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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 216, 00-11-07

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. 216, 7 November 2000

Senior Russian Interior Ministry official Colonel Mikhail Suntsov told Interfax on 3 November that Chechen field commandeers Arbi Baraev and Ruslan Tsagaroev were in Grozny. He added that their location was known but that Russian forces had not attempted to apprehend them as doing so could pose a threat to the lives of the city's population. Suntsov said that his ministry has information that field commander Ruslan Gelaev is in Georgia and intends to spend the winter there. Unconfirmed Russian press reports claimed that the band of Chechen fighters intercepted in northern Georgia in late October were Gelaev's men (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 41, 20 October 2000 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October 2000). But the Georgian Interior Ministry on 4 November denied that Gelaev is in Georgia or that it had received any information on his whereabouts from its Russian counterpart, Caucasus Press reported. LF

CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN TAX MINISTER RESIGNS
  • [02] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES REJECT OFFICIAL POLL RETURNS
  • [03] OSCE SAYS AZERBAIJANI BALLOT NOT UP TO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
  • [04] FOUR GEORGIAN ENERGY SECTOR OFFICIALS ARRESTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT...
  • [05] ...AS PRESIDENT WARNS JUSTICE MINISTER OVER CORRUPTION 'HOT-LINE'
  • [06] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT POSTPONES VISIT TO TURKEY
  • [07] PAKISTANI LEADER VISITS KAZAKHSTAN
  • [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER ADVOCATES NATIONAL RECONCILIATION
  • [09] TURKMENISTAN, PAKISTAN DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN, ECONOMIC COOPERATION

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] OSCE SAYS BELGRADE HAS ACCEPTED CONDITIONS TO RESUME MEMBERSHIP
  • [11] MILOSEVIC TO GIVE UP PARTY LEADERSHIP?
  • [12] EU AID FOR SERBIA TO ARRIVE THIS MONTH
  • [13] SERBIAN INMATES' REVOLT SPREADS TO THIRD PRISON
  • [14] COMMANDER SAYS ORGANIZED RETURN OF SERBS TO KOSOVA UNLIKELY BEFORE SPRING...
  • [15] ...ARGUES KFOR'S ROLE AS MILITARY FORCE LESS IMPORTANT NOW
  • [16] BOSNIAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES VOTERS TO REJECT NATIONALISTS
  • [17] SUSPECT IN BOSNIAN MINISTER'S MURDER TURNS HIMSELF IN
  • [18] ROMANIA TO RECEIVE 215 MILLION EURO FROM EU
  • [19] DECLARATION ON PROTECTION OF ROMANIAN ORPHANS POSTPONED
  • [20] MOLDOVAN MINISTER DENIES CONSIDERING RESIGNATION

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [21] GIVING SUBSTANCE TO THE UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN 'STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP'

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN TAX MINISTER RESIGNS

    Minister for State Revenues Gagik Poghosian submitted his resignation on 6 November, four days after President Robert Kocharian had criticized the government's inability to collect more than 60 percent of planned revenues during the first nine months of this year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Poghosian acknowledged that he would not be able to bring 32 billion drams ($60 million) into the state treasury over the next two months. Premier Andranik Markarian commended Poghosian's performance over the past five months but said that revenues over that period had not been sufficient to counter the poor performance of the previous cabinet headed by Aram Sargsian, which Kocharian had also noted. Markarian appointed as Poghosian's successor the head of government staff, 46-year-old economist Andranik Manukian, who ran the Ararat-Lada car-dealership before joining Markarian's cabinet in May 2000. A deputy in all three post-communist Armenian parliaments, Manukian was severely wounded in the October 1999 parliamentary shootings. Manuk Topuzian succeeds Manukian as head of government staff, according to Groong, citing Snark. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES REJECT OFFICIAL POLL RETURNS

    The opposition Musavat Party issued a statement in Baku on 6 November claiming that the officially reported outcome of the previous day's parliamentary election was totally falsified, and saying that the party does not recognize the legitimacy of the new parliament, Turan reported. As of late on 6 November, the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party had reportedly won 70.83 percent of the vote.The statement said that exit polls conducted by Turan and the ADAM sociological center established that 26 percent of those who participated cast their ballots for Musavat and 23 percent for YAP. It said voter turnout, which was officially estimated at around 70 percent, did not exceed 25-35 percent. Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar said he believes his party garnered 50 percent of the vote. Azerbaijan National Independence Party chairman Etibar Mamedov for his part estimated voter turnout at 35-40 percent, of whom he said 65 percent voted for the opposition. The Democratic Congress also issued a statement rejecting the official poll results, as did the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan. Fourteen opposition parties that had expressed their support for Musavat in the polls issued a joint statement backing the Musavat statement. LF

    [03] OSCE SAYS AZERBAIJANI BALLOT NOT UP TO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS

    In its preliminary assessment, which was released on 6 November, the OSCE Monitoring Mission noted some improvements over the 1995 and 1998 polls in terms of increased political pluralism, Turan reported. But as in the case of the 1998 presidential poll, the mission characterized the elections as falling short of international standards and said that "significant improvements" are required in order to reach the accepted standards for democratic elections. The statement noted improvements to the legislative framework but added that those laws were not systematically implemented. It termed the rejection of approximately half of all would-be candidates in single-mandate constituencies "a major problem." The statement queried the official estimate of voter turnout and noted "numerous instances of serious irregularities," including ballot-stuffing, pre-marked ballots, the refusal to admit international observers to polling stations, and "a completely marred counting process." LF

    [04] FOUR GEORGIAN ENERGY SECTOR OFFICIALS ARRESTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT...

    Three Georgian energy sector officials were arrested on 5-6 November on suspicion of embezzlement or abuse of their official positions, Caucasus Press reported. The former director of GruzEnergo, Emzar Chachkhiani, who was detained late last month, has been charged with misappropriating some 7.75 million lari ($3.9 million). Further arrests are expected, according to unnamed officials in the Georgian Prosecutor-General's Office. LF

    [05] ...AS PRESIDENT WARNS JUSTICE MINISTER OVER CORRUPTION 'HOT-LINE'

    Responding to those arrests, Eduard Shevardnadze warned on 6 November that the new campaign to eradicate corruption, which philanthropist George Soros on 3 November praised and offered to help finance, will not be confined to the energy sector, Caucasus Press reported. Speaking at a press briefing in Tbilisi, Shevardnadze warned Minister of Justice Mikhail Saakashvili that the latter's plans to solicit and offer payments of up to 5,000 lari for evidence that staff of his ministry have accepted bribes may have unspecified "negative consequences," Caucasus Press reported. National Ideology Party Chairman Zurab Gagnidze, for his part, proposed extending that initiative to all government ministries. LF

    [06] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT POSTPONES VISIT TO TURKEY

    Shevardnadze on 7 November postponed an official visit to Turkey due to begin the following day after his only remaining sister died at the age of 80, Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze is now the sole survivor of five siblings. LF

    [07] PAKISTANI LEADER VISITS KAZAKHSTAN

    Arriving in Astana on 6 November for a working visit, Parvez Musharraf held talks with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev on expanding bilateral cooperation and the situation in Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The presidential press service issued a statement after those talks quoting Nazarbaev as saying that "Kazakhstan is willing to establish contacts and hold talks with representatives of all movements and groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban," Reuters reported. Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov told journalists that Astana "has no allergy" to any political group in Afghanistan and desires only to see peace restored to that country. Meeting last week with Saudi Arabian government delegation, Nazarbaev had offered to host talks between the two warring Afghan factions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 2000). Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia recognize the Taliban as the legitimate Afghan government. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER ADVOCATES NATIONAL RECONCILIATION

    In a statement issued in Bishkek on 6 November, former Vice President and opposition Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov said that re-elected President Askar Akaev must play a key role in restoring Kyrgyzstan's democratic image in the wake of this year's disputed parliamentary and presidential elections, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. In order to do so, Kulov argued, Akaev will need to establish "a good working relationship" between the Kyrgyz leadership and opposition. Kulov added that it is important that the authorities and opposition close ranks to preclude a reduction in badly needed international financial aid. Regarded as the strongest potential opponent to Akaev, Kulov did not contest the 29 October presidential elections but aligned himself with opposition candidate Omurbek Tekebaev, who promised to appoint him premier in the event of his winning the poll. LF

    [09] TURKMENISTAN, PAKISTAN DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN, ECONOMIC COOPERATION

    Pakistan's Chief Executive Parvez Musharraf held brief talks with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyzov on 6 November during a stopover at Ashgabat airport en route for Astana, Russian agencies reported. The two men reportedly agreed that Afghanistan should be invited to join talks on planned bilateral economic projects, including the planned gas export pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan and highway construction projects. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] OSCE SAYS BELGRADE HAS ACCEPTED CONDITIONS TO RESUME MEMBERSHIP

    OSCE chairwoman and Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner said on 6 November that Yugoslavia has accepted the conditions necessary for the suspension of its membership to be lifted, dpa reported. Ferrero-Waldner made the announcement after a meeting in Belgrade with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. She said Kostunica showed "a very constructive attitude" toward the international community. Yugoslavia's OSCE membership was suspended in 1992. Kostunica has also agreed to allow OSCE observers to monitor the 23 December Serbian parliamentary elections and said an OSCE mission in Belgrade will be reopened soon. He added that an amnesty will soon be passed that could lead to the freeing of ethnic Albanian prisoners being held in Serbian jails. The OSCE has 55 members, including Yugoslavia. PB

    [11] MILOSEVIC TO GIVE UP PARTY LEADERSHIP?

    The Tanjug news agency reported on 6 November that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will not stand for re-election as head of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). Tanjug quoted a source on the executive board of the SPS as saying that "Milosevic has explicitly said he does not want to lead the SPS any more." Milosevic has not been seen in public since 6 October, the day he conceded defeat in the presidential election in an address on state television. He is reported to be living in his two villas in the Belgrade suburbs. PB

    [12] EU AID FOR SERBIA TO ARRIVE THIS MONTH

    The EU said on 6 November that the union's emergency aid for Serbia will begin arriving later this month, Reuters reported. The $172 million is designed to help Serbia provide enough energy, food, and medicine through the winter months. Serbia is experiencing power cuts that are rotated throughout the republic. Michael Graham, the EU executive's chief representative in Belgrade, said "if we don't intervene in these critical areas, the country could easily slip into a rather chaotic situation." The same day, Greece said it will help Yugoslavia by providing "as much oil and electricity as is needed." PB

    [13] SERBIAN INMATES' REVOLT SPREADS TO THIRD PRISON

    Serbian prisoners demanding better treatment and inclusion in an anticipated amnesty staged a riot on 6 November, prompting revolts in other prisons, AP reported. The first riot had begun the previous day in Sremska Mitrovica, in northern Serbia, and spread to a prison in Nis and a jail near Pozarevac. Prisoners started several fires and took over sections of the institutions. Officials from Serbia's Justice Ministry are to meet with the prisoners and discuss their demands, which reportedly include that Serbian prisoners be among those granted freedom in an amnesty expected to apply to ethnic Albanians imprisoned in Serbia after being taken from Kosova. PB

    [14] COMMANDER SAYS ORGANIZED RETURN OF SERBS TO KOSOVA UNLIKELY BEFORE SPRING...

    The commander of NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosova, Lieutenant-General Carlo Cabigiosu, said on 6 November that an organized return of Kosovar Serbs to the province is likely to take place in early 2001, AP reported. Cabigiosu said in Prishtina that NATO forces in Kosova (KFOR) are preparing for the repatriation. He declined to say how many might return but noted that the Serbs "are a part and will be a part of this society in the future." Between 50,000 and150,000 Serbs are estimated to have left Kosova after Yugoslav forces withdrew from the province some 15 months ago. PB

    [15] ...ARGUES KFOR'S ROLE AS MILITARY FORCE LESS IMPORTANT NOW

    KFOR Commander Lieutenant-General Cabigiosu also said on 6 November that his troops are less important as a military force since the democratic changes that took place in Belgrade last month, dpa reported. Cabigiosu, an Italian, said the election of President Kostunica means that an incursion by Yugoslav forces into Kosova is much less likely than it was while Slobodan Milosevic was in power. Cabigiosu added that the U.S. troops in Kosova are "an integral part of [his] force...and their presence here is very important to achieve progress." PB

    [16] BOSNIAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES VOTERS TO REJECT NATIONALISTS

    Jadranko Prlic said on 7 November in Sarajevo that Bosnia-Herzegovina will rid itself of its image as the "black hole" of Europe if voters shun nationalist candidates in this weekend's general elections, Reuters reported. Prlic warned that if "national political parties win, Bosnia...will remain far from Europe, far from the Council of Europe, the EU, and any possible cooperation with [NATO]." Prlic, who left the nationalist Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in September, said the elections are "the sole opportunity for the citizens of [Bosnia] to change the current situation." Prlic is hoping that the multiethnic Social Democratic Party will have a good showing in the elections; the party is hoping to get votes from both the Muslim and Croatian communities. Prlic said he has spoken with new Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic and that diplomatic relations between the two countries will be established soon. PB

    [17] SUSPECT IN BOSNIAN MINISTER'S MURDER TURNS HIMSELF IN

    Jadranko Lucic, a suspect in the March 1999 assassination of Bosnian Deputy Interior Minister Jozo Leutar, turned himself in on 6 November, Reuters reported. Lucic said he never received an official summons following the murder but had gone to the Sarajevo police because he is innocent. The Croatian agency Hina said Lucic was one of six people wanted by law officials on suspicion of having played a part in the bomb attack in Sarajevo that killed Leutar, who had received widespread praise for fighting corruption. Four other Croats, including former Croatian army General Ivan Andabak, have already been arrested. PB

    [18] ROMANIA TO RECEIVE 215 MILLION EURO FROM EU

    The European Commission representative in Romania, Fokion Fotiadis, and Romanian Foreign Minister Petre Roman signed an agreement on 6 November whereby Romania is to receive 215 million euros (some $250 million), Romanian media reported. The sum has been granted as part of the EU's Phare program and is aimed at helping the country bring its policies into line with those of the EU. Among the projects to be funded are economic, social, and legislative ones. Fotiadis said granting the funds is a test for the Romanian government, as the latter needs to prove that the money will be spent efficiently. ZsM

    [19] DECLARATION ON PROTECTION OF ROMANIAN ORPHANS POSTPONED

    After meetings on 6 November between parliamentary party leaders and Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu about the treatment of children in orphanages, the decision was taken to postpone signing a common declaration, BBC's Romanian Service reported. Three opposition parties, including the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, asked for more time to study the draft. The draft declaration contains a provision saying that all parties will "solemnly and unequivocally support the complete protection of all Romanian children." European Parliament rapporteur Emma Nicholson said on 4 November in Bucharest that the situation in Romanian orphanages is critical. ZsM

    [20] MOLDOVAN MINISTER DENIES CONSIDERING RESIGNATION

    Moldovan Interior Minister Vladimir Turcan rejected rumors on 6 November that he is considering resigning, AP Flux reported on 6 November. Turcan said he has never discussed the subject with the republic's leadership and denied that he is being considered for an ambassador's post. Turcan blamed the rumors on "persons who want to destabilize the Interior Ministry." ET

    [C] END NOTE

    [21] GIVING SUBSTANCE TO THE UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN 'STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP'

    By Taras Kuzio

    Ukraine's much-vaunted multi-vector foreign policy is again in flux following the dismissal last month of pro-Western minister of foreign affairs, Borys Tarasiuk. Kyiv is finding it increasingly difficult to continue a foreign policy that recognizes both the U.S. and Russia as "strategic partners" but gives substance only to its partnership with the U.S. and NATO.

    The strategic goals of Ukraine's Western-oriented multi-vector foreign policy are unlikely to be altered because they have majority support among the country's leadership. While Ukraine is proceeding with plans to upgrade the GUUAM alignment (composed of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) into a fully fledged regional organization early next year, it released this summer a new plan for integration into the EU, and a new Ukraine-NATO Cooperation Program for 2001-2004 will shortly be unveiled. Support for CIS integration among the country's leadership is minimal.

    There will nevertheless be short-term changes. Anatoly Zlenko, who was appointed as Tarasiuk's replacement, called upon his ministry to "change some tactical approaches in order to better tap the potential of Russian- Ukrainian cooperation." "We cannot proclaim a slogan and leave it unfulfilled," he added. For example, although both states signed a 10-year economic cooperation treaty in February 1998, the volume of bilateral trade has declined by half since 1996.

    Zlenko, who was Ukrainian foreign minister from 1990 to1994, acknowledged the "low effectiveness of a purely declarative diplomacy" that Ukraine has conducted vis-a-vis Russia. Zlenko has been tasked with activating Ukraine's Russian policy. Not surprisingly, his first foreign trip was to Moscow.

    Apart from the need to give a new lease on life to Ukrainian-Russian relations, Tarasiuk's dismissal as foreign minister can be seen in the context of four other factors.

    First, disillusionment with the West has been growing since Ukraine's chances of joining the EU were blocked. Although there is a non-leftist (but not necessarily pro-reform) majority in the parliament and a reformist, non-corrupt government, no financial assistance has been forthcoming this year from either the IMF or the World Bank. It is surprising that when Ukraine at last has a committed reformist government the IMF has declined to provide assistance.

    Second, there are no longer any high-ranking officials in the presidential administration who are pro-Western. Anatoly Orel, a former long-standing Soviet career diplomat and the head of presidential administration's foreign policy department, is reportedly a pro-Russian "grey cardinal" who supported Russian demands that Tarasiuk be relieved of his post. In return for not taking a hard line on energy debts and the re-routing of pipelines, Russian officials have long urged that certain outspoken, pro-Western officials--including Tarasiuk--be dismissed because they were not committed to a Russian-Ukrainian "strategic partnership."

    Third, Ukrainian oligarchs who have acquired their wealth from illegal deals on Russian energy are blocking the re-routing of Ukrainian energy supplies from Russia via the Caucasus. Construction of the Odesa oil terminal, which was designed to import and refine Azeribaijani oil, was started in 1993 but has still not been completed. Ukrainian oligarchs can conduct their illicit energy deals only through cooperation with equally corrupt colleagues in Russia. Russia has turned down Ukrainian requests to install meters on the pipelines crossing its territory to prevent theft of Russian gas, which, according to Western diplomats in Kyiv, is taking place on either side of the Russian-Ukrainian border.

    Indeed, Ukraine's oligarchs and their centrist "party of power" parliamentary factions, which control the parliamentary leadership, are hostile to the reformist government of Viktor Yushchenko because its reforms are undercutting their financial operations. While Ukraine's economy has grown this year for the first time since 1990, the government's reformist policies can also be considered to have contributed to the payment of all wage, pension, and social security arrears within nine months of the cabinet's having taken office. But President Leonid Kuchma has been noticeably reticent in supporting Yushchenko. If Kuchma were to remove him from office, the non-leftist majority in parliament would collapse: upwards of 100 of the 250 non-leftists in the parliament are pro- Yushchenko, but not pro-Kuchma.

    And fourth, Russia is perhaps at last ready to accept that Ukraine is not Belarus and must be treated in a more equal, conciliatory manner than has been the case until now. It was, after all, Russia's poor treatment of Ukraine after Kuchma's election in 1994 that pushed Ukraine toward NATO. Russia's new attitude might yield better results in wooing Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told his visiting counterpart, Zlenko, at the end of last month that Russia will develop "equal, mutually advantageous and friendly relations with Ukraine taking into account the interests of both countries." Relations with Ukraine will therefore be built "on the principles of respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and independence," he added.

    While a virtual strategic partnership was acceptable to former Russian President Boros Yeltsin, it is clearly not to the liking of his successor, Vladimir Putin, who will not tolerate an amorphous Ukrainian-Russian "strategic partnership" that has allowed Ukraine to cash in on its economic- energy relationship with Russia while developing political-strategic ties with the West. The Russian president is pressuring Ukraine to put substance into the two countries' "strategic partnership." It remains to be seen whether Ukraine can develop such partnerships with both Russia and the West simultaneously.

    The author is a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University.

    07-11-00


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


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