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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 17, 00-01-25

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. 4, No. 17, 25 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TURKEY SOLICITS ARMENIAN SUPPORT FOR REGIONAL STABILITY PACT
  • [02] WORLD BANK EARMARKS NEW LOANS FOR ARMENIA
  • [03] ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS MEET IN MOSCOW
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN LIQUIDATES STATE GOLD COMPANY
  • [05] KAZAKH OPPOSITION POLITICIAN ON TRIAL
  • [06] KAZAKH, KYRGYZ PREMIERS MEET
  • [07] POLICE GUARDS WITHDRAWN FROM KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN'S
  • [08] THREE SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KYRGYZ CONTRACT KILLING
  • [09] KYRGYZ, TAJIK PRESIDENTS MEET WITH PUTIN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] MESIC, BUDISA IN CROATIAN RUNOFF...
  • [11] ...AS THE CAMPAIGN BEGINS
  • [12] CARROTS FOR MONTENEGRO...
  • [13] ...AND A STICK
  • [14] EU RETHINKING SANCTIONS ON SERBIA?
  • [15] BOSNIAN SERBS WANT SILAJDZIC OUT
  • [16] POSTWAR KOSOVA OPENS FIRST BANK
  • [17] RIGHTS GROUP SLAMS MACEDONIAN POLICE
  • [18] ROMANIAN TEACHERS AND RAILWAY WORKERS GO ON STRIKE...
  • [19] ...AND GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO BACK DOWN
  • [20] CRIMINAL CASE LAUNCHED AGAINST CLUJ MAYOR
  • [21] COMMUNISTS, AGRARIANS WIN IN TARACLIA
  • [22] ETHNIC TURKISH LEADER IN BULGARIA WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL
  • [23] BULGARIAN ROMA FILE PETITIONS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] ANOTHER FORCED DEPORTATION?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TURKEY SOLICITS ARMENIAN SUPPORT FOR REGIONAL STABILITY PACT

    Turkish President Suleyman Demirel has written to his

    Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian to urge that Armenia

    endorse the Caucasus stability pact that Demirel proposed

    during his visit to Georgia earlier this month, RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported on 24 January, quoting Kocharian's

    press office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January 2000).

    Demirel argued that the pact, which is to be guaranteed by

    the international community, will "bring peace, stability,

    and prosperity not only to the Caucasus region but to the

    whole of Eurasia." He expressed confidence that Armenia and

    Turkey can act on their shared interests in strengthening

    regional peace and stability. It was not clear whether

    Demirel's missive made any concrete proposal on establishing

    formal diplomatic relations with Armenia. LF

    [02] WORLD BANK EARMARKS NEW LOANS FOR ARMENIA

    Owaiss Saadat, who

    is the World Bank's resident representative in Armenia, told

    journalists in Yerevan on 24 January that the bank will grant

    Armenia some $85 million in new loans in 2000 provided that

    the cabinet continues to implement its previously agreed

    program of deregulation and economic reform, RFE/RL's bureau

    in the Armenian capital reported. Of that sum, $45 million is

    allocated to cover approximately half of the country's

    anticipated budget deficit, while the remainder will finance

    infrastructure, social, and judicial programs. Saadat said

    that a timetable for the release of the funds will be worked

    out over the next few months. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS MEET IN MOSCOW

    Acting

    Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired "frank and

    substantive" talks in Moscow on 24 January between Kocharian

    and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev on the Karabakh

    peace process, Russian agencies reported. In a subsequent

    statement, Putin underscored the usefulness of, and Russia's

    support for, the ongoing dialogue on that subject between the

    two leaders who, he added, "are consistently seeking to find

    a compromise solution" to the conflict. Putin said Russia

    would be prepared to act as guarantor of such a settlement.

    Neither Aliev nor Kocharian has made any public statement on

    their talks. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN LIQUIDATES STATE GOLD COMPANY

    President Aliev on

    22 January issued a decree abolishing the Azergyzyl state

    gold company and transferring its functions to the State

    Commission for Geology and Mineral Resources, Interfax

    reported on 24 January. That commission will now be

    responsible for implementing the production-sharing agreement

    concluded in 1997 with a U.S. company to develop gold and

    silver mines close to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August 1997). LF

    [05] KAZAKH OPPOSITION POLITICIAN ON TRIAL

    The trial of Bigeldy

    Gabdullin, who is vice chairman of the executive committee of

    the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan and editor-in-

    chief of the independent newspaper "XXI vek," opened in

    Almaty on 25 January, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former

    capital reported. Gabdullin is charged with obstructing a

    police officer who in late December entered the premises

    where the party's executive committee was meeting and began

    making a video recording of the proceedings without

    presenting any official documentation allowing him to do so.

    LF

    [06] KAZAKH, KYRGYZ PREMIERS MEET

    Kyrgyz Prime Minister Amangeldi

    Muraliev headed a government delegation to Astana on 21

    January to attend a session of the Kyrgyz-Kazakh

    intergovernmental council, Interfax and RFE/RL's Bishkek

    bureau reported. Muraliev also met separately with his Kazakh

    counterpart Qasymzhomart Toqaev to discuss bilateral

    economic, military, trade, and customs relations. The two

    premiers were also scheduled to sign an agreement on the

    joint use of hydroelectric power stations on the Chu and

    Talas rivers, while the two countries' defense ministers were

    to sign a bilateral cooperation agreement. LF

    [07] POLICE GUARDS WITHDRAWN FROM KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN'S

    HOSPITAL WARD

    The Interior Ministry guards posted in

    parliament deputy and opposition El (Bei Bechara) Party

    Chairman Daniyar Usenov's hospital ward were withdrawn on 23

    January, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported the following day,

    quoting the parliamentary press service. The police had been

    deployed last week after Usenov failed to comply with a court

    summons (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January 2000). LF

    [08] THREE SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KYRGYZ CONTRACT KILLING

    Kyrgyzstan's Military Court on 24 January handed down the

    death sentence on three people found guilty of the March 1997

    murder in Bishkek of the head of the LUKoil-Kyrgyzstan

    company, Yusup Kolbaev, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. A

    fourth man received a nine-year prison sentence for his role

    as the killers' driver. LF

    [09] KYRGYZ, TAJIK PRESIDENTS MEET WITH PUTIN

    Kyrgyz President

    Askar Akaev met with acting Russian President Putin in Moscow

    on 24 January on the eve of the CIS summit, Russian agencies

    reported. Akaev requested that repayment of his country's

    huge debt to Russia be rescheduled, presidential deputy chief

    of staff Sergei Prikhodko said. That debt was estimated last

    summer at $132.8 million, and Kyrgyzstan must pay $30 million

    in interest in 2000 alone. Agreement was reached on

    postponing until May 2000 a state visit to Moscow by Akaev

    originally scheduled for February. Tajik President Imomali

    Rakhmonov met with Putin the same day to discuss economic and

    military-technical cooperation, the situation in Afghanistan,

    and the threat posed by international terrorism, according to

    ITAR-TASS. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] MESIC, BUDISA IN CROATIAN RUNOFF...

    With 97 percent of the

    votes counted, Stipe Mesic of the coalition of four small

    parties leads the 24 January Croatian presidential election

    with 42 percent of the votes. Drazen Budisa of the coalition

    of two larger parties trails him with 28 percent. Mate Granic

    of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), which ran Croatia

    from 1990 until its defeat in the 3 January parliamentary

    elections, finished third with 22 percent. Granic's defeat

    ends the last hope of his party to hold on to at least one

    key office at the national level. Mesic and Budisa will face

    a runoff on 7 February. Reuters reported that "there is

    little love lost between the two and [their] advisers

    predicted a tough and dirty campaign." PM

    [11] ...AS THE CAMPAIGN BEGINS

    Mesic began the campaign on 25

    January by accusing the secret services of attempting to

    sabotage his bid for the presidency. "All those who joined

    the campaign against me will have to account for their

    action, those in the intelligence services, the generals who

    behaved in the way that had some of the hallmarks of an

    imminent coup d'etat," Reuters reported. HDZ hardliners have

    previously attempted to use the secret services for political

    purposes. Elsewhere, Prime Minister-designate Ivica Racan

    spoke in favor of his ally Budisa. Racan stressed that his

    government will be able to carry out its program more

    effectively if Budisa is president. For his part, Mesic said

    that he will work with the government to achieve common

    goals, adding that he will also make sure that it keeps its

    promises. PM

    [12] CARROTS FOR MONTENEGRO...

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair

    told visiting Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic that

    democracy in Serbia is the key to Montenegro's future.

    Speaking in London on 25 January, Blair said: "I believe

    Montenegro has now begun the same transition process that has

    produced greater prosperity and democracy elsewhere in

    central and eastern Europe.... But we can only be sure of

    that when we have democratic change and a democratic

    government in Belgrade," Reuters reported. "The current

    Belgrade leadership is still a factor for instability in the

    Balkans. And Montenegro itself will never be fully secure

    until there is democracy and economic reform in Serbia,"

    Blair concluded. PM

    [13] ...AND A STICK

    Speaking in London on 21 January, an unnamed

    NATO diplomat told Reuters that Montenegro should not expect

    military support from the Atlantic alliance if Podgorica

    declares independence. The diplomat noted that keeping

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from provoking a

    confrontation with Montenegro is a "dilemma facing all of

    us." The envoy added, however, that Djukanovic "should be

    very careful not to provoke a showdown because he shouldn't

    count on being rescued by the U.S. or its allies." PM

    [14] EU RETHINKING SANCTIONS ON SERBIA?

    Foreign ministers of the

    EU member states are considering lifting the ban on direct

    air links to Serbia as a gesture of good will toward the

    Serbian opposition, "Vesti" reported from Brussels on 25

    January. The daily added that British and Dutch diplomats are

    softening in their refusal to lift any sanctions so long as

    Milosevic remains in power. The opposition stresses that

    sanctions should be aimed directly at members of the regime

    and should not include blanket measures that primarily affect

    ordinary Serbs. PM

    [15] BOSNIAN SERBS WANT SILAJDZIC OUT

    Republika Srpska Prime

    Minister Milorad Dodik and the moderate governing Sloga

    coalition appealed to the international community's Wolfgang

    Petritsch to remove Bosnian Muslim leader Haris Silajdzic

    from his post as co-chairman of the central government.

    Speaking in Banja Luka on 24 January, Dodik said that

    Silajdzic should go because of his recent remarks calling for

    the revision of the Dayton peace agreement. Silajdzic had

    argued that Dayton preserved an order "based on genocide" and

    ethnic cleansing dating back to the 1992-1995 conflict.

    Petritsch's spokesman, James Ferguson, said that Silajdzic's

    remarks were not "particularly helpful," adding there is a

    need for further implementation of Dayton rather than a

    revision of the peace treaty. Ferguson noted, however, that

    there is "no question" of removing Silajdzic. Petritsch has

    the authority to remove officials who he considers to be

    obstructing the implementation of Dayton. The Bosnian Serb

    leadership regards Dayton as legitimizing the continued

    existence of the Republika Srpska. PM

    [16] POSTWAR KOSOVA OPENS FIRST BANK

    The Micro Enterprise Bank

    opened in Prishtina on 24 January, the first bank launched in

    the province since the end of Serbian rule in June 1999.

    Funded primarily by the German and Dutch governments, the

    bank is an attempt by the international community to revive

    economic life in Kosova. Board chairman Ajri Begu told AP

    that it will be an uphill fight to "win back the lost faith

    of the citizens in the banking system." PM

    [17] RIGHTS GROUP SLAMS MACEDONIAN POLICE

    The Helsinki Committee

    for Human Rights said in Skopje on 24 January that Macedonian

    police used excessive force and violated citizens' property

    rights in investigating the recent killing of three policemen

    in an ethnic Albanian village (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13

    January 2000). PM

    [18] ROMANIAN TEACHERS AND RAILWAY WORKERS GO ON STRIKE...

    Romanian teachers and railway workers went on strike on 24

    and 25 January, respectively. Tens of thousands of teachers

    on strike are demanding a minimum wage of 1.5 million lei

    ($81.65) and bonuses for 1999. They are also calling on the

    government to respect a protocol it signed in September 1998

    concerning the education sector and wages. Some 90 percent of

    teachers have reportedly joined the strike. Meanwhile,

    railway workers went on an indefinite strike on 25 January to

    demand a 56 percent wage rise. But, a lawyers' union on 24

    January suspended a planned five-hour strike after reaching

    agreement with the Justice and Finance ministries to begin

    negotiations on 26 January, Rompres reported. The lawyers are

    protesting a 40 percent profit tax for self-employed

    professionals, while companies pay just 25 percent, an RFE/RL

    correspondent reported. VG

    [19] ...AND GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO BACK DOWN

    Romanian State

    Minister in charge of the economy Mircea Ciumara said on 24

    January that he will not talk to trade unions that are on

    strike, Reuters reported. Both Transport Minister Traian

    Basescu and officials at the Education Ministry said no

    agreements on wage increases can be made until the state

    budget is approved. Basescu said the same day that the

    railway strike would "bring nothing to the employees" in the

    public's eyes, Mediafax reported. He said he suspects the

    strike is actually aimed at scuttling the recently announced

    restructuring of the country's national railway company. The

    strikes come at a time when IMF officials are in Romania to

    assess the country's economy in light of a $547-million

    standby agreement which expires in March. VG

    [20] CRIMINAL CASE LAUNCHED AGAINST CLUJ MAYOR

    The chief

    prosecutor of a regional appeals court on 24 January indicted

    Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar on suspicion of abusing his public

    position and harming private interests. The government has

    suspended Funar from his position pending an investigation.

    The indictment relates to a legal dispute in which the

    private company Alimentara claims the mayor gave it a permit

    to build a supermarket and then withdrew it. Funar, who also

    chairs the chauvinist Greater Romania Party, said the

    indictment is part of a political campaign against him,

    Hungarian TV reported. He said he will organize

    demonstrations in Cluj and Bucharest against his suspension.

    VG

    [21] COMMUNISTS, AGRARIANS WIN IN TARACLIA

    The Communist and

    Agrarian parties came out on top in the 23 January elections

    in Moldova's Taraclia county, BASA-Press reported the next

    day. The Communists won 12 of the county council's 27 seats,

    the Agrarians took 11 seats, the Plai Natal Movement won two,

    and the Centrist Alliance gained only one seat. An

    independent candidate won the remaining seat. The election

    turnout was reported at 73.6 percent. BASA-Press reported

    that the Communists had won three mayoralties, while the

    Agrarians won two. A second round of voting will take place

    on 6 February in four villages. VG

    [22] ETHNIC TURKISH LEADER IN BULGARIA WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL

    CHANGE

    Ahmed Dogan, the leader of the ethnic Turkish

    Movement for Rights and Freedoms, on 24 January said on

    Bulgarian state radio that the constitution should be amended

    to reflect the existence of minorities in the country, AP

    reported. Dogan said the constitution refers to Bulgaria as a

    "mononational state," which is "simply not true." Bulgaria's

    ethnic Turks comprise about 10 percent of the nation's

    population. VG

    [23] BULGARIAN ROMA FILE PETITIONS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY

    The

    Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Chairman Krasimir Kunev on 24

    January announced that five petitions have been filed with

    the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg in connection with

    allegations of police brutality against Roma, BTA reported.

    Kunev said the lawsuits are aimed at jump-starting a debate

    on adopting measures to improve the situation. He called for

    legislation to more tightly regulate the police's use of

    firearms and require investigators to inform the relatives of

    a person who has been arrested. In other news, Italy on 24

    January expelled eight crew members of a Bulgarian ship after

    they had been detained for helping illegal immigrants. The

    crew members claim their ship was hijacked (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 8 December 1999). VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [24] ANOTHER FORCED DEPORTATION?

    By Paul Goble

    As Russian forces continue their attacks on Grozny,

    Moscow appears to have decided as part of its broader

    campaign to render a portion of Chechnya uninhabitable and to

    forcibly move people living there to other locations.

    At the end of last month, several Western journalists

    reported from Moscow that the Russian government had decided

    to destroy the villages of highland Chechnya in order to deny

    Chechen fighters any sanctuary and thus to accelerate the end

    of the conflict.

    But because such actions recall some of the worst

    features of the Stalinist era, many Western analysts treated

    these reports with extreme skepticism. Now, however, a

    document, apparently leaked in Moscow and circulating in the

    West last week, suggests that Moscow has decided on even more

    radical measures.

    The document in question consists of a report on the 15

    December meeting of the Russian Security Council under the

    chairmanship of then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Marked

    for official use only, the two-page paper is addressed to

    Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev.

    According to this report, which several Western analysts

    consider authentic, the Russian Security Council on that date

    addressed two issues: strengthening Moscow's influence over

    the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States

    and suppressing the Chechens.

    If the decisions concerning the CIS are very much a

    continuation of Moscow's recent policies, the Security

    Council's conclusions about how to deal with Chechnya

    represent a major departure from what Russian officials have

    said in public in the past.

    According to this report, Russian forces have virtually

    completed the second stage of what the document calls "the

    anti-terrorist operation for the liquidation of bandit

    formations on the territory of Chechnya." And the meeting

    thus had to decide what to do in the third phase.

    The language of the report is stark: It says that

    participants in the mid-December meeting agreed that Chechen

    settlements in the mountains do not have "any economic or

    other value" and thus "must be completely liquidated."

    All structures there--"including cult and historical

    ones"--must be viewed as potential hiding places for bandit

    formations, the document specifies, and thus they are to be

    subject to "total destruction." Such actions, the report

    says, will effectively "liquidate forever the basis for the

    rise of new bandits and terrorists."

    The Security Council report provides additional details

    on what that will mean: "the creation of conditions

    absolutely unsuitable for human habitation in the future" and

    "the resettlement of peaceful residents from this part of

    Chechnya either north of the Terek River or their

    assimilation into other regions of Russia."

    And the Security Council adds that "after the completion

    of military operations all construction and other materials

    are to be removed from this part of Chechnya," thereby making

    it impossible that anyone will ever be able to live there

    again.

    Such draconian measures not only represent a significant

    escalation of Moscow's expressed aims of ending Chechen

    resistance but inevitably invite comparisons with tsarist

    policies in the Caucasus in the 19th century and Stalin's

    forcible deportation of the Chechens in 1944.

    As tsarist forces marched into the northern Caucasus in

    the last century, they routinely destroyed crops and

    deforested much of the region as part of their effort to

    pacify the population. In most cases, the policy backfired

    and left the local population more anti-Russian than before.

    Then, in 1944, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin accused the

    Chechens of collaborating with the Germans and deported more

    than 600,000 of them to Central Asia.

    That bitter experience cost more than one-third of them

    their lives and left those who remained alive and their

    descendants even more determined to return home and

    ultimately to escape Russian rule.

    But neither the tsarist authorities nor Stalin's secret

    police resolved to make an entire portion of Chechnya

    uninhabitable and to forcibly move the population living

    there to other regions.

    That is what Moscow under acting President Putin now

    appears prepared to do. But unless this action leads to the

    total extermination of all Chechens, it is likely to have an

    even more disturbing outcome than did the earlier efforts of

    tsars and commissars.

    It is likely to generate an even more radical Chechen

    national movement, one defined by its hostility to everything

    Russian and prepared to engage in precisely the kind of

    actions that the Russian authorities have claimed they are

    acting to forestall.

    25-01-00


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


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