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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 211, 01-11-06

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. 211, 6 November 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT POSTPONES PLANNED VISIT TO IRAN
  • [02] ARMENIA APPROVES INCREASE IN PENSIONS
  • [03] ARMENIAN ACADEMICIANS APPEAL FOR KARABAKH ARMY CHIEF'S RELEASE
  • [04] THREE AZERBAIJANI SERVICEMEN INJURED BY LAND MINE
  • [05] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION LEADER DEMANDS NEW KARABAKH PEACE PROPOSALS BE MADE PUBLIC
  • [06] THREE AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT
  • [07] MILITARY CORRUPTION WHISTLE-BLOWER SENTENCED IN AZERBAIJAN
  • [08] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW MEDIATOR FOR ABKHAZIA
  • [09] WORLD BANK, IMF HOPE FOR 'MORE EFFECTIVE' GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT
  • [10] SOUTH KOREAN TYCOON IMPLICATES KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT IN BRIBE TAKING
  • [11] KYRGYZ ENERGY SECTOR WORKERS STRIKE
  • [12] TAJIK DEFENSE OFFICIAL DENIES U.S. GIVEN PERMISSION TO USE AIRFIELDS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] NATIONALISTS TRYING TO HOLD UP MACEDONIAN REFORMS?
  • [14] SERBIAN LEADER HAILS 'RETURN TO KOSOVO'
  • [15] ETHNIC ALBANIAN KOSOVAR LEADER STRESSES INDEPENDENCE
  • [16] SERBIAN DELEGATION TO MEET BUSH
  • [17] SERBIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS INCONCLUSIVE
  • [18] YUGOSLAVIA ENDS DEATH PENALTY
  • [19] CROATIAN-YUGOSLAV TALKS IN POLAND
  • [20] CROATIA OPENS UP SECRET POLICE FILES
  • [21] PETRITSCH GIVES 'LAST WARNING' TO BOSNIAN SERBS
  • [22] ROMANIAN OFFICIAL CRITICIZES 'THE GUARDIAN' ARTICLE ON ROMA SITUATION
  • [23] BUCHAREST TRIBUNAL OVERTURNS VERDICT IN MUTLER VS. TOEKES CASE
  • [24] ROMANIAN SENATORS CRITICIZE PREMIER OVER PLEDGE TO REMOVE ANTONESCU STATUES
  • [25] RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER INKS BASIC TREATY IN CHISINAU
  • [26] ANDRONIC ELECTED DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF MOLDOVAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY
  • [27] TRANSDNIESTER CANDIDATE PROMISES 'NO SURRENDER TO MOLDOVA'
  • [28] BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TRADE CORRUPTION RECRIMINATIONS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [29] PRESIDENT PUTIN AND HIS CRITICS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT POSTPONES PLANNED VISIT TO IRAN

    President Robert Kocharian's state visit to Iran, which was scheduled to begin on 10 November, has been postponed until mid-December as Iranian President Mohammad Khatami will be in New York at that time, Noyan Tapan on 5 November quoted Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Dziunik Aghadjanian as telling the daily "Azg." LF

    [02] ARMENIA APPROVES INCREASE IN PENSIONS

    The Armenian government has approved a 15 percent increase in pensions beginning in 2002, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 2 November. In September, the government rejected calls by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation -- Dashnaktsutiun to raise pensions immediately (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 September 2001). LF

    [03] ARMENIAN ACADEMICIANS APPEAL FOR KARABAKH ARMY CHIEF'S RELEASE

    Ten Armenian academicians including former presidential candidate Lenser Aghalovian have appealed to the presidents of Armenia and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) to release former Karabakh Defense Army commander Lieutenant General Samvel Babayan from jail in light of increasingly frequent Azerbaijani threats to begin a new war, Noyan Tapan reported on 1 November. Babayan was sentenced in February to 14 years imprisonment on charges, which he denies, of masterminding the failed attempt to assassinate Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasian in March 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 February 2001). LF

    [04] THREE AZERBAIJANI SERVICEMEN INJURED BY LAND MINE

    An Azerbaijani army officer accompanying the three OSCE Minsk Group co- chairmen as they crossed the Line of Contact between Azerbaijani and Karabakh Armenian forces northeast of the NKR on 5 November was severely injured when he stepped on a land mine, AP and Mediamax reported. Two other soldiers received minor injuries. LF

    [05] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION LEADER DEMANDS NEW KARABAKH PEACE PROPOSALS BE MADE PUBLIC

    Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar told a session of the conservative Democratic Congress in Baku on 5 November that the Azerbaijani government should make public the revised proposals for resolving the Karabakh conflict discussed during a meeting the previous day between the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). LF

    [06] THREE AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT

    The leaders of the Azerbaijan National Independence Party, the reformist wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, and the Taraggi (Progress) Party signed an agreement in Baku on 5 November formalizing their intention to nominate a single candidate for the presidential elections due in 2003 and a single joint list of candidates for the next parliamentary ballot the following year, Turan reported. They also pledged not to engage in propaganda directed against each other. The agreement must be endorsed by the three parties' respective steering committees. LF

    [07] MILITARY CORRUPTION WHISTLE-BLOWER SENTENCED IN AZERBAIJAN

    Former naval Captain Djanmirza Mirzoev, who has been subject to repeated harassment in recent years for his efforts to publicize corruption within the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, was sentenced on 5 November to eight years imprisonment on charges of arranging the murder in 1993 of Rear Admiral Eduard Huseinov, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 34, 26 August 1999 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2001). The court rejected all evidence presented by Mirzoev during the trial. LF

    [08] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW MEDIATOR FOR ABKHAZIA

    Eduard Shevardnadze announced on 5 November during his traditional Monday radio interview that he has chosen Aslan Abashidze, who was re-elected unopposed on 4 November as chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Adjaria, as his personal representative in talks on resolving the conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Caucasus Press reported. That role was previously played by the minister for special assignments, Malkhaz Kakabadze. Abashidze told the independent TV station Rustavi-2 on 5 November that he believes the Abkhaz conflict could have been resolved long ago. Abashidze offered to mediate between Tbilisi and Sukhum last month during the fighting in the Kodori gorge between Abkhaz army troops and an invading force reportedly composed of Chechen fighters and Georgian guerillas (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2001). LF

    [09] WORLD BANK, IMF HOPE FOR 'MORE EFFECTIVE' GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT

    In a statement released on 6 November, the permanent World Bank representative in Tbilisi said that organization hopes the current political crisis in Georgia will culminate in the appointment of "a more effective and united" government, Caucasus Press reported. The statement said discussions on some issues will be postponed. The IMF's office in Tbilisi issued a similar statement the same day saying the planned visit to Tbilisi by an IMF delegation has been postponed until a new government is in place. Over the past week the Georgian lari has fallen in value from 2.08 to 2.10 to the U.S. dollar, the lowest rate ever. LF

    [10] SOUTH KOREAN TYCOON IMPLICATES KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT IN BRIBE TAKING

    South Korean businessman Choi Soon-Young told a court in Seoul last month that he ordered a subordinate to give a $10 million bribe to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev in 1996 in the hope of facilitating business ventures in Kazakhstan, AP reported on 5 November. Senior Kazakh officials have repeatedly denied as untrue U.S. press reports last year claiming that Nazarbaev and other Kazakh leaders accepted millions of dollars in bribes. LF

    [11] KYRGYZ ENERGY SECTOR WORKERS STRIKE

    Some 100 employees at the repair shop of the Bishkek power and heating plant began a strike on 5 November to demand payment of back wages totaling 7.35 million soms (approximately $155,000), RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. LF

    [12] TAJIK DEFENSE OFFICIAL DENIES U.S. GIVEN PERMISSION TO USE AIRFIELDS

    Tajik armed forces chief of staff Ramil Nadirov denied on 5 November that during talks in Dushanbe two days earlier Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reached agreement on allowing the U.S. to use three air bases in Tajikistan to launch military operations against Afghanistan, Reuters and Interfax reported. Two U.S. newspapers reported on 4 November that such an agreement was being negotiated, and that the Tajik leadership had given permission for U.S. experts to examine the airfields in question to assess their suitability (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 5 November 2001). Speaking in Washington on 5 November, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed that a U.S. team is in Tajikistan for that purpose, and that similar teams are vetting facilities in other Central Asian states he did not name, Reuters reported. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] NATIONALISTS TRYING TO HOLD UP MACEDONIAN REFORMS?

    Reuters reported from Skopje on 5 November that nationalist legislators are threatening to hold up passage of constitutional amendments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). Hard-line Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski has repeated charges that ethnic Albanian guerrillas killed 12 Macedonians and dumped their bodies in a mass grave in what Reuters describes as an effort to derail the peace process. The news agency cites international monitors as saying that there is no evidence to back up Boskovski's charges. It also cites an unnamed European diplomat as calling Boskovski's call for an investigation by The Hague a "nonstarter." The diplomat said: "First of all, the tribunal doesn't dig in winter months and winter's arriving. Two, the tribunal only digs based on evidence of a war crime and there is none here, yet." Meanwhile, ethnic Albanian deputies are preparing yet another revision of the preamble to the constitution that will clearly differentiate the Albanians from the other minorities, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 October 2001) PM

    [14] SERBIAN LEADER HAILS 'RETURN TO KOSOVO'

    Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, who is Belgrade's point man for Kosova, signed a cooperation agreement with Hans Haekkerup, who heads the UN's civilian administration in Kosova, in Belgrade on 6 November, the BBC's Serbian Service reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 November 2001). Covic stressed that the agreement prohibits the Kosova parliament, which will be elected on 17 November, from declaring independence. He added that "Yugoslavia has returned to Kosovo." But in Gracanica, most leaders of Kosova's Serbian minority called for a boycott of the vote on the grounds that there is not sufficient security for Serbs and that the document undermines links between Kosova and Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). Among those opposing the boycott were veteran Serbian leader Oliver Ivanovic, Bishop Artemije, and Serbian National Council (SNV) representatives from Leposaviq. In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said that "everyone who's committed to multiethnic Kosovo will consider this a wise and prudent move by Belgrade," AP reported. PM

    [15] ETHNIC ALBANIAN KOSOVAR LEADER STRESSES INDEPENDENCE

    Hashim Thaci, a former guerrilla commander and now head of the Democratic Party of Kosova, said in Prishtina on 5 November that his party welcomes the participation of local Serbs in the election, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He stressed, however, that their participation must not be used as an excuse to continue Kosova's legal ties to Serbia. Thaci argued that the new parliament must carry out the "will of the people," which is for Kosova to become independent. PM

    [16] SERBIAN DELEGATION TO MEET BUSH

    Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and a top economic delegation will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on 6 November, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). The Serbs will also meet with Secretary of State Colin Powell. PM

    [17] SERBIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS INCONCLUSIVE

    Preliminary returns from 15 out of 18 districts suggest that no one party or coalition was the overall winner, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 6 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). The governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition took 23 percent of the vote, while President Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) was just behind with 22.1 percent. One party or coalition will be able to govern alone in three of the districts, but broader coalition governments will be necessary in the remaining 15. PM

    [18] YUGOSLAVIA ENDS DEATH PENALTY

    As part of a package of reforms aimed at meeting admission requirements for the Council of Europe, the lower house of the Yugoslav parliament voted on 5 November to abolish capital punishment, AP reported. The maximum sentence for the most serious crimes -- such as multiple or particularly grisly premeditated murders -- will be 40 years imprisonment. PM

    [19] CROATIAN-YUGOSLAV TALKS IN POLAND

    Croatian President Stipe Mesic and Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragisa Pesic discussed a number of outstanding questions between their two countries on the sidelines of the international antiterror conference in Warsaw on 6 November, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Subjects included the fate of missing persons, the return of cultural properties taken by Serbian forces from Croatia, and the return of members of Croatia's ethnic Serb minority to their homes. They also discussed increasing economic cooperation. PM

    [20] CROATIA OPENS UP SECRET POLICE FILES

    Interior Ministry spokeswoman Zinka Bardic told dpa in Zagreb on 6 November that citizens may now examine 650 files compiled by the SZUP, former President Franjo Tudjman's secret police. Other files were destroyed by the nationalist authorities before they left office at the start of 2000. Bardic added that of the 650 files, "120 contain information on journalists whose phones were tapped by Tudjman's secret police in the 1990s." Rules for viewing files from both the communist period and Tudjman era are much more restrictive than those in Germany for individuals who want to read their Stasi files. PM

    [21] PETRITSCH GIVES 'LAST WARNING' TO BOSNIAN SERBS

    Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's high representative in Bosnia, told leaders of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) that "patience is running out" with the obstructionist tactics of that party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). Referring to the need to enable Muslims and Croats to return to their homes in Bosnian Serb territory and for the Republika Srpska to cooperate with The Hague, Petritsch said: "Nothing has been implemented. This has to change rapidly, because the window of opportunity for the SDS is closing very rapidly." Petritsch stressed that his message is a "last warning." PM

    [22] ROMANIAN OFFICIAL CRITICIZES 'THE GUARDIAN' ARTICLE ON ROMA SITUATION

    On 5 November, Ivan Gheorghe, the head of the Romanian National Office for Romany Affairs, criticized an article published in "The Guardian" two days earlier on the Romany situation in Romania, Mediafax reported. An official governmental communique released by Gheorghe said the daily had "generalized" the particular Piatra-Neamt case to Romania as a whole (see RFE/RL "Newsline," 11, 15, and 17 October 2001). He said the Piatra-Neamt situation has been "analyzed" by representatives of the government, local administration, and organizations representing the Roma and that an agreement has been reached on ways to solve the situation "in line with the principles of nondiscrimination encoded in Romanian and international legislation." MS

    [23] BUCHAREST TRIBUNAL OVERTURNS VERDICT IN MUTLER VS. TOEKES CASE

    A Bucharest tribunal on 5 November heeded the appeal of AP journalist Alison Mutler, who was sentenced on 23 March to pay a large fine for having allegedly libeled Reformed Bishop Laszlo Toekes, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Mutler was sued by Toekes after she wrote that he served as an agent of the former communist secret police. Toekes admits to being forced to sign a pledge to collaborate, but claims he never made good on that pledge and was subsequently persecuted by the Securitate. The tribunal's decision is final. MS

    [24] ROMANIAN SENATORS CRITICIZE PREMIER OVER PLEDGE TO REMOVE ANTONESCU STATUES

    Greater Romania Party (PRM) Senator Gheorghe Buzatu, who is also chairman of the Marshal Antonescu Foundation, on 5 November told the plenum that Nazi-allied Antonescu "does not deserve to be executed for the second time, " RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Buzatu was responding to the pledge made by Premier Adrian Nastase during his U.S. visit to enact legislation forbidding commemorations of war criminals and to remove all existing Antonescu statues (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2001). Buzatu said politicians should deal with current problems and "leave historical personalities to the expertise of historians." The PRM deputy chairman said Antonescu was sentenced to death in 1946 on Soviet orders and that research conducted since 1989 has produced "overwhelming evidence" in his favor. This, he added, has triggered "a vehement reaction on the part of Jewish circles from Romania and abroad." Former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's court poet, Senator Adrian Paunescu, a member of Nastase's party, called for a retrial of the marshal and for organizing a seminar of international historians on Antonescu's 1946 sentencing. The Holocaust, Paunescu said, "is reality, but not a part of Romanian history." Like Buzatu, Paunescu ended by saying "do not shoot the dead for the second time." MS

    [25] RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER INKS BASIC TREATY IN CHISINAU

    Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and his Moldovan counterpart Nicolae Dudau initialed the new basic treaty between the two states in Chisinau on 5 November, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The first basic treaty, signed in 1990, was never ratified by the Russian State Duma on grounds that it included no provisions for safeguarding the interests of Transdniester. The new treaty considers Russia as a mediator in the negotiations under way with Tiraspol, and backs a search for a solution to the conflict that safeguards Moldova's territorial integrity. Ivanov told journalists that once a settlement is reached, Moscow will "assume commitments as a guarantor of the special status of Transdniester." He said the treaty is "a landmark" that "defines the main objectives and parameters of our strategic cooperation for years to come." Dudau said the treaty is "in line with European standards" and reflects "our choice of a strategic partner in the East." The two ministers expressed the hope that the treaty will be signed by presidents Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Voronin during Voronin's 19-20 November visit to Moscow, after which the two parliaments are to expected to ratify it. Ivanov was also received by President Voronin, with whom he discussed bilateral relations and "international issues on which Russia and Moldova are interacting," ITAR-TASS reported. MS

    [26] ANDRONIC ELECTED DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF MOLDOVAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY

    Nicolae Andronic, who last month left the Party of Revival and Accord led by former President Mircea Snegur, was elected on 3 November as a deputy chairman of the Moldovan Democratic Party, Infotag reported on 5 November. The Democratic Party's National Board now includes several other newcomers apart from Andronic. Among them are former Party of Progressive Forces Chairman Nicolae Chirilciuc and former Interior Minister Victor Catan. MS

    [27] TRANSDNIESTER CANDIDATE PROMISES 'NO SURRENDER TO MOLDOVA'

    Transdniester "presidential" candidate Tom Zenovich said in Moscow on 5 November that "nobody intends to surrender to Moldova" if he wins the ballot scheduled for 9 December, Flux reported. He added that nonetheless "the dialogue between Chisinau and Tiraspol must be renewed to avoid new bloodshed." Zenovich also said "there is a good chance" that Moldova will accede to the Russia-Belarus Union, but added that it is "premature" to discuss whether the tripartite union should be a federation or a confederation of states. Flux also reported that the Central Electoral Commission has registered the candidacy of Aleksandr Radchenko, the leader of the "Vlasti narodu" (People's Power) movement. MS

    [28] BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TRADE CORRUPTION RECRIMINATIONS

    President Petar Stoyanov and former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev exchanged accusations of corruption during a televised debate aired on the private bTV channel on 5 November, BTA reported. While Bonev reiterated allegations that Petar Stoyanov's brother Emil is involved in illicit deals and uses his influence on the president, Stoyanov showed viewers part of a classified National Security Service (NSS) report dated December 1999 that said "a group enjoying the protection of highly placed politicians and senior members of the state administration has managed, through Bogomil Bonev, to take over a key office in the country's government." The report said that, as interior minister, Bonev established control over lucrative economic areas and took advantage of the situation. Bonev dismissed the report as having been written on the orders of Stoyanov and former Premier Ivan Kostov. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [29] PRESIDENT PUTIN AND HIS CRITICS

    By Julie A. Corwin

    While Russian President Vladimir Putin's embrace of the U.S.-led fight against terrorism is little more than a month old, rumblings of dissent among the Russian policy-making elite are already being reported in the Moscow-based press. The lightning rod for criticism, however, has not been Putin's acceptance of the stationing of U.S. troops in Uzbekistan but the announcement on 17 October that Russia is giving up its electronic espionage center in Lourdes, Cuba, and its naval base in Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam. The basic thrust of the criticism has been that Putin is giving up too much in exchange for the possibility -- rather than the certainty -- of similar concessions from the United States.

    According to "Novoye vremya," No. 43, many military, diplomatic, and high- level officials in parliament have expressed open dissatisfaction with the decision on bases. For example, State Duma Defense Committee Chairman (People's Deputy) Andrei Nikolaev threatened to emphasize the issue of the base closures during legislators' next working meeting with the chief of the armed forces General Staff, Anatolii Kvashnin. According to Nikolaev, closing the bases should be postponed at least another five to 10 years so the "quality intelligence" gathered in Lourdes can be replaced by some other means. In an interview with "Vremya novostei" on 19 October, General Yurii Drozdov, a veteran KGB officer who once supervised the elite Vimpel special forces, also criticized the decision to give up the bases, saying that "new satellites will not replace the information which we received [at Lourdes]... It seems to me that the president was informed imprecisely and incorrectly when he made this decision." And, in an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 20 October, Viktor Ilyukhin, the head of the Movement to Support the Army and a State Duma deputy in the Communist faction, alleged that "not all the military, including the highest levels, agreed with [the decision] to liquidate our military bases in Vietnam and Cuba." Ilyukhin charged that Putin has embarked on a similar path of his predecessors, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. According to Ilyukhin, those leaders "gave everything up [to the U.S.] without receiving any kind of guarantees in return."

    Of course, Ilyukhin, as a hard-line leftist, is not the kind of politician whose support Putin would ever rely on. Nikolaev, on the other hand, as a member of People's Deputy, is already supposed to be playing on the Kremlin's team. But the best proof that Putin may be a touch out of step with the mainstream Moscow political thinking is the hearty endorsement he has received from Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky. Yavlinsky has said that not only he approves of "all the steps that the president has taken since 11 September," but also that he has the impression that "Putin himself sometimes turns out to be far more progressive than his entire team." Even Aleksandr Budberg, a commentator with liberal political leanings who writes for "Moskovskii komsomolets," now concludes that Putin "has managed to introduce more cardinal changes than one could even imagine -- more than those in the preceding administration even thought possible." Earlier, Budberg criticized Putin for his slavish devotion to opinion polls, Budberg defends Putin against the impression that the withdrawal from Lourdes and Cam Ranh Bay is linked to the shift to a pro-U.S. point of view by arguing that the decision was made five or six months ago. And it is true that "Novye izvestiya" reported last August -- well before the 11 September terrorist attacks -- that despite the absence of a formal announcement the bases appeared to be set for closure.

    In an interview with "Vremya novostei" on 19 October, Andrei Ryabov of the Carnegie Moscow Center likened Putin's current situation to the one facing Gorbachev in the late 1980s. According to Ryabov -- now as was the case then -- there is a breach between the president and the political elite. According to Ryabov, "The split is somewhat reminiscent of the late Gorbachev era when the president was moving toward a new way of thinking, while the former elite clung to the old Soviet views." In an article in "Vek," No. 42, Ryabov suggested that Putin can reach a compromise with those who do not like his new foreign policy but he will likely have to make "serious concessions on domestic policy" in exchange for "freedom of movement in foreign policy decision-making."

    Writing in the "Russian Journal" on 25 October, Dmitrii Pinsker, formerly of "Segodnya," reached a similar conclusion, suggesting that a shift in terms of domestic policy has already taken place with the recent announcement by the Prosecutor-General's Office of new measures against Boris Berezovsky and Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko. Pinsker notes that while Putin "is doing all he can on the foreign-policy front to prove he is committed to Western values...on the home front the Kremlin doesn't want to give up playing by rules more suited to authoritarian regimes." Meanwhile, as Putin prepares to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush in the U.S. this month, the impression that he is under pressure at home may help him to win concessions from the U.S. on missile defense and an exemption from criticism of any of his "authoritarian" actions at home. Whether there is actual pressure on Putin -- as opposed to just grumbling among the Moscow-based political elite -- will remain to be seen. In the meantime, Putin appears to be mobilizing against such a prospect by cleansing the cabinet of officials who are less than loyal.

    06-11-01


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


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