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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 60, 01-03-27

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. 5, No. 60, 27 March 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN DENIES HE IS IN LINE TO BECOME PREMIER
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN ANNOUNCES NEXT STAGE OF PRIVATIZATION
  • [03] GEORGIA RENEWS CLAIM TO RUSSIAN MILITARY ASSETS
  • [04] GEORGIA EXPRESSES APPROVAL FOR NATO BASE IN AZERBAIJAN
  • [05] FIRST OIL PUMPED INTO KAZAKHSTAN'S CASPIAN PIPELINE
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN REFUSES TO EXTRADITE CONVICTED 'SEPARATISTS' TO RUSSIA
  • [07] KAZAKHSTAN MULLS ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY
  • [08] LAWYER APPEALS ON BEHALF OF KYRGYZ OPPOSITIONIST
  • [09] MORE PROTESTS IN KYRGYZSTAN AGAINST SENTENCE ON ISLAMISTS
  • [10] MARKET TRADERS STAGE STRIKE IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL
  • [11] ASSASSINATION BID TRIAL OPENS IN TAJIKISTAN
  • [12] IMPRISONED TURKMEN BAPTIST'S FAMILY PRESSURED

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] POWELL: MACEDONIAN BATTLE FAR FROM OVER
  • [14] MACEDONIA LAUNCHING 'PROPAGANDA OFFENSIVE?'
  • [15] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT ON TRIUMPHAL NOTE
  • [16] EU, NATO TAKE MESSAGE TO MACEDONIA
  • [17] CROATIAN PRESIDENT TO MACEDONIA
  • [18] KOSOVA UN POLICE ARREST 17 ALBANIANS FROM MACEDONIA
  • [19] SERBIAN POLICE ARREST SEVEN MILOSEVIC CRONIES
  • [20] DEL PONTE CONTRADICTS YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT
  • [21] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT LAUNCHES ELECTION CAMPAIGN
  • [22] CROATIA TO AX THE DRAFT?
  • [23] ROMANIAN CLERGYMAN CONFESSES TO HAVING BEEN INFORMER
  • [24] ROMANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME MASTERMIND SENTENCED
  • [25] OUTGOING MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CONTEMPLATES COMEBACK
  • [26] BULGARIA, FINLAND URGE MACEDONIA TO SILENCE HEAVY GUNS
  • [27] BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY NOMINATES MAIN PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES
  • [28] BULGARIAN DISSENTERS LEAVE RULING PARTY
  • [29] IMF APPROVES BULGARIAN TRANCHE

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [30] There is no End Note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN DENIES HE IS IN LINE TO BECOME PREMIER

    Nationalist "Right and Accord" parliament faction leader Artashes Geghamian told journalists in Yerevan on 22 March that rumors that he will become Armenia's next premier are "exaggerated at the present time," Noyan Tapan reported the following day. Last summer, Geghamian was reported to have held talks with Stepan Demirchian, chairman of the People's Party of Armenia (HZhK), the junior partner in the Miasnutiun parliament majority bloc, on creating a new parliamentary alignment (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 31, 3 August 2000, No. 34, 24 August 2000 and No. 41, 20 October 2000). Geghamian also told journalists he believes the parliamentary majority should relinquish its right to form the government in order to open the way for a new government based on the principle of "national solidarity." LF

    [02] AZERBAIJAN ANNOUNCES NEXT STAGE OF PRIVATIZATION

    Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has given the go-ahead for the privatization of over 100 state-owned enterprises in the chemical, machine- building, and fuel and energy sectors, Turan reported on 23 March. He ordered the government to rule on what approach is to be adopted in privatizing fuel and energy sector enterprises; some of the remainder will be privatized though open auctions, whereas in the case of others 15 percent of the shares will be offered in closed subscription to staff of the enterprises concerned, according to Interfax. LF

    [03] GEORGIA RENEWS CLAIM TO RUSSIAN MILITARY ASSETS

    Georgia has no intention of abandoning its claim to a share of former Soviet assets, including part of the Black Sea Fleet, according to Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili, as quoted by Caucasus Press on 26 March. Georgia first advanced those claims during the early 1990s. Also on 26 March, Menagharishvili announced in Tbilisi that Georgia has completed the first draft of a proposed new framework treaty with Russia that will be presented to Moscow in late April. That accord is intended to replace the one signed in 1994 but never ratified by the parliament of either country. LF

    [04] GEORGIA EXPRESSES APPROVAL FOR NATO BASE IN AZERBAIJAN

    Foreign Minister Menagharishvili also told journalists in Tbilisi on 26 March that Azerbaijan, like any other country, has the sovereign right to decide whether or not to host military contingents or to deploy arms belonging to another country, ITAR-TASS reported. Menagharishvili was referring to statements by his Azerbaijani counterpart Vilayat Quliev and by Azerbaijani Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev that Azerbaijan should host a NATO base (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 2001). LF

    [05] FIRST OIL PUMPED INTO KAZAKHSTAN'S CASPIAN PIPELINE

    In the presence of Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev, on 26 March the first oil was pumped into the Caspian Pipeline Consortium's export pipeline at Atyrau, Reuters and Russian agencies reported. The process of filling the 1,580 kilometer pipeline is expected to last 100 days, and the first tanker will leave Novorossiisk in June. Initially the pipeline will transport 10,000 tons of crude per day. The largest (24 percent) single stake in the CPC belongs to the Russian government; Kazakhstan owns 19 percent; and Western, Kazakh and Russian companies own the remainder. LF

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN REFUSES TO EXTRADITE CONVICTED 'SEPARATISTS' TO RUSSIA

    Kazakhstan's Prosecutor-General's Office has again rejected a request from its Russian counterpart that eight Russian citizens sentenced last year on charges of planning to overthrow the authorities in East Kazakhstan Oblast be allowed to serve their sentences in Russian prisons, "Segodnya" reported on 22 March, quoting Interfax (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 2000). Three other Russian citizens who received suspended sentences in the same case have already left Kazakhstan. LF

    [07] KAZAKHSTAN MULLS ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY

    Justice Minister Igor Rogov told a conference on "Conceptual Problems of Legal Development" in Almaty on 26 March that Kazakhstan may eventually abolish capital punishment, but doing so will be a gradual and lengthy process, Interfax reported. Kazakh law does not at present make provision for life imprisonment, but will be amended by 2003 to do so, Rogov said. He added that two special prisons are now under construction to house persons sentenced to life imprisonment. LF

    [08] LAWYER APPEALS ON BEHALF OF KYRGYZ OPPOSITIONIST

    Lyubov Ivanova, who represents imprisoned Kyrgyz opposition Ar-Namys party leader Feliks Kulov, on 26 March filed an appeal with Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court calling for Kulov's acquittal and release, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. On 9 March, the Kyrgyz Military Court board upheld the 22 January verdict of the Bishkek Military Court sentencing Kulov to seven years' imprisonment on charges of abuse of his official position while serving as National Security Minister in 1998-1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January and 12 March 2001). LF

    [09] MORE PROTESTS IN KYRGYZSTAN AGAINST SENTENCE ON ISLAMISTS

    Some 80 supporters of the unregistered Hizb ut-Tahrir party, including some citizens of Uzbekistan, staged a further picket on 24 March outside the local police department in the town of Kara-Suu in southern Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 March 2001). The picketers were protesting the detention on 18 March of 13 Hizb ut- Tahrir activists, seven of whom have been charged with inciting inter- religious hatred. LF

    [10] MARKET TRADERS STAGE STRIKE IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL

    Some 400 traders in the Osh bazaar, Bishkek's largest market, launched a strike on 25 March to protest the city administration's decision to ban street trading as of 1 April, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. LF

    [11] ASSASSINATION BID TRIAL OPENS IN TAJIKISTAN

    The trial began in Dushanbe on 26 March at Tajikistan's Supreme Court of two men charged with attempting to kill Dushanbe Mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev in February 2000, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Ubaidulloev escaped uninjured when a car bomb explosion killed his driver and Deputy Security Minister Shamsullo Djobirov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 2000). LF

    [12] IMPRISONED TURKMEN BAPTIST'S FAMILY PRESSURED

    The wife and children of imprisoned Baptist Shageldy Atakov have been ordered by the local mullah and district officials in their home town close to the Turkmen-Iranian border to convert from Christianity to Islam, Keston News Service reported on 26 March. Atakov's wife Artygyul was also warned that her home will be confiscated if it continues to be used as a meeting place for Christians. On 27 March, Keston News Service reported that Atakov has been transferred from the Seydy prison camp in northeastern Turkmenistan to a closed prison in the town of Turkmenbashi (former Krasnovodsk) on the Caspian coast. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] POWELL: MACEDONIAN BATTLE FAR FROM OVER

    Appearing at a press conference with French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington on 26 March that Macedonian forces "have launched an attack and it seems they have had some success getting part way up that hill" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 2001) He added, however: "I don't think the battle is anywhere near over or that the crisis is yet resolved." Powell stressed that "we made the point to [Macedonian leaders in telephone conversations] that we hoped they would use proportionate military strength in order not to create an even more difficult problem...and encouraged them within this coalition government and through constitutional means to address some of the grievances that exist among the Albanian population." Vedrine said that the French position is identical, Reuters reported. PM

    [14] MACEDONIA LAUNCHING 'PROPAGANDA OFFENSIVE?'

    The "Frankfurter Rundschau" wrote from Tetovo on 27 March that "assurances from the Macedonian government that its army has retaken several Albanian villages around Tetovo are at best exaggerated." One fighter of the National Liberation Army (UCK) told reporters: "We'll still be here 10 years from now!" The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported from Skopje that the demands by the 23 percent ethnic Albanian minority for full equality have now become more pressing than ever. The threat of a civil war not only in western Macedonia but elsewhere -- including Skopje -- remains very real. The UCK could seek to open a new front -- apart from those in Tanusevci and Tetovo -- or launch a terrorist bombing campaign. The daily concludes that a political dialogue is now the only alternative to violence. It remains to be seen whether the government will be able to continue to refuse talks before it has won a military victory, and will refuse to speak to the UCK under any circumstances. PM

    [15] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT ON TRIUMPHAL NOTE

    President Boris Trajkovski said in Skopje on 26 March that he wants to launch a political dialogue not only with the Albanians but with other minorities. He stressed that a main point he will raise with Albanian leaders is the need to improve the social position of women in ethnic Albanian society, Deutsche Welle's Serbian Service reported. Munich's "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" wrote that Trajkovski has become the most important politician in the government. Several times in recent weeks, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski made remarks that could be taken as anti-Albanian. He also sharply criticized Macedonia's two most important allies, the U.S. and Germany. PM

    [16] EU, NATO TAKE MESSAGE TO MACEDONIA

    EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson met with top government and opposition leaders from both main ethnic groups in Skopje on 26 March. Solana said: "I would like to underline today the fact that the secretary general of NATO and the representatives of the European Union are here together. These are two organizations that your country wants to belong to," RFE/RL reported. Robertson added: "I would like to be blunt and say that I believe that there are two options for the people of this country. It is a united Macedonia or another Balkan bloodbath." He stressed that "the government of this country has acted with commendable restraint but also with determined firmness. They have said that they will continue with that policy that has been so successful up until now." Elsewhere, German General Klaus Reinhardt, who heads NATO's Central Command (Europe), told the daily "Bild" that "the Macedonian government must not simply direct its weapons at people. It has to hold negotiations to engage with the rebels." PM

    [17] CROATIAN PRESIDENT TO MACEDONIA

    President Stipe Mesic said in Zagreb on 26 March that he will go to Macedonia on 2 April on a "goodwill mission," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 March 2001). He told visiting Albanian President Rexhep Meidani that he will not engage in "classical mediation" but simply try to help break the ice between the two sides. Meidani replied that he supports Mesic's efforts. On 22 March, former Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov told "Vjesnik" that he agrees that Mesic enjoys a good reputation in Macedonia but warned that his efforts should not be seen as "granting legitimacy" to the UCK (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 27 March 2001). PM

    [18] KOSOVA UN POLICE ARREST 17 ALBANIANS FROM MACEDONIA

    A UN police spokesman said in Prishtina on 27 March that police have arrested 17 ethnic Albanians from Macedonia for illegal possession of arms and ammunition. Some 16 of the men were arrested in Zapluzje near the border opposite Tetovo. The remaining man was arrested in nearby Prizren, Reuters reported. Refugees entering Kosova from Macedonia told the news agency that KFOR troops checked them very carefully. PM

    [19] SERBIAN POLICE ARREST SEVEN MILOSEVIC CRONIES

    Police arrested seven prominent members of the regime of former President Slobodan Milosevic on 26 March for fraud or abuse of office, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [20] DEL PONTE CONTRADICTS YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT

    Following remarks by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica that the arrest and extradition of a war crimes suspect to The Hague was "an exception," the tribunal's chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said in Banja Luka on 26 March that "it is not an exception. It is the first step. It was a beginning." She added that she had discussed the move with Yugoslav Justice Minister Momcilo Grubac during his recent visit to The Hague, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 2001). PM

    [21] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT LAUNCHES ELECTION CAMPAIGN

    Speaking in Niksic on 26 March, Milo Djukanovic said that independence is a necessary precondition for completing the reforms that his government has begun, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He argued that his government had been an ally of the Serbian opposition during the Milosevic years, but that now some of those same people have joined with individuals from the old regime against the Montenegrin authorities. The opening rally of the campaign for the 22 April parliamentary elections was attended by "several tens of thousands of people," Beta news agency reported. PM

    [22] CROATIA TO AX THE DRAFT?

    Defense Minister Jozo Rados has prepared a draft law abolishing conscription and establishing a professional army, "Jutarnji list" reported on 27 March. He said that he has the support of Prime Minister Ivica Racan. Mesic has also called for abolishing the draft. In Serbia, there is strong popular pressure for at least reducing the length of military service. The authorities in Belgrade have promised to cut the length of service as part of an overall military reform, but do not appear to be as confident of quick action as is Rados. PM

    [23] ROMANIAN CLERGYMAN CONFESSES TO HAVING BEEN INFORMER

    In an open letter published in the daily "Evenimentul zilei," Romanian Orthodox priest Eugen Jurca confessed that he acted as an informer for the communist secret police, AP reported. Jurca, a theology professor at the Orthodox Faculty in Timisoara, said he signed the pledge to become an informer out of "fear, cowardliness, ignorance, and despair." He wrote that "national reconciliation is not possible without exorcising the moral ambiguity in which we have been vegetating." The National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives is currently examining the files of leaders and prominent officials of the state-approved religious denominations during the Ceausescu regime. MS

    [24] ROMANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME MASTERMIND SENTENCED

    Ioan Stoica, who between 1992 and 1994 headed the Caritas pyramid scheme, was sentenced on 26 March to 22 months in prison and ordered to pay damages to 256,000 plaintiffs. As Stoica has already served an earlier sentence for the same offense, he must serve only 15 days and it is unclear whether he will be able to pay any damages, since his bank accounts and assets were frozen long ago, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.. MS

    [25] OUTGOING MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CONTEMPLATES COMEBACK

    President Petru Lucinschi said he is not ruling out the possibility of returning to political life at a later date, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 March. "I am a supporter of centrist ideas, and if the centrist forces unite following their defeat in the last elections, I could support such a serious organization," Lucinschi said. For the immediate future, his intention is to "have some rest, and stay with my family and my grandchildren, to whom I shall be able to devote more time now," Lucinschi said. Eventually, he added, he may set up a foundation focusing on "strategic programs for Moldova's development." MS

    [26] BULGARIA, FINLAND URGE MACEDONIA TO SILENCE HEAVY GUNS

    Visiting Finnish Premier Paavo Lipponen and his Bulgarian counterpart Ivan Kostov on 26 March urged the Macedonian government to stop using heavy guns against the Albanian rebels and seek a political solution with the participation of the country's ethnic Albanian parties, AP reported. Lipponen said the Macedonian government's use of force is "legitimate," but added that "this should be proportionate to the threat." The Finnish premier said he does not believe in a "military solution" and added that "it is absolutely essential to protect the multiethnic character of Macedonian society." Kostov said the main risk Macedonia faces now is the possible collapse of the governing coalition, of which one ethnic Albanian party is a member. The Macedonian government, Kostov commented, must focus on the political, rather than the military, aspect of the conflict to prevent Macedonian society from splitting along ethnic lines. MS

    [27] BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY NOMINATES MAIN PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES

    The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 25 March nominated 24 of its members for the top spots on the Pro Bulgaria leftist coalition lists that will run in the June parliamentary elections. The list has 50 candidates. Coalition partners have seven candidates placed on the list in positions that are considered safe seats, and 14 on the remaining places, the English-language daily "Monitor" reported, citing the daily "Trud." MS

    [28] BULGARIAN DISSENTERS LEAVE RULING PARTY

    The Conservative Environmental Party led by Hristo Boserov formally left the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 25 March, "Monitor" reported, citing the daily "Trud." Hristo Boserov, a former senior SDS member, was recently expelled and formed a new party. The new formation's leadership accused the SDS of having turned into a "group of personal interests, kin- assignments, and [illicit] privatization deals." The party said it wants former King Simeon II to enter politics and run in the forthcoming elections. Meanwhile, a poll published by the daily "24 Chasa" showed that Simeon's popularity has risen to equal that of President Petar Stoyanov. Both enjoy a 59 percent backing. According to the poll, a party headed by the former monarch would garner 18 percent in the elections, more than the BSP (14 percent) and only three percentage points less than the SDS (21 percent). MS

    [29] IMF APPROVES BULGARIAN TRANCHE

    The IMF on 26 March approved the disbursement of a $66 million tranche of the three-year $864 million loan agreed on with Bulgaria in September 1998, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. The fund said the disbursement was due to the country's "prudent economic policy." Thus far, Bulgaria has drawn $664 million from the loan approved in 1998. IMF Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer praised Bulgaria's ability to control inflation in the midst of robust economic growth. Fischer noted, however, that the privatization pace and the restructuring of the country's energy sector are lagging behind. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [30] There is no End Note today.

    27-03-01

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


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