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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 226, 00-11-21

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. 226, 21 November 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA URGED TO END TORTURE
  • [02] ARMENIAN NUCLEAR PLANT TO RESUME OPERATION
  • [03] OPPOSITION LEADERS SAY AZERBAIJAN IN CRISIS
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS BLAST OPPOSITION
  • [05] ALL FOUND GUILTY IN AZERBAIJANI OIL EMBEZZLEMENT CASE
  • [06] GEORGIA, RUSSIA LOCK HORNS ON VISA REQUIREMENTS
  • [07] SHEVARDNADZE SAYS GEORGIAN POWER SITUATION TO IMPROVE
  • [08] SHEVARDNADZE EXPLAINS ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY
  • [09] WEST ADMITS IT DOES NOT UNDERSTAND CENTRAL ASIA, SAYS KAZAKH OFFICIAL
  • [10] KAZAKHSTAN PLANS NEW PRIVATIZATION EFFORT
  • [11] DIAL 911 IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [12] KYRGYZSTAN'S DEPUTIES GIVE PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO BUDGET
  • [13] TAJIKISTAN INDICTS LEADER OF TAJIK UZBEKS
  • [14] NO CUTS PLANNED FOR RUSSIAN BORDER TROOPS IN TAJIKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] SERBIAN OPPOSITION STILL FAR FROM ELECTION PACT
  • [16] MONTENEGRIN PARTIES REJECT FEDERAL ROLE IN BELGRADE-PODGORICA TALKS
  • [17] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT LAUNCHES 'DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE'
  • [18] WHAT ROLE FOR MONTENEGRO AT THE BALKAN SUMMIT?
  • [19] SERBIA'S MILOSEVIC RETURNS TO TELEVISION
  • [20] BELGRADE WANTS DIPLOMATIC TIES TO SLOVENIA
  • [21] EARTHQUAKES, MUDSLIDES IN SLOVENIA
  • [22] RED CROSS LISTS MISSING PERSONS IN BOSNIA
  • [23] OPPOSITION VIOLENCE IN ALBANIA
  • [24] ALBANIAN LEADER SEEKS 'EVENTUAL' RELATIONS WITH BELGRADE
  • [25] ALBANIA TO REPRESENT 'ALL ALBANIANS' AT ZAGREB SUMMIT
  • [26] EU APPROVES DOCUMENTS ON CROATIA, MACEDONIA
  • [27] ROMANIAN POLL PREDICTS EXTREMIST LEADER IN RUNOFF WITH ILIESCU
  • [28] ROMANIA STARTS SCREENING SECRET POLICE INFORMERS
  • [29] OUTGOING MOLDOVAN, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN BUCHAREST
  • [30] TRANSDNIESTER HOSTS UNRECOGNIZED STATES MEETING
  • [31] EU CONSIDERS LIFTING VISA REQUIREMENTS ON BULGARIA, ROMANIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [32] MOSCOW SPARS BEFORE KNOCKING OUT LUKASHENKA?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA URGED TO END TORTURE

    Amnesty International on 20 November called on Yerevan to "implement without delay" the recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture issued on 17 November. In a press release, the international human rights organization said that it has received credible reports of torture in Armenia and noted that "in many cases," the authorities have been "reluctant" to investigate. Meanwhile, the Free Hayk Mission has called on the Armenian authorities to release political prisoners, Noyan Tapan reported on 20 November. PG

    [02] ARMENIAN NUCLEAR PLANT TO RESUME OPERATION

    Ashot Martirosian, the head of Armenia's nuclear supervision agency, told Interfax on 20 November that the second generating unit of the Metzamor power plant will be restarted in early December. Nuclear fuel from Russia, he added, will keep the plant operational until at least May 2001. PG

    [03] OPPOSITION LEADERS SAY AZERBAIJAN IN CRISIS

    As protests continued on 20 November in Sabirabad and Nardaran, opposition leaders, including the Democratic Party's Sardar Jalaloglu and National Independence Party Etibar Mamedov, said that Azerbaijan is in crisis. Many of them protested what they said were up to 100 arrests in Sheki over the weekend, while officials rejected that figure. Meanwhile, Popular Front leader Ali Kerimov said that the arrests in Sheki would fail to intimidate the population, Turan reported. And in a conversation with U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson, Mamedov said that he fears both the authorities and the opposition could lose control over the situation, something he said other forces would undoubtedly exploit, the Azerbaijani news service reported. PG

    [04] AZERBAIJANI OFFICIALS BLAST OPPOSITION

    Ali Akhmedov, the executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, said on 20 November that "rallies in Baku and the country's other regions are aimed at destabilizing Azerbaijan and provoking confrontation with the authorities, with foreign support." But he said that "we have enough forces to oppose and to cut short these attempts." Meanwhile, Ali Hasanov, an official in the presidential administration, told Turan that the demonstrations over the weekend highlighted the weakness rather than the strength of the opposition. PG

    [05] ALL FOUND GUILTY IN AZERBAIJANI OIL EMBEZZLEMENT CASE

    Sixteen people, including two foreign economic relations ministers, were found guilty in Baku of embezzling some $30 million in oil products, the Azerbaijani television station ANS reported on 20 November. They were sentenced to jail terms of up to 12 years. PG

    [06] GEORGIA, RUSSIA LOCK HORNS ON VISA REQUIREMENTS

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said on 20 November that Russia's plans to introduce a visa regime for Georgian citizens is discriminatory and that Tbilisi may reconsider its attitude toward the presence of the Russian base at Gudauta unless Moscow changes its position, Caucasus Press reported. In response, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that his government hopes Tbilisi will take a constructive line and not "issue ultimatums," ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov said that he remains certain that the visa regime will be introduced in December. The Russian agency also reported that Shevardnadze told a briefing that the question of Georgia's withdrawal from the CIS has not "yet" been raised--the clearest indication so far that it may be soon. PG

    [07] SHEVARDNADZE SAYS GEORGIAN POWER SITUATION TO IMPROVE

    President Shevardnadze told a press conference on 20 November that his government will ensure that the country gets "a relatively normal electricity supply" within the next week to 10 days, Georgian Television reported. Shevardnadze dismissed suggestions that the recent power outages could lead to a crisis of power: "Georgia will never witness the events of 1991 and 1992," he said. "Their [the opposition's] heyday will not come." PG

    [08] SHEVARDNADZE EXPLAINS ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY

    In addition to discussing the power crisis, President Shevardnadze used his weekly radio broadcast on 20 November to explain why he is beginning the struggle against corruption only now. "Hasty steps would not give positive results in the matter," he said, adding that "we would not be able to do away with corruption until we were ready." Now that the legal structures are in place, Shevardnadze said, he will take the lead in stamping out corruption. He added that the number of those likely to be found guilty is large. PG

    [09] WEST ADMITS IT DOES NOT UNDERSTAND CENTRAL ASIA, SAYS KAZAKH OFFICIAL

    According to Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said during President Nursultan Nazarbaev's visit to London that the West's understanding of Central Asia is "superficial" and in many places "mistaken," Interfax reported on 20 November. Idrisov said that this acknowledgement is "very important" and could lead to "greater mutual understanding" between Kazakhstan and other countries. In other comments, Idrisov denied reports that Nazarbaev had met with former Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin. PG

    [10] KAZAKHSTAN PLANS NEW PRIVATIZATION EFFORT

    Eduard Utepov, the deputy head of the State Property and Privatization Committee, told Interfax-Kazakhstan on 20 November that Astana plans to sell part of its shares in six major enterprises, including Aluminum of Kazakhstan and KazKhrom. In another economic move, the government announced the creation of a new interagency commission for petroleum exports under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev. And the authorities said that Kazakhstan has increased its output of uranium by 16 percent over the last year, Interfax reported. PG

    [11] DIAL 911 IN KAZAKHSTAN

    Officials in Almaty and Ust-Kamenogorsk announced on 20 November that at the start of next year, they plan to open emergency phone lines analogous to the 911 call lines in the U.S., Interfax reported. PG

    [12] KYRGYZSTAN'S DEPUTIES GIVE PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO BUDGET

    The Assembly of People's Representatives on 20 November approved in the first reading the 2001 draft state budget, Interfax reported. The budget contains provisions to repay more than $100 million in foreign debt during the next year, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Meanwhile, Kyrgyz Finance Minister Sultan Mederov said that inflation will be under 13 percent for 2000, far below the government's initial forecast of 20 percent. PG

    [13] TAJIKISTAN INDICTS LEADER OF TAJIK UZBEKS

    The Tajikistan government has indicted Jahon Ruziev, the chairman of the Society of Ethnic Uzbeks in Tajikistan, with murder, banditry, embezzlement, and misappropriation of funds, Asia-Plus reported on 20 November. Also charged in the same indictment were Igor Pyagay, the former head of the presidential apparatus's Department for Industry, as well as Khursand Davlatov, Mahmudhon Safaraliev, Valijon Ruziev, and Anvar Turaev. PG

    [14] NO CUTS PLANNED FOR RUSSIAN BORDER TROOPS IN TAJIKISTAN

    Colonel-General Nikolai Reznichenko, the first deputy director of Russia's Federal Border Service, told ITAR-TASS on 20 November that there will be no reduction in the number of Russian border guards in Tajikistan. The main cutbacks, he said, will be on the country's northern and western border, with the number of border troops to be increased on the Russia-Kazakhstan border. PG

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] SERBIAN OPPOSITION STILL FAR FROM ELECTION PACT

    Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said on 20 November in Belgrade that the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition can use his name on its lists in the 23 December Serbian elections only if he first approves the candidate it chooses for the post of prime minister, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 November 2000). Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic, who aspires to that post, said his party will not participate in the vote unless the coalition first agrees "within seven or eight days" on who will form the new government, "Vesti" reported. Slobodan Vucetic, who is a leader of the G-17 group of economists and a former judge of the Constitutional Court, said the constitution gives the Yugoslav president no role in deciding the composition of the Serbian government. PM

    [16] MONTENEGRIN PARTIES REJECT FEDERAL ROLE IN BELGRADE-PODGORICA TALKS

    Leaders of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Social Democratic Party rejected Kostunica's demand that the federal government participate in talks between Serbian and Montenegrin authorities over the future of relations between the two republics, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 20 November. DPS leader Miodrag Vukovic said that the federal government has no legitimacy in Montenegrin eyes and that Kostunica's demand is a "provocation." The Social Democrats' Dragisa Burzan told an RFE/RL correspondent that Kostunica's demand shows a lack of respect for Montenegro and recalls the policies of former President Slobodan Milosevic. Representatives of the People's Party, which also belongs to the governing coalition, said, however, that participation of the federal authorities in the talks "could be helpful." PM

    [17] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT LAUNCHES 'DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE'

    Milo Djukanovic is slated to attend the meeting of NATO's Parliamentary Assembly in Berlin on 21 November, Montena-fax news agency reported. On 24 November, he will take part in the EU's Balkan summit in Zagreb and then attend a meeting of the Central European Initiative in Budapest as a "special guest." The Montenegrin president has sought to dispel reports in the regional and international press that Western support for his government has waned following the recent political changes in Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 November 2000). Milan Rocen, who is an aide to Djukanovic, told "Pobjeda" of 21 November that Montenegro needs to have its own seat at the UN. PM

    [18] WHAT ROLE FOR MONTENEGRO AT THE BALKAN SUMMIT?

    The Zagreb daily "Vjesnik" on 17 November reported that Djukanovic was unhappy that the Croatian Foreign Ministry sent his invitation to the summit via Kostunica's office. Djukanovic plans to attend the meeting only if he has the same rights to speak there as do heads of state. He also insisted that his delegations' seats be marked by the Montenegrin flag and not the Yugoslav one, the daily added. A Croatian Foreign Ministry official told AP on 20 November that an "intense diplomatic discussion" is in progress between officials of the EU, Croatia, Montenegro, and Yugoslavia over Montenegro's role in the summit. PM

    [19] SERBIA'S MILOSEVIC RETURNS TO TELEVISION

    The Belgrade television station Yu-Info, which the authorities set up during Milosevic's rule, showed footage on 20 November of the former leader participating in a meeting of his Socialist Party of Serbia. This was his first televised appearance since he resigned the presidency on 6 October in a broadcast carried on Yu-Info, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [20] BELGRADE WANTS DIPLOMATIC TIES TO SLOVENIA

    The state-run Tanjug news agency reported on 20 November that the Yugoslav government has decided to establish relations with Slovenia. Mladjan Dinkic, who is widely expected to become head of the Yugoslav National Bank, said that he wants questions regarding the division of the assets and properties of the former Yugoslavia to be cleared up soon, the Ljubljana daily "Delo" reported. The Milosevic regime claimed to be the sole successor to the former Yugoslavia and hence entitled to all its assets and properties. The new Yugoslav authorities, however, have said that they want a fair division of the assets and properties among all successor states. Belgrade thereby met Ljubljana's chief precondition for establishing diplomatic ties. PM

    [21] EARTHQUAKES, MUDSLIDES IN SLOVENIA

    A series of small earthquakes and heavy rain has led to mudslides in the Mangartsko planino region of northwestern Slovenia in recent days, Ljubljana radio 24-UR reported on 21 November. The danger of additional mudslides remains great. At least two and perhaps seven people have died in the natural disaster. PM

    [22] RED CROSS LISTS MISSING PERSONS IN BOSNIA

    The International Committee of the Red Cross has issued a list in Sarajevo of 20,484 persons from all regions of Bosnia still missing from the 1992- 1995 conflict. The tally includes 16,979 Muslims, 719 Croats, 2,537 Serbs, and 249 others, AP reported. Balthasar Staehelin, who heads the ICRC mission to Bosnia, said that most of the missing persons are presumed dead. He added that the number of missing persons could well be higher than that suggested by the list because some individuals have no surviving relatives to report them missing. PM

    [23] OPPOSITION VIOLENCE IN ALBANIA

    The 20 November issue of the Democratic Party's daily "Rilindja Demokratike" quoted party leader Sali Berisha as saying: "I ask you to protest every day so that the government cannot find a minute of peace." The Democratic leadership claims that the governing Socialists stole the local elections in October, despite reports of international monitors to the contrary (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 2000). On 17 November, a crowd threw fire bombs at the office of Prime Minister Ilir Meta and beat up a U.S. photographer and a diplomat, whom they allegedly mistook for government informers. On 20 November, several hundred Berisha supporters demonstrated outside the parliament and set fire to a Socialist deputy's car, Reuters reported. PM

    [24] ALBANIAN LEADER SEEKS 'EVENTUAL' RELATIONS WITH BELGRADE

    Prime Minister Meta told Reuters in Tirana on 20 November that his government wants to renew diplomatic ties with Belgrade. He insists, however, that the Yugoslav leadership to first show that its policies toward Kosova and Albania are different from those of Milosevic. Meta said: "The re-establishment of diplomatic relations is a normal and necessary step that requires [a suitable length of] time. I would not find it strange if we exchanged visits in future. We hope, [however, that] the democratic changes [in Serbia] prove to [be effective] and that they will be reflected in changes in Belgrade's policies toward the region and Albania. It is up to the new Belgrade leadership to prove itself continuously in this direction. [For now, however,] time has been too short for Kostunica to [display] a clear stance regarding Albania and the Kosova problem." PM

    [25] ALBANIA TO REPRESENT 'ALL ALBANIANS' AT ZAGREB SUMMIT

    Prime Minister Milo said in Tirana on 20 November that at the EU's upcoming Balkan summit in Zagreb, his delegation will represent the interests of all Albanians, regardless of where they live, Hina reported. He spoke at the start of consultations with ethnic Albanian leaders from unnamed neighboring countries. The talks are aimed at coordinating the views of the region's ethnic Albanian leaders in preparation for the summit. PM

    [26] EU APPROVES DOCUMENTS ON CROATIA, MACEDONIA

    EU foreign ministers agreed in Brussels on 20 November to launch talks with Croatia on a stabilization and association agreement in the near future. The ministers approved a similar agreement with Macedonia, which was recently concluded after five years of negotiations, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [27] ROMANIAN POLL PREDICTS EXTREMIST LEADER IN RUNOFF WITH ILIESCU

    An opinion poll conducted by the INSOMAR institute predicts that Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), will face Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) chairman Ion Iliescu in a runoff for the presidential contest in December, Romanian television reported. The poll shows Iliescu garnering 38 percent backing and Tudor 22 percent. Ahead of the parliamentary elections, the PDSR is leading the field with 41.5 percent support, while the PRM is second with 18.5 percent. However, according to a poll conducted by the Bureau of Social Research (BCS), Iliescu will receive 35 percent of votes in the first round and will face Premier Mugur Isarescu, whose backing is estimated at 14.5 percent, half a percentage point above that of Tudor. With regard to the parliamentary contest, the BCS poll puts the PDSR's backing at 39.5 percent, followed by the PRM with 15.5 percent. MS

    [28] ROMANIA STARTS SCREENING SECRET POLICE INFORMERS

    The National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives has started questioning parliamentary candidates whose records show they were informers of the communist secret police, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 20 November. Later this week, the council will make public the results of the hearings. Mircea Ionescu-Quintus, leader of the National Liberal Party, told journalists that he went to the hearings "in order to see his file," but council chairman Gheorghe Onisoru refused to comment whether Ionescu- Quintus has been asked to testify. Onisoru also said that the records show that none of the presidential candidates was an informer. Under Romanian law, informers cannot be barred from running but their records are made public. They can be prosecuted if the records show that they misinformed the council about their past collaboration. MS

    [29] OUTGOING MOLDOVAN, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN BUCHAREST

    Moldova's Petru Lucinschi, who paid a "private" one-day visit to Bucharest on 20 November, met with his Romanian counterpart, Emil Constantinescu, to discuss bilateral relations and ways to promote the two countries' accession to the EU, Romanian and Moldovan media reported. Neither of the two presidents is a candidate in the elections that both countries are to hold in the near future. Lucinschi presented Constantinescu with the highest Moldovan state order on the occasion of Constantinescu's 61st birthday. On 19 November, Theodor Stolojan, the National Liberal Party's candidate in the Romanian elections, visited Chisinau, promising to increase economic ties between the two states if elected president, AP reported. MS

    [30] TRANSDNIESTER HOSTS UNRECOGNIZED STATES MEETING

    The self-proclaimed foreign ministers of the Transdniester, Nagorno- Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia began a three-day meeting in Tiraspol on 20 November, RIA-Novosti reported. None of these territories enjoys international recognition, and all continue to be hotspots on the map of the post-Soviet states. The four officials plan to address how to resolve those conflicts and gain recognition as states. PG

    [31] EU CONSIDERS LIFTING VISA REQUIREMENTS ON BULGARIA, ROMANIA

    EU officials on 20 November told RFE/RL that the EU has decided to draw up questionnaires for Bulgaria and Romania to establish whether these countries have taken the necessary measures to lift visa requirements imposed on their citizens. The questionnaires are to be drawn up by the EU justice and interior ministers, who are meeting in Brussels on 30 November. Also on 20 November, EU enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen warned that if the requirements are not lifted, Bulgarian public opinion could slide into "Euroskepticism." Reuters reported that visa restrictions on Romania are likely to remain in force owing to EU concerns that controls along the union's borders are insufficient to keep out illegal immigrants and combat organized crime. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [32] MOSCOW SPARS BEFORE KNOCKING OUT LUKASHENKA?

    By Jan Maksymiuk

    Several unpleasant surprises have befallen Alyaksandr Lukashenka from the east in the past two weeks. Some Belarusian observers assert that those surprises reflect the Kremlin's changed attitude toward its closest ally and the nominal head of the Union of Russia and Belarus.

    On 8 November, Russian Public Television (ORT) broadcast a documentary, made by ORT Minsk correspondent Pavel Sheremet, devoted to the disappearance of Sheremet's colleague, Dzmitry Zavadski, in the Belarusian capital earlier this year. Sheremet voiced what many in Belarus believe to be true but are afraid to say it in public--namely, that Zavadski was kidnapped by presidential security service agents. According to the documentary, members of the Interior Ministry's special task force, "Almaz, " assisted the presidential bodyguards in that kidnapping. Sheremet, who had earlier accused Lukashenka of complicity in Zavadski's disappearance, told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service that some of the kidnappers were arrested but that Belarusian prosecutors are keeping silent about the case.

    Lukashenka responded on 14 November by saying it was Sheremet who had something to do with Zavadski's disappearance. He added that the film was politically motivated. That opinion is shared by some Belarusian commentators who say that ORT--which now supports Russian President Vladimir Putin--would have not dared broadcast such a message to the Russian and Belarusian public if it had not received the prior approval of the Kremlin.

    Another unexpected occurrence that same week was Lukashenka's appointment of former Interior Minister Yury Sivakou as deputy head of the presidential administration. Sivakou had been dismissed by Lukashenka in apparent disgrace in April, after the former's clumsy handling of an opposition rally in Minsk, at which hundreds of people, including foreign parliamentary deputies and journalists, were arrested. Sivakou's comeback is seen by some observers of the Belarusian political scene as one of Lukashenka's precautionary measures ahead of next year's presidential elections. Moreover, those observers point out that it was during Sivakou's term as interior minister when Lukashenka's fierce opponents, former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka and former Constitutional Court head Viktar Hanchar, disappeared. Sivakou, according to the same observers, knows more about their disappearances than does the general public, and Lukashenka simply wants to secure Sivakou's silence by offering him a high post in the administration.

    One more unexpected blow to Lukashenka came on 15 November, the penultimate day of the trial of Tamara Rokhlina, the widow of State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin. Rokhlina reportedly told the court that her husband had been preparing "a mass peaceful demonstration of Russia's power ministry employees" against President Boris Yeltsin in 1998 because he believed that the Yeltsin regime was responsible for Russia's disintegration. She added that Lukashenka knew about the intended demonstration and helped Rokhlin financially with the preparations to stage it.

    Rokhlina's confession was immediately and vehemently denied by Lukashenka spokesman Mikalay Barysevich, presidential administration chief Mikhail Myasnikovich, and Lukashenka's adviser Syarhey Posakhau. Those denials are rather curious since all of them were directed toward the Russian public and were not disseminated in Belarus. Some believe that in view of Lukashenka's well-known ambitions to succeed Yeltsin as the leader of a unified Russian-Belarusian state, Rokhlina's charge of Lukashenka's complicity in an anti-Yeltsin plot sounds only too plausible in Belarus and therefore official Minsk decided not to publicize that charge domestically. Lukashenka broke his silence on Rokhlin's case on 17 November, when Belarusian Television quoted him as saying that he could not provide funds to Rokhlin's Movement in Support of the Army because "I didn't have [the amount of] money that would likely have been necessary to finance the movement."

    "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" wrote last week that Moscow has decided to put pressure on Lukashenka to make him behave as befits his real political status, which, according to the daily, Moscow sees as that of regional governor. "The Belarusian leadership's reaction to [Sheremet's documentary] is actually a struggle against Moscow's frontal and powerful pressure on Lukashenka," the newspaper wrote. "In fact, by using ORT, the Kremlin is now showing him his real position--that of governor. Moscow is indicating that if it decides to support Lukashenka in the [presidential] elections, he cannot count on more that the status of governor... Lukashenka realizes this perfectly well and is mad about the humiliation. He would like to be an equal partner for Putin, but he is being told with disgust: move aside, citizen, and do not stand in the way."

    Without doubt, Putin's ascendancy to the Kremlin has significantly reduced Lukashenka's possibilities to promote himself in Russia's regions, where he reportedly wields much influence among local governing elites. During Yeltsin's reign, Lukashenka visited many of those regions, brandishing his Slavic-union idea and advertising himself as the right man to head that union. Putin cut short Lukashenka's Russian trips. Judging from recent signals, the Kremlin has now decided to tell Belarus's authoritarian leader how he should behave at home, too.

    21-11-00


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


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