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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 77, 00-04-18

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. 77, 18 April 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA RELEASES TWO MORE POWS
  • [02] KARABAKH LEADERSHIP HINTS AT CLEMENCY FOR JAILED
  • [03] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER PROPOSES NEW ELECTION
  • [04] ...AS DEFEATED GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OUTLINES
  • [05] MURDER IN ALMATY LINKED TO MIG SALES SCANDAL?
  • [06] KYRGYZ SECURITY OFFICIALS REJECT KULOV'S EXPLANATIONS
  • [07] UPPER CHAMBER OF TAJIK PARLIAMENT HOLDS FIRST SESSION
  • [08] ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK TO ALLOCATE $120 MILLION TO
  • [09] TWO UZBEK POLITICAL PARTIES MERGE

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] TWO VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN CENTRAL PRISHTINA
  • [11] GENERAL REINHARDT LEAVES WITH PRESEVO ON HIS MIND...
  • [12] ...AS GENERAL ORTUNO ARRIVES WITH EUROCORPS
  • [13] 'MONSTER TRIAL' BEGINS IN NIS
  • [14] KOSOVA SERB MODERATES IN MOSCOW
  • [15] VOJVODINA BRACES FOR FLOODS
  • [16] MACEDONIAN-MONTENEGRIN TRANSPORT TALKS BEGIN
  • [17] HAGUE COURT PLEASED WITH CROATIAN COMPLIANCE
  • [18] MESIC CALLS NEWSPAPER SALE 'FRAUD'
  • [19] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS REFUSE 'AUSTERITY' FOR
  • [20] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN IN CHISINAU
  • [21] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS LAW ALLOWING GOVERNMENT
  • [22] POLICE, STUDENTS CLASH IN CHISINAU
  • [23] CAMPAIGN TO END SEX SLAVERY IN BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] Ukrainians Support Giving President More Powers

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA RELEASES TWO MORE POWS

    The Armenian government on 17

    April handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross two Azerbaijani

    servicemen held as prisoners of war in Armenia for the past 18 months, ITAR- TASS and

    Reuters reported. Late last month Azerbaijan had released what it claimed was the last

    Armenian prisoner it was holding. A further 11 Azerbaijani prisoners of war are believed to

    be held in Armenia. LF

    [02] KARABAKH LEADERSHIP HINTS AT CLEMENCY FOR JAILED

    JOURNALIST

    In a statement released on 15 April in Yerevan, Arkadii Ghukasian,

    president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, said that the enclave's law

    enforcement agencies should respect press freedom and citizens' dignity, RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported. The recently formed Karabakh political movement Democratic

    Artsakh has similarly called for a "softening" of the one-year prison sentence handed down

    last week to Karabakh opposition journalist Vahram Aghajanian for allegedly slandering the

    enclave's premier, Anushavan Danielian. Journalists in Yerevan staged a protest outside the

    Karabakh representation on 17 April to protest that sentence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17

    April 2000). The Karabakh Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Aghajanian's appeal later

    this week. LF

    [03] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER PROPOSES NEW ELECTION

    LAW...

    Zurab Zhvania proposed at a 17 April session of the Georgian parliament bureau

    that work be started on drafting a new election law, Caucasus Press reported. He said the

    new law must take into account the opinion of international organizations, including the

    OSCE and NDI, and NGOs. LF

    [04] ...AS DEFEATED GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OUTLINES

    FUTURE PLANS

    Djumber Patiashvili told a press conference in Tbilisi on 17 April

    that he thinks all opposition political forces in Georgia should unite to "save the country"

    from the crisis into which it has been plunged by the ruling Union of Citizens of Georgia,

    Caucasus Press reported. Patiashvili said that at some unspecified juncture he will

    relinquish his post as leader of the parliamentary opposition to concentrate on contesting the

    next local, parliamentary, and presidential elections due in 2003 and 2005, respectively. LF

    [05] MURDER IN ALMATY LINKED TO MIG SALES SCANDAL?

    Talgat Ibraev,

    the head of Kazakhstan's state-owned arms export company, was shot dead in Almaty late

    on 15 April, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital reported. A source who asked

    to remain anonymous told RFE/RL that the murder may be connected with the illicit export

    last year of obsolete MiG fighters to North Korea. LF

    [06] KYRGYZ SECURITY OFFICIALS REJECT KULOV'S EXPLANATIONS

    Senior Kyrgyz security officials have cast doubts on an attempt by arrested Kyrgyz

    opposition leader and former Kyrgyz Vice President Feliks Kulov to demonstrate that the

    charges brought against him are groundless. In an article published in "Nezavisimaya

    gazeta" on 13 April, Kulov said that the transfer of military equipment to Tajikistan in 1992

    and the sale for scrap metal of obsolete weaponry were both approved by President Askar

    Akaev. Two days later, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted senior Kyrgyz security officials as

    rejecting Kulov's claims, and suggesting that he may constitute the "link" between a still

    unsolved murder and the theft by one of Kulov's subordinates of $18 million from the state

    budget. LF

    [07] UPPER CHAMBER OF TAJIK PARLIAMENT HOLDS FIRST SESSION

    President Imomali Rakhmonov on 17 April inaugurated the first session of the upper

    chamber of parliament elected last month, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24

    March 2000). Dushanbe Mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidullaev, who represents the majority

    National Democratic Party of Tajikistan (the former Communist Party), was elected speaker

    in a secret ballot, Interfax reported. Deputies also voted to convey deputy status on former

    President Qahhar Mahkamov. The lower chamber of parliament, which was elected in

    February, held its opening session in late March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 March

    2000). LF

    [08] ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK TO ALLOCATE $120 MILLION TO

    TAJIKISTAN

    Following talks in Dushanbe on 14 April, Tajikistan's Premier Akil

    Akilov and an Asian Development Bank delegation signed a Memorandum of

    Understanding whereby the bank will provide Tajikistan with new low- interest loans

    totaling $120 million in 2001-2003, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Those loans will be used to

    finance infrastructure improvements, the development of agriculture and the social sector,

    education, and health care. LF

    [09] TWO UZBEK POLITICAL PARTIES MERGE

    Leaders of two of Uzbekistan's

    five officially-registered non-opposition political parties, Fidorkorlar and Vatan Tarakkieti,

    announced at a joint congress in Tashkent on 14 April that the two organizations will

    merge, Interfax reported. The new party, which will be named Fidorkorlar, has an

    estimated combined membership of 50,000 and a total of 54 parliament deputies, making it

    the second largest parliamentary faction. Its leader is Erkin Norbutaev. A working group

    has been set up to draft the party's new program and statutes. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] TWO VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN CENTRAL PRISHTINA

    Unknown persons

    fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an apartment building close to the Grand Hotel late in the

    night of 17 April. Two ethnic Albanians were slightly injured. Serbs living in a nearby flat

    were "evacuated for their safety," Reuters reported. It is not clear what the motive for the

    attack might have been. KFOR troops at a nearby checkpoint detained the driver of a

    vehicle that contained several rockets. Earlier, Besim Mala, who is a former commander of

    the Kosova Liberation Army, was shot dead in unclear circumstances not far from the site

    of the subsequent grenade incident. Observers note that violence is no rarity in Kosova, but

    that it is unusual in central Prishtina. It is also rare that it involves well-known

    personalities. PM

    [11] GENERAL REINHARDT LEAVES WITH PRESEVO ON HIS MIND...

    KFOR's outgoing commander, General Klaus Reinhardt, told his farewell press

    conference in Prishtina on 17 April that the 39,000 peacekeepers have achieved much since

    they arrived in the province in June. He stressed, however, that he fears that violence in

    southwestern Serbia--which is outside KFOR's mandate--could destabilize the situation in

    Kosova. He noted that armed Albanian rebels continue to train in the village of Dobrosin

    despite recent pledges to seek a political solution to their grievances against Belgrade.

    Serbian media reported an incident on 15 April in which a Serbian police checkpoint was

    hit by hand-grenades from Dobrosin. There has been no independent confirmation of the

    incident. PM

    [12] ...AS GENERAL ORTUNO ARRIVES WITH EUROCORPS

    Spanish General

    Juan Ortuno took over as KFOR commander from Reinhardt on 18 April for a six-month

    mandate. He heads Eurocorps, which consists of troops from France, Germany, Spain,

    Belgium, and Luxembourg. London's "The Guardian" writes that the force is "French-

    sponsored" and that Ortuno's command marks "the first time in NATO's history that the

    alliance has entrusted an external operation to a unit which is not part of its integrated,

    U.S.-dominated command structure.... Eurocorps is a politically-driven creation from

    which Britain has kept its distance on the grounds that it is potentially divisive and more

    symbolic than militarily effective.... KFOR will revert to an integrated NATO command

    after six months," the London-based daily added. The paper also noted that France is

    expected to step up its campaign for a greater European security role separate from that of

    the U.S. after 1 July, when France takes the rotating EU chair. Most European countries

    have had difficulties finding enough troops for existing multinational units and projects as it

    is. PM

    [13] 'MONSTER TRIAL' BEGINS IN NIS

    Some 146 Kosova Albanians are on trial in

    Nis for "terrorism" and "hostile activities," "Die Presse" reported on 18 April. The Vienna-

    based daily cites Natasa Kandic, Serbia's best-known human rights activist, as calling the

    event a "monster trial" and the biggest such event in the history of the Yugoslav court

    system. Lawyers from her Center for Human Rights are defending the Kosovars. She

    noted that all the defendants are civilians whom Serbian forces took from their homes or

    from refugee convoys in 1999 and sent to Serbia. She added that an additional 200

    Kosovars continue to be held in Serbian jails without charges, even though Serbian law

    specifies a maximum detention of three days without charges. Kandic suggested that the

    authorities could put the matter behind them by freeing the inmates in an amnesty to mark

    the 26 April state holiday. PM

    [14] KOSOVA SERB MODERATES IN MOSCOW

    A delegation of moderate Serbian

    political leaders arrived in Moscow on 17 April on an unofficial visit. They are headed by

    Momcilo Trajkovic and Archbishop Artemije. The Serbs will hold talks with

    representatives of the state Duma and Patriarch Aleksii. It is not yet clear whether the Serbs

    will meet with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, "Danas" reported. PM

    [15] VOJVODINA BRACES FOR FLOODS

    Flood preparations are well advanced in

    Vojvodina communities along the Tisza River, whose water-levels in Hungary have

    reached record highs of up to 10 meters. Hungarian experts say that the worst danger is

    over in their country and that the brunt of the problem is shifting to Serbia, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [16] MACEDONIAN-MONTENEGRIN TRANSPORT TALKS BEGIN

    Svetozar

    Marovic, who is the speaker of Montenegro's parliament, arrived in Skopje on 17 April.

    The two republics plan to open consulates in each other's capitals. The main topic on

    Marovic's agenda will be opening a transportation corridor from Macedonia to Montenegro

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

    [17] HAGUE COURT PLEASED WITH CROATIAN COMPLIANCE

    War crimes

    tribunal spokesman Paul Risley said in The Hague on 17 April that the court is very pleased

    with the cooperation it is getting from the new Croatian government, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service noted. Court spokesman Graham Blewitt pointed out that the tribunal wants

    to investigate several sites of possible war crimes in Croatia, "Vecernji list" reported. Near

    Gospic, war crimes investigators began exhumations aimed at finding the remains of

    dozens of Serbian civilians allegedly killed by Croatian forces in 1991 (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 13 and 14 April 2000). Many local residents and the Croatian Democratic

    Community (HDZ) object to the exhumations as a witch-hunt aimed at blackening the

    memory of Croatia's war for independence. The government has pledged to get to the truth

    of the matter. President Stipe Mesic said on state-run television on 17 April that "nobody

    ever received the right to kill someone's children in the name of the Croatian state." A poll

    published in "Jutarnji list" on 18 April suggests that 91 percent of the population feels that

    all who committed war crimes should be punished. PM

    [18] MESIC CALLS NEWSPAPER SALE 'FRAUD'

    President Mesic said on state-run

    television on 17 April that the sale of the Zagreb mass-circulation daily "Vecernji list" by

    the HDZ was a "fraud" that involved the top leadership of the former ruling party (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 2000). He said that the parliament's investigation into the

    matter is not "just politics" but an uncovering of gross abuse of office. Mesic added that he

    doubts that the two businessmen whom the paper says are the owners are anything more

    than front men for the politicians who really control the paper, which has the largest

    circulation in Croatia. Meanwhile, "Vecernji list" reported on 18 April that it will soon be

    owned by Austria's Styria company, which publishes "Die Presse" and several other

    newspapers. PM

    [19] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS REFUSE 'AUSTERITY' FOR

    THEMSELVES

    A joint session of Romania's two chambers of parliament on 17 April

    rejected a proposal by the parliament's Standing Bureau to resume debates on a decision to

    raise salaries of deputies and senators by 50 percent, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

    The vote was 118 against, 97 for and 34 abstentions. The bureau had proposed revising the

    13 April decision, pointing out that the budget currently under debate is one of austerity.

    Spokesmen for all formations represented in the legislature called for a revising of the

    decision, but the parliamentarians were obviously unimpressed by what their own parties

    had to say on the matter, not to mention the media. MS

    [20] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN IN CHISINAU

    Ion Diaconescu,

    chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, told his counterpart Dumitru Diacov in Chisinau on

    17 April that Romania is ready to share its experience with Moldova on accessing the EU

    and that "Europe cannot be herself without having both Romania and Moldova in it." He

    said it is possible that the two countries will join the EU at the same time, by 2007.

    Diaconescu also said that as a start on the road to collaboration, "our parliamentarians

    should pay fewer visits to South Africa and more visits to Chisinau." Diaconescu also met

    with President Petru Lucinschi. MS

    [21] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS LAW ALLOWING GOVERNMENT

    TO PRIVATIZE

    The parliament on 17 April rejected a draft law that would have

    granted the Dumitru Braghis cabinet the right to approve legislation on privatizing the

    tobacco and wine industries, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Only 19 deputies

    supported the draft. Earlier, Party of Moldovan Communists Chairman Vladimir Voronin

    said an extraordinary meeting of his party's Central Committee decided not to change the

    party's rejection of those laws, which Voronin defined as "the greatest robbery committed

    against the state." Prime Minister Braghis said in reaction that the decision deprives

    Moldova of IMF funding and that the government must examine the decision's

    consequences at its meeting on 18 April. He said he does not rule out the cabinet's

    resignation. But presidential spokesman Anatol Golea said the cabinet will not resign and

    will look for alternative means of financing the budget deficit. MS

    [22] POLICE, STUDENTS CLASH IN CHISINAU

    Four policemen and one student

    were hospitalized with injuries and about 60 demonstrators were detained on 17 April when

    police clashed with several thousand students in Chisinau, RFE/RL's bureau in the

    Moldovan capital reported. The students were protesting a decision by the mayoralty to

    scrap free travel for students on public transportation. Students threw bottles, eggs, and

    vegetables at the town hall and broke several windows. Flux reported on 18 April that the

    students have resumed their protests, this time in front of the parliament. MS

    [23] CAMPAIGN TO END SEX SLAVERY IN BULGARIA

    The International

    Organization for Migration (IOM) on 17 April launched a campaign to prevent thousands of

    Bulgarian women from becoming sex slaves abroad. The IOM coordinator for Central

    Europe, Irena Voyachkova, said the project, which is funded by the U.S. State

    Department, is being launched because trafficking in women is a growing threat and an

    issue of concern for the entire region. Bulgarian human rights groups estimate that some

    10,000 Bulgarian women, many under 18, are trapped in the sex industry abroad. Many

    are lured by newspaper advertising promising well-paid work as models, dancers, shop

    assistants, or even marriage with foreigners. Other women, mainly from small villages, are

    kidnapped and smuggled over the border. CTK reported that the IOM campaign has also

    been launched in Slovakia. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [24] Ukrainians Support Giving President More Powers

    By Askold Krushelnycky

    Electoral commission results on 17 April showed that Ukrainians gave

    overwhelming backing for President Leonid Kuchma's proposals in a referendum.

    Nearly 29 million people--about 80 percent of those eligible to vote--took part in the

    referendum, which officially began on 6 April and ended with its heaviest day of polling on

    16 April.

    Between 80 and 90 percent of respondents voted the way Kuchma hoped they

    would on the four referendum issues.

    Voters supported giving the president increased powers to dissolve the parliament;

    to lower the number of parliamentary deputies from 450 to 300; to remove deputies'

    immunity to criminal prosecution; and to create a second parliamentary chamber. The

    president would appoint members of the second chamber, which is intended to represent

    the interests of the regions.

    Kuchma said the referendum was needed to end years of infighting among

    parliament deputies and a deadlock between the presidency and parliament. He said the

    deadlock had crippled attempts to introduce vital economic reforms and had prolonged the

    country's decline into poverty.

    But his opponents from across the political spectrum criticized the referendum,

    saying it undermined parliament. They said the referendum was unconstitutional, although

    Ukraine's Constitutional Court ruled it could go ahead.

    The Council of Europe, the 41-nation body that monitors democratic and human

    rights standards, also criticized the referendum. It has said Ukraine's membership could be

    suspended if Kuchma tries to impose the referendum's results without parliament's

    approval.

    The Council of Europe and other international bodies did not send observers, and

    some accusations of vote-rigging have surfaced. The Election Commission said it is

    investigating, and added that any violations were few in number.

    But parliament has such a poor reputation among many Ukrainians, who regard

    most of its members as corrupt and incompetent, that an outcome against parliament was

    almost a certainty.

    Indeed, the questions that gained the highest popular approval were for reducing the

    number of deputies and stripping them of their immunity from prosecution.

    But although Kuchma has convincingly won the first battle--to hold the referendum

    and secure the results he wanted--he could now face months of feuding with parliament to

    implement those results.

    The very threat of the referendum prompted parliament to reorganize itself last

    January into a majority that has been supporting Kuchma's reform proposals. But he says

    the majority is unstable and the referendum results must be implemented.

    But to do that, a parliamentary majority must first vote in favor of a bill proposing

    the amendments. Next, a two-thirds majority of parliament must vote in favor of each of

    the actual amendments.

    To get a two-thirds majority is going to be extremely difficult. But Ukrainian legal

    experts are not sure whether deputies may vote against constitutional changes legally

    approved by Ukrainian voters.

    Also unclear are what steps, if any, the president may take if deputies reject the

    results of the referendum. If he tries to impose them against parliament's will, that could

    not only provoke suspension from the Council of Europe but, more important, could again

    wreck Ukraine's chances to press ahead with essential economic reforms.

    18-04-00


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


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