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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 218, 99-11-09

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. 218, 9 November 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] FORMER ARMENIAN JOURNALIST CHARGED IN PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS
  • [02] POPE VISITS GEORGIA
  • [03] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS RUSSIA WANTED TO ATTACK CHECHNYA FROM
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN DEMANDS PAYMENT FOR RENT OF RADAR FACILITY
  • [05] KAZAKHSTAN PLANS TIGHTER EXPORT CONTROLS
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN, EES TO CANCEL PART OF MUTUAL DEBTS
  • [07] INDEPENDENT TRADE UNION WANTS KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION RESULTS
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S AUTHORITIES RESORTING TO INTERNET CENSORSHIP?
  • [09] KYRGYZSTAN SETS DATE FOR PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
  • [10] UN SET TO PROLONG OBSERVER MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN
  • [11] U.S. NOTES IRREGULARITIES IN TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL POLL
  • [12] UZBEKISTAN'S PRESIDENT BEGINS CHINA VISIT
  • [13] CORRECTION:

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [14] CLINTON OUTLINES BALKAN 'CHALLENGE'
  • [15] THACI ARGUES KOSOVA IS NOT CHECHNYA...
  • [16] ...SAYS SERBIAN CIVILIANS ARE WELCOME...
  • [17] ...AND NOTES PROBLEMS REMAIN BETWEEN KOSOVARS
  • [18] RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT WANTS POLITICAL SETTLEMENT
  • [19] CALL FOR MONITORING OF KOSOVA 'POLITICAL TRIAL'
  • [20] HAGUE COURT PRESIDENT DEMANDS ARREST OF BIG FISH
  • [21] EU READY TO START OIL DELIVERIES TO SERBIA
  • [22] GRAND OLD MAN OF SLOVENIA DIES
  • [23] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SEEKING TO DEFUSE BRASOV LABOR CONFLICT
  • [24] JEWISH CEMETERIES VANDALIZED IN ROMANIA
  • [25] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT VOTES NO CONFIDENCE IN CABINET

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] HOW AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES USE ELECTIONS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] FORMER ARMENIAN JOURNALIST CHARGED IN PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS

    Armenia's military prosecutor has brought criminal charges

    against pollster and former journalist Nairi Badalian in

    connection with the 27 October murders of eight senior

    officials, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 8 November.

    Badalian has been formally charged with "assisting in the

    crime," according to an official from the military

    prosecutor's office. He faces a 10-year sentence if

    convicted. Badalian runs the independent polling organization

    "Logos." Like the gunmen's leader, Nairi Hunanian, he is a

    former member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-

    Dashnaktsutyun. LF

    [02] POPE VISITS GEORGIA

    President Eduard Shevardnadze and the

    head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II,

    greeted Pope John Paul II on his arrival in Tbilisi on 8

    November. The pontiff later held talks with Ilia II in the

    11th century cathedral of the former Georgian capital,

    Mtskheta, during which Ilia pointedly failed to respond to

    the pope's call for "new bridges" between the Roman Catholic

    and Orthodox Churches, the "Los Angeles Times" noted the

    following day. The two clerics also issued a statement

    condemning terrorism and characterizing the situation in

    Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and the North Caucasus as a threat

    to world peace. On 9 November, the pope celebrated Mass for

    Georgia's tiny Roman Catholic community at a sports palace in

    Tbilisi. LF

    [03] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS RUSSIA WANTED TO ATTACK CHECHNYA FROM

    GEORGIA

    Shevardnadze said on 8 November in his weekly radio

    address that the Georgian Security Council last week rejected

    requests from Russian leaders for permission to launch

    attacks on Chechen fighters from Georgian territory, Caucasus

    Press reported. He did not disclose who those Russian leaders

    were. Shevardnadze added that Georgia's refusal was "in

    Russia's interests," according to ITAR-TASS. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN DEMANDS PAYMENT FOR RENT OF RADAR FACILITY

    Azerbaijani Deputy Premier Abbas Abbasov told Aksenenko on 5

    November that Azerbaijan wants an annual payment of $4

    million plus utility fees for Russia's continued use of the

    Gabala radar facility in central Azerbaijan, AP reported,

    citing Interfax. LF

    [05] KAZAKHSTAN PLANS TIGHTER EXPORT CONTROLS

    Kazakhstan is

    cooperating with its "partners," especially the U.S., to

    improve export controls, Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov told

    journalists in Almaty on 8 November. He linked those measures

    to the need to prevent a repeat of the illegal sale to North

    Korea of MiG-21 fighter aircraft. Also on 8 November, the

    National Security Ministry press service announced that

    materials summarizing the investigation into those sales will

    be forwarded to the Almaty City Court within one week,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. LF

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN, EES TO CANCEL PART OF MUTUAL DEBTS

    Kazakhstan

    and Russia's Unified Electricity Systems (EES) have agreed on

    a deal for writing off part of their mutual debts and setting

    up a joint venture under which each party will own a 50

    percent stake in the Ekibastuz Power Generating Plant,

    Interfax reported on 5 November. The agreement was apparently

    reached at a meeting in late October between First Russian

    Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko, EES Director

    Anatolii Chubais, and Kazakh railways officials to discuss

    debts for shipments of coal from the Russian-owned Severnyi

    coal mine in Kazakhstan to the Sverdlovsk power grid,

    according to "Izvestiya" of 2 November. LF

    [07] INDEPENDENT TRADE UNION WANTS KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION RESULTS

    ANNULLED

    Meeting in Astana on 7 November, members of the

    Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan sent

    an open letter to President Nursultan Nazarbaev and to the

    Kazakhstan office of the OSCE demanding that the results of

    the recent parliamentary elections be declared void, RFE/RL's

    correspondent in the capital reported. The trade unionists

    also accused Almaty Mayor Adilbek Zhaqsybekov of condoning

    violations of the election law during the poll. They demanded

    his resignation. LF

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S AUTHORITIES RESORTING TO INTERNET CENSORSHIP?

    Since 4 November it has been impossible to access the Website

    "Eurasia" (http://www.eurasia.org.ru) which is controlled by

    opposition parties, according to the director of the

    Kazakhstan office of Internews. Technicians for the Internet

    provider Nursat told Internews that access to the site will

    be impossible for the foreseeable future owing to "technical

    reasons." LF

    [09] KYRGYZSTAN SETS DATE FOR PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

    President

    Askar Akaev will issue a decree later this week scheduling

    elections to both chambers of Kyrgyzstan's parliament for 13

    February 2000, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 8

    November, citing an unnamed source within the presidential

    administration. The People's Assembly (upper house) will be

    composed of 45 deputies and the Legislative Assembly (lower

    house) 60 deputies, of whom 15 will be elected under the

    party list system. LF

    [10] UN SET TO PROLONG OBSERVER MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN

    In an 8

    November report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General

    Kofi Annan advocated extending for another six months the

    mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Tajikistan, Reuters and

    AP reported. Annan noted progress in the democratization

    process in Tajikistan, including the September referendum on

    amendments to the country's constitution. He said the

    Observer Mission's mandate will not be extended again

    following the parliamentary elections scheduled for February

    2000. That vote is to mark the end of the transition period

    envisaged in the 1997 peace agreement ending the civil war.

    LF

    [11] U.S. NOTES IRREGULARITIES IN TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL POLL

    A U.S.

    State Department statement of 8 November identified

    violations in the conduct of the 6 November Tajik

    presidential poll, Reuters reported. It pointed to widespread

    multiple voting, "a lack of transparency in the balloting

    process," and the failure of the country's media to explain

    opposition candidate Davlat Usmon's refusal to run. The

    statement expressed the hope that the Tajik government will

    take steps to ensure that the parliamentary elections in

    February 2000 conform to OSCE standards. LF

    [12] UZBEKISTAN'S PRESIDENT BEGINS CHINA VISIT

    Islam Karimov

    arrived in Beijing on 8 November for a three-day state visit

    and met with his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, to discuss

    bilateral relations, international terrorism, and religious

    extremism, ITAR-TASS reported. The two expressed satisfaction

    at the development of bilateral cooperation and noted the

    "huge" potential for expanding ties. Members of Kazakhstan's

    Uighur minority staged a demonstration outside Uzbekistan's

    embassy in Kazakhstan on 4 November to demand that Karimov

    raise with his Chinese hosts the case of Uighur human rights

    activist Rabia Qadir, who was arrested by Chinese authorities

    in Xinjiang earlier this year. LF

    [13] CORRECTION:

    "RFE/RL Newsline" on 4 November incorrectly

    identified Gerhard Glogowski as head of a German delegation

    from Sachsen-Anhalt visiting Kazakhstan. Glogowski is in fact

    prime minister of Niedersachsen.


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [14] CLINTON OUTLINES BALKAN 'CHALLENGE'

    In a speech at

    Georgetown University on 8 November marking the 10th

    anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. President

    Bill Clinton stressed that U.S. policy faces four challenges:

    Russia, the Balkans, Greek-Turkish tensions, and the need to

    maintain U.S. "leadership and engagement in the world" (see

    Part I). Referring to Serbia and its neighbors, Clinton said

    that it will be important to bring stability to the Balkans

    so that "bitter ethnic problems can no longer be exploited by

    dictators and Americans do not have to cross the Atlantic

    again to fight in another war." In particular, Clinton called

    for a democratic transition in Serbia from the rule of

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, whom the president

    called "the last living relic of the age of European

    dictators of the communist era," AP reported. PM

    [15] THACI ARGUES KOSOVA IS NOT CHECHNYA...

    Hashim Thaci, who

    heads the provisional government appointed by the former

    Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), told Vienna's "Die Presse" of 8

    November that Serbia no longer has any authority over Kosova.

    The Kosovars have no intention of permitting "another

    Chechnya" by allowing Serbian troops to return, he stressed.

    Thaci condemned violence against non-Albanian minorities in

    the province. He argued that there are armed groups active in

    Kosova who are outside the control of the UCK. These groups

    include people who entered Kosova after the recent armed

    conflict. He did not elaborate but may have meant criminal

    gangs that entered Kosova from Albania after the withdrawal

    of Serbian forces in June. Frankfurt's Serbian-language daily

    "Vesti" on 9 November reported that a previously unknown

    masked group calling itself the Real UCK has carried out a

    series of attacks on moderate Kosovars loyal to shadow-state

    leader Ibrahim Rugova. PM

    [16] ...SAYS SERBIAN CIVILIANS ARE WELCOME...

    Thaci said in Vienna

    that all Serbian civilians who did not take part in

    atrocities are welcome to stay in or return to Kosova, "Die

    Presse" reported on 6 November. The daily quoted a Serbian

    journalist who listened to Thaci's speech as saying that

    Thaci's words are one thing, "but the reality in Kosova is

    something quite different." Local Serbs have frequently

    charged that Thaci calls for peace and inter-ethnic harmony

    when speaking to foreigners but tells his own people that

    they are now masters in the province. PM

    [17] ...AND NOTES PROBLEMS REMAIN BETWEEN KOSOVARS

    Thaci told

    "Die Presse" of 8 November that relations between the UCK and

    Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) "could be better."

    He accused Rugova of having a "totalitarian mentality," by

    which he meant that Rugova considers himself the only leader

    of the Kosovars. Thaci argued that the political scene "has

    room for everyone and not just one man." He added that the

    LDK continues to control funds from the diaspora and uses

    some of the money for its own political purposes instead of

    helping the population in general. Observers note that some

    Kosovar critics charge that Thaci and the UCK have sought to

    monopolize political power for themselves. They also note

    that there are deep differences in political style and

    outlook between the younger generation of leaders around

    Thaci and older people, such as Rugova, whose political

    careers began under Josip Broz Tito in the 1970s. PM

    [18] RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT WANTS POLITICAL SETTLEMENT

    Russian

    Ambassador to the UN Sergei Lavrov said in Prishtina on 8

    November that talks should begin "as soon as possible"

    between Belgrade and the various ethnic communities in

    Kosova, AP reported. The news agency added that his remarks

    reflect the "increasing frustration" among the Serbian

    minority regarding their status and safety in the province.

    He also criticized KFOR and the UN not doing enough to

    protect ethnic minorities, Reuters noted (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 8 November 1999). PM

    [19] CALL FOR MONITORING OF KOSOVA 'POLITICAL TRIAL'

    The New

    York-based NGO Human Rights Watch appealed on 8 November to

    diplomats and the media to monitor the trial of Flora

    Brovina, which begins in Nis on 11 November. Brovina heads

    the League of Albanian Women in Kosova and is charged with

    "terrorism." She has been held for several months under

    difficult conditions in the prison of Pozarevac. Among the

    other prominent Kosovars still held in Serbian jails is

    student activist Albin Kurti. PM

    [20] HAGUE COURT PRESIDENT DEMANDS ARREST OF BIG FISH

    Judge

    Gabrielle Kirk McDonald said at the UN on 8 November that the

    world body and NATO must take action to arrest major war

    criminals. She said it is unacceptable that only relatively

    minor figures have been sent to the Hague-based war crimes

    tribunal. McDonald also urged the international community to

    get tough with the governments of Serbia, Croatia, and the

    Republika Srpska. She charged that these three governments

    "thumb their nose" at the court and do not cooperate with it,

    as they are obliged to do under the 1995 Dayton peace

    agreement. McDonald leaves her position at the court on 16

    November and will live in New York. PM

    [21] EU READY TO START OIL DELIVERIES TO SERBIA

    An unidentified

    EU "source" told Reuters in Brussels on 8 November that the

    EU will start heating-oil shipments to the opposition-run

    cities of Nis and Pirot between 15 and 20 November. Mladjan

    Dinkic of the independent G-17 group of Serbian economists

    told "RFE/RL Newsline" in Munich recently that the opposition

    will use independent shippers. He added that the deliveries

    will receive much publicity in the independent media in order

    to deter the government from stealing the fuel. The

    deliveries are a pilot project of the opposition's Energy for

    Democracy program. The program's goal is to show voters that

    the opposition is able to obtain needed fuel from abroad at a

    time when international sanctions weigh heavily against the

    Belgrade regime. PM

    [22] GRAND OLD MAN OF SLOVENIA DIES

    Leon Stukelj died of heart

    failure in Ljubljana on 8 November, just four days before his

    101st birthday. He was the world's oldest surviving Olympic

    athlete and won a total of six medals in gymnastics for the

    former Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1924, 1928, and 1936. He

    regularly topped popularity polls in Slovenia and was

    recently voted its Man of the Year. Stukelj attributed his

    longevity to "moderation in all things and a glass of red

    wine every day," VOA's Croatian Service reported. PM

    [23] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SEEKING TO DEFUSE BRASOV LABOR CONFLICT

    Delegations from several ministries and unions representing

    workers at Brasov's Roman truckmaker reached agreement on 8

    November on several proposals, following riots in Brasov

    three days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 1999).

    Under those proposals, the Defense and Interior Ministries

    will purchase some 320 vehicles in part payment of the

    company's debts to the state budget, Romanian radio reported

    on 9 November. The government is to meet on 9 November to

    discuss the proposals. MS

    [24] JEWISH CEMETERIES VANDALIZED IN ROMANIA

    Vandals have

    destroyed more than 50 tombstones in two Transylvanian Jewish

    cemeteries over the last days, Mediafax reported on 8

    November, citing sources from the Federation of Jewish

    Communities in Romania. On 5 November, 25 tombstones were

    overturned, while others were smashed in the Satu Mare

    cemetery. A few days earlier, the Resita cemetery was also

    desecrated and 26 tombstones overturned, as a result of which

    some were destroyed. Last February a similar incident took

    place in the Alba Iulia cemetery, which is also in

    Transylvania. MS

    [25] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT VOTES NO CONFIDENCE IN CABINET

    Fifty-

    eight out of a total of 101 deputies have backed the motion

    to dismiss Ion Sturza's cabinet, Infotag reported on 9

    November. Deputies from the outgoing coalition did not take

    part in the vote as a sign of protest. The previous day,

    President Petru Lucinschi had told journalists that the

    resignation or dismissal of the cabinet was "inevitable." He

    said the government's performance is far less spectacular

    than claimed by Sturza and that many of those claims are

    "inventions." Asked how a cabinet could be formed by the

    Communists and the ideologically opposed Popular Front

    Christian Democratic, Lucinschi said the new government will

    have to be "much less politicized" than its predecessor,

    RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] HOW AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES USE ELECTIONS

    By Paul Goble

    Authoritarian leaders regularly use elections to

    legitimize or even enhance their powers rather than to

    promote democracy, a strategy that poses special challenges

    not only to those who live under their control but also to

    others who want to advance the cause of popular governance.

    Nowhere is this pattern clearer than in the post-Soviet

    states of Central Asia, where leaders proclaim their

    adherence to the ideas of democracy but do everything they

    can to subvert the power of the people to use elections or

    any other means to determine their own destinies.

    The most egregious examples of this misuse of elections

    are to be found in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

    The recent parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, Bigeldin

    Gabdullin told an RFE/RL press briefing in Washington on 2

    November, were marked by "very serious violations of civil

    and human rights."

    Opposition rallies were blocked, ballot boxes stuffed,

    and opposition observers excluded--all to ensure that the

    regime of President Nursultan Nazarbaev would have not just a

    majority in the parliament but an overwhelmingly strong

    position that would appear to block the emergence of any new

    challengers in the future.

    In Turkmenistan last week, the Central Election

    Commission announced that all candidates must be registered

    as independents because President Sapurmurat Niyazov had

    decided that his country will not be ready for a multi-party

    political system for at least another decade.

    And in Uzbekistan, the authorities have routinely

    employed coercion to stifle dissent and drive any criticism

    of the regime of President Islam Karimov underground.

    Tashkent has then attacked the opposition for linking up with

    Islamist groups and demanded Western understanding in moving

    against those "threats" to democracy.

    Because these regimes, together with others like them,

    have been so apparently successful in using electoral forms

    as a way of promoting the notion that they are democratic or

    at least committed to the establishment of democracy in the

    future, democratic activists both in these countries and

    elsewhere have been divided on how to respond.

    In some cases, these activists have argued against

    taking part in what they see as a charade of democracy and

    have urged international monitoring groups like the OSCE to

    stay away lest their presence be exploited by these regimes

    as evidence of their claimed attachment to democracy.

    Advocates of this position have noted that the regimes

    sometimes are able to coopt those who do participate in the

    voting. And they have pointed out that the authorities

    routinely invoke their willingness to allow outside

    monitoring as a sign of good faith--even when these monitors

    deliver blistering denunciations of fundamental violations of

    democratic procedure.

    But in other cases, democratic activists take just the

    opposite position, arguing that participation in virtually

    any election enhances their power rather than that of the

    regime. They also maintain that outside observers, however

    the regime seeks to portray them, typically help push along

    the slow but difficult process of democratization.

    Kazakhstan's Gabdullin falls in this latter camp. Even

    though he and his colleagues were defeated by the

    machinations of Nazarbaev and his regime, Gabdullin, who

    edits that country's only independent newspaper, said the

    election helped to multiply the number of opposition figures.

    Where before there had only been one major opposition

    figure, the democratic activist said, now all 500 of the

    candidates who were kept from having a genuine chance to

    compete have become opponents of the regime as well. Now, he

    continued, they are more ready not only to cooperate with one

    another but also to stand up for democracy in the future.

    Even though Gabdullin argued that the outside observers

    had seldom spent long enough in Kazakhstan to see all the

    tricks Nazarbaev's people used to control the vote, he agreed

    that the observers had played a role by focusing

    international attention on the elections and by signaling to

    democrats in Kazakhstan that they are not alone when they

    stand up to authoritarian regimes.

    For most of the last century, dictators and would-be

    dictators have sought to use electoral forms, but not genuine

    elections, to enhance their power. But the experience of

    Kazakhstan's Gabdullin and his colleagues in other Central

    Asian countries suggests that these regimes may be

    undermining their own power rather than strengthening it.

    With each electoral cycle, ever more people in these

    countries as well as elsewhere are likely to demand a genuine

    voice over their own lives. And to the extent that happens,

    elections there are likely to become genuinely democratic, a

    development that may ultimately lead to the departure from

    the political scene of those who seek to use a democratic

    instrument for patently non-democratic goals.

    09-11-99


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


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