|Wednesday, 13 December 2017|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 220, 01-11-20
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 220, 20 November 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 FUGITIVE ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY STRIPPED OF MANDATEParliament deputies voted by 67 to eight on 19 November to strip their colleague, fugitive former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian, of his deputy's mandate on the grounds that there is no valid justification for his failure to attend parliament sessions for a period of 19 months, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Siradeghian fled Armenia in April 2000 after parliament voted to strip him of his deputy's immunity so he could be taken into custody for the duration of his trial on charges of ordering several political murders (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April 2000). In an earlier ballot last month, only 36 deputies favored depriving Siradeghian of his mandate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2001). Observers attribute the reversal to intense lobbying by the presidential administration and to the fact that the 19 November vote was open while that on 10 October was secret. LF
 AUTOPSY FINDING MADE PUBLIC AFTER ARMENIAN CAFE DEATHPoghos Poghosian, the Georgian citizen found dead in a Yerevan cafe two months ago after having apparently been beaten up by members of President Robert Kocharian's bodyguard, died from a blow to the head, according to Arminfo on 19 November as cited by Groong. Police originally claimed that Poghosian died of heart failure (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September and 2 October 2001). LF
 ARMENIAN OPPOSITION FIGURE SAYS HE WILL RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2003Union of Constitutional Law chairman Hrant Khachatrian announced on 17 November that he plans to contest the presidential poll due in the spring of 2003, according to Arminfo as cited by Groong. At the same time, Khachatrian said that in order to avoid a repeat of the situation in 1998, when the electorate was "bewildered" by the number of candidates contesting the preterm presidential ballot, he would welcome the unification of all "healthy" political forces in order to back a single candidate. Khachatrian was one of 12 candidates who participated in the 1998 presidential election; he polled less than 1 percent of the vote. LF
 BY-ELECTIONS HELD IN TWO CONSTITUENCIES IN AZERBAIJANOne member of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party and one independent candidate won election to Azerbaijan's Milli Mezhlis in by-elections in the Agdjabed and Tovuz raions on 16 November, Turan reported. LF
 POLICE BEAT UP GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTYFour police officers, including former Tbilisi police chief Soso Alavidze, took parliament deputy Gocha Djodjua from his home to a lake on the outskirts of Tbilisi on 18 November and proceeded to beat him up, Djodjua told Caucasus Press the following day. Djodjua said that Alavidze believes that Djodjua's statements to the media earlier this year about corruption within the Tbilisi police force led to Alavidze's dismissal from his post. Alavidze in fact resigned three months ago after being implicated in corruption by then-Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001). On 19 November, Alavidze denied participating in the assault on Djodjua and declined to answer questions about the incident from members of parliament committees on the grounds that he was unwell. Caucasus Press quoted Alavidze on 20 November as saying that he has resigned as head of the Ecology Police in order not to hinder the investigation into the attack on Djodjua. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT WILL ASK PUTIN TO ABOLISH VISA REGIMEEduard Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 19 November that at his planned meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin he will ask Putin to lift the visa requirement for Georgian citizens visiting Russia that went into force last year, Russian agencies reported. Shevardnadze said introducing the visa regime was "a mistake." It was Putin, then- Russian Prime Minister, who in November 1999 first proposed the visa regime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 1999). LF
 GEORGIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF WANTS INVESTIGATION INTO POSSIBLE LEAK OF INFORMATIONAn investigation must be conducted into Kodori Governor Emzar Kvitsiani's allegation that someone within the Georgian security services provided Russia with information on the course of the fighting last month in Kodori, Georgian National Intelligence Service chief Avtandil Ioseliani said in an interview published in "Akhali taoba" on 15 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 14 November 2001). On 19 November, "Akhali taoba" quoted Kvitsiani as saying he is ready to publish his proof of those allegations and to work together with Valeri Khaburzania, President Shevardnadze's proposed candidate for the post of national security minister, to identify the official concerned. Shevardnadze, for his part, said on 19 November that he cannot punish anyone for that deliberate leak of information without documentary evidence, Caucasus Press reported. He said Khaburzania's approval as national security minister would guarantee an improvement in the work of the ministry. The same day, Shevardnadze rejected a proposal to introduce that military censorship, Caucasus Press reported. LF
 TBILISI POPULATION DEMANDS INCREASED ELECTRICITY SUPPLIESSome 1,000 residents of Tbilisi one of the city's blocked main thoroughfares on 19 November to demand that the government guarantee electricity supplies to their homes for at least eight hours per day, instead of the present three-four hours, Caucasus Press reported. They appealed to the entire city population to take to the streets to demand the resignation of a president who is unable to guarantee normal electricity supplies. A similar demonstration took place on 20 November. LF
 RUSSIAN THINK-TANK PRESIDENT ACCUSES GEORGIA OF RESELLING GAS TO TURKEYSergei Karaganov, who heads Russia's influential Foreign Policy and Defense Council, claimed in an interview with gazeta.ru that Georgia has resold to Turkey natural gas supplied by Russia, according to Caucasus Press on 16 November. LF
 INCUMBENT TROUNCED IN INCONCLUSIVE PRESIDENTIAL POLL IN SOUTH OSSETIAThe unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia held presidential elections on 18 November in which none of the five candidates polled the minimum 50 percent needed for a first round victory. According to unofficial preliminary results, Moscow-based businessman Eduard Kokoev won over 40 percent of the vote followed by local Communist Party First Secretary Stanislav Kochiev with 25 percent. The two men will participate in a runoff vote that must be held within two weeks. Incumbent President Lyudvig Chibirov was in third place with less than 20 percent. LF
 KAZAKH, TAJIK PRESIDENTS DISCUSS AFGHAN SITUATION...During a telephone conversation on 15 November, Nursultan Nazarbaev discussed with his Tajik counterpart Imomali Rakhmonov regional security and the optimum structure for a post-conflict Afghan government, Asia Plus- Blitz reported on 16 November. Nazarbaev agreed to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in the form of grain. On 16 November, Interfax reported that the U.S. has purchased 15,000 tons of grain at a cost of $6 million from Kazakhstan to be shipped to Afghanistan, and intends to buy a further 5,000 tons. Kazakhstan's grain harvest this year was one of the best ever, totaling over 13 million tons, according to Interfax on 22 October. LF
 ...AGREE ON RESUMPTION OF RAIL TRAFFICNazarbaev and Rakhmonov also agreed on the "immediate" resumption of rail traffic between the two countries, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 16 November. Kazakhstan unilaterally suspended rail communication in late October in order to preclude an anticipated influx of Afghan refugees. On 12 November, Asia Plus-Blitz reported that as a result of the suspension of rail traffic from Dushanbe to Astrakhan via Kazakhstan, flights between Dushanbe and Moscow were fully booked for one month ahead. LF
 KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT APPROVES 2002 BUDGETThe People's Assembly (the upper chamber of Kyrgyzstan's bicameral parliament) approved the draft budget for 2002 on 19 November, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The draft envisages revenues of 11.69 billion soms (approximately $244 million) and expenditures of 11.17 billion soms. GDP is estimated at 80.19 billion soms, or 4.5 percent higher than in 2001. Inflation is predicted at 6 percent, lower than the 8.2 percent forecast in the original draft presented to the parliament's finance and economy committee last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2001). The budget is predicated on an exchange rate of 49 soms to the U.S. dollar; the present exchange rate is 47.7 soms to the dollar. Also on 19 November, Defense Minister Esen Topoev told Interfax that the budget for next year increases defense spending by more than 170 million soms. That money will be spent on modernizing aircraft, purchasing communications equipment and improving border installations, and raising servicemen's salaries. LF
 NEW TAX REGULATIONS INTRODUCED FOR KYRGYZ FREE ECONOMIC ZONEThe Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of parliament) on 19 November passed amendments prepared by the government's Committee on State Property and Foreign Investments to the law on free-economic zones, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The amendments, which were prepared at the insistence of international finance organizations, require enterprises located within the free-economic zone to pay customs payments and taxes on goods they sell within Kyrgyzstan. Busurmankul Toktonaliev of the Bishkek free-economic zone told RFE/RL that some 50 percent of the goods produced by its 90 enterprises are sold domestically, and the new regulations could drive them into bankruptcy. LF
 NEW TAJIK POLITICAL PARTY HOLDS CONSTITUENT CONGRESSThe founding congress of the Vahdat (Unity) Party took place in Dushanbe on 17 November, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 20 November. In a statement released at the congress, delegates acknowledged the progress achieved by the country's present leadership towards establishing a democratic society, but noted unspecified problems that it pledged to assist the leadership in overcoming. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 OFFICIAL RETURNS CONFIRM RUGOVA'S WIN IN KOSOVAThe OSCE's Daan Everts announced in Prishtina on 19 November that Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) took 46.29 percent of the total vote and first place in the province's first democratic parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 19 November 2001). Second place in the 17 November vote went to Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosova with 25.54 percent. Third place was claimed by the Serbian Povratak (Return) coalition, which took 10.96 percent and at least 20 seats in the 120-seat legislature. Ramush Haradinaj's ethnic Albanian Alliance for the Future of Kosova garnered 7.8 percent. Thaci and Haradinaj are former guerrilla leaders. Thaci told Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service that he is glad that the elections have given his party a strong position in the overall political landscape, while Haradinaj said that his party is open to cooperation with others. Observers suggest that the Serbian bloc could also play a key role in a legislature in which no single party will have a clear majority. PM
 BELGRADE TO SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE ON KOSOVASerbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, who is Belgrade's point man for Kosova, said on 19 November that the federal government's committee dealing with that province will be reorganized and incorporated into the existing Coordinating Center, which will then be Belgrade's sole official body for Kosovar affairs, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Personnel changes will be made at the expense of those who called for a boycott of the 17 November vote. Covic stressed the importance of a "unity of views" of officials dealing with Kosova. PM
 DIVISIONS PERSIST AMONG KOSOVA'S SERBSIn Mitrovica on 19 November, the Serbian National Council (SNV) met and agreed that the elections had proceeded in an orderly fashion and pledged to work with all who seek to solve the problems of Kosova's Serbs, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. But Marko Jaksic, a local Serb leader who had campaigned for a boycott, remained unimpressed with the election results. He told AP: "These elections were a sloppily written love story in which everyone is supposed to have a happy ending." PM
 WASHINGTON CALLS FOR COALITION-BUILDING IN KOSOVAState Department spokesman Philip Reeker said in a statement in Washington on 19 November: "We urge Kosovo's new leaders to continue working closely with the international community, and to avoid any action that may threaten that relationship, particularly with respect to Kosovo's final status... Kosovo's newly elected leaders will need to build effective coalitions that give smaller groups and parties a stake in governing. Assembly members...must work together to resolve common issues and seek agreement and compromise in place of conflict," Reuters reported. PM
 RUSSIA SAYS TIME TO ACT ON KOSOVA...The Foreign Ministry said in a statement in Moscow on 20 November that Kosova's "non-Albanian residents are concerned that under nearly two to two and one-half years of international supervision, no solution has been found to the problems of security, the return of refugees, and access to elementary aspects of civilized society -- education, health care, culture, and information... The main responsibility for moving the process of settlement forward lies with international bodies, primarily the UN mission, which must fulfill its obligation...in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244," Reuters reported. The resolution specifies that Kosova is part of Yugoslavia. PM
 ...BUT WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?Vienna's "Die Presse" wrote on 20 November that the time has come to end the international community's "dithering" and trying to be all things to all sides (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 and 16 November 2001). The foreigners deny the Serbs' demand for their own police lest the Albanians resort to violence, while at the same time denying the demand of all Albanian parties for independence. This equivocating cannot continue forever, and the question of Kosova's status must be addressed, the daily concludes. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" notes that there will be no solution to the problem of Albanian restiveness throughout the Balkans as long as the status of Kosova remains unclear. The daily argues that a well- supervised independence for Kosova is probably the best of several possible options from the standpoint of Balkan security and stability. PM
 YUGOSLAV DEFENSE MINISTER IN CHINASlobodan Krapovic has arrived in Beijing for talks on increased military cooperation between the two countries, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 19 November. He and his hosts noted a close similarity of views on terrorism and other, unspecified issues. PM
 BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS IN MOSCOWRepublika Srpska President Mirko Sarovic, Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic, and parliamentary speaker Dragan Kalinic are in Moscow on a visit scheduled to last until 23 November, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 19 November. They are guests of State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev and will attend meetings at the Russian State Duma, the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Interfax reported. On the agenda are expanding trade and economic cooperation, as well as discussions of political and security issues. PM
 BOSNIA'S PETRITSCH SAYS ISLAM IS PART OF WEST...Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the international community's high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, wrote in "The New York Times" of 20 November that "much has been made of the residual influence of the mujahedeen fighters who stayed on in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the 1992- 95 war. But no evidence has been produced that the country has served as a base for Al-Qaeda, although this cannot be excluded; after all, the organization had an active cell in Hamburg. Allegations made by some Serb extremists that the wars in the former Yugoslavia were fought to fend off Muslim fundamentalism are ridiculous -- was Mr. Milosevic at war with mullahs when his forces bombarded Dubrovnik? What is truly worthy of note is that the influence of fundamentalist Islam in the Balkans has been so weak. When we step beyond the us-and-them paradigm, we might remember that Islam is part of the European tradition. This is the larger context in which the small country of Bosnia and Herzegovina must prove that peaceful coexistence of Islam and Christianity is possible. More than ever, it needs Europe's support in doing so." PM
 ...AND BOSNIA IS PART OF EUROPEPetritsch also wrote in "The New York Times" of 20 November that "the Dayton Peace Agreement ensures that no statelets will emerge in Bosnia based on the religious divide... Bosnian Muslims do not feel any less European than their Croatian or Serbian countrymen... In the long term, Europe must integrate Bosnia and Herzegovina into its political, social, and economic structures. A first concrete step is Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession to the Council of Europe, which is expected to take place early next year. A second step is to continue toward greater formal association with the European Union. Bosnia is the place to render the notion of a clash of civilizations null and void and to prove that democracy, freedom, and human rights are universal." PM
 IMF WANTS MACEDONIAN BUDGET CUTSThe IMF demands the reduction of state expenditures by $9 million before Macedonia can be included in the Staff Monitoring Program, the Skopje daily "Nova Makedonija" reported on 20 November. Macedonia's observance of IMF recommendations is a precondition for an international donors conference, which will help reconstruct the economy after the 11-month conflict. The government hopes the donors conference will take place in Brussels in mid- December. As the newspaper reports, the government expects the conference to raise between $52.6 and $83.3 million in assistance. UB
 DEL PONTE TO VISIT MACEDONIAInternational War Crimes Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte will visit Macedonia on 20 November, "Nova Makedonija" reported. She will meet President Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski as well as with representatives of the international community. She will collect information about alleged war crimes committed by both sides and about reported mass graves (see also "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 November 2001). UB
 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATION IN ROMANIABaroness Emma Nicholson, who is the European Parliament rapporteur for Romania, met on 20 November with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and will later meet with President Ion Iliescu, Romanian radio reported. Governmental spokesman Claudiu Lucaciu cited Nicholson as saying that Romania's negotiating position with the EU has "significantly improved" in the last year and that she expects the country's economic performance to further improve due to growth in investments. Nastase said Romania wants to open for negotiations all chapters in the aquis communautaire by end of 2002. On 19 November, Nicholson told members of the Senate's Foreign Affairs Commission that she has requested that Guenter Verheugen -- the EU commissioner for enlargement -- open for negotiation all chapters Romania may wish to open by 25 December. She said Verheugen has agreed to do so. Nicholson also congratulated Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana on his performance as OSCE rotating chairman. MS
 ROMANIAN SENATE CHAIRMAN CONTINUES FAR EAST TOURSenate Chairman Nicolae Vacaroiu on 20 November arrived in the Philippines, Romanian radio reported. The previous day he ended his visit of South Korea -- the second leg of his trip after Japan -- where he conducted talks with Prime Minister Lee Han-dong, discussing mainly Korean investment in his country and ways to overcome the crisis at the Craiova-based Daewoo Romanian carmaker. Also discussed were possibilities of Korean participation in the construction of units 2 and 3 at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, Romanian television reported. MS
 ROMANIAN SENATE GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO 'DRACULA PARK'The Senate on 19 November approved with a vote of 62 for and 44 against the government's ordinance to set up a Dracula Park entertainment complex at Sighisoara, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The project was opposed by representatives of the National Liberal Party and the Greater Romania Party, which want the park, aimed at regenerating tourist interest in Romania, to be built near the Bran castle in the vicinity of Brasov (see "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2001).
 MOLDOVA, RUSSIA SIGN BASIC TREATY IN MOSCOWVisiting Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed in Moscow on 19 November the new basic treaty between their countries, local and international agencies reported. They also held discussions on matters of mutual interest, after which Voronin said their views were "either close or coincide," including on the need to fight international terrorism. Putin said after the signing ceremony that he is "personally convinced that it is in Russia's national interest to settle the Transdniester conflict on the basis of Moldova's territorial integrity and sovereignty, while respecting the interests of all ethnic groups living in Moldova, including [those living in] Transdniester." The treaty mentions the need to politically settle the conflict and condemns "separatism in all its forms," pledging that the sides will not support separatist movements. The document also stipulates "measures will be taken to satisfy the need for Russian-language instruction" in Moldova, and Voronin said he wants "all Moldovans to speak Russian." MS
 VORONIN, KASYANOV DISCUSS ECONOMIC PROBLEMSVoronin also met on 19 November with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, with whom he discussed the settlement of Moldova's debt for Russian gas deliveries, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency said the debt is now $912 million, including $672 million for gas deliveries to the Transdniester. It also reported that the two leaders discussed the possibility of a partial payment in Moldovan corporate shares in wineries and the tobacco industry, which make up some 90 percent of Moldovan exports to Russia. Ways of boosting economic ties were also discussed. MS
 BULGARIAN OFFICIAL RESULTS CONFIRM PARVANOV'S VICTORYOfficial results released by the Central Electoral Commission on 20 November confirmed that Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov has won the 18 November presidential runoff, BTA and international agencies reported. Parvanov garnered 54.13 percent, while outgoing President Petar Stoyanov was backed by 45.87 percent of the vote. Turnout was 55 percent. MS
 PARVANOV PLEDGES FOREIGN POLICY CONTINUITYPresident-elect Parvanov told Reuters on 19 November that there will be "maximum continuity in our foreign policy, especially where it concerns European and Euro-Atlantic integration." Reacting to recent rumors in diplomatic circles that at NATO's next 2002 Prague summit the organization might grant immediate membership to only a small group and invite a larger group to start membership talks and join after meeting criteria, Parvanov said this will be a "minimal program" and that he hopes for outright membership. "For us it is not simply a recognition [of cooperation with NATO], but also an important guarantee of our security in the constant tensions of the Balkans." He said the country's biggest problem is poverty and unemployment and its biggest advantages are its geopolitical position and its hard-working people. Parvanov said he was ready to work with Premier Simeon Saxecoburggotski in a "constructive manner" despite the ruling party's support of outgoing President Stoyanov in the presidential elections. Parvanov also said he will give up membership of the Bulgarian Socialist Party because the president must be "the head of state of all Bulgarians." MS
[C] END NOTE
 Ukraine's Approaching Elections and Fractured Multiparty SystemBy Taras Kuzio
Ukraine's new election law, which finally came into force on 2 November, preserves the 50:50 split in how deputies are to be elected that was used during the March 1998 elections, even though President Leonid Kuchma had expressed concern that not only well-known reformist parties, but also Ukraine's largest party, the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU), would gain from the retention of proportional lists.
Between the 1994 elections, held exclusively on the majoritarian principle, and the 1998 majoritarian proportional elections, the number of CPU deputies increased by 50 percent, from 80 to nearly 120. If the new election law had required that 75 percent of deputies be elected according to proportional voting, as established parties such as the CPU had pushed for, the number of Communist deputies would have risen again in the next parliament.
Ukraine's first political party was the Republicans, created in April 1990 as an outgrowth of the Helsinki Union, itself a descendant from the Soviet- era Ukrainian Helsinki Group (UHG). Since 1990, 129 more parties have been registered in Ukraine, a reflection not of the progress of democratization but of a badly fractured and manipulated political system. The parliamentary newspaper "Holos Ukraiiny" recently wrote: "The current regime controls the course of political events and is therefore preventing the different opposition parties from uniting."
Ukraine's multiparty system includes an eclectic array ranging from three rural parties, seven promoting peace and unity, five that aim to defend women's interests, four youth parties, and 21 championing narrow special interests (cars, pensioners, educators, industrialists, health, private property, regions, social justice, the sea, consumers, NGOs, private property, the third millennium, liberty, and small and medium business, among others).
The center has been completely dominated by the "oligarchs," as seen by the recent absorption of the Inter-Regional Bloc of Reforms by the Peoples Democrats (NDPU). These oligarch parties control six parties: Labor Ukraine, NDPU, Agrarians, United Social Democrats, Democratic Party, and Democratic Union. Obviously, their names have little to do with their real party objectives. What remains of the centrists includes three Liberal and four other miniscule parties while the center-left is divided among eight parties, the majority of whom are "social democratic" to varying degrees. The Greens, meanwhile, are divided among eight parties who include every imaginable combination of "ecology" or "green" in their names.
On the center-right, Ukraine's party system has three Rukhs and 14 other center-right parties espousing "patriotic" or "fatherland" interests, as well as seven Christian democratic and one Muslim party. The extreme right has five parties, three of which have illegal paramilitary formations. The Russophile-pan-Slavic wing is badly divided among nine quarrelling, small parties while the extreme left, their natural allies, have 10 parties, five of which include "Communist" in their titles.
Ukraine's older law on political parties was updated and came into force on 5 April of this year. Surprisingly, it does not stipulate any minimum number of members for a party to be registered. But by not imposing any restrictions on the registration of parties, no matter how small or ineffectual they are, the executive ensures that Ukraine's nascent democracy remains weak and disparate.
When submitting registration documents, parties do have to collect 10,000 signatures from those eligible to vote, but that is not a difficult task. To prevent the rise of regional and secessionist parties, these signatures have to be collected in two-thirds of Ukraine's oblasts, the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol (which have all-republican status), and the districts of Crimea. The aim of the law is to create parties that supposedly have an all- Ukrainian status, yet the law fails to ensure this as none of the 130 parties in Ukraine has an all-Ukrainian profile.
Another aspect of the law that is ineffective is its failure to enforce restrictions on the formation and operation of parties (Article 5). Parties are to be prohibited if their programs or activities aim to liquidate Ukrainian independence, forcefully change the constitution or undermine national security, encroach on human rights, maintain paramilitary formations, or if they violate Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Yet each one of these prohibitions has been infringed by one party or another.
The CPU together with small Russophile, pan-Slavic parties want to liquidate Ukrainian independence. Recently, President Kuchma branded the CPU as "anti-Ukrainian" because it uses the symbols of a non-existent state (USSR). He added that he cannot therefore understand why the CPU is allowed into parliament. In reality, Kuchma would prefer to have the CPU legally registered, as it has proved to be a convenient scapegoat both for the socioeconomic crisis (its deputies dominated parliament until 2000 and have stalled reforms) and during the "Kuchmagate" crisis when CPU deputies allied with the oligarchs against the reformist government of Viktor Yushchenko.
Only one party has ever been temporarily banned in Ukraine, the extreme right Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA), after its members took part in Kyiv riots during the funeral of Patriarch Volodymyr Romaniuk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarch in July 1995. But this ban was revoked after two years and the party was reregistered. Although its leaders were arrested after the 9 March anti-Kuchma riots and remain in prison, the UNA is still legal.
Paramilitary formations are usually registered as innocuous sports or cultural civic organizations, not parties. UNA has always had a paramilitary formation, the People's Self Defense Forces (UNSO), which have been involved in fighting or political violence in Abkhazia, Moldova, Chechnya, and Belarus. The Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists also has its S. Bandera Sports-Political Association Tryzub, which is reportedly under the control of the local authorities in western Ukraine and is therefore not likely to be banned. Pro-Kuchma Tryzub members from Ternopil were the real instigators of the 9 March violence in Kyiv, for which the anti-Kuchma UNA-UNSO were made the scapegoats; no Tryzub members were arrested for their actions. In addition, there is the Union of Soviet Officers, whose pensioner members the Security Service accused earlier this year of planning a coup d'etat. Ukrainian and Russophile Cossack groups also exist.
The law on political parties has never been invoked to ban separatist parties in the Crimea. Nevertheless, the law has forced them to reregister as all-Ukrainian parties (e.g. the Crimean Russian Bloc became the Soyuz [Union] party). Other Crimean parties who represented the local Party of Power were absorbed into all-Ukrainian oligarch parties.
But Ukraine's many political parties play little or no role in politics and have miniscule influence on public life, a state of affairs that the executive is only too happy to allow to continue. "Kuchmagate" has nonetheless been instrumental in creating three groupings that will go into the next elections as the antistatehood left, the pro-Kuchma oligarch- dominated center, and the anti-Kuchma patriotic center-left and center- right. Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine" bloc hopes to successfully occupy the middle ground between the pro- and anti-Kuchma camps, presenting itself as a patriotic, anti-oligarch, pro-Kuchma formation.
Taras Kuzio is a research associate at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Toronto.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty