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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 22, 01-02-01

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. 5, No. 22, 1 February 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] PROSECUTOR DEMANDS 15-YEAR SENTENCE FOR FORMER KARABAKH DEFENSE MINISTER
  • [02] SENIOR AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL SLAMS WAR INVALIDS' DEMANDS
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT NAMES NEW BAKU MAYOR
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS PROTEST INCREASED VAT ON NEWSPRINT
  • [05] IRAN SENDS HUMANITARIAN AID TO AZERBAIJAN
  • [06] UN SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS GEORGIAN OBSERVER MISSION'S MANDATE...
  • [07] ...AS RUSSIA DOES LIKEWISE FOR PEACEKEEPING FORCE
  • [08] GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, JEWISH COMMUNITY SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT
  • [09] KAZAKH PRESIDENT CREATES NATIONAL FUND
  • [10] PRIVATE TV CHANNELS SUSPEND BROADCASTS TO PROTEST DRAFT KAZAKH MEDIA LAW
  • [11] ONE KAZAKH OPPOSITION POLITICIAN STEPS DOWN...
  • [12] ...AS ANOTHER IS STABBED
  • [13] JAILED KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER'S FAMILY TO SEEK POLITICAL ASYLUM ABROAD...
  • [14] ...AS HIS PARTY OUTLINES FUTURE PLANS
  • [15] TAJIK PRESIDENT, UN ENVOY DISCUSS AFGHAN FUGITIVES
  • [16] MORE ISLAMISTS DETAINED IN TAJIKISTAN
  • [17] TAJIK ALUMINUM OUTPUT UP 30 PERCENT

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [18] UN DISMISSES URANIUM THREAT IN KOSOVA
  • [19] YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT PORTRAYS SERBIA AS VICTIM
  • [20] DOZENS INJURED IN KOSOVSKA MITROVICA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [21] There is no end note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] PROSECUTOR DEMANDS 15-YEAR SENTENCE FOR FORMER KARABAKH DEFENSE MINISTER

    Prosecutor Vartan Avagian on 31 January called on the Supreme Court of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to hand down a 15-year prison sentence on the enclave's former Defense Minister, Samvel Babayan, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. He also said that Babayan's property should be confiscated, and that he should be barred from holding any senior government position for five years after his release. The prosecution argues that Babayan master-minded the attempt last March to assassinate Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasian with the aim of seizing power. Babayan has denied any involvement in that attack (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 December 2000). LF

    [02] SENIOR AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL SLAMS WAR INVALIDS' DEMANDS

    Presidential administration head Ramiz Mekhtiev told Turan on 31 January that the Azerbaijani leadership considers the hunger-striking Karabakh war invalids' demands for increased benefits "illegal," "groundless" and "politically motivated" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 31 January 2001). He said that the government already provides them with the maximum financial assistance possible given the size of the state budget, adding that "It is inadmissible to put in groundless claims on behalf of invalids, demonstrate disrespect for the laws, and use the language of ultimatums and pressure in conversation with state institutions." Police in Baku on 1 February again surrounded the building where the headquarters of the society representing the invalids is located, Turan reported. Police have also expelled hunger- striking invalids from premises in Khachmas, Guba and Hadjigabul. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT NAMES NEW BAKU MAYOR

    President Heidar Aliev appointed Hajibala Abutalibov as mayor of Baku on 30 January, Turan reported the following day. Abutalibov had served as mayor of Surakhany from 1994-1999, when he was named a deputy prime minister. He succeeds Rafael Allakhverdiev, a long-time ally of President Aliev who submitted his resignation and split with the present leadership last fall (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 40, 13 October 2000 and No. 42, 27 October 2000). Allakhverdiev had identified Abutalibov as his probable successor. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS PROTEST INCREASED VAT ON NEWSPRINT

    A group of Azerbaijani journalists picketed the State Customs Committee on 31 January to protest the recent 100 percent increase in VAT on imported newsprint, Turan reported. They accused the Azerbaijani authorities of trying to bankrupt independent newspapers and said they will conduct further protest actions unless the increase is rescinded. Turan reported on 1 February that the Azerbaijani Commodity Exchange has announced as auction of newsprint to be held the following day, for which the initial bid is fixed at 3 million manats ($627) per ton, plus a currency exchange duty of 1 percent. The registration fee for participation in the auction is 30,000 manats. LF

    [05] IRAN SENDS HUMANITARIAN AID TO AZERBAIJAN

    A consignment from Iran's Imam Khomeini Charity Fund that includes 60 tons of rice, 20 tons of dates, and cooking oil arrived in Baku on 31 January, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported the next day. The foodstuffs are to be distributed among needy families by the Fund. According to Bahram Kazemzadeh, who heads the Fund's Baku office, his branch supports more than 10,000 families. Ahmad Qazi, Tehran's Ambassador to Baku, said that provision of such a donation is in line with the goals of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of Iran's Islamic Revolution. AWS

    [06] UN SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS GEORGIAN OBSERVER MISSION'S MANDATE...

    The UN Security Council voted unanimously on 31 January to prolong for a further six months the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), RFE/RL's UN correspondent reported. Noting that "the situation in the conflict zone remains very volatile," the Council adopted a resolution calling on Georgia and particularly Abkhazia to embark on immediate talks aimed at reaching a political settlement of the conflict that would define Abkhazia's status within Georgia. Georgian Ambassador to the UN Petre Chkheidze objected to a provision of that resolution that called on Georgia to sign a draft agreement on peace and the non-resumption of hostilities that has been under discussion for over two years, terming it "unacceptable" and "dubious in several respects." He said insistence on signing that agreement could jeopardize Abkhaz-Georgian talks on confidence- building to be held in Yalta in March. LF

    [07] ...AS RUSSIA DOES LIKEWISE FOR PEACEKEEPING FORCE

    Also on 31 January, the Federation Council complied with a request from Russian President Vladimir Putin and voted by 116 to three to extend for a further six months the mandate of the 3,000-strong Russian peacekeeping force deployed under the CIS aegis along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, Russian agencies reported. LF

    [08] GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, JEWISH COMMUNITY SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT

    Representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church and Georgia's Jewish community signed an agreement on 31 January at the Georgian parliament pledging mutual respect and support, Caucasus Press reported. The two denominations also vowed to cooperate in furthering democratization and peace and stability in Georgia and the entire South Caucasus. The Georgian Orthodox Church has signed similar agreements with the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Catholic Church in Georgia and the All-Caucasus Muslim Religious Board. LF

    [09] KAZAKH PRESIDENT CREATES NATIONAL FUND

    Nursultan Nazarbaev has used the $660 million that Kazakhstan received from the sale last year to Chevron Overseas of a further 5 percent stake in the Tengizchevroil joint venture to create a national fund, Reuters and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 31 January. The fund is intended to offset losses to the national budget resulting from fluctuations in the world market prices for raw materials. Nazarbaev will head the governing board of that fund, of which the prime minister and national bank governor will be ex officio members. LF

    [10] PRIVATE TV CHANNELS SUSPEND BROADCASTS TO PROTEST DRAFT KAZAKH MEDIA LAW

    Private television stations in Qaraghandy, Aqtobe, Shymkent, Oskemen, Ekibastuz and Temirtau suspended broadcasts for one day to register their objections to the draft media law currently under discussion in the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 31 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January 2001). Further discussion of that draft was scheduled for 31 January but has been postponed. LF

    [11] ONE KAZAKH OPPOSITION POLITICIAN STEPS DOWN...

    Gaziz Aldamzharov announced his resignation as deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan on 29 January, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported on 31 January. Aldamzharov told RFE/RL he had done for the sake of his family and friends. He explained that his eldest son has been unemployed for three years and his youngest son for two years, and that both his wife and brother have repeatedly been unable to find work. Friends of his in Aqtau and Atyrau have also been sacked from their jobs because of their connections with him. The Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan is headed by former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, who currently lives in the U.S. LF

    [12] ...AS ANOTHER IS STABBED

    Azamat Party Deputy Chairman Platon Pak was hospitalized in Almaty late on 30 January after unknown persons broke into his apartment and stabbed him, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. LF

    [13] JAILED KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER'S FAMILY TO SEEK POLITICAL ASYLUM ABROAD...

    Marsel Kulov, the younger brother of jailed former Vice President Feliks Kulov, told journalists in Bishkek on 31 January that he and his other three siblings, together with their families, want to leave Kyrgyzstan for either Germany, the U.S. or Australia to escape political persecution, Reuters and RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The total number of family members involved is over 100. A former police colonel, Marsel Kulov was constrained to resign from the Interior Ministry last year. LF

    [14] ...AS HIS PARTY OUTLINES FUTURE PLANS

    Emil Aliev, a leading member of Feliks Kulov's opposition Ar-Namys Party. told journalists in Bishkek on 31 January that the party is continuing with preparations to participate in a round-table discussion proposed by President Askar Akaev, which government, opposition and NGO representatives will also attend, Interfax reported. Aliev said Ar-Namys has a total membership of 10,000, and will not yield to harassment and pressure from the Kyrgyz authorities to abandon its activities. LF

    [15] TAJIK PRESIDENT, UN ENVOY DISCUSS AFGHAN FUGITIVES

    Imomali Rakhmonov met in Dushanbe on 31 January with UN Representative Francesc Vendrell to discuss the plight of the estimated 10,000-12,000 displaced persons camped on the Afghan side of the Afghan-Tajik border. Vendrell admitted that those fugitives include many persons who are armed, but called on "the entire world community" to provide assistance to them, characterizing their plight as a "humanitarian catastrophe." It is not clear whether Vendrell tried to persuade Rakhmonov to allow the fugitives to enter Tajikistan as the UNHCR has requested. Tajikistan has said it cannot do so, first because some of the displaced persons are armed and second because doing so would destabilize the domestic political situation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 25 January 2001). The Russian government on 31 January dispatched some 200 tons of humanitarian aid for the Afghan fugitives, ITAR-TASS reported. Rakhmonov again argued that there can be no military solution to the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan and called on the UN Security Council to intensify mediation efforts by the "Six-Plus-Two" group of countries. LF

    [16] MORE ISLAMISTS DETAINED IN TAJIKISTAN

    Police in Dushanbe arrested 11 members of the banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir party on 30 January, Reuters and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. They had reportedly been engaged in spreading banned Islamic propaganda over the past two years. Eight members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir were sentenced to various prison terms on 14 January and two more were arrested in Dushanbe on 24 January. LF

    [17] TAJIK ALUMINUM OUTPUT UP 30 PERCENT

    Tajikistan's Aluminum Plant produced 300,000 tons of that metal in 2000, an increase of 30 percent over the previous year, the plant's director, Abduqodir Ermatov, told Asia Plus on 31 January. He added that it is planned to increase annual production to 430,000 tons by 2005. Aluminum accounts for some 55 percent of the country's exports. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [18] UN DISMISSES URANIUM THREAT IN KOSOVA

    A four-member UN scientific team has concluded that there is no proven link between weapons containing depleted uranium and cancer in Kosova, AP reported from Prishtina on 31 January (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 January 2001). The WHO team stressed that the main dangers to health in the province are from lead and other forms of industrial pollution, as well as traffic-related accidents. German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping recently told the weekly "Focus" that "those who were against the Kosovo war are talking about risks [from depleted uranium] which do not exist at all, and overlooking real risks such as from burned refineries. The goal [of the campaign] is to subsequently destroy the legitimacy of the war. But no one will forget about the thousand-fold murders and mass deportations that we, along with NATO, stopped." PM

    [19] YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT PORTRAYS SERBIA AS VICTIM

    Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, who represents the EU Council of Ministers during the Swedish presidency, told visiting Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica in Stockholm on 31 January that former President Slobodan Milosevic must be sent to The Hague. Kostunica was non-committal in his reply, adding that Milosevic is "under a kind of voluntary house arrest." Kostunica stressed that "a much more important question to my mind is the survival of our country. Montenegro and terrorism in southern Serbia are dangerous issues," dpa reported. He repeated his familiar message that Serbia has been a victim of sanctions, NATO air strikes, and depleted uranium, and that donor countries should keep this in mind when considering aid programs, Reuters reported. The Milosevic regime also sought to portray Serbia as a victim and thereby absolve itself of the lion's share of responsibility for destroying former Yugoslavia and starting four wars. The new leadership is seeking to cultivate Western feelings of guilt in order to speed Belgrade's reintegration into the international community and to obtain a reversal of the Kumanovo agreements. PM

    [20] DOZENS INJURED IN KOSOVSKA MITROVICA

    French-led peacekeepers clashed on 31 January with a crowd of some 1,000 ethnic Albanians in the divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January 2001). Some members of the crowd hurled Molotov cocktails, stones, and at least one grenade at the troops, injuring at least 20. KFOR soldiers used tear gas and percussion grenades to disperse the Albanians, at least 40 of whom were injured in a melee that lasted most of the afternoon. KFOR commander General Carlo Cabigiosu said that he will not tolerate casualties among his troops. He called on the local communities to admit their respective shares of responsibility for the violence. He appealed to local Serbian leaders to express regrets for the death of an Albanian teenager that triggered angry protests by local Albanians. Hans Haekkerup, who heads the UN civilian administration, said that "it is unacceptable that the frustration and anger at ethnic killings is directed at the international community. The precondition to taking any concrete steps.. force. PB

    [C] END NOTE

    [21] There is no end note today.

    01-02-01

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


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