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Newsline - April 7, 1998


President Boris Yeltsin on 7 April called on the State Duma to confirm Sergei Kirienko as prime minister, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. In his opening remarks at roundtable talks attended by deputies from both houses of the parliament and trade union leaders, Yeltsin said he considered several possible nominees for prime minister before settling on Kirienko. Referring to some of the politicians whose names have been floated by the media and by opposition groups, Yeltsin said he had considered Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev, acting Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Rybkin, acting Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Bulgak, and Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov. While Yeltsin called on members of the parliament to help make 1998 a "non-confrontational year," he emphasized that he will not agree to form a coalition government. Rather, the president said he supports a "government of businesslike people." LB


The Duma Council on 7 April scheduled a vote on Kirienko's candidacy for 10 April, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Duma deputies are expected to vote by secret ballot, which is likely to increase the level of support for Kirienko. However, his prospects of being confirmed on the first try still appear slim. Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii on 6 April said Yeltsin has no "reserve" candidate for prime minister and will nominate Kirienko again if the Duma rejects him on the first vote. Russian Regions faction leader Oleg Morozov and Duma First Deputy Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov of Our Home Is Russia want Yeltsin to go to the Duma to present Kirienko on 10 April. Yeltsin paid a surprise visit to the Duma last December to lobby for the 1998 budget, and his gesture was considered important in securing support for that document in the first reading. LB


The Our Home Is Russia (NDR) Duma faction has not decided whether it will vote to confirm Kirienko as prime minister, NDR Duma leader Aleksandr Shokhin announced on 6 April. Shokhin said the NDR wants to know who will be appointed to key economic posts in the new government, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. He added that Kirienko should not count on the NDR's support if he plans to blame all problems in the near future on his predecessor, according to ITAR-TASS. Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who heads the NDR movement, expressed support for Kirienko during a 5 April interview with NTV but added that Russia's future depends not only on the identity of the next prime minister but also on "who stands next to [him]." LB


Speaking in Bonn on 6 April, former Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii said Yeltsin made the "right choice" in nominating Kirienko, "despite the president's health problems and somewhat diminished sense of reality," Reuters reported. Berezovskii described Kirienko as a "choice in favor of reform." One of Russia's most influential businessmen, Berezovskii is considered close to Yeltsin's daughter and chief of staff. Kirienko is a protege of acting First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, with whom Berezovskii has traded harsh allegations since last August. LB


Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin announced on 7 April that he and Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin are beginning to collect signatures among Duma deputies in favor of impeaching Yeltsin, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Ilyukhin is considered part of the radical wing of the Communist faction, and Rokhlin has been one of Yeltsin's most outspoken critics since last summer, when he broke ranks with the pro-government Duma faction Our Home Is Russia. The effort to remove Yeltsin from office will almost certainly not succeed, but the Duma may temporarily protect itself from dissolution if it launches impeachment proceedings (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 31 March 1998). LB


Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii and Sergei Shakhrai, presidential representative in the Constitutional Court, confirmed on 6 April that Yeltsin will sign the controversial trophy art law, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Although Yeltsin still intends to contest the substance of that law in court, Yastrzhembskii and Shakhrai noted that the president is obliged to comply with Constitutional Court rulings. The court found that in line with Article 107 of the constitution, Yeltsin must sign laws after both houses of the parliament override his veto (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 April 1998). In an interview with RFE/RL, Shakhrai argued the trophy art law was not adopted since illegitimate balloting procedures were used in the Duma and Federation Council. However, Yeltsin has signed other laws passed using those same procedures (proxy voting in the Duma and mailed-in ballots in the Council). LB


Yastrzhembskii and Shakhrai both argued on 6 April that the trophy art law violates international obligations assumed by Russia, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The law would ban the transfer abroad of any cultural valuables that were seized by the Soviet Union during World War II. Germany, which is Russia's largest trading partner and which is seeking the return of many works of art, reacted calmly to the Constitutional Court's ruling. A German government statement expressed the hope that "further treatment of the [trophy art] law" will validate the view that it violates international law and Russia's legal commitments, Reuters reported. But Duma Culture Committee Deputy Chairman Nikolai Gubenko of the Communist faction told NTV that there is no basis for such claims. He argued that the trophy art has been legally recognized as compensation for the damage inflicted on Russia during the war. LB


Meeting with acting First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on 4 April, Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh proposed that Russia and other international oil producers follow Tehran's example in reducing output in response to the recent fall of oil prices, Russian agencies reported. Nemtsov replied that Moscow is implementing a consistent policy of support for Russian oil companies aimed at countering the effects of falling prices. Most of those companies are privately owned, The previous day, Russian Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Yelena Telegina told Interfax that Russia will not reduce its oil output and opposes attempts to coordinate policy, Reuters reported. LF


Yevgenii Adamov, who replaced Viktor Mikhailov as Russian atomic energy minister in March, told journalists on 6 April that Moscow wants to sign a new contract with Iran on constructing a nuclear reactor for research purposes, Interfax reported. The reactor would use uranium with enrichment of 20 percent or less in compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency requirements. Adamov said he will try to persuade the Russian leadership to endorse the project, which was first discussed in 1996, rather than "wait for the Americans to come ... and build a reactor." He added that his ministry "does nothing without a political decision." LF


Duma Speaker Seleznev has predicted that the lower house of the parliament will ratify the START-2 arms control treaty before its spring session ends in late June. He told Interfax on 6 April that the Duma is likely to approve ratification because the treaty "meets Russia's interests." Last December, Seleznev decried U.S. "pressure" to ratify the treaty and warned that the Duma would not debate START- 2 if such pressure continued. Soon after, officials announced that the lower house was not scheduled to consider the treaty during the first half of 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 December 1997 and 13 January 1998). But Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin of Yabloko has recently expressed optimism that the Duma will debate START-2 this spring and will ratify the treaty. LB


Mikhail Khodorkovskii, the head of the Yuksi oil company, on 6 April advocated postponing the sale of Russian oil companies until "a more economically feasible time," Interfax reported. Khodorkovskii cited low oil prices on world markets. Regarding the government's plans to sell 75 percent plus one share in Rosneft in May, Khodorkovskii again said the government set too high a price for the shares (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 and 31 March 1998). Also on 6 April, Khodorkovskii, on behalf of Yuksi, signed a cooperation agreement with French company Elf Aquitaine which is to purchase 5 percent of Yuksi shares for $528 million. Meanwhile, in an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 April, Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev charged that not only is the government asking too much for the Rosneft shares, but it has not released full financial information about the company. LB


Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed is running an active campaign for governor in Krasnoyarsk Krai, an RFE/RL correspondent in Krasnoyarsk reported on 6 April. Lebed supporters can already be spotted on the streets, handing out campaign leaflets in advance of the 26 April election. However, an anti-Lebed campaign is also in full swing, with supporters of his rivals charging that Lebed wants to use Krasnoyarsk only as a stepping stone to the next presidential election. Recent opinion polls show Lebed trailing Governor Valerii Zubov. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky are to visit Krasnoyarsk in the coming weeks to campaign for Duma deputy Petr Romanov, who may have a chance of advancing to the second round of the gubernatorial election. LB


Yurii Kravtsov, who was voted out as speaker of the St. Petersburg legislature on 2 April, has accused St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev of seeking to undermine the independence of the legislature. In an interview with RFE/RL's St. Petersburg correspondent on 6 April, Kravtsov predicted that Yakovlev will attempt to water down the St. Petersburg charter and other laws that limit the power of his administration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February 1998). The legislature removed Kravtsov after adopting a new law to simplify the procedure for prematurely ending the speaker's term, "Izvestiya" reported on 4 April. Kravtsov says that law violates the St. Petersburg charter and the Russian Constitution. Last month, Kravtsov claimed that his political opponents have tapped his phone and bugged his office. More recently, he charged that Yakovlev is trying to impose "authoritarian" rule. LB


Former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak says he will not return to Russia until the Prosecutor-General's Office admits that its treatment of him violated the law, ITAR- TASS reported on 6 April. Speaking in Paris, he said he plans to run for the Duma in 1999. Sobchak fell ill last October while being questioned about corruption charges against his former associates. He spent a month in hospital in St. Petersburg before leaving for France. He and his wife, Duma deputy Lyudmila Narusova, initially said Sobchak would return by the end of 1997; later, he said would return after completing his medical treatment (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 26 January 1998). Speaking to "Izvestiya" on 2 April, Vladimir Lysenko, an investigator with the Prosecutor-General's Office, denied that Sobchak has been mistreated. He confirmed that Sobchak is only a witness in the corruption case. LB


Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Security Minister Djemal Gakhokidze have both said that supporters of former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia were responsible for the 5 April attack on mourners at the funeral of Gocha Esebua. Two of the five persons killed in that attack had participated in the February abduction of four UN observers but later surrendered to Georgian security forces. In his weekly radio address, Shevardnadze said the shootings testify to deep splits within the ranks of Gamsakhurdia's supporters and were aimed at further destabilizing the internal political situation and preventing reconciliation. LF


The Central Electoral Commission on 6 April released the final results of the 30 March presidential runoff, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Prime Minister and acting President Robert Kocharyan received 59.49 percent of the vote and former Armenian Communist Party First Secretary Karen Demirchyan 40.51 percent. Voter turnout was 68.14 percent. Of the 18 members of the Central Electoral Commission, two representing the National Democratic Union refused to sign the final protocol. The union is headed by Vazgen Manukyan, who came in third in the first round of voting on 16 March. Meanwhile, the commission is to rule later this week on whether Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is entitled to continue its election observer mission in Armenia after the final election results have been announced (see also "End Note" below). LF


In a three-way telephone conversation on 5 April, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, and Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz agreed on the need to expedite the planned construction of a $2.5 billion oil export pipeline from Baku to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, Interfax and Turan reported. A meeting of the steering committee of the Azerbaijani International Operating Committee--the international consortium currently exploiting three offshore Caspian oil fields--has been postponed indefinitely due to disagreements between the AIOC and the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, Akhmed Zeynalov, the vice president of SOCAR, told Turan. The meeting was to have discussed enlarging from 22 inches to 42 inches the diameter of the existing pipeline from Baku to the Georgian Black Sea terminal at Supsa. That move would increase the pipeline's annual throughput capacity from 5 to 10 million metric tons. LF


Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Abdurakhmon Azimov told Reuters on 6 April that the agreement reached the previous day on the withdrawal from the Kofarnihon region of both government and Islamic opposition forces "has been implemented in full." Azimov said several hundred opposition troops have been sent to a new base in the nearby Ramit Gorge, where they will be officially registered. Habib Sanginov, the chairman of the military sub-committee of the National Reconciliation Committee, told ITAR-TASS that the withdrawal of both sides' forces "encourages hope" for the consolidation of the peace process. Also on 6 April, a Russian military officer was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Dushanbe. LF


Nineteen of the 63 miners killed in the underground explosion at the Skochynsky coal mine were buried on 6 April, which was declared a day of official mourning, dpa reported. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko told a news conference after the funeral that the government can close down dangerous mines only after it has created other jobs for the region's miners. The government has earmarked 5 million hryvnyas ($2.5 million) as compensation for the families of miners killed in the tragedy. Each family has been promised a free apartment and a cash payment of some $20,000. JM


The Ukrainian Central Electoral Commission is planning to announce the final results of the 29 March elections early next week, commission head Mykhaylo Ryabets told journalists in Kiev on 6 April, Ukrainian Television-1 reported. Ryabets also said the commission has received many complaints of election violations throughout the country. An eight-member team is investigating complaints from the Dnipropetrovsk region, where the number of votes scored by the Hromada party is half that received nationwide. Hromada is led by former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who is an opponent of President Leonid Kuchma. Meanwhile, the Agrarian Party, which did not overcome the 4 percent vote barrier, has claimed that its votes in several constituencies were appropriated by other parties. JM


Belarusian authorities have brought charges of "malicious hooliganism" against 21-year-old Pavel Sevyarynets, leader of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front youth branch, and 15-year-old Zmitser Vaskovich, a member of that organization, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Both were arrested during the Union Day demonstration in Minsk on 2 April. Sevyarynets is being held in the Minsk city prison, while Vaskovich was released on his own recognizance. If convicted, they could receive a prison sentence of up to five years. JM


Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek on 6 April denied allegations that Poland is spying on its future allies in NATO. The German magazine "Der Spiegel" of 4 April had reported that intelligence agents from Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic maintain contacts with Russian spies and that the three CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEan countries have tried to plant agents at NATO headquarters in Brussels. "There are no such activities on our part," Buzek said, according to the 7 April "Zycie Warszawy." Janusz Palubicki, coordinator for Poland's intelligence services, also denied the allegations and told the Polish daily that "Der Spiegel" had been "either poorly informed or misinformed by NATO opponents." JM


Czech President Vaclav Havel rejected a bill on 6 April that would have outlawed the possession of drugs for personal use, Reuters reported. Havel cited human rights concerns in sending the bill back to the parliament. His spokesman said the president believes the bill would "lead to the prosecution of victims rather than culprits." The bill sought to criminalize possession of a "larger than small" amount of drugs. The spokesman added that the vagueness of the bill and the dangers that might arise in implementing it outweighed its positive aspects. Czech law currently bans drug production and distribution but allows possession and use. PB


Police are gathering information on the far-right Republican Party after former members charged it with fraud, embezzlement and extortion, CTK reported on 6 April. A former party aide said recently that the Republicans, who have 18 seats in the parliament, have used state subsidies to purchase large houses and expensive cars. Former Deputy Chairman Pavel Mozga has said that party chairman Miroslav Sladek used physical violence to prevent people from leaving the party. Republican officials have denied the charges. Sladek was imprisoned in January for fomenting racial hatred. He was subsequently acquitted of those charges. PB


The ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has named Milan Secansky as its candidate for president, Reuters reported on 6 April. Secansky, a former judge, is a deputy head of the parliament's constitutional committee. The fifth attempt by the Slovak parliament to elect a president will take place on 16 April. A senior member of the opposition movement Slovak Democratic Coalition said SDK members will not vote for Secansky because he is a Meciar supporter. Economist and former minister Brigita Schmoegnerova and teacher Zdeno Suska have also registered for the election. A candidate must receive 90 votes from among the 150 deputies in order to be elected. PB


Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 6 April rejected a proposal by Sandor Csoori, president of the World Federation of Hungarians, to grant citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living abroad. Horn said the proposal is a campaign ploy and could damage Hungary's relations with its neighbors. Hungary's borders will not close after the country joins the EU, he added. The opposition Young Democrats, meanwhile, support the idea of granting ethnic Hungarians a "special status" in Hungary, while the Hungarian Democratic Forum has made other proposals, including visas valid for up to 10 years and limited citizenship, Hungarian media reported. MSZ


Secretary of Defense William Cohen said in Washington on 6 April that the U.S. wants to keep peacekeepers in Macedonia even after the current UN force's mandate expires on 31 August. He told his Macedonian counterpart, Lazar Kitanovski, that "the U.S. supports a continued international military presence" in Macedonia because "the key to maintaining stability in the region is now the success of efforts to calm tensions in Kosova." Cohen added that Washington is studying options for keeping the troops in Macedonia. Some 350 Americans take part in the 750-strong UNPREDEP, which is the first UN mission aimed at preventing the spread of a conflict rather than at keeping the peace after fighting. PM


The prominent New York-based Human Rights Watch charged in a statement on 6 April that Macedonian police frequently engage in illegal behavior and that the international community "turns a blind eye" because it does not want to undermine the Macedonian government's authority. The statement noted that members of minority groups, in particular, are frequently the victims of police brutality. The text added that "long-term security in the Balkans can only be achieved through establishing the rule of law and respect for human rights, especially minority rights." PM


A spokesman for Kosova shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina on 6 April that a four-man team will represent the Kosovars in talks with the Serbs whenever Belgrade is ready to offer unconditional talks. The prominent politicians are: Rugova's deputy Fehmi Agani, former communist-era leader Mahmut Bakalli, leading journalist Veton Surroi, and Pajazit Nushi, who is president of the [Kosovar] Committee of Human Rights (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March 1998). Also in Prishtina, Agani described Serbian offers of conditional talks as "tricks," RFE/RL reported. PM


The Serbian legislature on 6 April passed a law that enables the parliament to call a referendum with only 15 days' notice. "Nasa Borba" wrote the next day that the legislators approved the bill with unusual speed and that the new law will enable Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's proposed referendum on international mediation in Kosova to be held on 23 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 6 April 1998). Referring to international opposition to the referendum, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj said: "What do we care about the world's reaction? We are dealing with our country's own internal affair and are not interested in what the world thinks about it. The important thing is that we solve the problem democratically, according to our laws." PM


Kosovar spokesmen in Prishtina reported the discovery on 6 April of the bodies of six ethnic Albanians about 60 km southwest of Prishtina. The spokesmen said that investigations into the deaths are in progress. The next day, pro-Milosevic Belgrade dailies wrote that the six Kosovars had been loyal to the Serbian government and were kidnapped by masked men on 3 April. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings. PM


French President Jacques Chirac met with the three members of the Bosnian joint presidency in Sarajevo on 7 April. The previous day, Ejup Ganic, who is the president of the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation, told the BBC that Western leaders come to Sarajevo primarily to seek "therapy" for themselves and their political careers. He charged that France "did not do much for Bosnia before the Dayton agreement" was signed at the end of 1995 and had stood by and "witnessed the genocide" during the war in the republic. He stressed that the French government must let French officers and other officials testify freely before the Hague-based war crimes tribunal if Paris wants to show its good faith to Sarajevo. PM


A spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe announced in Sarajevo on 6 April the formation of a temporary government for Srebrenica. In last year's local elections, Muslim refugees elected a Muslim-majority council for the Serb-held town, but the Serbian authorities have refused to let the council members take office. The temporary body consists of four Muslims and four Serbs, in addition to an OSCE chairman, who will be named later, RFE/RL reported. PM


The Zagreb-based "Jutarnji list," Croatia's first independent nationwide daily, appeared for the first time on 6 April. The independent weekly "Globus" invested $7.5 million in the newspaper, which will employ 200 people and have an initial circulation of 200,000. The pro-government daily "Vecernji list" has a print-run of 120,000 copies, which until now has been Croatia's largest. The independent daily "Novi List" appears in Rijeka but is primarily a regional publication. "Globus" has previously been the target of lawsuits by government officials. Elsewhere in Zagreb, unemployed journalists have set up a union called Right to One's Profession, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. PM


In a large-scale operation, police arrested 18 suspected members of two prominent criminal gangs in Korca on 6 April. The rival gangs had robbed and blackmailed shop owners in that southern city since March 1997, "Koha Jone" reported. Early last month, they had engaged in a shoot- out. Also on 6 April, gangsters in Tirana held up a bank security van and absconded with some $30,000 intended as wages for the employees of the state electric company. FS


Military spokesmen in Athens said on 6 April that Greek troops will remain in Albania until at least 25 September. Greece has 180 soldiers in Albania, who are assisting in rebuilding military facilities and training troops. Turkey and Italy are involved in similar military reconstruction projects. FS


Dudu Ionescu has been sharply criticized for a plan to pardon former army officials who suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations that led to the deaths of hundreds in 1989. The defense minister argues that the troops followed orders and that their actions were thus "legal." Traian Orban, a former leader of the uprising that led to the overthrow of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, said such an amnesty would be the "most embarrassing mistake" the government could make. More than 1,000 people died in the clashes, which observers say were never thoroughly investigated. In other news, the Civic Alliance Movement announced it is suspending its membership in the Democratic Convention of Romania. The party, which strongly supported former Premier Victor Ciorbea, had criticized the coalition's close cooperation with the Democratic Party. PB


The Romanian Foreign Ministry recalled a diplomat and a chauffeur from Germany for allegedly dispensing fake documents to criminals, AFP reported on 6 April. German police broke up a Romanian criminal gang last week that it said had received false documents from the Romanian embassy in Bonn (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March1998). The Foreign Ministry apologized to the German government and said it will take measures to prevent such activities in the future. PB


The condition of Transdniester separatist leader Igor Smirnov, who is in a Tiraspol hospital, is unclear, RFE/RL's Romanian Service reported on 6 April. Smirnov has been in the hospital for several days, although it is unclear when he was admitted. According to some reports, he suffered a severe heart attack, while others reports say he has influenza. Moreover, there is speculation in the media that Smirnov's hospitalization may have been a response to the dire economic situation in the region. The Transdniestrian ruble recently collapsed and is now trading at around 2 million to $1. The Tiraspol Supreme Soviet has accused several ministers, including security minister and Smirnov's close associate Vladimir Antyufev, of being responsible for the devaluation. PB


by Emil Danielyan

History is repeating itself in Armenia following last month's presidential election. Once again, the opposition candidate refuses to admit defeat by the country's incumbent leader and is claiming election fraud. And once again, the authorities deny those charges.

But whereas in September 1996, supporters of the unsuccessful challenger Vazgen Manukyan took to the streets to protest alleged fraud, last month's defeated candidate, former Armenian Communist Party First Secretary Karen Demirchyan, has urged supporters to stay at home and prepare for a "civilized and constitutional struggle." However, the fact that many Armenians do not believe in the legitimacy of the new president is hardly conducive to the development of democracy. The presidential ballot has only reinforced their belief that the government cannot be changed through elections. The long-term consequences of that belief may prove serious.

President-elect Robert Kocharyan, however, enjoys certain advantages over his predecessor, Levon Ter- Petrossyan. First, the international community appears unlikely to question the validity of the official results, even though Yerevan will not gain a reputation of holding free and fair elections. Second and perhaps more important, a broad coalition of mostly leftist and nationalist parties has rallied behind Kocharyan, whom they consider to embody "national unity." Two of those parties, the Dashnak party and Self-Determination Union led by prominent Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan, are quite influential, although the leaders of the smaller parties may be better known to the public than the party names. Those political parties are united by their many years of opposition to and, especially in case of the Dashnaks, persecution by the Ter-Petrossyan regime. By joining the Kocharyan camp, those parties will enhance their status and may also obtain some government posts.

A parallel may be drawn with the now defunct Hanrapetutyun bloc, cobbled together by Ter-Petrossyan in 1995 to ensure the triumph of "right-wing ideology." But Kocharyan has replaced that ideology with one that attracts many parties and appeals to a majority of Armenian intellectuals: namely, nationalism, or as Armenians put it, "national ideology." Ter-Petrossyan had despised the intelligentsia and, pursuing his "wild liberalism," had pushed it to the fringes of society to make room for a new, often corrupt, economic elite. Now, the country's intellectuals are embracing nationalism in the desperate hope of regaining the privileged status they enjoyed during the last decades of Soviet Armenia.

Kocharyan's concept of national ideology is best defined as a set of ethical norms based on "Armenian traditions and values." He has also affirmed that he wants to give the intelligentsia a say in the new political order. But nationalist euphoria is not shared by the sizable portion of the population that voted for Demirchyan, primarily in the hope that their living conditions would improve, and is unlikely to be embraced by them in the future, as they grapple with more mundane matters. At the same time, the pro-government coalition will not be immune to splits. Despite his stated intention to share power with his allies, Kocharyan will almost certainly not cede control of various key ministries. One of the liberal economists from his entourage seems likely to become Armenia's next prime minister, but the economic policy of the new premier may not be approved by the satellite parties that want a rapid improvement in the country's economy.

Moreover, discord may emerge among the various pro-government groups in the runup to the early parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to be held by the end of the year. It is unclear whether the pro- government forces will stand in a single bloc. But tough competition is likely between local mafia-like clans and pro-Kocharyan parties. And together or separately, those parties that support the president-elect will have to face Demirchyan, who plans to set up his own political movement, and Vazgen Manukyan's National Democratic Movement. Both those parties will be determined to ensure that the next elections are free and fair. The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Yerevan.