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Newsline - November 9, 1999




CLINTON CALLS FOR CONTINUED U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN RUSSIA...

In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington on 8 November marking the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. President Bill Clinton called the U.S.'s stake in Russia's success "profound," RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported. He declared that "years from now, I don't think we will be criticized, any of us, for doing too much to help" establish a stable and democratic Russia engaged with the West. Clinton refrained from criticizing Russian actions in the North Caucasus, saying only that Russia "has mired itself again in a cruel cycle of violence in Chechnya that is claiming many innocent lives." He added, however, that the U.S. "should protect [its] interests with Russia and speak plainly about actions that we believe are wrong." He continued that Washington should "also remember what Russia is struggling to overcome and the legacy with which it must deal." JAC

...AS STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS RUSSIA VIOLATING GENEVA CONVENTION

State Department Spokesman James Rubin said on 8 November that Russia's "current campaign [in Chechnya] is not in keeping with [its] commitments" under the OSCE code of conduct and the Geneva convention, Reuters reported on 9 November. Rubin also repeated the U.S.'s call for dialogue between Moscow and "legitimate Chechen partners." On 9 November, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin responded to U.S. criticisms, telling reporters that "we are dealing with groups which are well armed, trained and financed from abroad." "Our actions are fully appropriate in view of the threat Russia is facing," he added, according to Reuters. First deputy head of the administration Igor Shabdurasulov stressed the same day that Russia's actions do not constitute "a war against the Chechen people" but an operation to "suppress terrorism," according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

RUSSIA SENDS REINFORCEMENTS TO NORTH CAUCASUS...

An unspecified number of Russian Interior Ministry troops have been sent to Daghestan, from where they will be dispatched to the besieged town of Gudermes, AP reported on 8 November. Meanwhile, air and artillery bombardment of Gudermes, Grozny, and Bamut continued on 8 November. Nine civilians were killed and 50 injured in Grozny alone, according to unconfirmed Chechen reports. Snow and fog halted both air and ground attacks on 9 November. LF

...AS CIVILIAN EXODUS FROM CHECHNYA CONTINUES

Speaking in Geneva on 9 November, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said that fleeing Chechen civilians continue to cross the border from Chechnya into Ingushetia at the rate of approximately 4,000 per day, Reuters reported. He said a total of 20,000 have left Chechnya since the border crossing was opened on 5 November. Janowsksi said the UNHCR is "gravely concerned about the scope of the humanitarian crisis and the mounting toll of Russia's military actions on Chechnya's civilian population." LF

RUSSIA HOPES TO USE FOOD AID PROCEEDS FOR INVESTMENT FUND

In an interview with "Segodnya" on 6 November, Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev called for using the proceeds from the sale of the next U.S. food assistance to establish an investment guarantee fund as well as a "Russian company for agricultural development, a joint agrarian bank for reconstruction and development, and a wholesale investment bank." According to Gordeev, U.S. companies such as John Deere and Case are prepared to invest as much as $200 million in Russian agribusiness provided they have some guarantees for their investments. In April, Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Kulik claimed that the two companies had agreed to invest up to $400 million; at the time, a spokesman for John Deere denied that a contract was even close to being signed. Proceeds from the sale of the last food assistance package were supposed to have been directed to the Pension Fund, but some regions have been slow to comply with that requirement (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 10 November 1999). JAC

LUZHKOV ACCUSED OF MURDER...

Sergei Dorenko, the host of an "analytical" program on Russian Public Television, broadcast on 7 November an interview with a friend of slain U.S. businessman Paul Tatum who accused Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov of being involved in Tatum's 1996 murder. According to Tatum's friend, Tatum accused Luzhkov in the last words he uttered before dying. The story is only the latest in a series of programs by Dorenko critical of Luzhkov and former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov. Both men are leaders of the Fatherland-All Russian election alliance. Dorenko is considered a close ally of business magnate Boris Berezovskii, a prominent foe of Luzhkov and Primakov. The Media Ministry earlier declined a request by the Central Election Commission to sanction Dorenko for his broadcasts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 1999). However, "Segodnya" reported on 6 November that media outlets may be fined a sum equivalent to 200-500 minimum monthly wages for violating campaign coverage rules. JAC

...WHILE PRIMAKOV ACCUSED OF COMPLICITY IN THEFT

On 4 November, "Novye Izvestiya," which is financed by Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, accused Primakov of obstructing the investigation into the whereabouts of billions of dollars worth of gold owned by the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1991, at the time the investigation was ongoing, Primakov was head of the Foreign Intelligence Service. According to the daily, Primakov then refused to allow investigators to search the service's archives because such a service would "jeopardize the integrity of [Russia's] intelligence networks." Later, Primakov "decided to give the Prosecutor-General's office the cooperation it wanted, only in order to be able to control the course of the investigation" and "steer it in an direction where many questions remain unanswered." According to the daily, this gold was later used to establish Russia's top commercial banks, which now owe Primakov a favor. JAC

LUKIN HARDENS STANCE ON POSSIBLE ABM CHANGES

State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin (Yabloko) told Ekho Moskvy on 8 November that if the U.S. were to "withdraw" from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Russian might be forced to "spend more on an asymmetrical response-- the perfection of the system for bypassing anti-missile defense," Interfax reported. "I think we shall find an inexpensive way of bypassing anti-missile defense, particularly the fragile system the U.S. may build at the initial stage," he added. In August, Lukin had adopted a more conciliatory approach than many Russian officials toward amending the ABM treaty, saying he did not rule out amendments to the treaty if those changes did not alter the document's "backbone" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August 1999). JC

RUSSIA, TURKEY FAIL TO SIGN PROTOCOL ON GAS DEAL

The anticipated protocol to the 1997 Russian-Turkish agreement on construction of the "Blue Stream" undersea pipeline to transport Russian gas to Turkey was not signed during Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit's three day visit to Moscow last week. But Russian Prime Minister Putin said that the failure to sign the document is not "a tragedy," while Ecevit said it will be approved and signed by the Turkish cabinet "in the near future," according to Interfax. Ecevit termed the project beneficial for both countries. Putin expressed satisfaction at the development of bilateral relations, noting that Turkey is one of Russia's major trade partners and engages in military-technical cooperation with Russia, despite its membership in NATO. The two premiers signed four documents on 5 November, including a joint statement condemning terrorism. Ecevit also met on 6 November with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to discuss bilateral trade and economic ties. LF

RUSSIA, INDIA BOOST DEFENSE TIES

Russia and India have signed an agreement on cooperation in the military sphere. Speaking to journalists after the signing in New Delhi on 5 November, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said the accord provided for the joint production of Su-30 fighter jets to begin next year and for Russia to lease and eventually sell to India early warning airborne systems, aircraft carriers, and strategic bombers. The two sides also discussed the licensed production of Kilo class submarines and overhauling the submarines India already has. Klebanov added that the accord forms the "foundation" for future military cooperation that will be discussed during President Yeltsin's visit to India in early 2000. JC

PRIMAKOV WARNS ABOUT LOSS OF TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY

Speaking in Kaliningrad Oblast last week, Fatherland-All Russia alliance leader Primakov warned that one of the main tasks of the state is to preserve its integrity, stressing that Fatherland would never agree to ceding Kaliningrad to anyone. Primakov made that comment following a visit to Lithuania, where he had told political leaders that he is opposed to the Baltic countries' joining NATO, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 November. The former Russian premier also urged Kaliningrad officials to use the region's geographic location to its advantage. As "Novoe Vremya" remarked on 6 November, Moscow is likely to insist on concluding a special treaty with the EU to protect the oblast's interests during EU expansion. If such a treaty were concluded, the newspaper continued, Kaliningrad may become the first Russian region to cooperate with the EU in the 21st century. JC




FORMER ARMENIAN JOURNALIST CHARGED IN PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS

Armenia's military prosecutor has brought criminal charges against pollster and former journalist Nairi Badalian in connection with the 27 October murders of eight senior officials, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 8 November. Badalian has been formally charged with "assisting in the crime," according to an official from the military prosecutor's office. He faces a 10-year sentence if convicted. Badalian runs the independent polling organization "Logos." Like the gunmen's leader, Nairi Hunanian, he is a former member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation- Dashnaktsutyun. LF

POPE VISITS GEORGIA

President Eduard Shevardnadze and the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, greeted Pope John Paul II on his arrival in Tbilisi on 8 November. The pontiff later held talks with Ilia II in the 11th century cathedral of the former Georgian capital, Mtskheta, during which Ilia pointedly failed to respond to the pope's call for "new bridges" between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the "Los Angeles Times" noted the following day. The two clerics also issued a statement condemning terrorism and characterizing the situation in Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and the North Caucasus as a threat to world peace. On 9 November, the pope celebrated Mass for Georgia's tiny Roman Catholic community at a sports palace in Tbilisi. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS RUSSIA WANTED TO ATTACK CHECHNYA FROM GEORGIA

Shevardnadze said on 8 November in his weekly radio address that the Georgian Security Council last week rejected requests from Russian leaders for permission to launch attacks on Chechen fighters from Georgian territory, Caucasus Press reported. He did not disclose who those Russian leaders were. Shevardnadze added that Georgia's refusal was "in Russia's interests," according to ITAR-TASS. LF

AZERBAIJAN DEMANDS PAYMENT FOR RENT OF RADAR FACILITY

Azerbaijani Deputy Premier Abbas Abbasov told Aksenenko on 5 November that Azerbaijan wants an annual payment of $4 million plus utility fees for Russia's continued use of the Gabala radar facility in central Azerbaijan, AP reported, citing Interfax. LF

KAZAKHSTAN PLANS TIGHTER EXPORT CONTROLS

Kazakhstan is cooperating with its "partners," especially the U.S., to improve export controls, Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov told journalists in Almaty on 8 November. He linked those measures to the need to prevent a repeat of the illegal sale to North Korea of MiG-21 fighter aircraft. Also on 8 November, the National Security Ministry press service announced that materials summarizing the investigation into those sales will be forwarded to the Almaty City Court within one week, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. LF

KAZAKHSTAN, EES TO CANCEL PART OF MUTUAL DEBTS

Kazakhstan and Russia's Unified Electricity Systems (EES) have agreed on a deal for writing off part of their mutual debts and setting up a joint venture under which each party will own a 50 percent stake in the Ekibastuz Power Generating Plant, Interfax reported on 5 November. The agreement was apparently reached at a meeting in late October between First Russian Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko, EES Director Anatolii Chubais, and Kazakh railways officials to discuss debts for shipments of coal from the Russian-owned Severnyi coal mine in Kazakhstan to the Sverdlovsk power grid, according to "Izvestiya" of 2 November. LF

INDEPENDENT TRADE UNION WANTS KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION RESULTS ANNULLED

Meeting in Astana on 7 November, members of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan sent an open letter to President Nursultan Nazarbaev and to the Kazakhstan office of the OSCE demanding that the results of the recent parliamentary elections be declared void, RFE/RL's correspondent in the capital reported. The trade unionists also accused Almaty Mayor Adilbek Zhaqsybekov of condoning violations of the election law during the poll. They demanded his resignation. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S AUTHORITIES RESORTING TO INTERNET CENSORSHIP?

Since 4 November it has been impossible to access the Website "Eurasia" (http://www.eurasia.org.ru) which is controlled by opposition parties, according to the director of the Kazakhstan office of Internews. Technicians for the Internet provider Nursat told Internews that access to the site will be impossible for the foreseeable future owing to "technical reasons." LF

KYRGYZSTAN SETS DATE FOR PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

President Askar Akaev will issue a decree later this week scheduling elections to both chambers of Kyrgyzstan's parliament for 13 February 2000, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 8 November, citing an unnamed source within the presidential administration. The People's Assembly (upper house) will be composed of 45 deputies and the Legislative Assembly (lower house) 60 deputies, of whom 15 will be elected under the party list system. LF

UN SET TO PROLONG OBSERVER MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN

In an 8 November report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan advocated extending for another six months the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Tajikistan, Reuters and AP reported. Annan noted progress in the democratization process in Tajikistan, including the September referendum on amendments to the country's constitution. He said the Observer Mission's mandate will not be extended again following the parliamentary elections scheduled for February 2000. That vote is to mark the end of the transition period envisaged in the 1997 peace agreement ending the civil war. LF

U.S. NOTES IRREGULARITIES IN TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL POLL

A U.S. State Department statement of 8 November identified violations in the conduct of the 6 November Tajik presidential poll, Reuters reported. It pointed to widespread multiple voting, "a lack of transparency in the balloting process," and the failure of the country's media to explain opposition candidate Davlat Usmon's refusal to run. The statement expressed the hope that the Tajik government will take steps to ensure that the parliamentary elections in February 2000 conform to OSCE standards. LF

UZBEKISTAN'S PRESIDENT BEGINS CHINA VISIT

Islam Karimov arrived in Beijing on 8 November for a three-day state visit and met with his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, to discuss bilateral relations, international terrorism, and religious extremism, ITAR-TASS reported. The two expressed satisfaction at the development of bilateral cooperation and noted the "huge" potential for expanding ties. Members of Kazakhstan's Uighur minority staged a demonstration outside Uzbekistan's embassy in Kazakhstan on 4 November to demand that Karimov raise with his Chinese hosts the case of Uighur human rights activist Rabia Qadir, who was arrested by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang earlier this year. LF

CORRECTION:

"RFE/RL Newsline" on 4 November incorrectly identified Gerhard Glogowski as head of a German delegation from Sachsen-Anhalt visiting Kazakhstan. Glogowski is in fact prime minister of Niedersachsen.




BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES GIVE BACK LICENSES TO INDEPENDENT PRESS

Mikhail Padhayny, head of the State Press Committee, said on 8 November that his committee has registered the nine independent publications whose licenses were revoked in September. One of those publications is "Nasha svaboda," which was to have succeeded the opposition newspaper "Naviny." The latter newspaper closed down after a court imposed a heavy fine on it for publishing an allegedly slanderous article about State Security Secretary Viktar Sheyman ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1999). Meanwhile, "Naviny" on 8 November lost its appeal lodged with the Minsk City Court against a ruling whereby the newspaper was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. JM

BELARUSIAN ROCK MUSIC NOT WELCOME IN MALADZECHNA

The city authorities of Maladzechna have refused permission for a rock festival to take place in the city in mid-November, Belapan reported on 8 November. In an official response to the organizers, the city mayor wrote that Maladzechna "long ago chose its direction in holding festivals--namely, festivals of theater as well as Belarusian songs and poetry." The city does not need a rock festival, he added. One organizer told Belapan that the city authorities are afraid to host "such unofficial events" as rock concerts. In August, a rock concert in Maladzechna ended in arrests of performers as well as members of the audience. "The authorities treated the purely cultural action as a political one and took adequate measures," the organizers said in a statement. JM

KUCHMA, MARCHUK MAKE ADVANCES TO EACH OTHER AHEAD OF RUNOFF

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has said in an interview with the Lviv-based "Vysokyy zamok" that he is ready for cooperation with Yevhen Marchuk, Interfax reported on 8 November. Kuchma, who faces Communist Petro Symonenko in the 14 November presidential runoff, is seeking support among non-leftist candidates. In the first round of the election, Marchuk obtained 8.13 percent of the vote on an election platform similar to the incumbent's. Marchuk on 8 November called on voters to take part in the 14 November ballot and "to say 'no' to the Communists." He also commented that if Kuchma supports his economic program as whole, he is "ready to set about implementing it," provided that he is given "appropriate powers in the state authority system." JM

BALTIC PRESIDENTS GATHER IN FINLAND

The presidents of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland gathered in the Finnish town of Jyvaskyla on 8 November to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Speaking at a forum titled "Ten Years of Freedom in Europe," Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus cautioned that a Cold War mentality remains with regard to Baltic membership in NATO, ELTA reported. Estonian President Lennart Meri similarly warned of the lingering feelings of the Cold War, noting that "many Moscow politicians think that the Cold War continues" and "believe that conflicts are settled only with force," "Eesti Paevaleht" reported. Among a series of bilateral meetings, host and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari told Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga that EU enlargement will be able to proceed in 2003 after EU internal reforms have been completed, according to BNS. MH

BALTIC, NORDIC PREMIERS MEET IN STOCKHOLM

The prime ministers of the Baltic and Nordic countries met in Stockholm on 8 November under the so-called "5+3" formula (which brings together Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden). The meetings focused on EU enlargement, as well as regional cooperation issues in areas such as security and energy policy. Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar expressed satisfaction over the European Commission recommendation that Latvia and Lithuania begin membership talks with the EU, ETA reported. MH

NEW LITHUANIAN PREMIER INTRODUCES GOVERNMENT PROGRAM

Andrius Kubilius presented his government's program to the parliament on 8 November. Foreign policy gives priority to NATO and EU membership, while domestic policy focuses on a balanced budget, the fight against organized crime and corruption, lowering barriers to foreign investments, and selective assistance to industry hurt by the regional economic slump, dpa reported. Kubilius criticized those who claim that Lithuania is experiencing severe financial difficulties, saying "this is not a situation for panic." The same day, Kubilius also said that the savings compensation scheme for ruble deposits will be suspended for up to two years, BNS added. The IMF has criticized that scheme. The parliament is scheduled to vote on the new government's program on 11 November. MH

POLAND REOPENS TRIAL OF GENERAL JARUZELSKI

The Supreme Court on 8 November ruled that the trial of General Wojciech Jaruzelski and nine former communist officials accused of being responsible for the death of 44 people during the 1970 protests will be reopened in Warsaw. The court decided to move the proceedings to Warsaw from Gdansk because Jaruzelski and two other defendants could not appear at the latter location for health reasons. Jaruzelski was defense minister in December 1970, when army troops and police killed 44 people protesting in Polish coastal cities against food price hikes. In 1996, a parliamentary committee dominated by ex- Communists decided that Jaruzelski should not stand trial for imposing martial law in 1981, at which time he was prime minister and first secretary of the communist party. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT WARNS AGAINST 'EUROSKEPTICISM'

Aleksander Kwasniewski told journalists in Finland on 8 November that events marking the 10th anniversary of the demise of the Soviet bloc are "the last chance to take advantage of...the historic enthusiasm to overcome the West's Euroskepticism" with regard to EU enlargement, PAP reported. Kwasniewski pointed to the recent elections in Austria as evidence that such skepticism is growing. He noted that the EU will soon start addressing the issue of enlargement with less enthusiasm, while the EU would-be members' ability to overcome this skepticism is "very limited." JM

CONTROVERSIAL AD PROMPTS CZECH PROTEST

Prime Minister Milos Zeman said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington on 8 November that he is "glad" to hear that the U.S. administration has "distanced itself" from a controversial advertisement placed in "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" by businessman Ronald Lauder, CTK reported. Lauder, who is the majority owner of Central European Media Enterprises (CEM), warns that the Czech government encourages foreign investors but does little to protect them. The CEM is involved in a dispute over ownership rights with Nova television and is currently suing that station. Zeman had responded earlier to the advertisement, saying it is "incorrect and untrustworthy." He pointed out broadcasts are not regulated by the government but by the independent Council for Radio and Broadcasting, which had yet to rule on the dispute between Lauder and Nova. MS

CZECHS ASK RUSSIANS TO RETURN JEWISH GOLD

The Czech Republic has officially asked the Russian government to return gold originally belonging to Czech Jews and taken out of the country by the Red Army after World War II, AP reported on 8 November, citing a Foreign Ministry statement. The statement says 396 kilograms of gold that was deposited in the National Bank during the Nazi occupation after being confiscated from Jews were taken to the Soviet Union. So far Moscow has not responded to the Czech request, which is based on the findings of a group of historians investigating the fate of Jewish valuables stolen during the occupation. Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky on 8 November was quoted by "Mlada Fronta " as saying "I doubt it will be possible to receive any compensation from a country that still...owes us $3 billion." MS

CZECH ROMA COMPLAIN OF RACISM IN LETTER TO PREMIER...

The Romany Board of Representatives, whose members have been staging protests for several days near the wall erected in Usti nad Labem, sent a letter to Prime Minister Milos Zeman and his cabinet on 8 November asking them to "use all means" to remove the wall and other manifestations of racism and discrimination against the country's Romany population. The board said the construction of the wall has shifted the Czech's enmity toward the Roma "to the level of institutional racism," CTK and AP reported. The protesters were joined recently by Polish and German Roma. MS

...WHILE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS ROMA DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT

The Constitutional Court on 8 November rejected a compliant by parents of Romany children whom the authorities have sent to special schools, CTK reported. The parents argued that the decision to send their children to special schools deprived them of the right to education. The court ruled, however, that the children had previously been in the care of pedagogues and psychologists who had recommended they be placed in those schools. The court said it has no power to order the Education Ministry to draft an education reform plan aimed at erasing racial discrimination, as demanded by the plaintiffs. The parents intend to appeal to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. MS

SLOVAKS CAN TRAVEL TO FINLAND, NORWAY WITHOUT VISAS

The Foreign Ministry on 5 November announced that as of the next day Slovaks no longer need entry visas for Finland and Norway. Finland introduced that requirement on 6 July, and Norway followed suit three weeks later in response to the influx of Slovak Roma asking for asylum in those countries. The Foreign Ministry said Finland has warned that it may re- introduce the requirement if the number of asylum-seekers sharply increases again, CTK reported. MS

HUNGARIAN CABINET TO DISMISS CSER AGAIN?

Imre Frajna, state secretary for health insurance funds, told Hungarian media on 8 November that the government will again dismiss Agnes Cser as director-general of the National Health Insurance Fund. Cser attempted to resume her work after a court had reinstated her in that post on 5 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 1999). Frajna said he does not require Cser's services and will initiate her dismissal as soon as he receives in writing the court verdict reinstating her. MSZ




CLINTON OUTLINES BALKAN 'CHALLENGE'

In a speech at Georgetown University on 8 November marking the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. President Bill Clinton stressed that U.S. policy faces four challenges: Russia, the Balkans, Greek-Turkish tensions, and the need to maintain U.S. "leadership and engagement in the world" (see Part I). Referring to Serbia and its neighbors, Clinton said that it will be important to bring stability to the Balkans so that "bitter ethnic problems can no longer be exploited by dictators and Americans do not have to cross the Atlantic again to fight in another war." In particular, Clinton called for a democratic transition in Serbia from the rule of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, whom the president called "the last living relic of the age of European dictators of the communist era," AP reported. PM

THACI ARGUES KOSOVA IS NOT CHECHNYA...

Hashim Thaci, who heads the provisional government appointed by the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), told Vienna's "Die Presse" of 8 November that Serbia no longer has any authority over Kosova. The Kosovars have no intention of permitting "another Chechnya" by allowing Serbian troops to return, he stressed. Thaci condemned violence against non-Albanian minorities in the province. He argued that there are armed groups active in Kosova who are outside the control of the UCK. These groups include people who entered Kosova after the recent armed conflict. He did not elaborate but may have meant criminal gangs that entered Kosova from Albania after the withdrawal of Serbian forces in June. Frankfurt's Serbian-language daily "Vesti" on 9 November reported that a previously unknown masked group calling itself the Real UCK has carried out a series of attacks on moderate Kosovars loyal to shadow-state leader Ibrahim Rugova. PM

...SAYS SERBIAN CIVILIANS ARE WELCOME...

Thaci said in Vienna that all Serbian civilians who did not take part in atrocities are welcome to stay in or return to Kosova, "Die Presse" reported on 6 November. The daily quoted a Serbian journalist who listened to Thaci's speech as saying that Thaci's words are one thing, "but the reality in Kosova is something quite different." Local Serbs have frequently charged that Thaci calls for peace and inter-ethnic harmony when speaking to foreigners but tells his own people that they are now masters in the province. PM

...AND NOTES PROBLEMS REMAIN BETWEEN KOSOVARS

Thaci told "Die Presse" of 8 November that relations between the UCK and Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) "could be better." He accused Rugova of having a "totalitarian mentality," by which he meant that Rugova considers himself the only leader of the Kosovars. Thaci argued that the political scene "has room for everyone and not just one man." He added that the LDK continues to control funds from the diaspora and uses some of the money for its own political purposes instead of helping the population in general. Observers note that some Kosovar critics charge that Thaci and the UCK have sought to monopolize political power for themselves. They also note that there are deep differences in political style and outlook between the younger generation of leaders around Thaci and older people, such as Rugova, whose political careers began under Josip Broz Tito in the 1970s. PM

RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT WANTS POLITICAL SETTLEMENT

Russian Ambassador to the UN Sergei Lavrov said in Prishtina on 8 November that talks should begin "as soon as possible" between Belgrade and the various ethnic communities in Kosova, AP reported. The news agency added that his remarks reflect the "increasing frustration" among the Serbian minority regarding their status and safety in the province. He also criticized KFOR and the UN not doing enough to protect ethnic minorities, Reuters noted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 1999). PM

CALL FOR MONITORING OF KOSOVA 'POLITICAL TRIAL'

The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch appealed on 8 November to diplomats and the media to monitor the trial of Flora Brovina, which begins in Nis on 11 November. Brovina heads the League of Albanian Women in Kosova and is charged with "terrorism." She has been held for several months under difficult conditions in the prison of Pozarevac. Among the other prominent Kosovars still held in Serbian jails is student activist Albin Kurti. PM

HAGUE COURT PRESIDENT DEMANDS ARREST OF BIG FISH

Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald said at the UN on 8 November that the world body and NATO must take action to arrest major war criminals. She said it is unacceptable that only relatively minor figures have been sent to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. McDonald also urged the international community to get tough with the governments of Serbia, Croatia, and the Republika Srpska. She charged that these three governments "thumb their nose" at the court and do not cooperate with it, as they are obliged to do under the 1995 Dayton peace agreement. McDonald leaves her position at the court on 16 November and will live in New York. PM

EU READY TO START OIL DELIVERIES TO SERBIA

An unidentified EU "source" told Reuters in Brussels on 8 November that the EU will start heating-oil shipments to the opposition-run cities of Nis and Pirot between 15 and 20 November. Mladjan Dinkic of the independent G-17 group of Serbian economists told "RFE/RL Newsline" in Munich recently that the opposition will use independent shippers. He added that the deliveries will receive much publicity in the independent media in order to deter the government from stealing the fuel. The deliveries are a pilot project of the opposition's Energy for Democracy program. The program's goal is to show voters that the opposition is able to obtain needed fuel from abroad at a time when international sanctions weigh heavily against the Belgrade regime. PM

GRAND OLD MAN OF SLOVENIA DIES

Leon Stukelj died of heart failure in Ljubljana on 8 November, just four days before his 101st birthday. He was the world's oldest surviving Olympic athlete and won a total of six medals in gymnastics for the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1924, 1928, and 1936. He regularly topped popularity polls in Slovenia and was recently voted its Man of the Year. Stukelj attributed his longevity to "moderation in all things and a glass of red wine every day," VOA's Croatian Service reported. PM

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SEEKING TO DEFUSE BRASOV LABOR CONFLICT

Delegations from several ministries and unions representing workers at Brasov's Roman truckmaker reached agreement on 8 November on several proposals, following riots in Brasov three days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 1999). Under those proposals, the Defense and Interior Ministries will purchase some 320 vehicles in part payment of the company's debts to the state budget, Romanian radio reported on 9 November. The government is to meet on 9 November to discuss the proposals. MS

JEWISH CEMETERIES VANDALIZED IN ROMANIA

Vandals have destroyed more than 50 tombstones in two Transylvanian Jewish cemeteries over the last days, Mediafax reported on 8 November, citing sources from the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania. On 5 November, 25 tombstones were overturned, while others were smashed in the Satu Mare cemetery. A few days earlier, the Resita cemetery was also desecrated and 26 tombstones overturned, as a result of which some were destroyed. Last February a similar incident took place in the Alba Iulia cemetery, which is also in Transylvania. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT VOTES NO CONFIDENCE IN CABINET

Fifty- eight out of a total of 101 deputies have backed the motion to dismiss Ion Sturza's cabinet, Infotag reported on 9 November. Deputies from the outgoing coalition did not take part in the vote as a sign of protest. The previous day, President Petru Lucinschi had told journalists that the resignation or dismissal of the cabinet was "inevitable." He said the government's performance is far less spectacular than claimed by Sturza and that many of those claims are "inventions." Asked how a cabinet could be formed by the Communists and the ideologically opposed Popular Front Christian Democratic, Lucinschi said the new government will have to be "much less politicized" than its predecessor, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS




HOW AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES USE ELECTIONS


By Paul Goble

Authoritarian leaders regularly use elections to legitimize or even enhance their powers rather than to promote democracy, a strategy that poses special challenges not only to those who live under their control but also to others who want to advance the cause of popular governance.

Nowhere is this pattern clearer than in the post-Soviet states of Central Asia, where leaders proclaim their adherence to the ideas of democracy but do everything they can to subvert the power of the people to use elections or any other means to determine their own destinies.

The most egregious examples of this misuse of elections are to be found in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The recent parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, Bigeldin Gabdullin told an RFE/RL press briefing in Washington on 2 November, were marked by "very serious violations of civil and human rights."

Opposition rallies were blocked, ballot boxes stuffed, and opposition observers excluded--all to ensure that the regime of President Nursultan Nazarbaev would have not just a majority in the parliament but an overwhelmingly strong position that would appear to block the emergence of any new challengers in the future.

In Turkmenistan last week, the Central Election Commission announced that all candidates must be registered as independents because President Sapurmurat Niyazov had decided that his country will not be ready for a multi-party political system for at least another decade.

And in Uzbekistan, the authorities have routinely employed coercion to stifle dissent and drive any criticism of the regime of President Islam Karimov underground. Tashkent has then attacked the opposition for linking up with Islamist groups and demanded Western understanding in moving against those "threats" to democracy.

Because these regimes, together with others like them, have been so apparently successful in using electoral forms as a way of promoting the notion that they are democratic or at least committed to the establishment of democracy in the future, democratic activists both in these countries and elsewhere have been divided on how to respond.

In some cases, these activists have argued against taking part in what they see as a charade of democracy and have urged international monitoring groups like the OSCE to stay away lest their presence be exploited by these regimes as evidence of their claimed attachment to democracy.

Advocates of this position have noted that the regimes sometimes are able to coopt those who do participate in the voting. And they have pointed out that the authorities routinely invoke their willingness to allow outside monitoring as a sign of good faith--even when these monitors deliver blistering denunciations of fundamental violations of democratic procedure.

But in other cases, democratic activists take just the opposite position, arguing that participation in virtually any election enhances their power rather than that of the regime. They also maintain that outside observers, however the regime seeks to portray them, typically help push along the slow but difficult process of democratization.

Kazakhstan's Gabdullin falls in this latter camp. Even though he and his colleagues were defeated by the machinations of Nazarbaev and his regime, Gabdullin, who edits that country's only independent newspaper, said the election helped to multiply the number of opposition figures.

Where before there had only been one major opposition figure, the democratic activist said, now all 500 of the candidates who were kept from having a genuine chance to compete have become opponents of the regime as well. Now, he continued, they are more ready not only to cooperate with one another but also to stand up for democracy in the future.

Even though Gabdullin argued that the outside observers had seldom spent long enough in Kazakhstan to see all the tricks Nazarbaev's people used to control the vote, he agreed that the observers had played a role by focusing international attention on the elections and by signaling to democrats in Kazakhstan that they are not alone when they stand up to authoritarian regimes.

For most of the last century, dictators and would-be dictators have sought to use electoral forms, but not genuine elections, to enhance their power. But the experience of Kazakhstan's Gabdullin and his colleagues in other Central Asian countries suggests that these regimes may be undermining their own power rather than strengthening it.

With each electoral cycle, ever more people in these countries as well as elsewhere are likely to demand a genuine voice over their own lives. And to the extent that happens, elections there are likely to become genuinely democratic, a development that may ultimately lead to the departure from the political scene of those who seek to use a democratic instrument for patently non-democratic goals.


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