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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 72, 00-04-11

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. 72, 11 April 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN POLICE SEEK INTERPOL'S HELP IN LOCATING EX-MINISTER
  • [02] DETAINED ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE MAY BE RELEASED
  • [03] KARABAKH PARLIAMENT SETS ELECTION DATE
  • [04] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT OUTLINES PRIORITIES
  • [05] INTERNATIONAL MONITORS CRITICIZE GEORGIAN ELECTION VIOLATIONS
  • [06] RENEGADE GEORGIAN COLONEL DEMANDS INDEPENDENCE FOR MINGRELIA
  • [07] TRIAL OF FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER'S BODYGUARDS OPENS
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN OIL EXPORT PLANS DETAILED
  • [09] TURKISH PRESIDENT CANCELS VISIT TO KAZAKHSTAN
  • [10] KAZAKHSTAN DENIES UZBEK SMUGGLING CHARGES
  • [11] KYRGYZ PROTESTS CONTINUE
  • [12] NEW MUFTI, PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [13] RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE VISITS UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [14] KUCAN BEGINS TALKS ON NEW SLOVENIAN GOVERNMENT
  • [15] POLITICAL CRISIS TO AFFECT SLOVENIA'S EU TIMETABLE?
  • [16] SLOVENIAN SECRET SERVICE BUGGED BISHOP
  • [17] MESIC PROPOSES CROATIAN PRESIDENTIAL REFORM
  • [18] TUDJMAN BACKER OUSTED AT CROATIAN TELEVISION
  • [19] CROATIAN STRIKE ENDS
  • [20] BOSNIAN VOTE COUNT CONTINUES
  • [21] MILOSEVIC TAKES FURTHER MEASURES AGAINST MEDIA
  • [22] BELGRADE'S ARMY, POLICE MAKE PLANS
  • [23] SERBIAN PRESIDENT UNDERGOES HEART SURGERY
  • [24] ROMANIA SEEKS HELP TO DEAL WITH FLOODS
  • [25] ROMANIA TO DEMAND EXTRADITION OF SENTENCED GENERAL
  • [26] FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER'S PARTY REGISTERED
  • [27] ROMANIAN NATIONAL BANK REBUKES STANDARD & POOR'S
  • [28] MOLDOVA MUST MEET IMF CONDITIONS BY 12 APRIL
  • [29] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT AGAIN REJECTS RUMOR ABOUT RUSSIAN BASES

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [30] THE ANGOLA VARIANT

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN POLICE SEEK INTERPOL'S HELP IN LOCATING EX-MINISTER

    Armenia's Interior Ministry on 10 April formally requested

    Interpol to help them locate and detain former Interior Minister

    Vano Siradeghian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Siradeghian

    is believed to have fled the country after his fellow

    parliamentary deputies last week voted to allow him to be taken

    into custody until sentence is passed in his ongoing trial (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 7 April 2000). Siradeghian is charged

    with ordering several contract killings in 1992-1996. Meanwhile a

    senior member of the opposition Armenian Pan-National Movement,

    whose board Siradeghian heads, told RFE/RL that Siradeghian's

    home was searched on 8 April and some 20 of his close associates

    were briefly held for questioning. LF

    [02] DETAINED ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE MAY BE RELEASED

    A Yerevan

    court declined on 10 April a request from the Military

    Prosecutor's office to extend for two months the detention of

    presidential foreign policy adviser Aleksan Harutiunian, RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported. Harutiunian was taken into custody in

    December and charged with "inciting" the 27 October parliament

    shootings in which eight senior officials were killed (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 December 1999). Harutiunian has repeatedly

    denied any involvement in the killings. LF

    [03] KARABAKH PARLIAMENT SETS ELECTION DATE

    Meeting in Stepanakert on

    8 April, the parliament of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh

    Republic scheduled elections to a new 33-deputy legislature for

    18 June, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. All seats

    will be contested in single-mandate constituencies. Deputies also

    approved the enclave's draft budget for 2000, which is largely

    dependent on loans and subsidies from Armenia. The budget

    envisages 15.4 billion drams ($29 million) in expenditures, but

    only 5.4 billion drams in revenues. LF

    [04] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT OUTLINES PRIORITIES

    Eduard Shevardnadze

    told journalists in Tbilisi on 10 April, one day after his re-

    election, that he plans to reshuffle the government, firing

    corrupt ministers and possibly bringing opposition

    representatives into the cabinet, Caucasus Press reported. With

    some 80 percent of all ballots counted, Shevardnadze had 80.4

    percent of the vote, compared with 16.6 percent for his closest

    rival, Djumber Patiashvili, AP reported. Turnout was officially

    estimated at 68 percent, although a representative of the

    Georgian NGO Fair Elections disputed that figure, claiming his

    organization has documentary evidence that the actual figure was

    far lower, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze also denied on 10

    April that during their talks in Batumi on 6 April, he and Adjar

    Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze had discussed the

    latter's election participation or had reached any preliminary

    agreement on regulating the strained relations between the

    central Georgian government and Adjaria. LF

    [05] INTERNATIONAL MONITORS CRITICIZE GEORGIAN ELECTION VIOLATIONS

    In

    a preliminary statement issued in Tbilisi on 10 April, the OSCE

    election observers' mission expressed concern about violations of

    voting procedure and the vote count, AP and Reuters reported.

    Those irregularities included ballot stuffing, tampering with

    votes and protocols, denying access to election observers, and

    the unauthorized presence of police at polling stations. The

    statement also said that the Georgian authorities "did not behave

    impartially and gave strong support to the incumbent." Noting

    that an ambiguous election law had been applied selectively in

    many cases, it called for a vigorous investigation of election-

    related breaches of the criminal code. The Parliamentary Assembly

    of the Council of Europe, which also monitored the vote at some

    600 polling stations, said it witnessed no "major violations,"

    according to AP. Shevardnadze, too, denied any "serious

    violations," while Patiashvili claimed massive fraud. LF

    [06] RENEGADE GEORGIAN COLONEL DEMANDS INDEPENDENCE FOR MINGRELIA

    Colonel Akaki Eliava, who led the abortive insurrection in

    western Georgia in October 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21

    October 1998), has demanded either independence or formal

    autonomous status for the west Georgian region of Mingrelia

    during President Shevardnadze's second presidential term,

    Caucasus Press reported on 11 April citing "Alia." Eliava said

    that the Georgian Central Electoral Commission's claim that 90

    percent of the region's electorate cast their ballots is a lie

    and that the true figure does not exceed 10 percent. Eliava had

    earlier pledged his support for Patiashvili. LF

    [07] TRIAL OF FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER'S BODYGUARDS OPENS

    Two bodyguards

    of former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin went on trial in

    Almaty on 10 April on charges of illegal possession of arms,

    RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital reported (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December 1999 and 24 February 2000). Both

    men say they are innocent of those charges, which they claim are

    politically motivated. On 11 April, Amirzhan Qosanov, a leading

    member of Kazhegeldin's Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan,

    said the two accused were subjected to psychological pressure

    during the pre-trial investigation. LF

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN OIL EXPORT PLANS DETAILED

    Nurlan Balghymbaev, who

    heads Kazakhstan's state oil company Kazakhoil, told Turan on 10

    April that Kazakhstan considers the Caspian pipeline across the

    Russian Federation to Novorossiisk to be the "priority route" for

    oil exports. That pipeline is due to be completed next year. He

    added that Kazakhstan has reached agreement with Russia's

    Transneft to export approximately 1 million tons of crude via the

    Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline. Balghymbaev said that Kazakhstan

    would not produce enough oil to require access to the planned

    Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline before 2008. He said only oil from

    offshore deposits where extraction has not yet begun would be

    exported by that route. Many experts believe that Azerbaijan

    alone cannot extract enough crude to render Baku-Ceyhan

    commercially viable. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev

    said in Baku on 8 April that Kazakhstan will export no more than

    2 million tons of oil by rail from Baku to Batumi in 2000 because

    Azerbaijan's rail transport tariffs are too high, according to

    Caucasus Press. LF

    [09] TURKISH PRESIDENT CANCELS VISIT TO KAZAKHSTAN

    An official visit

    to Astana on 12 April by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel has

    been cancelled, Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov told

    journalists on 10 April. Idrisov said that during talks in Baku

    last week on the sidelines of the Turkic summit, Demirel had

    accepted an invitation from President Nazarbaev to visit

    Kazakhstan as a private individual after his presidential term

    expires in May. LF

    [10] KAZAKHSTAN DENIES UZBEK SMUGGLING CHARGES

    Kazakhstan's

    ambassador to Tashkent, Umurzak Uzbekov, told journalists in

    Tashkent on 7 April that Uzbek allegations that a truck that

    entered Uzbekistan from Kazakhstan on 30 March was carrying a

    radio-active cargo are groundless, Reuters and ITAR-TASS

    reported. Uzbek officials had said that the truck was carrying 10

    containers of a radioactive substance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3

    and 4 April 2000). Uzbekov said that the lorry was bearing scrap

    metal, part of which had been contaminated by radioactivity. LF

    [11] KYRGYZ PROTESTS CONTINUE

    Some 100 protesters in Bishkek continue

    to demand the release of arrested opposition Ar-Namys party

    leader Feliks Kulov, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital

    reported on 10 April. The next day, opposition parties appealed

    to Kulov to abandon the hunger strike he began two weeks earlier.

    Also on 11 April, some 300 people staged a picket in the southern

    town of Batken to protest a local court ruling annulling the

    parliamentary election victory in Batken of opposition politician

    Dosbol Nur Uulu. LF

    [12] NEW MUFTI, PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED IN KYRGYZSTAN

    Abdysatar-

    hadji Mazhitov resigned as Kyrgyzstan's chief mufti at an

    "urgent" meeting of the Council of Ulemas in Bishkek on 8 April,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Kimsanbai-hadji

    Abdyrakmanov was elected as his successor. Abdyrakmanov had

    served in that post until his dismissal and replacement by

    Mazhitov in December 1996. Under a presidential decree published

    on 10 April, Asanbek Sharshenaliev was dismissed from the post of

    prosecutor-general, which he had held since 1993. Chu Oblast

    governor Kubat Kozhonaliev was appointed to replace him. LF

    [13] RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE VISITS UZBEKISTAN

    On a one-day visit

    to Tashkent on 10 April, Sergei Yastrzhembskii called Uzbekistan

    Russia's "strategic ally" and pledged that Russia will help

    Tashkent rebuff any attack on its territory by international

    terrorists, Russian agencies reported. Yastrzhembskii's talks

    with President Islam Karimov focused on joint measures to combat

    terrorism, banditry, religious extremism, and drug trafficking;

    the situation in Central Asia; and bilateral relations. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [14] KUCAN BEGINS TALKS ON NEW SLOVENIAN GOVERNMENT

    President Milan

    Kucan discussed the formation of a new government with outgoing

    Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek and parliamentary speaker Marjan

    Podobnik, who heads the People's Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10

    April 2000). No statement was issued after the meeting, which

    took place on 10 April in Ljubljana, AP reported. Podobnik and

    Lojze Peterle of the Christian Democrats are willing to form a

    coalition government with the rightist Social Democrats, but the

    three parties would be three seats short of a parliamentary

    majority of 46. The far-right National Party is willing to

    provide the necessary three additional votes but on the condition

    that it receives the Interior Ministry. Podobnik and Peterle

    stress that they would like the National Party's support but will

    not accept any conditions. Peterle said that "it would be better

    to have new elections than [Zmago] Jelincic as interior

    minister." Observers suggest that new elections in June or July

    are the most like way out of the apparent deadlock. PM

    [15] POLITICAL CRISIS TO AFFECT SLOVENIA'S EU TIMETABLE?

    A spokesman

    for the EU Commission said in Brussels on 10 April that

    Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, who is in charge of matters

    pertaining to EU expansion, has postponed a visit to Slovenia

    from 16 April to an unspecified date in May. The spokesman added

    that the "visit would be overshadowed by [domestic political]

    events, so we do not think this is the best time to go," Reuters

    reported. Many Slovenian political observers and business leaders

    are concerned lest a prolonged government crisis delay Slovenia's

    timetable for EU admission. To stay on schedule, the parliament

    must pass some 60 pieces of legislation by the end of the year

    2000. Some business leaders also expressed concern that the

    government crisis could hold up a major privatization program

    involving the two largest banks, Telekom, some large insurance

    firms, and several power companies. PM

    [16] SLOVENIAN SECRET SERVICE BUGGED BISHOP

    Workers found several

    microphones planted in the offices of Maribor Bishop Franc

    Kramberger and one of his aides, Vatican Radio reported on 10

    April. The listening devices were discovered in September 1999

    just before the visit by Pope John Paul II. Church officials did

    not publicize the discovery until the fall of the Drnovsek

    government lest the news spoil attempts to improve Church-state

    relations, the broadcast added. The Slovenian leadership includes

    many former Communists and others who fear that the Roman

    Catholic Church wants to regain the wealth and political power it

    enjoyed before 1945. Slovenian society after 45 years of

    communism is largely secular. PM

    [17] MESIC PROPOSES CROATIAN PRESIDENTIAL REFORM

    President Stipe

    Mesic sent a document on 10 April to Prime Minister Ivica Racan

    and parliamentary speaker Zlatko Tomcic in which Mesic outlined

    his proposals to curtail the powers of the presidency. The

    suggestions go far to reduce the sweeping powers of the late

    President Franjo Tudjman in keeping with the wishes of all

    political parties. Under his proposals, Mesic would remain

    commander-in-chief of the armed forces, play a role in shaping

    foreign policy, and appoint the chiefs of the intelligence

    services. Mesic has repeatedly charged that the government wants

    to reduce his powers to a ceremonial level and humiliate him

    personally. He argues that the president needs to retain several

    key functions as a check on the government. The government is

    preparing its own proposals. PM

    [18] TUDJMAN BACKER OUSTED AT CROATIAN TELEVISION

    The governing

    council of Croatian Television (HTV) voted on 10 April to sack

    Obrad Kosovac as editor-in-chief of television programming,

    "Jutarnji list" reported. He will be replaced by Neda Ritz, who

    previously supervised HTV's cultural broadcasts. She stresses

    that HTV must become a public broadcaster on the West European

    model. Under Kosovac and others in the previous management, HTV

    was a mouthpiece of Tudjman's Croatian Democratic Community

    (HDZ). PM

    [19] CROATIAN STRIKE ENDS

    Management paid workers at the Pik

    agricultural enterprise some $950,000 in back wages on 10 April

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 April 2000). The workers called off

    their strike shortly before their planned blockage of the Zagreb-

    Budapest railway line, "Jutarnji list" reported. PM

    [20] BOSNIAN VOTE COUNT CONTINUES

    Preliminary local election results

    from 30 out of 145 Bosnian municipalities show the Serbian

    Democratic Party ahead in 11 of them. The HDZ leads in seven, the

    Muslim Party of Democratic Action in six, and the Social

    Democrats in three, "Oslobodjenje" reported on 11 April. Final

    results may take several weeks to tally because of some 500,000

    ballots mailed in by refugees. Mail votes could reduce the lead

    of nationalist parties, especially in the Republika Srpska, where

    most refugee votes are from Muslims. PM

    [21] MILOSEVIC TAKES FURTHER MEASURES AGAINST MEDIA

    More than 10,000

    persons demonstrated in Nis on 10 April after a court fined the

    independent "Narodne novine" some $7,000 at the black market

    rate, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The daily wrote in

    February that the army has been increasing the number of call-

    ups. In Belgrade, Studio-B Television director Dragan Kojadinovic

    said that his station will have nothing further to do with the

    "judicial circus" by which the government fines the private and

    independent media, the "Los Angeles Times" reported. Kojadinovic

    stressed that his station will not pay a $15,000 fine stemming

    from a libel suit filed by Belgrade police chief Branko Djuric.

    The station, which is linked to Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal

    Movement (SPO), now faces the possible confiscation of its

    equipment. Elsewhere, a spokesman for the independent daily

    "Danas" told reporters that the government is closing off

    official sources of information to non-state media, Reuters

    reported. PM

    [22] BELGRADE'S ARMY, POLICE MAKE PLANS

    Army Chief-of-Staff General

    Nebojsa Pavkovic met in Belgrade on 10 April with top officials

    of the Serbian Interior Ministry. They said in a statement that

    the agenda included "defining tasks for preserving the

    sovereignty, territorial integrity, and constitutional order of

    the country, as well as public order, peace, and the security of

    citizens' persons and property," RFR/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported. The document did not contain further details. PM

    [23] SERBIAN PRESIDENT UNDERGOES HEART SURGERY

    Milan Milutinovic

    underwent a previously scheduled heart operation in Belgrade on

    10 April, hospital spokesmen said. The operation took place

    "without complications," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.

    PM

    [24] ROMANIA SEEKS HELP TO DEAL WITH FLOODS

    Defense Minister Sorin

    Frunzaverde on 10 April said his country has asked an ad hoc

    crisis center at NATO's headquarters in Brussels to assist

    Bucharest in dealing with massive floods in the northwestern part

    of the country, Reuters and Rompres reported. Seven people have

    died and more than 60,000 hectares of farmland have been damaged

    in massive floods caused by heavy rains and melting snow over the

    last few days. Frunzaverde and Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu, who

    have been visiting the flooded regions, have blamed much of the

    flooding on the fact that work on harnessing rivers has been

    neglected over the past 10 to 15 years. President Emil

    Constantinescu has called a meeting of the country's Supreme

    Defense Council for 11 April. VG

    [25] ROMANIA TO DEMAND EXTRADITION OF SENTENCED GENERAL

    The Bucharest

    Military Tribunal on 10 April asked Justice Minister Valeriu

    Stoica to start extradition procedures for General Victor

    Stanculescu, who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his

    role in quashing the anti-communist uprising in Timisoara in

    December 1989 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 February 2000), RFE/RL's

    Bucharest bureau reported. Stanculescu is believed to be in the

    U.K., where he was undergoing medical treatment at the time of

    his sentencing. General Mihai Chitac, who was also sentenced to

    15 years, has begun serving his sentence and is in a prison

    hospital. Chitac's lawyer said he will demand that his client be

    released on health grounds. MS

    [26] FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER'S PARTY REGISTERED

    The Bucharest appeals

    court on 10 April overturned an Bucharest municipal tribunal's

    ruling not to register the Popular Party headed by former Premier

    Radu Vasile (see "RFE/RL "Newsline," 13 March 2000), Mediafax

    reported. That decision is final. In related news, the parties

    and civic organizations belonging to the Democratic Convention of

    Romania (CDR) have signed new protocols for the local and

    parliamentary elections. The protocol on local elections

    stipulates that the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic

    and the Romanian Ecologist Party will run as part of the CDR in

    the local ballot, while the National Liberal Party and the

    Romanian Ecological Federation will each run on separate lists.

    All four parties are to run as part of the CDR in the

    parliamentary elections. MS

    [27] ROMANIAN NATIONAL BANK REBUKES STANDARD & POOR'S

    The National

    Bank on 10 April said Romania does not run the risk of being

    unable to service its foreign debt "in the foreseeable future,"

    RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The bank said its reserves in

    hard currency and gold exceed $2.5 billion. The bank was

    responding to a 27 March warning by the international rating

    agency Standard & Poor's that that Romania, along with the Ivory

    Coast and Zimbabwe, might default on its foreign debt this year.

    MS

    [28] MOLDOVA MUST MEET IMF CONDITIONS BY 12 APRIL

    Moldovan Prime

    Minister Dumitru Braghis said on Moldovan Television over the

    weekend that the IMF will decide on 12 April whether to send a

    mission to Moldova, Infotag reported on 10 April. Braghis said

    that by then, the parliament must pass five bills that the IMF

    has set as a condition for extending new credits to Moldova. The

    IMF has already extended the deadline for the passage of that

    legislation from the end of March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31

    March 2000). Parliamentary speaker Dumitru Diakov said on 10

    April that the legislature cannot meet that deadline. He said

    this means Moldova may not be able to meet its foreign-debt

    payment commitments this year. VG

    [29] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT AGAIN REJECTS RUMOR ABOUT RUSSIAN BASES

    Petru

    Lucinschi told the OSCE's mission head in Moldova, William Hill,

    on 10 April that he categorically refutes all rumors that his

    country plans to allow Russia to set up a military base in the

    breakaway region of Transdniester (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and

    10 April 2000). VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [30] THE ANGOLA VARIANT

    By Paul Goble

    Governments of countries that earn most of their income

    through the export of a single raw material often are unwilling

    to promote human rights or social welfare. But at the same time,

    these states are very much prepared to spend money on the

    military, both to justify their existence and to keep the current

    authorities in power.

    And because their exports--especially oil--are so valuable

    to many other governments, these states often are able to escape

    significant criticism of their policies, a pattern that the

    historical record suggests may create precisely the instability

    that both the exporters and those who purchase their raw

    materials say they want to avoid.

    That is the clear lesson of recent developments in the

    African country of Angola, but it is one that appears to have a

    clear application to several post-Soviet states that are

    benefiting from the recent rise in oil prices to finance military

    activities or which hope to power their economic development

    through the export of petroleum or some other raw materials.

    According to an analysis published on 9 April by "New York

    Times" journalist Blaine Harden, Angola suffers from "the paradox

    of plenty": Its enormous and apparently increasing oil wealth has

    permitted the government in Luanda to enrich itself while

    allowing the majority of Angolans to fall into ever more terrible

    poverty. And this wealth has also allowed the government there to

    escape serious criticism from Western oil purchasers.

    As a result, Harden points out, the Angolan government has

    become ever more corrupt, its reliance on security forces to keep

    the population in line has increased, and its need to continue a

    military campaign against insurgents, rather than seek an

    accommodation with them, has grown. And because of these factors,

    Harden notes, Angola has remained "impervious to the greater

    openness now seen across much of Africa."

    Harden's conclusions about Angola clearly apply elsewhere as

    well. Buoyed by an increase rise in oil prices and the income

    generated for the Russian government, Moscow conducted a war in

    Chechnya that it could not otherwise have paid for. Moreover,

    with this new source of income, the Russian authorities became

    dismissive of any Western criticism by the West, noting that they

    can make it without Western loans.

    Last week, for example, one Russian official after another

    noted that Moscow would like to get more assistance from the West

    but that it would not significantly change its policies in order

    to do so. Several Russian commentators argued that Europeans

    would soon be forced to moderate their criticism of Moscow's

    Chechen policy because they need Russian gas and oil.

    But there is an even more disturbing parallel with the

    Angola variant: Ever more Russian officials are calling for

    building up the country's national defense, even though it faces

    no clear threat and even though money spent on the military will

    not be available to alleviate the social and economic problems of

    the population as a whole.

    As in Angola, such a strategy may be popular initially but

    is likely to lose support over time, potentially leading the

    government to rely on the constant generation of new enemies to

    justify this approach and possibly to employ ever more repressive

    means to keep itself in power.

    In several other post-Soviet states that are or hope to

    become major exporters of oil or gas, the danger of an Angola

    variant may be even greater.

    In all too many cases, the governments of these countries

    have not adopted policies designed to diversify the economy and

    spread the wealth, as some oil exporters in other parts of the

    world have begun to do. Instead, they have chosen to concentrate

    wealth in the hands of a few, an arrangement that almost always

    contributes to both corruption and repression in the short term

    and to instability over the longer haul.

    Moreover, many of these countries have escaped the kind of

    Western criticism for their social policies and human rights

    shortcomings that neighboring countries without oil to export

    have regularly received. And that in turn has made both the

    exporters and the non-exporters more cynical than ever about

    whatever human rights criticism there has been.

    Many people in the Russian Federation and other post-Soviet

    states have regularly talked about a "Latin American variant" for

    their futures: an authoritarian regime that could manage the

    transition from instability to a more open and just future.

    But the Angola variant serves as a reminder that any

    reliance on authoritarianism supported by the export of raw

    materials can have another and much less positive result, one

    that neither the exporters nor the importers of these raw

    materials ultimately are likely to be satisfied with.

    11-04-00


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


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