|Sunday, 17 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 201, 00-10-17
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 4, No. 201, 17 October 2000Meeting on 13 October, interim Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov and former militia commander Beslan Gantemirov resolved the disagreements that set them at odds in July and led to what Kadyrov termed their irreversible alienation two months later, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 17 October (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 37, 15 September 2000). Kadyrov has now formally appointed Gantemirov as his first deputy, the position to which Gantemirov had earlier laid claim. Meanwhile the Russian presidential representative to the South Russia federal district, Viktor Kazantsev, said in an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 16 October that he has drafted plans for a total restructuring of the temporary administration in Chechnya, which is to be finalized by the end of this month. He declined to provide details. LF
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 FOUR NEW DEPUTIES ELECTED TO ARMENIAN PARLIAMENTBy-elections took place on 15 October in four constituencies left vacant after Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and three other deputies joined the current government in May, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Factory manager Gevorg Hakobian, a member of Markarian's Republican Party (HHK), won unopposed in the latter's district in central Yerevan. The chief manager of the local energy distribution network, Grigor Madatian, defeated his sole rival in Yerevan's southern Erebuni district. Madatian's brother, Eduard, represented that constituency before joining Markarian's cabinet as transport and communication minister. In Kotayk, a senior police officer, Mushegh Harutiunian, narrowly beat a HHK candidate. In Ararat, Mihran Movsisian of the Union of the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, lodged a protest with the Central Election Commission (CEC) after losing to Gurgen Arsenian, chief executive of Armagrobank, one of the largest in the country. LF
 AZERBAIJANI, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETVilayat Guliev held talks in Moscow on 16 October with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov aimed at preparing for Russian President Vladimir Putin's planned visit to Baku in November. Ivanov expressed the hope that Putin's visit will open a "new page" in bilateral relations, according to ITAR-TASS. The two ministers also discussed trade and economic relations, the Karabakh conflict, and the status of the Caspian Sea. LF
 AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT SACKS BAKU MAYORHeidar Aliev on 16 October dismissed Rafael Allakhverdiev from the post of Baku City mayor, Turan reported. Allakhverdiev, who is one of eight deputy chairmen of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party, had earlier announced his intention to step down to contest the 5 November parliamentary election. Speaking in Baku on 6 October, Allakhverdiev had accused the presidential administration of issuing instructions to local election commission staff concerning which would-be candidates should be registered to contest the parliamentary poll as well as specifying which of those should be "elected" (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 40, 13 October 2000). Aliev told journalists on 16 October that he intends to order the Central Electoral Commission to register all candidates who wish to run in single-mandate constituencies, adding that those refused registration include many Yeni Azerbaycan candidates, Turan reported. LF
 THREE MORE GEORGIAN JAIL-BREAKERS DETAINEDGeorgian police on 16 October detained in the Sachkhere Raion of western Georgia one more of the 12 prisoners who escaped from a Tbilisi security jail on 1 October, and a second surrendered to police in nearby Martvili, Caucasus Press reported. Five of the fugitives were captured on 12 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 2000). The third was apprehended on 17 October. In his traditional Monday radio broadcast on 16 October, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that two of the recaptured prisoners, Loti Kobalia, the commander of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia's presidential guard and Gamsakhurdia's finance minister, Guram Absandze, had planned unspecified actions to destabilize the political situation in Georgia. Shevardnadze thanked the police who captured the escapees for averting "a new fratricidal war." LF
 ITALIAN JOURNALIST FOUND DEAD IN GEORGIAAntonio Russo, a correspondent for a radio station affiliated with Italy's Radical Party, was found dead with chest injuries in Kakheti, some 80 kilometers east of Tbilisi, on 16 October, AP and Caucasus Press reported. Russo had been in Tbilisi for a year, and had focused primarily on reporting on the war in Chechnya and its impact on Georgia. LF
 GEORGIAN TEACHERS END STRIKETeachers in Georgia's Mtianeti-Mtskheta region have ended the strike they began at the beginning of the school year one month ago to protest non- payment of their salaries, Caucasus Press reported on 16 October citing "Alia" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 2000). The teachers have been promised three monthly salaries. LF
 RELATIVES OF KYRGYZ SENTENCED FOR PLANNING TO KILL PRESIDENT STAGE PROTESTEight women relatives of seven men sentenced last month for their alleged participation in a 1999 plot to assassinate President Askar Akaev began a picket of the regional administration building in the town of Djalalabad on 16 October, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. The women claim that their men-folk are innocent. The men, most of them shepherds with only elementary education, were said to have been recruited by opposition Erkindik Party leader Topchubek Turgunaliev. The entire case was based on the testimony of one man, which was later retracted. Turgunaliev and all but one of the remaining defendants were sentenced in early September to 16-17 years imprisonment (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2000). LF
 TAJIK DEPUTY MINISTER FIREDTajik President Imomali Rakhmonov has dismissed Deputy Minister of Culture Rahmatullo Aminov for engaging in business activities in violation of the law "On State Service," Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 16 October. LF
 TAJIKISTAN GRAPPLES WITH UNEMPLOYMENTSpeaking in Dushanbe on 13 October, Tajik Employment Minister Rafiqa Musaeva said that between 1989 -2000 Tajikistan's population increased by over 1 million, to 6.105 million, while the able-bodied population increased over the same timeframe by 640,000 people to 3 million, Asia Plus- Blitz reported. She estimated that unemployment nationwide will reach 16.3 percent by the end of this year. In Khatlon Oblast, the largest in the country, 6,800 people out of a total population of 2.14 million are registered as unemployed, while in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Republic 15,179 of the 203,500 inhabitants are officially registered as seeking work. LF
 TURKISH PRESIDENT VISITS UZBEKISTANAhmet Necdet Sezer arrived in Tashkent on 16 October on the first leg of a four-day visit to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported. Sezer and his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov discussed security issues and signed joint statements on cooperation to fight drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime. Uzbek Defense Minister Kadyr Gulomov and Turkish General Staff officer Lieutenant-General Unal Onsipahioglu also signed a defense cooperation agreement. Karimov expressed appreciation for Turkey's stated willingness to provide Uzbekistan with military technology, Interfax reported. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SERBIA TO HAVE A GOVERNMENT...In Belgrade on 16 October, representatives of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) reached agreement with officials of former President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) on the composition of a transitional government for Serbia until the 23 December elections. According to the agreement, the SPS will name the prime minister, but the DOS and Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) will each select a deputy prime minister. Decisions will be reached by consensus between the three. The key justice, interior, finance, and information ministries will function on the same principle, as will a special commission for state television, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Of the remaining ministries, the SPS will hold 11, the DOS five, and the SPO five. Parliament will conclude preparations for the elections by 23 October. The SPO was marginalized in the 24 September elections and is unlikely to do any better in December. But it is nonetheless well represented in the outgoing Serbian parliament. PM
 ...BUT NOT YUGOSLAVIA?Talks between the DOS and Montenegro's Socialist People's Party (SNP) broke down in Belgrade on 16 October after the SNP insisted that at least one SPS member be included in the federal government. The SNP was a close ally of Milosevic but has indicated in recent weeks that it is ready to do a deal with the DOS. The Montenegrin government, which includes bitter rivals of the SNP, refuses to recognize any federal government in which the SNP takes part (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2000). Late on 16 October, DOS leader Zoran Djindjic arrived in Montenegro for talks with government officials. Kostunica arrived in Montenegro the following day. Elsewhere, Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic told "Pobjeda" that Montenegro will "continue on the road of independent statehood" if it cannot reach an agreement with Serbia. PM
 SERBIAN CROWN PRINCE GREETS MINERSAleksandar Karadjordjevic told some 1,000 miners at the Kolubara complex on 16 October: "I admire you, the whole world admires you. You were the driving force that brought changes to this country," "Vesti" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2000). He also told Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle that "my heart is in Serbia." Responding to calls by well- wishers for him to stay, Aleksandar replied that his goal is to eventually remain in Serbia. He stressed that his place "is with the people and not in politics," adding that he continues to study "the Serbian language" on a daily basis. Aleksandar was born during World War II in a London hotel that Prime Minister Winston Churchill's government declared Yugoslav territory for that day so that Aleksandar would not lose his claim to the throne. He was raised and educated in England and has spent most of his life as a businessman in the U.K. and U.S. He has repeatedly said that he is willing to accept the crown if the Serbian people want him to. PM
 MILOSEVIC'S GENERAL PLEDGES LOYALTY TO NEW YUGOSLAV PRESIDENTChief of the General Staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic said in Belgrade on 16 October that "the election of the president, Mr. Kostunica, resolved the issue of supreme command over the army, which is of utmost importance for the military," AP reported. Pavkovic, who has never made a secret of his political loyalties to Milosevic, added, however: "No one in the Yugoslav army is against personnel changes, but they have to be carried out in accordance with the existing procedures, not arbitrarily. The only condition for someone to get to a certain position must be his expertise, not his political opinion." The DOS is firmly committed to depoliticizing the military as well as the police and the courts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 2000). PM
 EU MONEY FOR YUGOSLAVIALeaders of EU member states promised Kostunica at Biarritz, France, that they will provide some $175 million to Belgrade before the end of the year, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 16 October. PM
 SERBIA'S MILOSEVIC TO GO TO JAIL FOR FRAUD?DOS leader Zarko Korac said that Milosevic is likely to be tried in Serbia for fraud. He told a Croatian weekly that "the indictment will include [Milosevic's repeated] electoral fraud, and it is a great irony. The man who has done all this will go to jail because of rigging elections, because of ordering the police to fire on protesters... That is how the career of a dictator will end up--not as a huge crime but as simple fraud... Maybe there is some historic justice in Milosevic going to jail for fraud," Reuters reported from Zagreb on 17 October. PM
 SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT HAILS ELECTION RESULTSMilan Kucan told Ljubljana Radio 24-UR on 16 November that the previous day's parliamentary elections show that the country is not polarized into left and right camps (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2000). He added that young voters also reject any division into "old" and "new" political parties. By this he presumably meant that they do not reject former communist officials or parties that emerged from the communist era. "Dnevnik" reported that the majority of the voters favored left or center- left parties, which would have won a clear majority of seats in the legislature if Slovenia did not have a system of proportional representation. PM
 CROATIAN PRESIDENT REBUKES HERZEGOVINIANSStipe Mesic told Herzegovinian Croat leader Ante Jelavic that the Croats of Bosnia-Herzegovina should seek to solve their problems within that republic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Jelavic had sought Zagreb's help in changing Bosnia's election laws. PM
 CROATIA BLOCKS GERMAN TELECOM MONOPOLYThe state privatization commission has ruled against selling a 21 percent stake in Croatian Telecom to Deutsche Telekom, "Jutarnji list" reported on 17 October. The German giant already owns about a 35 percent interest in the Croatian firm. PM
 OSCE CRITICIZES ALBANIAN RUN-OFF VOTEThe OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said in a statement in Tirana on 16 October that the campaign in the previous day's runoff local elections was marred by "nationalistic rhetoric" in the southern Himara region, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2000). The statement said that "while the first round...marked significant progress towards meeting the standards for democratic elections, the second round on 15 October was less transparent and inclusive." ODIHR election monitoring mission head Eugenio Polizzi added, however, that any irregularities were not sufficient to influence the overall outcome. He nonetheless called on the Albanian authorities to investigate the irregularities fully. PM
 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION OF ROMANIA STILL FACING PROBLEMS...National Peasant Party Christian Democratic Chairman Ion Diaconescu on 16 October said the newly-formed Democratic Convention of Romania 2000 (CDR 2000) will likely run in the parliamentary elections as an "electoral alliance" rather than as a "political alliance," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Diaconescu explained that the former is a "short-term" while the latter a "long-term" alliance. He said the decision stems from the fact that the CDR 2000 might have missed the deadline for registration by the Bucharest Tribunal (its registration has recently been contested by the extraparliamentary Generation 2000 Party). Electoral alliances do not need to be registered at the tribunal but are regarded as valid only for election purposes. On the same day, Union of Democratic Forces co-chairman Adrian Iorgulescu said that after the elections each CDR 2000 alliance member will "return to autarchy." MS
 ...AND PREMIER ISARESCU MIGHT START FACING THEMPrime Minister Mugur Isarescu on 16 October admitted that the IMF may delay releasing the next $112 million tranche of the current $540 million standby loan because the government has not fulfilled the condition agreed with the fund to cut debts between state-owned companies and to keep wages under control. Isarescu said that he "cannot in good conscience" claim that his cabinet will be able to fulfill that condition "with elections due to be held in the fall." Observes say failure to get the tranche may affect Isarescu's chances in the presidential elections. One of his competitors, National Liberal Party candidate Theodor Stolojan, on 16 October said the recovery of Romanian economy is prevented by rampant corruption and that budget funds that could be used for financing education and health care are wasted on the debts owned by state-owned companies. MS
 LUCINSCHI OPPOSES DISMISSING MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENTPresidential spokesman Anatol Golea said on 16 October that President Petru Lucinschi is opposed to dismissing the cabinet headed by Dumitru Braghis following the recent dispute between the government and the legislature over the privatization of the tobacco and wine industries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2000). Lucinschi urged lawmakers to agree to the privatization which, he said, is particularly important ahead of the planned visit to Chisinau by the IMF delegation. Golea said that Lucinschi "is not ruling out" early parliamentary elections and that although he opposes some of its provisions, the president will promulgate the law on the election of the head of state, because Lucinschi "always acts within the strict provisions of the law," Infotag reported. MS
 BULGARIAN LEADERS REPEAT CALL FOR MILOSEVIC EXTRADITIONBulgaria's leaders on 16 October called for Yugoslavia's inclusion in the Balkan Stability Pact but urged Belgrade again to comply with all UN Security Council resolutions, AP reported. President Petar Stoyanov and Prime Minister Ivan Kostov addressed a meeting of some 1,200 businessmen in Sofia that discussed investment projects in Southeastern Europe. Balkan Stability Pact Coordinator Bodo Hombach told the forum that the Yugoslav blockage of navigation on the Danube River will be lifted "as of today" and cited President Vojislav Kostunica, with whom he had met earlier (see above). MS
 FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN BULGARIA GROWINGForeign investment in Bulgaria since 1992 has reached $3.5 billion, of which $800 million is in 2000 alone. Foreign Investment Agency Director Georgi Tabakov said on 13 October that investment since 1997 has totaled $2.9 billion. The largest investor in 2000 are Italian companies, followed by Greece, Germany, and Belgium, though German companies head the list of investors for the 1992-2000 period, ahead of Belgian, Italian, and Greek companies, BTA reported. MS
[C] END NOTE
 NEW MOVES ON AN OLD CHESSBOARDBy Paul Goble
Tashkent's new willingness to recognize the Taliban as the Afghan government challenges Russian efforts to recoup influence in Central Asia as well as some widely held assumptions about the sources of Islamic fundamentalism there and elsewhere.
But because it does both of these things simultaneously, this latest Uzbek shift appears likely to rearrange many of the pieces on the chessboard of Central Asian geopolitics, calling old arrangements into question, opening the possibility for new ones, and possibly undermining his own position.
Speaking in Tashkent on 12 October, Uzbek President Islam Karimov said that he is ready to recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan. "It doesn't matter whether we like that government or not," he added. "The main criterion is whether the people of Afghanistan trust it."
If Uzbekistan eventually does take that step, Tashkent would become the fourth government around the world to do so, thereby reducing the isolation of a regime which controls 95 percent of Afghanistan's territory but which many believe sponsors terrorism.
But Karimov's remarks, a complete reversal of his position up to now, do not appear to be addressed primarily to the Taliban--although his foreign minister has acknowledged that Tashkent has had informal conversation with Taliban representatives.
Instead, Karimov's about-face appears directed in the first instance at Moscow and those Central Asian countries which are following its lead and also at Western governments which up to now have been his biggest supporters.
By announcing his willingness to recognize the Taliban, Karimov effectively rejects Moscow's entire effort to regain influence in Central Asia by positing an external fundamentalist threat to these countries that they can meet only with Russian aid.
The most recent of these Russian attempts came earlier last week when Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan as well as those of Armenia and Belarus to discuss a common response to Islamist threats.
The tenor of that Bishkek meeting was reflected in the comments of a Kyrgyz security official who argued that threats to the stability of the Central Asian countries are "external" rather than "domestic" and that they come "from Afghanistan."
And this same official added that the Russian Federation is "the core and the nucleus of regional security, around which other countries are consolidating" because they see Russian forces along the Tajik-Afghan border as an important deterrent.
Karimov not surprisingly stayed away from the Bishkek meeting, but his subsequent statement makes it clear that he rejects both Russia's diagnosis of the problems Central Asia faces and Russia's prescription as to how to deal with them.
Indeed, by adopting this new position on the Taliban, Karimov is challenging more than just Moscow's efforts. He is calling into question the view that Islamic fundamentalism is something that can be exported from one country to another.
That would put him at odds not only with Russia and his Central Asian neighbors but also with many Western governments on whom Karimov has relied to pursue his independent course. Almost all of them remain convinced that fundamentalism is an exportable phenomenon.
Moreover, some Western governments are likely to be especially concerned by the timing of his words. They came just as some suggested a link between the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and Osama bin Laden, to whom the Taliban gave refuge.
And Karimov's shift could also have some important domestic ramifications if either his regime or its opponents should conclude that Tashkent's harsh approach to Islam is breeding the very Islamic fundamentalism for which the Taliban had been blamed.
In either case, that could lead to new challenges and changes in Uzbekistan and as a result of these to changes in its relationship with its neighbors, with Russia and with the West.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty