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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 221, 99-11-12

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. 221, 12 November 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS SUPPORT OVER CABINET STANDOFF
  • [02] ARMENIAN PREMIER PROMISES CONTINUITY
  • [03] PROMINENT ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR NEW ELECTIONS
  • [04] MORE AZERBAIJANI GROUPS WARN AGAINST SIGNING KARABAKH PEACE
  • [05] ...WHILE AZERBAIJANI LEADERSHIP SAYS NO SUCH AGREEMENT
  • [06] GEORGIAN TRADE UNIONS ANNOUNCE PLANS FOR LARGE-SCALE
  • [07] GEORGIAN ECONOMY MINISTRY DRAFTS ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRAM
  • [08] KAZAKH, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS ASSESS BILATERAL RELATIONS
  • [09] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DEBATES FOREIGN DEBT BURDEN
  • [10] JAILED OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS RELEASED IN TAJIKISTAN
  • [11] PROMINENT TAJIK OPPOSITION POLITICIAN TERMS PRESIDENTIAL POLL

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT BIDS FAREWELL
  • [13] HEALTH OF CROATIA'S TUDJMAN 'HAS DETERIORATED'
  • [14] CROATIAN BISHOPS URGE FAITHFUL TO VOTE
  • [15] BOSNIAN PEACE IMPLEMENTATION TALKS OPEN
  • [16] PETRITSCH WARNS BOSNIANS ON FRONTIER LAW
  • [17] KOSOVA'S SERBS SAY PEACEKEEPERS DISTORT STATISTICS
  • [18] SERBIA'S PARLIAMENT VOTES LIFE PRIVILEGES FOR MILOSEVIC
  • [19] ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER SLAPPED WITH FINE FOR 1991 BUCHAREST
  • [20] ROMANIA REPORTS STEADY MONTHLY INFLATION RATE
  • [21] ROMANIA CUTS ELECTRICITY TO MOLDOVA
  • [22] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT WORRIED ABOUT YEREVAN REPEAT?
  • [23] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR GOVENMENT
  • [24] BULGARIAN DEPUTY GOES ON TRIAL

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] EAST-WEST SPLIT IN UKRAINE HIGHLIGHTED BY PRESIDENTIAL

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS SUPPORT OVER CABINET STANDOFF

    In an

    attempt to resolve the ongoing dispute over the composition

    of the new cabinet, Robert Kocharian met on 10-11 November

    with political parties, including the Miasnutyun majority

    parliamentary faction, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 November 1999). Kocharian reportedly

    received the unequivocal backing of only the nationalist

    Right and Accord Bloc and the center-right Orinats Yerkir

    party. Other parties, including the Armenian Revolutionary

    Federation-Dashnaktsutyun, which had backed Kocharian's 1998

    presidential bid, called for compromises by both Kocharian

    and newly appointed Prime Minister Aram Sargsian. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN PREMIER PROMISES CONTINUITY

    Meeting on 10 November

    with the heads of parliamentary committees and factions,

    Sargsian pledged to continue the programs and policies of his

    murdered brother and predecessor, Vazgen, Noyan Tapan

    reported. He said those policies are "of vital importance"

    for Armenia's future. In particular, Sargsian undertook to

    abide by the agreements his brother reached in late September

    with the IMF. He also ruled out tax increases in the next

    four years, saying he will simplify the tax system. Sargsian

    noted the "stabilizing" role played by the military

    immediately following the 27 October parliament killings but

    added that political institutions must be strong enough to

    prevent the army from assuming a political role. He also

    noted the need for a state security concept, the lack of

    which, he said, had facilitated the parliament shootings. LF

    [03] PROMINENT ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR NEW ELECTIONS

    National Democratic Union chairman Vazgen Manukian told

    journalists in Yerevan on 11 November that he believes new

    presidential and parliamentary elections should be held as

    soon as the political situation has stabilized in the wake of

    the 27 October shootings. He argued that those elections are

    necessary to restore legitimacy to the country's leadership,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. While describing Aram

    Sargsian as "a clever and balanced person," Manukian added

    that those characteristics are not enough to qualify him for

    the position of premier and that he considers Sargsian's

    appointment to that post unwise. LF

    [04] MORE AZERBAIJANI GROUPS WARN AGAINST SIGNING KARABAKH PEACE

    AGREEMENT...

    Former residents of Shusha, which was the

    largest Azerbaijani-inhabited town in Nagorno-Karabakh until

    the Azerbaijani population fled in May 1992, have issued a

    statement affirming that "a fair struggle is better than an

    infamous peace" and vowing to fight "those who are ready to

    yield even an inch of Azerbaijani land to the aggressors,"

    Turan reported on 11 November. The statement expressed

    concern at the Azerbaijani authorities' refusal to make

    public details of the Karabakh peace process. The same day,

    Turan also quoted National Statehood Party leader Nemat

    Panahov as predicting that the present Azerbaijani leadership

    might be overthrown if it signs a Karabakh peace agreement

    that violates national interests. LF

    [05] ...WHILE AZERBAIJANI LEADERSHIP SAYS NO SUCH AGREEMENT

    IMMINENT

    Meeting on 10 November with a group of Azerbaijani

    writers, President Heidar Aliev said no formal Karabakh peace

    agreement will be signed at the upcoming OSCE Istanbul

    summit, but "only a joint declaration on common principles"

    of a settlement, Turan reported on 11 November. Foreign

    Minister Vilayat Kuliev has also denied that Aliev and his

    Armenian counterpart, Kocharian, will sign a "serious"

    document in Istanbul, the independent daily "Azadlyg"

    reported on 11 November. LF

    [06] GEORGIAN TRADE UNIONS ANNOUNCE PLANS FOR LARGE-SCALE

    PROTESTS

    Irakli Tughushi, chairman of Georgia's United Trade

    Unions, told journalists in Tbilisi on 11 November that his

    members are planning large-scale actions to protest the

    chronic non-payment of pensions and wages to state employees,

    Caucasus Press reported. Tughushi said that wage arrears

    totals 127 million lari (approximately $65 million) and

    pensions arrears 88 million lari. The Georgian leadership had

    received in August a $32.5 million IMF loan tranche to pay

    off at least part of the backlog prior to the 31 October

    parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol.

    2, No. 35, 2 September 1999). Also on 11 November, the

    newspaper "Alia" reported that more than 100 teachers at

    technical colleges plan a strike and a picket of the Ministry

    of Finance to demand that the Ministry of Education pay their

    salaries for the past eight to 10 months. LF

    [07] GEORGIAN ECONOMY MINISTRY DRAFTS ANTI-CORRUPTION PROGRAM

    In

    response to President Eduard Shevardnadze's call for a

    radical effort to stamp out corruption (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 5 November 1999), Georgia's Economy Ministry has

    drawn up a two-year program of measures to target the shadow

    economy, Caucasus Press reported on 12 November. Those

    measures include improved legislation, regulation of fiscal

    policy, expediting privatization, and the creation of a

    network of regional groups to target corruption. LF

    [08] KAZAKH, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS ASSESS BILATERAL RELATIONS

    Nursultan Nazarbaev met with his visiting Romanian

    counterpart Emil Constantinescu in Astana on 11 November,

    Interfax reported. Speaking at a press conference after those

    talks, Nazarbaev noted with satisfaction a "quantum leap" in

    bilateral relations since his visit to Romania in September

    1998, RFE/RL's bureau in the capital reported. In that time,

    Nazarbaev noted, trade turnover between the two countries

    rose from zero to $30 million. Nazarbaev pledged to revive

    traditional economic partnership with East European countries

    founded in socialist era. The two presidents focused on the

    options available for increasing the transportation of Kazakh

    oil to Romanian refineries at Constanza, according to Asia

    Plus Blitz, citing Nazarbaev's press service. Those options

    include the Caspian Pipeline from Tengiz to Novorossiisk and

    by tanker via the Volga-Don canal and the Black Sea. LF

    [09] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DEBATES FOREIGN DEBT BURDEN

    Urkalyi Isaev,

    who is chairman of the State Committee on Foreign Investment,

    told the lower house of Kyrgyzstan's parliament on 10

    November that the country's foreign debt currently totals

    $1.37 billion, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Isaev

    admitted that some loans received in the early 1990s were

    stolen and others totaling $379 million were agreed at a very

    high interest rate. Last month, ITAR-TASS quoted the Kyrgyz

    Finance Ministry as saying that in 2000 the country must

    repay $83.6 million, of which $30 million is owed to Russia

    and Turkey. LF

    [10] JAILED OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS RELEASED IN TAJIKISTAN

    The

    Tajik authorities on 10 November released 18 supporters of

    the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) who had been imprisoned for

    their role in the 1992-1997 civil war, ITAR-TASS reported,

    quoting UTO spokesman Khikmatullo Saifullozoda. The 18 men

    are the last on a list of 93 whose release had been provided

    for under the terms of the 1997 peace agreement ending the

    civil war. Saifullozoda, however, did not exclude the

    possibility that other opposition supporters may still be in

    prison. The release of the 18 men was part of an agreement

    concluded on 5 November between UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri

    and President Imomali Rakhmonov. LF

    [11] PROMINENT TAJIK OPPOSITION POLITICIAN TERMS PRESIDENTIAL POLL

    'FREE AND DEMOCRATIC'

    In a statement that underscores

    nascent disagreement within the UTO, one of that

    organization's leaders, First Deputy Premier Khodji Akbar

    Turadjonzoda, told journalists in Dushanbe on 12 November

    that he considers the 6 November presidential poll to have

    been free and democratic, Asia Pluz-Blitz reported. The

    incumbent, Rakhmonov, was reelected by an overwhelming

    majority in that vote. Turadjonzoda accused opposition

    Islamic Renaissance Party candidate Davlat Usmon of playing

    "political games" that could have seriously destabilized the

    political situation in Tajikistan. Stressing that his

    differences with other UTO leaders are political, not

    personal, Turadjonzoda appealed to his supporters to back the

    policies of the country's present leadership. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT BIDS FAREWELL

    Kiro Gligorov gave his

    farewell address in Skopje on 11 November. He urged a

    "massive turnout" of members of all ethnic groups in the 14

    November vote to elect his successor, AP reported. Gligorov

    is the grand old man of Macedonian politics and has led his

    country since the beginning of the decade. His remarks

    reflect concerns that the number of voters will fall short of

    50 percent of the country's 1.6 million voters. At least half

    of the registered voters must cast their ballots for the

    election to be valid. The Social Democrats' Tito Petkovski is

    running against the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary

    Organization's Boris Trajkovski. Vasil Tupurkovski, who

    finished third in the first round, has called on his

    supporters to boycott the second round. Observers note that

    the vote is unlikely to be valid if the ethnic Albanian

    minority, which makes up about 23 percent of the population,

    does not go to the polls. If the vote is invalid, the speaker

    of the parliament becomes president until new elections are

    held. PM

    [13] HEALTH OF CROATIA'S TUDJMAN 'HAS DETERIORATED'

    Ivica

    Kostovic, who is a spokesman for Croatian President Franjo

    Tudjman, told reporters in Zagreb on 12 November that "the

    president's health has deteriorated. There has been no

    substantial improvement since yesterday's report," Reuters

    reported. This is the first official indication that the

    president's health has taken a sharp turn for the worse. He

    is suffering from internal bleeding following recent surgery

    in a Zagreb hospital (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November

    1999). Croatian dailies on 12 November ran extensive coverage

    on the uncertain political situation. PM

    [14] CROATIAN BISHOPS URGE FAITHFUL TO VOTE

    Members of the

    Bishops' Conference said in a statement on 11 November that

    Roman Catholics should participate in the 22 December

    parliamentary elections. The bishops added that Catholics

    should vote for unnamed candidates and parties whose programs

    are in keeping with "the ethical and moral principles of the

    believers." Observers note that the Church is not closely

    identified with any one political party. It has opposed

    attempts by the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ)

    to use the Church for political purposes. The Church is also

    mistrustful of the many former Communists in the HDZ and

    several other parties. And it opposed the government's

    decision to call elections close to Christmas, namely on 22

    December. Church officials noted recently that it is not the

    practice in most Christian countries to vote at Christmas

    time. PM

    [15] BOSNIAN PEACE IMPLEMENTATION TALKS OPEN

    U.S. diplomats meet

    with several Bosnian leaders on 12 and 13 November in Dayton,

    Ohio, to mark the fourth anniversary of the talks that led to

    the Bosnian peace agreement. Bosnian participants at Wright-

    Patterson Air Force Base will include Muslim leader Alija

    Izetbegovic and Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad

    Dodik. U.S. envoy James Pardew told AP: "We're not going to

    make promises before a meeting that you're going to have some

    sort of breakthrough here. But we're going to work hard on

    some key issues." Among those issues are economic

    restructuring, the return of refugees, and the arrest of war

    criminals. PM

    [16] PETRITSCH WARNS BOSNIANS ON FRONTIER LAW

    A spokesman for the

    international community's Wolfgang Petritsch said in Sarajevo

    on 11 November that he is concerned about the fact that the

    three members of the joint presidency have not endorsed

    proposed legislation on controlling Bosnia's frontiers. The

    spokesman stressed that Bosnia's frontiers must be manned by

    representatives of the central government rather than by

    representatives of either of the two entities, an RFE/RL

    correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. PM

    [17] KOSOVA'S SERBS SAY PEACEKEEPERS DISTORT STATISTICS

    Members

    of the Serbian National Council said in a statement on 11

    November that KFOR recently provided an artificially low

    figure on the number of Serbs killed in the province since

    peacekeepers arrived in June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11

    November 1999). The statement charged that KFOR sought to

    hide evidence of its failure to protect local minorities, AP

    reported from Prishtina. Elsewhere, General Henry H. Shelton,

    who heads the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told U.S. troops in

    Kosova: "There is a void between what the military can

    accomplish and what is needed for a sustainable peace." PM

    [18] SERBIA'S PARLIAMENT VOTES LIFE PRIVILEGES FOR MILOSEVIC

    The

    legislature passed a bill on 11 November that will give all

    past Serbian presidents life-long rights to a car, driver,

    home, secretaries, and security guards. The state will pay

    all costs. Opposition Alliance for Change leader Vladan Batic

    said in Belgrade that "this law is the climax of the regime's

    hypocrisy. At a time when several million people are on the

    brink of starvation and many are literally dying of hunger, a

    president is given privileges parallel to that of Egyptian

    Pharaohs of ancient times," AP reported. PM

    [19] ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER SLAPPED WITH FINE FOR 1991 BUCHAREST

    RAMPAGE

    Miron Cozma, the jailed leader of Romanian miners,

    was ordered to pay a 2 million lei ($165,000) fine by a Court

    of Appeals on 11 November for damage caused when miners

    rampaged downtown Bucharest in 1991, AP reported. Cozma is

    serving an 18-year prison term for his role in the 1991

    demonstrations, which resulted in three deaths and the fall

    of the government. In other news, hundreds of steel workers

    blocked a major road in northeastern Romania on 12 November

    to protest a privatization deal they say will result in

    layoffs. PB

    [20] ROMANIA REPORTS STEADY MONTHLY INFLATION RATE

    The National

    Statistics Board said on 10 November that inflation in

    Romania in the first 10 months of this year totaled 44.7

    percent or an average of 3.8 percent per month, Rompres

    reported. The prices of foodstuffs were reported to be on

    average 54 percent higher than a year ago and those of

    services 95.9 percent higher. PB

    [21] ROMANIA CUTS ELECTRICITY TO MOLDOVA

    Radu Berceanu, minister

    of industry and trade, said on 10 November that electricity

    supplies to Moldova will be cut immediately due to the

    nonpayment of its bills, Rompres reported. Berceanu said

    Moldova owes Bucharest some $16 million and that the

    agreement regarding its repayment is no longer valid

    following the fall of the Moldovan government (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 9 November 1999). An official with the Moldovan

    power distributor Moldtranselectro said Chisinau should pay,

    otherwise the country "would plunge into darkness." Romania

    supplies 15 percent of Moldova's energy needs. PB

    [22] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT WORRIED ABOUT YEREVAN REPEAT?

    The

    chairman of the Moldovan legislature, Dumitru Diacov, called

    on deputies on 11 November not to bring their guns into the

    parliament chambers, BASA-press reported. Diacov said that

    taking into account the "tense state in the house, tragic and

    regrettable occurences could occur" if guns are present in

    the legislature. Diacov added that the Permanent Office of

    the parliament had voted on the measure after the bloodshed

    in the Armenian parliament last month. PB

    [23] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR GOVENMENT

    Petar

    Stoyanov said on 11 November in Plovdiv, his hometown, that

    the government of Prime Minister Ivan Kostov should "stay at

    the helm of the country after 2001" in order to "be able to

    fulfill the tasks it set [for] itself," BTA reported.

    Stoyanov said "Bulgaria's road to Europe passes through NATO

    and it is impermissible to...try to deny it." He added that

    Sofia's position on the conflict in Kosova "was a decisive

    one in getting an invitation to accession talks with the

    EU.... If we miss our chance this time...there will be no one

    to be angry with but ourselves." PB

    [24] BULGARIAN DEPUTY GOES ON TRIAL

    The trial of Tsvetelin

    Kanchev, a parliamentary deputy from the Euroleft party,

    began on 11 November. Kanchev, who has been under arrest

    since his parliamentary immunity was lifted on 30 July, is

    accused of kidnapping, beating, robbing, and blackmailing

    people in his district of Zlatiza, about 100 kilometers east

    of Sofia. Bulgarian newspapers describe Kanchev as having

    acted like a mafia boss in his constituency, where he was

    referred to as Don Tsetsi. Several people reported to have

    been involved in beatings in which Kanchev took part are to

    testify in the trial. PB


    [C] END NOTE

    [25] EAST-WEST SPLIT IN UKRAINE HIGHLIGHTED BY PRESIDENTIAL

    ELECTION

    By Askold Krushelnycky

    With its cobbled streets and Austro-Hungarian-style

    buildings, Lviv is the heartland of Ukrainian patriotism. It

    was the center of Ukrainian national re-awakening in the 19th

    century and the engine of the drive for national independence

    in the Soviet era.

    For most of incumbent President Leonid Kuchma's term in

    office, much of Lviv's and west Ukraine's population has been

    fiercely critical of him. They complain he has not done

    enough to nurture Ukraine's national identity or set it on a

    pro-Western and market-reform path.

    Now, however, they are among his most avid supporters.

    At a public meeting last weekend, speakers from more than 20

    parties and community organizations urged voters to support

    Kuchma in the 14 November runoff between him and Communist

    leader Petro Symonenko.

    The elections have polarized the electorate between west

    and east. In the first round, Kuchma and other pro-democracy

    candidates gained more than 70 percent of the votes in the

    west. But in the east, leftist candidates gained a similar

    share.

    The voting differences reflect the different histories

    of the two regions. West Ukraine was not incorporated into

    the former Soviet Union until during World War Two. Until

    then, it had been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire--except

    for the inter-war years, when it was annexed by Poland.

    West Ukraine's population was fiercely pro-independence

    minded and always regarded the Communists, who united them

    with East Ukraine, as an alien occupation force. A Ukrainian

    guerrilla army known as the UPA fought against the Nazis

    during the war and continued battling against what it viewed

    as Communist Russian imperialism until the early 1950s.

    One veteran UPA soldier who attended the Lviv rally last

    week, 80-year-old Mykhailo Palyvko, echoed the beliefs of

    many of the speakers at the rally, and of many ordinary West

    Ukrainians, who believe a vote for Communists is tantamount

    to being a traitor to Ukraine. Palyvko told RFE/RL that "we

    veterans of the UPA can only vote for Kuchma because

    Symonenko will bring us no good.... He wants the same thing

    as [Belarus President Alyaksandr] Lukashenka--to form a new

    Soviet Union. We did not fight for that, for a new Soviet

    Union. We fought for an independent, sovereign Ukraine."

    In contrast to the west, central and east Ukraine had

    been in the Russian empire and then the Soviet Union since

    the 17th century and experienced intense Communist

    repression. This included an artificially induced famine in

    the 1930s that killed millions and mass executions of

    nationally conscious Ukrainians.

    The region also experienced large-scale

    industrialization under Soviet rule. That brought in millions

    of Russian workers, thereby accelerating the region's

    Russification. While Ukrainian is the language commonly

    spoken throughout west and parts of central Ukraine, Russian

    is the dominant tongue in the east.

    The area is also home to huge Soviet-era coal mines and

    other heavy industries. Most are now semi-dormant because

    they are no longer being subsidized by the state. That, in

    turn, has led to millions of workers being paid meager wages

    and in most cases having to wait months for even those

    payments. Many--especially elderly people with unpaid

    pensions--blame their plight on the disintegration of the

    Soviet Union.

    In the west the main issue is independence. In the

    country's central and east regions, what counts most is

    obtaining a regular wage. Ukrainians in these regions have

    been attracted by Symonenko's Soviet-era rhetoric, and the

    ethnic Russians in the region approve of his promise to

    reinstate Russian as a state language. Kuchma, for his part,

    won the presidency five years ago with most of his support

    from the east, having promised massive injections of cash for

    the rust-belt industries there.

    In the coal mining region of Luhansk, nearly half voted

    for Symonenko in the first round, and about a quarter cast

    their ballot for other leftist candidates. The first

    secretary of the Communist Party in the Luhansk region,

    Vladimir Zemlyakov, told RFE/RL that people will vote for his

    party because they are tired of living in poverty. He denied

    his party would reinstate autocratic rule and said elements

    of privatization might be retained.

    But by no means all workers want a return to communist

    rule. Again, unlike West Ukraine, their considerations are

    economic rather than nationalistic. Many, like coal miner

    Yuriy Telnoy, fear a Communist return will cause yet more

    disruption and increase poverty. "I personally will vote for

    Kuchma," he told RFE/RL. "Because if the Communists return to

    power they will begin changing things again. As in the past,

    five or 10 people will have to share one meal. Therefore, I

    will vote for Kuchma."

    Kuchma, meanwhile, hopes that desire for stability will

    help sway enough of the eastern vote. But the elections have

    once more demonstrated the profound differences between the

    east and west of Ukraine--a divide that no politician has yet

    been able to bridge.

    The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Prague and

    currently covering the Ukrainian presidential election from

    Kyiv.

    12-11-99


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


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