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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 3, 00-01-05

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. 3, 5 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARSON ATTACK ON ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER
  • [02] POLICE QUASH PROTESTS IN AZERBAIJAN
  • [03] GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN DOWNPLAYS CALL FOR ALLOWING
  • [04] ABKHAZIA OBJECTS TO UKRAINE'S INCLUSION IN UN MEDIATION
  • [05] ...WHICH GEORGIAN ABKHAZ LEADER WANTS AZERBAIJAN TO JOIN AS
  • [06] KAZAKH OPPOSITION POLITICIANS ASSESS PUTIN THREAT
  • [07] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY APPEALS ELECTION RESTRICTION
  • [08] TWO MORE TAJIK PARTIES NOMINATE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES
  • [09] PRESIDENT NAMED 'MAN OF THE CENTURY' IN UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] CROATIAN OPPOSITION VICTORY CONFIRMED
  • [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION HAILS CROATIAN VOTE
  • [12] HOPES FOR NEW CROATIAN POLICY IN BOSNIA
  • [13] SLOVENIA CALLS SELF MODEL FOR CROATIA
  • [14] HDZ TO PICK GRANIC FOR PRESIDENCY?
  • [15] RIGHTIST LEADER WANTS HDZ LEADERSHIP OUT
  • [16] SERBIA DECLARES FLU EPIDEMIC
  • [17] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS 'STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP' WITH ISRAEL,
  • [18] ...IS DEFENSIVE ON ANTI-SEMITISM IN ROMANIA
  • [19] UKRAINE TO CUT OFF ELECTRICITY SUPPLIES TO MOLDOVA?

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [20] Ending 'The Breakup of Russia'

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARSON ATTACK ON ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER

    The Yerevan editorial

    office of the Russian-language newspaper "Novoe vremya" was

    badly damaged in a fire on 31 December, Armenian Television

    and ITAR-TASS reported on 3 and 4 January. The paper's

    editor, Ruben Satyan, said he had received telephone threats

    prior to the arson attack. ITAR-TASS linked the incident to

    the reprinting in "Novoe vremya" of an article from a Moscow

    publication concerning the 27 October murder of Armenian

    Premier Vazgen Sargsian. LF

    [02] POLICE QUASH PROTESTS IN AZERBAIJAN

    Police in Azerbaijan's

    northern Belakan Raion, which borders on Georgia, dispersed

    two demonstrations by several hundred local residents

    demanding the resignation of local electricity department

    officials, Turan reported on 29 December and 3 January. Power

    supplies to Belakan Raion were discontinued around 9

    December. LF

    [03] GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN DOWNPLAYS CALL FOR ALLOWING

    THIRD PRESIDENTIAL TERM

    Presidential spokesman Vakhtang

    Abashidze on 5 January said Tbilisi Mayor Ivane Zodelava's

    proposal that the Georgian Constitution be amended to allow

    one individual to serve three, rather than two, consecutive

    presidential terms was a private initiative of Zodelava,

    Caucasus Press reported. Zodelava, who made the proposal to

    parliament the previous day, argued that no realistic

    opponent will emerge to challenge incumbent Eduard

    Shevardnadze either in the April 2000 presidential poll or in

    2005. Opposition "United Georgia" parliament faction leader

    Giorgi Targamadze told Caucasus Press on 5 January that

    Zodelava's proposal amounts to a call for the establishment

    of a monarchy, and is an insult to both Shevardnadze and the

    Georgian nation. He said the proposal further shows that

    Shevardnadze "has failed to prepare a successor during his

    13-year rule." LF

    [04] ABKHAZIA OBJECTS TO UKRAINE'S INCLUSION IN UN MEDIATION

    GROUP...

    The Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized Republic of

    Abkhazia has issued a statement protesting against Ukraine's

    incorporation into the semi-formal group of states designated

    as Friends of the UN Secretary-General, which is charged with

    mediating a solution to the Abkhaz conflict, Caucasus Press

    reported on 4 January. The Abkhaz statement said the

    inclusion of Ukraine in the grouping, which also comprises

    the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany, and Russia, constitutes

    a violation of the agreement reached earlier in Geneva on the

    format for settlement talks. Following Ukraine's accession to

    the group in December, Ukrainian and Russian Foreign Ministry

    officials met in Kyiv to discuss Ukraine's possible

    participation in the CIS peacekeeping force in Georgia.

    Ukraine had first volunteered to send peacekeepers to Georgia

    two years ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1997). LF

    [05] ...WHICH GEORGIAN ABKHAZ LEADER WANTS AZERBAIJAN TO JOIN AS

    WELL

    Tamaz Nadareishvili, chairman of the Abkhaz parliament

    in exile which comprises the ethnic Georgian deputies to the

    Abkhaz legislature elected in 1991, told Caucasus Press on 5

    January that the parliament will send a delegation to Ukraine

    and Azerbaijan next month to discuss the possible deployment

    of Ukrainian and Azerbaijani peacekeeping forces along the

    internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.

    Nadareishvili called for the inclusion of Azerbaijan as well

    as Ukraine in the Friends of the UN Secretary-General group.

    LF

    [06] KAZAKH OPPOSITION POLITICIANS ASSESS PUTIN THREAT

    Speaking

    at a press conference in Almaty on 4 January, independent

    opposition politician Nurlan Amrekulov predicted that acting

    Russian President Putin will pressure Kazakhstan's leadership

    to allow Russian businessmen to play a more prominent role in

    the country's economy, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital

    reported. Also on 4 January, Amirzhan Qosanov, a leading

    member of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, told

    RFE/RL that he is certain Putin will misrepresent the

    situation of ethnic Russians in the "near abroad," including

    northern Kazakhstan, in his presidential election campaign.

    LF

    [07] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY APPEALS ELECTION RESTRICTION

    The El

    (Bei-Bechara) Party on 4 January appealed to both the Justice

    Ministry and the Central Electoral Commission to allow it to

    contend the 15 seats in the lower house of the new Kyrgyz

    parliament to be elected according to proportional

    representation on 20 February, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau

    reported. The party has lost two court appeals against the

    CEC's ruling that it may not contest the poll as its founding

    documents do not list participation in national elections as

    one of the party's objectives (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21

    December 1999 and 3 January 2000). LF

    [08] TWO MORE TAJIK PARTIES NOMINATE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES

    The

    Democratic Party of Tajikistan and the Socialist Party of

    Tajikistan held congresses on 4 January at which they each

    selected 22 candidates to contend the 27 February election to

    the lower chamber of the new parliament under the

    proportional system, ITAR-TASS and Asia Plus-Blitz reported.

    The Democratic Party has some 5,000 members and the Socialist

    Party 30,000. LF

    [09] PRESIDENT NAMED 'MAN OF THE CENTURY' IN UZBEKISTAN

    Islam

    Karimov was named Uzbekistan's "Man of the Century" in a poll

    conducted by the BBC World Service, Interfax reported on 4

    January, quoting Uzbek media. On 17 December, Interfax

    reported that a nationwide Uzbek poll of 6,000 people had

    also established that Karimov was the country's most popular

    political figure. Most respondents expressed their intention

    to vote for Karimov in the 9 January presidential election.

    LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] CROATIAN OPPOSITION VICTORY CONFIRMED

    Marijan Ramuscak, who

    heads the state electoral commission, said in Zagreb on 4

    January that the main opposition coalition has won in nine

    out of 10 electoral districts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4

    January 2000). In the new legislature, the Social Democratic-

    Social Liberal coalition will have 71 seats, while an allied

    coalition of four smaller centrist parties will hold 24. The

    Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), which has governed since

    1990, has been reduced to 40 seats. Four seats will go to

    far-right parties and one to the tiny Christian Democrats.

    Ramuscak added that he expects that six legislators will

    represent the diaspora, which cast 85 percent of its votes

    for the HDZ. The exact number of diaspora seats will depend

    on the number of votes cast for the diaspora list. Final

    returns are expected on 7 January. International and Croatian

    election monitors reported no serious irregularities. The

    outgoing government met on 4 January and promised a smooth

    transition to its successor. PM

    [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION HAILS CROATIAN VOTE

    Leading officials of

    the EU and OSCE said on 4 January that the opposition victory

    will likely lead to greater democracy in Croatia (see "End

    Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 2000). In Belgrade,

    federal Information Minister Goran Matic said the opposition

    victory came as no surprise, adding that it will lead to a

    more pro-Western orientation in Croatian policy. State-run

    electronic media played down the news from Zagreb, which the

    regime-controlled daily "Politika" placed on page seven.

    Opposition spokesman Veran Batic, however, stressed that he

    hopes the Croatian vote is a harbinger of changes to come in

    Serbia, the independent daily "Danas" reported. In Podgorica,

    all parties except those allied to Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic greeted the news from Zagreb, a

    correspondent of RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [12] HOPES FOR NEW CROATIAN POLICY IN BOSNIA

    The Sarajevo daily

    "Avaz," which is close to the Muslim leadership, ran the

    headline on 5 January: "New Croatian government will respect

    Bosnia as a [sovereign] state." Moderate Bosnian Croat leader

    Kresimir Zubak said in Sarajevo the previous day that he

    expects the new government to follow a significantly

    different policy in Bosnia from that of its predecessor.

    Former Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said in

    Banja Luka that she hopes that the new government will break

    with what she called the "extremist" policies of the HDZ.

    Croatian Prime Minister designate Ivica Racan told state-run

    Bosnian radio that his government will have "no double

    standards and deals made under the table" between the Bosnian

    Croats and Zagreb. "Bosnian Croats will have to perceive

    Bosnia as their home...and we will support them in this," AP

    quoted him as saying. PM

    [13] SLOVENIA CALLS SELF MODEL FOR CROATIA

    Prime Minister Janez

    Drnovsek said in Ljubljana that the Croatian election results

    were not unexpected and signify the start of a new era for

    that country, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 5

    January. He added that Slovenia's experience in

    democratization and in seeking Euro-Atlantic integration is a

    good model for Croatia. PM

    [14] HDZ TO PICK GRANIC FOR PRESIDENCY?

    The HDZ's presidency

    nominated moderate Foreign Minister Mate Granic as the

    party's candidate for the presidency in the 24 January

    elections. Hard-line candidate Vladimir Seks withdrew his

    name from the vote, which was 13 for Granic with three

    invalid ballots, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 4

    January. The party's steering committee is expected to make

    the final decision on 5 January. Previous opinion polls

    suggested that Granic is the only HDZ candidate with a chance

    of defeating Drazen Budisa, who represents the main

    opposition coalition. Following the opposition's

    parliamentary victory, however, Budisa stressed that he is

    confident that he can defeat Granic. The Zagreb HDZ list that

    Granic headed in the parliamentary vote was badly defeated by

    the opposition and took only 21 percent of the vote. PM

    [15] RIGHTIST LEADER WANTS HDZ LEADERSHIP OUT

    Speaking in Osijek

    on 4 January, far-right HDZ leader Branimir Glavas demanded

    that the party's 16-member presidency resign following the

    electoral debacle the previous day. He stressed that a new

    party congress must be held to select new leaders, primarily

    from among people active at the local level. Glavas achieved

    fame as a powerful local warlord in the 1991 conflict with

    the Serbs in a way that prompted British journalist Misha

    Glenny to dub him a "serial killer in fatigues." Glavas was

    subsequently widely known as the only local leader in Croatia

    who was even feared by late President Franjo Tudjman. PM

    [16] SERBIA DECLARES FLU EPIDEMIC

    The Health Ministry announced

    in Belgrade on 5 January that influenza has reached

    "epidemic" proportions in Serbia. The ministry banned visits

    to flu patients in hospitals, AP reported. More than 10,000

    people in Montenegro have also contracted the virus. "Danas"

    reported an outbreak of hepatitis in the northern Kosova town

    of Mitrovica. PM

    [17] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS 'STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP' WITH ISRAEL,

    TURKEY...

    Visiting Romanian President Emil Constantinescu on

    4 January told acting Israeli prime minister Itzhak Mordechai

    that Romania, Israel, and Turkey should set up a "strategic

    partnership," an RFE/RL correspondent in Jerusalem reported.

    Mordechai is filling in for Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is

    in the U.S. for peace talks with Syria. Mordechai said that

    during his tenure as defense minister in former Prime

    Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, Israel and Romania had

    intensified military collaboration. Constantinescu also

    brought up the problems of some 50,000 Romanian workers in

    Israel, who have often complained about discrimination and

    poor employment conditions. He proposed a bilateral agreement

    to allow Romanian and Israeli workers to pay into their

    pensions while working in the other country. MS

    [18] ...IS DEFENSIVE ON ANTI-SEMITISM IN ROMANIA

    Meeting

    journalists of the Romanian-language press in Israel,

    Constantinescu said that certain Romanian political parties,

    such as the Greater Romania Party, have adopted anti-Semitic

    postures and that other political groups "openly or covertly

    collaborate with [such parties] out of electoral

    considerations or considerations linked with the struggle for

    power." The comments came one day after Constantinescu

    described anti-Semitism as a "marginal phenomenon" in Romania

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 2000). He also admitted

    that Romania's civil society structures prefer to ignore the

    phenomenon of xenophobic publications, "believing that if

    they do so, the phenomenon does not exist," Mediafax

    reported. Knesset chairman Avraham Burg raised the issue of

    confiscated Jewish property in Romania with Constantinescu.

    Constantinescu said the problem must be solved within

    Romania's general framework for restitution. MS

    [19] UKRAINE TO CUT OFF ELECTRICITY SUPPLIES TO MOLDOVA?

    Ukraine

    has informed the Moldovan state electricity company that it

    may soon have to stop electricity deliveries to Moldova due

    to its own problems with gas deliveries from Russia, an

    official of the Moldtranselectro company said on 4 January.

    Moldova recently increased its electricity imports from

    Ukraine and Romania. The move came after Gazprom drastically

    reduced gas deliveries to Moldova because Chisinau was unable

    to meet debt payments. Romania has also warned Moldova that

    it may cut off electricity supplies on 6 January because

    Chisinau is failing to make payments on a $10 million debt,

    ITAR-TASS reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [20] Ending 'The Breakup of Russia'

    By Paul A. Goble

    Vladimir Putin's latest rationale for Moscow's

    campaign in Chechnya -- to "bring about the end of the

    breakup of Russia" -- raises some disturbing questions

    about the kind of policies he may try to pursue as acting

    president of the Russian Federation.

    During a visit to Russian-controlled regions of

    Chechnya on New Year's Day, Putin told Russian soldiers

    that their campaign against the Chechens is "not simply

    about restoring honor and dignity to the country."

    Rather, he continued, "it is about how to bring about the

    end of the breakup of Russia."

    Most immediately, these remarks call into question

    the claims Putin and his supporters have made in the past

    about this conflict. Until last weekend, he had insisted

    that the conflict was about extirpating "extremists" and

    "terrorists," goals which many Western leaders have found

    difficult to oppose even when they are appalled by the

    way Russian forces have set about achieving that

    objective.

    By shifting his stance so quickly and completely,

    Putin has unintentionally invited those governments to

    re-examine both his earlier claims about the conflict and

    their response to it. And he has equally unintentionally

    raised questions on only his second day in office as to

    how reliable a partner he may be in any negotiations with

    Western governments.

    But as significant as these consequences may prove

    in the future, Putin's words on this occasion clearly

    have even more serious implications for the Russian

    Federation, for its relationship with its neighbors, and

    hence for the world as a whole.

    For the Russian Federation, Putin's new position on

    Chechnya points to a more authoritarian future, one in

    which the reconstitution of state authority and the

    defense of a particular territory takes precedence over

    any move toward greater freedom and democracy.

    As all polls show, Putin's popularity in the Russian

    Federation reflects the longing of many Russians for a

    stronger and more effective state capable of responding

    quickly and harshly to any challenge -- be it from often

    despised ethnic minorities, criminal groups, or Western

    governments.

    But a state reconstituted on the basis of such

    expectations is unlikely to be the peaceful and liberal

    democratic regime that many in both Russia and the West

    have been hoping for.

    Under such leadership, the Russian Federation could

    become an increasingly authoritarian Rechtstaat, a regime

    in which the state is capable of enforcing the laws it

    issues rather than responding to the demands of

    population in whose name it rules.

    For many Russians who have lived through the

    lawlessness of the Yeltsin years as well as for Western

    business interests there, such a state might appear to be

    a major improvement on current conditions.

    But precisely because such a regime is likely to

    have to seek support through nationalist appeals, it

    might rapidly become something much less attractive and

    ever more nationalistic. Should that happen, the Putin

    government might move on from its current campaign

    against "persons of the Caucasus nationality" to open and

    state-sponsored discrimination against other ethnic and

    religious groups not judged by Putin's brand of Russian

    nationalists to be truly Russian.

    For the countries surrounding the Russian Federation

    -- especially the 11 former Soviet republics and three

    Baltic countries -- Putin's new position is, if anything,

    even more threatening.

    At a minimum, the nationalistic Russia Putin's

    policies point to almost certainly will be far more

    difficult to get along with. But many in these countries

    are likely to be especially concerned that the Russian

    nationalist resurgence he is sponsoring will not stop at

    the borders of the Russian Federation.

    Even the Yeltsin government showed itself willing to

    exploit the presence of more than 20 million ethnic

    Russians in these states to pressure them into a special

    relationship with Moscow. Putin will certainly do no less

    and is quite likely to do a great deal more, thus further

    "ethnicizing" politics in many of these countries and

    undermining stability in some of them.

    But Putin's words on New Year's Day are potentially

    more ominous for the non-Russian countries. Many Russians

    are likely to view his words less as a call to firm up

    the borders of the Russian Federation, an entity many of

    them do not see as their country, than as a demand for a

    revision of the results of 1991.

    Putin may thus push even harder for a Russian

    Federation union with Belarus than Yeltsin did and may

    also put more pressure on the members of the Commonwealth

    of Independent States to defer to Moscow's interests.

    Above all, Putin's new stance may pose a major

    concern for the international community. One of the bases

    of Putin's popularity has been his willingness, even

    eagerness, to dismiss Western criticism of his policies

    in Chechnya, a dismissal underlined by his assertion last

    month that Russia should not act as if it now has no

    enemies.

    Such a leader seems an unlikely candidate for

    serious talks with the West anytime soon, even though

    Russia's economic problems may lead him to change his

    tone at least enough to extract more resources from

    Western governments who do not want to see the situation

    in Russia get even worse.

    But far more than Yeltsin, Putin will find it hard to

    make any broader deals with the West. And consequently, his

    words about defending the borders of Russia may have the

    effect of creating precisely those dividing lines in Europe

    that leaders in both Moscow and the West have said they hope

    to avoid.

    05-01-00


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


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