continue to discriminate against them (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 11 August 1999). Stavropol Krai

    official Vassilii Belchenko told ITAR-TASS on 19 October that

    two companies of Cossacks from Stavropol will be sent to

    Chechnya's Nauri and Shelkovo Raions, which are under federal

    control, to keep the peace and protect civilians there. LF

    [11] KYRGYZ MEDIATOR OPTIMISTIC ON RELEASE OF JAPANESES HOSTAGES

    Parliamentary deputy Tursunbek Bakir Uulu told journalists in

    Bishkek on 19 October that the Islamic Movement of

    Uzbekistan, whose members are holding four Japanese

    geologists they seized two months ago, may release those

    hostages soon, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Tajikistan's

    Minister for Emergency Situations Mirzo Zieev, who helped

    Bakir Uulu negotiate with the Uzbek guerrillas in Tajikistan

    the release of several Kyrgyz hostages, similarly expressed

    optimism that the Japanese will be freed by the end of this

    week, Reuters reported. Zieev denied media reports that the

    guerillas are demanding a $2 million ransom for the four

    Japanese. In Bishkek, parliamentary deputy Baiaman Erkinbaev

    told an RFE/RL correspondent on 19 October that he, too, is

    engaged in talks with the guerillas aimed at securing the

    hostages' release. He did not elaborate. LF

    [12] OSCE APPEALS TO TAJIK OPPOSITION TO RESUME COOPERATION WITH

    GOVERNMENT

    Meeting in Dushanbe on 19 October with United

    Tajik Opposition chairman Said Abdullo Nuri, head of the OSCE

    mission in Tajikistan Marin Buchoara handed over a letter

    from several OSCE member states asking that he reconsider the

    UTO's decision to suspend participation in the work of the

    National Reconciliation Commission, ITAR-TASS reported. The

    UTO had recalled its representatives on that commission to

    protest the government's refusal to convene an emergency

    parliamentary session to discuss the 6 November presidential

    election (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 1999). Nuri

    rejected the OSCE request, accusing the Tajik government of

    seeking to undermine the UTO's efforts to implement the 1997

    peace agreement. LF

    [13] SOUTH KOREAN COMPANY TO SUSPEND PRODUCTION IN UZBEKISTAN

    Samsung Electronics has suspended indefinitely the production

    of household appliances in Uzbekistan, Interfax reported on

    19 October, quoting an Uzbek official. The decision was

    prompted by problems in ensuring the regular import of

    components owing to the non-convertibility of Uzbekistan's

    currency. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [14] 'SERBIAN ADOLF' NOT GUILTY OF GENOCIDE

    The Hague-based war

    crimes tribunal ruled on 19 October that Goran Jelisic, who

    calls himself the "Serbian Adolf," is not guilty of genocide.

    The tribunal nonetheless convicted him on 31 counts of

    torture and murder of Muslim and Croatian inmates of the Luka

    prison camp near Brcko in 1992. The three judges noted that

    Jelisic was a killer and enjoyed killing, but they stressed

    that there was no evidence to suggest that his violence was

    part of a premeditated, orchestrated campaign of genocide.

    Observers noted that the case shows how difficult it will be

    for the tribunal to convict indicted persons of genocide.

    Jelisic has admitted to killing 12 people. One witness said

    that Jelisic bragged at the camp that he killed up to 30

    Muslims each day before breakfast, AP reported. PM

    [15] MORE CRITICISM OF TUDJMAN'S STATEMENTS ON BOSNIA

    U.S. Balkan

    envoy James Pardew said that Croatian President Franjo

    Tudjman's call for a separate Croatian "entity" in Bosnia is

    not acceptable, VOA's Croatian Service reported on 20 October

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999). In Sarajevo,

    "Oslobodjenje" noted that officials of the OSCE as well as of

    the international community's high representative's office

    have criticized Tudjman's remarks as being incompatible with

    the 1995 Dayton agreement, which he signed. PM

    [16] GRANIC WARNS CROATS AGAINST SELF-ISOLATION

    Croatian Foreign

    Minister Mate Granic said in Zagreb on 19 October that

    participation in the EU's Stability Pact for Southeastern

    Europe is a condition his country must meet if it is to join

    NATO's Partnership for Peace and eventually the Atlantic

    alliance itself. Granic conceded that the idea of

    participating in a project encompassing the Balkan region may

    be distasteful to many Croats, who fear that the Western

    powers may force them to join a revived Yugoslav state or

    regional federation. The minister warned, however, that

    Croatia will be as isolated as Serbia if it does not join the

    pact, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In Geneva,

    Vladimir Drobnjak, who is Croatia's chief "coordinator" for

    the pact, said that Croatia's participation will depend on

    whether it receives sufficient concrete benefits for doing

    so, "Vecernji list" reported on 20 October. PM

    [17] GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER LAUDS SLOVENIA, ALBANIA

    Rudolf

    Scharping said in Ljubljana on 19 October that Slovenia is a

    "certain candidate for NATO and the EU." He added that "it is

    realistic to expect that Slovenia will become a NATO member

    soon." Asked by journalists about possible Slovenian plans to

    buy the German Roland missile system, Scharping said that

    talks will begin once the Slovenian parliament has finished

    its debate on the annual budget. Later in Tirana, Scharping

    stressed that Albania's stability "contributes to the peace

    of the Balkans," AP reported. He met with President Rexhep

    Meidani, Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, and Defense Minister

    Luan Hajdaraga. Germany is the Albanian army's "first

    partner," Hajdaraga noted. PM

    [18] SLOVENE EX-MINISTER FACES YEAR IN PRISON

    Prosecutors in

    Ljubljana formally charged Alojz Krapez on 19 October with

    abusing his position as defense minister before his sacking

    in February. Krapez had sold his own flat and sought to move

    into one reserved for uniformed military personnel, AP

    reported. If convicted, Krapez faces one year in prison and

    will be the first prominent politician convicted for abuse of

    office in independent Slovenia. Scandals involving top

    officials are no rarity there, however. PM

    [19] MONTENEGRO IN 'NO HURRY' TO INTRODUCE OWN CURRENCY

    Social

    Affairs Minister Predrag Drecun said in Podgorica on 19

    October that the government will not "hurry" to introduce a

    Montenegrin currency independent of the Yugoslav dinar (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August 1999). He added that the

    government nonetheless understands citizens' fears of a new

    wave of inflation of the Yugoslav currency. In Belgrade,

    Yugoslav National Bank Governor Dusan Vlatkovic denied a

    recent statement by Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav

    Seselj that the bank has put into circulation an additional

    printed $400 million in dinar notes (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    19 October 1999). PM

    [20] CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER SERBIAN CANTON PROPOSAL IN KOSOVA

    Archbishop Artemije, who is the leading Serbian Orthodox

    cleric in Kosova, told the private Beta news agency on 19

    October in Mitrovica that setting up Serbian cantons is the

    only way to preserve multi-ethnicity in the province (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999). Artemije argued that

    local Serbs will leave unless they have their own self-

    governing communities. In Prishtina, the former Kosova

    Liberation Army's Hashim Thaci called the proposal to

    establish the cantons and a Serbian defense force

    "unacceptable." His colleague Mehmet Hajriz warned that

    cantonization could "lead to conflict," AP reported. PM

    [21] SERBIAN REGIME SUES YET ANOTHER NEWSPAPER...

    A state-run

    tobacco company in Nis is suing the independent "Niske

    Novine" because of a story that the newspaper printed about

    the salaries of the company's directors. The Belgrade-based

    Association of Independent Electronic Media said in a

    statement on 19 October that the legal action against "Niske

    Novine" and a similar suit against the publisher ABC Grafika

    show that the regime is determined to use the courts to shut

    down independent publications (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18

    October 1999). PM

    [22] ...THREATENS DOMESTIC OPPONENTS

    Army chief-of-staff General

    Dragoljub Ojdanic said at a Belgrade ceremony to mark the

    55th anniversary of the end of German occupation of that city

    that opposition parties demonstrating on the streets of the

    capital are allies of NATO. He stressed that "Belgrade and

    Serbia will prevail in a struggle against those who promote

    their own interests and fool our citizens." The general added

    that the government will resist any attempt to separate

    Kosova from Serbia. PM

    [23] SERBIAN STUDENTS PROTEST COLD CLASSROOMS

    Several hundred

    high schools students in Uzice staged street protests to

    complain about the lack of heating in their schools, the

    Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported on 20 October.

    Similar protests took place in Bor, according to AP. PM

    [24] SERBIAN OPPOSITION MEETS FROWICK

    The Social Democrats' Vuk

    Obradovic and several other leaders of the Serbian opposition

    held what Obradovic called "long and ample talks" with U.S.

    Balkan envoy Robert Frowick at an unspecified place in the

    Republika Srpska on 18 October. Obradovic later told

    reporters that the Americans made it clear that "there will

    be no substantial aid to Serbia so long as [Yugoslav

    President Slobodan] Milosevic is in power," AP reported. PM

    [25] BOSNIAN SERB TV FOR SERBIA

    The opposition leaders also met

    with Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik in Banja

    Luka, "Vesti" reported on 20 October. Dodik promised them

    that Bosnian Serb television will broadcast a program on the

    activities of the opposition. Alliance for Change leader

    Vladan Batic said that the opposition will seek to

    rebroadcast the program within Serbia. It is unclear how

    often the program will be aired. PM

    [26] WHAT IS THE 'SERBIAN LIBERATION ARMY'?

    A previously unknown

    group calling itself the Serbian Liberation Army (OSA)

    recently sent a letter to the Montenegrin weekly "Glas

    Crnogoraca" claiming responsibility for the 3 October car

    accident that killed four aides of the Serbian Renewal

    Movement's Vuk Draskovic. On 18 October, the Bosnian Serb

    news agency SRNA carried the statement, in which the

    organization declared itself to be in the monarchist-

    nationalist Chetnik tradition. The statement said that

    nationalist leaders like Draskovic "are worse than the open

    enemies of the Serbian people" because people like Draskovic

    "lead the people astray." "Vesti" two days later carried a

    photo of men in Chetnik dress, which the newspaper said the

    OSA allegedly sent to the "Belgrade media." PM

    [27] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WELCOMES PROPOSAL TO INVITE FORMER KING

    Emil Constantinescu sent a letter to Chamber of Deputies

    Chairman Ion Diaconescu welcoming a proposal by a group of

    deputies that former King Michael I be invited to address the

    parliament on 1 December, Romania's national day, Rompres

    reported on 19 October. VG

    [28] GREECE PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR ROMANIA EU ACCESSION

    Greek

    President Costas Simitis told his visiting Romanian

    counterpart, Radu Vasile, on 19 October that Greece supports

    Romania's bid to enter the EU as part of the effort to

    integrate the Balkans into European structures. During the

    talks, Vasile asked for a relaxation of Greece's visa policy

    toward his country, according to a Rompres report cited by

    the BBC. Vasile asked for "the greatest possible relaxation"

    of visa restrictions on so-called "low emigration risk"

    categories of travelers, such as entrepreneurs. He added that

    the two countries have agreed to create joint committees

    composed of Foreign Ministry representatives. VG

    [29] U.S. TO URGE RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA

    U.S.

    Ambassador at Large Stephen Sestanovich on 19 October said

    his country will support Moldova in its bid to secure the

    withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway region of

    Transdniester, Infotag and BASA-Press reported. Sestanovich,

    who was on a one-day visit to Moldova, said the U.S. will

    urge Russia to meet its obligations on troop withdrawals at

    the November OSCE meeting in Istanbul. On 19 October,

    Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi urged Romania to support

    its attempts to have the Russian troops withdrawn, according

    to ITAR-TASS. Sestanovich also praised Moldova's economic

    transition, calling it a "reform leader in the post-Soviet

    area." VG

    [30] STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR IN BULGARIA

    The special

    coordinator of the Balkan Stability Pact, Bodo Hombach, said

    on 19 October in Sofia that Western donors should specify

    concrete investment projects for the region by the end of

    1999 or early 2000. In the meantime, Hombach said donors will

    send recipient countries in the Balkans an "investment

    charter" outlining the main impediments to foreign investment

    in their countries. Hombach emphasized that countries in the

    region must address crime and corruption. VG

    [31] EU INSPECTS BULGARIAN NUCLEAR PLANT

    A team of EU nuclear

    experts inspected four nuclear reactors at Bulgaria's

    Kozloduy plant on 19-20 October. The EU team is checking

    whether recent upgrades at the plant meet the specifications

    of international watchdog agencies. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [32] OSCE EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ELECTIONS IN CENTRAL ASIA

    By Roland Eggleston

    The OSCE says it expects to issue this week a new report

    on the 10 October parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan that

    will be sharply critical of some aspects of the way the

    ballot was conducted.

    A senior OSCE official, who spoke on condition of

    anonymity, told RFE/RL that the OSCE election mission

    reported several instances of falsification of results. It

    also cited a lack of transparency in vote counting and other

    breaches of international standards.

    On 17 October, Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission

    said that preliminary results indicated that the OTAN party--

    which is closely identified with Kazakhstan's power

    structures--had garnered nearly 31 percent of the vote. Its

    closest rival was the Communist Party with nearly 18 percent,

    followed by the Agrarian Party (some 13 percent) and the

    Civic Party (about 11 percent).

    The election commission has said that the majority of

    districts in the country will hold a second round of voting

    on 24 October.

    An interim report issued by the OSCE immediately after

    the elections pointed to several areas in which the first

    poll failed to meet international standards. However it said

    the election was an improvement on the heavily criticized

    presidential vote last January.

    In its interim report, the OSCE noted what it called

    "serious violations" in vote counting, despite new rules by

    the Central Election Commission intended to make the process

    more transparent. The interim report was particularly

    skeptical of vote counting in the Almaty constituency. It

    said that in one case, forged returns were uncovered in

    Almaty reflecting different results for the same polling

    station. This took place in clear view of international

    observers.

    The OSCE also complained about the lack of neutrality

    among commissioners administrating the elections. It said

    that in many cases the commissions were directed by regional

    and local government authorities and were made up of

    individuals who were dependent on the favor of those

    authorities for their livelihood. It added that many members

    of the election commissions were affiliated with the OTAN

    party.

    The OSCE also said it is disappointed in the

    preparations for the 6 November presidential elections in

    Tajikistan and the parliamentary elections there early next

    year. A senior OSCE official told RFE/RL on 19 October that

    if there is no improvement, the OSCE will drop plans for a

    full-scale election-monitoring team in Tajikistan even though

    opposition parties have requested such a mission.

    The official said that despite this appeal, the OSCE

    might send only one expert to assist the local OSCE mission

    in monitoring the vote. Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov

    visited OSCE headquarters in Vienna last week to urge it to

    send a mission.

    On 15 October, the main opposition group, the United

    Tajik Opposition (UTO), said the presidential election should

    be postponed because of irregularities in the way it was

    being conducted. In particular, the UTO complained that

    opposition candidates have been prevented from collecting

    signatures required to register. Earlier last week, the

    election commission had ruled that three opposition

    candidates failed to meet the requirement, thereby leaving

    incumbent President Imomali Rakhmonov as the sole candidate.

    The UTO also wants a new Central Election Commission to

    be formed and has urged that all presidential candidates have

    equal access to state media.

    Meanwhile, the OSCE has expressed concern about the

    preparations for elections in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. An

    assessment team left for Uzbekistan on 19 October to see

    whether the conditions for the 5 December parliamentary

    elections sufficiently meet international standards for the

    OSCE to send a full election team.

    Uzbekistan has formally asked the OSCE to send a full-

    scale monitoring team for the elections. In a visit to that

    country last month, OSCE Chairman Knut Vollebaek told

    President Islam Karimov that the OSCE is not satisfied with

    some of the preparations for the elections.

    Vollebaek later told journalists that there are "flaws"

    in the process and cited election laws. He also pointed to

    the whole area of human rights, including "freedom of speech

    [and] freedom of religion where we see clear shortcomings."

    But he told Karimov that the OSCE did not expect that

    countries in transition--like those in Central Asia--would be

    able to conform immediately with international standards on

    elections. He also said that the assessment mission will make

    an "objective assessment" of whether a full observation team

    should be sent to the elections.

    Meanwhile, an assessment team is scheduled to travel to

    Turkmenistan on 8 November to examine whether a monitoring

    team should be sent for that country's 12 December

    parliamentary elections. President Saparmurat Niyazov urged

    the OSCE to do so when he met Vollebaek last month. But OSCE

    officials are already skeptical of whether conditions will

    permit the presence of a monitoring team.

    There are no political parties in Turkmenistan. Niyazov

    told the OSCE last month that political parties will appear

    when the people want them, adding that there is not sign of

    that.. He also denied that there are any political prisoners

    but said he is planning another amnesty for some other

    prisoners shortly before the election.

    OSCE officials in Vienna said it could be years before

    conditions for democratic elections appear in Turkmenistan.

    Niyazov told Vollebaek during last month's visit that he

    hopes to introduce what he called a "new, democratic society"

    by the year 2010. But he did not spell out what sort of

    society he has in mind.

    20-10-99


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


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