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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 104, 00-05-30

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. 104, 30 May 2000 Report," Vol. 3, No. 21, 26 May 2000). LF


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OF HUMAN RIGHTS
  • [02] ...SAYS TURKEY'S HELP NEEDED TO RESOLVE KARABAKH CONFLICT
  • [03] KYRGYZ JOURNALIST AWARDED
  • [04] NEW KYRGYZ PROSECUTOR-GENERAL VOWS CRACKDOWN ON CORRUPTION
  • [05] KAZAKHSTAN'S PREMIER AGAIN BEMOANS SLOW-DOWN IN
  • [06] TAJIK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH UN OFFICIALS
  • [07] TURKMEN PRESIDENT REJECTS OSCE PLEA FOR CLEMENCY FOR

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] MONTENEGRO NOT TO ARREST MILOSEVIC
  • [09] SERBIAN STUDENT REPRESENTATIVES IN MONTENEGRO
  • [10] DID IVANOV SNUB SERBIAN OPPOSITION?
  • [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO REORGANIZE?
  • [12] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER IN THE HAGUE
  • [13] ANOTHER MASS GRAVE FOUND NEAR SREBRENICA
  • [14] IRANIANS DROWN TRYING TO REACH CROATIA
  • [15] KOUCHNER WANTS KOSOVA'S SERBS TO REGISTER FOR ELECTIONS
  • [16] KOSOVA SERBS ANGRY AFTER KILLINGS
  • [17] ALBANIA, BULGARIA TO CRACK DOWN ON CRIME
  • [18] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO INVESTMENT
  • [19] COMMISSION ENDS DRAFTING AMENDMENTS TO MOLDOVAN
  • [20] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT BACKS ILASCU GROUP JUDICIAL RETRIAL IN
  • [21] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT URGES LAWMAKERS TO REVIEW LENGTH OF
  • [22] EU SIGNS LOAN FOR BULGARIAN NUCLEAR MODERNIZATION

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [23] PUTIN'S 'PERESTROIKA' UNDERMINES RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OF HUMAN RIGHTS

    SITUATION...

    In an address to the Azerbaijani people on 28

    May, the anniversary of the 1918 Declaration of the

    Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, Heidar Aliev said that the

    U.S. Congress Helsinki Commission's criticism last week of

    the political and human rights situation in Azerbaijan was

    unfair and lacking objectivity, Turan reported. He said such

    organizations should instead focus on the violations of the

    rights of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis forced to

    flee their homes during the war over Nagorno-Karabakh. During

    a five-hour hearing convened by that commission in Washington

    on 25 May, prominent Azerbaijani opposition politicians

    accused the Azerbaijani leadership of establishing an

    authoritarian regime and rejecting amendments proposed by the

    OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to

    the election law currently being debated in parliament. They

    also claimed that there are 50 political prisoners in

    Azerbaijan. LF

    [02] ...SAYS TURKEY'S HELP NEEDED TO RESOLVE KARABAKH CONFLICT

    Meeting in Baku on 29 May with Turkish Foreign Minister

    Ismail Cem, Aliev said he hopes for progress in resolving the

    Karabakh conflict, adding that the OSCE Minsk Group is

    expected to present a new draft peace plan shortly, Turan

    reported. Aliev said he plans to meet on the sidelines of the

    CIS June summit with his Armenian counterpart, Robert

    Kocharian, to continue their discussion of ways to resolve

    the conflict. In his radio address the previous day, Aliev

    said he and Kocharian had several times been close to

    resolving the conflict but that the "destructive position" of

    the Armenian side prevented a solution. He said Turkey's

    assistance is essential in order to resolve the conflict.

    Aliev also expressed the hope that recently elected Turkish

    President Ahmed Necet Sezer's first foreign visit will be to

    Azerbaijan. Cem, for his part, pledged Ankara's support in

    the Karabakh peace process and for Azerbaijan's full

    membership in the Council of Europe. LF

    [03] KYRGYZ JOURNALIST AWARDED

    The Washington-based International

    Women's Media Foundation has bestowed its prize for this year

    on Zamira Sadykova, founder of the opposition weekly

    newspaper "Res Publika," RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on

    29 May. The foundation noted Sadykova's courageous

    journalistic work under continued pressure and persecution

    from the Kyrgyz government. Sadykova has twice been sentenced

    to imprisonment for libel. "Res Publika" suspended

    publication two months ago after being fined for slander (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 2000). LF

    [04] NEW KYRGYZ PROSECUTOR-GENERAL VOWS CRACKDOWN ON CORRUPTION

    Chubak Abyshkaev told journalists in Bishkek on 29 May that

    his priorities are fighting corruption, smuggling, and

    economic crime, Interfax and RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau

    reported. He said a total of 213 government officials were

    arrested on charges of economic crime between January 1999

    and March 2000 and that 164 criminal cases have been opened.

    He estimated the total financial damage to the state as a

    result of those crimes at 105 million soms (about $2.2

    million). LF

    [05] KAZAKHSTAN'S PREMIER AGAIN BEMOANS SLOW-DOWN IN

    PRIVATIZATION

    Qasymzhomart Toqaev told a cabinet meeting on

    29 May that the pace of privatization must be stepped up,

    ITAR-TASS reported. He said revenues from privatization

    during the first three months of this year amounted to only

    11 percent of the planned amount. Two weeks earlier, Finance

    Minister Mazhit Esenbaev had similarly told the parliament

    that the budget may collect only two thirds of planned

    privatization revenues this year as a result of the previous

    government's decision to drop four large metallurgical

    combines from the list of enterprises to be privatized.

    Toqaev called last month for an investigation into the

    activities of the previous heads of the Finance Ministry's

    Property and Privatization Committee (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    12 April 2000). LF

    [06] TAJIK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH UN OFFICIALS

    Imomali Rakhmonov

    met in Dushanbe on 29 May with UN Special representative for

    Tajikistan Ivo Petrov and newly appointed UN Development

    Program coordinator Matthew Kahane, Asia Plus-Blitz and ITAR-

    TASS reported. Petrov informed Rakhmonov that the UN Security

    Council failed at its 12 May session to reach a decision on

    the nature of the future UN presence in Tajikistan following

    the expiry of the mandate of its observer mission there.

    Echoing Petrov's 24 May statement that Tajikistan needs

    substantial economic aid (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May

    2000), Rakhmonov told Kahane that his agency should focus on

    job creation, developing agriculture, combatting drought and

    attracting foreign investment in Tajikistan. Rakhmonov and

    Petrov agreed that the UN should play a greater role in

    seeking to end the civil war in Afghanistan. LF

    [07] TURKMEN PRESIDENT REJECTS OSCE PLEA FOR CLEMENCY FOR

    POLITICAL PRISONERS

    Visiting Ashgabat on 29 May on the first

    leg of a tour of the Central Asian states, Austrian Foreign

    Minister and OSCE chairwoman in office Benita Ferrero-Waldner

    asked President Saparmurat Niyazov to release Mukhametkuli

    Aymuradov and Shagildy Atakov, according to an RFE/RL

    correspondent travelling with the OSCE delegation. Aymuradov

    was sentenced in 1995 to 15 years imprisonment on charges of

    activities aimed at overthrowing the constitutional order,

    while Atakov was imprisoned last year on charges of

    swindling, which the OSCE considers were fabricated in

    retaliation for his involvement with a Baptist congregation.

    In addition, Ferrero-Waldner raised the case of Pirkuly

    Tanrykuliev and Nurberdy Nurmamedov, who have also been

    jailed for their political engagement. She expressed

    disappointment after the meeting at Niyazov's rejection of

    her plea for clemency. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] MONTENEGRO NOT TO ARREST MILOSEVIC

    Montenegrin Premier Filip

    Vujanovic said in Podgorica that "no one in Yugoslavia,

    Montenegro, or the international community could seriously

    expect Montenegrin authorities to arrest [Yugoslav President]

    Slobodan Milosevic and extradite him to The Hague," AP

    reported on 30 May. Vujanovic added, however, that he hopes

    Milosevic will not visit the mountainous republic "in the

    near future." The prime minister's statement comes in

    response to recent remarks by a prominent Montenegrin

    supporter of Milosevic that the Yugoslav president has

    accepted an invitation to visit Montenegro and that

    Milosevic's backers know the Montenegrin government will be

    under international pressure to arrest him (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 29 May 2000). Elsewhere, Miodrag Vukovic, who is

    an aide to Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, said that

    any visit by Milosevic to Montenegro would be a

    "provocation," "Vesti" reported on 30 May. Vukovic added that

    Milosevic should come to Montenegro only as a private citizen

    and not expect to be officially welcomed as president. PM

    [09] SERBIAN STUDENT REPRESENTATIVES IN MONTENEGRO

    Vujanovic met

    in Podgorica on 29 May with unnamed representatives of the

    Serbian Otpor (Resistance) student movement. One Otpor member

    told the private Beta news agency that the Montenegrin

    authorities regard Otpor as "one of the democratic forces in

    Serbia." The Montenegrin authorities have met previously with

    many Serbian opposition leaders and provided them with refuge

    and moral support. But Djukanovic and other Montenegrin

    leaders have stressed that the Serbs must democratize Serbia

    by themselves (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 2000). PM

    [10] DID IVANOV SNUB SERBIAN OPPOSITION?

    This is the question that

    the private Belgrade daily "Danas" asked on its front page on

    30 May, following the visit of several top Serbian opposition

    leaders to Moscow the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29

    May 2000). The leaders met with Russian Deputy Foreign

    Minister Aleksandr Avdeev, but Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov

    was "too busy" to see them, Reuters quoted unnamed Foreign

    Ministry officials as saying. The ministry issued a statement

    calling for "the prompt return of the Studio B television

    station to its owner, [which is] the Belgrade city council."

    Representatives of the opposition Yabloko party discussed the

    current situation in Yugoslavia with the visitors and called

    on the Russian president and government to "support human

    rights in Yugoslavia," "Danas" reported. The daily

    "Izvestiya" criticized the Foreign Ministry for what it

    called "supporting Milosevic," "Vesti" reported. PM

    [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO REORGANIZE?

    Vladan Batic, who is one of

    the leaders of the Alliance for Change, said in Belgrade on

    29 May that the opposition's disappointingly small rally

    there two days earlier may be the "swan song" of the

    opposition in its present form (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May

    2000). Batic argued that the opposition may need to "regroup"

    if it continues to remain ineffective and unable to agree on

    a common platform, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He

    did not elaborate. PM

    [12] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER IN THE HAGUE

    Cooperation between Banja

    Luka and the Hague-based war crimes tribunal was on the

    agenda of talks between Republika Srpska Prime Minister

    Milorad Dodik and the tribunal's president, Claude Jorda, on

    29 May. This is the first visit by a top Bosnian Serb

    official to the tribunal. Dodik also met with unnamed

    indicted war criminals at a seaside prison. The Bosnian Serb

    leader said that the tribunal must demonstrate that it seeks

    to determine responsibility for war crimes committed by

    individuals of any nationality. He argued that many Serbs

    regard it as an anti-Serbian "political tribunal" and feel

    that the "whole [Serbian] nation is on trial here," AP

    reported. Dodik added that peacekeepers in Bosnia should

    arrest former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and

    General Ratko Mladic, both of whom have been indicted by the

    tribunal, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [13] ANOTHER MASS GRAVE FOUND NEAR SREBRENICA

    Amor Masovic, who

    heads the Bosnian government's commission on missing persons

    from the 1992-1995 war, said in Sarajevo on 29 May that

    experts have found the remains of some 80 people in a forest

    between Srebrenica and Bratunac. He added that identification

    of the bodies will begin in approximately three weeks. PM

    [14] IRANIANS DROWN TRYING TO REACH CROATIA

    A Bosnian Serb police

    spokesman said in Banja Luka on 30 May that police have found

    the bodies of four Iranians in the Sava River and that an

    unspecified additional number of Iranians are believed to be

    hiding on Bosnian Serb territory. The spokesman ruled out any

    terrorist links, adding that the Iranians sought to reach

    Croatia and Italy via Bosnia, AP reported. Meanwhile on an

    Italian ship off the Istrian coast, Croatian police found 240

    kilograms of cocaine with a street value of nearly $9

    million, Reuters reported on 29 May. The Croats acted on a

    tip from U.S. drug authorities. PM

    [15] KOUCHNER WANTS KOSOVA'S SERBS TO REGISTER FOR ELECTIONS

    Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN's civilian administration

    in Kosova, said in Sofia on 29 May that he hopes the Serbian

    authorities will allow Serbian refugees from Kosova to

    register with UN officials there by 11 July. He added that he

    also hopes to convince Serbs inside and outside Kosova that

    it is in their interest to register and vote. Several local

    Serbian leaders have called for a boycott of the registration

    process until the UN and NATO guarantee the safety of

    Kosova's Serbian minority and enable the refugees to return.

    Kouchner has said repeatedly that organizing local elections

    in the fall is one of his top priorities. PM

    [16] KOSOVA SERBS ANGRY AFTER KILLINGS

    An unidentified person

    shot and killed three Serbs, including a four-year-old boy,

    in Cernica on 28 May. Two additional Serbs are being treated

    for wounds at the nearby U.S. Camp Bondsteel. A NATO

    spokesman said in Prishtina that an ethnic Albanian suspect

    remains at large. Almost all of Cernica's 600 Serbian

    inhabitants attended the funeral of the three victims the

    following day. The villagers were "distraught and angry," AP

    reported. Moderate Kosovar Serb leader Momcilo Trajkovic said

    that "it is high time" for Serbs to reconsider their

    continued participation in Kouchner's interim administrative

    council. In Mitrovica, local Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic told

    a protest meeting of about 1,000 Serbs that Serbs in Kosova

    must "guard their own houses and streets." KFOR strictly

    forbids the formation of local paramilitary groups. PM

    [17] ALBANIA, BULGARIA TO CRACK DOWN ON CRIME

    President Rexhep

    Meidani and his Bulgarian counterpart, Petar Stoyanov, agreed

    in Tirana on 29 May to step up cooperation in combating

    prostitution, drug trafficking, and other crimes affecting

    their two countries. Stoyanov discussed with several top

    Albanian officials improved coordination on joint projects

    within the framework of the EU's Stability Pact. On 30 May,

    Stoyanov is slated to visit the port of Durres, which will be

    linked to Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey by an east-west

    highway to be built largely with EU funds. PM

    [18] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO INVESTMENT

    CRISIS

    Speaking on Romanian Radio on 29 May, President

    Emil Constantinescu said he has ordered the government to

    open an investigation into the circumstances that prompted

    the collapse of the National Investment Fund (FNI) and the

    illegal withdrawal of deposits from the fund after it had

    been temporarily closed. He said he had ordered the

    Intelligence Service to investigate whether the crisis is

    "jeopardizing national security" and whether it had been

    purposely provoked. Ruling coalition parties and the

    opposition have accused each other of having provoked the

    crisis. As thousands of people demonstrated in various

    cities to demand the return of their investments in the

    FNI, a rumor prompted withdrawal demands from account

    holders with the Commercial Bank. Bank officials gave

    assurances that the bank is not in danger of collapsing. MS

    [19] COMMISSION ENDS DRAFTING AMENDMENTS TO MOLDOVAN

    CONSTITUTION

    The joint commission on drafting amendments

    to the constitution has ended its work, having reached

    compromises among its members on most of the points on the

    agenda, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 29 May. The

    commission, which is composed of three representatives of

    the parliament, three of the president and one of the

    Council of Europe's Venice Commission of constitutional

    experts told journalists that some points remain to be

    decided by the parliament. The commission is recommending

    that the legislature vote confidence in the premier instead

    of the government as a whole and that the formation of the

    government follow his being installed in office. The

    premier is to be appointed by the president and present the

    government team to the president for approval. The cabinet

    does not need to have its program approved by the

    parliament before it is sworn in. Venice Commission

    representative Giorgio Malinverni said the proposed system

    resembles "the [semi-presidential] French system." MS

    [20] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT BACKS ILASCU GROUP JUDICIAL RETRIAL IN

    THIRD COUNTRY

    Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea on 29

    May said that President Petru Lucinschi considers the idea

    of having the case of the Tiraspol-imprisoned group

    reviewed in a third, OSCE-member country to be "a

    reasonable compromise," RFE/ RL's Chisinau bureau reported.

    Romania recently proposed that the case be retried in

    Poland (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2000). MS

    [21] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT URGES LAWMAKERS TO REVIEW LENGTH OF

    MILITARY SERVICE

    Petar Stoyanov on 29 April asked the

    parliament to reconsider a recent law shortening military

    service, AP reported. He said his intervention was prompted

    by Bulgarian military leaders' opposition to the law. Under

    the new law, as of 1 October 2001 service is to be cut to

    nine months for most soldiers and six months for those with

    a university degree. In 1998, military service was reduced

    from 18 months to 12 months and from 12 months to nine

    months for university graduates. MS

    [22] EU SIGNS LOAN FOR BULGARIAN NUCLEAR MODERNIZATION

    Pedro

    Solbes, EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs,

    has signed a $212 million loan approved last month for the

    modernization of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, dpa

    reported on 29 May. The same day, the Bulgarian River

    Shipping Corporation warned that the country's idle Danube

    ship owners will not survive more delays in clearing the

    Yugoslav section of the river, AP reported. The corporation's

    executive director, Dimitar Stanchev, said the ship owners

    cannot survive another winter like the last one. His remarks

    were prompted by an earlier statement of a Danube Commission

    official, who had said in Budapest that the reopening of the

    waterway navigation system will be delayed by one year. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [23] PUTIN'S 'PERESTROIKA' UNDERMINES RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION

    By Donald N. Jensen

    In an article in the 11 May issue of the newspaper

    "Sovetskaya Rossiya," legal scholar Georgii Shakhnazarov

    offers proposals for constitutional reform that deserve

    serious consideration as President Vladimir Putin seeks to

    rework the Russian political system. Shakhnazarov, currently

    with the Gorbachev Foundation and formerly an adviser to the

    former Soviet president, has in the past argued that the

    Russian Constitution should be amended to reduce the strong

    powers the president enjoys.

    Now he turns that argument on its head. Russia's

    problem, he argues, is not that the president is too

    powerful. The country, according to Shakhnazarov, needs such

    a chief executive and voters support that. Unfortunately, a

    strong parliament and judiciary do not balance the

    presidency, and consequently there is no real system of

    checks and balances.

    Shakhnazarov proposes expanding Article 80, Paragraph 3

    of the constitution, under which the president "defines the

    basic guidelines for the state's domestic and foreign policy"

    to include the Federal Assembly. The government would be made

    more accountable to the legislature. The role of the bloated

    presidential administration, in recent years a powerful

    political force, would be curtailed. The only direct

    constitutional reduction of the president's powers, according

    to Shakhnazarov's proposals, would be the simplification of

    the impeachment process, virtually impossible under the

    current system. Such changes, Shakhnazarov argues, would help

    Putin restore the "normal legal order" for which Russian

    society is yearning. They also would help the new president

    achieve the policy goals he has established.

    Shakhnazarov's proposed amendments are unlikely to

    receive much attention in the Kremlin. Having inherited a

    flawed constitution designed to codify the personal authority

    of his predecessor, Putin has preferred to revise that

    document through legislation and presidential decrees rather

    than by the complicated amendment process. In most

    constitutional systems, Putin's ambitious plans--to alter the

    composition of the Federation Council, reorganize the country

    into seven super-regions administered by presidential

    appointees, and streamline the mechanism for removing local

    governors--would be fundamental enough to require

    constitutional amendment and months of national debate. The

    Putin administration correctly, though unwisely, argues that

    in Russia this restructuring does not require constitutional

    amendment.

    Such changes, however, drastically shift the balance of

    power between the center and the regions. If they are ordered

    from above, rather than resulting from amendments to the

    constitution or through a referendum, they are far more

    likely not to work as intended, if they take hold at all.

    This approach further diminishes the rule of law.

    Another problem is that Putin's "perestroika" seems to

    reflect a vertical view of political power that routinely

    relies on strong--sometimes coercive--executive authority to

    attain its goals. This orientation, as social scientist

    Virginie Coulloudon has recently pointed out, is shared by

    many Russian elites, from the new president to Anatolii

    Chubais. Even if its goals, such as a free market, are

    laudable, it reflects suspicion of political pluralism, the

    separation of powers (which would be strengthened by

    Shakhnazarov's proposals), and the resolution of conflicts

    through negotiation and consensus.

    In this regard one of the most interesting aspects of

    Putin's proposals to bring the regional governors to heel has

    been the extent to which it has been welcomed by so-called

    "democrats" in the Moscow establishment. While many regional

    governors are indeed corrupt, as these supporters of

    centralization point out, they probably are less so than

    numerous officials in Moscow, where the temptations are far

    greater. Moreover, if the goal of the federal reorganization

    is to improve local governance, subordinating the governors

    to the Kremlin is likely to be less effective than making the

    regional leaders more accountable to their local

    constituencies.

    The current Russian Constitution, like basic laws

    elsewhere, seeks to balance liberty and order. Thus, the

    government embraces the principles of popular consent, the

    separation of powers, and federalism. Popular consent was

    expressed by the direct election of the State Duma. The

    sharing of political authority among three branches of the

    federal government was intended to reduce the prospects for

    tyranny. Federalism gave both national and regional

    governments independent authority. In such systems, political

    conflict is intended to be--and usually is--healthy.

    These principles have never had deep roots in Russia.

    The many flaws in the current constitution--including the

    imbalances that Shakhnazarov discusses--have further impaired

    such values. On 24 May, Sergei Medvedev, Putin's first deputy

    chief of staff, expressed his high regard for the country's

    constitution and added that the "political regime in Russia

    was and is democratic." At the same time, he urged the Duma

    to pass the president's federal reorganization passage to

    stabilize the situation in the country and restore the

    vertical hierarchy of power.

    The problem for Putin is that stability is not usually

    ensured by centralizing power. And even when the constitution

    is deeply flawed, such an approach is rarely more legitimate

    or effective.

    The author is associate director of RFE/RL's Broadcasting

    Division.

    30-05-00


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


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