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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 20, 00-01-28

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. 20, 28 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA, U.S. FORM ECONOMIC 'TASK FORCE'
  • [02] ARRESTED FORMER ARMENIAN EDUCATION
  • [03] ARMENIAN JOURNALIST'S JAIL SENTENCE
  • [04] PROVISIONAL DATE SET FOR AZERBAIJANI
  • [05] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT DISMISSES TOP ENERGY
  • [06] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PLANS 'NATIONAL
  • [07] RUSSIA RETURNS SOME IMPOUNDED MILITARY
  • [08] GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DISCLOSES
  • [09] CHECHENS BEGIN PUBLISHING NEWSPAPER IN
  • [10] KAZAKHSTAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER DISCLOSES
  • [11] NGOS IN KYRGYZSTAN PROTEST STATE

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] NEW CROATIAN GOVERNMENT GETS DOWN TO
  • [13] CROATIAN MINISTER: HAGUE HAS JURISDICTION
  • [14] CONSERVATIVE VOTERS TO DECIDE CROATIAN
  • [15] CROATIA'S BILL FOR TUDJMAN'S FUNERAL:
  • [16] CROATIAN EX-MINISTER DETAINED ON
  • [17] NATO CONFINES HERZEGOVINIANS TO BASE
  • [18] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA AS 'BEACON'
  • [19] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER BLASTS EU
  • [20] STUDENTS JEER PROFESSOR SESELJ
  • [21] BELGRADE REOPENS AIR SPACE
  • [22] NEW LOOK OF MONTENEGRIN CABINET
  • [23] TIRANA OPERA MUSICIANS TO CONTINUE
  • [24] ROMANIAN EDUCATION MINISTER RESIGNS
  • [25] IMF GIVES HOPEFUL SIGNAL TO ROMANIA ON
  • [26] MOLDOVAN PREMIER DISCUSSES
  • [27] HOLOCAUST CONFERENCE REJECTS BULGARIA'S
  • [28] FORMER BULGARIAN AMBASSADOR SEEKS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [29] A New Vocabulary For An Old Agenda

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA, U.S. FORM ECONOMIC 'TASK FORCE'

    Armenian Premier Aram Sargsian and visiting U.S.

    State Department coordinator Bill Taylor signed an

    agreement in Yerevan on 27 January establishing a

    task force to promote bilateral economic ties and

    ensure the more rational use of U.S. economic aid,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Several U.S.

    government agencies, including the Agency for

    International Development and Eximbank, will be

    represented on the new task force. Taylor also met

    with Armenian President Robert Kocharian, who

    pledged Armenia's willingness for economic

    cooperation with other regional states, according to

    ITAR--TASS. Taylor told Sargsian on 26 January that

    the World Bank supports the U.S. initiative to convene

    an international conference on economic

    reconstruction in the Caucasus. LF

    [02] ARRESTED FORMER ARMENIAN EDUCATION

    MINISTER DECLARES HUNGER-STRIKE

    Ashot

    Bleyan, who has been held in pre-trial detention since

    May, has declared a hunger-strike, Snark reported on

    26 January. Bleyan is charged with embezzlement of

    public funds (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March and 15

    May 1999). He has rejected those charges as politically

    motivated. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN JOURNALIST'S JAIL SENTENCE

    SUSPENDED

    Armenia's Court of Review on 27

    January suspended the one-year prison sentence

    handed down last year to Nikol Pashinian, editor of the

    newspaper "Haykakan Zhamanak," but failed to clear

    him of criminal charges, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. Pashinian was found guilty last year of

    insulting law-enforcement officials, declining to

    publish a retraction, and slandering two persons (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 2 September 1999).

    Pashinian said he will challenge the Court of Review's

    failure to throw out the charges against him with the

    higher Court of Appeal. LF

    [04] PROVISIONAL DATE SET FOR AZERBAIJANI

    PRESIDENT'S IRAN VISIT

    Azerbaijani Deputy

    Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov told journalists in

    Baku on 27 January that President Heidar Aliev is

    likely to visit Iran in February or March of this year,

    Turan reported. The visit had been scheduled for last

    September but failed to take place, partly because of

    Azerbaijan's annoyance at Tehran's reluctance to

    extradite to Azerbaijan former Azerbaijani special

    forces officer Mahir Djavadov, whose brother,

    Rovshan, was killed in 1995 in what Azerbaijan claims

    was an attempt to overthrow Aliev (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 3 August 1999). LF

    [05] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT DISMISSES TOP ENERGY

    OFFICIALS

    At an emergency meeting of energy sector

    officials late on 26 January, President Aliev blamed the

    energy shortage that has necessitated rationing on

    corruption and inefficiency, Turan and AP reported.

    Aliev charged that top officials not only take no

    measures to prevent the embezzlement of heating oil

    intended for the country's thermal power stations, but

    some of them are even involved in that theft. He

    further claimed that the population pays double the

    officially stated figure of only 26 percent of the total

    amount owed in electricity bills, and that corrupt

    officials pocket the difference. He termed inadmissible

    three instances of theft of crude from the Baku-Supsa

    oil export pipeline. Aliev then dismissed the deputy

    chairman of Azerenergy JSC and the acting chairman

    of Azerigas for "serious shortcomings in their work." LF

    [06] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PLANS 'NATIONAL

    RESISTANCE'

    Meeting in Baku on 27 January,

    representatives of most opposition parties decided to

    set up an initiative group to create a new National

    Resistance Movement, Turan reported. The aims of

    that movement will be to campaign for a just solution

    to the Karabakh conflict and for democratic elections.

    Opposition parties have been discussing the

    expediency of creating such a movement for several

    months (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1999). LF

    [07] RUSSIA RETURNS SOME IMPOUNDED MILITARY

    EQUIPMENT TO GEORGIA

    Russian customs has

    released a consignment of arms impounded in Moscow

    last year, Caucasus Press reported on 28 January. The

    arms had been sent to Romania for an exhibit of

    military technology and were being shipped back to

    Georgia via Moscow. Russian customs impounded the

    weapons, fearing they were destined for Chechnya (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1999). But Russian

    customs officials have not yet released a consignment

    of 3,000 camouflage uniforms donated by the U.S. to

    the Georgian armed forces (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15

    November 1999). LF

    [08] GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DISCLOSES

    DESERTION FIGURES

    Some 3,000 servicemen

    deserted from the Georgian army in 1999, Defense

    Ministry spokesman Koba Liklikadze told journalists in

    Tbilisi on 28 January, according to Caucasus Press. He

    added that the primary reasons for deserting are

    appalling living conditions and the lack of public

    respect for military personnel. "Rossiiskaya gazeta" in

    December 1999 estimated the total strength of the

    Georgian armed forces at 33,000; ground forces

    number 13,000. LF

    [09] CHECHENS BEGIN PUBLISHING NEWSPAPER IN

    GEORGIA

    A Chechen information bureau in Tbilisi

    has begun publication--with the assistance of the

    Association of the Georgian Free Press--of the

    newspaper "Chechenskaya pravda," Interfax reported

    on 26 January. The agency described the contents of

    the paper as "anti-Russian." The Georgian authorities

    deny any connection with the paper. LF

    [10] KAZAKHSTAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER DISCLOSES

    DETAILS OF BORDER DISPUTE WITH

    UZBEKISTAN

    Erlan Idrisov told journalists in Almaty

    on 27 January that Uzbek border guards, supported by

    an armored personnel carrier, advanced 5 km into the

    territory of Kazakhstan's Sary-Aghash and Qazyqurt

    districts on 25 January and unilaterally demarcated a

    60 km stretch of the border, RFE/RL's bureau in the

    former capital reported. Local Kazakh residents

    subsequently removed the border markings and held

    protest meetings. Idrisov said Kazakh and Uzbek

    government officials had reached agreement on the

    sidelines of the 25 January CIS summit to set up a joint

    commission to demarcate the border, which was to

    meet for the first time in March. Idrisov affirmed that

    Kazakhstan "will not cede one meter" of its territory to

    Uzbekistan. LF

    [11] NGOS IN KYRGYZSTAN PROTEST STATE

    INTERFERENCE IN ELECTION CAMPAIGN

    Tolekan

    Ismailova, who is executive-director of the Coalition

    for the Democratization of Society, which groups

    together some 130 NGOs, told journalists in Bishkek on

    27 January that her organization has appealed to

    President Askar Akaev to prevent continued

    government interference in the parliamentary election

    campaign, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. The

    coalition has compiled a report citing cases in which

    local authorities have recommended appointing

    specific individuals to local election commissions. The

    Coalition also condemned the requirement imposed by

    the Central Electoral Commission that prospective

    candidates should pay a registration fee of 30,000

    soms (approximately $600). As a result, far fewer

    candidates have registered to contest the 20 February

    poll than did the 1995 parliamentary elections.

    RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 27 January that a

    total of 455 candidates have registered to contend the

    poll. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] NEW CROATIAN GOVERNMENT GETS DOWN TO

    BUSINESS

    The new government of Prime Minister

    Ivica Racan agreed at its first session on 27 January to

    cut ministers' salaries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27

    January 2000). Other government officials can expect

    similar cuts in a move designed to reassure voters that

    officials are sharing the economic difficulties of

    ordinary citizens, "Jutarnji list" reported. Elsewhere,

    Racan said that the government will not ask for a

    rescheduling of the foreign debt. On 28 January,

    Deputy Prime Minister Zeljka Antunovic called for a

    war on graft and crony capitalism. She stressed that

    corruption has penetrated "every level of state

    administration," Reuters reported. PM

    [13] CROATIAN MINISTER: HAGUE HAS JURISDICTION

    OVER OPERATION STORM

    Foreign Minister Tonino

    Picula told "Jutarnji list" of 28 January that the Hague-

    based war crimes tribunal has the legal right to

    investigate war crimes committed in the course of

    Operation Storm. The previous government held that

    Storm, which the army carried out in August 1995 in

    the Serb-held Krajina region, was an internal affair

    outside The Hague's jurisdiction. Picula, who has

    described himself as a "rocker at heart," is himself a

    veteran of Operation Storm. He also told the Zagreb

    daily that Croatia must quickly make up for lost time

    and seek rapid integration into Europe. The EU

    demands that Zagreb improve its cooperation with The

    Hague as a pre-condition for better relations with

    Brussels. PM

    [14] CONSERVATIVE VOTERS TO DECIDE CROATIAN

    PRESIDENTIAL VOTE?

    The Rijeka-based daily "Novi

    List" published a poll on 28 January which gives Stipe

    Mesic 36.8 percent and Drazen Budisa 33.4 percent in

    the 7 February runoff presidential vote (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 25 January 2000). Some 23.4 percent of

    voters are undecided. The independent daily

    concluded that people who voted for Mate Granic and

    other defeated conservative candidates in the first

    round have switched to Budisa or are undecided.

    Budisa has strong anti-communist credentials. PM

    [15] CROATIA'S BILL FOR TUDJMAN'S FUNERAL:

    $662,000

    The funeral and tomb for late President

    Franjo Tudjman cost the taxpayers a total of $662,000,

    Hina reported on 27 January. The decision to cover the

    costs was one of the last ones taken by the outgoing

    government of Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa before

    the new government took office. The bill includes the

    funeral, the tomb, and the costs of providing free

    public transportation to enable Croats from all over

    Croatia and Bosnia to attend the funeral, AP reported.

    PM

    [16] CROATIAN EX-MINISTER DETAINED ON

    SUSPICION OF EMBEZZLEMENT

    Police in Zagreb

    detained outgoing Minister of Tourism Ivan Herak on

    27 January, just hours after the new government took

    office. He is suspected of diverting $195,000 for the

    reconstruction of a hotel on the island of Rab into an

    account for his own company, "Jutarnji list" reported.

    Herak is now in custody in Pula, where a judge will

    soon determine whether there is enough evidence to

    indict him. He is also under suspicion of having used

    the ministry's advertising campaign to launder money.

    PM

    [17] NATO CONFINES HERZEGOVINIANS TO BASE

    SFOR commander General Ron Adams ordered on 27

    January that all ethnic Croatian forces in Bosnia-

    Herzegovina (still widely known by their wartime name

    of HVO) must not leave their bases or conduct training

    exercises. NATO troops then surrounded HVO bases to

    enforce the ban. A NATO spokesman said that the ban

    will be lifted as soon as the Croats supply SFOR with

    unspecified information. The spokesman added that

    NATO's demands will be "easy to meet," AP reported

    from Sarajevo. PM

    [18] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA AS 'BEACON'

    Serbian

    opposition leader Vladan Batic said in Banja Luka on

    27 January that the Bosnian Serb entity is a "beacon"

    for other Serbs because Prime Minister Milorad Dodik

    and many other leaders refuse to take orders from

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Batic is

    attending a meeting of opposition leaders and political

    personalities from the Republika Srpska, including

    former President Biljana Plavsic, in honor of visiting

    Crown Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic (see "RFE/RL

    Balkan Report," 28 January 2000). PM

    [19] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER BLASTS EU

    Zoran

    Djindjic of the Democratic Party and Alliance for

    Change coalition told the "Berliner Zeitung" of 27

    January that the EU has proven "a catastrophe as a

    partner" for the opposition. He said that the EU makes

    big promises but does not deliver on them. Djindjic

    urged Brussels to pledge in the future to do only what

    it is willing or able to do. Djindjic noted that the EU

    recently refused to lift sanctions prohibiting oil

    shipments or direct air flights to Serbia, both of which

    would benefit ordinary Serbs and not the regime (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 January 2000). He said that by

    refusing to make this minimal concession to the

    Serbian opposition, the EU made the opposition look

    ineffective in the eyes of voters. The opposition will

    now begin "a pause" in its relations with Western

    Europe, Djindjic added. He said that the opposition

    must, in any event, change its tactics in Serbia and

    stress domestic social issues in order to mobilize

    popular support against the Milosevic regime. PM

    [20] STUDENTS JEER PROFESSOR SESELJ

    Several

    hundred students at Belgrade University's Law Faculty

    jeered Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj

    when he arrived at the university on 27 January in his

    new capacity as a professor of law. The faculty's

    Professor Knezevic resigned in protest over the

    appointment of his new colleague, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. Knezevic called the

    appointment a "caricature of education." His

    resignation brings to a total of more than 150 the

    number of professors to quit or be fired from the

    university in the past two years, since the government

    gave itself the right to appoint and dismiss faculty. PM

    [21] BELGRADE REOPENS AIR SPACE

    The Yugoslav air

    transport authorities allowed Western airlines to use

    Yugoslav air space on 27 January for the first time

    since NATO's bombing campaign in the spring of 1999.

    PM

    [22] NEW LOOK OF MONTENEGRIN CABINET

    Prime

    Minister Filip Vujanovic on 27 January made several

    changes in the government. Branko Lukovac replaces

    Branko Perovic as foreign minister. Perovic recently

    resigned after an Italian court linked him to the mafia.

    Budimir Dubak replaces Slobodan Tomovic as minister

    of religious affairs. Tomovic alienated many supporters

    of Montenegrin independence by recently showing

    public support for the Serbian Orthodox Church and

    belittling the rival Montenegrin Orthodox Church (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 January 2000). The Belgrade

    daily "Danas" wrote that Serbian Orthodox

    Metropolitan Amfilohije did not bless Dubak at the

    ceremony. The other three appointments are Ljubisa

    Krgovic as deputy prime minister for financial affairs,

    Radojica Luburic as minister of culture, and Rade

    Gregovic to manage land use and zoning. PM

    [23] TIRANA OPERA MUSICIANS TO CONTINUE

    STRIKE

    Seven musicians vowed to continue their

    hunger strike after police moved them from a theater

    to a hospital "for tests" on 27 January, dpa reported

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 January 2000). The artists

    attended a rally of 200 colleagues and supporters in

    central Skanderbeg Square. The government calls the

    protest "illegal" and refuses to fire the culture minister

    or abandon plans to privatize the opera and ballet. PM

    [24] ROMANIAN EDUCATION MINISTER RESIGNS

    Andrei Margas on 27 January tendered his resignation,

    Rompres reported. Government spokesman Ionut

    Popescu said the minister offered to resign because "in

    an impoverished economy with a small budget,

    reforms are really difficult." He said the prime minister

    had "taken note" of the resignation but did not specify

    whether he had accepted it. The resignation came as

    teachers across the country entered the fourth day of a

    strike demanding an increase in wages (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 24 January 2000). Romanian Radio

    reported on 27 January that opposition deputies from

    the parliamentary Education Committee released an

    open letter in which they said the education system is

    "about to collapse." VG

    [25] IMF GIVES HOPEFUL SIGNAL TO ROMANIA ON

    STAND-BY AGREEMENT

    IMF representative

    Emanuel Zervoudakis said on 27 January that the fund

    may release the next tranche of a $547 million standby

    loan to Romania provided certain measures are taken

    in the next few weeks. Zervoudakis said the IMF will

    make a final decision in March. He said the Romanian

    parliament should pass a 2000 budget by then and

    resolve issues related to salary policy. The IMF

    disagrees with the government's recent 80 percent

    increase in army salaries. In other news, Cluj Mayor

    Gheorghe Funar on 27 January said he will sue the

    prefect who suspended him from his post this week,

    Hungarian Radio reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27

    January 2000). VG

    [26] MOLDOVAN PREMIER DISCUSSES

    TRANSDNIESTER WITH EU OFFICIALS

    Dumitru

    Braghis discussed the possibility during his recent visit

    to Brussels of holding a high-level meeting involving

    representatives of Moldova, the breakaway

    Transdniester region, and the EU, BASA-Press reported

    on 27 January. The proposed meeting would

    reportedly involve Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi,

    European Commission President Romano Prodi, and EU

    security envoy Javier Solana. Braghis said a schedule

    for the meeting will be worked out according to the

    schedules of the three political leaders. Meanwhile, a

    Spanish military delegation on 27 January suspended

    its efforts to inspect the Russian army depots in

    Transdniester after twice being refused entry into the

    region (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 2000),

    BASA-Press reported. The Transdniester border guards

    reportedly would have allowed the Spanish team to

    enter on its own but refused to allow it to come in with

    an escort of Moldovan government officials. VG

    [27] HOLOCAUST CONFERENCE REJECTS BULGARIA'S

    REQUEST

    Organizers of the international Holocaust

    conference in Stockholm on 27 January say they

    rejected a request by Bulgaria to add a clause to the

    forum's final declaration about the country's

    exemplary treatment of Jews during World War II,

    Reuters reported. The Swedish Foreign Ministry noted

    that many countries made requests for additional

    clauses but added that the organizers did not want

    them included because they wanted the declaration to

    be more general. The rejection was welcomed by the

    Jewish community of Greece, which had expressed

    outrage at the Bulgarian request. Bulgarian President

    Petar Stoyanov told the conference that his country

    takes pride in the fact that it rescued its entire 50,000-

    strong Jewish population from being sent to Nazi

    concentration camps. VG

    [28] FORMER BULGARIAN AMBASSADOR SEEKS

    ASYLUM IN CANADA

    Bulgarian Foreign Minister

    Nadezhda Mihailova said on 27 January that Bulgaria's

    former ambassador to Canada, Slav Danev, is asking

    for asylum in that country, AP reported. She gave no

    reason for Danev's actions, saying only that it is an

    "extremely unpleasant incident." She said his refusal to

    return home is illegal. Danev's mandate expired at the

    end of last year, and the government appointed a new

    ambassador to replace him. In other news, the

    Bulgarian charge d' affairs in Moscow met with officials

    at the Russian Foreign Ministry on 27 January to

    express Bulgaria's "astonishment" at Russian criticism

    of the recent Balkan summit in the town of Hissar (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 January 2000), Bulgarian Radio

    reported. The Bulgarian official said the Russian

    reaction was characteristic of international relations

    during the Cold War. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [29] A New Vocabulary For An Old Agenda

    By Paul Goble

    At the Moscow summit of the Commonwealth of

    Independent States this week, acting Russian President

    Vladimir Putin used a new vocabulary with which few

    could disagree in the pursuit of an old goal which far

    fewer support.

    Putin said that the post-Soviet states must band

    together in "the fight against international terrorism,

    extremism, and separatism." Such goals, stated in this

    way, drew little dissent either from the participants of

    the CIS meeting or among leaders of the international

    community as a whole.

    But recent Russian rhetoric about Chechnya

    suggests that Putin is using these words less as a

    precise statement of Moscow's specific intentions than

    as a means of increasing Russian power over the 11

    other former Soviet republics now part of the CIS,

    something most appear likely to oppose.

    Indeed, Putin's remarks this week appear to reflect

    the difficulties Moscow has had in trying to justify both

    its efforts to develop the power of the Russian state

    and its struggle to find a way to describe its campaign

    in Chechnya in a palatable manner.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian

    leaders regularly talked about the importance of

    building democratic institutions, a position they saw as

    enhancing their chances of getting Western aid but

    ones that put Russia at odds with the even more

    authoritarian regimes in some post-Soviet countries.

    But in recent months and especially since the

    appointment of Putin as acting president, Russia's

    rhetoric has shifted away from democratic norms to

    the need to build state power in the name of fighting

    terrorism and extremism.

    Such a shift might have been expected to cost

    Moscow support in the West, except for the fact that

    many Western leaders have accepted the notion that

    the Russian state had become too weak to achieve

    anything and that its strengthening was thus a priority.

    But such a shift clearly could and did win support

    both from authoritarian leaders in some post-Soviet

    states who were looking for a justification for their

    style of rule and from more democratic ones who face

    real challenges on the ground.

    Thus, the highly authoritarian president of

    Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, greeted Putin's words this

    week as an indication that Russia now represented the

    only power capable of foiling "the geopolitical plans of

    the supporters of extremism and terrorism."

    And more reformist but increasingly threatened

    leaders in several other post-Soviet states saw Putin's

    words as a kind of justification for their adoption of

    tougher positions toward their own populations.

    All of these tendencies have been exacerbated by

    the Chechen war. Moscow began its campaign there in

    the name of blocking an independence movement and

    opposing the spread of Islamic fundamentalism.

    These slogans initially appeared to confer certain

    advantages, but each of them entailed serious

    drawbacks. Talking about opposition to national

    independence did not play well in many of the post-

    Soviet states that only a decade ago had been a part of

    the Soviet Union.

    And opposing Islam, while acceptable as a

    principle of action in some Western countries, was less

    and less plausible for a country with a rising

    percentage of Muslims in its own population and one

    that seeks to recover its influence over neighboring

    states with predominantly Muslim populations.

    Consequently, Putin in particular and Moscow

    leaders in general have recast their campaign in

    Chechnya as a struggle against bandits, terrorists, and

    extremists--a goal which few either in the West or in

    the post-Soviet states are prepared to reject as

    illegitimate.

    That helps to explain why there has been such

    muted Western criticism of Russia's actions in

    Chechnya compared to five years ago. And it also helps

    to explain why so many of the participants in the CIS

    summit appeared to be such enthusiastic supporters of

    Moscow's current line.

    Indeed, some observers have gone so far as to

    suggest that Putin won an important victory at this

    meeting. After all, they note, all the CIS presidents

    came out against the same things Moscow said it was

    against.

    But that is a misreading of both what the leaders

    of the non-Russian countries actually feel and what

    Moscow all too clearly hopes to achieve. Many leaders,

    including Ukraine's Leonid Kuchma, were very explicit

    that the CIS was far from being an effective institution,

    even though they and he backed Putin's language on

    "bandits."

    Moreover, Putin's use of the CIS summit to

    celebrate the new Russian-Belarusian "union" shows

    that his intentions are not limited to fighting terrorism.

    For both these reasons, the agreement at this CIS

    summit, as has been true at so many earlier ones, was

    more apparent than real, a reflection of Putin's

    rhetorical skill and also of the near certainty that many

    of the leaders at this meeting will ultimately likely see

    through it.

    28-01-00


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


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