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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 214, 99-11-03

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. 214, 3 November 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER
  • [02] KHACHATRIAN PLEDGES CONTINUITY, STABILITY
  • [03] OSCE NOTES VIOLATIONS DURING GEORGIAN ELECTION...
  • [04] ...AS DO INDEPENDENT MONITORS
  • [05] GEORGIA, RUSSIA OFFER CONTRADICTORY REPORTS OF CHECHEN BORDER
  • [06] SUSPECT IN ASSASSINATION BID EXTRADITED TO GEORGIA
  • [07] RUSSIA PLAYS DOWN POSSIBLE DAMAGE FROM ROCKET EXPLOSION OVER
  • [08] ...AS LOCAL RESIDENTS PROTEST
  • [09] REPEAT ELECTIONS CALLED IN THREE KAZAKH CONSTITUENCIES
  • [10] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT DENIES HAVING FOREIGN PROPERTY, BANK
  • [11] TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY URGES BOYCOTT OF PRESIDENTIAL POLL...
  • [12] ...AS EU EXPRESSES CONCERN
  • [13] TURKMENISTAN GAS PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION DELAYED?
  • [14] RUSSIA WARNS AGAINST 'POLITICIZING' PIPELINE ROUTES

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] MONTENEGRO INTRODUCES GERMAN MARK...
  • [16] ...WHILE U.S. EXPRESSES 'UNDERSTANDING'...
  • [17] ...AND MOST YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS KEEP QUIET
  • [18] STUDENTS DEMONSTRATE IN BELGRADE
  • [19] SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES ASK EU TO LIFT SOME SANCTIONS
  • [20] YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES RELEASE BRITISH CORRESPONDENT
  • [21] STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR CALLS FOR 'RESTRUCTURED'
  • [22] U.S. DIPLOMAT CALLS FOR AN END TO ANTI-SERB VIOLENCE IN
  • [23] DEL PONTE URGES ARRESTS OF MORE WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS...
  • [24] ...WHILE ADAMS ANNOUNCES REDUCTION IN SFOR TROOPS
  • [25] TUPURKOVSKI OFFERS TO STEP DOWN OVER ELECTION RESULT
  • [26] IMF GIVES ALBANIA POSITIVE ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT
  • [27] ALBANIAN POLICE CONDUCT BORDER AREA SWEEP
  • [28] ROMANIAN SUPREME COURT QUERIES LAW ON ACCESS TO SECURITATE
  • [29] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES LUCINSCHI
  • [30] BULGARIAN PREMIER IN FRANCE

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [31] MONITORS EVALUATE UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER

    Meeting in emergency

    session on 2 November, deputies elected People's Party member

    Armen Khachatrian as parliamentary speaker, RFE/RL's Yerevan

    bureau reported. Khachatrian formerly headed the

    parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs. Gagik Aslanian,

    who is also a member of the People's Party, and Tigran

    Torosian of the Republican Party were elected deputy

    speakers. All three candidacies were endorsed by a large

    majority of deputies. Republican Party chairman Andranik

    Markarian, who had been tipped for the speaker's post,

    proposed all three candidacies, explaining that leaders of

    all factions in the parliament had decided unanimously that

    it is important to observe the status quo, whereby the

    speaker and one of his deputies are members of the People's

    Party and the second deputy speaker a member of the

    Republican Party, according to Noyan Tapan. Those two parties

    constitute the majority Miasnutiun parliament faction. LF

    [02] KHACHATRIAN PLEDGES CONTINUITY, STABILITY

    Addressing

    deputies prior to the vote on the three candidacies,

    Khachatrian vowed that "all programs that were envisaged by

    [the assassinated leaders] will be put into practice by all

    of us," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He called for a

    multi-partisan effort to maintain political stability and

    help the country recover from the aftermath of last week's

    murders of the prime minister and parliament speaker.

    President Robert Kocharian told the session that the support

    shown for the three candidates demonstrates that the

    parliament is capable of discharging its basic functions in

    accordance with the constitution, which in turn suggests that

    "democracy is becoming stronger in our country," according to

    Noyan Tapan. Kocharian said that within the next few days, he

    will name a new premier and cabinet, which, he said, should

    enjoy the support of the parliamentary majority. LF

    [03] OSCE NOTES VIOLATIONS DURING GEORGIAN ELECTION...

    In its

    preliminary assessment, the OSCE Election Observer Mission

    termed the 31 October Georgian parliamentary poll "a step

    toward Georgia's compliance with OSCE commitments," according

    to Caucasus Press on 3 November, but it failed to endorse the

    voting as free and fair. The statement said that voters were

    generally able to express their will and that the elections

    laws provided an adequate framework for genuine multi-party

    elections. At the same time, it noted that local officials in

    several districts violated the procedures envisaged for the

    vote count. Conduct of the poll was termed good in Tbilisi

    but less than satisfactory in Samtskhe-Djavakheti and Kvemo

    Kartli (which have large Armenian and Azerbaijani minorities,

    respectively) and unsatisfactory in Adjaria. The assessment

    said that the "heated competition" between political parties

    during the run-up to the poll confirms the existence of

    political pluralism, but it added that the tone of the

    campaign "went beyond acceptable limits." The statement also

    noted instances of election-related violence and

    intimidation. LF

    [04] ...AS DO INDEPENDENT MONITORS

    Nugzar Ivanidze, who heads the

    independent Fair Elections group, told AP on 2 November that

    the 31 October elections "can be called multi-party but they

    weren't democratic." Ivanidze said that observers were barred

    from watching the ballot box at some polling stations and

    that 15,000 ballot papers vanished from one Tbilisi polling

    station hours before the vote began. Labor Party leader

    Shalva Natelashvili told Caucasus Press on 2 November that

    contrary to official preliminary returns, his party achieved

    the 7 percent minimum required for representation in the new

    parliament. Irakli Batiashvili, one of the leaders of the

    Industry Will Save Georgia bloc, claimed that the bloc polled

    20 percent of the total party-list vote. According to

    official statistics, the two election subjects received 6.85

    and 6.75 percent of the vote. LF

    [05] GEORGIA, RUSSIA OFFER CONTRADICTORY REPORTS OF CHECHEN BORDER

    TALKS

    The director of Georgia's Border Guards, Valerii

    Chkheidze, met with his Russian counterpart, Konstantin

    Totskii, in Moscow on 2 November to discuss the possibility

    of jointly protecting the border between Georgia and

    Chechnya. ITAR-TASS quoted Chkheidze as saying that he and

    Totskii agreed on the deployment of Russian border guards

    along that stretch of the Russian-Georgian border to prevent

    the infiltration of mercenaries into Chechnya from Georgian

    territory. But Interfax quoted Totskii as saying that

    Chkheidze rejected the possibility of a joint force to

    protect the border, which, he said, will be guarded solely by

    Georgian detachments. Totskii added, however, that a Russian

    contingent will travel to the border shortly to inspect

    conditions there. He said that inclement weather is likely to

    render that mountain sector of the border impassable within

    the next few weeks. LF

    [06] SUSPECT IN ASSASSINATION BID EXTRADITED TO GEORGIA

    Nugzar

    Chukhua, whom the Georgian authorities have identified as one

    of the 12 men who participated in the failed bid to

    assassinate Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in

    February 1998, was extradited to Georgia from North Ossetia

    on 2 November. He was apprehended by Russian police on

    suspicion of involvement in the bomb explosion in

    Vladikavkaz's central market earlier this year (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 27 September and 20 October 1999). Russian

    investigators have established that Chukhua served as

    commander of a detachment of the Georgian National Guard

    under President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, according to Interfax. LF

    [07] RUSSIA PLAYS DOWN POSSIBLE DAMAGE FROM ROCKET EXPLOSION OVER

    KAZAKHSTAN...

    Russian Deputy Premier Ilya Klebanov told

    journalists on 2 November that Moscow will not pressure

    Kazakhstan to lift the temporary ban imposed on the launch of

    Proton rockets from the Baikonur cosmodrome following the

    explosion of one such rocket shortly after blastoff on 27

    October, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October

    1999). But Klebanov added that it is unlikely that Moscow

    will pay compensation for the disaster, as it occurred at a

    high altitude over an unpopulated area and there is little

    risk of contamination from toxic heptyl rocket fuel.

    Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev had said last

    week that Astana will probably demand a larger sum in

    compensation than it had received after a similar explosion

    in July. On 2 November, Toqaev told reporters that last

    week's explosion had damaged bilateral relations, Reuters

    reported. LF

    [08] ...AS LOCAL RESIDENTS PROTEST

    The inhabitants of Aqsu

    village in Qaraghandy Oblast staged a demonstration on 1

    November to demand the closure of the Baikonur cosmodrome,

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The region was contaminated

    with heptyl rocket fuel following the July Proton rocket

    explosion. The protestors claim that toxic fuel was also

    spilled after last week's explosion. LF

    [09] REPEAT ELECTIONS CALLED IN THREE KAZAKH CONSTITUENCIES

    A

    member of Kazakhstan's Central Electoral Commission said on 2

    November that the results of the 24 October runoff elections

    in three constituencies have been annulled because of

    unspecified violations by candidates or their supporters,

    Reuters reported. She added that the chief electoral

    officials in those districts have been dismissed. The

    districts in question are in the city of Atyrau and in

    Dzhambyl and South Kazakhstan Oblasts. Kazakhstan's election

    law bans the original candidates from running in the repeat

    elections, for which no date has been set. Meanwhile, Orleu

    (Progress) Party leader Seydakhmet Quttyqadam has brought a

    court case against Almaty City Mayor Viktor Khrapunov, whom

    he accuses of fraud during the 10 and 24 October

    parliamentary votes, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former

    capital reported on 2 November. LF

    [10] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT DENIES HAVING FOREIGN PROPERTY, BANK

    ACCOUNTS

    Nursultan Nazarbaev told the state-owned Khabar

    news agency on 2 November that he neither owns property

    abroad nor has any foreign bank accounts, Interfax reported.

    The "New York Times" reported last month that Swiss

    investigators had discovered an account they believed was

    used by Nazarbaev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999).

    LF

    [11] TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY URGES BOYCOTT OF PRESIDENTIAL POLL...

    Following a meeting of the United Tajik Opposition on 2

    November, the Islamic Renaissance Party, which is the senior

    partner in that umbrella grouping, issued a statement the

    next day calling for a boycott of the 6 November presidential

    election, AP reported. Economics and Foreign Trade Minister

    Davlat Usmon, who was registered as a presidential candidate

    of the Islamic Renaissance Party, formally requested last

    week that his registration be annulled as he had failed to

    collect the required number of signatures in his support.

    Usmon also demanded that the poll be postponed. ITAR-TASS on

    2 November quoted Central Electoral Commission Chairman

    Mirzoali Boltuev as saying that ballot papers with the names

    of incumbent President Imomali Rakhmonov and Usmon have

    already been sent to all electoral districts. LF

    [12] ...AS EU EXPRESSES CONCERN

    In a statement issued on 2

    November by the German Embassy in Dushanbe, the EU expressed

    concern that incumbent Imomali Rakhmonov is the sole

    candidate for the 6 November presidential poll, AP reported.

    The statement said that candidates should be able to propose

    their candidacies "on a free and fair basis" and that "the

    electorate must have a choice." LF

    [13] TURKMENISTAN GAS PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION DELAYED?

    Representatives of the U.S. company PSG, which is the

    operator of the planned Trans-Caspian gas export pipeline

    from Turkmenistan to Baku, and PSG's upstream partner, Shell,

    told journalists in Ashgabat on 2 November after talks with

    Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov that construction

    of the pipeline will not begin before the end of 2000 and

    will take two years, Interfax reported. Meeting with Niyazov

    the same day, Iran's Deputy Petroleum Minister Mehdi Hashemi

    Bahramani said Iran is prepared to import 8-11 billion cubic

    meters of gas annually from Turkmenistan. Iran currently

    receives some 2 billion cubic meters of gas via the

    Korpedzhe- Kurt Kui pipeline in payment for Iranian

    infrastructure construction. LF

    [14] RUSSIA WARNS AGAINST 'POLITICIZING' PIPELINE ROUTES

    In

    Ankara, Russia's Ambassador Aleksandr Lebedev told Interfax

    on 2 November that politicizing "purely commercial deals" to

    build pipelines to transport gas to Turkey is "ruinous,"

    Interfax reported. The Blue Stream pipeline to export Russian

    natural gas to Turkey is expected to be completed by early

    2001. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] MONTENEGRO INTRODUCES GERMAN MARK...

    The Montenegrin

    government on 2 November introduced the German mark as its

    second legal currency (see "RFE/R" Newsline," November 1999).

    Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and other officials

    from the republic said Montenegro was forced to take the step

    to protect itself from bad monetary policy and instability in

    neighboring Serbia. Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip

    Vujanovic said the move has "absolutely nothing to do" with

    "destructive" measures such as "secession," Radio Montenegro

    reported on 2 November. Meanwhile, Djukanovic said the move

    will "increase the time span" during which Montenegro can

    wait for changes in Serbia before taking further steps toward

    independence. VG

    [16] ...WHILE U.S. EXPRESSES 'UNDERSTANDING'...

    The U.S. State

    Department on 2 November expressed understanding for

    Montenegro's currency decision. A State Department official

    said the U.S. "recognizes the serious economic concerns" that

    led Montenegro to such a decision. The official added that

    the move "underscores the need for democratic change in

    Yugoslavia." VG

    [17] ...AND MOST YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS KEEP QUIET

    Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic made no official mention of developments

    in Montenegro on 2 November after a meeting with Serbian

    President Mirko Marjanovic, according to a Radio Belgrade

    report cited by the BBC. Instead, Milosevic congratulated

    Marjanovic on his efforts to reconstruct the country after

    the NATO bombing. The same day, however, the Yugoslav United

    Left party, which was formed by Milosevic's wife, denounced

    Montenegro's currency decision as the work of "separatists,"

    Tanjug reported. Meanwhile, opposition Serbian Renewal

    Movement spokesman Ivan Kovacevic welcomed the Montenegrin

    decision and said Serbia should also introduce the German

    mark. Kovacevic said Montenegro's efforts to redefine its

    relationship with Serbia do not represent a threat to the

    existence of the Yugoslav federal republic. VG

    [18] STUDENTS DEMONSTRATE IN BELGRADE

    Between 2,000 and 3,000

    Serbian students marched through the streets of Belgrade on 2

    November to demand early elections. The rally, which was

    organized by 16 student organizations, was one of the first

    student-led rallies since the winter of 1996-1997.

    Demonstrators marched past the headquarters of the governing

    Socialist Party chanting calls for Yugoslav President

    Milosevic to be sent to the international war crimes tribunal

    in The Hague. VG

    [19] SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES ASK EU TO LIFT SOME SANCTIONS

    During a 2 November meeting with EU representatives in

    Budapest, a group of Serbian opposition politicians called on

    the EU to lift some of its economic sanctions against

    Yugoslavia, MTI reported. Slobodan Vuksanovic, deputy

    chairman of the Democratic Party, said the group repeated its

    request that the EU "differentiate between the Milosevic

    regime and the Serbian citizens, as the latter do not deserve

    to be punished." VG

    [20] YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES RELEASE BRITISH CORRESPONDENT

    A British

    correspondent for "The Times" newspaper was released from

    prison on 2 November because of health problems, the Serbian

    Justice Ministry told Beta. Dessa Trevisan had been sentenced

    to 10 days in jail the previous day for travelling in

    Yugoslavia without a valid entry stamp in her passport (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November 1999). Trevisan described

    conditions in the Belgrade prison as "inhumane" but added

    that she was not mistreated during the night she spent in

    jail, AP reported on 2 November. She said the judge told her

    British passports are "not appreciated" in Yugoslavia. VG

    [21] STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR CALLS FOR 'RESTRUCTURED'

    SANCTIONS

    The international community's coordinator for the

    Balkan Stability pact, Bodo Hombach, said on 2 November that

    while sanctions against Yugoslavia have been "effective,"

    they need to be restructured to minimize the impact on

    average Serbs. VG

    [22] U.S. DIPLOMAT CALLS FOR AN END TO ANTI-SERB VIOLENCE IN

    KOSOVA

    William Walker has condemned recent attacks on ethnic

    Serbs in Kosova, AP reported on 2 November. Walker is well

    known and well respected among ethnic Albanians in Kosova for

    having condemned Serbian violence against Albanians in the

    province before the NATO bombing campaign began in March.

    Walker, who is on a visit to Kosova, said attacks on Serbs in

    the region play "into the hands of Milosevic." However, he

    also said the overall situation in Kosova has improved since

    he was last in the province. "When I was here before it was

    night, and now I think it's day," he commented. VG

    [23] DEL PONTE URGES ARRESTS OF MORE WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS...

    Carla

    del Ponte, the chief prosecutor for the Hague-based war

    crimes tribunal, on 2 November urged SFOR troops in Bosnia-

    Herzegovina to engage in a "more active effort" to arrest war

    crimes suspects, Reuters reported. She added that the

    tribunal will issue more indictments next year. Since 1996,

    SFOR has arrested 14 war crimes suspects and killed two

    others while trying to arrest them. Some suspects, including

    former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, are still at

    large. Del Ponte, who is on a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina,

    said that SFOR Commander Ronald Adams assured her that SFOR

    will continue to support the tribunal's efforts. VG

    [24] ...WHILE ADAMS ANNOUNCES REDUCTION IN SFOR TROOPS

    Adams on 2

    November announced that SFOR troop strength will be reduced

    by one-third by April 2000 because of the improving security

    situation in Bosnia. There are currently about 30,000 troops

    from some 40 countries supervising the peace in Bosnia-

    Herzegovina. VG

    [25] TUPURKOVSKI OFFERS TO STEP DOWN OVER ELECTION RESULT

    Democratic Alliance chairman Vasil Tupurkovski on 2 November

    offered to step down as party leader after finishing third in

    the Macedonian presidential elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    2 November 1999), Reuters reported. He described his offer as

    a "normal gesture" for a politician who fails to achieve a

    stated goal. Tupurkovski added that his party is re-examining

    future relations within the governing coalition, of which the

    alliance is a member. The relatively poor showing of Deputy

    Foreign Minister Boris Trajkovski in the vote is causing

    strains within the governing VMRO-DPMNE, according to a

    source close to the government cited by Reuters. VG

    [26] IMF GIVES ALBANIA POSITIVE ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT

    A visiting

    IMF delegation on 2 November announced that economic growth

    in Albania is expected to reach 8 percent this year, while

    inflation will be around zero by the end of the year, dpa

    reported. The delegation said the budget deficit is under

    control and the government has made "notable progress" on its

    privatization program. The news agency also reported that the

    positive economic results are largely a result of the

    increased foreign assistance and hard currency flowing into

    the country as a result of the Kosova crisis. Albanian

    Finance Minister Anastas Angjeli said the government has

    agreed with the IMF that economic growth and inflation will

    total 8 percent and 3 percent, respectively, next year. VG

    [27] ALBANIAN POLICE CONDUCT BORDER AREA SWEEP

    Albanian police

    arrested 21 people in a 2 November sweep through the

    northeastern part of the country near the border with Kosova,

    dpa reported. The detained persons are suspected of smuggling

    as well as involvement in a series of robberies of ethnic

    Albanians from Kosova. The sweep comes as Albania prepares to

    sign an agreement with Germany on the repatriation of some

    200,000 Kosova Albanians. The Kosovars are to pass through

    Albania on their way home. VG

    [28] ROMANIAN SUPREME COURT QUERIES LAW ON ACCESS TO SECURITATE

    FILES

    The Supreme Court on 2 November appealed to the

    Constitutional Court to consider the constitutionality of the

    recently passed law on access to the files of the former

    secret police, Mediafax reported. The law does not allow

    access to the files of employees of the post-communist secret

    services, with the exception of the directors of those

    services and their deputies. The Supreme Court says that this

    restriction infringes on Article 31 of the constitution,

    which provides for the freedom of information. The

    Constitutional Court will consider the appeal on 28 November.

    MS

    [29] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES LUCINSCHI

    Dumitru

    Diacov on 2 November said the government will ask the

    parliament to vote confidence in it on 4 November. He also

    accused President Petru Lucinschi of having organized an

    anti-parliamentary campaign, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau

    reported. Last week, the legislature rejected the

    government's draft law envisaging budget cuts as well as

    bills on the privatization of five of the country's leading

    wineries and the Chisinau cigarette factory. Diacov, who

    heads the formerly pro-presidential For a Democratic and

    Prosperous Moldova Bloc, said that if these laws are rejected

    again, the cabinet will resign because that would mean an end

    to financing from the IMF and the World Bank. In such a case,

    he added, responsibility will rest with Lucinschi and those

    parties and independent deputies who support him. MS

    [30] BULGARIAN PREMIER IN FRANCE

    Ivan Kostov said after talks

    with his French counterpart, Lionel Jospin, and President

    Jacques Chirac in Paris on 2 November that he is "leaving

    France very happy," BTA reported. Kostov told journalists

    that Jospin assured him that the EU will start accession

    talks with "all applicants of the second wave" at the same

    time. He said that France's "categorical position" is that

    all those countries, including Bulgaria and Romania, will be

    invited to join the EU. Kostov discussed with Chirac EU

    conditions for starting negotiations with Bulgaria. He said

    that they both agreed that "progress in economic reforms will

    be no problem." Kostov said that France "will not be the

    country to press" for closing down the Kozloduy nuclear

    plant, and he noted that Jospin expressed readiness to offer

    Bulgaria "expert assistance" on the matter. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [31] MONITORS EVALUATE UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS

    by Lily Hyde

    Monitoring organizations unanimously agree that voting

    in Ukraine's 31 October presidential election was conducted

    in a peaceful and orderly fashion. The Committee of Ukrainian

    Voters (CVU), the International Republican Institute, and a

    joint statement by the Council of Europe and the OSCE all

    said that their monitors had seen minor infringements of the

    election law but these were insufficient to affect the

    outcome. They agreed that most violations seemed to be the

    result of ignorance or incompetence rather than deliberate

    fraud.

    The CVU did not gain official accreditation for its

    monitors because the Ukrainian government was giving such

    credentials only to foreign or international groups. The OSCE

    has called this discrepancy a "backward step" in the election

    law. But the CVU managed to send to polling stations some

    16,000 people accredited as journalists.

    Igor Popov, head of the CVU, said that those observers

    found a large number of violations of the election law...but

    our general conclusion is that these violations have not

    significantly influenced the results of the election. We want

    to emphasize that the candidates who will go on to the second

    round were those really supported by Ukrainian voters."

    Popov noted that the gap between the first and second

    places, taken by incumbent Leonid Kuchma and challenger Petro

    Symonenko, and the third place is so large that the 300,000

    to 400,000 votes considered questionable by the CVU could not

    invalidate the results.

    The CVU's Yevhen Radchenko divided violations into three

    types: electioneering on voting day, misconduct in the voting

    and counting processes, and, worst of all, interference by

    government officials.

    "The third group of violation, to our mind, is the most

    serious and dangerous that we detected," he commented. "These

    are violations committed by officials who are not legally

    participating in the election process. These officials often

    directly or indirectly intervened in the election process."

    In polling stations across the country, many election

    committees consisted of employees from one government

    institution, while committee heads were most often Kuchma

    appointees. For example, in one polling station in Irpin, a

    small town just outside Kyiv, more than half of the committee

    members worked at the forestry institute at which voting took

    place, and the head of the institute was present all day

    during polling as an official observer for Kuchma. Speaking

    to RFE/RL, the institute head said he had told all his staff

    to cast their ballots for Kuchma. But he rejected the idea

    that his presence during voting in any way influenced the

    vote.

    All the monitoring groups expressed deep concern at the

    conduct of the election campaign, which, they said, was

    characterized by media manipulation, illegal government

    participation, and even violence. The OSCE's report was

    especially damning on government interference prior to

    voting. It said that political intervention on behalf of

    incumbent President Kuchma had been undertaken by security

    forces, the post office, and housing authorities.

    Simon Osborne, head of the OSCE mission in Ukraine, told

    journalists in Kyiv on 1 November that the election observers

    mission received "numerous verified reports that public

    officials in state institutions were campaigning in favor of

    the incumbent president."

    For example, Osborne said, "observers noted that heads

    of state administrations in eight oblasts at various levels

    openly urged voters to vote for the president." Furthermore,

    the election mission "received numerous allegations that

    postal workers were distributing campaign materials for

    President Kuchma and that [housing authority] employees were

    canvassing support for the incumbent president in at least

    four oblasts. In the latter case, the involvement in the

    election campaign could easily be perceived as intimidation,"

    according to the OSCE official.

    The OSCE also heavily criticized the lack of independent

    coverage in state-run media. The organization said this

    reporting overwhelmingly favored Kuchma.

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

    03-11-99


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


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