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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 100, 00-05-24

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. 100, 24 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] PEOPLE'S PARTY NOT TO QUIT ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY BLOC
  • [02] KARABAKH ASSASSINATION BID INVESTIGATION COMPLETED
  • [03] GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY CONDEMNS RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION
  • [04] DETAINED AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITIONISTS RELEASED
  • [05] KARABAKH LIBERATION ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR AZERBAIJANI
  • [06] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY TO BOYCOTT ROUND TABLE
  • [07] TAJIK TRADE REPRESENTATIVE ARRESTED IN KAZAKH DRUGS HAUL

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PROPOSED GOVERNMENT...
  • [09] ...WHILE EU CRITICIZES SLOVENIA FOR SLOW PROGRESS
  • [10] MASKED MEN BEAT STRIKING SERBIAN STUDENTS
  • [11] SERBIAN MAYORS APPEAL FOR HELP
  • [12] DOES MILOSEVIC WANT STREET PROTESTS IN MONTENEGRO?
  • [13] MONTENEGRO, ALBANIA BOOST COOPERATION
  • [14] EU, ALBANIA TO START STABILIZATION TALKS
  • [15] INCIDENTS BETWEEN RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS, KOSOVARS
  • [16] EU: BOSNIANS MUST HELP THEMSELVES
  • [17] PETRITSCH SACKS BOSNIAN PRIVATIZATION OFFICIAL
  • [18] ROMANIA PROBES SMUGGLING ALLEGATIONS AGAINST FORMER
  • [19] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION
  • [20] MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER REJECTS DEMAND TO RESIGN
  • [21] BLACK MARKET ACCOUNTS FOR ONE-THIRD OF BULGARIAN GDP

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [22] NEW RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT MAINTAINS LINKS TO OLIGARCHS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] PEOPLE'S PARTY NOT TO QUIT ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY BLOC

    The board of the People's Party of Armenia (HZhK) announced

    on 23 May that it will not quit the Miasnutiun parliamentary

    bloc, in which it is the junior partner, despite its

    objections to the appointments of Republican Party chairman

    Andranik Markarian as prime minister and of presidential

    chief of staff Serzh Sarkisian as defense minister, RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported. Arguing that "one should not attack

    the government right from the beginning," HZhK chairman

    Stepan Demirchian said his party will support "any step that

    aims to bring the country out of this difficult situation."

    Some members of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) have

    similarly objected to Sarkisian's appointment. They argue

    that in his former position as national security minister, he

    failed to take measures that would have prevented the 27

    October parliament shootings in which HHK chairman and Prime

    Minister Vazgen Sargsian was killed. LF

    [02] KARABAKH ASSASSINATION BID INVESTIGATION COMPLETED

    The

    investigation into the 22 March attempt to assassinate

    Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-

    Karabakh Republic, has been completed, RFE/RL's Stepanakert

    correspondent reported on 23 May, citing unnamed law

    enforcement agency sources. The office of Prosecutor-General

    Mavrik Ghukasian (no relation to Arkadii), who said two weeks

    ago that the investigation should be completed within three

    weeks, declined to comment on that information. The

    prosecution claims that former Karabakh Defense Army

    commander and Defense Minister Samvel Babayan has confessed

    to plotting to overthrow the unrecognized republic's

    leadership and seize power but has denied masterminding the

    attempt to kill Ghukasian. "Golos Armenii" on 16 May quoted

    one of Babayan's lawyers as denying Mavrik Ghukasian's claim

    that they refused to represent him because they were

    convinced of his guilt. LF

    [03] GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY CONDEMNS RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION

    In

    a statement issued in Tbilisi on 23 May, the Georgian Foreign

    Ministry categorically denied Russian media reports that up

    to 1,500 Arab and Afghan mercenaries are waiting to enter

    Chechnya from Georgia's neighboring Pankisi gorge, Caucasus

    Press reported. The ministry's public relations department

    head, Avtandil Napetvaridze, told Interfax that such

    unfounded allegations "play into the hands of those

    destructive forces" that oppose a Georgian-Russian

    rapprochement. The previous day, Georgia's State Border

    Guards Department denied Russian military claims to have

    annihilated a caravan of Afghan mercenaries en route from

    Georgia to Chechnya. The statement termed such allegations an

    attempt to offload responsibility for the Russian army's

    failures in Chechnya. LF

    [04] DETAINED AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITIONISTS RELEASED

    Police on 23

    May released 11 Azerbaijani opposition activists, including

    Akhrar party leader Vagif Hadjibeyli, who had been detained

    for their participation in the unsanctioned 29 April

    opposition demonstration in Baku on charges of resisting the

    police, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2000).

    Those charges have not been dropped, however, and the 11 have

    given a written undertaking not to leave the Azerbaijani

    capital. LF

    [05] KARABAKH LIBERATION ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR AZERBAIJANI

    PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION

    The Organization for the Liberation

    of Karabakh, created in Baku earlier this year, has issued a

    statement condemning President Heidar Aliev's 18 May remark

    that "it would be insane to resume military actions in

    Karabakh," Turan reported on 23 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    19 May 2000). The statement accused Aliev of being concerned

    only with retaining power. "If Heidar Aliev cannot liberate

    the occupied lands and calls the country's patriotic forces

    'insane,' he should resign as president," the statement said.

    LF

    [06] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY TO BOYCOTT ROUND TABLE

    The Ar-Namys

    party will not participate in the roundtable discussion

    between opposition parties and the Kyrgyz government

    scheduled for early next month, Ar-Namys board member Omurbek

    Subanaliev told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 23 May. Subanaliev

    said that agreeing to attend that discussion when the Kyrgyz

    authorities have not fulfilled a single opposition demand

    would only strengthen the authorities' position. He insisted

    that the Kyrgyz leadership should release detained Ar-Namys

    party chairman Feliks Kulov and his deputy, Emil Aliev. And

    he also said it should cease its harassment of Democratic

    Movement of Kyrgyzstan leader Jypar Jeksheev and El (Bei

    Bechara) party chairman Daniyar Usenov. Meanwhile, the picket

    in central Bishkek organized by Kulov's supporters to demand

    his release entered its 69th day on 23 May. LF

    [07] TAJIK TRADE REPRESENTATIVE ARRESTED IN KAZAKH DRUGS HAUL

    Kazakh security officials arrested Tajikistan's trade

    representative in Almaty on 23 May after 10 kilograms of

    heroin was found in his garage and 14 kilograms in an

    apartment where he had previously lived, Reuters and Interfax

    reported. Two days earlier, 62 kilograms of heroin had been

    confiscated from two cars, one of which belonged to

    Tajikistan's ambassador to Kazakhstan (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    23 May 2000). Almaty Oblast National Security Committee chief

    Rakhat Aliev, who is President Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-

    law, told journalists on 23 May that the smuggling of drugs

    from Afghanistan via the states of Central Asia is "an

    international problem" that undermines Kazakhstan's security.

    He expressed "understanding" for Russian presidential

    spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii's warning that Russia may

    consider pre-emptive air strikes against Afghanistan (see

    above). LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PROPOSED GOVERNMENT...

    Prime

    Minister-designate Andrej Bajuk failed on 23 May to secure

    parliamentary approval for his proposed cabinet. The

    legislature voted 45 to 45 on the government, failing by one

    vote to get the necessary majority. Bajuk must now submit a

    new cabinet list by 2 June. If parliament again denies

    approval, Bajuk will then have a third opportunity to form a

    government. Should he fail on the third try, President Milan

    Kucan has the right either to appoint a new prime minister or

    call early elections, Reuters reported. Kucan wants early

    elections, which he regards as the only way to end the

    current deadlock in the parliament. PM

    [09] ...WHILE EU CRITICIZES SLOVENIA FOR SLOW PROGRESS

    Jaime

    Garcia Lombardero, who heads the EU's team overseeing

    Slovenia's application for membership, said in Ljubljana on

    23 May that the political stalemate has cost the former

    Yugoslav republic valuable time in passing necessary

    legislation to bring its laws into line with EU standards. Of

    the 76 such laws slated to be passed in 2000, the legislature

    has passed only 12. He stressed that the parliament will be

    in recess from June through August, which will mean that it

    will have lost a total of five months' working time in 2000,

    Reuters reported. PM

    [10] MASKED MEN BEAT STRIKING SERBIAN STUDENTS

    Vukasin Petrovic,

    who is a spokesman for the Otpor (Resistance) student

    movement, told AP on 24 May that an unspecified number of

    masked men beat several dozen Belgrade University

    architecture students the previous day. The students had just

    begun a four-day sit-in strike to demand an end to the regime

    of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Referring to the

    beatings, Petrovic said it was "horrible" and that a local

    police patrol "deliberately ran away" when the students

    approached them for help. Petrovic stressed: "This all proves

    that the regime is ready to do everything just to stay in

    power. It's using not only police repression but also street

    gangs and criminals to suppress all who think differently."

    PM

    [11] SERBIAN MAYORS APPEAL FOR HELP

    Opposition mayors Goran

    Bulajic of Sombor, Paja Francuski of Kikinda, and Vladimir

    Domazet of Nis said in Vienna on 23 May that the

    international community must help opposition-run cities if it

    wants to make the opposition credible in the eyes of Serbian

    voters. The mayors noted that some 60 percent of Serbia's

    population lives in urban areas, "Die Presse" reported. They

    added that the central authorities cut the allowances for

    Kikinda and Nis by up to 80 percent in recent years following

    the opposition's election victories there. Kikinda urgently

    needs to modernize its systems for providing drinking water

    and collecting rubbish, Francuski stressed. PM

    [12] DOES MILOSEVIC WANT STREET PROTESTS IN MONTENEGRO?

    Milosevic

    recently upbraided Predrag Bulatovic, who is a leader of

    Montenegro's pro-Milosevic Socialist People's Party (SNP),

    because the SNP has not organized mass protests in Podgorica

    against the reform-minded government of President Milo

    Djukanovic, "Vesti" reported on 24 May. Milosevic allegedly

    repeatedly asked Bulatovic: "What are you waiting for?" The

    Podgorica office of the SNP denied the story, which first

    appeared in the local daily "Vijesti." Milosevic has made

    frequent use of street protests, or "meetings," over the

    years to get the upper hand over his political opponents. PM

    [13] MONTENEGRO, ALBANIA BOOST COOPERATION

    Montenegrin Prime

    Minister Filip Vujanovic and his Albanian counterpart, Ilir

    Meta, agreed in Shkoder on 23 May to develop political and

    economic ties, despite Belgrade's objections. Key areas

    earmarked for improvements include trade, transportation, and

    telecommunications. Vujanovic placed a telephone call to his

    office in Podgorica to inaugurate a new fiber optic link

    connecting the Montenegrin and Albanian telephone systems.

    The two governments plan to construct a high-tension electric

    power cable from Elbasan to Podgorica, as well as a railway

    line from the Montenegrin capital to Shkoder, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. Montenegro and Albania will also

    take unspecified steps to fight trafficking in prostitutes

    and drugs. PM

    [14] EU, ALBANIA TO START STABILIZATION TALKS

    Albanian Foreign

    Minister Paskal Milo said in Brussels on 23 May that his

    government plans to launch negotiations before the end of

    this year on a new association and stabilization agreement

    with the EU. Brussels wants Tirana to take steps to promote

    institutional stability and to strengthen the economy through

    structural reform as a precondition to any new agreement, dpa

    reported. An unnamed Portuguese diplomat hailed Albanian

    plans to hold local elections in October under a new

    electoral law. PM

    [15] INCIDENTS BETWEEN RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS, KOSOVARS

    An

    unspecified number of Russian KFOR troops were involved in an

    "altercation" with Ramush Hajredinaj at a checkpoint near

    Malisheva on 23 May, Reuters reported. Hajredinaj is a former

    leader of the Kosova Liberation Army who now heads a

    political party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 May 2000).

    Hajredinaj's and KFOR's accounts of what precipitated the

    incident and how the altercation developed differ markedly

    from each other, AP reported. On 24 May, two Russian soldiers

    were injured in two separate incidents in which anti-tank

    rockets hit a Russian camp near Kijeva. A KFOR spokesman said

    in Prishtina that the attacks appear to be a "reaction" to

    the incident involving Hajredinaj. Most Kosovars are deeply

    mistrustful of Russians, believing that the latter fought

    alongside Serbian forces in Kosova in 1999 and helped Serbs

    commit atrocities against Albanians. PM

    [16] EU: BOSNIANS MUST HELP THEMSELVES

    Javier Solana, who is the

    EU's chief official for foreign and security policy, said at

    a conference in Brussels on 23 May on Bosnian peace

    implementation that "the time has come for Bosnia to learn to

    help itself." He added that international financial support

    for Bosnia "cannot remain at [the present high] level" for

    long, dpa reported. Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten

    noted that Bosnia lacks a working banking system, a market

    economy, functioning joint state institutions, and a joint

    passport, Reuters reported. Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the

    international community's high representative in Bosnia,

    argued that "the time has finally come for the political and

    civic leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina to show real commitment

    to the [1995 Dayton] peace agreement and fulfill their

    obligations." Russian representatives are boycotting the

    gathering because the organizers did not invite officials

    from Belgrade to attend. PM

    [17] PETRITSCH SACKS BOSNIAN PRIVATIZATION OFFICIAL

    A spokesman

    for Petritsch said in Sarajevo on 23 May that the high

    representative "had no other choice" but to fire Stiepo

    Andrijic as head of the management board for the mainly

    Muslim and Croat federation's privatization agency. The

    spokesman stressed that Andrijic had repeatedly obstructed

    the privatization process, particularly the work of the

    offices dealing with tenders, Reuters reported. The Muslim

    daily "Avaz" noted that Andrijic held his top post since 1997

    and "cannot deny his responsibility" for the poorly managed

    privatization process. PM

    [18] ROMANIA PROBES SMUGGLING ALLEGATIONS AGAINST FORMER

    PRESIDENT

    Prosecutors on 23 May opened an official inquiry

    into allegations that electoral posters financed by Adrian

    Costea were smuggled into the country in 1996. Party of

    Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) Chairman Ion Iliescu had

    said the previous day that the Romanian-born businessman, who

    now lives in France, was a sponsor of his 1996 presidential

    campaign, but Iliescu denied that the law prohibiting foreign

    sponsorship was infringed, because Costea has Romanian

    citizenship. Also on 23 May, PDSR Deputy Chairman Miron

    Mitrea demanded Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica's resignation

    for having called on Iliescu to withdraw from the 2000

    presidential race. He said Stoica's allegations against

    Iliescu and the PDSR amount to "interference in the internal

    affairs" of a political party and that the PDSR will demand

    that a special parliamentary commission probe the financing

    of all parties' 1996 electoral campaigns, RFE/RL's Bucharest

    bureau reported. MS

    [19] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION

    By a vote of

    115 to 102 and six abstentions, the Chamber of Deputies on 23

    May rejected a PDSR-submitted motion to debate alleged

    corruption and political clientism in the privatization

    process overseen by the State Property Fund, RFE/RL's

    Bucharest bureau reported. MS

    [20] MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER REJECTS DEMAND TO RESIGN

    Prime

    Minister Dumitru Braghis told Moldovan television on 23 May

    that he will not make the opposition Alliance for Democracy

    and Reform (ADR) "happy" by submitting the resignation of his

    cabinet. He was responding to an ADR statement the previous

    day that demanded his resignation on grounds of poor economic

    performance. Braghis said that in the first four months of

    this year, the cabinet succeeded in collecting 32 percent of

    planned revenue for 2000, while the previous cabinet had

    during the same period last year collected only 22 percent of

    revenues stipulated in its budget. He said he believes the

    deficit will remain within budget limits. MS

    [21] BLACK MARKET ACCOUNTS FOR ONE-THIRD OF BULGARIAN GDP

    Anti-

    corruption activists from the Coalition 2000 group said on 23

    May that Bulgaria's black market economy accounts for 35

    percent of the country's GDP. The activists said that in

    1998, illegal exports and imports to and from the EU alone

    amounted to $850 million, which equals Bulgaria's defense

    budget. The activists say smugglers are using channels once

    run by the communist-era secret services, and some of those

    services' officers have become businessmen by "privatizing"

    the former secret police networks, AP reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [22] NEW RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT MAINTAINS LINKS TO OLIGARCHS

    By Sophie Lambroschini

    "This government is not being formed around a unifying

    idea but, as always, it reflects the importance of not only

    public but behind-the-scenes politics," "Kommersant-Daily"

    remarked on the front page of its 19 May issue.

    Most Russian observers have noted that President

    Vladimir Putin's new government, whose formation has now been

    completed, is little different from its predecessor. Two-

    thirds of the new government's members served in the outgoing

    government, formed a year ago under Boris Yeltsin. The most

    powerful ministers retained their posts, including the

    interior, defense, and foreign ministers and the head of the

    Federal Security Service (FSB). And people with close ties to

    the business tycoons, known as oligarchs, are well-

    represented in the new government.

    There are, however, some new faces, most notably that of

    German Gref, who is economic development minister. Like

    Putin, Gref is a native of Saint Petersburg. He also heads

    the Center for Strategic Development, an institution created

    by Putin last fall to work out a long-term economic strategy

    for Russia.

    Gref's center has offered an ambitious blueprint that

    includes a tight budget and strict tax and banking reforms.

    In recent weeks, media reports had claimed that Gref's role

    in developing economic policy was diminishing. And new Prime

    Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was said to be downplaying the

    importance of the economic blueprint.

    But Denis Rodionov, an analyst with the investment bank

    Brunswick-Warburg, told RFE/RL that the appointment of Gref

    is an encouraging sign for the Russian economy. Another good

    sign, he said, is the appointment of Aleksei Kudrin as

    finance minister.

    Other observers, however, point out that both Kudrin and

    Gref have ties to Anatolii Chubais, the powerful head of

    Russia's electricity monopoly. The government also includes

    many associates of another powerful tycoon--Boris

    Berezovskii. Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko, Interior

    Minister Vladimir Rushailo, and Prime Minister Kasyanov

    himself are widely believed to be close to Berezovskii.

    Most observers and investors saw the energy portfolio

    appointment as indicating the extent of Berezovskii's

    influence over the new government. The Fuel and Energy

    Ministry had been headed by Viktor Kalyuzhnyi, who had

    lobbied the Berezovskii clans' interests. Kalyuzhnyi's

    dismissal on 20 May was hailed as a step in the right

    direction. The surprise appointment of Alexander Gavrin,

    mayor of the oil-rich Siberian town of Kogalym, as energy

    minister was praised by reformers such as Boris Nemtsov as

    well as some oil companies. But observers say only time will

    tell how close Gavrin is to oligarchic circles such as those

    around LUKoil and Chubais.

    Yevgenii Volk, a political analyst with Russia's

    Heritage Foundation, says the inclusion in the government of

    representatives of different powerful clans is a sure sign

    that the influence of the oligarchs will be as great under

    Putin as it was under Yeltsin. "The appointments that were

    made were expected and reflect the behind-the-scenes fight

    for power and, especially, the economic positions of the

    various oligarchs' groups," Volk told RFE/RL. "Seen this way,

    one can call it a coalition government, since representatives

    of the Berezovskii-Abramovich group are included, and the

    Chubais clan is also present."

    Yeltsin's tactic of "divide and conquer" had him playing

    one clan against the other, with the president as the

    arbitrator. While this tactic kept Yeltsin in power, it also

    prevented the divided government from working efficiently.

    Volk says Putin seems to be following Yeltsin's example.

    But he says Putin is stronger than his predecessor and will

    probably have more success in playing off the oligarchs

    against one another.

    Other observers, however, say the new government

    structure marks a departure from the Yeltsin past. Analyst

    Rodionov notes that the elimination of the post of first

    deputy prime minister may be a sign that Putin wants the

    government to stop its internal feuding and work as a unit.

    He points that under Yeltsin, "there was always a prime

    minister and, at the same time, a very powerful deputy prime

    minister who created a second center of authority, and

    struggles occurred between the two ministers and their

    subordinates. The elimination of the office of first deputy

    prime minister is a positive factor, indicating that the

    government will be more unified."

    Political analyst Sergei Markov also notes that the new

    government under Putin will play a significantly diminished

    role. Under Yeltsin, prime ministers were strong, leading

    figures--even if they were changed frequently. Under Putin,

    Markov says, the center of power has clearly shifted toward

    the presidential administration.

    "The strategy of this cabinet will not be worked out by

    the prime minister and his allies but by some outside

    strategic group," Markov commented to RFE/RL. "In this way,

    the cabinet becomes a coherent enough team of technocrats

    that will have to play the role of an effective mechanism

    capable of implementing Putin's ambitious restructuring

    plans."

    Still, the presence of so many ministers connected to

    the oligarchs casts doubt on Putin's ability or willingness

    to carry out a key element of his reform plan--to weaken the

    tycoons' influence on policy.

    The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Moscow.

    24-05-00


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


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