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Newsline - October 12, 1998




NEW SPECULATION ABOUT YELTSIN'S HEALTH...

Yeltsin appeared fatigued upon his arrival in Tashkent on 11 October (see below). He was described as "pale and unsteady" by Russian media, and Uzbek President Islam Karimov reportedly helped support Yeltsin as the two were reviewing the Uzbek presidential guard. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin said Yeltsin was suffering from a cold and was coughing after "a rough [three-and- a-half-hour] flight" from Moscow. Shortly after Yeltsin's arrival in Kazakhstan on 12 October, it was announced the president is cutting short his visit to that country by one day. BP

...AS CALLS FOR RESIGNATION MULTIPLY

According to Ekho Moskvy, Russian television stations did not show Karimov assisting Yeltsin as they walked. However, NTV carried coverage of Yeltsin's health, commenting on the dramatic narrowing of his base of support and questioning whether he will be "allowed" to remain in office another two years. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" declared that the issue of Yeltsin's resignation has become a key question of Russian political life. While earlier that subject was discussed only by the opposition, "the taboo has finally been lifted." The newspaper concluded that the opposition, "having gained support from the street and from regional elections," needs only "to come to an understanding with the remnants of the oligarchs." Together, they may arrange for some special agreement to be signed between the executive and legislative that would severely limit Yeltsin's powers for the duration of his term. NTV is owned by Vladimir Guzinskii's Media-Most holding company, and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" receives financial support from Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group. JAC

RUSSIA ASKS EU FOR HUMANITARIAN AID

As the Russian delegation to the IMF/World Bank talks returned to Moscow having received only a promise to conduct more negotiations, Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov concluded talks on 9 October with European Commission Chairman Jacques Santer without any pledge of new loans. Santer told journalists that new loans were not discussed because Russia needs to draft its economic plan without "any outside interference." Reuters reported that Primakov asked Santer for food aid to be provided on a humanitarian basis and that Santer is examining the proposal. According to Interfax on 10 October, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman said that the U.S. will resume exports of grain and meat to Russia, despite an unpaid debt of $50 million, and begin extending humanitarian assistance. JAC

RUSSIA CONTINUES TO WARN NATO

Russian policymakers continue to voice fears about a second Cold War in connection with possible NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 1998). Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told Russian Public Television on 11 October that "by taking one reckless step" in Kosova, "we may destroy irrevocably everything we have been building with great effort for the last few decades." However, Ivanov ruled out the possibility of a "forcible reply" from Russia. The previous day, NTV reported that Defense Ministry representatives announced they will resume weapons sales to Yugoslavia in the event of a NATO attack. The newscast concluded that "we should not discount the possibility that as soon as a bomb falls on Yugoslavia, the Serbs will receive anti-aircraft missiles from Russia on credit. These will most likely be modern S-300 [air defense] missiles." JAC

ECONOMIC PLAN TO EVOLVE PIECEMEAL?

State Duma Budget Committee head Aleksandr Zhukov told Ekho Moskvy on 9 October that the emergency budget for the fourth quarter does not need to be approved by the Duma. The previous day, Vadim Gustov, first deputy prime minister, told reporters that the government will submit its draft budget by the 14 or 15 October. "Kommersant- Daily" published one draft version, which envisioned a budget deficit of 103.3 billion rubles ($6.5 billion) in the worst case and 34.4 billion rubles in the best. Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov told Russian Television on 11 October that the nation's economic problems are so complex that the government is having difficulties drawing up a comprehensive program to tackle them. He admitted that a long-term program may require three months to complete. JAC

COAL STRIKE ENDS

Coal miners in the city of Vorkuta ended a three-month long strike on 11 October, according to Interfax. Miners at the Vorgashorskaya mine resumed shipping coal to their customers, after 44 million rubles ($2.8 billion) in back wages were transferred and ownership of the mine changed hands. The Primakov government has made the payment of back wages a centerpiece of its economic policies. A spokesman for the Communist Party's Moscow City Committee told Interfax that miners who had been picketing a government building in Moscow had left the city because the police had forcibly removed them and dropped them off at a railway station. JAC

US-RUSSIA STEEL BATTLE BREWING

U.S. steel companies petitioned the U.S. Commerce Department and U.S. International Trade Commission to impose duties on steel from Russia, Russian Television reported on 10 October. According to the television station, the nation's metal exports are its "last hope" because of the decline of world oil and gas prices. ITAR-TASS reported that Russian steel exporters could face an increase in tariffs of up to 200 percent. Mikhail Tarasenko, head of the Russian Metallurgical Union told reporters on 9 October that the U.S. does not have grounds to impose anti-dumping tariffs on the import of Russian metals since the prices on exported metals are higher than on the Russian domestic market. The "Moscow Times" reported on 7 October that Russian steel sells for about $263 per ton, compared with the U.S. price, which dropped from $480 per ton last year to $320 in July. JAC

CHUBAIS TO RETURN?

A last-minute meeting between Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Anatolii Chubais, former presidential envoy to international financial institutions, unleashed speculation in the Russian press on 8 October that Chubais will be invited to return to the government. The press went on to comment that the Russian government delegation that conducted talks with the IMF and World Bank must have failed miserably (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 October 1998). "Kommersant-Daily" proposed on 10 October that Primakov will wait to invite Chubais until a default on the foreign debt appears inevitable, thus eroding likely Duma opposition. After his meeting with Primakov, Chubais denied that he has been offered a political post. JAC

VOTERS SELECT MAYORS

Yurii Lebedev, former presidential representative to Nizhnii Novgorod, and Alexander Korobeinikov, incumbent chairman of the Lipetsk City Council, have been declared winners of mayoral elections in their respective cities, according to preliminary results of mayoral elections held on 11 October throughout Russia. ITAR-TASS reported the next day that elections in Kaliningrad and Sovetsk attracted the requisite minimum number of voters and were declared valid. Yurii Savenko, acting city administration head and Anatolii Khlopetskii, director-general of the Transrailwest Company, will compete in run-off election in Kaliningrad, while Vyacheslav Svetlov, deputy chairman of the city council, and Nikolai Nikolaev, director of the Sandorgaz Company, will compete in Sovetsk. A second round will be held in those cities on 25 October. JAC

CHURCH ELICITS POLITICIANS' PROMISE

Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow and All Russia hosted a forum for top Russian politicians on 9 October at which they pledged to start working together to ease the nation's economic crisis. According to Interfax, forum participants included State Duma chairman Gennadii Seleznev, Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroev, First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, armed forces chief of staff Colonel-General Anatolii Kvashnin, a number of regional governors including Kemerovo head Aman Tuleev, and Duma faction leaders such as Communist Party head Gennadii Zyuganov. JAC




Aliyev BACKERS CLAIM VICTORY IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS....

Campaign workers for incumbent Heidar Aliyev on 12 October claimed the-75-year-old candidate has won presidential elections the previous day, beating five other candidates. However, the Central Elections Commission said it will not announce results until 15 October owing to delays in relaying results from outlying regions. Interfax and ITAR-TASS quoted sources in the commission as saying Aliyev won about three-quarters of the vote. Turnout was put at 74 percent.

...AS OPPOSITION RAISES CHARGES OF FRAUD

The main opposition candidate, Etibar Mamedov, has refused to concede defeat, while his spokesman alleged Aliyev has not won a majority and that run- off elections will be inevitable. Baku's ANS TV reported voter fraud, including ballot box stuffing and attempts to disenfranchise refugee voters. The co-chairmen of the Movement for Democratic Elections and Electoral Reform issued an appeal to voters on 9 October not to take part in the presidential elections, Turan reported. The same day, several thousand demonstrators attended a protest rally in Baku. Dozens of people were beaten and detained by security forces attempting to disperse the demonstration. JN

Aliyev PROMISES TO KEEP HIS TEAM, BACKS TURKEY IN DISPUTE WITH SYRIA...

When casting his vote, Aliyev told Turan he does not intend to change his "team" if elected, adding "Who else has a team like I do?" Aliyev then told Turkey's state-financed TRT TV that his country will always be on Turkey's side in the crisis with Syria. He added, "Turkey is our friend and our brother. Its policy on Syria is right and justified." JN

...WHILE TURKEY ALLEGES PKK LEADER HAS LEFT SYRIA FOR ARMENIA

Turkish State Minister Metin Gurdere said on 11 October he has received reports that Syria sent Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdish separatist PKK, to Armenia, Turkey's semi-official Anadolu news agency reported. "We will find him wherever he is hiding.... Let Armenia take heed. Whatever befell Syria might befall Armenia as well. If Armenia supports separatists, then we have made our decision, the button has been pressed. A war might break out any moment." Gurdere called on Armenia and Syria not to interfere in Turkey's domestic affairs. JN

BAKU RELEASES 11 OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS

Azeri authorities on 10 October released 11 opposition activists, including the deputy chairman of the People's Front of Azerbaijan, Fazil Mustafayev, who were arrested during and after a demonstration on 12 September, Turan reported. The released detainees told journalist that they were tortured by police and were kept in solitary confinement cells. The chairman of the front's Fizuli branch, Vagif Guliev, said he was beaten during the 12 September protest by 10 police officers. He added that those officers suggested he become a member of Aliev's New Azerbaijan Party. Guliev said he was later beaten in custody for four hours and received electric shocks. JN

RUSSIA SENDS PROPOSALS FOR BUILDING PIPELINE TO AZERBAIJAN

A feasibility study for transporting Azerbaijani oil via Russia has been sent to Azerbaijan, vice president of Transneft company Sergei Ter-Sarkisiants told the Interfax Petroleum Information Agency. The Russian government was briefed on the proposals, Ter- Sarkisiants said. He rejected as "groundless" Azerbaijani allegations that Russia has failed to submit a feasibility study. JN

KOCHARIAN RULES OUT CHANGE IN PRIVATIZATION POLICY

Armenian President Robert Kocharian said on 9 October that his government's policy on privatization will undergo no changes, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. He pointed to the continuing dispute with the opposition, which nearly revoked a number of deals with foreign investors last week. Kocharian said the existing privatization law, which gives preference to so-called money auctions in the sell-off of remaining state assets, is "quite good" and meets "all international standards." He told reporters while visiting a Yerevan enterprise slated for privatization that unlike voucher privatization, whereby vouchers were distributed free of charge to every citizen, the new strategy has ensured substantial revenues to the state budget. JN

GEORGIA HAS 600 MILLION TONS OF OIL

Georgia's deposits of crude oil are estimated at 600 million tons by foreign experts, President Eduard Shevardnadze told staffers of foreign companies prospecting and developing oil fields in Kakheti, eastern Georgia, on 11 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Most of the stock is located in eastern Georgia, while the country's off-shore oil deposit are estimated at some 200 million tons, Shevardnadze said. JN

YELTSIN WRAPS UP VISIT TO UZBEKISTAN...

Russian President Yeltsin concluded his two-day visit to Uzbekistan on 12 October, his first official visit to that country as president, Russian media reported. Before leaving for Tashkent, Yeltsin told reporters in Moscow, that continued efforts by Afghanistan's Taliban movement to gain complete control over that country by force are a "threat to security and stability in the region." Yeltsin and Uzbek President Islam Karimov discussed the situation in Afghanistan and signed a document promising aid in the event one of their countries is attacked. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov had already signed that document, which also includes reference to cooperating with the UN, the OSCE, and CIS countries to bring about "full political stabilization in Tajikistan." BP

...AFTER SIGNING ECONOMIC COOPERATION ACCORDS

Yeltsin and Karimov also discussed improving economic ties between their countries. Karimov said he favors developing such ties at the regional level (among Yeltsin's delegation were Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel and the president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev). The two sides signed an agreement on expanding economic cooperation over the next 10 years. According to ITAR- TASS, the accord aims at creating "favorable conditions" for organizing "tariff and non-tariff regulation of foreign economic activity, indirect taxation, customs services, and coordination of measures to protect national manufacturers." BP

TAJIK HOSTAGE-TAKERS RECEIVE DEATH PENALTY

Tajikistan's Supreme Court on 9 October sentenced two men to death for their part in several kidnappings in Tajikistan from December 1996 to November 1997, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Bahrom Sadirov and Kiroatsho Nosyrov are to be executed by firing squad. Sadirov was the leader of a group involved in kidnapping members of the UN mission to Tajikistan in December 1996 and again in February 1997. In both cases, he was seeking to force the authorities to have his brother, Rezvon Sadirov, brought from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. Bahrom Sadirov eventually succeeded in that goal but soon after was wounded in a shootout with government forces and handed over to Tajik authorities. Rezvon continued taking hostages to gain Bahrom Sadirov's release. In November 1997, one hostage, French national Karen Maine, was killed during a rescue attempt. Rezvon Sadirov was killed several days later by government forces. BP

TAJIK AUTHORITIES BEGIN OPERATIONS AGAINST OUTLAWS

Tajik government forces began operations against outlaw groups on 11 October, ITAR-TASS reported. At the beginning of this month, the government had issued an ultimatum calling on all armed groups to surrender their weapons by 8 October or face the consequences. The 11 October operation on the eastern outskirts of Dushanbe left several armed militants dead, while four were taken prisoner. There are no reports of casualties among government forces. BP

CIS PEACEKEEPERS MARK ANNIVERSARY IN TAJIKISTAN

Speaking on the fifth anniversary of the stationing of the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan, Lieutenant-General Nikolai Pugachev, commander of the force, said the people and government of Tajikistan support the force's continued presence as a guarantor of stability, ITAR- TASS and Interfax reported on 10 October. Pugachev also noted that the force has helped in returning some 10,000 refugees to Tajikistan and delivered more than 5,000 tons of humanitarian aid to remote villages in the mountains. The negative balance is that 202 force members have been killed over the past five years. BP

FIRST CANDIDATE ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR KAZAKH PRESIDENCY

The Kazakh Communist Party has named its first secretary, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, as its candidate for the January 1999 presidential elections, Interfax reported on 11 October. A statement released after the party congress that day called on current President Nursultan Nazarbayev not to run for the presidency, reminding him he has already been elected twice as head of state (which Nazarbayev supporters contend). Former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin resigned his position as presidential adviser on 9 October, criticizing the Kazakh parliament's decision to move elections up by almost two years as leaving "a very short time to prepare for presidential elections." He stopped short, however, of announcing his own candidacy. Nazarbayev has not announced whether he will run again, but he told journalists on 9 October he was opposed to holding early elections. BP

TWO OIL TRANSPORTATION DEALS SIGNED IN TURKMENISTAN

A spokesman for the Turkmen president's directorate in charge of hydrocarbon resources announced on 10 October that two deals on exporting Turkmen oil to Iran have been signed, ITAR-TASS reported. French company Total will conduct a feasibility study for a Kazakh- Turkmen-Iran pipeline that would bring oil from Kazakhstan's Tengiz and Novy Uzen fields through western Turkmen oil fields to Tehran and the Harg oil terminal. The other deal, which provides for delivering Turkmen oil to Iran via the Caspian Sea, was signed by Malaysia's Petronas and Britain's Monument Oil and Gas. Both deals foresee the exchange of Turkmen crude for Iranian refined oil. BP




UKRAINIAN BANK CHIEF TO BE FIRED?

Following President Leonid Kuchma's criticism of National Bank policies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 1998), some Ukrainian newspapers have suggested that National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko may be dismissed as a scapegoat for the current financial crisis. Those rumors appear to be corroborated by Supreme Council Chairman Oleksandr Tkachenko's proposal that Yushchenko explain to the parliament "why the hryvnya exchange rate is still changing with regard to that damned dollar," "Segodnya" reported on 10 October. "I think it is enough for the National Bank to work without supervision," Tkachenko added. "Den" suggested on 10 October that if Yushchenko were dismissed, the parliament would likely order the printing presses switched on to deal with the current lack of cash in Ukraine. JM

UNICEF HEAD URGES UKRAINE TO ADDRESS AIDS ISSUE

Carol Bellamy has said Ukraine must pay urgent attention to the growing AIDS problem before it gets out of control, Reuters reported on 10 October. The Ukrainian government reports that the number of HIV cases grew from less than 500 in 1994 to 36,000 by mid-1998. Bellamy also added that UNICEF is concerned about the fate of Ukraine's estimated 160,000 children in state orphanages. UNICEF pledges to raise $500,000 to improve conditions for children in institutional care and another $500,000 for children and mothers affected by the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS WEST WILL FIND IT 'VERY HOT' IN YUGOSLAVIA

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has repeated his pledge to provide military assistance to Yugoslavia if NATO uses force against it, Belarusian Television reported on 9 October. "We have sufficient capabilities to provide the Yugoslavs with most modern arms to fight both missiles and aircraft," he said. Lukashenka added, however, that he does not think "it will go as far as a war" in Yugoslavia. In his opinion, the West realizes that Yugoslavs will "desperately" defend their country and that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic cannot be intimidated. "It will be very hot for the entire West," Lukashenka commented. He added that NATO's next move may be directed against Belarus. "Those gentlemen have become completely unrestrained since the Soviet Union disappeared," he said. JM

BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS SERBS SEE LUKASHENKA AS HERO

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 9 October published a report saying that Serbs see the Belarusian president as their hero, Interfax reported on 9 October. According to the report, Lukashenka's pledge of military help is viewed in Yugoslavia as a powerful psychological boost. The ministry said hundreds of people have called the Belarusian Embassy in Belgrade to praise "the nation and the president who were the first to support their Slavic brethren wholeheartedly." JM

ESTONIA TO WEATHER RUSSIAN CRISIS WITHOUT IMF LOAN

Peeter Lohmus, vice president of the Bank of Estonia, told the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, that Estonia will survive the financial crisis in Russia without drawing on a $14 million support loan from the IMF, ETA reported on 12 October. Lohmus stressed that Estonia has not requested a loan from the fund for a long time and there will be no need for one in the near future. In other financial news, ERA Pank announced that it has found an Estonian investor willing to put up some 80 million kroons (some $6.2 million). Last week, the Central Bank suspended ERA Pank's license at the request of the latter (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1998). JC

LATVIA'S WAY TO STAND BY ITS CANDIDATE FOR PREMIER

Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans has said that Latvia's Way does not intend to give up its insistence that he become prime minister of the next government, BNS reported on 9 October. Speaking after talks between his party, the Fatherland and Freedom party, the New Party, and the People's Party, Kristopans said that Latvia's Way can change its stance only if a party congress decides to support another candidate. The chairman of the Fatherland and Freedom party, Maris Grinblats, has suggested that Latvia's Way find a candidate who could win the support of a parliamentary majority. Meanwhile, People's Party leader Andris Skele told reporters on 9 October that coalition negotiations should take place without "ultimatums about personalities and posts." The next round of talks are scheduled for 13 October. JC

POLES VOTE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS

Poles on 11 October voted to elect 63,676 deputies to provincial, district, and communal councils in what is viewed as the consolidation of the new local government system introduced this summer. The number of provinces have been cut from 49 to 16 and the powiat, a middle tier of local administration, has been introduced, thereby decentralizing power. Reuters reported that turnout was rather small, with many Poles deterred from voting by complicated voting rules (each voter had to cast five ballots), confusion over the new powers given to local government, and chilly weather. Final election results are expected within one week. A survey in "Zycie" on 10 October suggested that the opposition ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance will win control over nine of the country's 16 regions. JM

POLAND MOVES CLOSER TO OPENING SECRET POLICE FILES?

The Senate, the upper house of the parliament, voted 60 to 23 with one abstention on 9 October to approve a bill on access to communist- era secret service files (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September 1998). At the same time, the Senate rejected an amendment by President Aleksander Kwasniewski to allow universal access to the files. The bill stipulates that only those who have been harmed by the files be granted access. Former secret service officers will therefore be unable to view the files. PAP on 9 October reported that Kwasniewski's lawyer said the president is unlikely to sign the bill into law. JM

CZECHS, HUNGARIANS LOOK TO BRING SLOVAKIA BACK INTO FOLD

During talks on 9 October, Czech President Vaclav Havel and Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi agreed of the need to help get Slovakia included into the first group of European integration, CTK reported. Havel and Martonyi said closer cooperation among the Visegrad Four--Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia- -should resume. Czech Premier Milos Zeman also promoted the idea of upgrading Bratislava's status in the eyes of Western institutions during meetings with Martonyi the same day. And he proposed that Slovenia be added to the group. PB

HAVEL OPENS FORUM 2000 IN PRAGUE

Havel on 11 October opened Forum 2000, the conference that he founded, with a speech that focused on the globalization of the world's economy, culture, and politics, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Israeli chief rabbi Meir Lau, former Polish dissident Adam Michnik, and U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton are scheduled to attend the second annual conference. PB

SLOVAK DAILY CALLS RULING PARTY'S EFFORTS A 'WASTE'

After being snubbed by all but one of the political parties elected to the new Slovak parliament, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has been unsuccessful in its attempts to form a cabinet, "Pravda" wrote on 12 October. HZDS party head and outgoing Premier Vladimir Meciar entrusted Jan Smerek to negotiate with other parties in an attempt to form a coalition. But all parties, except the chauvinist Slovak National Party, have turned down overtures from the HZDS. "Pravda" commented that Meciar's efforts to drag out the process of forming a new government is a last- ditch attempt to have a strong showing in local elections next month. PB

NATO ASKS HUNGARY FOR USE OF AIR SPACE

NATO has formally asked Hungary to make its air space available in the event of a military operation against Yugoslavia, Hungarian media reported on 12 October. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he discussed the issue with both U.S. President Bill Clinton and Defense Secretary William Cohen during his trip to the U.S. last week. Orban said he made it clear that granting such a request is conditional on NATO guaranteeing Hungary's security in the event of Yugoslav retaliation. An extraordinary session of the parliament on 13 October will vote on NATO's request. MSZ




HOLBROOKE REACHES IMPASSE?

U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke said in Belgrade on 12 October that four days of "very difficult...and at times very heated" talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have led to "no change" and that the "situation is still extremely serious." Holbrooke stressed that the key problem is how to set up a "fully verifiable compliance system." Observers suggested that Holbrooke, Milosevic, and Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova, with whom Holbrooke met briefly in Prishtina on 10 October, have reached fundamental agreement on restoring broad autonomy to Kosova and on a three-year transition period, after which the parties concerned will decide the province's final status. The central issue reportedly is that Holbrooke and the Kosovars insist on the presence of international monitors, possibly including NATO troops, to verify that Serbian paramilitary police have left the province and ensure that they do not return. Milosevic rejects that demand. PM

NATO AMBASSADORS TO MEET

NATO officials are scheduled to meet in Brussels on 12 October to decide on whether to issue an "activation order" for military intervention against Serbia. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told CNN previous day that Milosevic should have no doubt that NATO is united in purpose and ready to use force and that it is "not dithering." Holbrooke originally wanted NATO to agree on issuing the "activation order" before 10 October in order to increase his diplomatic leverage over Milosevic, Reuters reported. The government crisis in Italy and the need to coordinate policies between Germany's outgoing and incoming governments led to a delay in a decision by the alliance until two days later. PM

OSCE BLASTS SERBIAN MEDIA POLICY

The OSCE issued a statement in Vienna on 9 October sharply criticizing the Serbian government's decision to ban domestic stations from rebroadcasting foreign programs in Serbo-Croatian, including those of RFE/RL (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 1998). The statement noted that the banned programs include those of broadcasters who "objectively inform millions of people around the world." The next day, Serbian government officials told the staff of Belgrade's independent Radio Index to cease broadcasting immediately. News Editor Katarina Spasic said that "we will find a way to resume broadcasting, even if we have to use a mobile van." She added that the authorities are trying to exert "political pressure" against independent media. Elsewhere, Sandzak Muslim spokesmen told Reuters on 11 October that many Muslims fear attacks by Seselj's paramilitaries and have begun to flee to Bosnia. PM

MONTENEGRO URGES CAUTION ON NATO

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard in Podgorica that NATO should not launch air strikes against Serbia lest innocent people be killed, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 9 October. Montenegrin officials and Serbian independent media have recently urged NATO not to intervene militarily, saying that they fear there would be civilian casualties and Milosevic would have an excuse to crack down on his domestic political enemies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1998). In other news, Montenegrin delegates boycotted talks between Yugoslavia and Croatia in Belgrade on 9 October because the Yugoslav authorities refused to include on the agenda the opening of a border crossing between Montenegro and Croatia at Debeli Brijeg (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1998). Croatian spokesmen in Belgrade said that they regretted the absence of the Montenegrins. PM

ALBANIA OFFERS NATO AIR SPACE, TERRITORIAL WATERS

Albania's government issued a statement on 11 October putting its air space and territorial waters at the disposal of NATO through the end of 1998 for any military operations against Serbia. Albania had previously offered only its military infrastructure--including military bases, airports and ports--for NATO operations. In other news, the Foreign Ministry the previous day issued a statement saying that federal Yugoslav troops penetrated 50 meters into Albanian territory on 8 October at Dobrun, near Kukes. FS

POPLASEN DEFIES WEST

Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen said in a letter to Gelbard on 10 October that it is not necessary for Bosnian Serbs to distance themselves from Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj remarks implicitly threatening NATO troops in Bosnia if the alliance launches air strikes against Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 9 October 1998). Poplasen added that Seselj's remarks are a matter for only Serbia and the U.S. to discuss. Poplasen's party is the Bosnian branch of Seselj's Serbian Radical Party. Poplasen added that he will ask the international community's Carlos Westendorp to reverse his recent decision to lift the parliamentary mandate of Dragan Cavic, who had said that NATO air strikes against Serbia would be an attack on Serbs everywhere and that Serbs should react accordingly. Poplasen argued that Westendorp does not have the authority to oust Cavic. PM

WESTENDORP AGAIN WARNS BOSNIANS

On 9 October in Sarajevo, Westendorp said in a statement that Bosnian officials of all ethnic groups should avoid "inflammatory statements" in conjunction with possible NATO air strikes against Serbia. He added that "statements or reactions by any official [aimed at] inciting citizens to violence will not be tolerated by the international community. [Bosnian officials'] primary concern should be to respect the letter and the spirit of the Dayton agreement and to ensure that a climate of peace and stability is maintained." Elsewhere in the Bosnian capital, a spokesman for SFOR warned that the peacekeepers "will not hesitate to take any appropriate measures to deter or prevent a resumption of hostilities." The previous day, an SFOR spokesman said that peacekeepers made Bosnian Serb air defense systems inoperative long ago in keeping with the terms of the Dayton agreement, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

UN POLICE DEMAND SACKING OF HERZEGOVINIAN

A spokeswoman for the UN-sponsored International Police Task Force said in Sarajevo on 9 October that IPTF Commissioner Richard Monk has written to Herzegovinian police official Valentin Coric to insist that he fire Stanislav Buntic as police commissioner of Capljina. Monk also called for Buntic to face criminal charges. The IPTF holds Buntic responsible for recent violence by Croatian police against three Muslims, including two policemen, who tried to intervene when Croatian extremists attacked returning Muslim refugees (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1998). PM

BIGGEST MASS GRAVE TO DATE UNEARTHED

Forensic experts said in Glumina near Zvornik in eastern Bosnia on 9 October that they have uncovered the largest known mass grave of the Bosnian war. The grave may hold up to 300 bodies of Muslim civilians, which are well preserved in plastic bags bearing the markings of the Yugoslav army. The victims are most likely those of local Muslim civilians killed during the 1992 Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign. Forensic experts will soon begin trying to identify some of the bodies on the basis of fingerprints. PM

CROATIAN PUBLISHER DROPS CONTROVERSIAL BOOK

The government- funded Matica Hrvatska cultural foundation stopped plans "at the last minute" to publish Branko Matan's "Homeland is a Difficult Question," Reuters reported from Zagreb on 11 October. Matan charged that Matica is afraid of losing financial support from the authorities if it publishes his book, which paints an unflattering portrait of Croatia's role in the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. In other news, Croatia and the Vatican signed an agreement on 9 October according to which the government will seek to return or provide compensation for Church properties confiscated by the Communists. PM

ALBANIA GETS NUDGE FROM U.S.

The State Department on 11 October issued a statement warmly congratulating newly elected Prime Minister Pandeli Majko. The statement stressed that the new government has "an important opportunity for tangible achievements on the serious political and economic problems facing Albania, including public order, corruption, and developing a fuller political dialogue among all constructive Albanian political parties." It also urged the "Democratic Party and...others continuing to pursue...destructive practices to renounce once and for all calls for violence and instability." FS

SERBS IN ROMANIA THREATEN VIOLENCE FOR NATO COOPERATION

Romanian President Emil Constantinescu announced on 11 October that Romania has agreed to allow NATO limited access to the country's air space in the event of air strikes against Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Constantinescu said NATO planes can fly over Romania "for emergency and unforeseen situations." He said the decision will be submitted to parliament the following day for approval. Constantinescu said that while Bucharest supports the "steps envisaged" by NATO, Romania cannot "take any direct part in military action." On 9 October, Glisic Gioca, the vice president of the Serb Union of Romania, was quoted as saying that the Serbian community in Romania will take it upon itself to "blow up the airport [in Timisoara]" if the government allows NATO planes to land there, Rompres reported. PB

ROMANIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER PRAISES HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TIES

Andrei Plesu praised the strong relationship between Bucharest and Budapest, saying it is recognized internationally as an exemplary model of bilateral cooperation, MTI reported on 11 October. Plesu was interviewed by the Hungarian news agency ahead of a Hungarian-Romanian intergovernmental committee meeting in Budapest on 13-14 October. Plesu said he is pleased that the Hungarian government allowed the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) to make its own decisions about participating in the Romanian government. He added that the UDMR's role in governing the country serves as a bridge in relations between the two countries. PB

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT OPPOSES NATO INTERVENTION

Petru Lucinschi said on 10 October that the crisis in Kosova should be solved peacefully and without military action on the part of NATO forces, AP reported. Lucinschi, in Bucharest for a one-day visit, made his comments after a meeting with his Romanian counterpart Emil Constantinescu. PB

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS APPROVAL OF NATO REQUEST

Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov said on 11 October that a government decision approving NATO's overflight request violates the Bulgarian Constitution, dpa reported. The decision to allow NATO forces to use Bulgarian air space in the event of military action against Yugoslavia came at an emergency cabinet meeting on the night of 10-11 October. Parvanov argues that such a decision can be made only by the parliament. Bulgaria will ask NATO to guarantee its national security in the event of Yugoslav retaliation. PB

U.S. FIRST LADY ANNOUNCES GRANT SUPPORT IN SOFIA

Hillary Clinton announced on 11 October that $15 million will be given to support the development of civil society in the Balkans, AP reported. Clinton made the announcement in a speech on the role of women in the next century. About $6 million of that sum is earmarked for Bulgaria. PB




THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEPOLITICIZATION


by Paul Goble

The failure of Russian Communists last week to mobilize the large number of demonstrators party leaders had predicted and Russian officials had feared appears to reflect a fundamental shift in popular attitudes on the role of the state rather than support for or opposition to any particular program or policy.

According to a recent poll by the Moscow Center for International Sociological Studies, only 12 percent of the Russians surveyed said that they count on the state to take care of them. In contrast, some 61 percent said that they now rely only on themselves.

Judging from earlier polls, this represents a major shift away from the attitudes toward the state that Russians and others living under communism often displayed in the past.

But while this depoliticization of the population is both a necessary precondition for and a reflection of the emergence of a civic space between state institutions and individual citizens, it also has three consequences not only for the Russian Federation but also for other post-communist countries. Those consequences may present problems for both the state and its citizens.

First, as people turn away from the state as the source of support, they inevitably care less about what the state does and are less willing to take action to assert their views. That means that neither the state nor the opposition can mobilize them to take action for or against anything.

As a result, the opposition cannot easily get large numbers of people to demonstrate even if the opposition is taking positions that polls suggest most people agree with. And the government cannot draw on popular support even when it may be doing things that the people have said they want. That means that the size of demonstrations for or against anything or anyone are an increasingly poor indicator of what the people want or do not want the state to do.

Second, precisely because people are focusing on their private lives and taking responsibility for them, they are likely to become increasingly upset when the state attempts to intervene in their lives even for the most benign purposes, particularly if it does so in an ineffective manner. Such attitudes, widespread in many countries and important in limiting the power of state institutions, nonetheless pose a particular danger to countries making the transition from communism to democracy.

While those views help promote the dismantling of the old state, they also virtually preclude the emergence of a new and efficient one. As a result, these countries are often likely to find themselves without the effective state institutions that modern societies and economies require if they are to be well regulated.

And third, countries with depoliticized populations are especially at risk when they face a crisis. The governments cannot count on support because people no longer expect the governments to be able to deliver. By the same token, the opposition cannot generate support because people no longer think that the opposition can do anything either. That danger is especially strong in countries where the governments cannot draw on strong national sentiments. In the Baltic States, for example, the governments have been able to keep depoliticization in check because of the importance of national rebirth to most people living there.

But in other countries--and Russia is the classical example- -neither the government nor the opposition is in a position to draw on national sentiments. Not only do many Russians blame the current political system for their problems, but both they and the government are aware that an openly nationalist course would cause alarm bells to ring in many places.

As a result, the depoliticization of the population in the Russian Federation is very much a double-edged sword. It has helped to open the psychological space necessary for the emergence of a vibrant civil society capable of regulating itself on many issues. But it has also hobbled the regime in a way that means the Russian government is likely to have a harder time in coping with crises and the Russian opposition is likely to have an equally difficult time in responding to whatever the Russian government does.


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