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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 52, 00-03-14

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. 4, No. 52, 14 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] CASPIAN LITTORAL STATES DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY
  • [02] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CONDEMNS LEADERSHIP INFIGHTING
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA DISCUSS GAS SECTOR COOPERATION
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI POLICE BREAK UP UNSANCTIONED PROTEST
  • [05] AZERBAIJAN'S MUSLIMS CONDEMN CHECHEN 'GENOCIDE'
  • [06] ABKHAZIA DENIES EXECUTING GEORGIAN POWS
  • [07] OSCE CONDEMNS KYRGYZ POLL VIOLATIONS
  • [08] TURKMENISTAN DEPORTS THREE RUSSIAN BAPTIST FAMILIES

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] KOSOVAR STUDENT LEADER SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS
  • [10] RUBIN APPEALS TO ALBANIANS, SERBS
  • [11] OSCE PREPARES FOR KOSOVA VOTE
  • [12] SERBIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROTESTS AGAINST MEDIA SHUTDOWN
  • [13] SERBIAN ARMY RESERVISTS PROTEST CALL-UP NOTICES
  • [14] MILOSEVIC PLEDGES DEFENSE
  • [15] U.S. EXPERT CALLS FOR 'REMOVAL' OF SERBIAN URANIUM
  • [16] CLARK WARNS MILOSEVIC ON MONTENEGRO
  • [17] CROATIAN SERB LEADER CALLS FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORM
  • [18] CROATS WANT TO KNOW WHO PAID HAGUE LAWYER
  • [19] BOSNIAN SERB SOCIALIST PARTY CONTINUES TO DISSOLVE
  • [20] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW DEFENSE MINISTER
  • [21] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT COMPLETES DUAL CITIZENSHIP DRAFT
  • [22] BULGARIA DENIES SELLING ARMS TO ANGOLA'S UNITA
  • [23] MACEDONIAN FIRM WANTS ONLY TWO BULGARIAN DAILIES

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] ON EQUAL TERMS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] CASPIAN LITTORAL STATES DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY

    CONVENTION

    Meeting in Almaty, representatives of Azerbaijan,

    Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan have reached

    agreement on the wording of a draft Caspian Environment

    Security Convention, Caucasus Press reported on 13 March. But

    that agreement is unlikely to be signed. let alone

    implemented, until the five countries reach agreement on the

    international status of the Caspian. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CONDEMNS LEADERSHIP INFIGHTING

    Concluding its three-day congress on 12 March, the National

    Democratic Union (AZhM) adopted a statement condemning the

    ongoing tensions between Armenian President Robert Kocharian

    and Prime Minister Aram Sargsian and his supporters, RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported. The statement termed the present

    system of government an obstacle to efficient governance,

    economic development, and democratization, and it called for

    the abolition of the "clan system" and the formation of a

    true government of the people. Also on 12 March, AZhM

    chairman Vazgen Manukian acknowledged the existence of two

    wings within the party, one of which advocates close

    cooperation with the present cabinet. But Manukian said the

    political situation is evolving so swiftly that within two or

    three months that split will no longer exist. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA DISCUSS GAS SECTOR COOPERATION

    Azerbaijani gas sector officials met in Tbilisi on 13 March

    with their Georgian counterparts and with Georgian President

    Eduard Shevardnadze to discuss plans for the export of

    natural gas from Azerbaijan's off-shore Shah Deniz field via

    Georgia to Turkey, Caucasus Press reported. The plans entails

    reconstruction of an existing pipeline from Azerbaijan to

    Georgia and its extension via Georgia to Turkey. The new gas

    pipeline will run parallel to the planned Baku-Ceyhan

    pipeline that will export Caspian oil to Turkey. The gas

    pipeline will have a throughput capacity of 16 billion cubic

    meters per year that may be increased to 20-24 billion cubic

    meters. Construction will begin next year and is scheduled

    for completion in time to provide gas to Turkey during the

    winter of 2002-2003. The issue of transit tariffs has not yet

    been addressed. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI POLICE BREAK UP UNSANCTIONED PROTEST

    Police in

    Baku on 14 March forcibly dispersed members of the opposition

    Azerbaijan Popular Front Party who had tried to picket the

    parliament building, Turan reported. The picketers were

    demanding that the parliament debate the deteriorating social

    and economic situation in the country. They had earlier

    applied to the Baku Municipal Council for permission to stage

    the protest, which was refused. LF

    [05] AZERBAIJAN'S MUSLIMS CONDEMN CHECHEN 'GENOCIDE'

    Representatives of seven Muslim organizations in Azerbaijan

    issued a statement on 13 March calling on progressive forces

    in Russia and the international community to protest the

    ongoing genocide of the Chechen people, Turan reported. The

    statement expressed concern at the possibility that Moscow

    might undertake similar punitive action against Azerbaijan.

    LF

    [06] ABKHAZIA DENIES EXECUTING GEORGIAN POWS

    Anri Djergenia, who

    is prosecutor-general of the unrecognized Republic of

    Abkhazia, has written to UN Special Representative Dieter

    Boden denying Georgian media allegations that three Georgian

    prisoners of war have been executed in Abkhazia's Dranda

    prison, Caucasus Press reported on 13 March. Djergenia also

    denied Georgian claims that Abkhazia has held several dozen

    Georgians captive since the war ended in 1993. He said that

    there are only three Georgian prisoners of war in Abkhaz

    prisons. LF

    [07] OSCE CONDEMNS KYRGYZ POLL VIOLATIONS

    In a statement released

    in Bishkek on 13 March, the OSCE election observer mission

    said that the parliamentary elections "failed to comply with

    OSCE commitments," Reuters reported. It added that "the

    positive conditions for fair and competitive elections, which

    the existing legislation could have ensured, have been

    undermined." The statement expressed concern at the exclusion

    of opposition candidates from the runoff vote on 12 March and

    queried the validity of the poll results in a Talas Oblast

    constituency where pressure on voters apparently contributed

    to the second round defeat of opposition Ar-Namys Party

    leader Feliks Kulov. Some 500 Kulov supporters congregated

    outside the local election commission on 13 March to protest

    Kulov's defeat, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. LF

    [08] TURKMENISTAN DEPORTS THREE RUSSIAN BAPTIST FAMILIES

    From 11-

    13 March, the Turkmen authorities forcibly returned to Russia

    three Baptist preachers and their families who had been

    living in Ashgabat and the town of Mary to the southeast,

    Keston News Service reported on 13 March. Two other leading

    members of Turkmenistan's Baptist community were deported to

    Russia and Ukraine last December. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] KOSOVAR STUDENT LEADER SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS

    A district

    court in Nis has sentenced Albin Kurti to 15 years

    imprisonment. Charges against him included "separatism...,

    jeopardizing Yugoslavia's territorial integrity, and

    conspiring to commit hostile activities linked to terrorism."

    Kurti told the judge that he does not "recognize [the

    authority of] the court, or Serbia, or Yugoslavia," adding

    that he has nothing to add to his previous testimony, "Danas"

    reported on 14 March. Kurti's court-appointed lawyer said

    that he will appeal the sentence. State prosecutor Aleksandar

    Obradovic said that "the defendant has shown in this

    courtroom all his hatred for the Serbian people." The charges

    against Kurti carried a maximum sentence of 20 years, but

    observers suggest that he received less than that because of

    the high degree of publicity his case had received abroad. As

    a student leader in 1997 and 1998, Kurti was a pacifist.

    After the Serbian crackdown began in Kosova, he became a

    spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army's Adem Demaci, who

    had been Kosova's best-known dissident under communism. PM

    [10] RUBIN APPEALS TO ALBANIANS, SERBS

    U.S. State Department

    spokesman James Rubin said in Gjilan on 14 March that people

    in Kosova should be patient in awaiting justice and not seek

    revenge for atrocities committed against them in the recent

    conflict (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 March 2000). He stressed

    that it will take time for a functioning judicial system to

    be established in the province. Rubin told his ethnic

    Albanian listeners that they are now "free of the oppression

    from Belgrade," adding that freedom requires responsibility.

    The previous day in Gracanica, he told members of the local

    Serbian minority that the U.S. did not intervene in Kosova in

    order to "watch Albanians act against Serbs." He said that

    "the Serbs should know that we want coexistence for all the

    peoples" in the province. PM

    [11] OSCE PREPARES FOR KOSOVA VOTE

    The OSCE's Daan Everts said in

    Prishtina on 13 March that Serbian refugees from Kosova need

    not return to the province to register or vote in local

    elections tentatively slated for 1 October. He called on the

    Yugoslav authorities to cooperate in enabling the refugees to

    take part in the electoral process. In Leposaviq, Everts met

    with leaders of the Serbian minority to discuss plans for a

    pre-election census. Oliver Ivanovic, who is the chief

    representative of the Serbs in Mitrovica, said that the

    "money that will be spent on a three-month census should

    instead be used for the return of Serbian" refugees, AP

    reported. PM

    [12] SERBIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROTESTS AGAINST MEDIA SHUTDOWN

    Spokesmen for several opposition parties called on citizens

    of Belgrade to rally in front of the city hall if the

    authorities try to shut down Studio B Television, which is

    controlled by Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement.

    Speaking on 13 March, the spokesmen stressed that they expect

    the government's recent crackdown on the independent and

    private media to continue (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 March

    2000). But Predrag Markovic, who is a spokesman for the G-17

    group of independent economists, said they have unspecified

    information that opposition leaders will "hand the station

    over to the regime in order to protect their own fundamental

    interests," "Vesti" reported. Elsewhere, the private Beta

    news agency reported that Yugoslav army authorities in Nis

    ordered the staff of the independent TV 5 station to evacuate

    their premises by 24 April. The army officials said in a

    letter that they want to use the "unprofitable space" for

    living quarters, Reuters reported. PM

    [13] SERBIAN ARMY RESERVISTS PROTEST CALL-UP NOTICES

    Some 200

    tank corps reservists demonstrated near Kraljevo on 13 March

    to protest what they said are frequent call-ups. They

    demanded a more equitable distribution of call-up notices,

    "Vesti" reported. Opposition spokesmen have repeatedly said

    in recent days that they suspect the army is selectively

    sending out the notices to opposition supporters and to

    individuals in strongly anti-regime municipalities. Army

    chief-of-staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic and other commanders

    say that the call-up notices are "routine" and have nothing

    to do with tensions in southwestern Serbia or between Serbia

    and Montenegro. PM

    [14] MILOSEVIC PLEDGES DEFENSE

    Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic on 13 March formally named General Vladimir

    Lazarevic to succeed Pavkovic as head of the Third Army,

    which is responsible for southern Serbia (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 3 January and 16 February 2000). Milosevic

    stressed that he is ready to "defend the peace and freedom of

    the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with all [available]

    means," "Vesti" reported. PM

    [15] U.S. EXPERT CALLS FOR 'REMOVAL' OF SERBIAN URANIUM

    Nuclear

    authority William Potter said in Washington on 13 March that

    the international community should "remove" some 50 kilograms

    of weapons-grade uranium stored at Vinca, between Belgrade

    and Kragujevac. Potter said that security at the facility is

    lax and that the uranium could easily be stolen. He also

    warned that some Serbian leaders may be tempted to "pursue a

    nuclear option," Reuters reported. PM

    [16] CLARK WARNS MILOSEVIC ON MONTENEGRO

    NATO's Supreme Commander

    in Europe General Wesley Clark said in Sofia on 13 March that

    "NATO will do or not do the things it needs to do or not do

    as it sees it at the time.... As I have said publicly, Mr.

    Milosevic should be very aware about NATO's capability."

    Clark stressed that the Atlantic alliance is "watching very

    closely what's happening in Montenegro as Milosevic tightens

    the noose." PM

    [17] CROATIAN SERB LEADER CALLS FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORM

    Milorad

    Pupovac said in Zagreb on 13 March that Croatia could easily

    return to the nationalism characteristic of the late

    President Franjo Tudjman's rule unless the government takes

    urgent measures to enable Serbian refugees to return to

    Croatia, rebuild their homes, and acquire citizenship. He

    added that "democracy in Zagreb without democracy in [the

    Krajina center of] Knin is something that is not realistic,"

    Reuters reported. Elsewhere in the Croatian capital, British

    Foreign Secretary Robin Cook praised the new government but

    called on it to cooperate more closely with the Hague-based

    war crimes tribunal. PM

    [18] CROATS WANT TO KNOW WHO PAID HAGUE LAWYER

    A spokesman for

    the Croatian Embassy in Washington said on 13 March that the

    embassy has no record of a reported contract with the U.S.

    attorney David Rivkin, according to which Rivkin allegedly

    received some $9 million over several years to represent

    Croatian interests at the Hague-based war crimes tribunal.

    Justice Minister Stjepan Ivanisevic said recently that

    embassy officials, and not his ministry, negotiated the

    contract. "Slobodna Dalmacija" reported on 14 March that

    several top officials of the former ruling party are trying

    to blame one another for the alleged deal with Rivkin.

    Critics charge that Rivkin was ineffective in representing

    Croatia and was not worth the huge fees he reportedly

    received. PM

    [19] BOSNIAN SERB SOCIALIST PARTY CONTINUES TO DISSOLVE

    Meeting

    on 13 March in Banja Luka, the steering committee of the

    Socialist Party of the Republika Srpska expelled Nebojsa

    Radmanovic and Mirko Nozica from the committee. Momir Malic,

    who is the parliament's general secretary, said he has quit

    the party. Party General Secretary Zeljko Mirjanic added that

    he is leaving that post, "Oslobodjenje" reported. The

    expulsions and resignations come in the wake of the party's

    decision to leave the governing coalition (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 28 February 2000). The party is the Bosnian branch

    of Milosevic's party, and the decision to quit the government

    is widely seen as having been on his orders. PM

    [20] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW DEFENSE MINISTER

    Romanian

    President Emil Constantinescu has appointed Sorin

    Frunzaverde as new defense minister, Romanian media

    reported on 13 March. Frunzaverde was nominated to the post

    by the Democratic Party, following the resignation of

    former Defense Minister Victor Babiuc. However, the

    Democratic Party is to meet on 15 March to decide whether

    to remain in the coalition government. Constantinescu also

    expressed his support for Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu and

    called on the various coalition parties to work together on

    drafting key laws, such as the budget and a medium-term

    economic strategy. VG

    [21] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT COMPLETES DUAL CITIZENSHIP DRAFT

    Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi has completed work on a

    draft law on dual citizenship, according to a 13 March

    BASA-Press report. Mihai Petrache, the president's legal

    adviser, said the Moldovan Foreign Ministry will submit the

    document to countries with which it wants to sign dual

    citizenship agreements. Last week, Lucinschi said in a

    televised address that Moldova is primarily interested in

    having such agreements with Romania, Russia, and Israel. VG

    [22] BULGARIA DENIES SELLING ARMS TO ANGOLA'S UNITA

    The

    Bulgarian Economy Ministry on 13 March denied reports that

    the country has sold weapons to UNITA and trained members

    of the rebel group in Angola, BTA reported. The ministry

    was responding to a UN report that cited Bulgaria as a

    chief source of weapons for UNITA since 1997. The report

    also noted that UNITA members disguised as Zaireans have

    been trained in Bulgaria. The Economy Ministry said

    Bulgaria signed a military training accord with Zaire in

    1996, at a time when there were no international

    restrictions on such programs with that country. It added

    that it sold weapons to Togo, which the UN report cites as

    a supplier of arms to UNITA. VG

    [23] MACEDONIAN FIRM WANTS ONLY TWO BULGARIAN DAILIES

    The

    Macedonian publishing house Nova Makedonija has asked the

    Bulgarian distributor Pelagonia-M Ltd to provide it with

    only two Bulgarian newspapers, "Trud" and "24 Chasa,"

    rather than the full allotment, BTA reported. The head of

    the Bulgarian firm said he is "alarmed" at that decision.

    On 11 March, the Macedonian firm denied earlier reports

    that it has decided to discontinue all deliveries of

    Bulgarian newspapers. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [24] ON EQUAL TERMS

    By Paul Goble

    Russian and Chechen forces increasingly will meet on

    equal terms and are likely to suffer equal losses now that

    the military phase of Moscow's operation is mostly over. That

    pattern appears certain to have an impact on Russian popular

    attitudes about the conflict as well as on Chechen efforts to

    continue to fight.

    That is the judgment of Pavel Felgengauer, Russia's

    leading defense analyst. Speaking on Russian radio last week,

    he suggested that the conflict would now turn into one of

    "total war" between Russians who have brought it upon

    themselves by the way in which they have conducted the war

    and Chechens who now see their struggle as one for national

    survival.

    Such a war, Felgengauer continued, is one that Russian

    army and Interior Ministry units are not prepared for. Even

    the most well-trained units are likely to be at risk, he

    said, pointing to the destruction of a Moscow police convoy

    outside of Grozny the previous week and the escape of the

    Chechen units who inflicted it.

    But for conscripts and new recruits, Felgengauer

    suggested, the situation is certain to be even worse. The

    fighting in Chechnya "will increasingly be on equal terms,

    without artillery or air power," on which Russian forces had

    relied to keep their own casualties to a minimum.

    Any rise in Russian casualties is likely to undercut

    Moscow's current claims of victory, simultaneously leading

    some Russians to call for even tougher measures against the

    Chechens and causing others to consider trying to find a

    peaceful way out.

    Because acting Russian President Vladimir Putin has

    based his reputation largely on his tough stance in Chechnya,

    he will be reluctant to pull back in any way. Right now, the

    Russian public overwhelmingly supports him in this, with

    approximately 70 percent favoring a continuation of his

    campaign to suppress the Chechens.

    But that support is predicated on his keeping Russian

    losses low. Felgengauer's analysis suggests that Putin and

    his regime may not be able to continue to do so. And once

    casualties increase, the historical record of many countries

    that have fought similar wars suggests that many who now

    support the war effort may turn against it.

    Moreover, as the war drags on, ever more Russians are

    likely to become concerned about the impact of the conflict

    on Russian political and social life more generally. As

    Felgengauer pointed out, Moscow has conducted this campaign

    in a way that has demonized the Chechens and created a

    situation in which "hatred is met with hatred."

    Not only will that further fragment Russian society, but

    it will almost certainly poison Russian politics and limit

    the possibility that Russia will be able to move in a

    democratic direction. That risk was highlighted in a recent

    speech by Dmitrii Furman, a senior scholar at Moscow's

    Institute of Europe and a consultant for the Andrei Sakharov

    Museum and Center.

    Speaking to the National Endowment for Democracy in

    Washington on 23 February--the anniversary of Stalin's

    deportation of the Chechens--Furman suggested that Moscow's

    approach both to Chechnya and the Chechens left him unable to

    "imagine a peaceful integration of Chechens into Russian

    society."

    As a result, Furman said, Russian democracy is likely to

    become impossible without Chechen independence. And because

    of that, he concluded, "in the long run, I think Chechen

    independence is inevitable."

    So far, relatively few Russians appear ready to agree

    with Furman's conclusion, a state of affairs that raises

    serious questions about Moscow's ability to move toward

    democracy.

    But Felgengauer's argument that the new phase of the

    Chechen conflict will feature more Russian casualties could

    ultimately lead many other Russians to conclude that they

    would be far better off in a democratic Russia without

    Chechnya than in an undemocratic Russia that tries to hold on

    to this small republic in the North Caucasus.

    If that happens, Russia will join a long list of

    countries that have given up their colonial possessions once

    they realized the full cost of holding them.

    14-03-00


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


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