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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 66, 00-04-03

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. 66, 3 April 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER AGAIN CALLS FOR NEW ELECTIONS
  • [02] ARMENIA, RUSSIA CONCLUDE WAR-GAMES
  • [03] ARMENIAN POW RELEASED
  • [04] RUSSIAN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN
  • [05] GEORGIA EXTRACTS FIRST OIL
  • [06] GEORGIAN OPPOSITION CONVENES ANTI-ELECTION DEMO
  • [07] KAZAKHS STAGE PROTEST ON BORDER WITH UZBEKISTAN...
  • [08] IS KAZAKHSTAN PLANNING TERRITORIAL-ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM?
  • [09] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY TO 'GO UNDERGROUND'
  • [10] COURT IMPOSES NEW PENALTIES ON KYRGYZ OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER
  • [11] TAJIK PRESIDENT, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER CALL FOR
  • [12] TURKMENISTAN, UZBEKISTAN PREPARE TO DEMARCATE COMMON BORDER
  • [13] UZBEKISTAN INTERCEPTS RADIO-ACTIVE MATERIALS ON BORDER WITH

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [14] NATO TROOPS ARREST EX-BOSNIAN SERB CHIEF
  • [15] KRAJISNIK'S FAMILY DESCRIBES ARREST
  • [16] CLARK SAYS NATO WATCHING MONTENEGRO
  • [17] MESIC WARNS OF IMPENDING BALKAN CONFLICT
  • [18] KOSOVA'S SERBS RETURN TO UN COUNCIL
  • [19] TERRORIST ATTACK FOILED IN PRISHTINA?
  • [20] SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER NAMES NEW CABINET MEMBERS
  • [21] ROMANIAN ROMA DENOUNCE RACIST STATEMENT BY OPPOSITION LEADER
  • [22] PLANNED ANTONESCU STATUE AGAIN RAISES CONTROVERSY
  • [23] ROMANIA CUTS OFF ELECTRICITY SUPPLIES TO MOLDOVA
  • [24] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS BILL ON COMMUNIST REGIME
  • [25] BULGARIAN PREMIER DENIES FLOATING IDEA OF SERBIA'S

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] ATTACK ON KARABAKH PRESIDENT EXACERBATES POLITICAL TENSIONS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER AGAIN CALLS FOR NEW ELECTIONS

    Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on 30 March,

    National Democratic Union Chairman Vazgen Manukian again

    advocated pre-term parliamentary and presidential elections,

    Armenpress and Noyan Tapan reported. He had called on

    President Robert Kocharian to resign in mid-January (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 January 2000). Manukian argued that

    Armenia is "on the verge of disaster" as a result of the

    "process of destruction" embarked upon by individuals "of a

    low intellectual level" long before the 27 October parliament

    shootings. Manukian also repeated his doubts that Samvel

    Babayan, the former defense minister of the unrecognized

    Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, was involved in the 22 March

    attempt to assassinate the enclave's president, Arkadii

    Ghukasian (see also "End Note" below). LF

    [02] ARMENIA, RUSSIA CONCLUDE WAR-GAMES

    Some 2,000 Armenian and

    Russian troops on 31 March wrapped up four days of military

    maneuvers at a training ground west of Yerevan, RFE/RL's

    bureau in the Armenian capital reported (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 29 March 2000). The commander of the Russian Group

    of Forces in the Transcaucasus, Lieutenant General Vladimir

    Andreev, who directed the maneuvers, denied that the exercise

    was connected with or aimed to duplicate Russia's ongoing

    military campaign in Chechnya. But Armenian General Mikael

    Harutiunian said the Armenian armed forces are looking into

    elements of Russia's tactics against veteran Chechen fighters

    in mountainous terrain in order to improve their performance

    in mountainous or wooded areas. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN POW RELEASED

    An Armenian serviceman who had been

    held prisoner in Azerbaijan for five months was released on

    31 March in what an Armenian Security Ministry official

    termed "a goodwill gesture" on the part of Azerbaijan's

    President Heidar Aliev, ITAR-TASS and Turan reported. Armenia

    still holds 10 Azerbaijani prisoners. LF

    [04] RUSSIAN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN

    Russian Minister for

    Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu held talks with President

    Aliev in Baku on 31 March, focusing on responses to natural

    disasters and on measures to prevent landslides such as the

    one that caused major damage in Baku on 6 March, ITAR-TASS

    reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 2000). Aliev assured

    Shoigu of his country's continued support for Russia's

    military action in Chechnya and called for greater Russian

    input in resolving conflicts on the territory of CIS member

    states. He said resolving such conflicts is a prerequisite

    for greater regional cooperation between Russia, Azerbaijan,

    Georgia, and Armenia. LF

    [05] GEORGIA EXTRACTS FIRST OIL

    A U.S.-Georgian joint venture

    that began drilling its first well at Taribana in eastern

    Georgia four months ago extracted its first oil on 1 April in

    the presence of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze,

    Caucasus Press reported. According to the news agency,

    Shevardnadze, having sampled the oil, said the taste is

    reminiscent of Georgian red wine. Taribana's reserves are

    estimated at 1 million tons. LF

    [06] GEORGIAN OPPOSITION CONVENES ANTI-ELECTION DEMO

    Some 350-400

    supporters of deceased Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia

    attended a demonstration in Tbilisi on his birthday, 31

    March, AP reported. Participants called on the Georgian

    electorate to boycott the 9 April presidential election. Also

    on 31 March, a 49-year-old woman set fire to herself near the

    Georgian parliament building in Tbilisi to protest the

    authorities' refusal to amnesty political prisoners, Caucasus

    Press reported. The previous day, the International Helsinki

    Federation for Human Rights wrote to President Shevardnadze

    to draw his attention to the condition of four prisoners who

    have declared a hunger strike to demand such an amnesty (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 March 2000). The letter noted that when

    Georgia joined the Council of Europe one year ago, it

    undertook to review the cases of some 100 imprisoned

    Gamsakhurdia supporters but has not yet begun to do so. LF

    [07] KAZAKHS STAGE PROTEST ON BORDER WITH UZBEKISTAN...

    Some 200

    residents of the Sary-Aghdash district of South Kazakhstan

    Oblast gathered on the border with Uzbekistan on 31 March to

    protest the planned construction of additional customs points

    on the Uzbek side of the border, RFE/RL's Almaty

    correspondent reported. Local officials from the two

    countries agreed to postpone the beginning of construction

    work. Speaking in Astana on 1 April, Kazakhstan's Foreign

    Minister Erlan Idrisov denied that any tensions exist along

    unpopulated stretches of the border that are currently being

    demarcated, but he admitted that demarcation is proving more

    problematic in populated areas, ITAR-TASS reported. Idrisov

    said that the Kazakh authorities have reached agreement with

    their Uzbek counterparts that no unilateral actions wll be

    taken on the border until the demarcation is complete. LF

    [08] IS KAZAKHSTAN PLANNING TERRITORIAL-ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM?

    RFE/RL's Almaty correspondent quoted "unofficial sources" on

    3 April as saying that the Kazakh leadership is considering

    abolishing the 14 oblasts into which the country is currently

    divided and creating in their place five larger regions. The

    five would be Western Kazakhstan, comprising the present

    Atyrau, Oral, Mangystau, and Aqtobe Oblasts; South

    Kazakhstan, comprising Qyzyl-Orda, Zhambyl, and South

    Kazakhstan Oblasts and some districts of Almaty and the

    former Taldy-Qorghan Oblast; Eastern Kazakhstan, comprising

    the rest of Taldy-Qorghan as well as the former Semey and

    Eastern Kazakhstan and Pavlodar Oblasts; Northern Kazakhstan,

    comprising the present North Kazakhstan, Qostanay, and

    Kokshetau Oblasts; and Central Kazakhstan, comprising Aqmola,

    Qaraghandy, Zhezkazghan, and Torghay Oblasts. LF

    [09] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY TO 'GO UNDERGROUND'

    Some 150

    delegates to a 2 April emergency congress of the opposition

    Ar-Namys party voted to go underground in response to ongoing

    persecution by the Kyrgyz authorities, RFE/RL's bureau in the

    Kyrgyz capital reported. The delegates also appealed to the

    international community to exert pressure on the Kyrgyz

    leadership to give detained Ar-Namys chairman Feliks Kulov

    and the head of Kulov's election campaign team, Emil Aliev,

    the official status of political prisoners. Meanwhile,

    several hundred people continued their picket in central

    Bishkek to demand Kulov's release and the annulment of the

    parliamentary election results in the constituency where he

    lost the 12 March runoff vote. LF

    [10] COURT IMPOSES NEW PENALTIES ON KYRGYZ OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER

    A

    Bishkek district court on 31 March imposed a 40,000 som

    (about $850) fine on the opposition weekly "Res Publica" for

    libel, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. The

    newspaper's chief editor and a journalist were fined 5,000

    soms each. The newspaper has suspended publication as it has

    still not paid a fine imposed by a previous court ruling for

    slandering the chairman of the National Radio and Television

    Corporation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 2000). LF

    [11] TAJIK PRESIDENT, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER CALL FOR

    COOPERATION TO FIGHT TERRORISM

    Imomali Rakhmonov and Igor

    Sergeev on 2 April appealed to Russia and the CIS states,

    specifically the states of Central Asia, to cooperate in the

    battle against international terrorism, Russian agencies

    reported. The two men were speaking on the final day of the

    first stage of military exercises in Tajikistan, in which

    some 13,000 troops from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,

    Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan took part. Belarus and Armenia

    have sent observers. With the aid of 40 tanks and armored

    vehicles, those troops were called upon to simulate the

    elimination of a terrorist group that had crossed into the

    territory of one of the Central Asian states. The second

    stage of the maneuvers begins in Uzbekistan on 3 April. LF

    [12] TURKMENISTAN, UZBEKISTAN PREPARE TO DEMARCATE COMMON BORDER

    The presidents of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Saparmurat

    Niyazov and Islam Karimov, agreed during a telephone

    conversation on 31 March to draft an agreement on demarcating

    the border between their two countries, Russian agencies

    reported. The agreement will also focus on the shared use of

    waters from the Amu-Darya River, which forms part of that

    frontier. LF

    [13] UZBEKISTAN INTERCEPTS RADIO-ACTIVE MATERIALS ON BORDER WITH

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Uzbek customs officials on 31 March confiscated

    10 lead containers with radio-active material from an

    Iranian-registered truck at the Kazakh-Uzbek border, Russian

    agencies reported on 2 April. The truck was headed for

    Pakistan, and its driver had documentation claiming that his

    cargo consisted of stainless steel scrap. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [14] NATO TROOPS ARREST EX-BOSNIAN SERB CHIEF

    SFOR troops

    arrested Momcilo Krajisnik in Pale on 3 April under a "sealed

    indictment" from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. The

    former Serbian representative on the Bosnian joint presidency

    is "the highest-ranking person" arrested and sent to The

    Hague so far, NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said in

    Brussels. Krajisnik faces charges of "genocide, crimes

    against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of war

    and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention, including

    murder, willful killing, extermination, complicity in

    genocide, deportation, and inhumane acts," according to

    Robertson. He added that the arrest of the former top aide to

    Radovan Karadzic "is good news for justice and good news for

    the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. To those individuals

    who remain at large I will repeat...the net is closing. It is

    time to give yourselves in." Robertson praised the "courage,

    professionalism, and dedication" of the troops who carried

    out the arrest. PM

    [15] KRAJISNIK'S FAMILY DESCRIBES ARREST

    Krajisnik's son Milos

    (21) told AP on 3 April that an unspecified number of NATO

    troops "took my dad away. Some of them spoke Serbian, some

    English, but mostly French." He said he counted seven or

    eight soldiers before they bound him and his brother Njegos

    and turned their faces toward the floor. Krajisnik's father,

    Sretko, told reporters that the troops used unnecessary force

    when they destroyed the door to the Krajisnik home with

    explosives prior to making the arrest. "If they had knocked

    on the door, I would have opened it," the elderly man said.

    PM

    [16] CLARK SAYS NATO WATCHING MONTENEGRO

    NATO's Supreme Commander

    Europe General Wesley Clark said in Riga on 2 April that the

    Atlantic alliance is carefully monitoring possible moves by

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to undermine the

    Montenegrin leadership under President Milo Djukanovic. "I

    can tell you that NATO remains concerned, we are very

    watchful. We have seen over the past...months long

    development of various capabilities that could be employed to

    threaten Mr. Djukanovic," Reuters reported. He did not

    elaborate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 March 2000). Meanwhile

    in Podgorica, Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said that three

    Yugoslav generals have been appointed as advisers to

    Djukanovic and the government as a means of improving

    communication between the Montenegrin authorities and the

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

    [17] MESIC WARNS OF IMPENDING BALKAN CONFLICT

    Croatian President

    Stipe Mesic told the German weekly "Der Spiegel" of 3 April

    that "Milosevic is like a bicyclist who can keep going only

    as long as he moves in the direction of war." The possibility

    of a new war in the Balkans is great, and the West knows that

    a number of danger signals are already present. "Violence can

    erupt at any time," Mesic stressed. Montenegro and Macedonia

    are possible flashpoints, but Kosova and southwestern Serbia

    are more likely, the Croatian president continued. In any

    event, the West must let Milosevic know beyond any doubt that

    "if you attack Montenegro militarily, then your days are

    numbered." Montenegro needs international support to develop

    its democracy and a free economy. This, in turn, can serve as

    a model for Serbia. Mesic warned, however, that "it is a

    waste of time to wait for democracy to come to Serbia" at any

    time soon. PM

    [18] KOSOVA'S SERBS RETURN TO UN COUNCIL

    Father Sava Janjic, who

    is a spokesman for the Serbian National Council (SNV), said

    in Gracanica on 2 April that SNV leaders have agreed to

    return to the UN's provisional advisory council for Kosova as

    observers. Sava stressed that the Serbs' return after a

    boycott of several months will be on a three-month trial

    basis to see what the council can achieve in promoting

    "security, housing, and the return of refugees," AP reported.

    If the results are not adequate after three months, it "will

    not be possible to continue our participation within the

    interim administration," Reuters added. Sava argued that "we

    are at the door. We need the door opened a bit." Bernard

    Kouchner, who heads the UN civilian administration, said that

    the Serbs' decision was "courageous." He added that "now the

    real work can start on setting up the administration." Pro-

    Milosevic Serbs in Mitrovica called the Gracanica decision

    "catastrophic." The SNV opposes the Belgrade leadership. PM

    [19] TERRORIST ATTACK FOILED IN PRISHTINA?

    NATO troops took

    "unprecedented" security measures around the alliance's

    headquarters and U.S. diplomatic offices in Prishtina on 2

    April, Reuters reported. Alliance officials feared a

    guerrilla attack after raiding a nearby house that until

    recently was used by the Joint Relief Committee, a Saudi

    Arabian charity. A NATO spokesman said that "people in the

    house had obviously been observing our facilities and U.S.

    facilities. And they obviously left in a hurry." Members of

    the former Kosova Liberation Army "had staked out the [house]

    for months and reported the movements of its staff to U.S.

    officials," the news agency added. U.S. officials suspected

    the charity of having links to Osama bin Laden, who is wanted

    in connection with previous terrorist attacks on U.S.

    facilities. Spokesmen for the charity denied any links to

    terrorism. One noted that "people react strangely to Saudi

    Arabians." PM

    [20] SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER NAMES NEW CABINET MEMBERS

    Janez

    Drnovsek said in Ljubljana on 3 April that he has proposed

    eight experts who do not belong to any political party to

    join his cabinet following the resignation of nine ministers

    from the People's Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 March

    2000). He added that he will resign if the parliament rejects

    his nominees. The legislature has until 7 April to decide, AP

    reported. Drnovsek's Liberals hold only 25 out of 90 seats in

    the parliament and need the support of their former coalition

    partners to govern. Elections are due by the end of the year,

    but many observers believe that an early ballot will be

    necessary following the decision of the People's Party to

    leave the government. PM

    [21] ROMANIAN ROMA DENOUNCE RACIST STATEMENT BY OPPOSITION LEADER

    The Romani CRISS-Roma Center for Social Intervention and

    Studies asked on 31 March that international institutions

    involved in the protection of human rights protest a recent

    racist comment by Alliance for Romania Deputy Chairman

    Mugurel Vintila. The center said Vintila told the daily

    "National" of 28 March that "Western chancelleries" are

    preparing Romania's "transformation into a Gypsy state" and

    that according to information he had received from "a

    diplomat posted in the West," there are plans to bring Roma

    from other countries to Romania and create on its territory

    "a Gypsy state." Vintila added that the Roma in Romania are

    financed from abroad in order to "penetrate the [country's]

    power-structures." MS

    [22] PLANNED ANTONESCU STATUE AGAIN RAISES CONTROVERSY

    Cluj

    prefect Bogdan Cerghizan on 31 March said the town's

    municipal authorities have begun construction for a planned

    statue of wartime leader Marshal Ion Antonescu. His

    predecessor, Vasile Salcudean, had appealed to an

    administrative court against the decision to erect the

    statue. That appeal is still pending and Cerghizan says that

    if construction works are not immediately stopped, he will

    demand that a criminal investigation be launched against the

    local authorities, Mediafax reported. MS

    [23] ROMANIA CUTS OFF ELECTRICITY SUPPLIES TO MOLDOVA

    Romania

    ceased supplying electricity to Moldova at midnight 31 March.

    Romanian Industry and Trade Minister Radu Berceanu said on

    Romanian Television that Moldova owes Romania $36 million.

    The current contract for electricity supplies expired on 31

    March and a new one has not been negotiated. Moldovan Premier

    Dumitru Braghis said on 1 April that the cut resulted from a

    "misunderstanding." He explained that the former

    Moldtranselectro company, which negotiated the supplies, has

    been restructured and the Romanian side fears that its three

    successor-companies will not take over the debt. In a

    telephone conversation with his Romanian counterpart, Mugur

    Isarescu, Braghis proposed that the debt be taken over by the

    Moldovan state. Romania supplies some 20 percent of Moldova's

    electricity. MS

    [24] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS BILL ON COMMUNIST REGIME

    UNLAWFULNESS

    Petar Stoyanov told journalists on 31 March

    that the bill on the unlawfulness of the communist regime,

    which the parliament had passed in the first reading one day

    earlier, poses some problems and that he hopes lawmakers will

    look at it once more before the second reading (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 31 March 2000), BTA reported. Stoyanov said that

    the bill is accurate in describing "the misanthropic theory

    and practices of the communist regime" but "it is another

    matter whether the legal formulations employed in it and the

    timing of its passage are the right ones." The bill lifts the

    statute of limitations on crimes committed by the Communists.

    MS

    [25] BULGARIAN PREMIER DENIES FLOATING IDEA OF SERBIA'S

    FEDERALIZATION

    Ivan Kostov denied in the parliament on 31

    March that at the 17-18 March meeting in Budapest of

    countries neighboring Yugoslavia, he promoted the idea of

    transforming that country into a six-state federation, BTA

    reported. Kostov said that the idea "was not his"; rather, it

    had been floated by the Social Democratic League in

    Vojvodina, and "we only drew attention that such an idea

    exists." MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] ATTACK ON KARABAKH PRESIDENT EXACERBATES POLITICAL TENSIONS

    IN YEREVAN

    By Liz Fuller

    Investigators in Stepanakert announced on 27 March that

    the botched attempt five days earlier to assassinate Arkadii

    Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh

    Republic, was planned and carried out by persons close to

    Samvel Babayan, the enclave's former army commander and

    defense minister. Babayan is the most formidable political

    opponent Ghukasian, who dismissed Babayan as defense minister

    last July, triggering protests by other senior generals and

    precipitating a political standoff that was defused only by

    the intervention of Armenian President Robert Kocharian. Five

    months later, in December 1999, Ghukasian also replaced

    Babayan as commander of the Karabakh Defense Army. But

    Babayan nonetheless remained one of the unrecognized

    republic's most influential political figures, enjoying the

    support of many local parliamentary deputies and of the

    Karabakh-based Armenian National Democratic Party.

    Three of the five persons named on 27 March as having

    confessed to the attack on Ghukasian are members of Babayan's

    bodyguard, and a fourth is his wife's brother. Babayan was

    taken into custody within hours of the attack, as was his

    brother Karen, who has since been suspended as mayor of

    Stepanakert. As of 30 March, neither brother had been charged

    with involvement in the assassination bid. But the

    unrecognized enclave's prosecutor-general told RFE/RL's

    Stepanakert correspondent the same day that other charges

    could brought against Samvel Babayan, in addition to illegal

    arms possession, abuse of power, and tax evasion.

    Senior officials in Stepanakert and Yerevan say that the

    motives for the attack on Ghukasian are to be sought in the

    local political situation. The unrecognized republic's

    foreign minister, Naira Melkumian, was quoted by Armenpress

    on 24 March as saying that "I do not think that there is a

    force outside Karabakh and Armenia that was interested in the

    elimination of President Ghukasian." Speaking in Tbilisi on

    28 March, Armenian President Kocharian attributed the attack

    to "internal processes that take place in post-war countries

    and regions when order is being restored."

    In view of his months-long standoff with Ghukasian,

    Babayan was the most obvious suspect in the attack on the

    Karabakh president. Babayan's extensive power can be partly

    attributed to his control over dubious economic interests on

    which Ghukasian now plans to crack down. The attack on

    Ghukasian thus presented the Karabakh leadership with a cast-

    iron excuse to detain the renegade general and, by extension,

    hamstring the opposition to Ghukasian in the runup to this

    summer's elections for the enclave's new parliament, which

    Babayan's supporters stood a good chance of winning. Noyan

    Tapan's veteran political commentator David Petrosian

    observed that the primary beneficiary of the attack is

    Karabakh Premier Anushavan Danielian, who would have lost his

    post in the event of an election victory by Babayan's

    supporters. Danielian is currently discharging the duties of

    Karabakh president.

    But whether despite or precisely because of the fact

    that Babayan was the most obvious suspect, an increasing

    number of Armenian politicians from across the political

    spectrum are expressing doubt at his personal involvement in

    the attack and are warning against making him a scapegoat.

    Those skeptics include not only leading members of the

    nationalist "Right and Accord" bloc, which supports Babayan

    and is believed to receive funding from him, but also Kim

    Balayan, a Karabakh-born member of the Armenian Revolutionary

    Federation--Dashnaktsutiun, National Democratic Union

    chairman Vazgen Manukian, who characterized Babayan as too

    intelligent to issue direct orders for an attempt on

    Ghukasian's life, and Andranik Markarian, head of the

    Miasnutiun majority parliamentary bloc.

    If Babayan is formally charged with the assassination

    bid, President Kocharian's failure unequivocally to condemn

    that charge could exacerbate the rift that already exists

    between the Armenian president and Miasnutiun, and broaden it

    into one between Ghukasian and Kocharian, on the one hand,

    and Babayan's sympathizers and supporters in Yerevan and

    Stepanakert, on the other. But if Kocharian were to fail to

    endorse Babayan's indictment, the ensuing perceived lack of

    solidarity between Yerevan and Stepanakert could, at the very

    least, negatively affect the ongoing search for a political

    settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

    Meanwhile, the circumstances of the attack, specifically

    the use of automatic rifles against a moving target, raise

    the question of whether the intention was in fact to

    eliminate Ghukasian or simply to create a pretext for

    neutralizing Babayan. Like some other observers, Lenser

    Aghalovian, chairman of a small Armenian party composed

    mainly of Karabakh-born intellectuals, reasoned that if an

    experienced warrior like Babayan had indeed wanted to get rid

    of Ghukasian, the latter would not have survived. A single

    shot from a grenade-launcher would have left Ghukasian with

    no chance of survival, Aghalovian told "Haykakan Zhamanak."

    03-04-00


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


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