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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 73, 00-04-12

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. 73, 12 April 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] KARABAKH JOURNALISTS PROTEST COLLEAGUE'S ARREST
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS ARMENIAN-RUSSIAN WAR GAMES
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION PARTY GRANTED PERMISSION FOR BAKU DEMO
  • [04] TWO AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT
  • [05] SON OF EXTRADITED LOCAL AZERBAIJANI POLICE CHIEF ACCUSES
  • [06] DEFEATED GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER CLAIMS FRAUD
  • [07] KAZAKHSTAN'S PREMIER CRITICIZES APPROACH TO PRIVATIZATION
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S COMMUNIST PARTY JOINS CALLS FOR POLITICAL REFORM
  • [09] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER ENDS HUNGER STRIKE

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] SLAIN SERBIAN JOURNALIST HONORED
  • [11] SERBIAN PRIVATE WEEKLY FINED FOR 'LIBEL'
  • [12] NOVI SAD BROADCASTER APPEALS FOR HELP
  • [13] IS MILOSEVIC SEEKING PRETEXT FOR CRACKDOWN?
  • [14] MILOSEVIC MOVES TO SECURE POWER
  • [15] U.S. DENIES REPORT OF RENEWED TIES TO BELGRADE
  • [16] KOSOVA SERBS RETURN TO UN COUNCIL
  • [17] NATIONALISTS BUILDING LEAD IN BOSNIAN ELECTION RETURNS
  • [18] DODIK RULES OUT COALITION WITH KARADZIC PARTY
  • [19] KUCAN TO ANNOUNCE RESULTS OF TALKS
  • [20] CROATIAN LEADERS FIGHT OVER SECRET SERVICES
  • [21] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES AID FOR FLOODS
  • [22] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT PASSES 2000 BUDGET
  • [23] MOLDOVAN COURT SAYS PARLIAMENT MUST RESPECT REQUEST FOR
  • [24] BULGARIAN WORKERS STAGE ROADBLOCK ON KEY HIGHWAY

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] DOUBTS REMAIN OVER UKRAINE'S 16 APRIL REFERENDUM

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] KARABAKH JOURNALISTS PROTEST COLLEAGUE'S ARREST

    A group of

    leading journalists from the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh

    Republic has issued a statement condemning the arrest of Vahram

    Agadjanian, a journalist with the Karabakh opposition newspaper

    "Tasnerort nahang," Noyan Tapan reported on 12 April. Agadjanian

    was taken into custody shortly after the abortive 22 March

    attempt to assassinate the enclave's president, Arkadii Ghukasian

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 March 2000). He has been charged with

    "defamation" for an article published in November 1999 that

    harshly criticized Karabakh Premier Anushavan Danielian, RFE/RL's

    Stepanakert correspondent reported on 10 April. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS ARMENIAN-RUSSIAN WAR GAMES

    In a statement

    issued in Baku on 11 April, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry

    implied that the joint maneuvers conducted in Armenia late last

    month were intended as preparation for military action against

    Azerbaijan, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March and 3

    April 2000). The statement noted that one of the stated

    objectives of the maneuvers was to improve the performance of

    both countries' troops in wooded and mountainous terrain. Baku

    regards the conduct of such exercises as a destabilizing factor

    in the South Caucasus and as undermining confidence between

    Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as the 1994 cease-fire, the

    statement continued. The statement termed the exercises counter

    to Russia's professed policy of furthering stability and security

    in the South Caucasus. It urged Moscow to suspend such exercises

    until a final solution to the Karabakh conflict is reached. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION PARTY GRANTED PERMISSION FOR BAKU DEMO

    Baku Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev has agreed to a request by the

    opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party for permission to

    convene a picket in the capital on 13 April, Turan reported. The

    action is intended to protest the eviction of the party from its

    Baku headquarters in 1994 and to demand either the return of

    those premises or a new office in the capital. LF

    [04] TWO AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT

    Azerbaijan National Independence Party chairman Etibar Mamedov

    and Democratic Party of Azerbaijan co-chairman Ilyas Ismailov

    signed an agreement in Baku on 11 April pledging to coordinate

    their efforts to end by constitutional means the present

    "authoritarian" and "anti-national" regime, Turan reported (see

    "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No.13, 31 March 2000). They

    also vowed to liberate the Azerbaijani territories currently

    occupied by Armenian forces. The two parties will try to

    consolidate all democratic forces to contend jointly the

    parliamentary elections due in November. LF

    [05] SON OF EXTRADITED LOCAL AZERBAIJANI POLICE CHIEF ACCUSES

    AUTHORITIES

    Yuksel Efendiev, whose father, Natig, was expedited

    from Turkey to Azerbaijan in January, has appealed to the

    Azerbaijani leadership to desist from what he terms the

    systematic persecution of all male members of his family, Turan

    reported (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 4, 28 January

    2000). Natig Efendiev's brother was sentenced in 1998 to three-

    and-a-half years in jail, and his cousin was arrested in 1996.

    All other male members of the family are either in hiding or have

    left Azerbaijan. Natig Efendiev was dismissed from his post as

    police chief of the city of Gyanja in September 1996, after his

    patron, parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev, had lost his post.

    Both men subsequently left Azerbaijan. LF

    [06] DEFEATED GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER CLAIMS FRAUD

    Djumber

    Patiashvili, who according to official data placed second in the

    9 April Georgian presidential poll with 17 percent of the vote,

    has rejected that figure, Reuters reported on 11 April.

    Patiashvili claimed that the vote tally was systematically

    falsified, with the authorities adding 300-500 votes for

    incumbent Eduard Shevardnadze at every polling station. He said

    his supporters are collecting evidence of that falsification,

    which he will submit to the OSCE and the Council of Europe. Also

    on 11 April, "Dilis gazeti" quoted Georgian Socialist Party

    leader Vakhtang Rcheulishvili as saying that the participation in

    the poll of both Patiashvili and Adjar Supreme Council Chairman

    Aslan Abashidze gave rise to major tensions within the opposition

    Batumi Alliance, of which both men are leading members. Abashidze

    withdrew his candidacy on 8 April. LF

    [07] KAZAKHSTAN'S PREMIER CRITICIZES APPROACH TO PRIVATIZATION

    Addressing a cabinet session in Astana on 11 April, Qasymzhomart

    Toqaev called for an investigation into the activities of the

    previous heads of the Finance Ministry's State Property and

    Privatization Committee, Interfax reported. Stressing that there

    can be no question of re-nationalizing already privatized

    enterprises, Toqaev nonetheless expressed concern at the

    "erosion" of state property, which he said "must be curbed." He

    added that "the most sophisticated approaches," including psuedo-

    bankruptcy and deliberate undervaluation, are being used to

    undertake the "robbery" of the country's industrial base. On two

    earlier occasions this year, Toqaev had called for expediting the

    privatization of state-owned companies, including two oil

    companies and several metallurgical giants (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 10 February 2000). LF

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S COMMUNIST PARTY JOINS CALLS FOR POLITICAL REFORM

    Communist Party leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin told a news

    conference in Almaty on 11 April that his party has proposed

    abolishing the presidency and establishing a parliamentary

    republic in Kazakhstan, Interfax reported. Abdildin also

    advocated that beginning in 2000, local governors should be

    elected, rather than appointed by the country's leadership. He

    added that the constitution should be amended to prevent regional

    governors adopting what he termed "separatist policies." LF

    [09] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER ENDS HUNGER STRIKE

    Kyrgyz

    Security Ministry spokesman Talant Razzakov said in Bishkek on 11

    April that at the insistence of ministry doctors, detained

    opposition Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov ended on 10 April

    the hunger strike he had begun 17 days earlier, RFE/RL's bureau

    in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Kulov has been charged with

    embezzlement and abuse of office when he headed the Security

    Ministry in 1996-1998. Meanwhile some 100 protesters continued

    their picket in central Bishkek to demand Kulov's release. On 11

    April, a second leading member of Ar-Namys, Omurbek Subanaliev,

    said in Bishkek that the party will participate in the planned

    round-table discussion between the opposition and the Kyrgyz

    leadership if that discussion is held under the aegis of the

    OSCE, but not if it is organized by the presidential

    administration. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] SLAIN SERBIAN JOURNALIST HONORED

    Independent journalists and

    human rights activists held several meetings in Belgrade on 11

    April to mark the first anniversary of the killing of publisher

    Slavko Curuvija (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 April 2000). At the

    site of the murder, friends and colleagues of Curuvija unveiled a

    memorial plaque, which read that he was "killed for his tough and

    critical words" against the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic, whom he had once supported. A friend of Curuvija's

    said at the meeting that the late journalist "was not killed; he

    was executed," "Vesti" reported. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister

    Vojislav Seselj called Curuvija a "criminal," according to

    "Danas." The authorities have remained silent on the killing. PM

    [11] SERBIAN PRIVATE WEEKLY FINED FOR 'LIBEL'

    In the latest of a

    series of actions against the private media, a Belgrade court

    fined "Vreme" $8,000 at the black market rate on 11 April (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 April 2000) The staff of the weekly learned

    of the case less than 24 hours earlier, Reuters reported. Serbian

    Culture Minister Zeljko Simic brought the suit after the magazine

    wrote that he had fired the director of the National Theater.

    Simic said that it was the government that ordered the sacking.

    The minister added: "I wanted to make those journalists aware of

    the legal framework they are working in here." PM

    [12] NOVI SAD BROADCASTER APPEALS FOR HELP

    The editorial board of the

    private Radio 021 appealed on 11 April to other journalists for

    "professional solidarity" and help in buying a new antenna so

    that the radio can resume its broadcasts, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. A fire swept the offices of Radio 021 and other

    non-state media the previous week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 April

    2000). PM

    [13] IS MILOSEVIC SEEKING PRETEXT FOR CRACKDOWN?

    A bomb exploded

    outside the offices of Milosevic's Socialist Party offices in

    Belgrade's Vracar district late on 11 April. No one was injured.

    Local Socialist official Branislav Ivkovic linked the blast to a

    rally by Serbian opposition parties slated for 14 April. He

    called the bombing "a terrorist act by those who are an extended

    hand of NATO," AP reported. A spokesman for the Democratic Party

    said that the blast "leaves open the question as to who benefits

    from this incident" and suggested that the "regime may be looking

    for a pretext" to crack down on the opposition ahead of the

    rally. Meanwhile in Novi Sad, two unidentified men beat Social

    Democratic activist Radoje Cvetkov. The League of Social

    Democrats of Vojvodina said in a statement that the incident

    shows the authorities are resorting to "vulgar repression." The

    statement added that "Milosevic's regime, with its worn-out

    slogans about fighting 'traitors'..., is creating a criminalized

    society in which force is the main law." PM

    [14] MILOSEVIC MOVES TO SECURE POWER

    Serbia's parliament on 11 April

    passed a law whereby deputies will be elected to the upper house

    of the federal legislature on a proportional basis rather than by

    majority vote. The measure will enable Milosevic and his

    political allies to control the Council of the Republic at the

    expense of the Serbian opposition and the governing coalition in

    Montenegro, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Some

    observers suggested that Milosevic will now seek changes to the

    Yugoslav or Serbian constitutions to enable him to remain in

    office after his current term ends in 2001. PM

    [15] U.S. DENIES REPORT OF RENEWED TIES TO BELGRADE

    State Department

    spokesman James Rubin on 11 April denied recent media reports

    that Washington is seeking to renew diplomatic ties with Belgrade

    (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 11 April 2000). Rubin stressed that

    Washington-Belgrade relations will improve only after Milosevic

    leaves office. PM

    [16] KOSOVA SERBS RETURN TO UN COUNCIL

    Rada Trajkovic represented

    Kosovar Serbian moderates as an observer at the UN's interim

    advisory council in Prishtina on 11 April. She stressed that her

    main interest is to improve the security situation for Kosova's

    Serbian minority and returning refugees. She called the meeting

    "a beginning for solving problems," AP reported. Also

    participating in the council session were chief UN civilian

    administrator Bernard Kouchner, as well as ethnic Albanian

    leaders Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova, and Rexhep Qosja. The

    agenda included the return of Serbian refugees, security issues,

    student elections, and regulations affecting the electronic media

    as well as agriculture. Thaci called the atmosphere "very good"

    and added that Serbs and Albanians must live together. PM

    [17] NATIONALISTS BUILDING LEAD IN BOSNIAN ELECTION RETURNS

    Preliminary, unofficial returns for 91 out of 146 municipalities

    in Bosnia's 8 April local elections suggest that nationalist

    parties are heading to victory in all areas except for several

    cities and towns with Muslim majorities (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    11 April 2000). The civic-based Social Democrats lead in only

    nine areas. The Muslim nationalist Party of Democratic Action is

    ahead either by itself or in a coalition in 24 areas. The Serbian

    Democratic Party (SDS) leads in 34 municipalities, and the

    Croatian Democratic Community in 20, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. PM

    [18] DODIK RULES OUT COALITION WITH KARADZIC PARTY

    In Banja Luka on

    11 April, Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik ruled out

    local coalitions between his Party of Independent Social

    Democrats (SNSD) and the SDS, "Vesti" reported. He stressed that

    the SNSD will seek local coalitions with its current moderate

    allies. He also did not rule out the possibility of local

    coalitions with civic-based parties, whose support come mainly

    from Muslim and Croatian voters, the daily added. PM

    [19] KUCAN TO ANNOUNCE RESULTS OF TALKS

    Slovenian President Milan

    Kucan said on 11 April that he will inform the parliament by 15

    April about the results of his current talks aimed at ending the

    political crisis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 April 2000). He

    stressed that the crisis has come at a crucial time in the

    process of securing Slovenia's admission to the EU and NAT.

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [20] CROATIAN LEADERS FIGHT OVER SECRET SERVICES

    Ozren Zunec, who

    heads one of Croatia's key intelligence services (HIS), said in

    Zagreb that he wants to resign because Tomislav Karamarko, who

    heads another intelligence agency (UNS), is obstructing his

    attempts at making personnel changes, "Vecernji list" reported on

    12 April. President Stipe Mesic, Prime Minister Ivica Racan and

    parliamentary speaker Zlatko Tomcic will deal with the issue on

    15 April, "Jutarnji list" added. The dispute reflects a deeper

    conflict between Mesic and Racan over the control of the

    intelligence agencies, "Slobodna Dalmacija" argued. Racan

    believes that the government must control the services, while

    Mesic argues the president must ensure that the agencies remain

    independent of the government. Under the late President Franjo

    Tudjman, some elements in the governing Croatian Democratic

    Community used the intelligence services against their political

    rivals. PM

    [21] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES AID FOR FLOODS

    Emil Constantinescu

    has said that beginning on 12 April, 6 billion lei ($305,000)

    from the Solidaritatea national fund will be disbursed to the

    flooded regions of western Romania, Rompres reported on 11 April.

    He said other urgent measures for dealing with the flood will be

    discussed at a meeting of the country's Supreme Defense Council

    on 12 April. Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu said the same day that

    the flood-stricken regions would receive special funds for the

    construction of dams. VG

    [22] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT PASSES 2000 BUDGET

    The Moldovan legislature

    on 11 April passed the state budget for 2000, with 58 deputies in

    the 101-seat legislature backing the bill, Infotag reported. The

    budget was supported by the Christian Democrats and Communists as

    well as some members of the For a Democratic and Prosperous

    Moldova bloc and some independent deputies, BASA-Press reported.

    The budget, which anticipates a deficit of 380 million lei, was

    one of the conditions set by the IMF for resuming credits to

    Moldova. Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis said the vote

    demonstrates Moldova's "intention to follow the path of reform

    and its readiness to meet commitments undertaken before

    international financial organizations and the Moldovan people."

    He noted, however, that the legislature must still fulfill other

    IMF conditions, including the privatization of the wine and

    tobacco industries, the amendment of the law on notary services,

    and the approval of the social insurance budget for this year. VG

    [23] MOLDOVAN COURT SAYS PARLIAMENT MUST RESPECT REQUEST FOR

    REFERENDUM

    The Moldovan Constitutional Court on 11 April ruled

    that the parliament must call a referendum if such a vote is

    demanded by a petition of at least 200,000 citizens, Infotag and

    BASA-Press reported. In so doing, the court has ruled that those

    sections of the electoral law that state that the parliament can

    ignore such petitions are unconstitutional. The case was launched

    by President Petru Lucinschi, who wants to hold a referendum on

    altering the constitution. VG

    [24] BULGARIAN WORKERS STAGE ROADBLOCK ON KEY HIGHWAY

    Up to 2,000

    workers from the Vazov group of weapons plants staged a roadblock

    on the main road linking Sofia to the Black Sea port of Burgas on

    12 April, Reuters reported. The workers are demanding the payment

    of wage arrears and protesting against planned job cuts.

    Meanwhile, police said another key road has been blocked by

    workers from a plastics factory. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [25] DOUBTS REMAIN OVER UKRAINE'S 16 APRIL REFERENDUM

    by Jan Maksymiuk

    The Constitutional Court's 29 March resolution to strike two

    questions from Ukraine's 16 April constitutional referendum

    appears to have alleviated fears of an immediate introduction of

    authoritarianism in the country. The court ruled that questions

    on the vote of no confidence in the parliament and on the

    possibility of adopting the country's constitution via a

    referendum are unconstitutional. The four remaining questions

    were deemed constitutional and, if approved in the plebiscite,

    will be binding. The ruling, however, has not dispelled the many

    other doubts, both abroad and at home, about the possible

    consequences of the 16 April ballot.

    The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

    recommended earlier this month that President Leonid Kuchma

    postpone the plebiscite until the parliament adopts a new law on

    referenda. Kuchma decreed the current referendum on the basis of

    a Soviet-era law that does not take into account the legal and

    political realities of independent Ukraine. Second, PACE warned

    Kyiv that it may seek suspension of Ukraine's membership in the

    council if the referendum results are implemented by

    unconstitutional means.

    PACE's warning was clearly based on the suspicion than

    Ukraine's Supreme Council might be reluctant to approve

    constitutional amendments limiting lawmakers' rights and

    prerogatives, particularly stripping them of immunity from

    criminal prosecution. Even if the current parliamentary majority

    unanimously supported possible constitutional amendments, it

    would still be some 30 votes short of the 300 needed to change

    the constitution. Thus not without reason, PACE feared that

    Kuchma might seek to amend the constitution by decree, as

    Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka had done in 1996,

    following a constitutional referendum of a consultative nature.

    Some Ukrainian commentators also point to ambiguities in the

    formulation of referendum questions, which may lead to tensions

    between the parliament and the president. In particular, the

    questions about reducing the number of lawmakers to 300 and

    introducing a bicameral parliament in Ukraine do not specify to

    which entity that number applies--the parliament in its entirety

    or its lower chamber. There is also no mention on the referendum

    ballots of how the second chamber should be formed if Ukrainians

    decide on a bicameral legislature.

    Many sarcastic comments have been elicited in the Ukrainian

    media by the court's decision to approve the question about

    stripping lawmakers of their immunity from criminal prosecution.

    The question proposes leaving in place the constitutional

    formulation that Ukrainian lawmakers' immunity "is guaranteed"

    but excluding the provision that people's deputies may not be

    tried for criminal offenses, detained, or arrested without the

    approval of the Supreme Council. How much is such "immunity"

    worth if a police officer can arrest a people's deputy at any

    time and under any pretext, many Ukrainian publications have

    wondered.

    There is also a discrepancy between the current constitution

    and the court's ruling that referendum results should be binding.

    According to the constitution, only the Supreme Council can

    change the country's basic law. On the other hand, the Supreme

    Council is a sovereign branch of power and no Ukrainian court has

    the right to order the legislature to approve any laws.

    Is there a way to untangle this web of contradictions? The

    easiest way would be to regard the 16 April referendum as

    consultative. Such an option has been suggested by PACE and would

    be the best approach for Ukraine, which urgently needs political

    accord following the parliament's approval of the ambitious

    reformist program of Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet. Too much is at

    stake now, and any further political confrontation could easily

    extinguish the glimmer of hope Ukrainians perceived this year.

    The worst scenario would be the parliament's refusal to

    comply with the referendum (which is expected to approve at least

    three of the questions) and Kuchma's possible decision to

    dissolve the legislature and call for new parliamentary

    elections. In such a case, the country, beleaguered by social and

    economic problems, would once again be plunged into a election

    campaign that might alter the balance of power but would hardly

    result in any economic improvement for the pauperized population.

    12-04-00


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


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