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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 94, 00-05-16

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. 94, 16 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] NEW ARMENIAN PREMIER FIRES SEVERAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
  • [02] ARMENIAN WAR VETERANS QUIT PARLIAMENT MAJORITY BLOC
  • [03] GUARD INJURED IN ATTACK ON ARMENIAN GENERAL'S RESIDENCE
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN WANTS GREATER ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA
  • [05] ANOTHER AIRCRAFT SMUGGLING SCANDAL HITS KAZAKHSTAN
  • [06] INDEPENDENT KAZAKH NEWSPAPER UNDER PRESSURE
  • [07] KYRGYZSTAN'S SUPREME COURT REJECTS ELECTION APPEAL
  • [08] PAKISTANI LEADER VISITS TURKMENISTAN
  • [09] TURKMEN PRESIDENT REMAINS LUKEWARM ON CIS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] SERBIAN OPPOSITION REMAINS DEFIANT...
  • [11] ...WHILE BELGRADE KEEPS UP INTIMIDATION
  • [12] WHO WAS MILIVOJE GUTOVIC?
  • [13] WHY DID MOSCOW HOST INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL?
  • [14] BELGRADE REGIME LAUNCHES APARTMENT-BUILDING CAMPAIGN
  • [15] EU SUPPORT FOR MONTENEGRO
  • [16] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT PRAISES INDEPENDENT MACEDONIA
  • [17] RACAN SPELLS OUT CROATIAN 100-DAY PLAN
  • [18] U.S. SUSPENDS MILITARY SUPPORT FOR BOSNIAN CROAT MILITARY
  • [19] SMUGGLING CONTINUES TO MEAN BIG LOSSES FOR BOSNIAN
  • [20] ROMANIAN MONEY-LAUNDERING SCANDAL LINKED TO ILIESCU'S
  • [21] ...WHILE MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY ATTACKS RULING COALITION
  • [22] ROMANIANS TAKE COLD SHOWERS
  • [23] CORRECTION:
  • [24] AFGHAN VETERANS PROTEST IN MOLDOVA
  • [25] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS CABINET WILL SURVIVE CONFIDENCE

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] REGIONS, REPUBLICS, AND REFORM

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] NEW ARMENIAN PREMIER FIRES SEVERAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

    Andranik Markarian on 15 May dismissed three senior

    government officials with ties either to the Yerkrapah Union

    of Veterans of the Karabakh war or to the former ruling

    Armenian Pan-National Movement, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. They are Andranik Kocharian (no relation to

    President Robert Kocharian), who is an aide to sacked Prime

    Minister Aram Sargsian; chief of government staff Shahen

    Karamanukian; and the head of the government press and

    information department, Tigran Hakobian. Government sources

    told RFE/RL that it is unlikely that either Minister for

    Industrial Infrastructure Vahan Shirkhanian or Minister for

    State Revenues Smbat Ayvazian will retain their posts in the

    new government. Both men are leading members of the Yerkrapah

    Union. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN WAR VETERANS QUIT PARLIAMENT MAJORITY BLOC

    Also on

    15 May, 10 parliamentary deputies belonging to Yerkrapah

    informed parliamentary speaker Armen Khachatrian that they

    are quitting the majority Miasnutiun bloc. The same day, two

    other Yerkrapah members quit the second-largest parliamentary

    faction, Kayunutiun, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. Their transfer of allegiance leaves Miasnutiun with

    a total of 50 deputies in the 131-member legislature, while

    Kayunutiun now has 20 deputies. LF

    [03] GUARD INJURED IN ATTACK ON ARMENIAN GENERAL'S RESIDENCE

    A

    guard was seriously injured on the night of 14 May when

    unidentified persons tried to attack the home of Major

    General Arkadii Ter-Tadevossian, ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan

    reported. Ter-Tadevossian told journalists in Yerevan on 15

    May that he is certain the attack was connected with his

    creation last week of a parallel organization to Yerkrapah.

    The new organization, like Yerkrapah, also aims to defend the

    interests of Karabakh war veterans (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11

    May 2000). LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN WANTS GREATER ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA

    Meeting in Baku on 15 May with visiting Russian acting

    Minister for CIS Affairs Leonid Drachevskii, Azerbaijan's

    President Heidar Aliev called for increasing bilateral

    cooperation in the agricultural sector and offered to export

    early fruits and vegetables to the Russian Federation, ITAR-

    TASS reported. Other senior Azerbaijani officials have in

    recent months advocated intensifying economic cooperation

    with Russia. Drachevskii, for his part, expressed interest in

    closer cooperation in the energy sector. He reportedly also

    tried to persuade Aliev to drop his opposition to the

    creation of a CIS free-trade zone, according to Turan. That

    issue is to figure prominently on the agenda of the 21 June

    CIS summit, at which Aliev is expected to hold another round

    of confidential talks with his Armenian counterpart. LF

    [05] ANOTHER AIRCRAFT SMUGGLING SCANDAL HITS KAZAKHSTAN

    A total

    of 22 aircraft engines and 40 engines for missiles, all

    designated as scrap metal being shipped by a company in

    southern Kazakhstan, were confiscated by Russian customs

    officials on the Russian-Finnish border last week, RFE/RL's

    Almaty bureau reported on 16 May, quoting National Security

    Committee spokesman Kenzhebulat Beknazarov. LF

    [06] INDEPENDENT KAZAKH NEWSPAPER UNDER PRESSURE

    Ramazan

    Esergepov, editor of the Almaty-based paper "Nachnem s

    ponedelnkia," told journalists in the former Kazakh capital

    on 16 May that municipal officials are trying to evict the

    newspaper from its premises, RFE/RL's Almaty correspondent

    reported. Esergepov said that pressure is politically

    motivated and a response to articles the newspaper had

    recently published criticizing Almaty Mayor Viktor Khrapunov.

    LF

    [07] KYRGYZSTAN'S SUPREME COURT REJECTS ELECTION APPEAL

    The

    Supreme Court on 15 May rejected an appeal by arrested

    opposition Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov to annul the

    outcome of the run-off election he contested in the southern

    constituency of Kara-Buura in March, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau

    reported. Kulov had polled 40 percent of the vote during the

    first round on 20 February, but according to official

    returns, which were subsequently widely disputed, he garnered

    only 36 percent in the 12 March runoff (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 15 and 22 March 2000). On 11 May, the Supreme

    Court upheld a 4 April ruling by a local court annulling the

    second-round election victory of opposition politician Dosbol

    Nur Uulu. LF

    [08] PAKISTANI LEADER VISITS TURKMENISTAN

    On his first-ever visit

    to a former Soviet republic, General Parvez Musharraf met in

    Ashgabat on 15 May with Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat

    Niyazov to discuss boosting political and economic

    cooperation, Interfax reported. Among concrete projects

    discussed was the construction of rail and road links and the

    planned natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan via

    Afghanistan to Pakistan. The implementation of that last

    project is contingent on an end to the civil war in

    Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 1998 and 7

    March 2000). LF

    [09] TURKMEN PRESIDENT REMAINS LUKEWARM ON CIS

    The CIS Executive

    Secretary briefed Niyazov in Ashgabat on 15 May about the

    agenda for the upcoming CIS summit, ITAR-TASS reported. But

    the Turkmen president repeated his earlier preference for

    bilateral, rather than multilateral, cooperation within the

    CIS, adding that there is no point in signing CIS documents

    if there is doubt whether they will be effective. Niyazov

    noted that the CIS Bank has failed to recover debts by other

    CIS member states to Turkmenistan for supplies of natural

    gas. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] SERBIAN OPPOSITION REMAINS DEFIANT...

    Up to 25,000 people

    demonstrated in Belgrade on 15 May in support of the Otpor

    (Resistance) student organization, which the authorities

    claim is behind the recent murder of Bosko Perosevic, a top

    official in Vojvodina (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 2000).

    The rally passed without incident, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. The Serbian Renewal Movement's (SPO) Vuk

    Draskovic called the authorities "terrorists and murderers"

    for their crackdown on Otpor. The Democratic Party's Zoran

    Djindjic called upon the army and the police to cease obeying

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and "save the people

    painlessly and end the crisis in the country quickly." He did

    not elaborate. Djindjic later told Reuters that he hopes

    "Milosevic got the message that if the repression against

    Otpor continues, it will provoke a chain reaction, the end of

    which no one can predict." PM

    [11] ...WHILE BELGRADE KEEPS UP INTIMIDATION

    Rally organizers had

    hoped for a larger turnout for the Belgrade protest on 15 May

    and believe that many people stayed home because they feared

    regime violence, Reuters reported. The authorities put up

    "wanted posters" for two Otpor members in conjunction with

    the Novi Sad killing, but Otpor spokesmen said that the two

    activists were visiting their relatives in the Republika

    Srpska at the time of the murder. Meanwhile, Yugoslav

    Information Minister Goran Matic stressed that Otpor is an

    "unregistered, fascist organization" and will be treated

    accordingly. In response, Milan Protic and several other

    opposition leaders joined Otpor in a show of solidarity.

    Leading Serbian nationalist writer Dobrica Cosic joined the

    student group the previous week. PM

    [12] WHO WAS MILIVOJE GUTOVIC?

    Controversy centers around the

    person of Perosevic's assassin and his possible motives,

    "Vesti" reported on 16 May. Spokesmen of both Otpor and the

    SPO denied that he was a member of their respective

    organizations, although the authorities claim he was. Two

    weeks before the killing, Gutovic had praised Milosevic at a

    funeral that was attended by 200 people, "Vesti" continued.

    Several people in his community said that some of Gutovic's

    recent public remarks about Lenin and Stalin had caused some

    people to question his mental stability. Elsewhere, an

    unidentified Democratic Party official told London's "The

    Guardian" that Gutovic was known locally in Novi Sad as a

    supporter of Milosevic's Socialist Party, of which Perosevic

    was a high official. PM

    [13] WHY DID MOSCOW HOST INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL?

    A spokesman for

    Carla Del Ponte, who is the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's

    chief prosecutor, said on 15 May that she is "alarmed" by

    reports that Yugoslav Defense Minister Dragoljub Ojdanic

    recently visited Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 2000).

    The spokesman added: "It's likely the prosecutor will enquire

    directly of the Russian embassy in The Hague whether the

    reports are accurate and why the Russian authorities did not

    take any steps to arrest a person under indictment by the

    tribunal.... To my knowledge, this is the first time any of

    the individuals indicted last 26 May...have traveled outside

    Yugoslavia since the indictment. This is a remarkable

    occurrence," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Yugoslav Foreign

    Minister Zivadin Jovanovic arrived in Moscow on 15 May.

    Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the next day that

    his talks with Jovanovic about Kosova "will enable us to

    continue helping to achieve a settlement of the problem and

    to stabilize the situation in the entire Balkan region." PM

    [14] BELGRADE REGIME LAUNCHES APARTMENT-BUILDING CAMPAIGN

    The

    authorities began a campaign across Serbia on 15 May to build

    100,000 new apartments for young couples, military personnel,

    and police. The apartments will be built at the rate of

    10,000 annually for the next 10 years, Reuters reported. PM

    [15] EU SUPPORT FOR MONTENEGRO

    Chris Patten, who is the EU's

    commissioner for foreign affairs, said in Podgorica on 15 May

    that Brussels will provide $50 million in aid to bolster

    President Milo Djukanovic's government against pressure from

    Milosevic. Patten called the partnership between Brussels and

    Podgorica "good and effective," AP reported. Patten denied

    that the aid is intended to help Djukanovic in the 11 June

    local elections, adding that the money is "support for a

    government that believes in elections. Where countries opt

    for democracy we want to place ourselves generously on their

    side." Patten stressed: "I believe that the EU aid will

    reaffirm the will of Montenegrins to follow our democratic

    policies." PM

    [16] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT PRAISES INDEPENDENT MACEDONIA

    Visiting

    Skopje on 15 May, Petar Stoyanov commented, "Long live

    independent Macedonia. We must not miss this historical

    opportunity to live as friends and respect each other,"

    Reuters reported. He and Macedonian President Boris

    Trajkovski signed nine bilateral agreements and issued a

    joint declaration expressing concern about "extremism in the

    region," AP reported. PM

    [17] RACAN SPELLS OUT CROATIAN 100-DAY PLAN

    Prime Minister Ivica

    Racan told journalists in Zagreb on 15 May that "in the next

    100 days, the focus of our work will be the central, dramatic

    issue of the economy. Our aim is to strengthen the economy,

    stimulate growth, employment, [and] exports," Reuters

    reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 2000). The government

    is considering cutting value-added tax from 22 percent to 19

    percent in the hope of encouraging investment, he added.

    Deputy Prime Minister Slavko Linic said that the leading

    insurance company, Croatia Osiguranje, will be put up for

    sale later in the year. It failed to find a buyer in 1999.

    Among other companies slated for privatization are the oil

    and gasoline enterprise Ina and the power company HEP, he

    added. PM

    [18] U.S. SUSPENDS MILITARY SUPPORT FOR BOSNIAN CROAT MILITARY

    In

    a statement on 15 May, the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo confirmed

    local press reports that the Defense Department has stopped

    military support for the Bosnian Croat military. According to

    that statement: "The United States has suspended selected

    training and advisory activities conducted by the U.S. firm

    Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) for the Bosnian

    Croat component of the [mainly Muslim and Croat] federation

    army. The suspension is indefinite and will continue until

    the United States receives confirmation that the Bosnian

    Croat component has taken the required steps toward

    integration [with the Muslim military]. In addition, the U.S.

    government has suspended International Military Education and

    Training-funded training for Bosnian Croat members of the

    federation military scheduled to begin on or after 12 May

    2000," Reuters reported. PM

    [19] SMUGGLING CONTINUES TO MEAN BIG LOSSES FOR BOSNIAN

    FEDERATION

    Bosnian federal officials have concluded that

    smuggling along some 450 "illegal roads" crossing the

    federation's frontiers costs Sarajevo some $200 million

    annually. The officials stress that only solution is to

    intensify cooperation with neighboring countries, but so far

    Croatia has not responded to Bosnian requests on this matter,

    "Dnevni avaz" reported on 16 May. PM

    [20] ROMANIAN MONEY-LAUNDERING SCANDAL LINKED TO ILIESCU'S

    CAMPAIGN...

    Romanian customs officials are investigating

    possible fraud related to the import of campaign materials

    used by former President Ion Iliescu in the 1996 presidential

    campaign, Romanian media reported on 14 May. Customs Office

    Director Nini Sapunaru announced that there is a strong

    suspicion that 1 million electoral posters printed by one of

    Romanian-born Adrian Costea's companies in France were

    imported tax-free. Costea is currently under investigation by

    a French commission on money-laundering charges. ZsM

    [21] ...WHILE MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY ATTACKS RULING COALITION

    The

    opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) called

    the money-laundering scandal an "extremely aggressive

    negative campaign" orchestrated by the current ruling

    coalition against the PDSR, the daily "Adevarul" reported on

    13 May. It also noted that PDSR officials involved in the

    investigation as witnesses will no longer make any public

    declarations. However, PDSR President Ion Iliescu on 15 May

    admitted that Costea supported his 1996 campaign by printing

    various materials and also assisted in the translation of one

    of his books. But he denied having made a profit from the

    activities. The same day, PDSR Senator Radu Timofte accused

    President Emil Constantinescu of staging the scandal to end

    Iliescu's candidacy for the presidency and of wanting to

    reinstate the monarchy. ZsM

    [22] ROMANIANS TAKE COLD SHOWERS

    The main Romanian thermal energy

    provider, Termoelectrica, announced on 15 May that it has

    ceased providing services to local partners with major debts,

    Romanian media reported. As a result, some 6 million people--

    including most of the residents of Bucharest and several

    major cities--were left without hot water. Termoelectrica,

    which provides energy to some 40 percent of Romania's

    households, needs to collect some 3.5 trillion lei ($175

    million) from local distributors, which blame the problem on

    non-paying owner associations. ZsM

    [23] CORRECTION:

    In the 12 May issue of "RFE/RL Newsline," the

    Venice Commission was incorrectly referred to as an expert

    body of the EU. It is, in fact, a body of the Council of

    Europe.

    [24] AFGHAN VETERANS PROTEST IN MOLDOVA

    More than 1,000 Soviet

    veterans of the war in Afghanistan demonstrated on 15 May in

    Chisinau against cuts in their benefits, Reuters reported.

    The veterans called for the dissolution of the parliament,

    the resignation of President Petru Lucinschi, and early

    elections. They also demanded that benefits eliminated in

    April be reinstated. There are some 12,000 veterans of the

    Afghan war living in Moldova. PB

    [25] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS CABINET WILL SURVIVE CONFIDENCE

    VOTE

    Petar Stoyanov said on 15 May in Sofia that the

    government of Premier Ivan Kostov will pass a no-confidence

    motion to be held this week, BTA reported. Stoyanov said,

    however, that each no-confidence vote "should provide ground

    for reflection to the incumbents." He said Kostov's cabinet

    ministers should "decide how they will rule until the end of

    their term." In other news, Bulgarian troops took part in the

    "Linked Seas 2000" military exercises near Lisbon, Portugal

    on 14 May. Dimitrov Mikhov, the Bulgarian chief of staff,

    said the maneuvers provided "an important boost" to the

    country's bid to join NATO. PB


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] REGIONS, REPUBLICS, AND REFORM

    By Paul Goble

    President Vladimir Putin's creation of seven new

    federal districts headed by presidential appointees is

    clearly intended to re-establish Moscow's control over

    the Russian Federation's far-flung regions. But it

    appears almost certain that it will have just the

    opposite effect.

    Coming on the heels of his efforts to rein in

    regional governments in Bashkortostan and Ingushetia

    last week, Putin's 13 May decree sets the stage for a

    new kind of regional politics, one that could lead to an

    intensification of the ongoing struggle between the

    center and the periphery.

    And just as was the case at the end of the Soviet

    period, when Mikhail Gorbachev tried to retake control

    over the union republics, that struggle could have a

    powerful impact on Putin's ability to govern and to

    promote whatever reforms he says he would like to

    introduce.

    There are three reasons for this conclusion: First,

    Putin's 13 May decree also calls for the elimination of

    the system of presidential envoys attached to the

    regional governments. This suggests the decree itself

    was a compromise between those who wanted to re-

    establish Moscow's control over the periphery and those

    who like things the way they are. More important, Putin

    is removing the very stratum of officials his

    predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, had unsuccessfully sought to

    use to control the regions without creating a system

    that has any more powers, even on paper, to intervene in

    the actions of regional and republic governments.

    Second, Putin's action was, after all, by decree.

    To make this system work, the Russian president may well

    have to seek a constitutional amendment, a process that

    at the very least will spark a new regional politics and

    one that Putin and his allies cannot be sure of winning.

    If these seven new federal districts are not

    constitutionalized, regional leaders are likely to view

    them either as an annoyance that they can ignore, the

    base for the projection of their own power if the

    district capital is the same as their own, or a new

    forum in which they can combine to advance their

    interests.

    If regional leaders seek to ignore these new

    bodies, then Putin will either have to invest them with

    force or watch them turn into the latest stillborn

    creation of the post-Soviet period. But if they either

    try to take control of these bodies or combine to oppose

    them, he may find himself confronted by larger and more

    powerful combinations of regions, hardly the outcome he

    and his aides say they want.

    And third, the actual powers these presidential

    representatives will have, either legally or

    politically, remains far from clear at the moment. Much

    depends on whom Putin selects, the powers he gives them,

    and their ability and willingness to work with the

    governors and republican presidents under their control.

    If Putin names politically significant people to

    these posts, at least some of them are likely to take

    advantage of the situation to build their own power

    bases, especially since in the absence of force or other

    resources, they will likely have to develop good working

    relations with the regional elites if they are to

    accomplish anything. But if he names faceless members of

    the bureaucracy, the elected regional governors and

    republic presidents are likely to view these new

    representatives with little or no more respect than they

    did Yeltsin's envoys to their own territories, thereby

    severely limiting the representatives' utility to

    Moscow.

    That, in turn, could prompt Putin either to reach

    new compromises with regional elites or to rely ever

    more on the use of force. Either of these strategies

    will limit Moscow's ability to pursue a country-wide

    pattern of reform, and both could represent a threat to

    the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

    Except for his actions in Chechnya, Yeltsin during

    his presidency tolerated both diversity and autonomy

    across the Russian Federation, arrangements that limited

    Moscow's power but purchased a certain amount of

    stability, decentralization, and popular control.

    Now Putin, whose actions in Chechnya have been far

    more brutal than Yeltsin's ever were, has decided to

    rein in the regions. But his 13 May decree seems more

    likely to set the center and periphery on a new

    collision course, one that may threaten even the limited

    moves toward democracy and federalism Yeltsin sponsored.

    16-05-00


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


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