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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 9, 00-01-13

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. 9, 13 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN OFFICIAL SAYS PARLIAMENT KILLINGS MAY HAVE BEEN COUP
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN SUSPENDS OIL EXPORTS VIA RUSSIA
  • [03] RUSSIAN OFFICIALS SAY GEORGIAN CLAIMS OF ARMS SMUGGLING FABRICATED
  • [04] PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES IN KAZAKHSTAN DEMAND GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATION
  • [05] OPPOSITION PARTIES UNDER PRESSURE IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [06] U.S. CONDEMNS UZBEK PRESIDENTIAL POLL
  • [07] U.S. WATCHDOG APPEALS FOR IMPRISONED UZBEK JOURNALIST'S RELEASE

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] UN SECURITY COUNCIL BLASTS BOSNIAN LEADERSHIP
  • [09] BOSNIAN SERBS BLOCK JOINT BORDER PATROL FORCE
  • [10] BOSNIAN POLICE TO EAST TIMOR
  • [11] BOSNIAN SERB WEEKLY TO SUE DODIK
  • [12] OSCE WARNS HERZEGOVINIAN HDZ
  • [13] CROATIA'S GRANIC: 'I'D DO BETTER WITHOUT THE HDZ'
  • [14] RACAN: CROATIAN GOVERNMENT COALITION PACT IN PLACE
  • [15] ANNAN CALLS FOR RENEWAL OF PREVLAKA MANDATE
  • [16] EU OIL DELIVERIES REACH SERBIAN CITIES
  • [17] GENERAL PERISIC TAKES ISSUE WITH SERBIAN OPPOSITION
  • [18] MONTENEGRO TO TRY WAR CRIMES SUSPECT
  • [19] THREE MACEDONIAN POLICE KILLED IN ALBANIAN DISTRICT
  • [20] VATICAN: ROMAN CATHOLICS UNDER PRESSURE IN KOSOVA
  • [21] EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT TELLS ROMANIA EU INTEGRATION WILL BE
  • [22] ROMANIAN RULING PARTY CONTINUES TO BE TORN BY CONFLICT
  • [23] FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER LEAVES RIGHTIST UMBRELLA-FORUM
  • [24] BULGARIA SUSPENDS PRIVATIZATION OF DEFENSE INDUSTRY PLANTS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] RUSSIANS SHOW LITTLE FAITH IN TRADE UNIONS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN OFFICIAL SAYS PARLIAMENT KILLINGS MAY HAVE BEEN COUP

    ATTEMPT

    Armenia's chief military prosecutor, Gagik Jahangiran, told

    journalists in Yerevan on 12 January that investigators are close to

    concluding that the 27 October parliament shootings constituted a

    coup attempt, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He characterized the

    killings as "part of a single scenario" that was not implemented in

    full. The five gunmen, led by Nairi Hunanian, were given "false

    promises," Jahangirian said. He did not elaborate. He added that he

    cannot exclude that one or two more officials will be arrested in

    connection with the shootings. Sixteen persons have been detained to

    date on suspicion of involvement in the killings. Reuters quoted

    Jahangirian as saying that the shootings had originally been planned

    for 13 October but the gunmen had not been able to get past security

    guards and enter the parliament building on that day. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJAN SUSPENDS OIL EXPORTS VIA RUSSIA

    Azerbaijan's state oil

    company SOCAR on 10 January halted crude exports through the Baku-

    Novorossiisk pipeline because of inadequate supplies, Interfax

    reported on 12 January. An aide to SOCAR President Natik Aliev told

    the agency that SOCAR is delivering the 10,000-11,000 tons of crude

    it currently produces daily to domestic refineries so that fuel oil

    for electricity-generating purposes can be produced. Meanwhile, the

    Azerbaijan International Operating Company has informed the Russian

    pipeline concern Transneft of its interest in using the available

    Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline capacity. AIOC already exports its

    offshore oil via the pipeline from Baku to the Georgian Black Sea

    terminal at Supsa. LF

    [03] RUSSIAN OFFICIALS SAY GEORGIAN CLAIMS OF ARMS SMUGGLING FABRICATED

    Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev said on 12 January that

    judging by information he has at his disposal, Georgian claims that

    Russian troops stationed in that country attempted to sell weapons

    to the Chechens are untrue. After talks earlier that day with

    Georgian security officials, Lieutenant-General Vladimir Andreev,

    who commands the Russian forces stationed in Georgia, told ITAR-TASS

    that those officials had failed to present any evidence to

    substantiate the charges. Andreev pointed out that the truck

    allegedly transporting the arms, which featured in video footage

    shown on Georgian Television on 11 January, bore Georgian, rather

    than Russian military license plates. Colonel Aleksandr Lutskevich,

    who heads the press service of the Transcaucasus Group of Russian

    Forces, said the Georgian officials were unable to name either the

    persons who supplied the weapons or their clients in Chechnya,

    Caucasus Press reported. LF

    [04] PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES IN KAZAKHSTAN DEMAND GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATION

    INTO MIG SALES

    An unspecified number of parliamentary deputies

    signed a statement on 12 January demanding that the government

    investigate whether two men charged with the illegal sale to North

    Korea of 40 MiG fighter aircraft were acting at the government's

    behest, Reuters reported. Defendant and Chief of General Staff

    General Bakhytzhan Ertaev had told the court the previous day that

    in arranging the deal he was simply acting on orders from his

    superiors, including then Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbaev (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 January 2000). Parliamentary deputy

    Serik Abdrakhmanov argued that Ertaev should not be prosecuted for

    following government instructions. The trial was adjourned to 18

    January after Ertaev was hospitalized on 11 January with heart

    problems. LF

    [05] OPPOSITION PARTIES UNDER PRESSURE IN KYRGYZSTAN

    Kyrgyzstan's

    Central Electoral Commission has warned Feliks Kulov, chairman of

    the Ar-Namys (Dignity) Party, not to engage in premature electoral

    campaigning, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 12 January. The

    warning came after an interview with Kulov was published in the

    "Asaba" weekly newspaper on 12 January. The commission has refused

    either to register the party list, which Kulov heads, submitted by

    Ar-Namys for the 20 February parliamentary elections, or to register

    Kulov as a candidate in a single-mandate constituency in Talas

    Oblast. Also on 12 January, Alevtina Pronenko, a leading member of

    the El (Bei-Bechara) opposition party, told RFE/RL that her party

    has still not received a formal ruling from the Supreme Court

    barring El (Bei-Bechara) from contesting the elections (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 3 and 5 January 2000) . Until the party receives such a

    written ruling, it cannot appeal the ban. LF

    [06] U.S. CONDEMNS UZBEK PRESIDENTIAL POLL

    U.S. State Department

    spokesman James Rubin on 12 January described the Uzbek presidential

    election three days earlier as "neither free nor fair," adding that

    voters were offered "no real choice" and opposition parties were not

    permitted to register or nominate presidential candidates. He said

    the U.S. regrets that the Uzbek leadership failed to comply with its

    commitments as an OSCE member state. Incumbent Islam Karimov was

    reelected in the 9 January poll with 91.9 percent of the vote. His

    only opponent, philosophy professor Abdulkhafiz Djalalov, received

    4.17 percent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 2000). LF

    [07] U.S. WATCHDOG APPEALS FOR IMPRISONED UZBEK JOURNALIST'S RELEASE

    The

    Committee to Protect Journalists on 12 January sent a letter to

    President Karimov asking him to ensure the release from jail of

    ailing 63-year-old journalist Shadi Mardiev. Mardiev, who worked for

    the state-run Samarkand radio station, was sentenced in June 1998 to

    an 11-year prison term on charges of defamation and extortion. He

    was arrested in November 1997 after airing a program implicating a

    Samarkand prosecutor in corruption. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] UN SECURITY COUNCIL BLASTS BOSNIAN LEADERSHIP

    The Security Council

    on 12 January voted unanimously to demand that the members of the

    three-strong Bosnian joint presidency implement pledges they made in

    New York last November to further develop joint institutions in

    keeping with the 1995 Dayton agreement (see "RFE/RL South Slavic

    Report," 13 January 2000). Council President and U.S. Ambassador

    Richard Holbrooke told reporters: "I am here today to express our

    considerable annoyance at the delays.... The joint presidency, its

    central institutions, and many attributes of a single, sovereign,

    centrally-governed state...have not been fulfilled," Reuters

    reported. Holbrooke, who was the architect of the 1995 peace

    agreement, noted that the return of refugees and displaced persons

    is proceeding too slowly. He also criticized powerful local

    nationalist warlords for blocking implementation of the Dayton

    agreement. Holbrooke stressed that such individuals are "just

    criminals, crooks, disguising their crookedness under the guise

    of...nationalism." PM

    [09] BOSNIAN SERBS BLOCK JOINT BORDER PATROL FORCE

    Ethnic Serbian

    deputies in the joint legislature voted on 12 January to block the

    establishment of a multi-ethnic border police force for all of

    Bosnia-Herzegovina (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 2000).

    Alexandra Stiglmayer, who is the spokeswoman for the international

    community's Wolfgang Petritsch, said in Sarajevo that Petritsch is

    likely to soon set up the force by decree. Petritsch and his

    predecessor Carlos Westendorp have used their wide-ranging powers to

    implement key measures blocked by nationalists in the legislature.

    The joint border police force is one of the central institutions

    that the three members of the presidency promised last November to

    set up. On 13 January, Petritsch said that he will set up the force

    by decree and will not allow "a few individuals" to stand in the way

    of "an entire country's progress." PM

    [10] BOSNIAN POLICE TO EAST TIMOR

    Bosnian Ambassador to the UN Muhamed

    Sacirbey said in New York on 12 January that 21 civilian police,

    including Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, will soon join UN peace-

    keeping operations in East Timor. Critics charge that the rules

    governing the selection process made it impossible for young men,

    among whom unemployment is a particularly serious problem, to

    qualify. PM

    [11] BOSNIAN SERB WEEKLY TO SUE DODIK

    The directors of the independent

    "Reporter" said in Banja Luka on 12 January that they will sue Prime

    Minister Milorad Dodik for recently saying that the weekly "works

    against the interests of the Republika Srpska," RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. PM

    [12] OSCE WARNS HERZEGOVINIAN HDZ

    OSCE spokeswoman Tanya Domi said in

    Sarajevo on 12 January that the international community may

    disqualify the Herzegovinian branch of the Croatian Democratic

    Community (HDZ) from participating in the April local elections in

    five districts it controls. She said that the HDZ has failed to

    remove from office five mayors whom Petritsch and the OSCE

    previously fired. PM

    [13] CROATIA'S GRANIC: 'I'D DO BETTER WITHOUT THE HDZ'

    Mate Granic, who

    is the HDZ's candidate in the 24 January Croatian presidential

    elections, said in Zagreb on 12 January that he has appealed to

    leading HDZ politicians to end their public feuding (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 12 January 2000). Granic added that the daily arguments

    between prominent HDZ politicians are harming his candidacy and that

    he has slipped into third place in the opinion polls as a result. He

    told "Jutarnji list" that he is confident that he could have won the

    presidency in the first round had he run as an independent. As

    recently as early December, Granic led in opinion polls. PM

    [14] RACAN: CROATIAN GOVERNMENT COALITION PACT IN PLACE

    Prime Minister-

    designate Ivica Racan said in Zagreb on 12 January that his two-

    party coalition and its smaller four-party coalition ally have

    reached a six-point agreement on the functioning of the new

    government. The text will be made public soon, ahead of the

    nomination of individuals to fill the 17 cabinet posts. He added

    that the government will make decisions by majority vote, rather

    than by consensus, and that no party will have more seats than are

    justified by the results of the 3 January parliamentary elections.

    He did not provide any details or mention the names of any

    prospective cabinet members. Observers note that Racan previously

    refused demands by the four smaller parties that decisions be

    reached by consensus and that each of the six parties have an equal

    number of cabinet posts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January 2000). PM

    [15] ANNAN CALLS FOR RENEWAL OF PREVLAKA MANDATE

    UN Secretary-General

    Kofi Annan on 12 January proposed to the Security Council that it

    extend by six months its mandate for peacekeepers on the Prevlaka

    peninsula. Prevlaka is Croatian territory that controls access to

    Yugoslavia's only deep-water naval base, which is in Montenegro's

    Kotor Bay. Montenegrin officials recently proposed that Zagreb and

    Podgorica settle the dispute between themselves, charging that

    Belgrade has deliberately blocked a solution, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. PM

    [16] EU OIL DELIVERIES REACH SERBIAN CITIES

    Some 14 trucks carrying EU

    heating oil reached Nis while another four arrived in Pirot on 12

    January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 2000). Reuters reported

    from Belgrade that the EU is unlikely to expand its Energy for

    Democracy program to include other cities, as opposition political

    leaders have urged it to do. PM

    [17] GENERAL PERISIC TAKES ISSUE WITH SERBIAN OPPOSITION

    Former Chief-

    of-Staff General Momcilo Perisic, who is now an opposition

    politician, told "Vesti" of 12 January that he did not sign the

    recent opposition declaration because the signatories did not call

    for ousting Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by "using

    institutions provided by the political system" (see "RFE/RL Balkan

    Report," 11 January 2000). Perisic noted that he nonetheless agrees

    with most of the opposition declaration and will continue to work

    with the signatories. Perisic stressed that Milosevic should be made

    to answer to the parliament for having violated the constitution.

    Once that process is completed, then there will be a legal basis for

    calling elections, the general continued. He added, however, that if

    democratic means prove ineffective in ousting Milosevic, then "other

    methods" remain. He did not elaborate. PM

    [18] MONTENEGRO TO TRY WAR CRIMES SUSPECT

    Justice Minister Dragan Soc

    said in Podgorica on 12 January that Montenegrin authorities will

    try Veselin Vlahovic, who is otherwise known as Batko, for having

    allegedly committed war crimes in Bosnia during the 1992-1995

    conflict (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 1999). Soc added that

    the Hague-based war crimes tribunal informed the Montenegrin

    authorities that the tribunal "is not interested" in trying Vlahovic

    itself, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [19] THREE MACEDONIAN POLICE KILLED IN ALBANIAN DISTRICT

    Unknown gunmen

    fatally shot three Macedonian police in the primarily ethnic

    Albanian village of Aracinovo near Skopje on 11 January. The police

    were checking for stolen vehicles in the village, which is believed

    to be the center of a Kosova-based crime and smuggling network, AP

    reported. President Boris Trajkovski met later with Interior

    Minister Dosta Dimovska and urged an "uncompromising" approach

    toward crime. Arben Xhaferi, who heads the ethnic Albanian party

    that belongs to the governing coalition, said it would be "dangerous

    and irresponsible" to give "political connotations" to the incident.

    PM

    [20] VATICAN: ROMAN CATHOLICS UNDER PRESSURE IN KOSOVA

    Vatican Radio

    reported on 12 January that Roman Catholic Kosovars say they are

    under increasing pressure from "Muslim extremists" among their

    fellow ethnic Albanians. The broadcast added that Roman Catholic

    churches in Peja and Prizren have been desecrated recently. Kosova's

    Roman Catholic community is small but influential because of its

    links to its co-religionists abroad. PM

    [21] EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT TELLS ROMANIA EU INTEGRATION WILL BE

    DIFFCULT

    Arriving in Bucharest on 12 January, EU Commission

    President Romano Prodi said the union is "fully committed" to

    enlargement but no one must be surprised "if the integration process

    is difficult." Prodi, who is accompanied by EU Commissioner for

    Enlargement Guenter Verheugen, is to meet with members of the

    cabinet and President Emil Constantinescu on 13 January, Romanian

    radio reported. Also on 12 January, Constantinescu met with Foreign

    Minister Petre Roman to discuss ways of coordinating EU integration

    between the office of the president and the ministry. MS

    [22] ROMANIAN RULING PARTY CONTINUES TO BE TORN BY CONFLICT

    The National

    Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) leadership failed on 12

    January to agree on a date for electing a new Standing Bureau,

    RFE/RL's Bucharest Bureau reported. Party chairman Ion Diaconescu

    favors postponing the vote on a new bureau until after the 2000

    parliamentary elections. Other members of the leadership, however,

    want the bureau to be elected by the party's highest forum, the

    Permanent Delegation, at the end of January. The party is to elect,

    among others, a new secretary-general, replacing former Premier Radu

    Vasile, who has been expelled from the PNTCD. Following the six-to-

    six vote on 12 January, the decision will be left to the Permanent

    Delegation meeting at the end of the month. MS

    [23] FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER LEAVES RIGHTIST UMBRELLA-FORUM

    National

    Alliance Christian Democratic (ANCD) Chairman Victor Ciorbea on 12

    January said his party will no longer participate in the forum of

    center-right parties that is being sponsored by the Civic Alliance

    Movement. Noting that these parties continue " to make concessions"

    to their coalition partners, he said the ANCD is not willing to

    participate in the forum simply "to shoot a family photo." Ciorbea

    also said the choice of Mugur Isarescu as premier demonstrates that

    the Democratic Convention of Romania and President Constantinescu

    "continue to make concessions" to the Democratic Party and that "the

    leader of the present cabinet is in fact Petre Roman," who, together

    with then President Ion Iliescu, had appointed Isarescu as National

    Bank governor in 1990. MS

    [24] BULGARIA SUSPENDS PRIVATIZATION OF DEFENSE INDUSTRY PLANTS

    Defense

    Minister Boyko Noev has ordered a temporary halt to the

    privatization of military industries pending a review by his

    ministry of the privatization process, BTA reported on 12 January.

    The decision was taken following a meeting between Noev and

    representatives of trade unions in the defense sector. Noev noted

    that once privatization is resumed, the process will be "as

    transparent as possible." He said that it is "certain" that none of

    the military repairs companies will be sold, adding that

    possibilities for securing contracts from Germany to modernize and

    overhaul MiG-29 aircraft are being investigated. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [25] RUSSIANS SHOW LITTLE FAITH IN TRADE UNIONS

    by Tuck Wesolowsky

    For many Russians, trade unions are a curiosity at best and an

    irritant at worst. With membership down, trade unions in Russia are

    struggling to regain the faith of the rank and file. A 1996 poll

    showed only 7 percent of Russians trusted labor unions.

    Much of the Russian public has grown weary and lost hope

    following 10 years of mostly unsuccessful economic reforms. Millions

    of people go without pay for months on end. Millions more are

    unemployed. Just how many are currently jobless is unclear because

    tens of thousands have been ordered to take unpaid administrative

    leave, swelling the ranks of the "hidden unemployed." Others work

    part-time at crumbling industries.

    Many Russians interviewed on the streets of Moscow say they

    feel a sense of utter hopelessness, and few have any faith in

    organizations, such as unions, that promise to make things better.

    That sense of hopelessness extends to many union members

    themselves. Workers are leaving unions in growing numbers. Russia's

    Federation of Independent Trade Unions boasted of representing 60

    million of Russia's 73 million workers in 1992. Reliable figures put

    the number now at below 40 million, and independent studies confirm

    a decline of some 25 percent.

    Russia is not alone in seeing a decline in union membership.

    Membership figures are down worldwide as the economy moves away from

    the industrial sector--a traditional union stronghold--to the

    service sector. But some of the biggest declines have taken place in

    Eastern Europe, where unions are still tainted by their association

    with former Communist regimes.

    The number of workers in labor unions in Eastern Europe has

    fallen by around 36 percent in recent years. A report by the

    International Labor Organization says much of the decline can be

    attributed to the fact that union membership in many countries is no

    longer seen as virtually obligatory.

    But even if more employees in Russia wanted to join unions,

    it's uncertain whether employers will be keen to allow them.

    According to a 1998 report on worldwide labor rights by the

    Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

    (ICFTU), employers typically obstruct unionization, especially in

    newly created commercial organizations.

    In Yekaterinburg, Russia, the 250 workers at the Coca-Cola

    bottling plant voted last June to form a union. But just months

    after creating the union, the same employees withdrew their support.

    The workers say they backed down after the multinational soft-drink

    manufacturer made it clear they must quit the union or lose their

    jobs.

    The company even barred their elected shop steward from the

    shop floor, according to the Moscow bureau of the Geneva-based

    International Union of Food and Allied Workers' Association (IUF),

    with which the Coca-Cola bottlers were affiliated.

    The workers complained to the local prosecutor's office,

    which, following an investigation, backed their charges that Coca-

    Cola management had violated their rights by pressuring them to

    abandon the union. The case took on an international dimension when

    the IUF's Geneva leadership sent an official complaint to Coca-Cola.

    Despite these efforts, the union has not been reinstated.

    Workers are not the only ones being intimidated. Union

    activists trying to organize their colleagues routinely face being

    sacked, demoted, or even killed, according to the ICFTU report.

    Last January, Gennadii Borisov, the leader of Moscow's Vnukovo

    Airlines Technical and Ground Personnel Union, was found murdered in

    the entrance to his apartment. He was the second union leader at

    Vnukovo to be killed in less than five years.

    To many Russian labor specialists, the country's current labor

    woes are rooted in the Soviet past, when under the all-encompassing

    All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, unions formed a "troika"

    with management and party apparatchiks to ensure fulfillment of the

    five-year economic plan. As U.S. academic Linda Cook of Brown

    University notes in her book "Labor and Liberalization: Trade Unions

    in the New Russia," the major responsibility of trade unions in

    Soviet times was to mobilize workers for production, not to defend

    their interests against management.

    But during the Soviet era, trade unions had relatively few

    levers to motivate workers to produce better or more, according to

    Frank Hoffer, the ILO Workers Activities Senior Specialist in

    Moscow. Hoffer says in his paper "Traditional Trade Unions During

    Transition and Economic Reform in Russia" that working harder and

    better rarely meant higher wages, which were tightly controlled by

    plan requirements. On the other hand, poor work performance, with

    few exceptions, did not result in an employee's being sacked.

    The unions' main role was to oversee and dispense the carrots-

    -valued goods and services--to employees at the workplace. Among

    other things, unions determined and paid pensions, controlled

    benefits from social insurance funds, and established eligibility

    for state welfare benefits. They also looked to management for

    cooperation, not for conflict. Strikes were unheard of.

    Brown University's Cook says the image of a cozy union-

    management relationship lingers till this day.

    But, she says, some recently created independent unions have

    succeeded in attracting new members. Cook notes independents have

    done well among workers who have demonstrated solidarity and

    militancy in the past--like the coal miners. The independents have

    also had some success in industries that employ well-educated

    workers or produce goods that are essential for the economy.

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

    13-01-00


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


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