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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 98, 01-05-23

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. 98, 23 May 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS SET CONDITIONS FOR NEW KARABAKH PEACE TALKS
  • [02] APPEAL COURT REDUCES AZERBAIJANI EX-MINISTERS' SENTENCES
  • [03] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SETS CONDITIONS FOR APPROVING PRESIDENT'S PROPOSED CABINET MODEL
  • [04] GEORGIAN OFFICIALS REJECT BASAEV VIDEO CLAIMS
  • [05] ABKHAZ PRESIDENT SAYS CIS PEACEKEEPERS MUST NOT BE WITHDRAWN
  • [06] GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES KAZAKHSTAN TO SPEED UP REFORM
  • [07] COURT REJECTS KAZAKH JOURNALIST'S APPEAL
  • [08] KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER DEFENDS DELIMITATION OF KYRGYZ-CHINESE BORDER
  • [09] TAJIK PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR MORE DROUGHT RELIEF
  • [10] TURKMEN PRESIDENT WEARY OF ADULATION

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] FIGHTING BETWEEN MACEDONIAN TROOPS AND REBELS RAGES ON
  • [12] RED CROSS SAYS 10,000 PEOPLE REMAIN IN VILLAGES
  • [13] MACEDONIAN OFFICIALS TO FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE
  • [14] KOSTUNICA: AGREEMENTS WITH BOSNIA 'SEEDS OF TOMORROW'S PROSPERITY'...
  • [15] ...AS BOSNIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR COOPERATION WITH THE HAGUE
  • [16] EU SECURITY CHIEF PRAISES DEMOBILIZATION BY ETHNIC ALBANIANS IN PRESEVO...
  • [17] ...AS SERBIAN OFFICIAL CLAIMS REBELS FIRED ON YUGOSLAV TROOPS
  • [18] SERBIAN GOVERNMENT VOWS TO CONTINUE FIGHT AGAINST CIGARETTE SMUGGLING
  • [19] MONTENEGRO'S RULING PARTY AGREES TO FORM MINORITY GOVERNMENT
  • [20] CROATIAN GOVERNMENT SENDS ISTRIAN LANGUAGE LAW TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
  • [21] ROMANIAN OPPOSITION MOTION DEFEATED IN PARLIAMENT
  • [22] ROMANIA SEIZES BULGARIAN TANKER
  • [23] ROMANIAN SENATOR RESIGNS (AFTER ALL)
  • [24] SEVERIN ENDS MOLDOVAN VISIT
  • [25] VORONIN ENVISAGES 'UNILATERAL STEPS' VIS-A-VIS TIRASPOL
  • [26] MOLDOVAN EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY PARTIES MERGE
  • [27] BULGARIAN PREMIER SAYS HE WILL CONTINUE REFORMS
  • [28] WORLD BANK WARNS BULGARIA TO MAINTAIN ECONOMIC REFORMS
  • [29] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION TO CONTINUE VERIFICATION OF POSSIBLE INFORMERS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [30] KUCHMA NOMINATES CANDIDATE FOR UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS SET CONDITIONS FOR NEW KARABAKH PEACE TALKS

    Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliev told journalists in Baku on 22 May that Azerbaijan will not attend a further round of Karabakh peace talks unless the U.S., Russian, and French co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group agree to unspecified demands, Trend news agency reported. Meeting the same day with a visiting EU parliamentary delegation, President Heidar Aliev said that it is up to Armenia to make the first compromise, as Armenia occupied Azerbaijani territory. He added that he will not sign a peace agreement that does not reflect Azerbaijan's demands, according to Turan. Parliament speaker Murtuz Alesqerov told deputies on 22 May that any peace agreement that leaves Nagorno-Karabakh outside Azerbaijan "is impossible, as all states recognize our country's territorial integrity." Commenting on the 20 May remark by Russian Minsk Group co-chairman Nikolai Gribkov that Nagorno-Karabakh "is a major factor" in the peace process, presidential administration official Novruz Mamedov said that the former Azerbaijani population of the disputed enclave "is also interested" in a solution to the conflict. LF

    [02] APPEAL COURT REDUCES AZERBAIJANI EX-MINISTERS' SENTENCES

    Following a three-month hearing, on 21 May Azerbaijan's Court of Appeals reduced the prison terms of five of 16 persons found guilty in November 2000 of embezzlement in 1992-1993 of oil products valued at $30 million, Turan reported on 22 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 21 November 2000). Those whose sentences were cut include former Foreign economic relations ministers Hafiz Babaev and Rauf Garaev (from five and seven years respectively to four years), and a department head in the same ministry (from seven to four years). All defendants still intend to appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court. LF

    [03] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SETS CONDITIONS FOR APPROVING PRESIDENT'S PROPOSED CABINET MODEL

    Parliament deputies on 22 May signed a statement acknowledging the need to reintroduce the institution of Cabinet of Ministers as proposed by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 19, 21 May 2001), but set down six conditions for approving the constitutional changes required for doing so, Caucasus Press reported. Those conditions are: drawing up new electoral lists; forming new electoral commissions at all levels on which political parties would be equally represented; taking measures to ensure that elections are free and transparent, and that they are held without interference from the government; the election, rather than the appointment by the president, of regional administrators; and clarification of the duties of local councils and of their budgets. Caucasus Press claimed that 101 deputies of the total 235 signed that statement -- 85 from the opposition, seven independent deputies and nine from the majority Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK) faction -- but SMK General-Secretary Eduard Surmanidze denied later the same day that any SMK deputies had done so. LF

    [04] GEORGIAN OFFICIALS REJECT BASAEV VIDEO CLAIMS

    Georgian presidential spokesman Kakha Imnadze on 22 May again denied that "several thousand" Chechen fighters are currently encamped in Georgia's Pankisi gorge, Russian agencies reported. The previous day, the office of Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii had released a video tape in which Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev appealed to his fellow commander Ruslan Gelaev and others to return to Chechnya from Georgia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May 2001). Imnadze cast doubt on the authenticity of the video tape, which he said may have been as intended as a "provocation." He said that if Russian authorities had reliable information that Chechen fighters were in Pankisi, they should have informed Tbilisi of their whereabouts. Meeting in Moscow the same day with Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo, Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze said Georgian police are verifying Basaev's statements, and that if they prove to be true they will take measures to apprehend him, after which he will be extradited to Russia, Interfax reported. The Georgian National Security Ministry has not yet made any public comment on the Basaev tape. LF

    [05] ABKHAZ PRESIDENT SAYS CIS PEACEKEEPERS MUST NOT BE WITHDRAWN

    The Russian peacekeepers deployed in the Abkhaz conflict zone since mid- 1994 are a guarantee of the nonresumption of hostilities and create conditions for negotiations between Sukhum and Tbilisi on resolving the Abkhaz conflict, President Vladislav Ardzinba told Interfax on 22 May. He said that although the peacekeepers are deployed under the CIS aegis, "it is Russia that plays the stabilizing role in the region, and therefore there is no need for the internationalization of the CIS peacekeeping force." Tbilisi would prefer a UN peacekeeping force, for which Ukraine has said it would be willing to provide troops. Ardzinba added that the Russian military base in Gudauta is essential to the peacekeeping mission and should be maintained. Russia is scheduled to withdraw the last of its forces from that base by 1 July, and Tbilisi has said it will allow the CIS peacekeepers to use that facility only if Moscow lifts the visa requirement currently in force for Georgian citizens wishing to enter the Russian Federation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 2001). LF

    [06] GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES KAZAKHSTAN TO SPEED UP REFORM

    Joschka Fischer held talks in Astana on 22 May with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev, and other senior ministers. He told journalists after those meetings that "we discussed the link between democracy and the creation of a state governed by the rule of law," Reuters reported. During discussions with Economy Minister Zhaksybek Kulekeev of potential investment opportunities, Fischer similarly noted that developing the economy depends on greater transparency, which is impossible without a clear division of powers. Fischer also said that the two countries have "no difficulties" in the political area, and he noted that bilateral trade turnover exceeds $1 billion. Fischer also met with representatives of opposition parties and NGOs, and of Kazakhstan's estimated 300,000-strong ethnic German population. LF

    [07] COURT REJECTS KAZAKH JOURNALIST'S APPEAL

    The Almaty City Court on 22 May rejected an appeal by Ermurat Bapi, editor in chief of the opposition newspaper "SolDat," against the one-year prison sentence handed down to him last month by an Almaty district court on charges on insulting the honor and dignity of President Nazarbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 March and 13 April 2001). Bapi told RFE/RL that the case against him was politically motivated and that he will appeal to the Supreme Court. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER DEFENDS DELIMITATION OF KYRGYZ-CHINESE BORDER

    In an article published in the official newspaper "Slovo Kyrgyzstana" on 22 May, Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev argued that the drawing of the official border between China and Kyrgyzstan was to the advantage of the latter, which retained the Pobeda and Khan-Tengry peaks. But he admits that Kyrgyzstan ceded some 30 percent of the disputed Bedel region. He did not mention the disputed Uzengi-Kuush district, 90,000 hectares of which Bishkek ceded to China under the terms of an agreement signed in 1999 by the Kyrgyz and Chinese presidents. The Kyrgyz parliament's committee on defense and security has scheduled hearings on 23 May the border issue and may move to impeach President Askar Akaev for violating the constitution by ceding the Uzengi-Kuush territory to China (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 May 2001). LF

    [09] TAJIK PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR MORE DROUGHT RELIEF

    Imomali Rakhmonov has addressed an appeal to the leaders of the U.S., Canada, Germany, and to the EU for food aid to compensate for the loss of half the country's wheat and bean crops as a result of severe drought over the past three months, presidential press secretary Zafar Saidov told Interfax on 22 May. Saidov said that this year's harvest of grain and cereals is likely to equal only 50 percent of last year's level. Tajikistan was similarly affected by a severe drought last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 28 July, 4 and 30 August 2000). LF

    [10] TURKMEN PRESIDENT WEARY OF ADULATION

    Addressing the World Humanitarian Turkmen Association in Ashgabat on 22 May, President Saparmurat Niyazov professed to be irritated by the cult of personality of which he has been the focus in recent years, AP and Interfax reported. Niyazov specifically denied that he is "a prophet." LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] FIGHTING BETWEEN MACEDONIAN TROOPS AND REBELS RAGES ON

    The Macedonian army intensified its fight against ethnic Albanian rebels on two fronts on 22 May, AP and Reuters reported. Macedonian troops resumed shelling of the insurgent strongholds of Slupcane and Vaksince late in the day, while huge explosions were reported on the hills above Macedonia's second city of Tetovo the next morning. Officials said eight policemen were injured on 22 May when the vehicles they were in on the Tetovo-Popova Sapka road were hit with mortar fire. Six of those injured are still in hospital. Defense Ministry spokesman Georgi Trendafilov said the military was responding to sniper and mortar fire from the rebels in several villages in the northeastern Kumanovo area. Meanwhile, the rebels released a 21-year- old Macedonian soldier they captured on 3 May. The rebels are still holding two civilians whom the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is trying to get released. PB

    [12] RED CROSS SAYS 10,000 PEOPLE REMAIN IN VILLAGES

    Francois Steamm, the head of the ICRC in Skopje, said the organization estimates that there are roughly 10,000 ethnic Albanians living in the villages that are being targeted by the Macedonian army, Reuters reported. Steamm said the people remain there -- despite calls for them to leave for their own safety -- for several reasons. He said "we cannot exclude [that] there is some pressure by the armed men, also some others are staying in solidarity, and a certain number are not leaving because they do not feel like encountering the Macedonian army." Steamm added that "there's every reason for concern over the state of refugees in these villages." He said living in a cellar for a long period of time takes a "physical and psychological" toll. PB

    [13] MACEDONIAN OFFICIALS TO FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE

    Macedonia's Security Council met late on 22 May to review the crisis and decided that talking to the ethnic Albanian insurgents is not an option, AP reported. Defense Minister Ljuben Boskovski said "we cannot respond with flowers against bullets. We have enough power to combat this terrorism drama." Army spokesman Blagoja Markovski said that a major rebel position that included an ammunition depot and 15 dug-in rebels was "destroyed" on 21 May. PB

    [14] KOSTUNICA: AGREEMENTS WITH BOSNIA 'SEEDS OF TOMORROW'S PROSPERITY'...

    Paying its first visit to Yugoslavia since the end of the war in 1995, Bosnia's three-member presidency met with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and signed agreements on establishing a bilateral council to improve relations, AP and Reuters reported on 22 May. "Our meeting and this agreement today...are the seeds of tomorrow's prosperity," Kostunica said. "Good political relations are not enough if they lack a sound economic basis." The Bosnian presidency's current head, Serbian member Zivko Radisic, said that "today we are turning a new page in the history of our nations for the benefit of our peoples...and for our joint contribution to the stabilization of the region." He added that several other agreements were envisaged, covering such areas as dual citizenship, double taxation, and transport links. DW

    [15] ...AS BOSNIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR COOPERATION WITH THE HAGUE

    As other Bosnian and Yugoslav officials smiled and drank champagne, Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija reminded the gathering that their countries still face large problems, AP reported. He also called for cooperation with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague as the ultimate authority for war crimes. "We desperately need The Hague court," Lagumdzija said. "As nations, we were simply not strong enough to deal with the matter of war criminals." Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said a law on cooperation with the tribunal is being prepared. DW

    [16] EU SECURITY CHIEF PRAISES DEMOBILIZATION BY ETHNIC ALBANIANS IN PRESEVO...

    Javier Solana said on 22 May in Brussels that he welcomes the decision by ethnic Albanian militants in the Presevo valley area to demobilize and disband (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May 2001), AP reported. Solana said in a statement that the move is "an important step toward a lasting and peaceful solution to the crisis." He added that "the time for using force for political means in the Balkans is over, the time for constructive dialogue and interethnic understanding has begun." Solana also called on Belgrade to engage in talks with ethnic Albanian leaders "to build confidence and to restore the rights of the Albanian population of southern Serbia." Meanwhile, Presevo Mayor Riza Halimi dismissed on the same day the possibility of former rebel commanders creating extremist political parties. Halimi is also the leader of the local branch of the Party for Democratic Action. PB

    [17] ...AS SERBIAN OFFICIAL CLAIMS REBELS FIRED ON YUGOSLAV TROOPS

    Ljubomir Podunavac, a government spokesman in the southern Serbian town of Bujanovac, said on 23 May that ethnic Albanian rebels opened fire on Serbian security forces on several occasions the previous night, AP reported. Podunavac said there were no injuries but that the gunfire was "most intense in the evening hours." Rebel commanders said they will adhere to the demobilization agreement. One leader, Commander Shpetim, said "we respect demilitarization...[but if] Belgrade continues with the policies of [former President Slobodan] Milosevic, we will organize ourselves again to defend our people." PB

    [18] SERBIAN GOVERNMENT VOWS TO CONTINUE FIGHT AGAINST CIGARETTE SMUGGLING

    Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic said on 22 May that his cabinet will not be deterred in its fight against organized crime despite the beating of a government official the previous day, Reuters reported. Djindjic said "the gauntlet has been thrown down, but we will not be swayed in our determination to dig out the last quagmire in Serbia -- cigarette smuggling." The premier was speaking after Deputy Trade Minister Hasan Berberovic was attacked and kicked in the head by two men as he left his apartment on 21 May. Serbian officials launched a crackdown on cigarette smuggling last week, when more than 600 inspectors and 1,000 financial police seized 22,000 boxes of foreign-made cigarettes while closing down 234 kiosks and shops in Belgrade. Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic said the government is currently only collecting half of an estimated 1 billion dinars ($15 million) in duties on cigarettes each month. PB

    [19] MONTENEGRO'S RULING PARTY AGREES TO FORM MINORITY GOVERNMENT

    Montenegrin Premier Filip Vujanovic said on 22 May that the ruling Social Democratic Party (DPS) of President Milo Djukanovic has agreed to accept the parliamentary support of the Liberal Alliance and will form a minority government, Montenegrin radio reported. Vujanovic said the DPS "regrets that the Liberal Alliance did not want to" form a coalition government with it. He added that the DPS remains open to "coalition cooperation" with the Liberal Alliance. Predrag Bulatovic, the leader of the opposition Socialist People's Party, said on 22 May that "the author of the idea [to support the minority government] has made the worst move in the divided Montenegro, by giving Djukanovic, who won 42 percent of the votes, absolute power... I think that, even if such a government becomes reality, it cannot last for long," the independent BK TV in Belgrade reported. PB

    [20] CROATIAN GOVERNMENT SENDS ISTRIAN LANGUAGE LAW TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

    The Croatian government has asked the Constitutional Court to examine the Istrian county assembly's attempt to make Italian the county's second official language, Reuters reported on 22 May. The Justice Ministry had already suspended the decision (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 2001), and the decision was criticized by the ruling coalition as a unilateral politically motivated act that could raise ethnic tensions elsewhere in the country. Istria was part of Italy from 1918 to 1945, when many ethnic Italian residents of Istria and Dalmatia left or were expelled after World War II. DW

    [21] ROMANIAN OPPOSITION MOTION DEFEATED IN PARLIAMENT

    The Chamber of Deputies on 23 May rejected a motion criticizing the government's economic policies. The motion was backed by 52 deputies from the National Liberal Party and the Democratic Party. There were 157 votes against the motion and 56 deputies abstained, Mediafax reported. MS

    [22] ROMANIA SEIZES BULGARIAN TANKER

    A Bulgarian oil tanker that blew up earlier this month in the Black Sea port of Constanta was impounded on 22 May by the Romanian authorities, who said its owners have failed to pay a rescue operation bill of $900,000, Reuters reported. The tanker was seized by the coast guard after two Bulgarian tugboats tried to tow it away from the harbor. Two of the crew's 34 members died as a result of the 7 May explosion. MS

    [23] ROMANIAN SENATOR RESIGNS (AFTER ALL)

    Greater Romania Party (PRM) Senator Vasile Duta on 22 May announced he is, after all, resigning from the PRM, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Duta had first announced his resignation on 17 May, retracted it the next day, and now says his decision is final. Duta attributed his resignation to pressure from the Party of Democratic Forces -- which merged in 1999 with the PRM -- and from members of the PRM Standing Bureau who, he said, told him to leave. He said he considers PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor to be "a kind man" and "a cultured person." MS

    [24] SEVERIN ENDS MOLDOVAN VISIT

    OSCE Parliamentary Chairman Adrian Severin on 22 May met with President Vladimir Voronin and Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev at the end of his three- day visit to Moldova, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Severin praised the latest Moldovan initiatives to reach a settlement with the Transdniester separatists. He said that Russia will have to implement the decisions of the 1999 Istanbul OSCE summit and withdraw its troops from the Transdniester, and that the solution of the conflict must respect Moldova's territorial integrity. He added that Moldova will need the help of the OSCE even after a settlement is reached, because "it will be necessary to monitor the implementation of the process during a transition period," after which Moldova may "become a bridge linking Eastern to Western Europe." Severin said he hopes the three members of the "Ilascu Group" still being detained in Tiraspol will soon be released because "there is no longer any reason for their detention." MS

    [25] VORONIN ENVISAGES 'UNILATERAL STEPS' VIS-A-VIS TIRASPOL

    Voronin told journalists after meeting Severin that Chisinau proposed on 22 May to the joint Control Commission that five customs checkpoints in the demilitarized zone between the two conflicting sides be abolished in order to facilitate free travel "across the entire territory of the country," and that if Tiraspol rejects the proposal, Moldova will consider "unilaterally withdrawing our customs officials from those checkpoints." Meanwhile, separatist officials expressed satisfaction at the results of Severin's visit there, saying it demonstrated that the "international community" is aware that no solution can be reached without Tiraspol's agreement. The separatists' "foreign minister," Valerii Litskay, said he "salutes" the OSCE intention to co-sign agreements reached between Chisinau and Tiraspol, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS

    [26] MOLDOVAN EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY PARTIES MERGE

    Seven extraparliamentary political formations decided on 22 May to merge into a unified party calling itself the Moldovan Democratic Forum (FDM), RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The seven are the Party of Revival and Conciliation, the Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party, the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, the Party of Order and Social Justice, and the Party of Democratic Forces. They said the move was prompted by the post-electoral Communist "monopolization of power" and the danger it poses to Moldova's democratic system and transition to a market economy. The FDM said the two opposition parties represented in the legislature are too small to influence the ruling Communists and serve only as "a democratic background to [unilateral] communist rule." The FDM is to be chaired "by rotation" by its Coordinating Council members, in which each of the seven parties has one representative. MS

    [27] BULGARIAN PREMIER SAYS HE WILL CONTINUE REFORMS

    Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, in an interview on Bulgarian Television on 21 May, said he is confident his United Democratic Forces (ODS) will win the June elections and that he is determined to press ahead with the reforms, BTA reported. Kostov said he has "fulfilled the promise" to "save Bulgaria from the devastation" he found it in when he became premier in 1997. He said "a lot of challenges remain, and some of them may be even harder than past achievements." Earlier on 21 May, Kostov told journalists that the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), in which the ODS is the strongest formation, will form a coalition after the elections with only those forces that are ready to "support the policy that leads into European and Euro- Atlantic membership." Kostov said he does not see "many things is common" between the SDS and the National Movement Simeon II. MS

    [28] WORLD BANK WARNS BULGARIA TO MAINTAIN ECONOMIC REFORMS

    In a report published on 22 May, the World Bank said the "outcome of the upcoming [Bulgarian] elections is uncertain" and a "broader coalition government or a less reform-minded one could slow down the implementation of the most difficult reforms, breaking the growth momentum." AFP said the report is most likely alluding to an electoral victory by the National Movement Simeon II, whose economic program is unclear, according to experts who believe that program is largely populist and unfeasible. The bank's report said that if Bulgaria presses on over the next three years with the current economic program and achieves a forecast growth of 5 percent, the World Bank is planning to lend Sofia $750 million. But if the new government holds back on reforms and growth falls below that target, the funding will be cut to $230 million. MS

    [29] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION TO CONTINUE VERIFICATION OF POSSIBLE INFORMERS

    Metodi Andreev, chairman of the special parliamentary commission that examines possible links of politicians with the communist secret services, in an interview with RFE/RL on 21 May, said the records of as many as 5,600 candidates on parties' lists for the parliamentary elections will be examined. Andreev said the results will be announced within the statutory deadline, which is at least seven days before the 17 June elections. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [30] KUCHMA NOMINATES CANDIDATE FOR UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER

    By Askold Krushelnycky

    Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma nominated Anatoliy Kinakh, a parliamentarian who is the leader of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, as candidate for the job of prime minister on 22 May. The nomination has to be approved by a majority of the 450-strong parliament.

    Kuchma has been seeking a candidate for the prime minister's job since Viktor Yushchenko resigned from the job on 26 April after losing a vote of no-confidence in parliament. The vote was the result of an alliance of Communists -- the largest party in the parliament -- and parties loyal to the Ukrainian oligarchs.

    The Communists opposed Yushchenko's pro-Western and pro-market reforms, while many of the oligarchs were angered by Yushchenko's attempts to curb their business activities.

    Kinakh is not a very well known politician in Ukraine, although he served for a time as deputy prime minister in charge of the industry and fuel sector.

    Analyst Volodymyr Polokhalo, the editor of "Political Thought" magazine, told RFE/RL that Kuchma's overriding consideration in making the nomination was to select someone as prime minister who would be obedient and able to prepare for next year's general elections in order to secure a parliamentary majority for the president.

    "The president has to have almost absolute trust in a person who will, in the first place, obey all his orders, including informal agreements, and in the second place look after the interests of the oligarchs," Polokhalo said. "[The nomination is] in fact about creating the conditions for forging a parliament in 2002 which has a majority that will support the president and secure his political legacy and personal safety in the manner that was achieved in Russia for Boris Yeltsin."

    Polokhalo said that Kinakh had worked closely with Kuchma in the past, most notably when he threw the support of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs behind Kuchma during the presidential elections in 1999. The analyst also said that although Kinakh had relations with the oligarchs, he was not closely associated with them or any other political grouping.

    "Anatoliy Kinakh delivered [to] the president the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, which contributed greatly to Kuchma's victory in the presidential elections," Polokhalo said. "This Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs is extraordinarily influential in Ukraine. It unites the Red (Communist) directors and other industrial leaders who constitute a powerful economic and political force."

    Polokhalo says that the 49-year-old Kinakh is a person who occasionally uses the language of reform but has not been able to break away from his past as part of the old Soviet nomenklatura. He says Kinakh retains many of the psychological traits and habits of that old Soviet elite.

    Many politicians and analysts doubt whether Kinakh has enough backing to gain a majority in parliament during the vote expected next week to approve his nomination. Although the communists and oligarchs united to get rid of Yushchenko, they have shown little evidence that they are ready to vote for the same prime ministerial candidate. If parliament repeatedly rejects Kuchma's nomination, than the president can appoint Kinakh as acting prime minister.

    Parliament speaker Ivan Plyushch said on 21 May that it will be difficult for any presidential nominee for prime minister to win parliamentary approval.

    He said that Ukraine's parliamentarians were not prepared for the dismissal of Yushchenko: "Yushchenko has been sacked, and now they have realized that they are not ready to take logical steps in order to appoint a new prime minister and form a government."

    Like analyst Polokhalo, Plyushch said the parliamentary elections scheduled for the spring of 2002 are far more important issue for political parties than the need to form a full-fledged government. He thinks Kuchma will have to settle for an acting prime minister.

    Polokhalo said that the way the Communists vote on Kinakh's nomination will be crucial. Last week the Communists were adamant they would only vote for one of their own nominees.

    "I'd put his chances at 50-50," Polokhalo said, "if Anatoliy Kinakh has managed to strike a deal with the Communists -- and today they are an active political player, being the largest grouping in parliament -- while there is a split between the right-wing and oligarch groupings and an absence of any agreement among the most powerful political elites. Therefore, the Communist Party can now play an important role in whether Kinakh will be acing prime minister or prime minister."

    It still remains to see whether Kinakh will accept the less politically powerful role of acting prime minister if he fails to get a parliamentary majority next week.

    Askold Krushelnycky is an freelance correspondent based in Prague.

    23-05-01


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


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