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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 88, 00-05-05

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. 88, 5 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY UNDECIDED ON PARTICIPATION IN
  • [02] ARMENIA, IRAQ DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION
  • [03] ARMENIAN CENTER-RIGHT FORMS NEW ALLIANCE
  • [04] THREE CANDIDATES IN RUNNING FOR GEORGIAN MINISTER OF STATE
  • [05] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY SAYS FORMER GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE
  • [06] IRAN PROTESTS AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER'S STATEMENT
  • [07] KYRGYZ AUTHORITIES, OPPOSITION MEET
  • [08] KYRGYZ TRADE UNIONS PROTEST PRICE INCREASES
  • [09] UZBEK ISLAMISTS LEAVING TAJIKISTAN?

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] YUGOSLAV ARMY WARNS OPPOSITION
  • [11] WHOM DOES THE ARMY HAVE IN MIND?
  • [12] OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROTEST IN MILOSEVIC'S HOME TOWN
  • [13] REGIME SLAMS OTPOR
  • [14] PRISON PROTESTS IN KOSOVA
  • [15] ANNIVERSARY OF TITO'S DEATH MARKED IN BELGRADE...
  • [16] ...AND ELSEWHERE IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
  • [17] CROATIAN VETERANS DETERMINED TO BLOCK ROADS
  • [18] DODIK SLAMS BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT
  • [19] ROMANIA, IMF AGREE ON 'LETTER OF INTENT'
  • [20] HIGH-RANKING ROMANIAN POLITICIANS INVOLVED IN MONEY-
  • [21] MOLDOVAN POLICE LAUNCH PROCEEDINGS AGAINST 'TROUBLE-MAKING'
  • [22] BULGARIAN NATIONAL AIRLINE GROUNDED BY STRIKE
  • [23] EU TO AID AGRICULTURAL REFORM IN BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] A NEW KIND OF AUTONOMY

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY UNDECIDED ON PARTICIPATION IN

    NEW GOVERNMENT

    The Miasnutiun bloc and its ally, the

    Yerkrapah Union of veterans of the Karabakh war, continued to

    discuss on 4 May whether Miasnutiun should propose new

    candidates for premier and ministers in the new government

    but failed to reach any decision, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. Parliamentary deputy speaker Tigran Torosian told

    journalists he thinks Miasnutiun should begin consultations

    on potential candidates with the president. But observers

    believe Yerkrapah is reluctant to allow Kocharian's 2 May

    sacking of Prime Minister Aram Sargsian and Defense Minister

    Vagharshsak Harutiunian to go unchallenged. Also on 4 May,

    President Robert Kocharian, who has assumed the duties of

    acting prime minister, convened a cabinet meeting that

    focused on social and economic issues. LF

    [02] ARMENIA, IRAQ DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION

    Armenian Foreign

    Minister Vartan Oskanian met on 4 May in Yerevan with

    visiting Iraqi First Deputy Foreign Minister Nuri Issmail

    Taha al-Weiss to discuss expanding economic cooperation and

    opening embassies in Yerevan and Baghdad, RFE/RL's Yerevan

    bureau reported. They identified industry, energy, and trade

    as the most promising sectors for such cooperation. Armenian

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Ara Papian told RFE/RL that the

    planned cooperation does not run counter to UN sanctions

    against Baghdad. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN CENTER-RIGHT FORMS NEW ALLIANCE

    Four small center-

    right parties that split from the former ruling Armenian Pan-

    National Movement (HHSh) on 3 May aligned in a new opposition

    Union of Right-Wing Forces, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported

    the following day. They are former parliamentary speaker

    Hrant Bagratian's Azatutiun, former parliamentary speaker

    Babken Ararktsian's Armat, former National Security Minister

    Davit Shahnazarian's 21st Century party, and former Yerevan

    Mayor Vigen Khachatrian's Liberal Democratic Party. They

    pledged to seek the "constitutional" removal of the current

    Armenian leadership, which they accused of rolling back

    political and economic reform, bullying the opposition, and

    pursuing an "aggressive foreign policy." The new grouping

    will strive to restore "constitutional order," to achieve

    "the irreversibility of democracy," and ensure Armenia's

    "active participation" in regional integration processes, its

    leaders said. LF

    [04] THREE CANDIDATES IN RUNNING FOR GEORGIAN MINISTER OF STATE

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists in

    Tbilisi on 4 May that "most probably" Gia Arsenishvili, who

    is governor of the east Georgian region of Kakheti, will be

    appointed to head the next Georgian government. As possible

    alternative candidates Shevardnadze named Tbilisi Mayor Vano

    Zodelava and the governor of Imereti in western Georgia,

    Temur Shashiashvili. In a lengthy open letter to Shevardnadze

    last year, Shashiashvili had threatened to resign from that

    post to protest the central government's neglect of the

    regions (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 44, 7

    November 1999). LF

    [05] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY SAYS FORMER GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE

    PROSECUTED

    Koba Davitashvili, who is deputy chairman of the

    parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee, told fellow

    deputies on 4 May that he has asked the prosecutor-general to

    begin legal proceedings against the outgoing Georgian

    government for its failure to fulfill the state budget,

    Caucasus Press reported. A professional lawyer, Davitashvili

    said the failure, which resulted in a budget deficit of 300

    million lari ($150 million), constitutes a criminal offense

    punishable by three to five years in prison. LF

    [06] IRAN PROTESTS AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER'S STATEMENT

    Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned Azerbaijan's ambassador

    in Tehran to protest a statement Azerbaijani Foreign Minister

    Vilayet Guliev made last week in the U.S., Reuters reported

    on 4 May, citing IRNA. Guliev had claimed that Iran's ethnic

    Azerbaijanis have no access to education in their mother

    tongue. Tehran condemned that statement as "irresponsible and

    meddlesome" as well as "anti-Iranian." Azerbaijan's President

    Heidar Aliev is scheduled to travel to Tehran next month to

    attend an Economic Cooperation Organization summit. LF

    [07] KYRGYZ AUTHORITIES, OPPOSITION MEET

    Representatives of

    several Kyrgyz opposition parties and NGOs met in Bishkek on

    3 May with Security Council Secretary Bolot Djanuzakov and

    presidential adviser Askar Aitmatov to discuss preparations

    and the agenda for a planned roundtable between the two

    sides, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. The

    opposition demanded that topics for discussion include the

    outcome of the parliamentary elections held earlier this

    year, the arrest of opposition Ar-Namys party leader Feliks

    Kulov, how to ensure that the upcoming presidential poll is

    fair and democratic, and the social and economic situation in

    the country. They also insist that President Askar Akaev

    attend the roundtable. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ TRADE UNIONS PROTEST PRICE INCREASES

    The Federation

    of Kyrgyz Trade Unions has appealed to the cabinet on 4 May

    to take "emergency measures" to counter what it terms "a

    devastating social and economic crisis," Interfax reported.

    The trade unions noted that the average monthly wage, which

    is the equivalent of $20, is the lowest in the CIS and that

    prices for food, gas, and electricity have risen by 300-500

    percent over the past year. They demanded payment of public-

    sector wage arrears and the suspension of new electricity

    tariffs. Speaking on state television the same day, however,

    President Akaev said the most recent increases in energy

    prices are "inevitable" if the country is to live within its

    means. He instructed the cabinet to begin talks with the

    country's donors, including the World Bank, on the

    possibility of freezing energy prices until the end of the

    year. LF

    [09] UZBEK ISLAMISTS LEAVING TAJIKISTAN?

    Armed detachments

    subordinate to banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader

    Djuma Namangani are heading for the Tajik-Afghan border via

    Dushanbe under the escort of Tajik Defense Ministry forces,

    ITAR-TASS and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 4 May. The

    detachments will join the main contingent of Namangani's men,

    who are currently in Kunduz Province. Namangani had pledged

    last week to leave Tajikistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26

    April 2000). LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] YUGOSLAV ARMY WARNS OPPOSITION

    The Yugoslav Army issued what

    Reuters called an "unprecedented statement" on 4 May, telling

    the opposition that it will not permit any "threats" against

    President Slobodan Milosevic. According to the statement,

    "brutal attacks on the institution and personality of the

    president of Yugoslavia have culminated in primitive threats

    to brutally liquidate [him].... The army must objectively

    react to such attacks and threats, which are aimed at

    undermining the defense and threatening the security of the

    country," the statement concluded. PM

    [11] WHOM DOES THE ARMY HAVE IN MIND?

    The statement appears to be

    a response to a speech that Vojvodina Social Democratic

    leader Nenad Canak made in Belgrade at the opposition rally

    on 14 April, in which he called for Milosevic to be tried and

    punished (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 2000). In Novi Sad,

    Canak told Reuters on 4 May that "the regime will explore

    reactions to see whether it's wise to arrest me. If they

    don't arrest me, they will show weakness and if they do,

    different problems will occur. I'm sure the regime knows that

    it will be a turning point after which there will be a lot of

    non-parliamentary methods of struggle," Canak added. He did

    not elaborate. The army statement also claimed that

    "especially prominent in unprincipled speculation and

    unfounded criticism [of Milosevic] are incompetent leaders of

    certain marginal political parties and some former army

    employees." This appears to refer to former Generals Momcilo

    Perisic and Vuk Obradovic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May

    2000). PM

    [12] OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROTEST IN MILOSEVIC'S HOME TOWN

    Leaders of the Otpor (Resistance) student movement called for

    a demonstration in Pozarevac on 9 May to protest the recent

    arrest of three of its members on charges of attempting to

    kill four friends of Milosevic's son Marko (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 3 May 2000). Otpor spokesman Branko Ilic urged

    Belgrade residents to demonstrate at the central prison on 5

    May, adding that "we are ready to pay any price" to go ahead

    with the protests, "Vesti" reported. Referring to the

    Pozarevac demonstration, Alliance for Change leader Vladan

    Batic said: "We shall go into this bastion of violence and

    terror and show our support for the students.... Milosevic's

    regime cannot arrest or put on trial the entire population,"

    AP reported. PM

    [13] REGIME SLAMS OTPOR

    In Belgrade on 4 March, indicted war

    criminal and Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic

    called Otpor a "fascist formation," RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav

    Seselj said that Otpor is an "illegal, fascist organization"

    bent on making trouble, AP reported. Other regime supporters

    have described Otpor as funded by the CIA and NATO. In

    related news, the authorities fined Studio B Television

    $6,200 on 4 May for reporting "false news" in conjunction

    with the incident in Pozarevac. A $10,000 fine was recently

    handed down to Studio B Television on similar charges (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 2000). On 5 May, station director

    Dragan Kojadinovic told Reuters that Studio B will not pay

    the fines. "We will not pay, they will have to block our

    accounts. We will have three trials in 30 hours. We will no

    longer appear at these trials. We don't want to waste our

    strength and our energy," he added. PM

    [14] PRISON PROTESTS IN KOSOVA

    On 3 May, a court in Nis

    sentenced14 ethnic Albanians from Suhareka to prison terms

    ranging from 20 months to 12 years on charges of "terrorism."

    In Prishtina, several Albanians continued a hunger strike on

    4 May to demand freedom for Kosovars held in Serbian jails.

    In Kosovska Mitrovica's prison, several Serbs are staging a

    hunger strike to demand that their trials begin. On 4 May,

    some 2,000 sympathizers demonstrated outside the jail,

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [15] ANNIVERSARY OF TITO'S DEATH MARKED IN BELGRADE...

    Jovanka

    Broz, who is the widow of Josip Broz Tito, laid a wreath at

    the Belgrade tomb of her husband to mark the 20th anniversary

    of his death on 4 May. An unspecified number of family

    members, World War II veterans, and primarily elderly

    Communists also paid their respects. Josip Broz, who is a

    grandson of the late leader, denied charges made in recent

    years that Tito was a dictator, "Vesti" reported. Broz argued

    that his grandfather allowed the student protests of 1968 to

    take place and dealt with the issues that the students raised

    "by political means." He similarly used a political approach

    to deal with the Croatian Spring, or Maspok, led by Franjo

    Tudjman in 1971, Broz added. He mentioned that his

    grandfather told him in 1978 that his "biggest mistake" as

    Yugoslavia's leader was to allow nationalists to present

    their views for public discussion. Broz did not say exactly

    which nationalists his grandfather meant or to which years he

    referred. PM

    [16] ...AND ELSEWHERE IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

    The Belgrade

    commemoration of Tito's death anniversary on 4 May included

    delegations from Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia, "Vesti"

    reported. Similar, if smaller, commemorative gatherings took

    place in several cities and towns in Bosnia. In Tuzla, a bust

    of Tito was unveiled in the city center, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. Some 5,000 mostly elderly people

    arrived in Tito's home town of Kumrovec in Croatia to pay

    their respects. They came from various parts of Croatia and

    also from Bosnia, Slovenia, and Italy, "Novi List" reported.

    But not everyone shared their enthusiasm. Croatian Social

    Liberal leader Drazen Budisa, who was a student leader in

    Maspok, told "Vjesnik": "Don't talk to me about Tito." PM

    [17] CROATIAN VETERANS DETERMINED TO BLOCK ROADS

    Marinko Liovic,

    who heads the association of veterans of the 1991-1995 war

    known as HVIDRA, said in Zagreb on 4 May that his

    organization will oppose the government's program to fund the

    return of Serbian refugees (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May

    2000). He stressed that HVIDRA will go ahead with its plans

    to block roads, ports, airports, and border crossings to make

    its point, adding that any tourists who want to come to

    Croatia will have to force their way through the veterans,

    "Jutarnji list" reported. Defense Minister Jozo Rados called

    HVIDRA's plans "horrible" and said that dealing with the

    protesters will be a matter for the police, "Novi List"

    reported. Parliamentary speaker Zlatko Tomcic charged that

    the veterans want to "sow chaos." PM

    [18] DODIK SLAMS BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT

    Prime Minister Milorad

    Dodik said in Banja Luka on 4 May that the legislature

    reduced itself to the level of a "debating society" after it

    rejected all the proposals that the government put forward,

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [19] ROMANIA, IMF AGREE ON 'LETTER OF INTENT'

    Chief IMF

    negotiator for Romania Emmanuel Zervoudakis and Prime Minster

    Mugur Isarescu have agreed on a "letter of intent" in which

    the Romanian cabinet will undertake to meet the fund's

    conditions for extending the 1999 stand-by agreement until

    February 2001, RFE/RL 's Bucharest bureau reported on 4 May.

    The executive board of the fund must now discuss and decided

    whether to approve the new agreement. If it gives its

    approval, loans to Romania, which were frozen in fall1999,

    can be resumed. MS

    [20] HIGH-RANKING ROMANIAN POLITICIANS INVOLVED IN MONEY-

    LAUNDERING SCANDAL?

    Two French prosecutors are in Bucharest

    to investigate, together with their Romanian colleagues,

    suspicions that high-ranking opposition politicians were

    involved in money-laundering, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau

    reported. Charges were filed in France against Adrian Costea,

    who has joint Romanian-French citizenship and is suspected of

    siphoning public funds on behalf of politicians. The

    prosecutors want Party of Social Democracy in Romania First

    Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase and Alliance for Romania Party

    Chairman Teodor Melescanu to testify in the case. Funds

    totaling more than $100 million were reportedly channeled to

    France ostensibly to pay for the publication of a

    photographic album on Romania. Both Nastase and Melescanu

    have denied any involvement in the affair. MS

    [21] MOLDOVAN POLICE LAUNCH PROCEEDINGS AGAINST 'TROUBLE-MAKING'

    PROFESSORS

    Interior Minister Vladimir Turcan on 4 May said

    police have launched proceedings against seven professors

    suspected of having "instigated" students to take part in the

    17-21 April demonstrations in Chisinau, RFE/RL's bureau in

    the Moldovan capital reported. Turcan said the Prosecutor-

    General's Office will decide whether to indict the seven.

    More than 125 people are suspected of having helped instigate

    the students to demonstrate. MS

    [22] BULGARIAN NATIONAL AIRLINE GROUNDED BY STRIKE

    Balkan

    Airlines was grounded on 4 May for the second consecutive day

    as pilots continued a strike to demand higher wages and an

    improvement in safety conditions, Reuters reported. A senior

    official of the company said no pay rises can be considered

    until the restructuring of the indebted company has been

    completed. Balkan Airlines was sold in 1999 to the Israeli

    Zeev Holdings company. MS

    [23] EU TO AID AGRICULTURAL REFORM IN BULGARIA

    EU Agriculture

    Commissioner Franz Fischler, arriving in Sofia to attend a

    meeting of agricultural officials from 16 countries, said the

    EU is planning to spend 4 billion euros ($3.6 billion) over

    the next six years to support farming reforms in countries

    seeking EU membership, AP reported. Fischler said Bulgaria's

    annual share of that aid will amount to 52 million euros. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [24] A NEW KIND OF AUTONOMY

    By Paul Goble

    Russia's government has extended extraterritorial cultural

    autonomy to the country's 1 million Roma, an arrangement that

    will almost certainly benefit them but could call into

    question Moscow's commitment to territorial autonomy for

    other small groups.

    At the end of last month, the Russian Ministry for

    Federation and Nationality Affairs publicly announced the

    creation of a federal national-cultural autonomy arrangement

    for Russia's Roma. This was the final step in a process that

    began in November 1999 and was legally registered by the

    Justice Ministry in March 2000.

    This kind of autonomy, ministry officials pointed out,

    is not like the territorial autonomy enjoyed by many other

    groups. It does not give the Roma control over any particular

    territory but does strengthen their rights by establishing a

    special council under the Federation and Nationalities

    Ministry.

    For a group like the Roma, who live dispersed in

    relatively small groups across the entire Russian Federation,

    such an arrangement is a major step forward. Until now, the

    Roma have been subject to discrimination in Russia, as in

    many other countries. They do not have a single school or

    newspaper using their own language, and their past suffering

    has often been ignored.

    Consequently, the establishment of a special council

    gives them a chance to speak out in defense of their national

    interests. And that is what they did late last month. Their

    leaders attacked Romani stereotypes in the Russian media and

    the failure of the Russian government to acknowledge the

    murder of Roma in Nazi concentration camps.

    Even if that is all this council is able to do, the

    opportunity to speak out will be welcome in a group that has

    seldom had a chance to make its voice heard at an official

    level. But the provision of this new kind of extraterritorial

    autonomy for one group raises the possibility that Moscow or

    someone else might come to see it as an option for other

    groups.

    The territorial autonomies within the Russian Federation

    are the product of a decision taken by Vladimir Lenin and the

    Bolshevik Party before the 1917 revolution and

    institutionalized by Joseph Stalin after that time.

    Indeed, the Soviet commitment to territorial autonomy

    was defined by opposition to the concept of extraterritorial

    cultural autonomy advanced by Austro-Hungarian Marxists Otto

    Bauer and Karl Renner.

    In the early part of the 20th century, Bauer and Renner

    sketched out a system whereby individuals would enjoy

    national rights, regardless of their place of residence,

    rather than only in places where they constituted a majority

    of the population.

    Such an arrangement appealed to many dispersed groups,

    including the Jews of tsarist Russia, but it was opposed by

    Lenin and others who saw it both as unwieldy administratively

    and as a threat to the unity of the working class.

    As a result, the communist authorities always opposed

    the idea of extraterritorial cultural autonomy for any group,

    and the Russian Federation until now has continued that

    Soviet-era opposition.

    Now, however, Moscow has extended precisely that kind of

    autonomy to the Roma, and other widely dispersed groups may

    come to see that as a goal for themselves, especially if they

    are not one of the nationalities currently enjoying even the

    limited rights of territorial autonomy.

    But the extension of extraterritorial cultural autonomy

    to the Roma could have another consequence for non-Russians

    in the Russian Federation, one that could threaten the rights

    and privileges they now have.

    In 16 of the 22 non-Russian autonomies inside the

    Russian Federation, the titular nationality forms less than

    half of the population and in some cases vastly less than

    half. That has angered many Russians, and at least some might

    see an extraterritorial arrangement as a way of reducing non-

    Russian privileges.

    At the very least, this possibility is likely to provoke

    debate both in Moscow and in non-Russian regions. And in that

    debate, ideas born at the turn of the 20th century may

    structure new thinking about arrangements at the beginning of

    the 21st.

    05-05-00


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


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