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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 5, 00-01-07

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. 5, 7 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION CALL ON GOVERMENT TO REGISTER
  • [02] CHECHENS RECEIVING MEDICAL TREATMENT IN AZERBAIJAN
  • [03] GEORGIA REJECTS NEW RUSSIAN ACCUSATIONS
  • [04] KAZAKH MIG SALE TRIAL OPENS, ADJOURNS
  • [05] KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTY WANTS EUROPEAN BODIES TO MEDIATE
  • [06] THIRD KYRGYZ ELECTORAL ALLIANCE FORGED
  • [07] KYRGYZSTAN'S AFGHAN VETERANS HOLD FOUNDING CONGRESS
  • [08] NOMINATION OF PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES IN TAJIKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] GRANIC VOWS TO MAKE CROATIA 'NICE'
  • [10] RACAN SAYS NOT ALL COALITION PARTNERS EQUAL
  • [11] IN-FIGHTING CONTINUES WITHIN HDZ
  • [12] UN OFFICIALS TELL HERZEGOVINIANS TO FACE 'NEW REALITY'
  • [13] SESELJ WARNS MONTENEGRO
  • [14] RIVAL MONTENEGRIN CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS PASS PEACEFULLY
  • [15] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER SAYS NO DECISION ON DINAR
  • [16] SERBIAN COURT FREES FOUR KOSOVARS
  • [17] BELGRADE ADMITS HIGHER CASUALTIES IN KOSOVA CONFLICT
  • [18] SLOVENIAN DIPLOMAT NAMED TO KEY UN POST
  • [19] ROMANIA SETS UP NATO INTEGRATION COMMISSION
  • [20] ROMANIA, ISRAEL TO BOOST MILITARY COOPERATION
  • [21] MOLDOVAN RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE DAILY WARNED BY AUTHORITIES

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [22] Karimov Will Stay in Office, But Recent Elections Send Mixed

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION CALL ON GOVERMENT TO REGISTER

    DEMOCRATIC PARTY

    In a joint statement, 14 Azerbaijani

    opposition parties have called on the government to register

    the Azerbaijan Democratic Party, Turan reported on 6 January.

    The party, which has an estimated 20,000 members and six

    parliament deputies, had its registration revoked without

    explanation in 1995, just three years after receiving it. A

    group of 19 parliament deputies has asked the Council of

    Europe to take the situation into account during its

    assessment of Azerbaijan's application for full membership in

    the council, Turan reported on 4 January. LF

    [02] CHECHENS RECEIVING MEDICAL TREATMENT IN AZERBAIJAN

    Some 100

    Chechens injured in Russian artillery attacks are being

    treated in hospitals in Azerbaijan under the terms of a 1997

    agreement between the Azerbaijani and Chechen health

    authorities, Interfax reported on 6 January, quoting

    independent Azerbaijani media. Interfax also reported that

    the wife and three children of former Chechen acting

    President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev left Baku on 5 January for an

    unnamed Arab country. According to "Moskovskie novosti" No.

    50, Yandarbiev's family had been living incognito in Baku

    since early December, after leaving Chechnya for Georgia. The

    press center of the Eastern Group of Russian Forces in

    Chechnya on 7 January claimed that three leading Chechen

    figures, including former Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov,

    are currently in Baku, according to Caucasus Press.

    Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry has denied the

    report. LF

    [03] GEORGIA REJECTS NEW RUSSIAN ACCUSATIONS

    The same Russian

    military press release also accused Georgia of allowing the

    Chechens to establish a "springboard" in Georgia for military

    actions in Chechnya. It further claimed that leading Chechen

    field commanders had traveled to Georgia to recruit members

    of the former paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni. Georgian

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Avtandil Napetvaridze on 7 January

    rejected the Russian claims as slanderous and unfounded,

    according to Caucasus Press. Mkhedrioni Political Secretary

    Tornike Berishvili also denied that any of his organization's

    members intend to fight on the side of the Chechens. LF

    [04] KAZAKH MIG SALE TRIAL OPENS, ADJOURNS

    The closed trial of

    two men accused of arranging the illegal sale of some 40 MiG

    fighter aircraft to North Korea began in Almaty on 6 January

    but was immediately adjourned for four days at the request of

    defendant and Chief of General Staff Bakhytzhan Ertaev,

    Interfax reported. Six of the MiGs were intercepted in Baku

    in March, and Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbaev and National

    Security Committee Chairman Nurtai Abykaev were dismissed in

    August for their suspected role in the deal (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 10 August 1999). In November, Ertaev was named as

    a witness in the case. Semen Ginzburg, a lawyer for

    businessman Aleksandr Petrenko who is Ertaev's co-defendant,

    claimed that former Kazakh Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev

    had approved the sale of the aircraft, RFE/RL's Almaty

    correspondent reported. In August, Balghymbaev said in Tokyo

    that the Kazakh government "had nothing to do" with the sale

    of the MiGs to North Korea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August

    1999). LF

    [05] KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTY WANTS EUROPEAN BODIES TO MEDIATE

    DIALOGUE WITH AUTHORITIES

    The Republican People's Party of

    Kazakhstan has called for a dialogue between the country's

    authorities and the opposition, with the EU and the OSCE

    acting as mediators, senior party member Bigeldin Gabdullin

    told Interfax on 6 January. Gabdullin said the European

    organizations should serve as guarantors of any agreement

    reached during those talks. He added that both organizations

    have indicated their willingness to do so but are waiting for

    a formal response from the Kazakh leadership. LF

    [06] THIRD KYRGYZ ELECTORAL ALLIANCE FORGED

    Parliamentary deputy

    and film director Dooronbek Sadyrbaev said on 6 January in

    Bishkek that his Kairan-EL Party, which was founded in July

    1999, will form an electoral bloc with the Agrarian-Labor

    Party in advance of the 20 February parliamentary elections,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Two pro-

    government social-democratic parties forged an electoral

    alliance in late December, and two opposition parties agreed

    to do so earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 6

    January 2000). At a congress in Bishkek on 5 January, the

    Erkin Kyrgyzstan party drew up a party list of 15 candidates

    and named eight other candidates who will run in single-

    mandate constituencies. LF

    [07] KYRGYZSTAN'S AFGHAN VETERANS HOLD FOUNDING CONGRESS

    The

    Party of War Veterans, which was registered with the Justice

    Ministry in August 1999, held its founding congress in

    Bishkek on 6 January, Interfax reported. The party's aims are

    to encourage reform within the armed forces and to combat

    corruption. LF

    [08] NOMINATION OF PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES IN TAJIKISTAN

    COMPLETED

    The Adolatkhokh (Justice) Party on 6 January

    nominated 22 candidates to contest the 27 February election

    to the lower chamber of the new Tajik parliament, Asia Plus-

    Blitz and ITAR-TASS reported. It was the last of the six

    parties contending the poll to do so. The candidates include

    parliament deputies Sulton Kuvvatov and Saifiddin Turaev,

    both of whom were barred from running in the November 1999

    presidential election on the grounds that they failed to

    collect the required number of nomination signatures (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1999). LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] GRANIC VOWS TO MAKE CROATIA 'NICE'

    Foreign Minister Mate

    Granic, who is the presidential candidate of the Croatian

    Democratic Community (HDZ), told Reuters on 6 January that he

    will seek to make his country internationally respectable if

    he is elected on 24 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 January

    2000). He hopes to turn Croatia into a "nice country that

    foreigners will come to with pleasure." Granic pledged to

    respect the sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to cooperate

    with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, to ensure the

    freedom of the media, and to enable the return of ethnic

    Serbian refugees, whom he stressed "are welcome." The

    international community repeatedly criticized the outgoing

    HDZ government and late President Franjo Tudjman for failing

    to do these things. PM

    [10] RACAN SAYS NOT ALL COALITION PARTNERS EQUAL

    Croatian Prime

    Minister-designate Ivica Racan told "Jutarnji list" of 7

    January that the parties represented in the small coalition

    of four opposition parties will not have a voice equal in the

    new government to that of his coalition of two larger

    parties. Racan stressed that it would be a "negation of the

    results of the election" to give tiny parties an equal voice

    in making decisions as parties that won tens of thousands

    more votes. He described demands by the four that the new

    government reach all decisions by consensus as

    "unacceptable." Racan added that Drazen Budisa, who is the

    presidential candidate of Racan's coalition, is likely to

    defeat Granic easily provided that Budisa "makes no mistakes"

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 2000). Elsewhere, the prime

    minister-designate called on the directors of all state-run

    companies to offer their resignations to the new government.

    PM

    [11] IN-FIGHTING CONTINUES WITHIN HDZ

    Several prominent members

    of the defeated governing party have publicly blamed each

    other for the HDZ's losses in the 3 January parliamentary

    vote, "Jutarnji list" reported on 7 January. Ivic Pasalic,

    who leads the hard-line Herzegovinian faction, did not blame

    any of his rivals by name but stressed that the party would

    not have lost as badly as it did if it had been more decisive

    and nominated its presidential candidate immediately after

    Tudjman's death. Observers note that the major reason for the

    party failure to act quickly was that Vladimir Seks, who is

    Pasalic's main rival to head the party's hard-liners, refused

    to leave the presidential field open to Granic. Pasalic

    backed Granic for the nomination in an effort to wrong-foot

    his rival. PM

    [12] UN OFFICIALS TELL HERZEGOVINIANS TO FACE 'NEW REALITY'

    Alun

    Roberts, who is a UN spokesman in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on

    6 January that hard-line Croatian nationalists in Herzegovina

    should realize that their future is with Bosnia and not with

    Croatia. He stressed that the new Croatian government will

    not support their nationalist ambitions as its predecessor

    did (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 2000). "This is a new

    reality. And hard-core political leaders who say differently

    are deluding the people of their real interests," AP quoted

    him as saying. His superior, Jacques Klein, added that the

    Croats of Bosnia-Herzegovina should concentrate their

    energies on developing institutions to defend their interests

    within that republic. PM

    [13] SESELJ WARNS MONTENEGRO

    Serbian Deputy Prime Minister

    Vojislav Seselj said in Belgrade on 6 January that federal

    authorities should "intervene using all available means" if

    Montenegro seeks to secede. Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic recently told Montenegrins to make up their minds

    whether they want to remain in the federation or go it alone

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 January 2000). PM

    [14] RIVAL MONTENEGRIN CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS PASS PEACEFULLY

    Representatives and believers of the Serbian Orthodox Church

    and of its rival, the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, held

    separate ceremonies in Cetinje to mark Orthodox Christmas

    Eve. The two ceremonies, which centered on the lighting of

    Yule logs, passed without incident. Several political leaders

    from the governing Democratic Party of Socialists and the

    People's Party attended the Serbian Church's function, as did

    representatives of the pro-Milosevic Socialist People's

    Party. Some leaders of the independence-minded governing

    Social Democratic Party and opposition Liberal Alliance were

    present at the rival Montenegrin Orthodox ceremony, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. The Belgrade-based Serbian

    Church does not recognize its younger rival. PM

    [15] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER SAYS NO DECISION ON DINAR

    Filip

    Vujanovic said in Podgorica on 7 January that the government

    has reached no decision on making the German mark the sole

    legal tender in Montenegro, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 January 2000). PM

    [16] SERBIAN COURT FREES FOUR KOSOVARS

    Radovan Dedijer, a lawyer

    from Belgrade's Humanitarian Law Fund, told Reuters on 6

    January that a court in Pozarevac has released four ethnic

    Albanians after dismissing charges against them. "I was very

    surprised. It was a rare case because [all the charges were

    dropped].... Normally they issue a conviction at least to

    cover the time already spent in jail." Representatives of the

    international Red Cross escorted the four back to Kosova.

    They had been arrested on 6 July 1998 on charges of attacking

    a column of police vehicles. The men maintained that they

    were innocent and that police had rounded them up

    indiscriminately. Pozarevac is the home town of the Milosevic

    family. PM

    [17] BELGRADE ADMITS HIGHER CASUALTIES IN KOSOVA CONFLICT

    The

    latest issue of the army magazine "Vojska" reports that the

    Yugoslav army lost 524 dead and 33 missing in the spring 1999

    conflict with NATO, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on

    6 January. In June, Milosevic admitted losses of 462 soldiers

    and officers. Private estimates of the army's casualties run

    much higher. PM

    [18] SLOVENIAN DIPLOMAT NAMED TO KEY UN POST

    Danilo Turk, who is

    Slovenia's ambassador to the UN and an expert on

    international law, was named assistant UN secretary general

    for political affairs on 6 January. In 1998 and 1999, when

    Slovenia held a rotating seat on the Security Council, he

    represented his country in the UN's highest body. He acquired

    a reputation for thoughtful analysis, AP reported. Slovenia's

    new ambassador to the UN will be Ernest Petric, who is state

    secretary for foreign affairs. PM

    [19] ROMANIA SETS UP NATO INTEGRATION COMMISSION

    The government

    on 6 January set up an inter-ministerial commission to

    coordinate measures aimed at NATO integration, RFE/RL's

    Bucharest bureau reported. The Foreign Ministry will

    coordinate the commission, which will include deputy

    ministers from other ministries. The commission will work out

    proposals for Romania's annual National Program for NATO

    Integration. MS

    [20] ROMANIA, ISRAEL TO BOOST MILITARY COOPERATION

    Visiting

    Defense Minister Victor Babiuc and Israeli Deputy Defense

    Minister Efraim Sneh agreed in Tel Aviv to finalize a

    "framework agreement on military cooperation" in the first

    half of 2000 and to initiate joint research programs on

    military industries. Sneh proposed that Israel set up

    separate facilities for the modernization of helicopters and

    armored vehicles in Brasov, Romania. Finally, the Defense

    Ministry on 6 January released document titled "White Book--

    Romania's Army in 2010," Mediafax reported. The document

    envisages the transformation of the army's Rapid Reaction

    Force, which was set up in 1997, into "the main nucleus of

    Romania's future modernized army." MS

    [21] MOLDOVAN RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE DAILY WARNED BY AUTHORITIES

    The

    Prosecutor General's Office has warned "Kommersant Moldova"

    that it may order the newspaper to be shut down for using

    terms "directed against Moldova's statehood," ITAR-TASS

    reported on 7 January. The office says the newspaper's use of

    terms such as "The Transdniester Moldovan Republic" and "the

    Supreme Soviet of the Transdniester region" amounts to the

    propagation of separatism and the implicit recognition of a

    second state on Moldovan territory. The office says that the

    paper has thereby violated the constitution, which defines

    Moldova as a "sovereign, single, and indivisible state." MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [22] Karimov Will Stay in Office, But Recent Elections Send Mixed

    Messages

    By Abdumannob Polat

    In an environment in which opposition parties are

    banned, freedom of expression is restricted, and public life

    is marked by high levels of fear and intimidation,

    Uzbekistan's incumbent President Islam Karimov is expected to

    win re-election on 9 January. It is widely believed that

    Karimov determined the rules of the current race, including

    the selection of his only opponent. During the recent

    parliamentary vote on 5 December, Uzbek citizens were allowed

    to choose among representatives of local governments, five

    official parties and some independent candidates endorsed by

    the authorities, though all those candidates supported

    Karimov and his government. No independent parties were

    allowed to participate.

    The OSCE judged the recent parliamentary elections in

    Uzbekistan to be far from democratic and sent only a small

    group to assess them, rather than a full-fledged observer

    mission. Now, the organization has come to the conclusion

    that the upcoming presidential election will be even less

    democratic, and has decided not to send any observers at all.

    The U.S. has issued even stronger criticism.

    The parliamentary elections could nonetheless be

    considered a potentially positive, though small, step in the

    long term, if the regime were to start tolerating more

    openness and criticism. However, the way the current

    presidential race is developing gives little hope of that.

    Karimov is willing to tolerate some competition among

    his own supporters for seats in the puppet parliament, but

    when it comes to his own post the playing field is anything

    but level. For example, Karimov's opponent Abdulkhafiz

    Jalolov (Dzhalolov) has much less access to the media than

    the incumbent. Jalolov heads the Khalq Demokratik (Peoples

    Democratic, former Communist) Party, which used to be the

    ruling party. Karimov himself was leader of the party until

    June 1996.

    All five political parties registered in Uzbekistan were

    created on Karimov's initiative, and they fully support him

    and his government. Most independent observers say Karimov

    personally selected Jalolov as the 'alternative' candidate.

    Milliy Tiklanish (National Rebirth), another pro-government

    party, also attempted to name its own presidential candidate.

    But it failed to collect the required number of signatures

    and ended up supporting Karimov's candidacy.

    Uzbek government propaganda claims that such actions

    demonstrate that both these parties are independent. However,

    the nomination for the presidential race has more in common

    with the pre-1940 rules for World Chess competitions, in

    which the defending champion enjoyed the right to choose the

    individual with whom they would compete in order to keep

    their title. However, unlike the Chess Champions of old,

    Karimov is not ready for a fair fight, even with an opponent

    he has selected himself. The nomination of an alternative,

    puppet candidate for president does not indicate that the

    party backing Karimov's opponent is an opposition party.

    Moreover, the presence of such an "alternative" candidate

    lends a false "democratic" image to the race.

    At the same time, the alternative candidate is clearly

    calling for more democracy, freedom of expression, and an

    independent legislature, judiciary, and media, while at the

    same time trying to avoid direct criticism of the current

    president's policies. Uzbekistan certainly needs more

    openness and tolerance to maintain a balance between peace

    and stability on one side and urgent reforms on the other.

    Until recently, Karimov enjoyed significant credit in

    eyes of the Uzbek population and the international community

    for his success in preserving peace and stability in his

    country. However, he did not implement much-needed market and

    democratic reforms. The resulting deep economic crisis and

    increase in corruption have disillusioned many people. Most

    peasants, who are still members of state-run collective

    farms, have not received their salaries in years. Land is

    still owned by the collective farms and the state, which also

    controls the sporadic water supply.

    Today, most Uzbeks -- including teachers, university

    professors, and physicians -- earn enough just enough money to

    pay for bread and tea, the traditional fare of poor people.

    This contrasts sharply with the extravagant life styles of a

    small group of top government officials and a new class

    businesspeople, who are mostly relatives of the government

    officials.

    Although such social disparities and the generally poor

    economic situation in Uzbekistan are comparable to the

    conditions in other countries of Central Asia, many Uzbeks

    hold Karimov personally responsible for the current crisis.

    While he has likely exhausted most of his popular credit,

    fear of civil strife between the secular government and

    Islamic militants still continues to ensure him some level of

    support. Many Uzbeks simply view him as the lesser evil.

    Karimov's re-election is pre-determined. The government-

    manipulated opinion polls have "concluded" that he will

    receive 93 to 96 percent of the vote in the election. But it

    is not clear if the Uzbek leader will begin implementing the

    necessary reforms to open up the country's economic and

    political systems and thereby clear the way for the country's

    economic development.

    (Abdumannob Polat is a director of the

    Union of Councils' Central Asian Human Rights Information

    Network.)

    07-01-00


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


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