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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 89, 00-05-09

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. 89, 9 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] SOUTH CAUCASUS PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKERS MEET
  • [02] COMMUNISTS ISSUE ULTIMATUM TO ARMENIAN PRESIDENT...
  • [03] ...AS WAR VETERANS CALL FOR HIS RESIGNATION
  • [04] RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES NOT TO MOVE FROM GEORGIA TO ARMENIA
  • [05] U.S. DIPLOMAT VISITS ARMENIA...
  • [06] ...AND AZERBAIJAN
  • [07] DEMONSTRATORS DETAINED IN AZERBAIJANI CAPITAL
  • [08] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY IN CRISIS
  • [09] GEORGIAN TOWN REHABILITATES STALIN
  • [10] KYRGYZ OFFICIALS MEET WITH BISHKEK PROTESTERS
  • [11] KYRGYZSTAN MAY LIFT MORATORIUM ON LAND OWNERSHIP
  • [12] KYRGYZ ENERGY TARIFFS REDUCED
  • [13] KYRGYZ, UZBEK GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES RESOLVE SOME
  • [14] TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL GUARDS PERISH IN ROAD ACCIDENT

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] MILOSEVIC'S HOMETOWN TENSE BEFORE PROTEST
  • [16] SERBIAN OPPOSITION CANCELS DEMONSTRATION
  • [17] ZAGREB CITY VOTE SHOWS APPROVAL FOR GOVERNMENT, PRESIDENT
  • [18] ZAGREB MAY HAVE SOCIAL DEMOCRAT MAYOR
  • [19] MESIC LEADS CROATIA'S ANTI-FASCIST CELEBRATIONS
  • [20] SUPPORT FOR BOSNIA FROM NEIGHBORS
  • [21] PETRITSCH EXPECTS MORE BOSNIAN ARRESTS
  • [22] EU MONEY FOR MONTENEGRO
  • [23] FORMER KOSOVAR COMMANDER KILLED
  • [24] ELECTION COORDINATOR SUFFOCATED TO DEATH IN ALBANIA
  • [25] POLICE MAKE ARREST IN ALBANIAN GOLD THEFT
  • [26] ROMANIAN MONEY-LAUNDERING SCANDAL INTENSIFIES
  • [27] ROMANIAN DEMOCRATS REPLACE BUCHAREST MAYORAL CANDIDATE
  • [28] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SUBMITS DRAFT LAW ON CONSTITUTIONAL
  • [29] BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS RE-ELECT PARVANOV AS LEADER
  • [30] BULGARIAN BALKAN AIRLINE STRIKE CONTINUES

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [31] SPIES VERSUS OLIGARCHS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] SOUTH CAUCASUS PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKERS MEET

    Following talks

    in Strasbourg from 4-6 May, the speakers of the Armenian,

    Azerbaijani, and Georgian parliaments issued a joint

    statement pledging to continue cooperation between their

    respective legislatures with the aim of strengthening "the

    atmosphere of trust in the region," Caucasus Press reported.

    They also agreed on convening a workshop later this year at

    which representatives of all three South Caucasus states will

    discuss the conditions in which displaced persons currently

    live and the prospects for their repatriation. LF

    [02] COMMUNISTS ISSUE ULTIMATUM TO ARMENIAN PRESIDENT...

    Armenian

    Communist Party leader Vladimir Darpinian warned President

    Robert Kocharian on 6 May that his party will launch a

    nationwide campaign to remove him from office unless he

    abandons his opposition to Armenia's accession to the Russia-

    Belarus union and agrees to amend the constitution to curtail

    the powers of the presidency, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. Darpinian also criticized Kocharian for

    "decapitating the government of national unity" by his 2 May

    dismissal of Prime Minister Aram Sargsian. Kocharian had met

    on 5 May with representatives of the Miasnutiun majority

    parliamentary bloc to discuss in general terms the formation

    of the new government. Kocharian reportedly said during those

    talks that he will accept whichever candidate for premier

    Miasnutiun proposes. Vartan Ayvazian, who heads the second-

    largest Kayunutiun faction, said that Kocharian proposed that

    either he or the parliamentary majority should form the new

    cabinet. Ayvazian said the first of those two options would

    entail appointing a "technocrat" premier. LF

    [03] ...AS WAR VETERANS CALL FOR HIS RESIGNATION

    At an 8 May

    gathering at the Yerablur war cemetery attended by dismissed

    Premier Sargsian, members of the Yerkrapah Union of veterans

    of the Karabakh war. which is aligned with Miasnutiun,

    proposed that both Kocharian and Yerkrapah members who

    currently hold senior government posts should step down "so

    the people can decide who should govern their country,"

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. But Yerkrapah board member

    Miasnik Malkhasian stressed that the veterans will never

    resort to force to achieve their political objectives. LF

    [04] RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES NOT TO MOVE FROM GEORGIA TO ARMENIA

    Noyan Tapan on 8 May quoted an unnamed Armenian Defense

    Ministry spokesman as denying media reports that the Russian

    military bases in Georgia that are to be closed will be

    transferred to Armenian territory (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28

    April 2000). LF

    [05] U.S. DIPLOMAT VISITS ARMENIA...

    Carey Cavanaugh, who is the

    U.S. co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group charged with

    mediating a settlement of the Karabakh conflict, met with

    President Kocharian and Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan

    Oskanian on 7 May in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. He was scheduled also to meet with Arkadii

    Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh

    Republic, in Yerevan. Cavanaugh told journalists the object

    of his visit is to assess the political situation in Armenia

    and the prospects for advancing a peace settlement. He

    disclosed that the Minsk Group is drafting a new Karabakh

    peace proposal, but he refused to give any details or say

    when that proposal might be submitted to the conflict

    parties. He said he will meet with his French and Russian

    counterparts as well as with international agencies in Geneva

    on 18 May to discuss funding for reconstruction and the

    resettlement of displaced persons and refugees. LF

    [06] ...AND AZERBAIJAN

    Cavanaugh met in Baku on 8 May with

    Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliev, ITAR-TASS and

    Turan reported. He assured Guliev that the new peace proposal

    must be acceptable to all parties to the conflict. Azerbaijan

    rejected the previous draft proposal of November 1998, which

    envisaged the creation of a "common state" comprising

    Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. LF

    [07] DEMONSTRATORS DETAINED IN AZERBAIJANI CAPITAL

    Police in Baku

    on 8 May dispersed some 60 people who attempted to picket the

    Prosecutor-General's Office to demand the release of

    opposition leaders arrested during the 29 April unsanctioned

    demonstration in the capital, Turan reported. Nine

    demonstrators were detained. Six men were fined 55,000 manats

    ($11), while the three detained women were cautioned and then

    released. Also on 8 May, representatives of the 10 opposition

    parties aligned in the Democratic Congress decided to stage

    another mass demonstration in Baku on 20 May, Turan reported.

    They also issued an appeal to the authorities to "stop

    violating national interests" and to create conditions for

    holding democratic elections. On 5 May, Turan reported that

    11 people detained on 29 April have been transferred from a

    police isolation ward to Baku's Bailov jail. LF

    [08] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY IN CRISIS

    Nine chairs of

    parliamentary committees resigned their posts on 8 May to

    protest criticism expressed the previous day by parliamentary

    speaker Zurab Zhvania. Zhvania had criticized their demand

    that the outgoing government be held responsible for its

    failure to fulfill the 1999 budget, Caucasus Press reported

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 2000). Zhvania demanded that

    the 120 signatories disassociate themselves from that demand,

    which he construed as directed against Georgian President

    Eduard Shevardnadze. The initiators of the campaign have

    denied any such intent. Shevardnadze, for his part,

    attributed the move to the deputies' "inexperience," and

    expressed his full support for Zhvania, whom he charged with

    strengthening party discipline. Shevardnadze also castigated

    those parliamentary deputies who supported the proposal by

    Union of Traditionalists Chairman Akaki Asatiani to

    reintroduce the post of premier (see "RFE/RL Caucasus

    Report," Vol. 3, No. 17, 28 April 2000). LF

    [09] GEORGIAN TOWN REHABILITATES STALIN

    A statue of Joseph Stalin

    was unveiled in the west Georgian town of Khashuri on 7 May

    more than 40 years after it was dismantled and consigned to

    storage, ITAR-TASS reported. The restoration of that monument

    raises to 18 the number of Stalin statues in Georgia,

    according to AP. LF

    [10] KYRGYZ OFFICIALS MEET WITH BISHKEK PROTESTERS

    Meeting on 6

    May with participants in the Bishkek picket to protest the

    outcome of the February-March parliamentary poll, Bishkek

    Mayor Medet Kerimkulov asked those demonstrators to refrain

    from further marches in the next few days, RFE/RL's bureau in

    the Kyrgyz capital reported. But on 8 May, 75 protesters

    marched to the Agriculture Ministry, where they were

    dispersed by police after 30 minutes. The previous day,

    police had forcibly dispersed some 100 picketers gathered

    outside the Kyrgyztelekom building. On 8 May, Security

    Council secretary Bolot Djanuzakov similarly asked 10

    representatives of the protesters not to undertake further

    marches. He assured them that the Supreme Court will begin

    reviewing the election results on 11 May. The Bishkek picket

    is now in its 55th day. LF

    [11] KYRGYZSTAN MAY LIFT MORATORIUM ON LAND OWNERSHIP

    Speaking in

    Kyrgyzstan's southern Djalalabad Oblast on 6 May. President

    Askar Akaev said that the free sale and purchase of land may

    be possible as early as this fall if parliamentary deputies

    consider it appropriate, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported.

    The Kyrgyz population endorsed private ownership of land in a

    referendum on October 1998, but the parliament subsequently

    imposed a five-year moratorium on implementing that decision.

    LF

    [12] KYRGYZ ENERGY TARIFFS REDUCED

    State Energy Agency head

    Ularbek Mateev announced in Bishkek on 8 May that electricity

    tariffs will be reduced by 15 percent "soon," RFE/RL's

    Bishkek bureau reported. Tariffs had been raised on 1 May,

    sparking protests by the Kyrgyz trade unions. On 4 May,

    President Akaev criticized the price hike, calling for

    tariffs to be reduced (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 2000). LF

    [13] KYRGYZ, UZBEK GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES RESOLVE SOME

    DIFFERENCES

    The second meeting of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek inter-

    government commission, which took place in Bishkek on 5-6

    May, resulted in agreement on the lifting of most mutual

    import restrictions, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. In a

    joint statement on 6 May, Uzbek Deputy Premier Rustam Yunosv

    and his Kyrgyz counterpart, Esengul Omuraliev, characterized

    the current state of bilateral relations as unsatisfactory

    and pledged to take measures to improve it. Both men termed

    the meeting "a kind of breakthrough" in bilateral relations.

    Yunosov also said during the meeting that Uzbekistan's

    President Islam Karimov will visit Kyrgyzstan this fall. He

    added that the two countries may sign an agreement on

    relaxing visa regulations by the end of this month. LF

    [14] TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL GUARDS PERISH IN ROAD ACCIDENT

    Six

    members of President Imomali Rakhmonov's personal guard died

    in 7 May and another 23 were injured when the truck in which

    they were travelling crashed near a training camp south of

    Dushanbe, ITAR-TASS reported. No further details of the

    incident are available. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] MILOSEVIC'S HOMETOWN TENSE BEFORE PROTEST

    Serbian police

    detained three journalists from the non-state media and two

    activists of the Otpor (Resistance) student movement in

    Pozarevac, Reuters reported on 9 May. Otpor and several other

    opposition groups recently called for a demonstration in the

    hometown of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic at 3:00

    p.m. local time on 9 May to protest the beating and arrest of

    three Otpor activists following their scuffle with friends of

    the president's son (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 May 2000). On 8

    May, police released the three activists but then rearrested

    two of them, at the same time as the three journalists were

    detained. It is unclear what reason the police gave for the

    arrests. On 9 May, police stepped up their presence in

    Pozarevac and prevented vehicles carrying opposition

    supporters and their technical equipment from entering the

    city. PM

    [16] SERBIAN OPPOSITION CANCELS DEMONSTRATION

    In Novi Sad on 9

    May, police detained opposition leader Nenad Canak "for

    questioning" as he was on his way to Pozarevac (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 4 May 2000). Reuters quoted an unnamed opposition

    official in Belgrade as saying that several opposition

    leaders had met and decided to "postpone" the demonstration

    until an unspecified date. Elsewhere, several regime

    spokesmen and the pro-Milosevic daily "Politika" repeated

    their charges that Otpor leaders are "fascists" and "foreign

    agents." PM

    [17] ZAGREB CITY VOTE SHOWS APPROVAL FOR GOVERNMENT, PRESIDENT

    In

    the Zagreb municipal elections on 7 May, Prime Minister Ivica

    Racan's Social Democrats emerged the winners with 21 percent

    of the popular vote and 15 out of 50 seats. Second in popular

    backing with 19 percent and third in seats with nine mandates

    is the People's Party (HNS) of President Stipe Mesic. Third

    with 15 percent of the popular vote but second with 15 seats

    are the Social Liberals of Drazen Budisa. A second Liberal

    Party has six seats, the late President Franjo Tudjman's

    Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) five, and the newly

    formed Democratic Center three. Far-right candidates won only

    two mandates. Turnout was low, at about 34 percent. PM

    [18] ZAGREB MAY HAVE SOCIAL DEMOCRAT MAYOR

    Budisa said that his

    party will support Racan's deputies in the town council and

    that between them, the two parties will control half of the

    votes, "Jutarnji list" reported on 9 May. The Social

    Democrats' Milan Bandic is widely expected to be the next

    mayor. Vesna Pusic of the HNS said she expects to be elected

    council president. Observers note that the HNS has ridden

    Mesic's coattails in recent months to rise from near

    obscurity to second or third place in nationwide popularity.

    The Zagreb vote indicates that the governing parties continue

    to enjoy the support of the electorate and that the scandal-

    ridden HDZ is but a shadow of its former self (see "RFE/RL

    Balkan Report," 5 May 2000). PM

    [19] MESIC LEADS CROATIA'S ANTI-FASCIST CELEBRATIONS

    On 8 May,

    Mesic became the first Croatian president since independence

    in 1991 to preside over the annual ceremony to honor the

    victory of Josip Broz Tito's Partisans in World War II. He

    addressed his audience as "dear friends and comrades,"

    "Jutarnji list" reported. He argued that the victory over

    fascism in 1945 had the support of the majority of "freedom-

    loving Croats and Serbs," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported. The president stressed that "just as we opposed

    Nazi and fascist forces in 1941, so we opposed Milosevic in

    1991." Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic added that "we must

    now build the society for which [the World War II veterans]

    also fought." Tudjman, who fought in the Partisans and later

    became Tito's youngest general, kept the Tito-era holiday to

    mark the end of World War II but did not preside over the

    ceremonies. PM

    [20] SUPPORT FOR BOSNIA FROM NEIGHBORS

    The governments of

    Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, and

    Turkey have formally written to the Council of Europe in

    Strasbourg in support of Bosnia's application for membership

    in that body, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 7

    May. PM

    [21] PETRITSCH EXPECTS MORE BOSNIAN ARRESTS

    Wolfgang Petritsch,

    who is the international community's chief representative in

    Bosnia, said in Ottawa on 8 May that he expects additional

    war crimes suspects to be arrested in Bosnia and sent to The

    Hague "over the next couple of months," Reuters reported. He

    noted that there were few local protests following the recent

    arrest of former Bosnian Serb leader Momcilo Krajisnik. It is

    important that key figures be arrested and brought to justice

    in order to "take away collective guilt" and put the blame

    squarely on those individuals responsible for war crimes,

    Petritsch concluded. PM

    [22] EU MONEY FOR MONTENEGRO

    EU foreign ministers agreed in

    Brussels on 8 May to provide $18 million to support the

    Montenegrin state budget, AP reported. Javier Solana, who is

    the EU's spokesman for foreign and security policy, said that

    he hopes the money reaches Montenegro before the 11 June

    local elections, in which President Milo Djukanovic's backers

    face a challenge from pro-Milosevic parties. PM

    [23] FORMER KOSOVAR COMMANDER KILLED

    Several armed men shot dead

    Ekrem Rexha in broad daylight in Prizren on 8 May, dpa

    reported. He was known as Commander Drini while serving as a

    commander of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) during the 1999

    conflict. In mid-April, former UCK commander Besim Mala was

    gunned down in Prishtina (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 May

    2000). Violence in Kosova against prominent individuals has

    otherwise been rare. PM

    [24] ELECTION COORDINATOR SUFFOCATED TO DEATH IN ALBANIA

    Tirana

    police chief Arben Dashi told Reuters on 8 May that his

    subordinates are investigating the death the previous day of

    Joaquino Bernardo, whom unknown persons killed by

    suffocation. Bernardo was a Spanish citizen working for the

    International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which is a

    private group contracted by the U.S. Agency for International

    Development to help organize the local elections slated for

    October. PM

    [25] POLICE MAKE ARREST IN ALBANIAN GOLD THEFT

    A spokesman for

    Albanian police said in Tirana on 8 May that one unidentified

    man has been arrested in conjunction with the March 1997

    theft of gold coins from the national gold reserves (see

    "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 5 May 2000). Police have recovered

    some of the coins and arrested four treasury police, whom

    they suspect of having helped the thieves. The spokesman said

    that the robbers entered the storage tunnel from "one of its

    rear entrances." Investigations are continuing, Reuters

    reported. PM

    [26] ROMANIAN MONEY-LAUNDERING SCANDAL INTENSIFIES

    The Supreme

    Court of Justice on 8 May published the full text of the

    French judicial authorities' request for help in the money-

    laundering investigation launched against French-Romanian

    citizen Adrian Costea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 2000).

    The French prosecutors want to investigate as witnesses Party

    of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) first deputy chairman

    Adrian Nastase, former government minister Viorel Hrebenciuc,

    as well as former PDSR dignitaries, including Alliance for

    Romania leader Teodor Melescanu and Union of Rightist Forces

    First Deputy Chairman Mircea Cosea. PDSR Chairman Ion Iliescu

    on 8 May said the investigation is part of a plot aimed at

    forcing him out of the 2000 presidential race, while Nastase

    on 5 May said the "dossier" was "fabricated in Bucharest" and

    returned to Romania via France. MS

    [27] ROMANIAN DEMOCRATS REPLACE BUCHAREST MAYORAL CANDIDATE

    The

    Democratic Party on 5 May nominated Transportation Minister

    Traian Basescu as its candidate for the Bucharest mayoral

    elections scheduled for 4 June, Mediafax reported. Basescu

    replaces George Nistor. The Democrats said a public opinion

    survey conducted by the party showed that Nistor's support

    was less than 3 percent. Also on 5 May, the Popular Party,

    headed by former Premier Radu Vasile, announced it is

    withdrawing its candidate for the mayoral elections and will

    support Basescu. Thirty-seven candidates for the mayor's post

    have been registered by the Central Electoral Commission. MS

    [28] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SUBMITS DRAFT LAW ON CONSTITUTIONAL

    CHANGE

    President Petru Lucinschi on 5 May submitted to the

    Constitutional Court a draft law on changing the political

    system from a semi-presidential to a fully-fledged

    presidential one, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Under

    existing legislation, the court must rule if the draft meets

    legal requirements. The law would change the electoral system

    from a proportional system to a mixed one in which 70

    deputies would be elected in single constituencies and 30 on

    nationwide party lists. Ministers and the premier would be

    nominated by the president and would be responsible to him,

    while the parliament would exercise a "control function." The

    parliament would be able to dismiss the premier only by means

    of a "constructive no-confidence vote" such as exists in

    Germany. MS

    [29] BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS RE-ELECT PARVANOV AS LEADER

    The

    opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) has re-elected

    Georgi Parvanov as party leader, Reuters and AP reported on 7

    May. Parvanov, who stressed his support for Bulgaria's

    integration into NATO, received 550 votes. Yakani Stoilov,

    who was vague on NATO membership, was backed by 100

    delegates, and a staunchly anti-NATO candidate received only

    30 votes. Parvanov told the 6 May gathering that the BSP must

    continue its process of internal reform and that "any attempt

    to go back is doomed." He said the party must "overcome lots

    of hurdles" to return to power, which he described as "fear,

    disbelief, and suspicion" triggered among the electorate by

    the party's past. He also said the BSP must try to form a

    coalition with the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and

    Freedoms, whose leader, Ahmed Dogan, attended the gathering

    and suggested such a coalition was possible. MS

    [30] BULGARIAN BALKAN AIRLINE STRIKE CONTINUES

    The strike by the

    national carrier Balkan Airlines (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5

    May 2000) entered its sixth day on 8 May, after negotiations

    between the strikers and management failed, Reuters reported.

    Transportation Minister Antoni Slavinski had warned the

    previous day that the airline's license could be rescinded

    and its routes given to another company if Balkan Airlines

    failed to "fulfill its functions." The striking pilots on 8

    May appealed to the government to help find a solution to

    their conflict with the management of Balkan Air, in which

    Israel's Zeevi Group owns a controlling share. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [31] SPIES VERSUS OLIGARCHS

    By Paul Goble

    Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to use the

    country's intelligence services to break the power of the

    oligarchs as part of his drive to establish a stronger and

    more centralized state.

    Such an effort, at the very least, sets the stage for

    increased tensions both between the newly inaugurated

    president and the oligarchs as a group, as well as between

    those oligarchs aligned with Putin and others linked to rival

    political groups.

    But more than that, Putin's plan to use the Russian

    intelligence agencies for domestic control recalls one of the

    worst features of the Soviet system and could undermine the

    chance that Russia will move in a more democratic direction

    anytime soon.

    A former KGB officer himself, Putin has made no secret

    of his readiness to rely on Russia's still powerful

    intelligence agencies. Indeed, he has even joked about their

    successful penetration of the Russian government during his

    watch.

    But the clearest indication of how far he may be

    prepared to go in this direction and just what that might

    mean for the country as a whole came in a purported Kremlin

    planning document leaked to the Russian press last week.

    The document was outlined in "Kommersant-Daily," a

    newspaper owned by oligarch Boris Berezovskii, who has

    opposed Putin on many occasions. For this reason, some

    commentators have questioned whether the document is genuine

    or have played down its significance.

    Nonetheless, the ideas presented in the document appear

    both consistent with or extensions of proposals that Putin

    and his closest aides have made in the past. And as such,

    they merit scrutiny, even if Putin ultimately backs away from

    them.

    As outlined by "Kommersant-Daily," the document calls

    for the fusion of the intelligence services and a new

    presidential political directorate. These combined forces are

    to be used to build a power base for the president

    independent of the political process by undermining any

    opposition to his person or polices.

    Sometimes, the document is said to argue, this new

    agency will seek compromising information about these

    opponents; sometimes, it will plant unfavorable stories about

    them in the press; and sometimes, it is implied, it will use

    other, unspecified methods.

    Such an arrangement, the document states, will give the

    president "real control over political processes in Russia,"

    reducing the government to the executor of presidential

    policies and protecting his agents from the kind of criticism

    democracy requires.

    Even more disturbing, the document suggests that this

    new presidential security arrangement will allow Putin to

    "actually manage political and social processes in Russia and

    in nearby foreign countries," an apparent reference to the

    former Soviet republics.

    All of this, "Kommersant-Daily" concludes, will allow

    Putin to impose his preferred economic reforms, regardless of

    what powerful economic interests in particular and Russian

    society in general say they want--through the media and the

    ballot box. The newspaper continues that this suggests the

    realization of the provisions of this document will transform

    Russia's current "self-regulating and self-managing"

    political system into one resembling "Chile under Pinochet."

    Such an arrangement is likely to prove popular with

    many in both Russia and the West. On the one hand, many in

    both places long for the restoration of stability in Moscow,

    even at the cost of democratic procedures.

    On the other hand, Putin appears ready to use the

    enhanced power that such an arrangement might give to promote

    economic reforms that would challenge the economic and

    political power of the oligarchs to dominate the political

    scene.

    But if Putin's plans may be greeted in some quarters,

    there are three reasons why they are likely to create more

    problems than they solve.

    First, the very fact that this document was leaked

    suggests that not everyone in the Kremlin is happy with

    increased reliance on the security services. Indeed, many

    people within the government may try to undermine it and

    thereby further weaken the regime.

    Second, the publication of commentary on this document

    highlights just one of the ways the oligarchs would fight the

    implementation of such a plan. Efforts to suppress that

    resistance would be long, costly, and almost certainly

    counterproductive.

    And third, any attempt by a newly expanded presidential

    security apparatus to suppress democracy, even in the name of

    economic reform, would generate resistance among Putin's own

    supporters in the population at large.

    Those Russians who have welcomed Putin's toughness vis-

    a-vis the Chechens are unlikely to be so supportive if he

    employs a similar toughness against Russian society. His

    support has been broad but not deep; and such efforts could

    erode it quickly.

    That, in turn, would set the stage either for his

    retreat from a security-service-based form of rule or its

    even more rigorous application, either of which would cast a

    shadow on his presidency.

    09-05-00


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


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