Accessibility links

Newsline - May 2, 1997




ALBRIGHT, PRIMAKOV MAKE LITTLE PROGRESS ON RUSSIA-NATO CHARTER

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov made no breakthrough in negotiations over a charter between Russia and NATO, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported yesterday. Albright said she made progress with Primakov and had "an encouraging phone call" from President Boris Yeltsin, but noted that "there is still some way to go." Primakov characterized yesterday's talks as "successful" but said signing a charter is not a "goal in itself" for Russia. Moscow wants NATO to pledge not to build military infrastructure on the territory of new member states, but Albright and other western officials have said new members will not be offered "second class status" in the alliance. En route to Moscow on 30 April, Albright told journalists that no further concessions on the charter would be made: "Basically, we are at our bottom line," Reuters reported.

RYBKIN CONFERS WITH CHECHEN LEADERSHIP

Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin flew to Grozny on 30 April for six hours of talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and first deputy prime minister Movladi Udugov, Russian and Western agencies reported. Rybkin and Udugov subsequently issued a joint statement repeating their commitment to the peace process. They also denounced the recent bombings in Armavir and Pyatigorsk in which five people were killed, Interfax reported. Maskhadov told ITAR- TASS that he is ready to meet "any time, anywhere" with Yeltsin, as only "direct and frank talks" can ease the tensions between Moscow and Grozny. Maskhadov and Yeltsin will meet next week to sign a formal peace agreement, Reuters reported today.

CONFUSION OVER WOMEN NAMED AS PERPETRATORS OF PYATIGORSK BOMBING

On 30 April, Chechen Interior Minister Kazbek Makhashev told journalists that one of the two Chechen women whom Kulikov said had confessed to the Pyatigorsk bombing had been killed in September 1996, and the other was in Grozny. Rybkin said that he met with the second woman while in Grozny, according to Interfax. Rybkin and Maskhadov agreed to set up a joint commission to investigate the case of the two women. Speaking on NTV yesterday, Kulikov rejected Chechen claims that the two women he had named were not responsible for the bombing as "absolute nonsense" and called on the Chechen interior minister "to cooperate" in investigating the incident.

COMMUNIST RALLIES ADVANCE POLITICAL DEMANDS

An estimated 1.5 million people across Russia demonstrated against the government yesterday, mostly in rallies organized by the Communist Party, Russian news agencies reported. Addressing a crowd near Moscow's Red Square, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov denounced NATO expansion and demanded the government's resignation, along with rapid unification with Belarus. Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov called for massive demonstrations on 12 June, the anniversary of Yeltsin's 1991 election victory. Organizers said the Moscow rally attracted about 100,000, while law enforcement officials estimated the crowd at 20,000. In St. Petersburg, about 40,000 protesters demonstrated outside the Winter Palace, and Communists collected signatures for a referendum to remove St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev from office. Rallies in other regional cities attracted several hundred to several thousand participants.

TRADE UNIONS PROTEST ARREARS

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) also organized rallies to mark yesterday's holiday, but trade union leaders made only economic demands. FNPR leader Mikhail Shmakov led a crowd of about 20,000 to the Moscow mayor's offices. He criticized the government for "moving backwards" on social policy and not solving the wage and pension arrears problem. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov addressed the demonstrators and promised to help provide Russians with work and a decent standard of living, ITAR-TASS reported. In a nationwide radio address broadcast yesterday, Yeltsin said "we fought for the right" for citizens to spend holidays as they saw fit, whether staying home with their families or attending anti-government protests.

CHUBAIS SAYS FOREIGN CREDITS WILL HELP SOLVE ARREARS CRISIS

First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais says renewed disbursements from an IMF loan and new World Bank loans will allow the Russian government to pay off all pension arrears and make progress on paying wage arrears by the end of June, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 30 April. If the IMF board approves Russia's 1997 economic targets later this month, disbursements of a three-year, $10 billion loan will be resumed in quarterly tranches of about $700 million. The IMF has not yet decided on what to do about several monthly tranches of about $340 million each, which it withheld from Russia in 1996. Chubais and Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin also initialled an agreement for a $600 million structural adjustment loan from the World Bank, which will be considered by the bank's board in June.

DUMA DEPUTIES CONCERNED ABOUT U.S. ORGANIZATIONS IN RUSSIA

Three State Duma deputies from the Popular Power faction have asked Foreign Minister Primakov and Federal Security Service director Nikolai Kovalev to examine whether foreign assistance missions are consistent with Russia's national security interests, Russian news agencies reported on 30 April. The deputies include Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Baburin and Sergei Glotov, who heads the Anti-NATO group uniting more than 200 deputies. Noting that "dozens if not hundreds" of American organizations are operating in Russia, with branches in "almost all strategically important cities, from Vladivostok to Smolensk," they asked whether Russian organizations in the U.S. are accredited on the same terms. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was "difficult" to speak of a reciprocal principle on assistance missions, since there are no Russian organizations seeking to aid the development of the market economy in the U.S.

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CONFIRMS LEGITIMACY OF DECREE ON REGIONAL LEGISLATURES

The Constitutional Court has upheld a 1996 presidential decree allowing regional legislatures to extend their terms, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 30 April. The ruling confirms the legitimacy of 44 regional legislatures that postponed new elections until late 1997 or 1998. The leaders of those legislatures are also deputies in the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament. The State Duma's court challenge claimed that the decree exceeded Yeltsin's authority. However, Sergei Shakhrai, presidential representative to the Constitutional Court, argued that in the absence of a federal law on the procedure and timetable for electing regional legislatures, the president and regional lawmakers acted within their rights.

ANOTHER DECREE ON ALCOHOL MARKET

Yeltsin has signed a decree imposing new restrictions on the Russian alcohol market, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 April. The decree instructs local governments to issue licenses for the production and wholesale trade of alcohol, and to ban kiosks and small shops from selling spirits with more than 12% alcohol content. The measure is intended to strengthen the "state monopoly on alcohol" that Yeltsin reintroduced in a December 1996 decree. A 1993 presidential decree also required the licensing of all alcohol production and sales, but it was never implemented. Last month, the government raised the minimum price of vodka by nearly 40% in a move officials said was intended to curb black market sales.

DIRECTIVE ON RUSSIAN FOOD LABELS TAKES EFFECT

A government directive requiring Russian-language labels on all imported food went into effect yesterday, ITAR-TASS reported. Under the directive, issued last December, imported food must have Russian labels listing the country of origin and the ingredients, as well as information about calories, vitamin content, shelf-life and proper storage. A Foreign Trade Ministry official had suggested earlier this week that the government might delay the requirement until January 1998, following protests from food importers who say they need more time to adapt to the new rules. More than half of all food consumed in Russia is imported.

SHAFRANIK BREAKS WITH CHERNOMYRDIN

Former Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik has been removed as adviser to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 30 April. Shafranik, who became Chernomyrdin's adviser after being sacked in an August 1996 cabinet reshuffle, recently became chairman of the board of directors of the Central Fuel Company, which is considered close to the Moscow city government. The paper said Moscow Mayor Luzhkov wants the Central Fuel Company to purchase a large stake in the Tyumen Oil Company. Shafranik also heads the board of directors of the Tyumen firm.




ATTACK ON TAJIK PRESIDENT CONDEMNED

Many countries and Tajik political groups denounced the 30 April attempt on the life of Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov in the northern Tajik city of Khujand, international press reported. Russia, Iran, China, the U.S., Tajikistan's Central Asian neighbors and the United Tajik Opposition and National Revival Movement made official statements condemning the attack. The incident left two dead and more than 70 injured, including Rakhmonov. Tajik authorities have taken 20-year- old Firdaws Dostoboyev into custody but more arrests are promised soon. At a meeting of the Tajik government and parliament yesterday, a statement "by many of the participants" claimed "practically 40% of employees in the power structures of Tajikistan" are criminals or have close connections with mafia groups, ITAR-TASS reported.

KAZAKSTAN PRESIDENT DISSATISFIED WITH NATIONAL BANK

Nursultan Nazarbayev says there is still room for improvement at the National Bank, despite signs of progress, according to Interfax and ITAR-TASS. The bank reports published on 28 April show net assets increased by 21.7% in 1996. International reserves rose by 30.8% and gold reserves by 45.7%, compared with the beginning of 1996. Gold reserves now make up 49.95% of the country's hard currency reserves. Nazarbayev noted that the National Bank is purchasing less gold from local producers and that gold production dropped to 10.2 tons in 1996, far short of the government goal of 60-70 tons annually. The bank blamed decreased production on the drop in gold prices last year, but Nazarbayev recommended that more gold be put into the country's reserves. He also said he is against selling gold mines and processing facilities to foreign entrepreneurs.

NEW ROUND OF KARABAKH TALKS SCHEDULED

Another round of OSCE-mediated talks on Nagorno-Karabakh will take place in the U.S. later this month, Interfax reported yesterday. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met in Moscow yesterday with the three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk group and expressed their shared concern at the recent ceasefire violations and ongoing lack of progress toward a political settlement, according to ITAR-TASS.

ELCHIBEY, GAMBAR ELECTED CHAIRMEN OF AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION BLOC

Former Azerbaijani president Abulfaz Elchibey and Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar were elected co-chairmen of the Democratic Congress bloc on 30 April, Interfax and RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reported yesterday. The bloc unites seven pro-Western right wing opposition parties.




SUPPORTERS, OPPONENTS OF LUKASHENKA MARCH IN BELARUS

Police in Minsk yesterday arrested Nikolai Statkevich, the leader of the opposition Belarusian Social Democratic Party, who tried to turn a pro-government demonstration into a rally against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, RFE/RL's Minsk correspondent reported. More than 20,000 people carrying portraits of Lukashenka and hardline communists with portraits of Josef Stalin marched side by side through Minsk to mark May Day. About 5,000 Lukashenka opponents marched separately and joined a meeting with the communists and presidential supporters on Independence Square, where Statkevich addressed the crowd. He was detained for violating a decree by Lukashenka on unsanctioned rallies.

SOROS FOUNDATION IN BELARUS FINED

Belarusian tax officials have accused the Soros Foundation of violating the status of a charitable organization and ordered it to pay almost three million dollars in fines, foundation spokeswoman Veronica Begun told journalists on 30 April. Tax inspectors started an audit of the foundation in March, when the government of Lukashenka barred the foundation's director from returning to Belarus from a trip abroad. She said the audit took issue with 19 grants the Foundation issued last year, saying the projects did not correspond to their stated goals. The U.S. yesterday voiced apprehension over Belarus's handling of the Foundation. A State Department spokesman told reporters that Belarus's stance in this matter would be a sign of its attitude toward all non-governmental organizations.

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER MEETS COHEN IN WASHINGTON

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen met yesterday in Washington with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk, and praised Ukraine's choice to get rid of the nuclear weapons it inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported. Cohen and Kuzmuk signed an agreement that will provide Kyiv with an additional $47 million in U.S. assistance for the destruction of nuclear weapons. Ukraine has received more than $400 million in U.S. aid for missile destruction.

U.N. URGES UKRAINE TO TAKE STEPS AGAINST TORTURE

The U.N. Committee against Torture, citing Amnesty International reports of alleged torture by Ukrainian officials during investigations, yesterday urged Ukraine to adopt a new criminal code defining torture as a punishable crime, Reuters reported. The committee expressed concern over what it called a lack of independent institutions to investigate complaints of torture. It also said it was concerned by beatings which it said were routinely carried out in initiating military recruits. The committee noted what it said was Ukraine's excessive use of the death penalty in recent years. It welcomed Ukraine's adoption last year of a constitution that expressly prohibits torture and urged that a current moratorium on the death penalty be made permanent.

NEW ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER NAMED

Estonian President Lennart Meri on 30 April named Tallinn mayor Robert Lepikson as interior minister, following the sudden dismissal of former minister Riivo Sinijarv. Lepikson is deputy chairman of the ruling pro-business Coalition Party. Sinijarv was fired on 29 April, reportedly over an investigation into the abuse of official cars by interior ministry officials.(See RFE/RL Newsline, 30 April).

LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT TO DISCUSS PRIVATIZATION WITH OPPOSITION

The Lithuanian government on 30 April expressed its willingness to discuss privatization of strategic enterprises with the opposition, according to a statement quoted by the Baltic News Service. The government also said it had no intention of privatizing the country's only nuclear power plant, Ignalina, the Lietuvos Dujos gas company or Lietuvos Energija thermal and electrical power company. The government termed as "groundless" allegations that it planned to privatize the Butinges Nafta oil terminal which is under construction.

ULMANIS URGES CLOSER POLISH-LATVIAN COOPERATION

Speaking to reporters in Gdansk on April 30 at the end of a three-day state visit to Poland, Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis said Poland and Latvia should cooperate closely in their efforts to integrate with the West. Ulmanis said there was no animosity between the two countries and this was an excellent basis for reciprocal contacts. In his talks with Polish politicians, Ulmanis sought to win support for Latvia's efforts to join the EU and NATO.

POLISH PRIME MINISTER IN WASHINGTON

Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz says he is "sure" his country will be asked to join NATO in the first wave of new members. Cimoszewicz, on an official visit to the U.S., met yesterday in Washington with U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Cimoszewicz told journalists afterward that negotiations on Poland's membership in NATO will be completed in the coming months and that Warsaw should become a full member in two years. Cimoszewicz also said that Gore told him NATO will make "no new concessions" to Russia on the alliance's eastward expansion.

CZECH BANK OFFICIALS ARRESTED

A Prague district court on 30 April formally arrested the top two managers of the Czech Republic's third largest bank, Investment and Postal Bank (IPB), Czech media reported. The bank, which is nearly one third state-owned, is due to be privatized. Police detained IPB general director Jiri Tesar and his deputy Libor Prochazka on 29 April. The court justified the arrests, saying the danger exists that the defendants could influence witnesses. Tesar and Prochazka are accused of embezzlement and abuse of commercial information.

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN SLOVAKIA

Klaus Kinkel told reporters in Bratislava yesterday that Slovakia must first fulfill all economic and political criteria if it wants to be considered for membership in NATO and the EU. Kinkel held talks with Slovak Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik, and later said that Germany feels responsible for Central and Eastern Europe. But he said the conditions for Slovakia's membership are, in his words, "the fulfillment of all criteria, both economic and those concerning the development of democracy." Hamzik repeated Slovakia's desire to be among the first countries invited by NATO to join the alliance at its summit in Madrid in July.

HUNGARIAN POLICE SAY EXTORTION GANG ARRESTED

The chief of Hungary's National Police, Laszlo Forgach, said on 30 April that the recent arrest of 13 suspected extortionists this week could bring an end to a wave of bombings in Budapest. Forgach said the arrested men also are believed to have been part of an illegal fuel sales ring. Another National Police official, Colonel Istvan Miko, said two dozen bombings in Budapest since September were an attempt to divert attention from the group's evasion of fuel taxes and excise duties. Miko said the unpaid taxes amount to billions of forints.




ALBANIA'S FINO WANTS TOUGHER MANDATE FOR FOREIGN TROOPS

Prime Minister Bashkim Fino said in Tirana yesterday that he has asked Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's special envoy, to extend Operation Alba's mandate to include guarding borders and ammunition dumps. Fino argues that the country's military cannot do it on its own. His request comes in response to an April 30 explosion in Burrel that killed 27 people as they were looting an underground ammunition depot for empty shell casings. Defense Minister Shakir Vukaj has since fired two regional commanders because of the incident. The army's inability to control the borders has provided an incentive to looters, who then smuggle scrap metal and other booty abroad.

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS TO RESIGN OVER VOTING LAW

Fino also said in Tirana that his broad coalition government will quit if there is no suitable election law in place for the 29 June emergency ballot. Fino's Socialists and President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party failed to agree on a text on 30 April. The Socialists and the other parties opposing the Democrats insist on a new law as a guarantee against the abuses that marred last year's parliamentary vote. They also want to introduce a system of proportional representation to enable smaller parties to enter parliament.

SERBIAN POLICE ARREST FIVE IN KOSOVO

Police on 30 April charged five ethnic Albanians with planning terrorist activities over the 1 May holiday, the official Tanjug news agency reported from Belgrade. A police statement said that the five belong to the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), which has killed 12 so far this year. Until a few months ago, the UCK conducted only apparently random attacks on Serbs. More recently, however, its killings have become more frequent, more professional, and increasingly directed at those ethnic Albanians whom it says collaborate with the Belgrade government.

BILDT WANTS U.S. TROOPS REDEPLOYED TO BALKANS...

Carl Bildt, the international community's High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said in Washington yesterday that the U.S. should transfer some of its troops from Germany to southeastern Europe. Bildt said that soldiers stationed in Germany are "deployed in order to counter a Soviet threat that is no longer there." He added that the real threat to security in Europe today lies in the Balkans. The former Swedish prime minister also called "somewhat naive" U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen's claim that the civilian provisions of the Dayton agreement have not been implemented as well as the military ones.

...AND LEAVES DOOR OPEN TO TALKS WITH KARADZIC

On 30 April, Bildt told the U.N. Security Council that it might be necessary to have "business contacts" with indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Bildt called him "a force of evil and intrigue," but added that Karadzic is "an elected representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina." According to the Dayton agreement, signatories are obliged to hand over all indicted war criminals to the Hague-based tribunal. Under a deal reached between the international community and the Bosnian Serbs last year, Karadzic is supposed to leave public life completely.

SERBS STONE RETURNING REFUGEES IN BRCKO

Bosnian Serb crowds yesterday attacked two buses carrying Muslim refugees on a visit to their homes in the strategic northern town of Brcko. The Social Democratic Party organized the trip, during which party leader Zlatko Lagumdzija was among those wounded. Serb youths also stoned a bus bringing in U.S. troops from Hungary. Earlier that day, Brcko's exiled Muslim mayor, Munib Jusufovic, resigned to protest what he called decisions by the international community to force returning Muslims to take out Bosnian Serb identity papers, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo.

ROUNDUP FROM AROUND THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

Also in the Bosnian capital, Bildt's office announced yesterday that the international Bosnian aid donors' conference has been cancelled because the Muslims, Croats, and Serbs cannot agree on basic economic legislation for the republic. Still in Sarajevo, the OSCE said that voters crossing the inter- entity border to vote in September's local elections must go directly to their designated polling place and not try to visit their former homes. In Croatia's Karlovac, vandals desecrated Jewish graves. City officials and police have launched an investigation, Novi List writes this morning. In Zagreb, the authorities have assigned an additional frequency to independent Radio 101, one of Croatia's few independent broadcasters. And in Belgrade, several thousand people turned out to demonstrate against President Slobodan Milosevic and poor living conditions, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital.

ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR REJECTS ACCUSATIONS

In his last speech as director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), Virgil Magureanu on April 30 rejected accusations that he or other SRI members had been serving interests of the KGB or other foreign powers, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Magureanu also rejected accusations that the report he presented to parliament on his activities had an anti-Western bias. Speaking later to reporters, Magureanu confirmed that former President Ion Iliescu had offered him a place on the list of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania before the 1996 elections. Magureanu said he intends to enter political life and that his views are "centrist." He promised never to use information gathered during his tenure for political purposes.

ROMANIA APOLOGIZES TO GERMANY

Romania has apologized to Germany for the first time for having deported ethnic German inhabitants to the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin expressed what he termed "deep regret, together with apologies for what happened," during German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel's visit to Romania. Kinkel told the Romanian parliament on 30 April that Bucharest's bid to join NATO is being examined with great attention, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He said the results of NATO's July summit in Madrid are still unforeseeable, and that the alliance will remain open for partners who are not invited to join in July. He told the legislators that the EU's criteria will be "equal and transparent" for all candidate countries. He also pledged that the new Europe would be without "lines of separation or marginalization."

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VISITS FRANCE

Petar Stoyanov arrived in France yesterday on an official three-day visit. His delegation includes a group of Bulgarian businessmen and caretaker Economy Minister Alexander Bozhkov, who is expected to keep his post in a new government named later this month. Stoyanov's schedule includes talks with French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Alain Juppe. RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reports that Stoyanov will seek support for Sofia's bid to join NATO. Bulgaria is not expected to be among the first candidates invited. Meanwhile, today Bulgaria's Interim Prime Minister Stefan Sofianski and U.S. presidential adviser Richard Shifter held talks in Sofia. The talks focused on regional cooperation.

BULGARIAN PATRIARCH FILES COMPLAINT WITH EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Maxim, has filed a complaint with the European Human Rights Commission in Strasbourg against the Bulgarian Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General, a spokesman for the Holy Synod told an RFE/RL correspondent on 1 May. If the commission accepts the complaint, Patriach Maxim may take the case to the European Court. Patriarch Maxim is protesting a July ruling of the Bulgarian Supreme Court, which indirectly upheld an earlier decision of the then Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) government, pronouncing Maxim's Holy Synod illegitimate and supporting an alternative Synod, led by another Patriarch, Pimen. Maxim's Synod was pronounced illegitimate because most of its members were not elected, but appointed by the former Communist regime.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS SOFIA

Romania's President Emil Constantinescu met with Stoyanov in Sofia on 30 April. RFE/RL's Sofia bureau quoted Stoyanov's press service as saying that the presidents were coordinating their positions on efforts to join NATO. Earlier this month, Constantinescu said Romania and Bulgaria "are not competitors, but partners" on the road to both the EU and NATO. The two presidents also discussed bilateral relations, including a joint project for building at least one new bridge across the Danube River border.




Outflanked on CFE


by Paul Goble

As the deadline for ratification of the CFE flank modification agreement approaches, Russia's neighbors from the Baltic Sea to the Caspian are concerned that the new accord may threaten their national security.

While all these countries acknowledge the need for updating the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe accord to reflect new geopolitical realities, they are disturbed by both the modifications and the way in which these modifications have been negotiated.

And as the May 15 deadline for ratification approaches, they have become increasingly vocal about their worries, even as NATO countries have pressed them to agree.

The countries in this region vary widely in the stress they give to any particular issue, but they share three concerns about the way in which the modifications were developed and five concerns about the modifications themselves.

With respect to the way in which the modifications were developed, these countries were upset by the way in which the Russian government used brinksmanship to advance its own demands for changes. Moscow insisted on getting its way by threatening to violate the accord if it did not.

They are troubled by the extent to which Russian-American agreement has, in their view, been imposed on them. Many of them believe that once again, their fate has been negotiated over their heads if not behind their backs.

And perhaps most important, they continue to be concerned that the proposed modifications in the CFE treaty may have the effect of legitimizing Russian dominance over the territory of a country that no longer exists, namely, the Soviet Union.

Their five specific concerns include, first of all, a conviction that the new accord gives Russia far too much military power in key regions.

While the actual numbers of treaty-limited equipment involved in any particular place are in fact small, they often seem very large to these states.

Second, those countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States fear that the new flank agreement effectively annuls an earlier agreement among them permitting shifts of CFE forces there only by consensus.

Third, these countries are concerned that Moscow will seek to coerce particular countries into allowing the Russian acquisition of CFE limited equipment and thus put pressure on third countries.

This is especially true in the southern Caucasus where both Georgia and Azerbaijan have indicated that they believe Moscow will try to do just that with Armenia.

And they are not reassured that they will be able to stand up to such pressure or will be much assisted by an American offer to mediate such disputes.

Fourth, they are troubled by the agreement's failure to define the "temporary" stationing of troops thereby opening the door to the introduction of Russian forces on a virtually permanent basis.

And fifth, they are concerned that the accord does not address the numbers of permitted equipment in the so-called "white spots," conflict areas like Abkhazia and Karabakh in which potentially massive forces could be placed and not be in violation of CFE norms.

In each case, these countries might be reassured by the arguments of some that such bilateral accords are the basis of the international system in the broader world and that in many cases Russia would receive no more rights than NATO countries already have.

But such arguments, in the minds of many in these countries, ignore their often complicated history with Russia and the fact that the CFE enterprise was launched precisely to control the deployment of Russian power.

Consequently, discussions about ratification of these accords over the next two weeks will be about far more than the simple CFE equipment limits. They will be the occasion for a full-dress review of just where these countries stand in the world.

No one wants to see the CFE accord fail, but for the countries in the zone next to Russia, that is not the only question. They do not want to see the accord ratified in a way that will confirm their fears rather than their hopes.


XS
SM
MD
LG